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What if the war never stops?

words by John Miate
image by
Lawrence Winder

Apotheosis by Lawrence Winder

Iraqi what ifs

aka - Operation Iraqi Liberation
(OIL)

aka - Operation Iraqi Freedom
(Shock and Awe)

aka - Iraq, The Quagmire
(Stuff Happens)

aka - The Iraqi Nakba/Catastrophe
(God Bless Iraq)

What if there were no chemical, biological or nuclear WMDs in Iraq?
What if there were no links between Al Qaeda and Iraq?
What if UN weapons inspectors were not given enough time to finish their job?
What if Iraq had been forcibly disarmed, routinely bombed, and brutally impoverished by sanctions?
What if a group of rich and powerful nations conquer a poor and defenceless nation in just 21 days?

What if Saddam Hussein is overthrown but the war never stops?

What if invasion by armed foreigners leads to resistance?
What if Iraqis are bombarded with cluster, incendiary, "bunker buster" and other bombs of mass destruction?
What if Iraqi war deaths are under-reported due to Islamic burial customs and lack of security?
What if the foreign occupiers refuse to do Iraqi body counts?
What if more Iraqi civilian lives are taken than saved?

What if the US Mission is Accomplished but the war never stops?

What if foreign occupation fuels anger and resistance?
What if Ministry of Oil facilities are protected while hospitals, museums, weapons depots are looted and destroyed?
What if Iraq holds the second largest known oil reserves?
What if Iraqis have to queue up for petrol rations?
What if the price of oil rises instead of falls?

What if Saddam is captured and his sons killed but the war never stops?

What if high unemployment and lack of basic services fuel resentment and resistance?
What if Iraqi state workers are sacked and the Army is dissolved?
What if Iraqi state assets are privatised by occupier decree?
What if foreign companies rush in and take Iraqi jobs away?
What if military destruction outpaces humanitarian reconstruction?

What if limited sovereignty is handed to a US-installed government but the war never stops?

What if foreigners and Iraqi elite shelter in the fortified Green Zone leaving ordinary Iraqis in no-go war zones?
What if the foreign invaders complain the loudest about foreign infiltrators?
What if Iraqi asylum seekers are forcibly deported to war-torn Iraq?
What if peaceful protestors are shot and killed?
What if Iraq is destabilised and turned into a failed state?

What if Fallujah is besieged, razed and "pacified" but the war never stops?

What if Saddam's torture chambers are renovated and put back into service?
What if Iraqi women are taken hostage to pressure male relatives to comply?
What if foreign troops are deployed to protect other foreign troops?
What if foreign soldiers are captured then tortured or killed?
What if foreign special forces run amok while in Arab disguise?

What if Iraqis vote in a general election but the war never stops?

What if Iraqis elect an Islamic Government with close ties to Iran?
What if the new constitution is rammed through with unresolved issues and without regard to the law?
What if Iraq's limited wealth is squandered by corrupt politicians and greedy corporations?
What if foreign troops and contractors have immunity from Iraqi law?
What if international terrorism increases instead of falls?

What if Iraqis vote in a constitutional referendum but the war never stops?

What if the "in its last throes" resistance grows stronger and bolder?
What if the "staying the course" coalition grows weaker and sinks deeper?
What if the US builds permanent military bases while proclaiming not to stay "one day longer than is necessary"?
What if the policy of Iraqization produces the same result as Vietnamization?
What if Iraqi Shi'ites rebel and withdraw their tacit support?

What if Iraqis vote in another general election but the war never stops?

What if foreign-trained Iraqi forces turn their guns against the foreigners?
What if the Iraqi Government suspends democracy and declares martial law?
What if Iraq is partitioned along sectarian lines and descends into civil war?
What if Iraqis choose to vote with their feet and their guns?
What if Iraqi democracy is bloodily conceived but stillborn?

What if al-Douri and al-Zarqawi are captured or killed but the war never stops?

