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RE: [casi] Another bogus mass grave story - from LA Times

Like Eric, I also endorse Colin's message. Denying the Iraqi people's
suffering under Saddam cannot be part of solidarity with these same people.
Tom's distasteful intervention is part of a wider objectionable trend that has
total disregard for Iraqis and that is simply willing to use them in a fight
over policy in Europe and America. One well-known commentator who strongly
opposed the war, recently argued that the best place for US troops is Iraq
(where they are taking a battering), and he also argues that the US must now
stay in Iraq because it has responsibilities arising from its war. This is not
solidarity, but a desire to take the fight into Iraq and a benevolent
imperialism, only slightly different from Blair's liberal imperialism.
Consistency, honesty, respect for the truth and moral standards are as
important as outrage against the US colonial enterprise.

Kamil Mahdi

 Message: 3
From: "Colin Rowat" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: [casi] Another bogus mass grave story - from LA Times
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2003 21:16:28 -0000

> I have a backlog of mass graves stories to discuss, I will
> try and get through them in the next few days. ...
> In this photo a man is shown digging with his hand into a
> sand dune, that looks identical to all the other sand dunes
> in the area (in the article we are also told this area is
> prone to flooding!!!).


Do you have any first hand experience with mass graves? I am fortunate not
to, but find it quite reasonable to imagine that the photo is accurate -
although revolting to engage in a process of coolly wondering about this: if
you shoot pleading people in the head at a sandy place, it seems to me that
the sand will gradually blow over their bodies, forming dunes of the sort in
the photograph.

Let us suppose, though, that this is not the case, and that the photo is
concocted. Is this relevant? If someone is asked to strike a pose for a
camera, that does not in any way alter the truth of the accompanying story.

What is the story? You dismiss it as "the 'I was shot and left to die in a
mass grave, but crawled out under cover of darkness to tell all' variation,
an old favourite in the mass grave atrocity genre." I find sneering like
this at mass murder - I assume that you are not doubting that the Anfal
campaign took place - deeply offensive. This attitude also seems to me to
be found in some of sanctions' most distasteful advocates: the old 'starving
children' variation on sanctions, or 'baby funerals', or doubting Unicef
because they hired Iraqis. A closer comparison, although different in
scale, is to Holocaust denial.

I, for one, am not interested in you dumping your 'backlog' of mass grave
stories onto this list. I do not feel that your e-mail has contributed to
my understanding of mass graves in Iraq, or - more relevant to the list's
mandate - the current humanitarian situation in Iraq. It has made me feel


Colin Rowat

work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham |
Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK | | ( 44/0) 121 414 3754 |
(+44/0) 121 414 7377 (fax) |

personal | (+44/0) 7768 056 984 (mobile) | (+44/0) 7092 378 517 (fax) |
(707) 221 3672 (US fax) |

Dr Kamil Mahdi
University of Exeter

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