Iraqi Political Command

Get out the blankets, hell has frozen over. Radio the tower, the pigs are landing.

Today Mr Blair suggested in his latest speech, that the incoming Iraqi (interim) administration would His exact words – ‘The final political control remains with the Iraqi government. That’s what the transfer of sovereignty means.’ would suggest a scenario of Iraqi political control over US and UK occupation forces.

That is like saying the Vichy French government of collaborators had political control over their Nazi occupiers.

Either Mr Blair is

a) lying to maintain a failing facade of legitimacy on the occupation of Iraq; or

b) clearly ignorant of US military history – US forces anywhere have never, are never nor will ever be subject to any other political control than the occupier of the White House; or

c) absolutely right that all occupation forces will fall under the political control of the Interim Administration, he accepts this because the Interim Administration is neither elected nor accountable to the Iraqi people. They are all appointees by the Coalition Provision Authority headed by Paul Bremer. It would seem to me that the Interim Administration would be politically subservient to their defacto advisers (US and UK).

Whatever the case

Count Yourself Lucky

If you woke up this morning

with more health than illness,

you are more blessed than the

million who won’t survive the week.

If you have never experienced

the danger of battle,

the loneliness of imprisonment,

the agony of torture or

the pangs of starvation,

you are ahead of 20 million people

If you attend a church meeting

without fear of harassment,

arrest, torture, or death,

you are more blessed than almost

three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator,

clothes on your back, a roof over

your head and a place to sleep,

you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank,

in your wallet, and spare change

in a dish someplace, you are among

the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive,

you are very rare,

especially in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile

on your face and are truly thankful,

you are blessed because the majority can,

but most do not.

If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them

or even touch them on the shoulder,

you are blessed because you can

offer God’s healing touch.

If you can read this message,

you are more blessed than over

two billion people in the world

that cannot read anything at all.

One I like

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends

– it gives a lovely light.

Edna Saint Vincent Millay

Kill Them All

I started this article over a year, under the original title of ‘A Final Blind Eye’. Out of frustration, my contention was that the world should just turn a blind eye to the extermination of the Palestinians since it is so complacent in helping resolve the middle east crisis and stands idly by as Israel deploys almost every weapon in its state-military arsenal against what are are clearly resistance freedom fighters.

My frustration persists till today.

Since 1948, when Palestine was carved up to draw out a state for the European Jews – themselves victims of xenophobic extermination by Nazi Germany, no single Israeli government has had the political will to make peace with the Palestinians, let alone propose an equitable solution to the crisis.

The modern history of Israel’s paranoid militarisation is extremely well documented and experts on all sides of the crisis abound. The suffering of Palestinians – most of whom are refugees in their own land, is also well documented and acknowledged both by state departments as well as independent agencies like the UNCHR, Amnesty International and others. I have no intention of spewing statistics of the number of innocent civilians killed in the conflict since records began nor of the numbers of refugees in camps within Israel who are effectively stateless and have been refugees for going on four generations now. These are people born into captivity.

This has gone on for long enough, support for Israel by the US and most of Europe is not in any danger of waning and the small hushed voice of the rest of the world, already cowering under US bully boy tyranny, can hardly raise objections that matter. The UN is powerless to act, it must rely on the agreement of the various councils – chiefly the Security Council, to do anything that could remotely be considered as effective rebuke of Israel. With the US and its pantomime horse backside, the UK, it is extremely unlikely that any resolution will ever be adopted calling for military action against Israel nor even trade sanctions against it. Ain’t gonna happen.

So, why not cut the crap and quit mouthing the words. Give Israel clear go-ahead to annihilate the Palestinians – so we can all go home and watch something else. The world has had 50 years to help the Palestinians and has done nothing. Resolutions from the ’60s still sit gathering dust in the UN, unenforced and forgotten by all but the most naive activists. We have let the Palestinians down at every turn, the political will to stand up for them is not present in the courts that matter, so why not just do the decent thing and let Israel kill them all. Seems to me what they want after all.

