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[casi] News titles, 16-23/7/03



News titles, 16-23/7/03

'All of humanity will one day discover that they are indebted to the Iraqis
for confronting American savagery' - Abd al-Jabbar al-Kubaysi

One of the things that makes commentary very difficult at the present time
is the conflict there appears to be between the needs of the people living
in Iraq and the needs of the people living in the world at large.

The Iraqi people, one imagines, need in the first instance an end to their
apparently endless suffering: restoration of basic services, removal of the
occupying force without a collapse into anarchy, security, jobs, competent
and sympathetic government. It is possible that this could be achieved more
easily through the intervention of the United Nations (possible but not
certain. The precedent of Bosnia or Kosovo is not encouraging.)

A UN takeover, however, would relieve the pressure on the US government and
enable them to turn their attention to other parts of the world. From the
point of view of the world at large, it would be much better if the US got
bogged down in the famous quagmire - many of its soldiers killed, huge sums
of money being spent without visible improvement, evident failure and shame,
frustration. More or less what is happening at the present time.

But how can anyone advocate that? And if we decide that the first need of
the Iraqi people is to affirm its dignity and independence of spirit and if,
on those grounds, we support 'the resistance', we still have to decide which
'resistance' we are going to support. Militant Sunnis? Militant Shi'is?
Militant Nationalists? Militant pan-Arabs? This is a job that is best done
by people moved by a passionate totalitarian conviction (as German National
Socialism was eventually defeated on the European ground by Communism). But
should one of these totalitarian forces 'win', it will then be obliged to
use force to suppress the others. This was the logic that produced President
Hussein. It was the logic that faced the British in the early part of the
century when they so thoughtlessly and irresponsibly destroyed the Ottoman
empire. It hasn't gone away.

So, for the sake of the world, do we hope the appalling situation of the
Iraqi peoples will get worse, with no prospect at the end of it getting
better? Or, for the sake of the Iraqi peoples, do we wish the Americans an
appearance of success that will liberate them and encourage to set forth on
other adventures?

The need for other adventures is argued below in two important articles
grouped under the heading 'Philosophy of War'. The first is the full text of
Prime Minister Blair's speech to Congress; the second an essay by James
Woolsey. Both are based on the central assumption that 'we' - the US and the
UK - are what the rest of the world wants to become. Insofar as the rest of
the world has not yet reached these happy heights it is because they are
prevented by vicious and cruel men, who want to keep them enchained forever
in a state of darkness.

I hope to be able to find time for a more detailed analysis but the gist of
what I would want to say is expressed in this passage from Hugh Robert's
book: The Battlefield - Algeria, 188-2002, Verso, London, 2003, pp.228-9.
Writing on western perceptions of Algeria. Roberts remarks:

'a specific assumption which is never made explicit (and therefore never
subject to critical scrutiny), namely that democracy develops through the
removal of obstacles to it, an assumption based itself on a more fundamental
belief that democracy is the natural political condition of humankind and
that it is accordingly the various kinds of authoritarian rule which are
'unnatural'.

'What this assumption accordingly excludes from consideration is the
possibility that democracy is in fact very far from a natural and therefore
spontaneously arising political order but, on the contrary, a deliberate
construct, a system of government which it takes time and experience and
political skill and a great deal of trial and error to contrive to bring
into sustainable existence. Instead, this assumption tends to express itself
in the facile conviction that the establishment of democracy where democracy
does not yet exist requires the overthrow (rather than the gradual and
evolutionary reform) of the existing regime, a conviction which tends to
ignore the possibility (which, experience teaches is a probability in many
countries, and a virtual certainty in some of them) that the outcome of
activity oriented by this simple-minded outlook will be the collapse of the
state into violent anarchy rather than anything more edifying.

'The sources of this assumption are partly French and partly American, with
the American inclination to hold American political principles to be
universally valid as well as self-evident truths combining with the French
inclination to regard undemocratic regimes as the ancien regime in
eighteenth-century France eventually came to be regarded, at least in
retrospect, namely as unreformable and ripe for overthrow. The contemporary
global ascendancy of these views testifies to the eclipse of the older, more
philosophical and less doctrinaire, view once stoutly held by the British
ruling class, which in days gone by knew very well how long it had taken to
develop the British parliamentary system of representative government and
how much discriminating philosophy, empirical calculation and political
ingenuity had gone into ensuring that the democratisation of this system
between 1832 and 1945 did not destroy it.

