Friday, March 19, 2004
Why Don't They Like Us?
An important question: why aren't the Iraqi's grateful for our arrival? Certainly, no one agrees that Saddam Hussein wasn't a bad man. I've been looking up articles all night trying to pin down exactly HOW bad Hussein was: where was he on the scale between "tinpot South American dictator" and "insane totalitarian Big Brother"? Was he El Presidente, or was he Stalin?
This is an important question, because I wanted to know how much the life of an ordinary Iraqi was affected by Hussein. Believe it or not, many people just want to keep their mouth shut and their nose clean. If you decided to leave Hussein alone, what were the chances of his leaving you alone?
The answer: not that great if you happened to have the wrong face or the wrong religion. If you were a Kurd, or a Shi'ite, you were more than likely going to be screwed over for no greater crime than waking up to face the new day. You could be gassed, or exiled to Iran. And if Saddam even harbored the suspicion that you might be against him, well, you were in for another royal screwing. Saddam wasn't the kind of man who looked for evidence. He was the kind of guy who tortured first, and asked questions later. He didn't just want people to be afraid of him, he wanted them to be TERRIFIED of him, and whether his potential victims were poor schlubs caught in a case of mistaken identity wasn't important. Hell, it was probably good business. Gave the Iraqi citizenry even more reasons to keep their eyes downcast. It didn't matter if you were a member of the properous Sunni middle class, there weren't many people who slept well in Iraq at night.
And if you were a poor sap of military age between 1980 and 1988 (the Iran/Iraq war) or in 1991 (the Gulf War), well, there was probably a bullet with your name on it. Whether that bullet was made in Iran or the good ol' USA didn't make too much difference.
The recent poll from Oxford, one of the first scientific polls that ask how Iraqis see the liberation/occupation of their country one year after US troops invaded should give us cause for concern. (The link is here. ) With Saddam such an evil, despicable man, you would think that the percentage of Iraqis who felt better off after the US arrived would be in the high nineties. To quote:
While the poll shows that a majority feels that Iraq is a better place now than before the invasion, it was not by that much, and this should come as no surprise, at least for now. No one has ever claimed that Saddam Hussein was anything but a brutal and repressive dictator. Given that, it could be considered surprising if any less than 99% of the Iraqis don't think things are better now. Given that, it is enlightening to see, according to the Oxford poll, that only 56.5% now think things are better than under Hussein. Over 42% think either there has been no change or that matters are actually worse.
So why is our reputation in Iraq so bad? Do the Iraqis just have short memories? Is it just mass ingratitude?
This report by Amnesty International should be required reading by anyone interested in why we are so hated. It answers just about all of the questions I had. I can put the answer in several categories: religious based violence, tribal violence (the settling of old scores), general lawlessness (organized crime), random and unexplained violence, acts of violence by Coalition forces, destruction of homes by Coalition forces, incompetence or impotence of civil authority, mass detention in horrible conditions, torture by Coalition authorities and possibly by US and UK soldiers, and finally, the malefactors of Saddam's Iraq still at large and still armed. For "violence" read "death and murder". The death toll in Iraq since we've arrived has been at least 10,000, and that's a conservative estimate. No one is counting, no one wants to count.
US forces can solve some of those problems. But they sure as hell can't solve all of them. As a matter of fact, they don't even take responsibility for the problems that they're causing on a daily basis, either by omission or by commission.
I ponder what we think we're accomplishing. I wonder if we've accomplished anything. Fifty-six percent is a pretty good number. But it isn't close to the number it should be. It means that almost half the country at the least resents us and at the most has an absolute burning hatred of the United States.
So how much freedom did we give the Iraqis, again? I want Mr. Bush to put a percentage on that. He's supposedly a free man. Let him walk outside the Green Zone for a while. Let him land at BIA during the morning hours. How much is an American loved in Iraq if he doesn't have a gun? Riverbend? Andrew Sullivan? Anybody?
posted by Green Voicemail 3/19/2004 11:23:00 PM
Bin Laden Lieutenant Escapes
Border officials at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border today state that al-Qaeda Number 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri has escaped a military cordon designed by the Pakistani army to entrap senior leaders of al-Qaeda.
