"On the basis of the information publicly available, there is no justification under international law for the use of military force against Iraq."
letter from 16 professors of international law from Oxford, Cambridge, and London universities, as reported in The Guardian 7 March 2003
"....Regime change was not the cause for it, the cause for it was that... (pause) What I did was take the view after September 11th that we had to take a totally new approach and what that meant is that in respect of regimes developing WMD instead of taking a reactive approach we had to take an active approach and that therefore the place to start was Iraq because there was a string of UN resolutions, a long history of UN inspections not working and so we went back to the UN, got a fresh resolution which said he had to comply fully with the UN inspection regime. Now in the end he didn't so that was the legal basis for the war. Um..."Transcript: John Humphrys and Tony Blair. Sept 29 2004
Sunday Herald Spy chiefs warn PM: don't blame us for war (Jan 25 2004)
Informed Comment DAILY on the situation in Iraq by Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan. ~ The Butler Report website ~ download the full 9/11 Commission report or substantial summary
Read in full this important guest editorial for Professor Cole's Informed Comment website by the former Member of the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Council, now the Senior Director of the W.P. Carey Foundation, William R Polk,
"....... If President Bush could be as courageous as General Charles de Gaulle was in Algeria when he admitted that the Algerian insurgency had "won" and called for a "peace of the braves," fighting would quickly die down in Iraq as it did in Algeria and in all other guerrilla wars. Then, and only then, could elections be meaningful...."
If any question why we died, Tell them - "Because our fathers lied". --Rudyard Kipling
May 2005 ~Of vital importance in following what happened between 2002 and today: MISHCON LECTURE 2005 by Philippe Sands Lawless World: International Law after 9/11 and Iraq
September 2005 ~ We came, we saw, we ruined Iraq to stay will wound it more
Simon Jenkins in the Times ".......More than two years of chaos, killing and fraud have seen the American reconstruction of Baghdad hardly begin. It is too unsafe. The city has yet to recover from the unbelievable mistake of the Americans and British bombing all the government infrastructure so as to cause "shock and awe", and then disbanding the police and the army and stopping their pensions.
It must have been the first time since the Middle Ages that instilling anarchy has been the deliberate policy of an occupying power. Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, and Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, were told by the neocons that freedom would blossom spontaneously from the ashes. They were fooled. Baghdad is a memorial to this idiocy.
I have not read a single coherent account of the current strategy for Iraq that is founded on anything but wishful thinking. Those on the ground know the truth, occasionally breaking surface with a leaked army report or evidence to Congress.....
....Baghdad now faces a ghastly choice. It is between the continued anarchy of the American-British presence and the anarchy that would follow its withdrawal, as Sunnis and Muslim militias carve up central Iraq in a de facto partition. This would be no more separatist than what the Americans have already conceded to the Kurds in the north. Since the second option is likely to happen anyway, the only grim virtue lies in getting it over with. Security within 100 miles of Baghdad is getting worse, not better. "Staying the course" is not working. It is a catchphrase, not a policy. It simply involves killing people and getting them killed in return. A planned and co-ordinated coalition withdrawal is now simply the least worst option. .." Read in full
August 2005 ~ ,,, In the Alice-in-Wonderland Iraq of Messrs Bush and Blair
- inhabited, too, by the elected government of Iraq and its constitutional drafters and quite a few Western journalists - there are no such problems to cope with. The air-conditioners hiss away - there are generators to provide 24-hour power - and almost all senior officials have palatial homes in the heavily protected "Green Zone" which was once Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace compound. No power cuts for them, no petrol queues, no kidnaps and murders...." Robert Fisk A Constitution That Means Nothing To Ordinary Iraqis
...As for the constitution, I asked an old Iraqi friend what he thought yesterday. "Sure, it's important," he said. "But my family lives in fear of kidnapping, I'm too afraid to tell my father I work for journalists, and we only have one hour in six of electricity and we can't even keep our food from going bad in the fridge. Federalism? You can't eat federalism and you can't use it to fuel your car and it doesn't make my fridge work."
August 2005 ~ "You subverted us, you destroyed our lives, you owe us. I want your resignation in my hand in the next five minutes.
Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches Dahr's personal log from Iraq. August 05, 2005 "What Have We Done?"
July 2005 ~ U.S. officials acknowledge that infiltration of the Iraqi army and police by insurgents is a problem.
"As Iraq spirals deeper by the day into violence and lawlessness, Baghdad residents say brutality and corruption are spreading among the very security forces that are supposed to be protecting them. Some maintain that the situation has grown so bad that at times they can't distinguish the behaviour of U.S.-trained Iraqi police and soldiers from that of militants or criminals. And since insurgents have in the past infiltrated the police and army, at times it is impossible to tell the sides apart. ..................
"It's something we've brought up at a very senior level with the Iraqi government," a Western diplomat said this week, referring to reports of killings of Iraqis by police.
A report by the Pentagon and U.S. State Department, due for release next week, says Iraq's police service is taking on too many recruits who are barely literate, have criminal records, or are even insurgents, according to Time magazine. .....
A large part of the problem appears to be a desire by the Iraqi security forces to show their toughness by responding to the brutality of insurgents with equal brutality of their own. Since most insurgents are Sunni Arabs, and many police and army units are made up of Shi'ites, the retaliation has taken on a sectarian slant, raising realistic fears of civil war. Often it is impossible to determine whether criminals and insurgents are posing as police, or the police are criminals themselves. .......
.....Suicide bombers wearing police uniforms have struck several times, some of whom may have obtained their uniforms by joining the force. U.S. officials acknowledge that infiltration of the Iraqi army and police by insurgents is a problem. "The exact extent of insurgent infiltration is unknown," Marine General Peter Pace, the incoming chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in a report last week."
July 2005 ~ the destruction of a whole universe of antiquity
From the article at TomDispatch by Chalmers Johnson
".... the civilization we are in the process of destroying in Iraq is part of our own heritage. It is also part of the world's patrimony. Before our invasion of Afghanistan, we condemned the Taliban for their dynamiting of the monumental third century A.D. Buddhist statues at Bamiyan in March, 2001. Those were two gigantic statues of remarkable historical value and the barbarism involved in their destruction blazed in headlines and horrified commentaries in our country. Today, our own government is guilty of far greater crimes when it comes to the destruction of a whole universe of antiquity, and few here, when they consider Iraqi attitudes toward the American occupation, even take that into consideration. But what we do not care to remember, others may recall all too well."
July 2005 ~ The Iraqi people must be given a voice in how this wealth is distributed
Senior Iraqi officials gathered on July 1 with oil company representatives and international civil society leaders to carve out a plan for managing Iraq's oil wealth that will aid the country's democratic transition and economic reconstruction.
"If democratic reconstruction is to succeed in Iraq, coherent policies needs to be put in place for the management of its oil," said Yahia Said, co-organizer of the event and research fellow at the London School of Economics Center for the study of Global Governance. "The Iraqi people must be given a voice in how this wealth is distributed, and the capacity to hold government and business to account." Yahia Said, co-organizer of the event and research fellow at the London School of Economics Center for the study of Global Governance. "The Iraqi people must be given a voice in how this wealth is distributed, and the capacity to hold government and business to account."
....The conference is part of the Open Society Institute's ongoing effort to support informed and inclusive public policy debate in Iraq, and to assist Iraqis in holding all stakeholders to account in promoting an open, peaceful, and prosperous Iraq." Iraqrevenuewatch.org
July 2005 ~ "Yes, they did lie to us."
NewsTarget "....the now-famous Downing Street memos may be the catalyst that sparks their grumbling into a decisive roar. For the British, the first Downing Street memo -- a minute-by-minute record of a meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Straw and other top officials -- reinforced the prevailing anti-war sentiment among the British populace. Over a million Britons took to the streets to protest British involvement in the war at its start, and they still want no part of it now. "The assumption is that Britons delivered their verdict on Iraq by cutting Labour's majority," writes Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian article. "Yes, they did lie to us." ".... RAF planes were involved last weekend in bombing raids in north-west Iraq - a marked escalation of their role - and British politics barely stirs. America has woken up; we are aslumber..."
July 2005 ~ The Bush Administration Pledged to "Avoid Torture" in 2003
In New York,on June 26, 2003, the Bush Administration ruled out "using cruel treatment to fight terrorism" - 06/26/2003 Amnesty International welcomed " President Bush's statement issued on June 26, 2003, making clear that
the United States will neither "torture" terrorist suspects, nor use "cruel and unusual" treatment to interrogate them.AI also strongly welcomes the further elaboration of that statement in a letter from Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. The letter states that
"United States policy is to treat all detainees and conduct all interrogations, wherever they may occur, in a manner consistent" with the longstanding U.S. interpretation of the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the Convention Against Torture.The letter also makes clear that any illegal conduct by U.S. personnel will be investigated, and, if appropriate, prosecuted."
See also Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Abuse Of Prisoners In U.S. Military Custody May 5, 2004
July 2005 ~ The US had never declared war. Bush had no authorization, not even a fig leaf.
ILCA Online ~ Charlie Clements, now head of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, described driving in Iraq months before the war "and a building would just explode, hit by a missile from 30,000 feet What is that building?'" Clements would ask. "'Oh, that's a telephone exchange.'" Later, at a conference at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base, Clements heard a U.S. General boast "that he began taking out assets that could help in resisting an invasion at least six months before war was declared."
Earlier this month, Jeremy Scahill wrote a powerful piece on the website of The Nation, describing a huge air assault in September 2002. "Approximately 100 US and British planes flew from Kuwait into Iraqi airspace," Scahill writes. "At least seven types of aircraft were part of this massive operation, including US F-15 Strike Eagles and Royal Air Force Tornado ground-attack planes. They dropped precision-guided munitions on Saddam Hussein's major western air-defense facility, clearing the path for Special Forces helicopters that lay in wait in Jordan. Earlier attacks had been carried out against Iraqi command and control centers, radar detection systems, Revolutionary Guard units, communication centers and mobile air-defense systems. The Pentagon's goal was clear: Destroy Iraq's ability to resist."
