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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #112 - 3 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Iraq War: Debates and analyses (Muhamed Ali)
   2. Heart of Darkness (Mark Parkinson)
   3. FPIF News | Pentagon Report Argues Torture Legal (IRC Communications)


Message: 1
Subject: Iraq War: Debates and analyses
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 12:50:57 +0100
From: "Muhamed Ali" <>
To: <>

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Dear colleagues,

America and Arabia after Saddam

Fred Halliday


From the 'Iraq - the war & after' debate

The Iraq war is only one aspect of a "greater west Asian crisis" that
carries the extreme danger of further, terrible violence. Fred Halliday
joins knowledge, insight, empathy and anger to assess the current
"winners" and "losers" and insist on the central importance of listening
to the Iraqi people.

Looking back on Saddam Hussein
 Fred Halliday
9 - 1 - 2004

Iraqis are engaged in an intense national debate about the way they will
now govern themselves. In this period of uncertainty, expectation and
continued insurgency, six Iraqis discussed how they should shape their
country's future, its relationships with occupiers and neighbours, in
mid-May, before the new government was formed.



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Message: 2
From: "Mark Parkinson" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 00:11:53 +0100
Subject: Heart of Darkness

Only one person's viewpoint from a blog:

Three weeks isn-t much time in most places. Just a couple weekends of
meeting with friends, maybe having a beer or seeing a movie. Three
weeks of working at a job that maybe you like, maybe you don-t. In my
case, I-ve been in Baghdad Since May 19, so let-s call it three
weeks. It-s a nice round number.

In that time, in no particular order I witnessed a car bombing next
to my hotel, started work for TIME Magazine, watched an interim
government unveiled, interviewed a vice president, been mortared more
times than I can count, missed two other car bombs by a few minutes,
pined for New York and tentatively fell in love with Baghdad.

She-s a city that has seen better days, frankly. As mentioned, the
electricity is bad. The gas lines are long up to 5 km in some places
and U.S. soldiers still break up black market petrol rings even
though that-s often the only way for Iraqis to get petrol.

Baghdad is also an incredibly stressful place to live and work,
especially as a westerner, as I-ve mentioned. We-re targets, and when
you look very western, like I do, you-re constantly aware of eyes on
you and the hostility. At restaurants, the waiters sullenly clear
your table, sometimes being none too careful about keeping chai or
food from spilling on you. The kindness I encountered last year is
absent; a western face brings a sullen welcome, calibrated to the
bare minimum.

Violence, too, is never distant. A few days, there was an IED attack
against an American humvee near the Interior Ministry. It killed one
American soldier and wounded three others. We were on our way to the
Oil Ministry and we detoured to the site of the attack. As I rushed
up to the cordon, I yelled out to the soldiers that I was press. They
responded by waving me away. I tried to ask one soldier a few
questions about what had happened. Traffic streamed around us and
cars horns beat out a cacophonic concert.

\"Can-t talk to you, sir, go away,\" he said.

\"Well, where was the attack?\" I pressed.

\"I said go away,\" he growled.

\"Can I speak to your commanding officer? Who is he?\"

\"He said get the **** out of here!\" a second soldier screamed and
both soldiers pointed their weapons at me. There are few things more
threatening than seeing scared and pissed-off American soldiers
pointing weapons at you. The Iraqis know this feeling well. I quickly
retreated and returned to the car, shaken at the Americans-

This feeling of trusting no one has gotten to me; it-s palpable and
the constant vigilance is exhausting. My mood is black and I can feel
a depression that is never far away. Not writing for the blog is a
source of guilt, too, but TIME has kept me so busy with stories that
don-t bring me in touch with average Iraqis much. I-ve been moving
between the CPA and the former members of the Governing Council.

I also can-t seem to get excited over stories of abused Iraqis. There
are so many and they have a numbing quality. Also, the hostility I
encounter from Iraqis makes me shamefully less empathetic to their
complaints. But nor do I feel much sympathy for Americans who point
guns at me. The tragic part of this is that there is no way to blame
anyone in this situation. The Iraqis will naturally hate an occupying
army. And soldiers will naturally grow to hate a people they think
they came to liberate but who continue trying to kill them.

I wish I could see more of the goodness in Iraqis that I know is
there. And likewise, I wish they could see the goodness in Americans.
But people here the Iraqis, the CPA, the military and even some
journalists have become blinded to each other-s concerns and
qualities. Those of us here, all of us, we-re not all bad people, I
don-t believe. And I say we because no matter our nationality, this
place hammers us into a collective body. The Iraqi selling me
delicious juice concoctions, the American soldiers at the checkpoints
missing his wife, the CPA employee who truly believed the Bush
rhetoric, we are all in this together now.