Pakistan army General Maalik Suar stated that all roads leading out of the area had been blocked by units of the Pakistani cavalry and that roads leading into the steep hills of Afghanistan were under observation by American Special Forces units commanded by Lieutenant General R. P. Coltrane. Despite the cordon, satellite imagery has confirmed the escape of al-Zawahri in a specialized military vehicle undoubtedly reinforced with armor plating.
Sources say that General Coltrane has been unable to hide his disappointment and pledges to redouble his efforts.
Satellite image of escape vehicle manned by al-Zawahri. General Coltrane stated that he was "gonna get them al-Qaeda boys".
posted by Green Voicemail 3/19/2004 10:10:00 AM
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Victory in Iraq
A George W. Bush production!!
posted by Green Voicemail 3/17/2004 11:51:00 AM
Monday, March 15, 2004
AKAS for Bush!
From Time, via Pandagon . If you don't read this comment, read Pandagon's excerpt from the Time Magazine article.
Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.
This reminds me of a story from David Halberstam's "Summer of '49". The book is about the race for the pennant between the Yankees and Red Sox, and digresses a bit regarding the then owner of the Red Sox, Tom Yawkey. Tom Yawkey was a shy kind of man, but he did love the Sox. His secret hobby was to dress up in a Red Sox uniform and go take batting practice with the team he loved. There would be Yawkey at the plate, swinging at puff pastry pitches while the Red Sox bench players shagged flies.
The Red Sox regulars didn't look on this too fondly. They loved Yawkey, but thought this was a bit degrading. They had a name for those bench warmers who might have come off as too eager to play Big Leaguer with Mr. Yawkey.
They were called, "The Ass-Kissing All Stars".
Bloggers out there, I ask you, who will be George Bush's Ass-Kissing All Star for the Month of March 2004? Operators are standing by! Remember, one photo op a month gets you on the team! Which government worker out there is willing to get his nose a little brown for America's Security, Team Bush and the Pioneers? You, too, can be an AKAS!!
posted by Green Voicemail 3/15/2004 07:57:00 PM
The United States..."Making Friends All Over the World!"
From The Independent . It looks like America just can't keep its hands out of another country's business. Because let's face it, it isn't just that Venezuela has one of the largest supplies of the world's oil. It's not just that Hugo Chavez survived a coup partially funded by the United States....
...it's that he has the audacity not to keep his brown face downcast when looking towards his rightful American masters. After all, if there's oil anywhere on the planet, Jesus Christ himself says that we own it. But then again, maybe President Chavez shouldn't worry so much. If Bush runs the next coup attempt the same way he ran Iraq, we'll be seeing Hugo Chavez for several years to come -- I merely suggest that Mr. Chavez be a bit careful. As the American proverb says, "Trust in God, but keep your powder dry." Or, in his case, keep your bulletproof vest handy.
posted by Green Voicemail 3/15/2004 05:53:00 PM
President Kwasniewski, Call Your Office
With the election of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as PM of Spain, it looks like Spain may pull its troops out of Iraq .
It's a big loss for the Bushies, and don't let anyone tell you different. That's 1300 men in uniform who are now going back to Spain. Those spots are now going to have to be filled by someone else.
Could be the Poles.
Could be the Ukranians.
Could be someone you love. Could be your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister in the Armed Forces or National Guard.
As the prospective new Spanish PM said: ""Mr Blair and Mr Bush must do some reflection and self-criticism... you can't organise a war with lies." Amen.
posted by Green Voicemail 3/15/2004 09:53:00 AM
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Big Turnout, But Bad for Bush?
There are two theories regarding an "October Surprise" option of say, another 911-style type attack on the US during an election year.
School A states that voters would vote Republican because they would want to support the government. School B states that such an attack would hurt Republican chances because the attack happened on their watch.
Today in Spain, A and B are being put to the test, as turnout for the new government elections in Spain is up by about five percent over four years ago . Big turnouts are usually bad for the incumbent. Whichever way this goes, it holds huge consequences for both American and European policy in the years to come vis-a-vis Iraq.
posted by Green Voicemail 3/14/2004 02:33:00 PM
From the infamous betting site :
Unelected Criminal: 278 electoral votes
John Kerry: 260 electoral votes
Places where Kerry leads: Hawaii, Washingon, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware,
New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine.