Why aren't we talking about this? As Scahill points out, this was a month before the Congressional vote, and two before the UN resolution. Supposedly part of enforcing "no fly zones," the bombings were actually systematic assaults on Iraq's capacity to defend itself. The US had never declared war. Bush had no authorization, not even a fig leaf. He was simply attacking another nation because he'd decided to do so. This preemptive war preempted our own Congress, as well as international law....." Read in full
July 2005 ~ "What does that mean other than permission from Bush to torture?"
Robert Fisk article : "....Amnesty, in a chilling 200-page document in October, traced the permeation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memos into the prisoner interrogation system and the weasel-worded authorisation of torture. In August , for example, only a few months after Bush spoke under the "Mission Accomplished" banner, a Pentagon report stated that "in order to respect the President's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign, [the US law prohibiting torture] must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his Commander- in-Chief authority." What does that mean other than permission from Bush to torture?
A 2004 Pentagon report uses words designed to allow interrogators to use cruelty without fear of court actions: "Even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent [to be guilty of torture] even though the defendant did not act in good faith."
The man who directly institutionalised cruel sessions of interrogation in Abu Ghraib was Major-General Geoffrey Miller, the Guantanamo commander who flew to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmo-ize the confinement operation" there. There followed the increased use of painful shackling and the frequent forcible stripping of prisoners. Maj-Gen Miller's report following his visit in 2003 spoke of the need for a detention guard force at Abu Ghraib that "sets the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of the internees/detainees". ..... The trail of prisons that now lies across Iraq is a shameful symbol not only of our cruelty but of our failure to create the circumstances in which a new Iraq might take shape. You may hold elections and create a government, but when this military sickness is allowed to spread, the whole purpose of democracy is overturned. The "new" Iraq will learn from these interrogation centres how they should treat prisoners and, inevitably, the "new" Iraqis will take over Abu Ghraib and return it to the status it had under Saddam and the whole purpose of the invasion (or at least the official version) will be lost..."
May 18 2005 ~ Iraq Torture: 'Claims Against Soldiers Swept under Carpet'
By Nick Allen, PA (Scotsman) "....Allegations by nine Iraqi men who claim to have been tortured at the hands of British soldiers at an aid camp were set out today. The men say they were subjected to beatings and abuse at Camp Breadbasket, just outside Basra, in May 2003. Their British human rights lawyer, Phil Shiner, called for an independent public inquiry and the men could ultimately attempt to sue for substantial damages. One claims he was kicked so hard in the genitals that he cannot have children and another says that British soldiers tried to get him to cut off the finger of a fellow Iraqi. Mistreatment of civilian detainees at Breadbasket emerged in "trophy" photographs taken by a soldier, which included scenes of sexual humiliation..." read in full
May 14 2005 ~The democracy we save may be our own.
There may have been no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, but there were media Weapons of Mass Deception. This is the website that connects you with a way to order and learn more about Danny Schechter's film, WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception). ... DVD, the reviews, essays, photos ....Synopsis
"There were two wars going on in Iraq - one was fought with armies of soldiers, bombs and a fearsome military force. The other was fought alongside it with cameras, satellites, armies of journalists and propaganda techniques. One war was rationalized as an effort to find and disarm WMDs - Weapons of Mass Destruction; the other was carried out by even more powerful WMDs, Weapons of Mass Deception...""There were 15,527 attacks on coalition forces, largely American, from July 2004 to late March 2005. Some 2,404 attacks took place in Baghdad from November 1 to March 12. Coalition forces are now confronted with an extremely mature and capable insurgency' and there is no exit strategy in sight.."
May 2 2005 ~ "...Lord Goldsmith advised that "regime change cannot be the objective of military action".
Telegraph Letters page "To go to war is the gravest decision any prime minister can make.
The invasion of Iraq has involved the mass bombing of Iraqi cities, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children, the deaths of more than 1,500 American and 80 British service personnel, the brutal killing of civilians by the insurgents; and the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison: a high price to pay for the removal of Saddam Hussein.
After two years, Iraq is in turmoil, with coalition forces trying to keep the peace between the Kurds, Shia and Sunni Arabs, with no end in sight.
We need a prime minister of the highest integrity, whom we can trust to be honest with the electors.." Read in full
May 1 2005 ~ Italy has refused to endorse the official report's conclusions and is pressing ahead with its own inquiries.
BBC "The [...] investigation concluded that the vehicle approaching the checkpoint failed to reduce speed until fired upon and that the soldiers manning the checkpoint acted in accordance with the rules of engagement," the US military said in a statement.
The report also said that the death might have been avoided if the US had been aware of Italian plans to release Ms Sgrena.
"Prior co-ordination might have prevented this tragedy," Brigadier General Peter Vangjel wrote in his report. ......
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of US President George W Bush's staunchest allies, has said he will address parliament on its findings next week. .... Italian investigators who collaborated with the joint probe are also expected to publish their own version of events in a few days. ..... Ms Sgrena, who was hurt in the shooting, said the car had not been speeding and that there had been no warning before the troops opened fire. "
27 April 2005 ~ insurgent attacks in Iraq are at about the same level as they were a year ago.
Gen. Richard Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"At a Pentagon news briefing Tuesday, Myers also conceded that insurgent attacks in Iraq are at about the same level as they were a year ago. ..www.npr.org
25 April 2005 ~ the people you wanted to talk to weren't the dopes staffing the CPA, but the military guys
"... the military leadership there had done its reading. They have, for instance, read William S. Lind on Fourth Generation Warfare -- that is, various kinds of insurgencies no longer controlled by states, or parties that could become future states; struggles in which a state military like ours faces "no single opponent."
("All over the world, state militaries are fighting non-state opponents, and almost always, the state is losing. State militaries were designed to fight other state militaries like themselves, and against non-state enemies most of their equipment, tactics and training are useless or counterproductive.")They are also well aware that such wars take, at best, years to win; and that superpower militaries are not especially well-suited to fight them. .."
".....Straw's exact words, "over the next parliament British troops will be down to virtually nothing."
Virtually nothing... if all goes... likely... probably... Such statements, modest as they may be, referring as they do to dates that range from 2006 to 2010 or beyond, mentioning as they do only partial troop draw-downs, nonetheless never lack their qualifiers. Here's a phenomenon that should ring a few Vietnam bells: withdrawal as non-withdrawal. So should the increasingly anxious visits of high officials like Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Zoelick to Iraq looking for reassurance that our battered position there will not worsen. ..."
"...a growing feeling of inadvertence, helplessness, victimization, and self-pity.
Expect something similar from the Bush administration as things get worse. After all, though at least some significant part of our military leadership may want out, the civilians who took us in, don't. Since the civilians in the Pentagon and the rest of the administration think that even from hell there's no exit, they never planned to leave Iraq and I doubt they plan to depart now. As Donald Rumsfeld told assembled American troops during one of his surprise visits to Baghdad recently, "We don't have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy." This, you might say, is a classic Vietnam-era formula for disaster. .." Part of the TomDispatch
18 April 2005 ~ "This reporterless conflict has little means of telling us what's really going on, but Marla's death completes the circle of people I worked with or encountered whilst I was there. Four of them, all now dead."
Jon Snow's Chnnel 4 news email: "...The last time I flew into Baghdad, a few months after the war, a young attractive blonde American woman climbed into the seat next to me. We talked all the way from Amman. She was committed, energetic and determined to do her part to make the lives of ordinary Iraqis better. She had already managed to get #20 million out of the US Congress for Afghan civilians - she was soon to secure #10,000 for Iraqis. She was wonderfully down to earth and yet slightly out to lunch. Very impressive and unusual, I came across her a number of times whilst I was there.
Today I learnt that 27-year-old Marla Ruzicka had been murdered in a car bomb attack on the airport road. An utter tragedy. This reporterless conflict has little means of telling us what's really going on, but Marla's death completes the circle of people I worked with or encountered whilst I was there. Four of them, all now dead. No wonder we hear so little from the field..."
9 April 2005 ~ Two years later, Iraqis still wait for the good life
From James Hider in Baghdad Times "....he remains excited by his country's experiment with democracy. The problem, he said, is that it must start to deliver tangible improvements soon or Iraq will slide into sectarian conflict. "From the point of view of the people's health, we can stand it taking years - but politically and economically, we don't have that long," he said.
The lack of progress is obvious. Two million dirt-poor Shia live in Sadr City, surrounded by rubbish and pools of sewage. Residents say that the Americans who fought a Shia militia there last summer have reneged on their promise to rebuild the area.
Mr Gumar's wife, Umm Mohammed, said that during the Saddam era "we spent 20 years on the run, and we had to move 17 times to avoid the police. I never imagined things could get worse but, since the war, they have."
..... The United Nations reported recently that child malnutrition had almost doubled since the fall of Baghdad. Umm Mohammed is exhausted from having to shop every day because the infrequent electricity supply - two hours on, four hours off - means that she cannot store food in the fridge. She goes everywhere on foot as the family cannot afford a car.
.... With food prices double their prewar level and rents often quadrupled, the line between survival and destitution is thin.... Baghdad's traffic remains chaotic. Traffic lights do not work, because of the lack of electricity.... In many sidestreets, flocks of goats graze on stinking rubbish heaped up beside charred lorries and buses left from last summer's uprising. Mr Gumar said that sewage leaks into drinking water and people cannot afford fuel to boil it clean. An outbreak of hepatitis last year made scores sick and killed several.
The insurgency has tapered off a little since the elections in January, but kidnapping and crime are still rife. ...
Yet, for all the hardships, the family rejoices that the dictator who once persecuted them is now in prison, and that Iraq has a new Government. "Our democracy is still in the kindergarten. Even though I'm 44, I'm happy to be in this kindergarten," Mr Gumar said.
COST OF LIVING
Loaf of bread: 50 dinars (Feb 2003: 25 dinars)
Dinars to the dollar: 1490 (Feb 2003: 2,300)
Coalition troops in Iraq: 175,000 (May 2003: 173,000)
Coalition troops killed: 1707
Civilians killed: between 17,337 and 19,722
Iraqi troops killed: between 4,895 and 6,370 (figures from the Times article)
2 April 2005 ~ Iraq insurgency - 50 to 60 attacks a day
".. The insurgency in Iraq has demonstrated that a relatively small force of lightly armed insurgents in an area roughly the size of California can bog down, stretch to the limit, and effectively counterbalance for two years the might of the U.S. military, despite its trillions of dollars worth of satellites, armor, artillery, air power, futuristic weapons, and old-fashioned bullets.