What if Iraq is turned into a beacon for anarchy instead of democracy?
What if Islamic holy places are desecrated or destroyed?
What if Iraqi Ayatollahs declare jihad against the occupiers?
What if the Iraqi Parliament demands that foreign troops withdraw?
What if the occupiers change their destination instead of "staying the course"?

What if Saddam is tried and executed but the war never stops?

What if Baghdad was Sydney or Fallujah city-of-mosques was Adelaide city-of-churches?
What if like Australians, Iraqis want freedom and they reject foreign rule?
What if there are no benign or altruistic wars?
What if the road to Baghdad leads not to Jerusalem?
What if the occupation is part of the problem rather than the solution?

What if countless speeches and promises are made but the war never stops?

What if those making the grandest promises for Iraq's future are the ones who lied in the past?
What if the post-invasion disasters were widely predicted but ignored?
What if Iraq is transformed into the most dangerous country in the world?
What if outsourcing Iraq's self-defence to foreigners leads to perpetual war?
What if the next wave of international terrorism features Iraqis more and more?
What if Iraq's future generations are afflicted by depleted uranium and other scourges of war?
What if cameras are banned but the torture goes on at Abu Ghraib and other prisons of terror?
What if protests and escalating war costs force the US to cut its losses and run, like before?
Wha? if.....

What if the what if nightmares never stop?

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Lancet study

Shortly after the publication of the Lancet Study, Fred Kaplan wrote a critique of it in Slate magazine, which I managed to miss. This discussion has belatedly brought it to my attention. Kaplan says:

The report's authors derive this figure [of 100,000 dead] by estimating how many Iraqis died in a 14-month period before the U.S. invasion, conducting surveys on how many died in a similar period after the invasion began …, and subtracting the difference. That difference—the number of "extra" deaths in the post-invasion period—signifies the war's toll. That number is 98,000. But read the passage that cites the calculation more fully:

We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.

Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I'll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board.

Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday's election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It's a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.

Kaplan then goes on to spell out what that problem was.

Iraqi WMD case still open?

Interesting piece in Haaretz on continued debate about Iraqi WMD in Israeli intelligence circles.

Some of the Israeli intel guys apparently think the chemical and biological weapons Saddam still had from prior to the 1991 war may have been moved to Syria. The story says "senior officials, who are intimately familiar with Israeli intelligence material, still believe that Iraq really did have weapons of mass destruction. Not nuclear weapons, of course. Israel never made this claim. The Americans indeed erred in inflating the insubstantial information on nuclear plans. But there were chemical and biological weapons."

This story jibes with the Israeli intel estimates I've quoted earlier (on the Scott Ritter thread) which suggested Iraq had some chemical and biological weapons capability. If the story is true and some weapons were moved to Syria, that would complicate the Middle East security picture, but would also compound the blunder of the COTW in invading Iraq to go after WMD (taking them at their word that that's what they were after). Just raising the questions...

Pandora's Box: open or shut

Michael Coleman notes, "I believe it is a delusion to think that it is possible to accurately predict the long-term consequences of mass violence. Opening Pandora's Box unleashes forces that take on lives of their own, and it is foolish vanity to pretend that these forces can be understood, let alone tamed."

I agree, and would never presume to be able to predict the outcome of something so drastic as a war. However, keeping Pandora's Box shut suppresses forces that are likely to emerge eventually. Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Saudi Arabia, and other countries are examples. Keeping the Pandora's Box that was Saddam's Iraq shut certainly had negative consequences, expecially for those inside the box.

However, isn't it just as vain to assert that consequences will be disastrous as to assert that all will be rosy? See my previous posting about Noah Feldman's New York Times essay, in which he notes "it is indefensible to claim that [a] disastrous outcome is inevitable and ethically obtuse to use such a prediction to justify doing nothing to prevent it. All is not well in Iraq. But all is not lost, either."