It's getting closer every day. And this is Bush running on his record !
posted by Green Voicemail 3/14/2004 02:07:00 PM
Al Murray, Comedian, The UK
"I for one never forget that Jesus died for my sins, which was nice of him seeing that I didn't ask and he went ahead and did it anyway. Let’s face it, that's a mate, you'd have to buy him a pint. Mind you, as I didn't ask him to die for my sins, it's a bit rubbish him guilt-tripping me about it. Anyway, this film is puzzling — Jesus was British, surely? It's the Church of England (the clue's in the name) and the Bible's in English."
posted by Green Voicemail 3/14/2004 01:54:00 PM
My Beautiful Mind
Well, I'm back from several days in England. About eight days to be exact. Left Saturday, came back Saturday, ba-ru-bum. My wife is astoundingly apolitical, and suspiciously pro-business, but the best comment I heard from her about being in Britain is "Boy, one week without having to hear about 'The Passion' every day!"
I would like to say that I was in secret meetings with British Socialists on how to take control of the Labour Party and oust Tony Blair. That didn't happen. I would also like to say that I was Hassled for the Homeland, that pro-Bush jackbooted thugs tried to hassle me due to my blog at customs. Didn't happen either. I was no threat to anybody.
However, I am forced to admit that I just did the tourist thing. Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the whole works. Tower of London was great, Westminster was moving, because these were the places I've been reading about for the last twenty years. "Here's the chapel inside the Tower of London. About fifty feet away are buried the bones of poor Lady Jane Gray. Here's where Anne Boleyn was executed. They dragged Guy Fawkes to that room up there after several days of torture, where he signed his confession."
Of course, I couldn't escape politics completely. First, the exchange rate was nothing short of horrible. $1.79 equals one British pound, or the other way, 55 pence equals one dollar. It was 62 pence at the end of 2003, 68 pence at the end of 2002, 66 pence at the end of 2001 and 61 pence at the end of 2000. After you eat enough $30 lunches, it kind of hits you, especially when using a bank card. That hurts tourism when your dollar doesn't buy anything in another country.
And of course, the Madrid bombings made the news and made my wife and I somewhat anxious about "taking the tube". I have my own thoughts on that, but I don't wish to digress. The hotel we stayed in, the room we stayed in had a very nice overhead view of Paddington Green police station, where the five British Guantanomo detainees ended up and where one was released without any charges. Four were still there. You'd think that if someone wanted to set off a bomb in London, that would be Ground Zero.
There was actually *some* mention of The Passion in The Times, but nothing approaching the sheer hysteria in the United States. Furthermore, the Brits are interested in the Kerry/Bush showdown. It's not as if they're devoting three pages in the Times a day to it, but every other day or so you'll get a fairly well written article. The Times is a fantastic paper; wish we had something like it in the USA. The New York Times is just too pretentious to make the cut.
However, it's not as if The Times hasn't learned anything from its sister paper. There was a big full page blurb article with a drawing of a masked ETA terrorist asking the hypothetical question of if the ETA has joined forces with al-Qaeda. After about four columns of ETA bashing, you get down to the last paragraph, which basically states that there's no proof and that it's just a hypothesis. You know, they could have just printed the last paragraph and saved us the trouble of reading the article.
Anyway, back to the Blog and the odd title of this article, "my beautiful mind". I think it dates back to a Good Morning America interview of the worthless Barbara Bush when she was asked if she and President Bush (you know, the one people voted for) watched any television. She said:
"He sits and listens and I read books because I know perfectly well that - don't take offense - that 90 percent of what I hear on television is supposition, when we're talking about the news. And he's not, not as understanding of my pettiness about that. But why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it's, not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? And watch him suffer."
Face it, it's kind of hard to get into a litany of the endless crimes of the Bush (II) Administration. Although I think that the ex-First Lady and I come at the problem from different approaches. I find it hard to discuss these things since I, tinheart, have depression which is medically treated. Mom Bush finds it hard to discuss these things because she doesn't wish to be bothered with the opinions of peasants. Might put some clouds on her beautiful horizon, y'know.
So I'll just keep slogging away and trying to do my job to categorize the litany of failures of BushCo. It ain't easy, and you don't get paid. Every now, and then, though, the Wheels of Justice Turn. They turn slowly, but they do turn. I hope they'll be turning come November.
posted by Green Voicemail 3/14/2004 01:50:00 PM