Two years on, as faithful readers of Juan Cole's indispensable Informed Comment blog can attest, Iraq's anti-occupation movement shows few signs of slowing. Right now, it's keeping up a steady pace of 50 to 60 attacks a day, despite frequent cheery pronouncements on our evening news and in the press about "tipping points" (known back in Vietnam days as "progress" or "the crossover point," or the infamous "light at the end of the tunnel"). .." Read the TomDispatch and its introducrion in full.
March 20 2005 ~ "We, the troops, were told that we were not invaders and occupiers, but liberators and protectors of the Iraqi people.."
Iraq veterans against the war - their statement on the Second Anniversary of the War: (read in full)
".....Whatever the reasons for this counterproductive conflict, it is now clear that it had nothing to do with helping the Iraqi people.(read in full)
We, the troops, were told that we were not invaders and occupiers, but liberators and protectors of the Iraqi people,and that we would bring them freedom, prosperity and a better life.
Specific numbers of the Iraqi dead are not known, since "We don't do body counts," as General Tommy Franks said.
However, we do know that we shoulder some of the responsibility for the thousands of innocent civilians that have been killed. In addition, important commodities such as food, water, power, and sanitation are not readily available ensuring the continued suffering and death of countless innocent Iraqis......... no wonder, then, that the terrorism that was not present in Iraq prior to the US invasion is now a daily reality there. ..."
March 19 2005 ~"I couldn't find anyone in the Labour Party who believed in the war ..."
The Scotsman report on the second anniversary demonstrations "....the demonstration passed peacefully but there was no mistaking the strength of feeling among the tens of thousands of people who flooded into Grosvenor Square.
Deliberately trying to evoke the spirit of the anti-Vietnam movement they chanted "George Bush, Uncle Sam Iraq will be your Vietnam" as more than 250 police officers, concrete blocks and steel fencing barred the way to the steps of the embassy.
.... Organisers claimed the number was well in excess of 100,000.
At the head of the procession two soldiers who have resigned from the British Army over its involvement in Iraq ....
George Solomou, 38, from Hackney, east London, who was a TA Lance Corporal and medic with the Royal Army Medical Corp ...: "We're voting with our feet and telling the Government we didn't believe in this war. I was a member of the Labour Party and I've resigned from that as well. I couldn't find anyone in the Labour Party who believed in the war that's Blair's problem. His activists who put the effort in for him in the past are not willing to do that again." "It doesn't matter if Mr Blair ignores us again today, he'll get the message at the ballot box." ....."
March 19 2005 ~ Ringed in Peril
"Nearly two years since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, Baghdad is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It is ringed in peril. ! Travel in any direction a few miles outside city limits and the risks intensify." Christian Science Monitor
March 6 ~ "You can no longer just rely on your news du jour, whether it's NPR or the New York Times..."
TomGram "..in the week when the American death toll crept over another grim mark almost without notice and, just this Friday, four American soldiers were reported killed in Anbar Province and a fifth in a vehicle accident,
- oil and gas pipelines also went up in the northern part of Iraq
- politicians dithered and negotiated and argued over a future Iraqi government that may have little power and less ability to rule the country;
- .... as a BBC headline had it, "Iraq insurgents seize initiative"
- one of the most devastating car bombs of the war hit a gathering of potential police recruits in Hilla;
- a judge, his son, and a trade unionist were among the assassinated;
- suicide bombers hit the Ministry of the Interior;
- numerous Iraqi policemen and army troops as well as recruits and potential recruits were slaughtered;
- more roadside bombs killed American soldiers;
- uncounted civilians died;
- America's detention centers in the country, themselves incubators for insurgents, were reported to be bursting with prisoners;
- the contested oil city of Kirkuk grew yet more combustible, given Kurdish demands, Shiite desires, and Turkish threats
- .... kidnapped Italian journalist, freed by her captors, and in a car driving towards Camp Victory at Baghdad International Airport to return home, was wounded and an Italian intelligence officer with her killed by quick-to-shoot American troops......
... finally, an NPR journalist, Deborah Amos... ".. most NPR reporters are holed up in a compound on a hilltop that resembles a base for a Colombian drug lord. The guarded compound has a vault that journalists can step into if they' come to get them."
Read Michael Schwartz on Why the U.S. Cannot Correct Its Military Blunders in Iraq
March 5 2005 ~"Blair still took us to war on a lie"
To insist that the ends now justify the means is morally disgraceful says Geoffrey Wheatcroft in today's Guardian. "......Even if the war has changed Iraq from a despotic to a constitutional regime, it is outrageous to justify it thus when Blair had been advised that regime change would not provide a legal basis for war, and specifically said that this was not the reason for the invasion.
The arguments now being advanced are logically absurd, politically disastrous and morally disgraceful. Nothing will alter the fact the war was fought on a lie. If we concede that such means are justified by the ends, do we deserve ever to be told the truth again? " Read in full
Feb 27 2005 ~ Iraq's neighborhood councils are vanishing
After their members were killed, many councils were scared out of existence. Christian Science Monitor ".....The fate of the councils provides grim evidence of how difficult it is for democracy to take root in Iraq.
Hundreds of neighborhood councils, now a dead letter as the elite politicians who won seats in Iraq's national election squabble over the spoils, were set up across Iraq in 2003 by the US military and the Research Triangle Institute, based near Raleigh, N.C., was given a contract with up to $460 million to build local governance. The idea was to prime the pump of citizen participation and create a new culture that would make democracy work for citizens in a tangible way. But nearly two years later, the money and effort has yielded few visible gains.
Iraq's diverse and decentralized insurgency has turned its focus from US forces toward the easy targets provided by Iraq's front-line politicians, police officers, and new soldiers. Hundreds of low-level councilors have been killed, scaring local councils out of existence in at least a dozen of Iraqi towns...
...The fear that stalks Baghdad's streets has turned some former councilors bitter. "The US pulled us into something that we thought was going to make our lives better and then failed to protect us,'' says Khalaf, Rahim's brother. "Some soldiers came to sit and have tea with him the day before he died. But they never came with condolences after he was killed." ."
24 February 2005 ~ "Ibrahim al-Jaafari is a very different man from the deposed dictator but he shares an occupational hazard: lots of people want to kill him.
To those who knew him as a mild-mannered family doctor in Wembley, north London, the transformation must be astounding. He is the epitome of a GP. A neatly trimmed beard, a bowl of sweets for visitors, chit-chat about the weather, reminiscence about a trip to Dublin, the voice so soft you sometimes have to lean forward to catch the words.This week the main Shia alliance which won last month's election chose Jaafari to be its candidate as the next prime minister of Iraq, making his elevation a virtual certainty. It will sandwich him between the aspirations of a divided people, and the competing interests of America, Iran, Israel and insurgents, to name but some of those jostling for influence..." Guardian
21 February 2005 ~ Surely you agree that we need the oil. Then what's your problem?
Common Dreams "... Some twenty folks did linger in a small circle that was dominated by a persistent, well dressed man (let's call him Joe), who just would not let go:
"Surely you agree that we need the oil. Then what's your problem? Some 1,450 killed thus far are far fewer than the toll in Vietnam where we lost 58,000; it's a small price to pay, a sustainable rate to bear. What IS your problem?"
I asked Joe if he would feel differently were it to have been his son that was killed, rather than Cpl. Wichlacz, but the suggestion seemed so farfetched as to be beyond Joe's ken. (And therein lies yet another important story). So I resorted to a utilitarian approach. "Joe, we're just not going to be able to control the oil in Iraq. The war is unwinnable. There are 1.3 billion Muslims, and they are very upset with us; they will not let us prevail." But this too made little impact on Joe. ..." Read in full
13 February 2005 ~ "There cannot be limited sovereignty any more than one can be a little bit pregnant."
An article by Stephen Zunes at www.middle-east-online.com notes that
"... the privatization of public enterprises, the allowance for 100% repatriation of profits by foreign corporations, a flat tax of 15%, the right of foreigners to own up to 100% of Iraqi companies, and other neoliberal economic measures. ....Iraqis resent such important economic issues being decided by an occupying power which clearly has a strong vested economic interest in their country.
Nor has the transitional government had the power to prosecute any Americans for crimes committed while in Iraq, no matter how serious. Iraqis have found such legal extraterritoriality, a practice once common in colonial outposts of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, particularly degrading..
the U.S. ambassador John Negroponte, has not been - as the Bush administration has claimed - "just like any other ambassador," given that many of the more than 1500 Americans attached to his "embassy" hold prominent positions throughout virtually every Iraqi ministry and his office controls much of the Iraqi government's budget. ..
...Until the Iraqi government has full control over military and security affairs within its borders and authority over its economic and social policy, Iraq remains an occupied country. There cannot be limited sovereignty any more than one can be a little bit pregnant. .... .....
Even if the United States allows the new Iraqi government to assert their authority, however, it will still face serious problems with its credibility. Perhaps most important is the restoration of basic services. Everyone from the General Accounting Office to various development agencies has underscored the fact that Iraqis are worse off now than they were prior to the U.S. invasion. .." Read in full
10/11 February 2005 ~ recount will delay the announcement of the election results
From Professor Cole's Informed Comment site. "... AP article reports that the Iraqi electoral commission has announced a recount of thousands of ballots to clear up discrepancies and has disqualified larger numbers of ballots for procedural irregularities (not using official ballot boxes, appearance of stuffed ballots, etc.) The recount will delay the announcement of the election results, but it seems pretty clear that the new parliament will have only two really big parties, the religious Shiites and the Kurds.
A highly placed US official in Baghdad told the Chicago Tribune's Liz Sly that he thought the guerrilla war would go on for many years. As regular readers know, I concur. The old Sunni Arab power elite, mainly Baathists or the officer class, has not reconciled itself to the political ascendancy of the Shiites and Kurds. They still think they can destabilize the country and take back over...."
8 February 2005 ~ Dear Mr. Goldberg,
Here's a compromise to your dilemma as to whether to get your ass into the killing zone (more accurately, the be killed, be shot, or be blown up zone). Go to the nearest Veterans Hospital you can find, go up to some soldier or Marine who lost a limb in Iraq because his reserve or National Guard unit wasn't equipped with body armor or armored vehicles, and explain to him why we had to go to war in Iraq on March 20, 2003, and why we couldn't (a) wait to see if actual evidence of WMD's ever surfaced, and (b) wait until our military was properly equipped for the war.