But this environment is killing our ability to give a damn about
anything other than staying alive. It-s burying our better angels.
The lack of empathy is a bad quality for a journalist, and it-s a
worse one for a human being. How can I do my job like this? It is for
these reasons I-m in awe of the Baghdad artists who still manage to
create beauty here. After a year of all this, they still see
something worth seeing. They are magnificent.

But it-s thoughts like this that make me thinkthat the Americans
should pull out sooner rather than later even if disaster strikes.
The Iraqis overwhelmingly don-t want the Americans here anymore (I-m
not counting Kurds in this sentence,) but Iraqis know they-ll need
help. They-re not ready to run their own country yet, and the new
leaders Allawi, Yawer, et al. know it. The way the announcement of
the interim government was handled is prime example.

The part handled solely by the CPA the initial accreditation went
sorta smoothly, despite some mortar fire and a car bomb, but after we
arrived at the clocktower that was Saddam-s former Museum of Gifts
Other World Leaders Gave Him, it turned into a disaster. The
television reporters got their interviews, but after the ceremony, in
a chaotic scramble, the Iraqis declared the day over, leaving print
reporters with little to do except recap what the television cameras
had captured. Ebrahim Jafari, the leader of the Dawa Party and now
one of two vice presidents, came back out to wade into a journalistic
mosh pit. Some officials screamed at him to get back into the other
chamber with the rest of the government. He ignored them for as long
as he could before someone I-m not sure who literally grabbed his arm
and pulled him back into the other room.

No one knew who was in charge. The Iraqis, inexperienced at managing
the logistics of the day, were overwhelmed. The CPA people just
wanted to get the hell out of there. There were attacks throughout
the day. The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps troops were merely window
dressing, with the real security provided by beefy South Africans
private contractors. U.S. troops hung around getting in everyone-s

It was an almost perfect metaphor for the New Iraq.

I write this not as a plea for pity or understanding. I don-t
understand this country myself, so that may be impossible. And I know
I have written things that will anger people: I am ashamed of many of
the emotions I feel these days. But I care about the truth as best as
I can see and tell it. I once believed that telling the truth ? or a
small part of it ? could help the world. It could help people
understand things better and thus make the world better. But this war
defies comprehension. It-s so stupid and there seems to be no point
to anything that happens here. People die on a daily basis in random,
terrifying attacks. And for what? Freedom? Stability? Peace? There is
none of that here and it-s likely there won-t be after the Americans
leave. Iraq has spiraled into a dark place, much worse than where it
was a year ago during the war. There is no freedom from the fear that
is stoked by mutual hatred, cynicism and an apprehension about the
future. So what if one side has superior firepower? Every bullet
fired helps kill souls on both sides of this war, whether it hits
flesh or lands harmlessly.

We - Iraqis and the Americans here - are caged by fear, and we are
all conquered people now.

Mark Parkinson


Message: 3
From: "IRC Communications" <>
Organization: Interhemispheric Resource Center
Subject: FPIF News | Pentagon Report Argues Torture Legal
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 09:50:09 -0600

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

What=92s New at FPIF
"Working to make the U.S. a more responsible global leader and partner"

June 11, 2004

Introducing a new commentary from Foreign Policy In Focus

Pentagon Report Argues Torture is Legal in War on Terror
By Jim Lobe

A classified Pentagon report, providing a series of legal arguments apparen=
tly intended to justify abuses and torture against detainees, appears to un=
dermine public assurances by senior U.S. officials, including President Geo=
rge W. Bush that the military would never resort to such practices in the "=
war on terrorism."

Short excerpts of the report, which was drafted by Defense Department lawye=
rs, were published in the Wall Street Journal on June 7. The text asserts, =
among other things, that the president, in his position as commander-in-chi=
ef, has virtually unlimited power to wage war, even in violation of U.S. la=
w and international treaties.

Jim Lobe is a political analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus (online at www= He also writes regularly for Inter Press Service.

See new FPIF commentary online at:

With printer friendly PDF version at:

For more information:

Foreign Policy In Focus coverage of human rights

Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International-USA

Committee on Torture: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Distributed by FPIF:"A Think Tank Without Walls," a joint program of Interh=
emispheric Resource Center (IRC) and Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

For more information, visit If you would like to add a name t=
o the "What=92s New At FPIF" list, please email: communications@irc-online.=
org, giving your area of interest.

Also see our Progressive Response newsletter at:

Interhemispheric Resource Center(IRC)
Siri D. Khalsa
Outreach Coordinator

Siri D. Khalsa
Communications Coordinator
Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC)

IRC Projects Online:
Americas Program (
Self-Determination In Focus (
Project Against the Present Danger (

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