"Sensible risk management does not involve 'solutions' that have unknown and unknowable outcomes. Are you seriously suggesting that global warming should be tackled with risky 'solutions' that are too complex to fully understand with potential consequences worse than GW itself?"

The solution I was thinking of is the curtailment of fossil-fuel consumption. This type of mitigation would itself have consequences, of course. Some would be benefits (savings in energy costs, reductions in local pollution) others may be costs (lower economic productivity, higher energy costs). These steps (and others, like geosequestration) have to be weighed against the anticipated impacts (costs and benefits) of continued global warming - and we are a long way from understanding those. See some of my postings in the climate-related threads for more detail.

Democracy = Peace? again

Mark Sargeant pointed out the essay
Iraq and the Democratic Peace by John Owen. Owen makes some excellent points including the synopsis "Mature democracies may not fight each other. But immature democracies, an important new book argues, can be quite bellicose."

Though democratic states may in fact make war, there's another factor the Owen essay does not touch upon, and that is the effect of non-state actors like al-Qaeda. Among the grievances that drive people into these organisations is a sense of disenfranchisement in their own societies. Surely some opportunity for participative government would help address this type of grievance?

And of course how would we tell which democracies are "mature" and which are not?

More reasons for war rubbish.

Will Howard seems to think that “Bush, Blair, Howard, and other leaders of the COTW should have trusted their citizens more, in my opinion, and should have been more up-front about the uncertainties around Saddam's WMD capabilities, presenting the issue as a risk-assessment problem.” This ridiculous assertion ignores entirely the fact that if they had been completely ‘upfront’ about the reasons for attacking Iraq we would have learnt that WMDs and all the other lies we were told had absolutely nothing to do with it and that the real reason for this war was about hegemony in the region, the protection of Israel’s interests and oil.

Go to the ‘Irises’ thread and read all about it.

‘Presenting the issue as a risk-assessment problem…’ what nonsense.

War and its alternative(s)

Mark Sargeant: very good points. You may be correct about the IBC estimates, but I think it may be a long time, if ever, before we really know the full human costs of the COTW invasion. Counting the casualties is difficult; attributing them is even more difficult. The same applies to Saddam's victims; and of course we can never know what harm he would have done if left in power.

Bush, Blair, Howard, and other leaders of the COTW should have trusted their citizens more, in my opinion, and should have been more up-front about the uncertainties around Saddam's WMD capabilities, presenting the issue as a risk-assessment problem. I think viewing the issue in terms of risk assessment mirrors Ian MacDougall's very apt comment "Once any political choice is made, its cost becomes more knowable (assessable, estimable) than that of any alternative."

It's interesting to note the parallels between the "was worth it vs. wasn't worth it" debate over the Iraq War and the global warming debate. In the GW debate one side says, "we must act now" [to reduce carbon emissions], facing the better-known and more immediate economic costs of emissions-reduction steps. The other side says "we should not impose economic costs on ourselves" against an uncertain decades risk decades or centuries in the future. There are strong overlaps between the "take action now against global warming" proponents and opponents of the Iraq invasion on one hand, and the pro-invasion and anti-global-warming-action crowd on the other.

What about the means?

Will Howard, war is mass murder and governments that choose war as a means to achieve political objectives are in clear breach of the Nuremberg Charter.

I believe it is a delusion to think that it is possible to accurately predict the  long-term consequences of mass violence. Opening Pandora's Box unleashes forces that take on lives of their own, and it is foolish vanity to pretend that these forces can be understood, let alone tamed.

Sensible risk management does not involve 'solutions' that have unknown and unknowable outcomes. Are you seriously suggesting that global warming should be tackled with risky 'solutions' that are too complex to fully understand with potential consequences worse than GW itself?

Will Howard [16 December,

Will Howard [16 December, 2005 - 10:41am]: an interesting post. Thanks for the link. Of course, even if democracy takes root in Iraq, there is nothing to stop (democratically endorsed) hostility to Israel prevailing there.