By the way, I'm one of those parents who had to go shopping at home to send essential items to my son's Marine Corps Reserve Unit. And I, like most intelligent people with more than an ounce of common sense, knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was no military threat to the U.S. from Iraq, imminent or otherwise, when this war was launched.
4 February 2005 ~ Iraq - ".. the most anarchic and dangerous country on Earth, after two years of Anglo-American rule.
Simon Jenkins today "... The pro-war lobby would do well to recognise this if they are to see clearly what to do next. For the election to be no more than a fond memory - like the much-boasted "sovereignty transfer" last June - the mullahs of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution and their allies must do a deal with Iyad Allawi's bunker administration in Baghdad. The now dormant militias must be fused into a proper internal security force. Some of the billions of Iraq's oil dollars now being stolen by American companies (see last night's astonishing BBC File on 4) must go to Iraqis. .." Read in full
3 February 2005 ~ "This week we get the successful-elections Good Iraq. But for people in Ramadi, the bombs keep falling no matter what the spin is on Iraq in New York and Washington that week. .."
Professor Cole writes, "I don't always agree with Dahr Jamail , an independent journalist in Iraq. I don't think the US used chemical weapons at Fallujah, and I don't think people were coerced to vote via their food ration cards. But Dahr's report on the US bombing campaign on civilian neighborhoods in Iraqi cities, which the US media completely ignore, is compelling and very much worth reading. Especially since the mainstream media in the US seems to me to be unable to cover more than one Iraq story at once, or to evince more than one mood at once. So when the Abu Ghraib torture scandal broke last spring, or when the thousandth US soldier was killed, we got the gloomy Bad Iraq. This week we get the successful-elections Good Iraq. But for people in Ramadi, the bombs keep falling no matter what the spin is on Iraq in New York and Washington that week."
Jan 30 2005 ~ "...he created an entirely false impression of Iraqi weapons capabilities and ties to al-Qaeda, and that he is among the chief facilitators of the US war in Iraq."
Juan Cole on Douglas Feith "... Feith has been questioned by the FBI in relation to the passing by one of his employees of confidential Pentagon documents to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which in turn passed them to the Israeli embassy. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating Feith. There seems little doubt that he operated in the Pentagon in such a way as to produce false and misleading "intelligence," that he created an entirely false impression of Iraqi weapons capabilities and ties to al-Qaeda, and that he is among the chief facilitators of the US war in Iraq.
Feith is clearly resigning ahead of the possible breaking of major scandals concerning his tenure at the Department of Defense, which is among the more disgraceful cases of the misleading of the American people in American history...."
Jan 27 2005 ~ This Pollyanna army
Sidney Blumenthal in the Guardian "Bush will not admit that his troops are too exhausted to sustain his vengeful global missions. The most penetrating critique of the realism informing President Bush's second inaugural address, a trumpet call of imperial ambition, was made one month before it was delivered, by Lt Gen James Helmly, chief of the US Army Reserve. In an internal memorandum, he described "the Army Reserve's inability under current policies, procedures and practices ... to meet mission requirements associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Army Reserve is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements and is rapidly degenerating into a broken force". These "dysfunctional" policies are producing a crisis "more acute and hurtful", as the Reserve's ability to mobilise troops is "eroding daily". The US force in Iraq of about 150,000 troops is composed of a "volunteer" army that came into being with the end of military conscription during the Vietnam war. More than 40% are National Guard and Reserves, most having completed second tours of duty and being sent out again. The force level has been maintained by the Pentagon only by "stop-loss" orders that coerce soldiers to remain in service after their contractual enlistment expires - a back-door draft. Re-enlistment is collapsing, by 30% last year....." Read in full
Jan 23 2005 ~ From Professor Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" - A Pictorial Commentary on the first Line in Bush's Inaugural Speech
(Click here for the pictorial commentary) "... Bush's speech was about bringing liberty to the rest of the world. Let's see if he can first do something to restore to the American public the liberties we enjoyed, as free men and women, until 2001. Let's see if he can bring US government policies back into alignment with the Geneva Conventions and other international law on human rights, to which the US is signatory. Only then would he have earned the right to even think about trying to extend liberty to others. As of now, folks, your library records can be viewed at will by agents of the US government, and the librarian is forbidden to reveal to anyone that the government looked at these documents. Not only is a warrant not required, but even the invasion of your privacy is top secret and you will never know about it. Can anyone even prove that the 19 hijackers of 9/11 ever checked a book out of a US library? The Republic may not be able to withstand four more years of this."
January 16 - 22 2005 ~ the vote whether to confirm White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General will very likely be the key vote in regard to torture.
At the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination, the senators seemed almost as interested in flattering one another as in examining the nominee. The former committee chair, Senator Orrin Hatch, did not thrust a lighted cigarette into the ear of Senator Patrick Leahy. ..... Senator Biden did not strip Senator Mike DeWine naked, attach a leash to his neck and force him to crawl around the hearing-room floor. Senator Specter did not kill Senator Edward Kennedy and then pose for a photograph next to his corpse, making a thumbs-up sign.
......yet the acts mentioned above, all performed by U.S. forces upon prisoners in Iraq or elsewhere, were the actual substance of the hearing. Under the President served by Gonzales, torture has become endemic,.....Gonzales advised that the Geneva Conventions did not apply either to Al Qaeda or Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan...... He wrote the President, "Your determination [that the Conventions didn't apply] would create a reasonable basis in law that Section 2441 does not apply, which would provide a solid defense to any future prosecution."
In other words, his advice was to throw out international law so that torturers could escape the consequences of U.S. law...............
Torture destroys the soul of the torturer even as it destroys the body of his victim. The boundary between humane treatment of prisoners and torture is perhaps the clearest boundary in existence between civilization and barbarism. Whether the elected representatives of the people of the United States are now ready to cross that line is the deepest question before the Senate as it votes on the nomination of Alberto Gonzales."
From Jonathan Schell's article "What Is Wrong with Torture"
January 16 - 22 2005 ~ Gunmen have stopped my family voting in Iraqi election
Letter in the Independent
Sir: I am a 49-year-old Iraqi woman. I reluctantly fled my homeland 10 years ago, and I have settled in England. My family still live in Hay Al Jamia, which is a middle-class suburb in west Baghdad and has a mixed Shi'ite and Sunni population. In spite of the risks involved, my family were planning on voting in the Iraqi elections that are due to be held at the end of this month.
Yesterday, they were visited by one of their local shopkeepers. He asked them to hand over their ration books to him for "temporary safe-keeping". It is by means of these ration books that voters will be identified when they cast their ballots on 30 January. He informed them that he had been visited by masked men carrying guns, who told him that they would be back. The gunmen had ordered him to collect the ration books from his neighbourhood, and said that if he failed to do so, he and his family would be killed.
It was when the shopkeeper came back to call on my family a second time, sobbing and begging them not to condemn his children to a certain death, that they reluctantly handed over their ration books. They will now, like many others I am sure, be unable to cast their votes at the end of this month.
NADIA SELIM Northolt, Middlesex
January 16 - 22 2005 ~ the elderly leader of the Independent Democrats warns that the guerrilla insurgency in Iraq aimed at establishing a Taliban-like state.
Informed Comment ".....Adnan Pachachi, the elderly leader of the Independent Democrats, was in Amman to address the Iraqi expatriate community. Some 200 came to hear him urge them to vote. He told them that a massive voter turnout was the only way to put an end to the foreign presence in Iraq. He said Iraq needed the vote, since it was passing through the most dangerous phase in its history, and urged them all to go to the polls. He warned that the guerrilla insurgency in Iraq aimed at establishing a Taliban-like state. Pachachi had earlier urged postponement of the elections, but he now seems behind them. His campaign trip to Jordan was aimed at getting as many as possible of the some 200,000 Iraqis in that country to come out and vote (preferably for the Independent Democratic Coalition that Pachachi heads). I was in Amman recently and posters are plastered everywhere calling on Iraqi expatriates to vote on January 30...."
January 13 2005 ~ Falling like Flies
From Informed Comment 53 Iraqi Parties Withdraw from Elections Xinhuanet reports that: "According to the Al Furat newspaper, 53 political parties and organizations as well as 30 individuals have asked their names to be dropped from the election lists in a bid to show their rejection of elections under US occupation...."
January 11 2005 ~ "..the paper trail already made public on torture, abuse, and other crimes against humanity is unprecedented -- and it leads right up to the top."
Tom Dispatch "......Only three years into the war on terror, however, with the Bush administration still riding relatively high in the saddle, the paper trail already made public on torture, abuse, and other crimes against humanity is unprecedented -- and it leads right up to the top. ... a massive book of these documents (just being published this week), The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib. It's the most comprehensive record yet of memos and reports in which the Bush Administration developed its policies on the treatment of prisoners and on torture. It also includes testimony from interrogators and detainees on abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and reports on prisoner abuses done by the International Red Cross and other organizations. It will be a must-have reference work for any journalist or historian writing on the subject or, for that matter, for any of us. And it's equipped Greenberg and Dratel well to interrogate Donald Rumsfeld..." Read the Tom Dispatch in full
January 3rd 2005 ~ the day the tsunami struck, the US peace group Code Pink sent a delegation to Iraq with $600,000 in donations for the people of Fallujah.
Extract from the essay on Susan Sontag's death "Sontag and Tsunami" by Rebecca Solnit on .... You can remember the ways this war has been kept invisible, so out of range of our potential for empathy or outrage that even photographs of the returning coffins of American soldiers were banned -- and then obtained and distributed against the Pentagon's wishes. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a gallery of pictures of the all U.S. dead nine months ago when the casualty figure was 556 and maintains that gallery of what is now 1347 dead....
