12 April 2003

more on Baghdad
From the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeoch, a unilateral in Baghdad:

The rampant looting that first targeted the regime spread to embassies, hospitals, businesses and private homes yesterday. Even the Al Kindi Hospital, which performed so heroically as it dealt with appalling casualties during the bombing, was looted of beds, electrical fittings and other equipment.

In this power vacuum the marines say they are cracking down - but yesterday there was no sign of it as troops invariably watched, but did not act against the looters.

The German, Chinese and Turkish embassies were done over and the French Cultural Centre on the riverfront was stripped bare. Around the corner, guards at the French embassy nervously toyed with their Kalashnikovs after stretching layers of coiled barbed-wire around the Ottoman compound.

Every street and highway was crowded with looters taking their haul away - on trucks, in an ambulance, in cars and taxis, on foot or on wheeled office chairs which they had roped together as makeshift trolleys.

In the city, six of the government ministries they had targeted were ablaze and when I asked who owned a palatial riverfront home, its looters laughed and said: "Not us!"

A Red Cross worker is dead and two from Doctors Without Borders are missing. Arguing that US forces should confront the lawlessness, Amanda Williamson, a Red Cross spokeswoman, said: "It's not possible to distribute medical and surgical supplies or drinking water to the hospitals. The situation is chaotic and very insecure.

"At this stage they could at least do everything possible to protect vital civilian infrastructure, like hospitals and the water supply."

But in the Baghdad vacuum it's every man for himself. The military operation is insulated from the looters who, in turn, are oblivious to the fate of the likes of the informer Abu Sheik.

Having toppled the regime the challenge now facing the US and its war allies is as daunting as it is enormous. The pent-up anger, energy and frustrated ambition of millions will demand urgent proof that life after Saddam will be worth the pain of war.

From General Peter Cosgrove, Chief of the Australian Defence Force:

All Australians have been touched by the plight of the people of Iraq, particularly the residents of Baghdad, over the last few days. There is a need for a quick response to avert a significant burgeoning humanitarian problem.

Although none of our forces are directly involved in the struggle for Baghdad, the government has directed the Australian Defence Force to provide whatever assistance it can as quickly as it can.

Now, we learn that there is sufficient food and water available and that the Iraqi hospitals have adequate medical staff, however I believe that there is a severe shortage of medical supplies to treat the injured. In response to this, I've directed the release of as much contingency stocks of medical stores as possible.

From the International Committee of the Red Cross:

The ICRC in Baghdad is extremely concerned about the anarchy and general chaos prevalent in the city. Lawlessness continues to be rampant, with ambulances being stopped and looted by armed individuals. The ICRC fears that the hospitals in Baghdad are no longer functioning and have been largely deserted by staff and patients. Most Baghdadis are too terrified to leave their homes. The ICRC will carry out assessments at different hospitals in the city if and when the security situation permits.

From M�decins Sans Fronti�res

In addition to the military providing assistance, the US government has also made efforts to enlist aid organizations in support of its agenda. As an example, US-based humanitarian organizations have been prohibited from accessing Southern and Central Iraq by US sanctions, while preparations are currently being made to organize their entry into zones secured by the coalition. Our concern is that this highly visible "hearts and minds" strategy may fuel dangerous suspicions that all humanitarian activities, and international aid personnel, are identified to the US/UK coalition and working on its behalf.

The very unfortunate and disturbing reality is that, at a moment when the needs of the population are certainly increasing, access is the most difficult and activities of aid organizations are most limited. Yet, even if the intensity of the conflict were to decrease, independent access, and the respect afforded to the personnel and activities of humanitarian organizations, remains a critical concern.

It seems something more than vase-stealing is happening. The occupation is responsible for law and order under the UN charter and the Geneva conventions. Time to topple another statue?
spinning out of control
From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Calling rampant looting and lawlessness in Iraq an "untidy" period between war and freedom, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday condemned media reports that anarchy ruled in Iraqi cities.

Rumsfeld and the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that U.S. troops were struggling to secure Baghdad and intervening when possible to stop looting two days after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's rule.

"It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," stormed Rumsfeld, his hand chopping the air for emphasis in response to reporters' questions at a Pentagon briefing.

"They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here," he added after reporters asked what steps U.S. forces were taking to stop the looting.

Even the Western media have moved from covering toppling statues to looted hospitals. When the history of this human catastrophe gets written it will be interesting to read about Rumsfeld trying to control not looting, but reports of looting. There is a very good reason for the looting. It's called not having enough boots on the ground for ideological reasons.

While Rumsfeld is condemning shots of a vase being stolen that get run again and again he had no trouble with the Great Statue Toppling being run over and over again. Evidently it's doubleplusgood to rerun stories favourable to the march of empire but it's doubleplusungood to rerun stories that question the cakewalk.
ICRC calls urgently for protection of the civilian population and services and of persons no longer fighting

Geneva (ICRC) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is profoundly alarmed by the chaos currently prevailing in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Lawless persons, sometimes armed, have been ransacking and looting even essential public facilities such as hospitals and water-supply installations.