'What this assumption encourages is the derived postulate that democracy is
created by democrats rather than vice versa (a postulate that may well
square with the peculiar American experience, but hardly that of any other
modern state), from which it follows that, in a country such as Algeria, the
crucial thing is to identify who the local 'democrats' are and to support
them. As a result, Western sympathies are mobilised in such a way that a
democratic outcome is made virtually impossible.'


News, 16-23/7/03 (1)

DEATH

*  Missile fired at U.S. plane; soldier, Iraqi mayor killed [Wednesday, 16th
July]
*  More than 1,000 children killed or wounded by abandoned arms in Iraq:
UNICEF
*  Another U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq [Saturday, 19th July, West Baghdad]
*  Two U.S. Soldiers Killed in Northern Iraq [Sunday, 20th July, near Mosul]
*  New death of soldier in Iraq piles pressure on US [Monday, 21st July,
Baghdad]
*  Media Underplays U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Soldiers Dead Since May Is 3
Times Official Count [On the extraordinary toll in non-combat deaths of US
soldiers since 2nd May. So far not much sign of this in the mainstream
press. The article also gives the website of a body that is keeping count of
'Coalition' deaths (http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Summary.aspx)]
*  1 ICRC staff member killed, 1 wounded in Iraq [22nd July, near Hilla]

*  Saddam Hussein's sons killed in US raid in northern Iraq [and another US
soldier, 23rd July, near Ramadi]

DISORDER

*  Human Rights Watch releases report on violence against Iraqi women and
girls
*  IAEA reports to UN on Iraq inspections [The looting of al Tuwaythah
hasn't resulted in significant loss of material that could be used for
military purposes]
*  Iraq: Water-borne diseases increase with summer temperatures ['According
to CARE International, the US-based charity, about two million mt of raw
sewage are dumped into Iraq's rivers every day, four times the amount before
the war.']
*  Iraqi minority that reveres John the Baptist looks with hope, fear to
future

THE (still a little bit) FREE WORLD

*  Jordan freezes Iraqi assets, but won't turn them over
*  Turkomans in Ankara for political training
*  Iraq, Iran sign memorandum of understanding [by 'Iraq' is here meant the
Sulaymaniyah Chamber of Commerce]
*  U.S. ambassador says Russia might know where deposed Iraqi president is
*  Report: U.S. Asks Turkey to Send Troops [And, in a very sinister
development, the US offers to help clean out the Turkish Kurds in Northern
Iraq/Southern Kurdistan. To quote Robert Pearson, the U.S. ambassador to
Turkey: "Either they surrender or face the alternative. The alternative is
the use of military force." We suppose the wretched PUK/KDP will look
benignly on]
*  No Troops To Iraq: Lacking Courage And Vision [Interesting argument in
favour of sending Indian troops 'to help stabilise the situation created by
the American mishandling of the post-Saddam Iraq']


AND, IN NEWS, 16-23/7/03 (2)

HISTORY

*  What was their guilt, Kurds ask of women and children killed by Saddam
[mass grave 'a short distance into the desert from the ruins of the
2000-year-old city of Hatra, 110 kilometres south-west of Mosul']
*  Saddam tested deadly weapons on humans, accounts say
*  U.S. Attacked Iraqi Defenses Starting in 2002 [Important account of the
air war and of the hidden - but obvious to anyone who was watching it -
pre-war conducted in clear defiance of the will of the Security Council (if
that body could be said to possess a will). Includes a reference to Donald
Rumsfeld's approving fifty attacks liable each of them to kill more than
thirty civilians]
*  Iraq's most wanted [The 55 most-wanted Iraqis and their status, according
to US Central Command]

DEGENERATION OF THE PRETEXT

*   The spies who pushed for war [Guardian account of rivalry between the
CIA/DIA and the 'Office of Special Plans']
*  Body 'matches' Iraq expert [David Kelly]
*  White House Didn't Gain CIA Nod for Claim On Iraqi Strikes [The 45 minute
claim as it played in the US, together with the Al Qaida presence in Iraq]
*  BBC confirms dead scientist was source for disputed Iraq story
*  Evidence 'useless' ['Elisabetta Burba, a journalist at the current
affairs magazine Panorama, said she received the documents (on Iraqi efforts
to obtain uranium in Niger) in October 2002 but concluded they did not stand
scrutiny and passed them to US diplomats in Rome.' A rather shortsighted
thing to do]
*  Bush Aide Takes Blame for Iraq Uranium Uproar [A ridiculous tale to the
effect that both Stephen Hadley, President Bush's number two national
security aide, and George Tenet forgot that they had been warned against the
Niger uranium story when they let the State of the Union speech go ahead. We
are told that "He (Bush) is obviously not pleased when the high standards
that he expects to be met have not", which sounds as if it might have
serious consequences. But the President is a merciful man and "has the
highest level of confidence in the national security team, as well as the
director of intelligence (George Tenet)." So that's all right]