.... an earthquake in policy and principle that has devastated countless lives and environments and cities far away -- and near at hand, where friends and families of dead soldiers also grieve, and tens of thousands of those kids sent abroad to carry out a venal foreign policy are maimed in body and spirit. ...." TomDispatch - Tomgram
December 27 2004 ~Wilful Blindness
The Bush Administration and Iraq In "Willful Blindness", Trudy Rubin, the Philadelphia Inquirer's foreign affairs columnist and a 2001 Pulitzer finalist, writes an eyewitness account of the blunders that led to the current Iraq mess. Based on inside knowledge of Iraq and lengthy trips there in 2003-4. www.trudyrubin.com (external link)
"Few journalists have the first hand knowledge and grasp of Iraq and Iraqi politics that Trudy Rubin does, which comes in part from extensive travel in the country. But she also has something much more essential - superb judgment and ability to get at the heart of issues." --Phebe Marr, author of The Modern History of Iraq (2nd edition)
See also Amazon.co.uk (external link) for the book
December 27 2004 ~ " no one produced an actual document laying out a strategy .. beyond regime collapse.."
The Washigton Post published this article by Maj. Isaiah Wilson III, who served as an official historian of the campaign and later as a war planner in Iraq. "....Similar criticisms have been made before, but until now they have not been stated so authoritatively and publicly by a military insider positioned to be familiar with top-secret planning."
"Many in the Army have blamed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon civilians for the unexpectedly difficult occupation of Iraq, but Wilson reserves his toughest criticism for Army commanders who, he concludes, failed to grasp the strategic situation in Iraq and so not did not plan properly for victory. He concludes that those who planned the war suffered from "stunted learning and a reluctance to adapt."Read in full
Army commanders still misunderstand the strategic problem they face and therefore are still pursuing a flawed approach.....
....Wilson's essay amounts to an indictment of the education and performance of senior U.S. officials involved in the war. .."
December 13 2004 ~ Fallujah: "....Americans want to create their own fantasy city.."
"... we see evidence that the extreme fantasies of the most extreme elements on both sides of this struggle have similarly been loosed to compete in the Iraqi rubble. It's a competition that offers subtle, almost farcical reminders of past Cold War competitions. Dystopian fantasies of a better (that is, more controlled) world, on both sides, are just that -- fantasies (though the results of trying to impose such fantasy constructs on a real-life population are bound to be devastating).
From the beginning, the American invasion and "liberation" of Iraq has been little but a set of fantasies concocted by dreamy imperialists inside Washington's Beltway, aided and abetted by exiled Iraqi tale-spinners who knew a group of suckers when they spotted one...... But fantasies, especially dystopian ones, especially ones that are seriously meant to be imposed on a real-world population, can tell us a great deal about those who dream them up, most of it painful..... " TomDispatch
December 13 2004 ~ the costs of war
"...Myself and most Arab and western independent journalists here show the costs of war. Report the massacres, the slaughter, the dead and wounded kids, disaster that this occupation truly is for the Iraqi people. Report on the low morale of most soldiers here, report on how doctors now state openly that due to lack of funds and help from the US-backed Ministry of Health, they feel it is worse now than during the sanctions.
I do feel I have more freedom because I am "unembedded." I'm flying under the mainstream radar of censorship.
I have been attacked from some mainstream sources and pundits. Fox propaganda channel invited me on after I accurately reported the sniping of ambulances, medical workers and civilians in Fallujah last April...I declined the set up because I didn't have a desire to have my character assassinated.
My website has taken some attacks by hackers...but so far we've managed the onslaught. I receive some hate mail via my site, and have received one death threat...so far..."
Read in full Dahr Jamail's interview
December 13 2004 ~ "...the simple reason for the rising strength of the Iraqi resistance: outside Kurdistan the great majority of Iraqis, whatever they thought of Saddam, were against the US occupation."
Independent "In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over," declared George Bush the day after the former Iraqi leader was seized. "A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can come together and build a new Iraq." ..... Why did Saddam's capture accomplish so little compared to the expectations of the White House? It believed much of its own propaganda about the resistance being orchestrated by remnants of Saddam's regime. ..... Saddam was a highly convenient enemy for Washington. .. At the heart of the US miscalculation of the impact of Saddam's capture was ignorance about the simple reason for the rising strength of the Iraqi resistance: outside Kurdistan the great majority of Iraqis, whatever they thought of Saddam, were against the US occupation. This is true of the majority Shia Muslims, as well as the Sunni Arabs who have risen in rebellion. ....
(Saddam's) appearance in court last July largely backfired. US officials failed to turn off the sound equipment of television crews in the court. As a result, instead of the beaten and bewildered Saddam of seven months before, Iraqis saw a pugnacious figure decrying his judges as US dupes. ..." Read in full
December 11 2004 ~ "The whole deployment was, of course, heavily politicised from the beginning.
Some soldiers criticised Tony Blair by name. There was a feeling that we were being used, and that made it difficult to focus initially on our mission." An officer of the Black Watch, quoted in the Independent
December 9 2004 ~ "We were told it was a new kind of war, that these were evil people and they had to be dealt with."
From the Independent story "US soldiers would kill civilians, says Marine" by Andrew Buncombe in Washington "A former US Marine has claimed that he saw American troops in Iraq routinely kill unarmed civilians, including women and children. He said he had also witnessed troops killing injured Iraqi insurgents. .... said he had seen troops shooting civilians at road blocks and in the street. A code of silence, similar to that found in organised crime gangs, prevented troops from speaking about it.
"We were shooting up people as they got out of their cars trying to put their hands up...I do know that we killed innocent civilians.".... he had watched his colleagues open fire indiscriminately. In one 48-hour period, he estimated his unit killed more than 30 civilians in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. His claims were made during an immigration hearing in Toronto, Canada, to assess a claim for refugee status made by a former US soldier, Jeremy Hinzman. Mr Hinzman, 26, fled to Canada after refusing to go to Iraq with his colleagues in the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg." .... Some 30,000 to 50,000 Americans fled to Canada during the Vietnam War and settled there." Read in full
December 8 2004 ~ "when I read yesterday that Fallujah is in ruins I thought, "Dear God. We're doing a Grozny to these people."
General Sir Hugh Beach, formerly deputy commander in Chief of the Land forces and a signatory of the letter below, spoke to the World at One: "...... it is impossible to arrive at a judgement on the rights and wrongs either of the war as a whole or particular operations until you know what the cost is. The Prime Minister in his famous speech in Chicago in 1999 when he set out criteria said that military operations must be sensibly and prudently undertaken. Now a very important part of prudence is how high a cost you are incurring. And I am bound to say that when I read yesterday that Fallujah is in ruins I thought, "Dear God. We're doing a Grozny to these people......What is to be gained by concealing these things? It makes it looks very "hole in corner", it makes it look as though we are ashamed of something, it makes it look, worst of all, as though the British and American Governments just don't care.
I don't know to what extent one can come up with figures with any great exactitude but I'm sure it ought to be tried. This is all that we are asking for - that there should be a comprehensive, independent peer-reviewed inquiry to do the best that can be done by someone with no axe to grind." Transcript (As for Grozny (new window) the capital of Chechnya, it was once a city of 400,000 residents. After almost a decade of war, it is now completely devastated)
December 8 2004 ~ Speaking out
The letter to Mr Blair (read in full) ".... your government is obliged under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population during military operations in Iraq.... We therefore urge you immediately to commission a comprehensive, independent inquiry to determine with the greatest possible accuracy how many Iraqis have died or been injured since March 2003 - and the cause of those casualties.
The inquiry should be independent of government, conducted according to accepted scientific methods and subjected to peer review so that all parties can be confident of the findings. It should report regularly to Parliament and the public for as long as British forces remain in Iraq. " The list of signatories is impressive
December 5 - 9 2004 ~ Naomi Klein provides the grim evidence...
Responding to US Embassy anger at her accusation that the US "eliminates" those who dare to count the dead, Naomi Klein's article in the Guardian makes for sombre reading. Extract:
"..The Los Angeles Times quoted a doctor as saying that the soldiers "stole the mobile phones" at the hospital - preventing doctors from communicating with the outside world.Read in full
But this was not the worst of the attacks on health workers. Two days earlier, a crucial emergency health clinic was bombed to rubble, as well as a medical supplies dispensary next door. Dr Sami al-Jumaili, who was working in the clinic, says the bombs took the lives of 15 medics, four nurses and 35 patients. The Los Angeles Times reported that the manager of Falluja general hospital "had told a US general the location of the downtown makeshift medical centre" before it was hit.
Whether the clinic was targeted or destroyed accidentally, the effect was the same: to eliminate many of Falluja's doctors from the war zone. As Dr Jumaili told the Independent on November 14: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja." When fighting moved to Mosul, a similar tactic was used: on entering the city, US and Iraqi forces immediately seized control of the al-Zaharawi hospital. .."
December 4 2004 ~ "their protest has also been endorsed by the Stop the War Coalition, Naomi Klein, Harold Pinter, and the journalist, John Pilger.
Global Echo: "In its short life, 'A Call For Light' has certainly attracted some high profile support. The film director, Ken Loach, commends the organisers for highlighting "the distortion of language by the media" The event even has the backing of two Iraqi groups: the Union of Unemployed and Iraqi Democrats Against the Occupation.
"The turning point for me was Fallujah," says organiser Antony Wright, 'every day friends and colleagues would email me reports from the Red Cross and journalists actually in Fallujah - then I would turn on the BBC news and be astonished. The reports of gas, napalm, trapped civilians, young teenagers targeted as combatants and the utter destruction were absent." ....Read the report of Thursday's candlelit vigil outside the BBC here
December 4 2004 ~ We are responsible for what is happening in Iraq.
".......We would all do well to recall the judgement of Nazi media boss, Julius Streicher, at Nuremberg:
"No government in the world... could have embarked upon and put into effect a policy of mass extermination without having a people who would back them and support them... These crimes could never have happened had it not been for him and for those like him." (Conot, Robert E, Justice At Nuremberg, Carrol & Graf, 1983, NY, pp.384-385)Medialens has published its support for peaceful protest of the BBC reporting of the war. The esteem and trust that the BBC still inspires means that its subdued reporting of Iraq and its reassuring tone of normality results in the UK population thinking all is well. All is not well. War crimes are being committed in our name and with our tacit support. We are responsible for what is happening in Iraq. Read the medialens articles here
December 3 2004 ~"It makes you wonder what the mob would do with Annan's silver scalp if they ever got it..."