Hospitals in Baghdad are closed because of combat damage, looting or fear of looting. Hardly any medical or support staff are still reporting for work. Patients have either fled the hospitals or have been left without care. The medical system in Baghdad has virtually collapsed. The dead are left unattended, and the increasing summer heat and deteriorating water and electricity supplies create a high risk of epidemic disease.

The ICRC urgently appeals to the Coalition forces and all other persons in authority to do everything possible to protect essential infrastructure such as hospitals and water-supply and evacuation systems from looting and destruction. In areas under their control, the Coalition forces have specific responsibilities as Occupying Powers under international humanitarian law. These include taking all measures in their power to restore and maintain, as far as possible, public order and safety by putting a halt to pillage and to violence against civilians and civilian facilities.

Civilian facilities which have been damaged or destroyed must be repaired as soon as possible, in order to ensure that the basic needs of the population can be met. Water and electricity supplies are vital. Medical units and personnel must be protected and their work facilitated, and access to them by all persons in need, whether military or civilian, friend or foe, must be granted. In all circumstances, the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblem must be respected.

To the fullest extent of the means available to them, the occupying forces have a duty to ensure that the population has sufficient supplies in terms of water, food and medical care. As the temporary administrators of the occupied territory, the Occupying Powers must support public services and manage resources primarily in the interests of the population, without discrimination. If the whole or part of the population under occupation is not adequately supplied, the Occupying Powers must allow impartial humanitarian organizations to undertake assistance operations. However, the provision of humanitarian aid in no way relieves the Occupying Powers of their administrator's responsibilities towards the population under occupation.

All persons deprived of their freedom and held in enemy hands must be spared and protected, in accordance with the Third or the Fourth Geneva Convention, depending on whether they are combatants or civilians. Prisoners of war must be treated humanely at all times. The ICRC has been granted access to POWs in Coalition hands. It is deeply concerned that this is not the case as regards Coalition POWs captured by Iraqi forces, and strongly urges those who are holding them today to afford them protection and treat them in full observance of the provisions of the Third Geneva Convention, including their entitlement to ICRC visits.

Wherever military operations are taking place, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population and civilian objects. All those bearing arms must take all necessary precautions to avoid exposing civilians to the dangers resulting from military activity. The wounded and the dead must be evacuated without delay. Acts of perfidy are prohibited.

The ICRC, which has been present and active in Iraq throughout the conflict, is fully committed to pursuing the tasks incumbent upon it under the Geneva Conventions, to working for the faithful application of international humanitarian law, and to endeavour to ensure that all victims of the conflict and of its consequences receive protection and assistance.

Further information:
Antonella Notari, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 22 82 / ++41 79 217 32 80
Nada Doumani, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 27 56 / ++41 79 244 64 14
Florian Westphal, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 29 30 / ++41 79 217 32 26
Roland Huguenin, ICRC Baghdad, tel. ++873 761 845 610

This is not the view we're getting from the Western media. They're too busy replaying the Great Statue Toppling - government by photo-op - to notice the emerging human disaster. Any number of NGOs who do know how to deal with these situations are on the border waiting to get in, but the occupation is too busy broadcasting the George and Tony show to a population without the electricity to turn on their TVs.
Le dormeur du val
Arthur Rimbaud

C'est un trou de verdure o� chante une rivi�re,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent ; o� le soleil, de la montagne fi�re,
Luit : c'est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, t�te nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est �tendu dans l'herbe, sous la nue,
P�le dans son lit vert o� la lumi�re pleut.

Les pieds dans les gla�euls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au c�t� droit.

11 April 2003

more on Baghdad
al-Sahhaf hired by Guardian!
Crows shall feed on (UK Chancellor of the Exchequer) Gordon Brown's pancreas!

Three things struck me immediately about Gordon Brown's budget yesterday: lies, lies and more lies. He has the audacity to say that he will increase borrowing by �12bn over the next three years, when we all know that he and his illegitimate cohorts will be shamed out of office by a huge Tory triumph in May's local elections. There is no way the Conservatives can lose this. Labour cannot survive. They know this and they are desperate.

* Do not believe any rumours you have heard about Jude Law and Sadie Frost being reconciled, because in truth they were never apart. They remain together now as they always have been, and refuse to be defeated by lies promulgated by journalists intent on destroying them. Therefore, in order to demonstrate their continued solidarity to the world, they have told me that they will reaffirm their marriage vows next week on live television. You heard it here first.

* As I write this I am sitting in the courtyard of my summer house in Basra, contemplating the annihilation of the invaders sent by the criminal bastards Bush and Blair. Earlier in the week I watched as joyous Iraqis celebrated our triumph by pulling down - with the help of defecting American soldiers - Baghdad's only statue of actor Robert Donat as Mr Chips. I understand it was quite a good film, but we have no need of your imperialist icons now. Saddam has freed us from your oppressive rule, so we are saying goodbye to your Mr Chips. Ha! I have made myself laugh! I will not gloat further over this thrilling but predictable defeat which vindicates me so completely. Suffice to say that Max Clifford owes me a box of Cohibas. Thanks, everybody, and Death To America.

Personally I think the Great Statue Toppling has the al-Sahhaf signature touch as well.

neocons and fascist thought
From Common Dreams, The Neoconservative agenda:
This is not good news. There are three things to be said about the neoconservatives and what they want.

