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Re: [casi] By the beard of the Manical Dictator - querying theSaddam captured images.

Dear Per and list

> This situation is like something out of bad satire: the people of Iraq
> is in urgent need of our attention, wholly at the mercy of the policies
> of our politicians, who are not accountable to them in any way. This
> list exists for the discussion of how we can address this situation, but
> instead it's a place for the discussion of the size of Saddam's
> moustache.  Monty Python couldn't have come up with anything more absurd.

Those who object to the poor quality of the list at present would be on
stronger ground if they themselves would send mailings that identify
important issues and reflect on them in an intelligent manner. We get (and I
value) a large number of forwarded newspaper cuttings but hardly any actual
original thinking.

Per is certainly capable of this, as witness his letter to the BBC
complaining about the way they represented the end of the Oil for Food
programme. But even this was not sent to the list by him (it was sent by
Daniel on Nov 25). Mike Lewis is also capable of it and so is Colin Rowat.
Yet if I'm not mistaken the only substantial mailings any of them have sent
since the invasion have been complaints about Tom. Which is a curious thing
in itself when all of them are of the opinion that Tom's thoughts are not
worth bothering with.

I have recently mailed an argument in favour of supporting Grand Ayatollah
Sistani's call for a rapid move to elections; and one pointing to our Prime
Minister's claim that 400,000 bodies have already been discovered in mass
graves (that IS what he said) as a travesty of what is known on this subject
- a statement which shows much the same mentality as the irresponsible
statements about weapons of mass destruction made prior to the war. I am
also trying to enter into some sort of discussion with Muhammad and Yasser
on whether or not a tribunal established by the IGC can have any credibility
(Hassan Zeini has also mailed on this subject). And I have tried to get some
sort of focus on the reality of Iraqi culture by drawing attention to the
fact that there is among the Shi'ites a system of law with a respectable
intellectual pedigree that is up and running and is probably the most
important factor at the present time preventing an even greater slide into
anarchy. None of these have so far attracted any interest though they seem
to me to be important issues. The only thing I have mailed that has
stimulated a reaction has been my remark in support of Tom on the subject of
Saddam Hussein's moustache.

The CASI analysis list has been established to try to get more high quality
discussion through tighter monitoring, and there is a project for an
improved website on similar lines. I have been trying to get some idea of
the focus for these projects and of the topics that will be considered
appropriate for them. So far I have failed but this might emerge over time
once the people who have been refraining from posting to the rambling and
anarchic discussion list start posting to the tighter analysis list.

At any rate I suppose that the size of Saddam Hussein's moustache will not
be considered an appropriate subject, but since we are still on the
rambling, anarchic list, I might remark that the point under consideration
is bushiness. The degree of bushiness is not revealed in the full frontal
photos given by the BBC; it is revealed in the three quarter views given by
Tom. This does not constitute evidence as to whether or not the photos are
of Saddam himself or of a lookalike. My own speculation, if there's anything
in it (and it may well be a trick of the light. But it doesn't look like
one) is that whether it was Saddam or a lookalike they wanted it to look
like Saddam and so probably touched up the photograph when they saw that the
moustache did not look right.

However interpreted the whole disgusting spectacle is a gross violation of
the terms of the Geneva convention (the one our leaders evoked when they
complained about Al Jazeera photos of dead US and British soldiers) and a
monstrous way of treating a captive head of state (I seem to remember in one
of my news mailings commenting on the regret George Bush must feel that he
is no longer living in an age where he could use the captive emperor as a
footstool for mounting his horse. I have also been put in mind of William
Blake's great painting of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar). For myself I
think that getting some sort of coherent understanding of what Saddam
Hussein is/was is a matter of the first importance and I would like to set
about it (and would welcome help from those who detest him. The best
polemicist against Saddam Hussein I have seen over the past few weeks has
been Jo Wilding).

But right at this moment I have the feeling that sending anything to this
list is sending it into the void.



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