LA Times ".... Annan infuriated administration officials when he called the Iraq war illegal and again when he argued against the recent assault on Fallouja. But just now, the administration finds itself needing the U.N. and its vexed legitimacy in Iraq, where the organization is helping set up the impending elections.
The administration wants more U.N. election advisors, not fewer.
Perhaps, secretly, it also wants a bigger U.N. role so that it can blame the organization if and when the elections fail.
But that too makes the organization indispensable. It makes you wonder what the mob would do with Annan's silver scalp if they ever got it." Read in full
December 1 2004 ~ "There are no safe havens.."
Counterpunch's Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad ".sombre warning yesterday from the British embassy against using the airport road or taking a plane out of Iraq. ......The warning is in sharp contrast to more optimistic statements from US military commanders after the capture of Fallujah in which they have spoken of "breaking the back of the insurgency".... the road between Baghdad and the international airport, perhaps the most important highway in the country, is now too dangerous to use. The advice says starkly: "With effect from 28 November, the British embassy ceased all movements on the Baghdad International airport road." The airport road is littered with evidence of previous attacks: the twisted cars used by suicide bombers and craters from roadside bombs. There are no safe havens. Since March, 14 British civilians have been killed. ..Observers in Fallujah during the US attack say the siege was never complete and many fighters slipped out. They add that if the US figure of 1,200 insurgents killed is true, then several thousand others survived to continue the fight. ..."
November 30 2004 ~ "It doesn't look like things are miraculously settling down in the aftermath of Fallujah..."
Professor Cole today: "November was the second-deadliest month for US troops since the invasion itself. That isn't the kind of trend line you would like to see for a successful venture....
.. The US military slides suggest that now that the bad guys have been taken care of, the civilians can be won over. That this outcome is highly unlikely does not seem to occur to them.
....the political judgment on the Fallujah campaign is easy. It was supposed to make holding elections possible in the Sunni Arab heartland. Instead, it has certainly further alienated the Sunni Arabs and made it more likely that they will boycott the elections en masse. If the Sunni Arabs remain angry and sullen in this way, Fallujah will have been a political failure."
November 30 2004 ~ "Fallujah has been laid waste. It has been bombed, re-bombed, its citizens gunned down, its structures devastated by powerful weapons. It is a hell on earth of crushed bodies, shattered buildings and the reek of death."
Axis of Logic" In addition to the artillery and the warplanes dropping 500, 1000, and 2000-pound bombs, 70-ton Abrams Tanks and the murderous AC-130 Spectre gunship that can demolish a whole city block in less than a minute, the Marines had snipers crisscrossing the entire town firing at will at whatever moved outside the buildings. For those inside, the US troops were equipped with thermal sights capable of detecting body heat. Any such detection was eagerly assumed to indicate the presence of "insurgents" inviting a deadly salvo. ....
.....Fallujah will enter history as the place where US imperialism carried out an offense of heinous proportions this November, a monstrous crime far beyond any possible forgiveness. The crimson waters of the Euphrates are now emptying into the Persian Gulf the hopes and aspirations of innocent people whose lives were snuffed out on the orders of a man rewarded for his monumental crimes by his great nation. .."
November 28 2004 ~".... there is no "Sunni triangle."
Professor Cole on the inaccuracies of the article by one, Quentin Langley, forecasting "success" in the Iraqi elections. Professor Cole writes,
"The Sunni Arab heartland is more like a rectangle, and it is vast, encompassing much of the capital, Baghdad. Even if it were the only problem, it wouldn't be a small one. In fact, "trouble spots," if by that is meant things like carbombings, grenade and mortar attacks on coalition troops and Iraqi national guards, and machine gun fire, are all over the country. Tel Afar, Kirkuk, Hilla, Amarah, Majar al-Kabir, Samawah, Sadr City, etc., etc., routinely see "trouble spots." While most of the guerrillas are Sunni Arabs, they have demonstrated an ability to strike all over the country. And, some of the problems come from other groups, whether Shiite Turkmen in the north or disgruntled Shiite Mahdi Army militiamen in the south.Read in full
If hundreds of people show up to a school to vote in Hilla and suddenly take mortar fire, with dozens killed, then will that really have no effect on turnout? What if such incidents occur all over the country? Maybe voters will be brave and refuse to be dissuaded from voting. Maybe they won't. To pretend the problem does not exist or is limited to only a small part of the country, however, is to live in a fantasy-land....."
November 28 2004 ~ Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah
".....Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah" 35-year-old trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad told IPS. "They used everything -- tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground." .......Abu Hammad said he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. "The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore," he said. "Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot.." .....He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns. Phosphorous weapons as well as napalm are known to cause such effects...."The article quotes eye witnesses who describe atrocities we find equally disturbing. The refugee camps now contain 15,000 families of men, women and children. Read in full.
November 27 2004 ~ . "It is about the currency used to trade oil and consequently, who will dominate the world economically, in the foreseeable future - the USA or the European Union."
Geoffrey Heard's "petrol- currency" explanation is the clearest we have read. At the time of Dick Cheney's now famous speech in 1999 (link mended, apologies) in which he said that " the Middle East with two thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.." Iraq decided to switch to trading its oil in euros instead of in dollars. As for Iran, it is not accidental that this unthreatening country was named one of the so-called "axis of evil" In 2003 Heard said, " "Iran started thinking about switching too....."
See also New York Times: "....the dollar abruptly slid to a record low against the euro after a report suggesting that the Chinese central bank might start to reduce its holdings in the American currency. ...... analysts say the broader trend is that foreign governments are becoming less willing to finance the growing debt of the United States government. On Tuesday, a top official with the Russian central bank said his government had become worried about the sinking value of the dollar and might switch some foreign reserves to euros...."
November 25 2004 ~ " I don't know at what point US electronic journalism became a propaganda arm of the White House and the Pentagon, but it is not a healthy development..."
From Professor Cole's site today "The CNN anchor in the US during the daytime on Wednesday said that the US troops were fighting "thugs and terrorists" in the "triangle of death". This sort of language is really inexcusable in a news organization. There are of course thugs and terrorists among those fighting US troops, but a lot of the guerrillas are just Sunni Arab nationalists who reject the US presence and fear that they will lose everything if the Shiites take back their land and homes. I don't know at what point US electronic journalism became a propaganda arm of the White House and the Pentagon, but it is not a healthy development. And, of course, CNN is hardly the worst offender in this regard!"
November 24 2004 ~ Iraqi farmers will no longer be permitted to save their seeds. Instead, they will be forced to buy seeds from US corporations
including seeds the Iraqis themselves developed over hundreds of years. See www.Grain.org "...The new law is presented as being necessary to ensure the supply of good quality seeds in Iraq and to facilitate Iraq's accession to the WTO . What it will actually do is facilitate the penetration of Iraqi agriculture by the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow Chemical - the corporate giants that control seed trade across the globe. Eliminating competition from farmers is a prerequisite for these companies to open up operations in Iraq, which the new law has achieved. Taking over the first step in the food chain is their next move.
The new patent law also explicitly promotes the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) seeds in Iraq.."
November 23 ~ "World revulsion against the US attack on Fallujah reached a crescendo during the past five days..
...says Professor Juan Cole, "..with significant street protests breaking out in the Middle East and Latin America. Turkey, Palestine and Libya in the region, and Chile in the New World saw thousands of angry protesters come out against the US.
The brutal way the US conducted the assault, and the continual aerial bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in the weeks leading up to the attack, suggested to many observers that the operation was intended as a form of collective punishment against the people of Fallujah, and a warning to the residents of other Iraqi cities not to let the guerrillas operate freely in their urban areas. Collective punishment is forbidden by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 governing militarily occupied territories..." Informed Comment website
November 19 - 21 ~ The Red Cross speaks out - "...every day seems to bring news of yet another act of utter contempt for the most basic tenet of humanity"
Most UK news papers (eg The Scotsman) are quoting press agency reports that the International Committee of the Red Cross has released a strong statement from its headquarters in Iraq speaking of the "utter contempt for humanity" shown by all sides in the war in Iraq.
"As hostilities continue in Fallujah and elsewhere, every day seems to bring news of yet another act of utter contempt for the most basic tenet of humanity," said Pierre Kraehenbuhl, the ICRC's director of operations. "Like any other armed conflict, this one is subject to limits, and they must be respected at all times." .....complying with international humanitarian law was "an obligation, not an option", for all parties.
He told all sides it was absolutely prohibited to kill anyone not actively taking part in the hostilities; to torture or subject them to inhuman, humiliating and degrading treatment; and to take hostages.
All parties in the conflict must provide adequate medical care for the injured, whether friend or foe, and must do everything possible to help civilians with food, water and health care .... ........Regrettably, recent events have again shown just how difficult it has become for neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organisations to assist and protect the victims of the conflict in Iraq," he said.
November 19 - 21 ~ "If elections are held in January, I see only one way to avoid disaster.
This would be some sort of emergency decree by the current government that sets aside, say, 20% of seats in parliament for the Sunni Arabs. This procedure would seat Sunni Arab candidates in order of the popularity of their lists and in order of their rank within the lists on which they run. But the results would essentially be "graded on a curve." In a way, this procedure is already being followed for women, who are guaranteed 30% of seats. This solution is Lebanon-like and is not optimal, but it might be the best course if long-term sectarian and ethnic conflict is to be avoided..." Professor Juan Cole
November 19 2004 ~ "no government can allow terrorists and foreign fighters to use its soil to attack its people and to attack its government, and to intimidate the Iraqi people"
Mr. Rumsfeld's statement while US soldiers sieged Fallujah that "no government can allow terrorists and foreign fighters to use its soil to attack its people and to attack its government, and to intimidate the Iraqi people" might have been mistaken for irony... See www.dahrjamailiraq.com
November 18 2004 ~ "....the good soldier was dismissed at last by his commander-in-chief as a bad egg.
Read Sidney Blumenthal on the departure of Colin Powell. Blumenthal now feels an "atmosphere of personal vendetta and an incentive system for suppressing realities prevails. This is not an administration; it does not administer - it is a regime. " Guardian
"...Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld regarded him either as a useful tool or a vain obstructionist. They deployed his reputation as the most popular man and the most credible face in the US for their own ends, and when he contributed an independent view he was isolated and undermined. ..Read in full and be scared, very scared at the "vindictiveness against the institutions of government based on expertise, evidence and experience...clearing the way for the intellectual standards and cooked conclusions of rightwing think-tanks and those appointees who emerge from them. A system of bureaucratic fear and one-party allegiance is being created in this strange soviet Washington."