The first is that they act out of fear. They are motivated by fear of terrorist bands, armed by Islamic states, wielding weapons of mass destruction, even though this is politically, technologically and militarily highly implausible.

There is an element of hysteria in this fear, as there was a quarter-century ago when Washington convinced itself that a victory by peasant insurgents in Vietnam would lead to world domination by "Asian communism" and to the isolation and destruction of the United States.

Second, they are naive. Krauthammer says it is "racist" to think that "Arabs" can't govern themselves democratically. The problem in the Middle East is not "Arabs." The problem is a powerful historical culture that functions on categories of value absolutes and religious certainties hostile to the pragmatic relativisms of Western democracy. Military conquest and good intentions will not change that.

Finally, the neoconservatives are fanatics. They believe it is worth killing people for unproved ideas. Traditional morality says that war is justified in legitimate defense. Totalitarian morality justifies war to make people or societies better.

In fact, if the war party actually believes that it is just to make war to improve societies or peoples then they have directly and blatantly (if unconsciously) adopted the nonsensical tripe spewed by Hitler in the 1930s.

Obersalzberg speech 22 August 1939 by Adolf Hitler:
few weeks. Had he reported to me that he needs two years or even only one year, I should not have given the command to march and should have allied myself temporarily with England instead of Russia for we cannot conduct a long war. To be sure a new situation has arisen. I experienced those poor worms Daladier and Chamberlain in Munich. They will be too cowardly to attack. They won't go beyond a blockade. Against that we have our autarchy and the Russian raw materials.

Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans. My pact with the Poles was merely conceived of as a gaining of time. As for the rest, gentlemen, the fate of Russia will be exactly the same as 1 am now going through with in the case of Poland. After Stalin's death-he is a very sick man-we will break the Soviet Union. Then there will begin the dawn of the German rule of the earth.

The little States cannot scare me. After Kemal's [i.e. Ataturk] death Turkey is governed by cretins and half idiots. Carol of Roumania is through and through the corrupt slave of his sexual instincts. The King of Belgium and the Nordic kings are soft jumping jacks who are dependent upon the good digestions of their over-eating and tired peoples.

We shall have to take into the bargain the defection of Japan. I save Japan a full year's time. The Emperor is a counterpart to the last Czar - weak, cowardly, undecided. May he become a victim of the revolution. My going together with Japan never was popular. We shall continue to create disturbances in the Far East and in Arabia. Let us think as "gentlemen" and let us see in these peoples at best lacquered half maniacs who are anxious to experience the whip.

The opportunity is as favourable as never before. 1 have but one worry, namely that Chamberlain or some other such pig of a fellow (Saukerl) will come at the last moment with proposals or with ratting (Umfall). He will fly down the stairs, even if I shall personally have to trample on his belly in the eyes of the photographers.

No, it is too late for this. The attack upon and the destruction of Poland begins Saturday early. 1 shall let a few companies in Polish uniform attack in Upper Silesia or in the Protectorate. Whether the world believes it is quite indifferent (scheissegal). The world believes only in success.

For you, gentlemen, fame and honour are beginning as they have not since centuries. Be hard, be without mercy, act more quickly and brutally than the others. The citizens of Western Europe must tremble with horror. That is the most human way of conducting a war. For it scares the others off.

The new method of conducting war corresponds to the new drawing of the frontiers. A war extending from Reval, Lublin, Kaschau to the mouth of the Danube. The rest will be given to the Russians. Ribbentrop has orders to make every offer and to accept every demand. In the West I reserve to myself the right to determine the strategically best line. Here one will be able to work with Protectorate regions, such as Holland, Belgium and French Lorraine.

And now, on to the enemy, in Warsaw we will celebrate our reunion.

A war for democracy cannot be fought by totalitarian methods.
featherbedded Dick Cheney
US Vice-President Dick Cheney gave a speech yesterday about how he was really right all the time.

Yet the conclusion of the war will mark one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted. It's proceeded according to a carefully drawn plan with fixed objectives and flexibility in meeting them. In the early days of the war, the plan was criticized by some retired military officers embedded in TV studios. (Laughter.)

Did none of his audience ask themselves where Cheney was embedded throughout this fighting? Or indeed where he featherbedded himself during the Vietnam War? A war he advocated strenuously but which he left other people to fight?
one picture can tell a thousand lies
Here's an overhead image of the Great Statue Toppling. There's independent confirmation of the smallness of the crowd by a BBC reporter who was there when it happened.

The image caption speaks for itself. As I remember the crowds when the Berlin wall fell were a bit larger than 150 and did not consist of CIA pensioners.
Xanana Gusm�o

that stir up the minds
of voices that go unheard

of shedding sweats
that smear the rains green

that silence in their heights
unheard battles

of suns burnt blue
by spilt tears

Mountains of East Timor

pregnant with blood
giving birth to pain

mournfully dressed with bones
bemoaning the struggle

Mountains of the clouds
Mountains of the winds
Mountains of the cold
The call of the homeland?
Mountains - the sanctuary
of the warrior
who has not fallen!
At war
Xanana Gusm�o

I am at war
the sky is not mine
I am at war
the sea is not mine,
I am at war
and life is won only
in death?
In the hope of regaining
my sea

The poet is the president of the Democratic Republic of East Timor and commanded the guerilla resistance to the Indonesian occupation between 1975 and 1999.
more al-Sahhaf fans!
The Washington Post reports:

Some of Sahhaf's greatest hits:

"There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad."