AND, IN NEWS, 16-23/7/03 (3)

THE COLLABORATION

*  US administration reaches out to communists, low-paid Iraqis [Promoting
communists, doubling the salaries of the low-paid and banning the death
penalty: "Bremer's becoming an Iraqi. He's distancing himself more and more
from the Bush administration." We can but hope...]
*  Pretender to throne marks anniversary of fall of monarchy [The
Constitutional Monarchy Movement hasn't joined the 'governing council'. But
was it asked?]
*  Iraqi Governing Council is inaugurated: a look at the first week
[Kathleen Ridolfo's assessment for RFE]
*  Bad blood lingers after strange days in Kurdistan [Extract giving what
seems to be a probable explanation of the arrest of the Turkish soldiers
(that they were set up by the Kurds)]
*  Iraq Council Fails to Choose President ['abandoning that mission in
favour of a weak, three-man rotating leadership'. Chalabi, Hakim and
Pachachi are tipped, rather leaving the Kurds out of the picture ( and why
should Chalabi be included? Surely the US administration must know that he
has fulfilled his role - and not very well, at that - and is now only a
liability?)]
*  New Iraqi Council Makes Debut at U.N. [Delegation consisting of Chalabi
(why him?), Pachachi and Akila al-Hashimi. Nb 'Iraq's U.N. Mission remains
open, with the former third-ranking diplomat, Said Shihab Ahmad, in
charge.']

THE OPPOSITION

*  Al-Da'wah official discusses party, split
*  Resistance groups continue to issue threats against coalition [Some names
of organisations which may or may not exist]
*  As other group claims it has halted attacks ["Al-Anbar's Armed Brigades"]
*  Iraqi archbishop condemns US [Severius Hawa, Archbishop of the Syrian
Orthodox Church in Baghdad and Basra 'said the anti-war stance of the Church
of England had prevented a Muslim backlash against Iraqi Christians ... He
said he was unable to say yet whether he was happy to see Saddam Hussein
toppled. "There were people suffering under Saddam, but now everyone is
unhappy," he said.']
*  US confused by Iraq's quiet war [Extract on the nature of the opposition
around Ramadi]
*  Shiite leaders issue duelling assessments of Iraqi gov't [Mohammad Bakir
Al Hakim v. Muqtada Al Sadr]    
*  Iraqi uprising gathers pace [in Najaf, inspired by al-Sadr. The U.S.
commander in Najaf, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Conlin tells us that "Mr
al-Sadr is a young, immature man, who is rapidly losing support in the city"
and that "Sadr's people are a bunch of riff-raff."]
*  10,000 Iraqi Shiites rally in Najaf against US occupation [More detailed
account of events]    


AND, IN NEWS, 16-23/7/03 (4)

IMPERIAL POLITICS

*  Cost of occupation: 5m a day - human cost extra
*  Will the UN bail out Bush? [Satisfying as it may be to see the US eating
humble pie and calling on the UN, it would have the undesirable effect of
freeing US troops and resources for further adventures]
*  Greenstock Named Iraq Coalition Official ['Sir' Jeremy Greenstock, whose
role in perpetuating the genocidal policy of UN sanctions must be well known
to the Iraqi people, tries to persuade the UN to help out so that US troops
will be free to go and smash up other parts of the world]
*  Don't sell out to Uncle Sam [Will Hutton on the disappearance of the UK's
capacity for war independent of the US. But is he right to say that 'the
object of British foreign policy is to sustain multilateralism and the rule
of international law'? Well, no, he isn't really. This view is almost as
naive (probably a lot more naive) than that of Mr Blair. The object of
British foreign policy as I understand it is to justify a continued
overblown expenditure on defence. And that can obviously best be done by
joining with the Americans]
*  Iraqi policy architect gains vindication [Paul Wolfowitz sees what he
wants to see in Iraq. He informs us that "Democracy grows like a garden. If
you keep the weeds out and water the plants and you're patient, eventually
you get something magnificent.". So perhaps the USA might become something
magnificent. Some day. When its got rid of all the weeds.]

THE PHILOSOPHY OF WAR

*  Tony Blair's speech to the US Congress ['There never has been a time when
the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except
in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction
for our present day.']
*  At war for freedom [James Woolsey. ' It is a war to the death, like the
war with the Nazis, and we should understand that it will have to be fought
that way.' Bombing of Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg?]




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