...When the statue of Saddam was toppled, he offered President Bush 17 volumes of his Future of Iraq project, but it was rejected. Predicting everything from the looting to the insurgency, and suggesting how it might be avoided, the project was politically incorrect. Powell had wanted to stay on for the first six months of Bush's second term to help shepherd a new Middle East peace process, but the president insisted on his resignation. ..."
November 16 2004 ~ "I don't think the US is paying much attention to the Geneva Conventions any more..."
The Independent reports a spokeswoman for the peace group Voices in the Wilderness commenting on the video of the mosque shooting of unarmed prisoners.
Such images would "recruit more terrorists faster than they are being killed".Young, scared, hyped-up soldiers behave like this in war and surely are literally out of their minds. The responsibility for their harrowing behaviour lies elsewhere. Knowing this, several million UK citizens took to the streets of London on February 15th 2003. They were ignored because Mr Blair wanted a "reactive approach" to Iraq. Now, because reporting is so sanitized, the civilian victims of Phantom Fury can't even count on global public opinion expressing outrage. Even The Lancet's article stating that the American invasion and occupation has caused at least 100,000 Iraqi deaths - September 11 dozens of times over - is contemptuously ignored and derided by the government.
The pep talk from Colonel Gary Brandl of the United States Marine Corps before the assault on Fallujah: ".... the enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He lives in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him...."
Such uncivilised horrors are as old as civilisation "The Romans create a desolation and call it peace." - Tacitus.
November 15 2004 ~ Fallujah "....the number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded in the fighting was not mentioned.
Independent " Mr Allawi said on Saturday that no civilian casualties had been reported.
Mr Rumsfeld confidently asserted last week that civilians had been given guidance on how to avoid getting injured. He predicted that there would not be large numbers of civilians killed....
....thousands remained trapped. Yesterday charred bodies were scattered in the streets, where rows of buildings lay in ruins.
People in the city said they had no water and no food, and aid agencies warned that Fallujah and surrounding areas were facing a humanitarian catastrophe. There have been outbreaks of typhoid and other diseases. Some people leaving the city told of rotting corpses being piled up and thousands of people trapped, many of them wounded without access to medical aid.
An aid convoy was held up at the city's main hospital in the western outskirts..." Read in full
November 14 2004 ~ "... the seeds of Iraqi civil war and partition in the future..."
Read Professor Juan Cole today on the proposal of former Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie for consolidating the 18 Iraqi provinces into 5-- one Kurdish, two Sunni Arab, and two Shiite.
"... no Iraqi political party has come out for any sort of partition, and speaking of how consolidated ethnic provinces could only be produced through a sort of ethnic cleansing. There is some ethnic tension in some places (Sunni/Shiite around Yusufiyah, Kurdish/Turkmen in Kirkuk), but mostly Iraqis haven't been fighting each other. They have been fighting the Americans. This common foe is what gives Muqtada al-Sadr's movement something in common with the Association of Muslim Scholars....Gulf Daily News "Iraqi authorities have detained four members of the Muslim Clerics Association... (Association of Muslim Scholars) One of those arrested, Shaikh Ghaleb Al Tarbouli, was also beaten, said a statement by the group. ...... Government officials could not be reached for comment on the arrests or reported detentions of other Sunni clerics.
Anti-US sentiment runs high among Iraq's Sunni minority, which has lost much of the power and privilege it enjoyed under Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni..... The association has urged Iraqis to boycott elections scheduled for January 27 in protest against a five-day-old US-led offensive against the city of Fallujah in Iraq's central Sunni heartland."
November 12 2004 ~ "... patients and doctors rousted from hospital rooms, thrown on the floor and handcuffed
-- and yet because Americans have done this, there will be no mention of the Geneva Conventions which such an act almost certainly contravenes. (The Fourth Geneva Convention contains this clear passage: "Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.") Similar acts -- the dropping of 500, 1,000 or 2,000 pound bombs in major urban areas (sometimes to kill a single sniper) or the turning back of men trying to flee Falluja (because we have no way of telling whether they are civilians or fighters) -- lead similarly down a steep but unacknowledged path to Hell. ....." Mark LeVine, Four Times Falluja Equals?
November 12 2004 ~ The hospitals and the mass graves provided the facts as to how many innocent women and children perished by the surgical' US strikes.
No analysts or spin doctors are required as the victims are physically there. Even the reporters from Fox-TV, BBC, Reuters and CNN would find it difficult to conceal these facts .... The US claimed the figures were inflated but never attempted to substantiate their claims by verifying the dead victims lying in the graves of Fallujah. Therefore, in order to prevent independent verification of the Iraqi casualty figures, in addition to gagging independent media outlets, this time the US raided the main hospital, destroyed other health centres and prohibited the use of ambulances before launching the full scale attack. Electricity and water supplies have also been cut off making it impossible to treat the wounded ones that are already in the hospitals. .... Discrepancy between the words of the ordinary US soldiers and the PR mouthpieces of the Pentagon conveyed by the likes of Reuters, CNN, BBC and others ..... News of US forces using chemical weapons against the Iraqi resistance has also coming through the independent media (www.islamonline.net), so that is where the WMDs are. Perhaps this is why there has been little mass media coverage from inside Fallujah. ....
With Al-Jazeera and other independent media outlets out of the way, hospitals demolished, medics killed, no one will be there this time to verify the scale of the slaughter of the US forces. Truth indeed is the first casualty of this war......"
Yamin Zakaria London, UK Read in full
November 112004 ~ "For some black satire on Fallujah, see Unconfirmed Sources .." says Juan Cole
extracts: "American Troops Entering Fallujah Iraq Are Showered with Flowers and Savory Middle Eastern Treats!Unconfirmed Sources .....
..... "We are so glad they have arrived to liberate us from Sadam Hussein. All this time since Sadam's capture we have waited to be liberated. We were very disappointed when you started to liberate us before and stopped for your elections. But hey, now you are here and we are saved."
"We though this is going to be the biggest fight in Iraq." Said Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Rainey, of the Seventh Cavalry regiment. "But we were wrong. The intelligence was all wrong. The CIA was wrong. The NSA was wrong. The British MI5 was wrong. Only the Neo-Cons who stand bravely back in Washington D.C. based think tanks had it right. I sure am glad there is somebody back home who knows what is going on here and I'm real glad that they have the Presidents ear."....
.... the President his trademark smirk locked in place. "Fallujah is a symbol of what American force can do to bring peace and cooperation to the world. I want the whole world to see Fallujah as the model of future relations between America and all of our Arab friends."....."
November 10 2004 ~ The vote is being held ''over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah,'' said Harith al-Dhari, director of the Association of Muslim Clerics.
Associated Press ".... Anger over the assault on the mainly Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah grew among Iraq's Sunni minority, and voices abroad including the United Nations' refugee agency and the Red Cross expressed fears over civilians' safety. Russia warned that the attack could hurt the January election.
A group of Iraqi Sunni clerics called for a boycott of the election. The vote is being held ''over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah,'' said Harith al-Dhari, director of the Association of Muslim Clerics. A major Sunni political party quit the interim Iraqi government in protest over the U.S. assault.
U.S. officers said few civilians were trying to flee Fallujah. They said the bulk of the population of 200,000-300,000 left before the fighting. U.S. troops now are preventing most people from leaving, except in emergency cases.
U.S. forces cut off electricity to Fallujah. Residents said they were without running water and were worried about food shortages because most shops were closed. ..."
November 8 2004 ~ what can be done with the current reality?
asks former Member of the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Council, responsible for the Middle East, Professor of History at the University of Chicago and Founding-Director of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies, William R Polk. His latest book, Understanding Iraq, will be published in March 2005. He is now the Senior Director of the W.P. Carey Foundation.
"....With the elections behind us and the Bush administration in office for the next four years, an intelligent choice among current options in Iraq becomes even more urgent. Now as a private citizen, I ask what can be done with the current reality? Iraq is in a terrible condition, its society has been torn apart, scores of thousands have been killed and even more wounded, its infrastructure has been shattered, dreadful hatreds have been generated. Today, there are no good options -- only better or worse -- alternatives.....Read this guest editorial for Informed Comment in full
.....The third option is to choose to get out rather than being forced. Time is a wasting asset; the longer the choice is put off, the harder it will be to make..... The initial steps could be merely verbal. America would have first to declare unequivocally that it will give up its lock on the Iraqi economy, will cease to spend Iraqi revenues as it chooses and will allow Iraqi oil production to be governed by market forces rather than by an American monopoly. If President Bush could be as courageous as General Charles de Gaulle was in Algeria when he admitted that the Algerian insurgency had "won" and called for a "peace of the braves," fighting would quickly die down in Iraq as it did in Algeria and in all other guerrilla wars. Then, and only then, could elections be meaningful...."
November 5 2004 ~ "Kofi Annan appeals to the United States not to bomb Fallujah into oblivion
, indeed not to attack. He says it will make the staging of Iraqi elections all the harder. A date for that vote has been set today for 27th January - very few people in the know think it will take place.." From the Channel 4 news update. See also Associated Press
November 5 2004 ~ " ...What makes this web of reactionary ideologues a menace to the world is that they believe complex, historic problems have simple, instant, military solutions.
Guardian Robin Cook "And it is an article of faith with them that America must acquire full-spectrum dominance of military capabilities in order that it can impose such solutions unilaterally. They are the product of an era in which America has emerged as the sole hyperpower, and they regard allies not as proof of diplomatic strength but as evidence of military weakness.
They will now celebrate their election victory by putting Falluja to the torch. Wolfowitz was furious last spring when the outcry among both Sunnis and Shias obliged the marine corps to abandon its siege; this time he will insist on military victory in Falluja regardless of the political cost across Iraq from civilian casualties. The administration remained sensitive enough to the potential domestic cost of another major offensive in Iraq to delay it until after the presidential polling day, but it will not give a second thought to the adverse impact on public opinion in Britain of escalating civilian casualties. ..."
November 4 2004 ~ the razing of Fallujah is precisely the sort of action that may provoke an al-Qaeda response and will in any case aid in al-Qaeda's ability to recruit angry young Muslims.