"We butchered the force present at the airport."

"Iraqi fighters in Umm Qasr are giving the hordes of American and British mercenaries the taste of definite death."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is "a criminal dog." Rumsfeld and President Bush "only deserve to be hit with shoes."

"After we finish defeating all of those animals we will disclose that with facts and figures."

Leibach, a veteran of the Jimmy Carter White House and the offices of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and former senator Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), told us: "There was great concern on Monday when we heard that his office was bombed. In all my years in this business, I have never seen anyone handle himself with such 'skill' as he demonstrated during his press briefing yesterday -- with his Ministry of Information building literally on fire, causing him to move his news conference to the sidewalk, and with the flames visible behind him, saying with a straight face that they had 'the infidels' on the run, that the Iraqis are winning this war. They just don't teach you that in college. This is a PR guy who may give new meaning to 'knowing how to take a bullet' for a client. Literally."

I have been unable to confirm rumours that the coalition wants to retain the minister's services so that he can advocate for their WMD search project.
a really cheap shot, but irresistible
Prime Minister of Australia John Howard speaking in Brisbane:

"we have no territorial ambitions of any kind in Iraq"

Haven't the prime ministerial minders read at least something about the history of prewar Europe?
how to do regime change IV
I think I might miss the regime's information minister - al-Sahhaf was surreal but passionate about his job - perhaps the occupation authorities could find a role for him announcing the nine-times capture of Umm Qasr or something.

Meanwhile, Kirkuk has fallen to the Kurds and Turkey has announced it is sending 'military observers' there. Ayatollah al-Khoei has been murdered in Najaf. The Red Cross is describing a situation in Baghdad's hospitals that passes catastrophe. Water and power have not been restored in Baghdad or Basra.

The coalition is now the effective government of Iraq. They are responsible for public safety, health and basic services. Restoring the TV service so they could make speeches that al-Sahhaf could have written possibly does not exhaust their responsibilities.

A just war must be proportionate to the evil it seeks to remove. Proportionality will be severely tested if Iraqis continue to die for want of basic health services and adequate numbers of troops to police the country or if an ethnic war breaks out in the Kurdish territory.

10 April 2003

Read it and weep
Sony is reported to have shown a fine grasp of how to make a buck by patenting the term 'Shock and Awe'.

MediaGuardian.co.uk has learned that Sony is set to launch a computer game called "Shock and Awe", having registered the defining phrase of the coalition's military campaign as a trademark in the US.

That's shocking and awful.
The real reasons for the US Invasion of Iraq - and Beyond
The United States? current strategic agenda is of staggering proportions. It is not secret: rather, it is being discussed openly in the American press and academia; various documents reflecting it, official and semi-official, are in circulation; and the US is implementing that agenda at breakneck speed. By the time this article is published, the US will have begun its bombing and invasion of Iraq, the second third world country to be attacked in less than two years.

On the face of it, current American plans, as outlined below, are so sweeping and ambitious as to be adventurist and untenable. However, we will attempt below to show that there is a logic behind these measures, flowing from the condition of the US economy and its place in the world economy.

Given the massive imbalance of forces, the immediate military success of the current US mission is not in doubt. But its medium and long term prospects hinge not only on the US?s unrivalled military strength, but on three other factors: the US?s own underlying economic condition, which is weakening; the position of other imperialist powers, which is tenuously balanced and may turn into active opposition; and the stance of the world?s people ? growing conscious opposition in the advanced world and, crucially, popular explosions and resistance battles in the targeted third world.

Link courtesy of pfaffenBlog
gone to the flogs
Salon has a devastating article, The last place we liberated on the Bush administration's alleged nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is essentially the mayor of Kabul. Security has collapsed outside the capital and there are signs of a Taliban resurgence. Osama bin Laden is still free.

The Iraq invasion cost many lives, coalition and Iraqi. If all it achieves is to make Chalabi mayor of Baghdad the price was too high.
Le�ons d'une histoire coloniale oubli�e
From Le monde diplomatique:

School of Oriental and African Studies, universit� de Londres, auteur de A History of Iraq, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

A Bagdad, un r�gime autoritaire, appuy� sur les forces arm�es, tient �troitement le pays et repr�sente une menace strat�gique pour la principale puissance occidentale op�rant dans la r�gion. Une exp�dition militaire est lanc�e et, � l'issue d'une campagne plus difficile et plus co�teuse que pr�vu, Bagdad sera pris et un nouvel ordre politique institu� sous le contr�le militaire et politique de l'Occident. Mais, au moment m�me o� il semble que l'avenir de l'Irak soit en train de s'�crire � l'�tranger, une r�volte �clate parmi les officiers de l'arm�e, dans les rues de Bagdad et dans toutes les r�gions chiites du Centre et du Sud. Et voil� que toute l'entreprise risque d'�chouer.