We are getting close to the acceptable annihilation of the entire Palestinian civilisation. Thousands of innocents dead since the troubles began in 1948. With every new incursion into Occupied Territories and even into the so called Palestinian Authority zone, the world gets harder of hearing. Israel does not even need to come up with any more excuses. The War on Terror saw to that. So why delay the inevitable? Why take up valuable air time with the daily reports of dead Palestinians – innocent civilians killed by a military apparatus? Why pretend to care when it is clear that Palestinian suffering does not even register with most of the world. Even Arab governments have stopped their muffled cries of ‘Justice for Palestinians’.

Let Israel kill all the Palestinians, wipe them out. Who would care? Sure, the handful of activists who are the collective conscience of this miserable peace of dirt would shout and scream – they have been ignored so far, so what. Just think of the advantages – terrorism would be defeated once and for all in the Middle East, investment into Israel would skyrocket and fundamentalist Jewish sentiment would reign supreme. They are, after all the chosen people, so no it isn’t genocide or a modern Holocaust. It is simply their God vanquishing the enemies of his chosen people.

All the pieces are moving into place to allow the final solution to the Palestinian problem. We have the Christian fundamentalist pliable US President, guided by neo conservatives, funded by Zionist money. It is already supporting Israel militarily by billions of dollars in military aid annually. Europe is as ever, too fragmented to ever raise more than the hint of objection. The UK is subject to a smaller, more silent , yet equally potent Zionist lobby. In any case the special relationship it enjoys with the US means that it will broadly echo US sentiments and will not act to avert the destruction of the Palestinians. China, India and Pakistan (all nuclear players and possess massive armies) are too economically dependent on US trade to stand in the way. So any time now would be fine. Go for it. Kill them all. Maybe then Israel will have satisfied its bloodlust. Maybe then it would feel safe and secure in its stolen lands.

The Disapproving War Monger

The pictures have been published – some of them anyway. The shock , horror and revulsion that professional soldiers could have debased and humiliated prisoners in Iraq with such inhuman callousness and perversion has been acknowledged and condemned. Public statements that this is not what soldiers do, certainly not what American soldiers should do, have been made by the political big shots (Bush, Powell and Rumsfeld!). Well, clearly American soldiers did do this abuse against innocent Iraqis (yes, they are prisoners , but they are not charged with any crime. In any case they are innocent till proven guilty).

What is striking, across the entire US political spectrum, is the distinction that ‘American soldiers’ do not commit war crimes. As though they are somehow incapable of the worst of human behavior. Of course, greater expectations are made of them – as representatives of the self appointed bastion of democratic principles. But great expectations are rarely satisfied. Once we start to distinguish between expected levels of human behavior, we go down a very dangerous course. A road I fear we, as a civilisation, lack the maturity to steer effectively.

A far simpler view would be to say that human beings should not abuse other human beings in this way. Its not just a crime according to military law, its a crime against basic human law (no such thing exists, the closest we have is the Geneva Conventions!).

Like an embarrassed father having to come to school to scold his child, Donald Rumsfeld makes a ‘surprise’ visit to Iraq (of course, under the tightest security). With his military commander in tow, they have come ‘…to ensure that detainees were being treated properly and US soldiers were behaving right’. He insists that he was not in Iraq to cover up the scandal. He couldn’t if he tried. The cynic in me knows that they would have tried to cover this up. Given the fact that they (the US and the UK command structures) knew internally (from allegations made by other soldiers) and externally (from reports submitted by independent agencies) for a while and only now is the truth about the extent and depth of depravity coming out. After all, this is the same government that had to be forced by the US supreme court to release pictures of coffins containing the remains of US casualties in Iraq.

In the lead up to the Iraqi invasion, Mr Rumsfeld was one of the most eager supporters of the action. His vociferous support for ‘getting Saddam’ was notable even amongst his peers within the neo-conservative think tank that is the Project of a New American Century.

Presumably whilst in Iraq he will scold commanders in his ‘tell it like it is’ manner. But at the end, he will deliver a message praising the efforts of the vast majority of decent soldiers helping to restructure Iraq under very difficult conditions. He will insist that the US will stay the course. Nothing will be said of compensation to the victims; nor of a changing of the mass detention policy in Iraq that has seen tens of thousands detained unlawfully.