Professor Juan Cole today gives a link to Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder Washington Bureau and comments ".. If the attack is swift and successful, Allawi will be strengthened. If it is prolonged, the protests within Iraq and in the Arab world could mount and cause a diplomatic disaster. ...One other question I would ask is whether President Ghazi al-Yawir will resign and run for parliament as Allawi's rival.
Also, one reason given for the Fallujah campaign is to allow elections to proceed. But the campaign itself may reinforce Sunni clerics' calls for a boycott.
If the Sadr movement gives up the idea of a boycott and participates, as some signs indicate it will, then the Shiite turnout should be high. A Sunni Arab boycott would then be disastrous for the legitimacy of the outcome."
November 2 2004 ~ "We want the UN to take a stand on the situation in Fallujah"
"The whole world is silent, and even the killing of Iraqi civilians is not condemned. " Please see the letter from the citizens of Fallujah to the UN Security Council and Kofi Annan
".....Our representatives have repeatedly denounced kidnapping and killing of civilians. We have nothing to do with any group that acts in an inhumane manner.read in full
We call on you and the leaders of the world to exert the greatest pressure on the Bush administration to end its crimes against Fallujah and pull its army back from the city.
When they left a while ago, the city had peace and tranquillity. There was no disorder in the city. The civil administration here functioned well, despite the lack of resources.
Our offence is simply that we did not welcome the forces of occupation. This is our right according to UN Charter, according to international law and according to the norms of humanity.
It is very urgent that you, along with other world leaders, intervene immediately to prevent another massacre..."
November 2 2004 ~ "... I would put the odds of an anti-American mass revolution in Iraq during a second Bush term at 50/50.
writes Professor Juan Cole in Informed Comment "The aftermath will be further instability in the oil rich Persian Gulf (see entry for Nov 1).
If Bush is re-elected, it is clear that he will continue to attack his hit list, which is pre-announced. He will strike at Iran. .......Bush will not keep his hands off. ... He will play up Iran's nuclear program, which is nowhere near being able to produce a bomb. He will play up Iran's support for Hizbullah, which the US views as an international terrorist organization but which in recent years has mainly functioned as a Lebanese national liberation movement. But his real motivation is to unlock Iran's economy for US investment and to remove a foreign policy thorn from the US side.Read in full
The potential for Bush's meddling in Iran to go wrong is great, as can be seen in his Iraq policy, which has turned the latter country into the security equivalent of a vast forest fire....... Powerful figures in the Bush administration also very much want to overthrow the other Baath regime, in Syria...."
November 1 2004 ~ " I am amazed at you."
Part of the transcript of Bin Laden's video as it appears on Al Jazeera "...Even though we are in the fourth year after the events of September 11, Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real cause and thus the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.
So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and I shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken for you to consider.
I say to you Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike towers.
But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the America/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.
The events that affected my soul in a difficult way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American 6th fleet helped them in that.
And the whole world saw and heard but did not respond..." read transcript in full
November 1 2004 ~ ''We have nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Zarqawi."
From the Boston Globe " Last week, one fighter, a 37-year-old Jordanian named Hamad Saleh from the town of Al Mafraq, told an Iraqi reporter in Fallujah that he had abandoned his work as a truck driver to join the Iraqi resistance four months ago. But he said he loathed Zarqawi and his organization, Tawhid and Jihad. Their fundamentalism and ''un-Islamic" tactics, including suicide bombings and beheading hostages, Saleh said, had tainted the reputation of fighters who had come to Iraq to join conventional battle against US forces.
''You should distinguish between Tawhid and Jihad, which ruined the reputation of the resistance, and those of us Arab fighters who answered Iraq's call for help," Saleh said. ''We have nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Zarqawi."
October 31 2004 ~ " It is a deliberate cowardly lie..."
Sunday Herald "....There are signs...that the double act's potency is diminishing. Hunter S Thompson, the author of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, isn't, as you would expect, buying the Bush or Blair spin on Iraq. "US transfers sovereignty to Iraqi interim government'. Hot damn! Iraq is finally free and just in time for the election. It is a deliberate cowardly lie. We are no more giving power back to the Iraqi people than we are about to stop killing them."
..... "Your neighbour's grandchildren will be fighting this stupid greed-crazed Bush-family war against the whole Islamic world for the rest of their lives if John Kerry isn't elected to be the new president on Tuesday," he said..." Read in full
October 30 ~ ....The neocon strategy may seem absurd, changing from crisis to crisis. But its purpose is simple,
to redefine America in ideological, if not theological, terms. Neoconservatism is not a pragmatic response to the new world order. It is the crucible of a new America, with insecurity as its binding myth and 9/11 as its "reality check". Iraq could be anywhere. Hence such Bushisms as "the transformational power of freedom", enforced by the barrel of a gun. Hence a terminology of fear so cosmic that the end justifies any means, however illegal or gruesome.
Against this politics, that of reason may seem dull and plodding. Yet I cannot see the neocon adventure as anything but a historical cul-de-sac, product of the backlash from 9/11. Mr Bush put himself among dangerous - in Mr Cheney's case very dangerous - men. The so-called War on Terror and the occupation of Iraq involved stunning errors of analysis and execution. But democracy's antibodies will emerge to rectify them. No foreign policy can be based on myth for ever..." Simon Jenkins in the Times
October 29 2004 ~ US troops refused requests to protect explosives store
Independent "...Al-Qaqa'a, the Iraqi military complex from which 350 tons of explosives disappeared, was looted after US troops left the area refusing requests to protect the site, Iraqi witnesses say.
They say unguarded buildings were stripped of their contents after the arrival and departure of American troops in the last few days of the war.
Yesterday an armed Islamic group claimed to have obtained a large quantity of the explosives and threatened to use them against coalition troops...."
October 29 2004 ~ 'Nervous and angry', the Black Watch arrive in the Triangle of Death
Independent "...Instead of a homecoming, they have been warned to expect suicide bombers and other attacks. "I'm nervous and angry," said Pte Manny Lynch, 19, from Fife, as he was about to board a Hercules C-130 transport aircraft. "I was supposed to be going home last Monday and I only found out that I was being deployed four days before ... Finding out just days before I was due to go home is hard to take." Ben Brereton, 19, from Truro, Cornwall, a craftsman with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, said: "I don't know how they justify it."
October 29 2004 ~ Revealed: War has cost 100,000 Iraqi lives
Independent "...More than half of those who died were women and children killed in air strikes, researchers say. Previous estimates have put the Iraqi death toll at around 10,000 - ten times the 1,000 members of the British, American and multi-national forces who have died so far. But the study, published in The Lancet, suggested that Iraqi casualties could be as much as 100 times the coalition losses. It was also savagely critical of the failure by coalition forces to count Iraqi casualties...."
October 29 2004 ~ "What will happen if the nightmare in Iraq goes on?"
John Pilger ".. Perhaps those millions of worried Americans, who are currently paralysed by wanting to get rid of Bush at any price, will shake off their ambivalence, regardless of who wins on 2 November. Then, will a giant awaken, as it did during the civil rights campaign and the Vietnam war and the great movement to freeze nuclear weapons? One must trust so; the alternative is a war on the world."
October 28 2004 ~ Iraq denies explosives disappeared before war
AFP "........as the issue of the missing explosives took centre stage in the US presidential campaign, some US officials have suggested they had gone before the US-led forces moved on Baghdad.
"It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall," Mohammed al-Sharaa, who heads the Science Ministry's site monitoring department, said. "The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall. "I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of."Mr Sharaa also warns that other nearby sites with similar materials could have also been plundered."
October 28 2004 ~ PM in row over troop numbers
Guardian "... amid charges of "mission creep".
.....Mr Blair said: "It is correct that we are going to reduce the number of battalions - I think from 40 to 36. We will announce the results of the review shortly. But actually, overall, the numbers of people in our armed forces is not going to be reduced." ..... the Liberal Democrat leader sought assurances that there would be no "mission creep" that sees more British soldiers drawn into American-held positions in central Iraq when the Black Watch comes home. Mr Blair told him that what happens after Christmas was something "we can't be sure [about] ... I can't commit myself".
Mr Kennedy later claimed... Mr Blair has "created a gaping hole for mission creep", and again demanded a Commons debate and vote.
October 27 2004 ~ "Secret plans for the war in Iraq were passed to British Army chiefs by US defence planners five months before the invasion was launched, a court martial heard yesterday."
As watchers of Channel 4 News heard yesterday, the court martial concerning the Territorial Army death in Iraq is proving to be highly significant. " .. Army chiefs wanted the training for the Army to start at the beginning of December 2002. However, due to "sensitivities" the training was delayed. ..."Because ... If the UK had mobilised while all this was going on that would have shown an intent before the political process had been allowed to run its course." Independent
October 26 ~ Kerry criticizes Bush over the missing explosives
that vanished from a site in Iraq that was under U.S. protection. Delaware on line"... calling a report that 380 tons of explosives had vanished from an Iraq site "one of the great blunders of this administration."If you are not seeing the complete Iraq page in three frames, click here (It will appear in a new window)
"Today, we heard the stockpiles are missing and unaccounted for and can be used by terrorists," he said. "The incredible incompetence of this president and this administration has put our troops at risk and this country at greater risk. George W. Bush has failed the test of commander in chief."......Clinton was introduced by Philadelphia Mayor John Street as "the last duly elected president of the United States." People may call him the comeback kid for his knack at political turnabout, Clinton said, "but in eight days John Kerry will make America the comeback country." Clinton told the crowd that their choice on Nov. 2 was clear. "If one candidate's trying to scare you and the other one is trying to get you to think, if one candidate's appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person that wants you to think and hope," he said.
"Today Iraq is on fire. Those in Britain who love human rights and freedoms have two options: to add petrol to the flames and fuel the violence, which will certainly lead to the end of Iraq's territorial integrity, to its dismemberment and Balkanisation; or to offer solidarity and support to Iraqi democrats, socialists and trade unionists....." Abdullah Muhsin on Iraq occupation, and his comments to the Labour Party conference.
"...the hapless Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, was rushed forward ... to refute almost all legal opinion and invent an eccentric interplay between resolutions 678, 687 and 1441..." Simon Jenkins on March 19th 2003