Le soul�vement finira par �tre �cras�, mais � un co�t tel que l'arm�e d'occupation ainsi que ses responsables vont r�viser radicalement leurs id�es. A la place de la vision grandiose des d�buts de l'occupation, un projet plus modeste et moins co�teux commence � prendre forme�: reconna�tre la hi�rarchie sociopolitique existant en Irak et remettre l'Etat, sous surveillance occidentale, entre les mains des �lites de l'ancien r�gime.

Ce r�cit n'est pas une anticipation des douze prochains mois. C'est la stricte narration d'�v�nements qui se sont d�roul�s, il y a plus de quatre-vingts ans, lorsque la Grande-Bretagne, ayant conquis les trois provinces ottomanes de Bassorah, Bagdad et Mossoul, en a fait un nouvel Etat�: l'Irak. Qu'il y ait l� des �chos du pr�sent et d'un futur possible est moins la cons�quence de quelque essence irr�ductible de l'histoire irakienne que de la logique du pouvoir imp�rial. Si la guerre a lieu, les Etats-Unis pourraient bien avoir � choisir entre les m�mes options que celles auxquelles les Britanniques furent confront�s entre 1914 et 1921. Il convient de r�fl�chir � ces options pour d�gager �ventuellement une logique commune entre deux tentatives de ��reconstruction de l'Etat�� par deux puissances imp�riales. Cela pourrait aider � comprendre ce que sera un nouvel Irak sous occupation am�ricaine.

In short, we've been here before. If the Bush project for Iraq as beacon of democracy is to succeed they need to avoid the mistakes made by the British empire. British policy created an authoritarian state built on a narrow Sunni �lite dominating the Shi'te majority and the Kurdish minority. Imposing Chalabi, (formally Shi'ite but actually so Westernised that his Shi'ite credential are in doubt) would just repeat the British error. If Bush actually wants this imperial project to succeed he needs the UN and he needs advice from people who know something about Iraq. Seeing everything through an Israeli filter will not work.
Un Charter on non-self-governing territories
Article 73
Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well- being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:

a. to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;

b. to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;

c. to further international peace and security;

d. to promote constructive measures of development, to encourage research, and to cooperate with one another and, when and where appropriate, with specialized international bodies with a view to the practical achievement of the social, economic, and scientific purposes set forth in this Article; and

e. to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible other than those territories to which Chapters XII and XIII apply.

Now, in the best of all possible worlds, the coalition would just accept that Article 73 applies to their military occupation of Iraq and would make a trusteeship agreement with the UN that could set out a number of things like how the Iraqi Interim Authority will be formed.

Having a free hand in international relations is a myth. Bush's claim that 'the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others' is nonsense. The Turkish parliament subjected him to its decisions when it refused transit rights for coalition forces. For that matter the UN security council subjected to him to its decisions when it refused UN sanction to the invasion of Iraq. The war may have proceeded but the rhetoric of peace was strengthened.

The world is interdependent. Once, when the US economy sneezed the global economy got a cold. Now, weirdly, China is making the rest of us cough. The Bush administration might want to live in a world where they do not depend on the decisions of others. Small children want to live in such a world as well. We expect them to grow up.
But if you take what you say, it was doomed from the start...

From the ABC's Four Corners program:

No. No, no. That's a bit unfair. I'd be amazed if they use the words ignorant ideologues. If someone like Paul Wolfowitz was running the post war state in Iraq and he had American public opinion behind him and he had a core of people who knew about Iraq in his team and they had a generation-long commitment to building democracy, then maybe the possibility that that democracy could slowly be have been built up, these were the the huge issues that one would be wrestling with. But Wolfowitz hasn't got the money; he hasn't got a generation; he hasn't probably got after this war, American public support; so what are we going to have? We're going to have at best something... where you know, a thousand people are brought into a room. They all cheer the next military leader and leave. If that brings stability and that military leader is less brutal, less prone to using weapons of mass destruction, less prone to invading other people's countries than Saddam Hussein, then the war wasn't necessarily a loss. But thousand's of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans will have probably died by then, and that's not going to give Iraq a better life, and Iraqi kids aren't going to get a better future for that, which is what they were promised when this invasion started.

9 April 2003

Cheering, looting breaks out in Baghdad
Posted to ABC Online at 18:41 AustralianEST
Hundreds of jubilant Iraqis have mobbed a convoy of US Marines, cheering, dancing and waving as American troops swept towards central Baghdad through slums and leafy suburbs from the east.

Reports from the streets of Baghdad say crowds threw flowers at the Marines as they drove past the Martyrs' Monument, just three kilometres east of the central Jumhuriya Bridge over the Tigris river.

"These are quite extraordinary scenes," Reuters correspondent Sean Maguire said after a morning's drive through the rundown sprawl of Saddam City and then through more prosperous suburbs with villas and trim lawns.

The crowds, mainly young and middle-aged men, many wearing the soccer shirts of leading western clubs like Manchester United, shouted "hello, hello" as Marines advanced through local traffic.

"No more (President) Saddam Hussein," chanted one group, waving to troops as they passed.

"We love you, we love you."

One young man ran alongside a Marine armoured personnel carrier trying to hand over a heavy belt of ammunition.

An older man made a wild kicking gesture with his foot, saying "Goodbye Saddam."

But a US military spokesman says it is too early to talk of the battle for Baghdad and the war in general being over.