Along with his government, Mr Rumsfeld has opposed the International Criminal Court, principally on the grounds that it could be used as a political tool to prosecute US military personnel such, the US does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court. In effect saying, we will roam the earth as we please, do what we like under the guise of humanitarianism and in the name of good, but we will not be held accountable for atrocities we commit.

Well, he may disapprove all he likes. But the responsiblity for the Iraqi war and all actions subsequently, lies squarely at the doors of his government. His war mongering plays no small part in all of this.

Apologies Galore

Sorry does not seem to be the hardest word in Washington these days.

First we had Mr Bush apologise, then Gen. Kimmet. Next in line Donald Rumsfeld sat before a Senate Committee and apologised too. Over here, the line was full too. Mr Straw – the Foreign Secretary said he was sorry as did Mr Blair.

Geoff Hoon – UK Defence Secretary – rather than come out humbly and apologise, did it with characteristic arrogance and had to be summoned before Parliament to give an account, he ultimately apologised – – although he added a caveat – ‘…if the allegations prove to be true’.

This festival of apologising is all because of the publication of some very disturbing pictures of abuse by US forces in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Abu Ghraib is used to detain suspected insurgents but who are the insurgents? It would appear from reports that every male (and some females) of fighting age and health is an insurgent. Independent reports estimate that ninety percent of detainees are wrongly detained.

Are they apologising because they are deeply sorry for the perpetration of these horrible acts by ‘professional’ soldiers, representatives of their nations; OR are they apologetic because the revelations came to light?

The cynic in me favours the latter – some reports from independent sources (Amnesty International and the Red Cross) suggest that the UK and US governments had been formally notified of concerns about abuse by the nations’ forces against Iraqis in both areas they control. In some cases the notification was months ago. If they knew so long ago, why did they not go public with it? The people MUST know this. Why did they not launch an investigation immediately?

The sadness that we should all feel about this abuse cannot be overstated. The anger unquantifiable. Fellow human beings violated and humiliated for the perverse pleasure of these soldiers. Whether they were ‘simply following orders’ is irrelevant. There are no circumstances I can think of that make this abuse of innocents acceptable. Simply saying ‘its war, bad things happen in war’ just won’t cut it. The fact that we are cognisant of the wrongness of the abuse means that we can prevent it, that we can correct it – those who do not feel are lost.

Upon analysis, it seems to me that this abuse is beyond simple personal perversion, it seemed designed to humiliate not just the individual; but also their deeply held religious beliefs. If this is the case, it must have taken organisation and thought, intent and purpose. It must have taken authority.

Saying ‘Sorry’ simply will not do. There are 8,000 prisoners in Abu Ghraib, thousands more in other holding facilities in Iraq. The detention of these individuals may be unlawful – if law was anything remotely respected by the Occupation Forces.

Whilst every individual connected with directly inflicting this abuse must be brought to justice – under International Human Rights Law; those indirectly implicated must also be brought to account. None of this abuse would now be occurring if these disturbed personnel were never sent to Iraq in the first instance.

Perhaps this is the ‘liberty’ that America feels divinely appointed to deliver to the world. Is this the ‘freedom’ they want to be the keystone of the New American Century – unquestioned dominance, unchecked power?

An Ode for our Friend Lazu

Stand tall, My Friend, like the giant that you are

You’ve fought the valiant fight!

Soar high, My Friend, towards the farthest star

Become surrounded by it’s heavenly light.

Leave behind, My Friend, your body so weak

Your soul has earned it’s rest.

Let your spirit, My Friend, taste the peace that you seek

You have found freedom at it’s best.

Don’t look back, My Friend, at what you’ve left behind

A better place awaits you now.

Embrace the joy, My Friend, that you will find

And take your final bow.

This is not, My Friend, the last good-bye

For you’ll always be in my heart.

Nor is it, My Friend, all the tears I will cry

For those have only begun to start.

For now, My Friend, I shall let you go

To drift into a gentle sleep.

I’ll be fine, My Friend, of that you should know

For me you shouldn’t weep.

So soar, My Friend, fly high into the sky

I shall see you there someday

Until then, My Friend, I will get by

And in my memory you shall stay.

-submitted by Alok.