"I think it's premature to talk about the end of this operation yet," Captain Frank Thorp said at Central Command forward headquarters in Qatar.

"There may be many more fierce fighting days in front of us as coalition forces continue to move within Baghdad and within the country," he said.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair says Iraq's command and control structure appears to have broken down in the capital, but resistance to advancing US troops could still be quite "stubborn and fierce".

Across town, looters have attacked major sites in the city including UN headquarters and around the Olympic Committee building.

Police and other officials were absent from major streets, according to reports.

Television crews watched cheering crowds sack the UN headquarters in the Canal Hotel to the east of the centre, and then drive off in UN cars.

Another correspondent saw looters raid sports shops around the bombed Iraqi Olympic Committee building, the effective headquarters of President Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday.

The building is said to be engulfed by flame.

The correspondent says authority appears to have broken down in the capital as US troops moved in.

"This has been in the air for days. People have just been waiting for a sign that the Americans are in the city," reporter Khaled Oweis said.

"People heard the Americans were in Saddam City."

He says he could see no police in the main central thoroughfares.

He says the only shooting in the city centre was from Iraqi paramilitaries firing sporadically at US forces across the river.

The firing came from around the Palestine Hotel, home to many foreign journalists, but the US military did not return fire.

Two foreign journalists were killed in the hotel yesterday when a US tank fired a shell at the building.

That was the easy part. Now the coalition has to reimpose civil order and start nation-building bigtime.
ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant
The Australian government has just issued a travel advisory flagging possible threats to the Anzac Day celebration at Gallipoli. These are the same people who have been assuring us that the Iraq invasion would not cause increased terrorism.

At the same time the Iraqi state has collapsed and the Saddam regime has essentially become one of many armed factions competing for power. The alarming nostrums out of Washington and Hillsborough say nothing about how the interim authority is to be appointed. One could hope that Bush will not succumb to the neocon claque promoting Chalabi as an Iraqi Kerensky but his record to date does not make for hope. The power on the ground is held by the Kurds, the Saddam remnants, the Shi'ites, the traditional leaders. The whole country is armed. They have little experience of cooperation or civic order.

No-one ever doubted the coalition's capacity to destroy. They need to start assuming the Geneva Convention responsibilities of an occupying power like health and public safety. What they now have to do is create something other than a desert called peace.
Televising the reality of war
The ABC's 7:30 Report ran a string of interviews on Monday night about the nature of war coverage by the US media. Like everyone else I was overwhelmed by the rush of images. From the ABC report:

JILL COLGAN: Anti-war protesters don't agree but Fox is not alone in choosing to be on side with the military.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: In the study that we did, there was not one image of a person actually being struck by a weapons fire.

There were some pictures of people in hospitals and there was some very few pictures of dead bodies but usually only partial photographs.

This is not graphic.

JILL COLGAN: Why is it we do see fewer pictures on American networks about Iraqi civilians injured or dead?

TOM ROSENSTIEL: There's a strong patriotic feeling in the US and showing the war as a graphic, horrifying event would be, might rub the audience the wrong way.

JILL COLGAN: Finally, it may be viewers themselves who shape what they see and hear.

Research has found there is a limit to what people will watch.

TOM ROSENSTIEL: The studies we've seen so far the people are numbed by it, saddened by it, they're pulling back and not watching as much as they did.

We're seeing the fog of war in embedded reporting.

It's more real than reality television.

Tim Dunlop has already spoken about John Howard's frequent one-on-one press interviews and the total lack of appearances by George Bush. New blogger Zach Meares has a nice analysis of the way media select image over content in war coverage.

To me the worst effect of sanitising war reportage in this way is that the story will end with the final occupation of Baghdad and Tikrit. In reality that will only be the beginning. The coalition will need to do better in reconstructing Iraq than has been done in Afghanistan. Forgetting to budget for Afghan reconstruction does not speak volumes for the Bush administration's capacity to think beyond the current news cycle.

Forgetting Afghanistan suggests that neither the neocon war party in the US nor the media which covers them have thought much to what happens once the cameras stop rolling. No doubt the next war will keep both administration and media too busy to do any thinking.

8 April 2003

Hillsborough castle communiqu�
The future of Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people. After years of dictatorship, Iraq will soon be liberated. For the first time in decades, Iraqis will soon choose their own representative government.

Coalition military operations are progressing and will succeed. We will eliminate the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, deliver humanitarian aid, and secure the freedom of the Iraqi people. We will create an environment where Iraqis can determine their own fate democratically and peacefully.

We are grateful to our men and women in uniform, as well as to the brave troops of Australia and Poland, and to forces contributed by other members of the Coalition. They have demonstrated enormous bravery and professionalism in the face of great danger. We mourn for the members of the Armed Forces who have sacrificed their lives, and extend our deepest sympathies to their families.

We also grieve for the loss of civilian life in Iraq. Coalition forces take great care to avoid civilian casualties. The Iraqi regime has done the opposite. It has deliberately put Iraqi civilians in harm's way, and used women and children as human shields. It has sent execution squads to kill Iraqis who choose freedom over fighting for a brutal regime. We condemn Iraqi regime forces' attacks in civilian clothing, false surrender, and mistreatment of prisoners of war. These acts are an affront to all standards of human decency and international law.

We are taking every step possible to safeguard Muslim holy sites and other protected places in Iraq that are important to the religious and cultural heritage of Islam and of Iraq. We have no confidence that the Iraqi regime has done the same, and are deeply concerned by reports that it is deliberately endangering such sites and using them for military purposes.

The Coalition is delivering food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. This flow will increase as more of Iraq's territory is liberated and United Nations specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations are better able to operate. We welcome the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1472, which will allow shipments of humanitarian items to Iraq to resume under the Oil for Food programme.

As we said at our March 16 meeting in the Azores, we will uphold our responsibility to help the people of Iraq build a nation that is whole, free and at peace with itself and its neighbours. We support the aspirations of all of Iraq's people for a united, representative government that upholds human rights and the rule of law as cornerstones of democracy. We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources, as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit.

As the Coalition proceeds with the reconstruction of Iraq, it will work with its allies, bilateral donors, and with the United Nations and other international institutions. The United Nations has a vital role to play in the reconstruction of Iraq. We welcome the efforts of UN agencies and non-governmental organisations in providing immediate assistance to the people of Iraq. As we stated in the Azores, we plan to seek the adoption of new United Nations Security Council Resolutions that would affirm Iraq's territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq. We welcome the appointment by the United Nations Secretary General of a Special Adviser for Iraq to work with the people of Iraq and coalition representatives.

The day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly. As early as possible, we support the formation of an Iraqi Interim Authority, a transitional administration, run by Iraqis, until a permanent government is established by the people of Iraq. The Interim Authority will be broad-based and fully representative, with members from all Iraq's ethnic groups, regions, and diaspora. The Interim Authority will be established first and foremost by the Iraqi people, with the help of the members of the Coalition, and working with the Secretary General of the United Nations. As Coalition forces advance, civilian Iraqi leaders will emerge who can be part of such an Interim Authority. The Interim Authority will progressively assume more of the functions of government. It will provide a means for Iraqis to participate in the economic and political reconstruction of their country from the outset.

Coalition forces will remain in Iraq as long as necessary to help the Iraqi people to build their own political institutions and reconstruct their country, but no longer. We look forward to welcoming a liberated Iraq to the international community of nations. We call upon our partners in the international community to join with us in ensuring a democratic and secure future for the Iraqi people.
About Iraqwar.ru and casualities
Thanks to Steve Gilliard at Daily Kos. This article raises some interesting questions.

7 April 2003

war declared on SARS
In an unexpected move which has confounded international opinion President Bush today declared war on the SARS virus. 'Today we celebrate our Independence Day! This is like watching a bad movie,' the president declared, 'and we will not go quietly into the night!'

When reporters reminded the president that the United States celebrates its independence on 4 July the chief executive replied: 'The World Health Organisation has made itself irrelevant by failing to act.' Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld added: 'Some viruses are known knowns and some are unknown knowns but we know enough not want to know any medical unknown unknowns.' Ari Fleischer then took over to explain that the Pentagon would be conducting the campaign. The ever-suave Ari answered: 'I don't accept your premise' to an impertinent reporter asking why the Pentagon had taken over public health.

The Australian and British governments, already in deep doo-doo for refusing to join invasions of Syria, Iran, Egypt, and California, hurried to announce that they were satisfied with WHO's efforts to deal with the epidemic. A number of hospitals in southern China and Southeast Asia immediately sent frantic appeals to their governments for air defence systems.
Opinion: Liberation through Occupation?
Amir Butler, executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC) asks if America is "anymore sincere in its objective of "freeing" the Middle East than the British were in "freeing" Iraq from the Turks during World War I".

The entire article is a must-read. Butler's test of US sincerity is simple. What if these new democracies elect Islamic governments committed to confrontation with Israel? Time, I guess will tell. When the British empire invaded Iraq after the Treaty of S�vres they were happy to gas the Iraqi defenders. Amazingly enough, some of the neocon babblers are putting forward the 1925 royalist constitution and the Hashemite dynasty as a solution to all Iraq's problems.

These people think they are dealing with Grand Fenwick.
The Little Sheriff Cocks His Gun - Australia's Howard runs amok
But today, the "little Johnnie Howard" taunt is looking even more credible, as Howard completed yet another Asian foreign policy gaffe on the weekend. From comments about being the "little sheriff" for the US in Asia, to telling an interviewer at Coolum that he was being consulted "among with other VIPs - important - people", the image of being a little man trying desperately to box his own way out is being developed much faster than by way of Keating's snakepit taunts.

Howard, of course, is in power by default - paradoxically courtesy of a man called Osama bin Laden, and a boat load of Afghan refugees. For a year before the last election the return of the conservative coalition was always going to be unlikely, and three months before the election opinion polls predicted a landslide to the opposition Labor party. Osama bin Laden succeeded in scaring the whits out of people in the Western world who felt their advanced status and security isolated them from growing troubles in the world as a whole. The Afghan refugee crisis allowed the conservatives to make immigration an electoral policy plank, and on very flimsy evidence later proved completely false by a Royal Commission, spun the tale that refugees were so un-civil they would throw their own children into the sea to force their own passage into the promised land.

Since the election, the Bali bombing further uncovered Osama's hand. Suddenly, not only wealth, but also geographical isolation was no protective bulwark from a world increasingly shedding barriers of trade, geography, and culture, putting into relief the one barrier that was indeed not changing - the gulf between rich and poor, and those who had benefitted from capitalism and the global order, and those who were yet to.

Australians in their own small concession to internationalism - tourism to Bali, were finally caught up in the flak, and an Australia that had for years grown accustomed and comfortable with their relative isolation are still struggling to come to terms with it.

Howard himself was made uncomfortable by accusations that the government had failed to consider warnings, including those from Bali itself, that Australians may be at risk. And like the US, Howard has looked after number one first - his own domestic political survival. Warnings against travel to Asian countries, visible targeting of ethnic scapegoats - all were aimed to convince an Australian electorate that all possible was being done for their security.

Howard forgot something though. Unlike his more savvy predecessors, he forgot that in a world increasingly influenced by regionalism rather than nation states, like it or not, Australia is in the Asia Pacific camp. He still thinks that Australia is an outpost of Western values in an Asian region. Interestingly, his nemesis in Asia, Malaysia's Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, thinks the same, spinning Australia to Malaysians, other Asian nations, and the world as a whole as small and insignificant racist and a Western lackey for the US and UK. Mahathir has already issued his own travel warnings to Malaysians against traveling to Australia - stating that Muslims in Australia were unsafe. And unlike in Australia, a significant group of Malaysians believe anything their leader says.
How to do regime change III

I assume, gentle reader, that you have a sense of humour. I trust the Treaty of S�vres will make you laugh rather than weep. I found Articles 141, 145 and 147 particularly amusing. I doubt those who have experienced over 70 years of flagrant violation of those articles ranging from Turkish oppression to actual genocide will laugh nearly as much.

What the treaty says about Kurdistan makes witty reading as well:
A Commission sitting at Constantinople and composed of three members appointed by the British, French and Italian Governments respectively shall draft within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty a scheme of local autonomy for the predominantly Kurdish areas lying east of the Euphrates, south of the southern boundary of Armenia as it may be hereafter determined, and north of the frontier of Turkey with Syria and Mesopotamia, as defined in Article 27, II (2) and (3). If unanimity cannot be secured on any question, it will be referred by the members of the Commission to their respective Governments. The scheme shall contain full safeguards for the protection of the Assyro-Chaldeans and other racial or religious minorities within these areas, and with this object a Commission composed of British, French, Italian, Persian and Kurdish representatives shall visit the spot to examine and decide what rectifications, if any, should be made in the Turkish frontier where, under the provisions of the present Treaty, that frontier coincides with that of Persia.

The Turkish Government hereby agrees to accept and execute the decisions of both the Commissions mentioned in Article 62 within three months from their communication to the said Government.

If within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty the Kurdish peoples within the areas defined in Article 62 shall address themselves to the Council of the League of Nations in such a manner as to show that a majority of the population of these areas desires independence from Turkey, and if the Council then considers that these peoples are capable of such independence and recommends that it should be granted to them, Turkey hereby agrees to execute such a recommendation, and to renounce all rights and title over these areas.

The detailed provisions for such renunciation will form the subject of a separate agreement between the Principal Allied Powers and Turkey.

If and when such renunciation takes place, no objection will be raised by the Principal Allied Powers to the voluntary adhesion to such an independent Kurdish State of the Kurds inhabiting that part of Kurdistan which has hitherto been included in the Mosul vilayet.

This treaty, by the way, is the one the Turkish foreign minister has been reading carefully as grounds for Turkey's proposed intervention in northern Iraq.
How to do regime change II
North Korea has said plans by the United Nations Security Council this week to discuss the crisis over its nuclear programme are a prelude to war - and has threatened to beef up its military forces.

In a statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman called the Security Council meeting on Wednesday a provocative act which impeded dialogue and would only aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang was referred to the UN Security Council after it announced it had expelled UN nuclear inspectors and pulled out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

North Korea said it would not recognise the authority of the Security Council, and has threatened to boost its defences, saying a strong military deterrence is the only way of preventing war with the US and protecting the country's security.

It has also said it had learnt a lesson from the US-led war on Iraq - that allowing disarmament through inspection did not avert, but instead sparked, war.
How to do regime change
The shooting is the latest in a series of attacks that have racked southern Afghanistan in recent weeks, including the killing of an International Red Cross worker and an ambush on a US military convoy that killed two American servicemen.

There are fears that Taliban remnants are reorganising their forces in an effort to destabilise Mr Karzai's fledgling government. There have been several so-called "night letters" warning Afghans against working with foreigners and threatening those who do with death.

The latest edict by hunted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar two weeks ago threatened more attacks, declared a jihad against international forces and told Afghans they would be considered enemies if they continued to work with the government. (AP)

6 April 2003

The Situation
D H Rumsfeld

Things will not be necessarily continuous.
The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous
Ought not to be characterized as a pause.
There will be some things that people will see.
There will be some things that people won't see.
And life goes on.

12 Oct 2001 Pentagon briefing
The Unknown
D H Rumsfeld

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

12 Feb 2002 Pentagon briefing