Mark Sergeant  [16 December, 2005 - 6:30pm]: “I don’t think I have claimed that casualties are worse under Bush than they would be under Saddam, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”

It would surprise me a great deal, and leave only who the casualties were, rather than how many, as the major current issue of the war. “…the point is that we should be comparing the casualties now with the (unknowable) casualties to be expected if Saddam was still in power. That’s Saddam with inspections, an unprecedented level of international scrutiny, and no WMD.

“So is it good that Saddam is gone from power? Yes. Was it worth the price? We’ll have to ask the Iraqi’s [sic] in a few years time.”

Thanks for your overview of casualty estimates and sources. You are far more up on it than I am. My offering was in response to Sid Walker’s assertion that the fall of Saddam “was a very bad thing.” However, nothing you have said in your post refutes my claim that on the face of it leaving Saddam in power would likely have entailed far greater cost in lives (say by a factor of  up to 30) than has been the case with the invasion and his removal.

Most of the traditional left supported the anti-war side, and so unfortunately found themselves on the same side as one of the great mass-murderers of history, and being openly praised by him for it. My own political background is in the traditional left, but on the issues of the Falklands War of 1982, and the first and second Iraq wars, I chose to place myself on the opposite side to the anti-war camp. On the current war, the majority of Webdiarists appear to be in opposition, and can point to the figures produced by Iraq Body Count and the other sources you mention to support their case. Those of us who argue the other way can only point to Saddam’s record, his deadly combination of megalomania and paranoia, and the (unacceptable) probability of disaster had he prevailed in his intentions, clear as they were. One is reminded of MacBeth’s lines: “I am in blood stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er.”

On the issue of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), there was general agreement before the war began that Saddam still had them. The big debate in Webdiary and elsewhere was as to whether or not it mattered if he did. Certainly, for me WMD was the clincher. Never mind about Aquinas’ theory of just war; if someone like Saddam is going for WMD, he has to be stopped, and early.

It turns out that Bush and Co took a chance and lost, assuming that once they took control of Iraq Saddam’s WMD would turn up. From their point of view the trouble clearly was that if they said “we think he has them, but we lack hard evidence,” the invasion would probably not have gone ahead, and however long it took, Saddam would have won. Bush would be going cap in hand to Baghdad today. If the antiwar camp had prevailed in 2002, and Bush had been forced to back down, the ball would have been at Saddam’s feet and he would probably have been lauded throughout the Middle East as one of the greatest of Arab heroes. Never mind his bloody record; it would have been just the start.  

So on the big question, you ask and answer as I do. “… is it good that Saddam is gone from power? Yes.” But for the second part ( “Was it worth the price?”), individual Iraqis will answer according to their own personal experiences. Many will very understandably say no.

Once any political choice is made, its cost becomes more knowable (assessable, estimable) than that of any alternative. Sad, but true.

Interesting articles,

Interesting articles, Will, though I don't think much of the movie review (but then I'd never heard of the film till just now).

Two things struck me about the Sewall article. She implies that, if anything, the IBC figure is inflated (antiwar bias and unreliable sources). I argued earlier that it understates the numbers, probably significantly. (She also reduces culpability to direct military casualties.) She correctly lambasts the military for not keeping count. I would add that a failure by the military to keep count is evidence of war crimes. The Geneva Conventions require a combatant to take all reasonable (or is it stronger?) measures to minimise civilian casualties. If they aren't counting then how can they take the measures Sewall says they should be taking?

On the Rice article, perhaps this analysis should be thrown into the mix:

Summary: Mature democracies may not fight each other. But immature democracies, an important new book argues, can be quite bellicose. Unfortunately, Iraq might end up fitting the pattern.
I did like this quote from the film review. They say take incompetence over conspiracy every time, and this lot have certainly demonstrated incompetence.
That entire collection of neo- and retro-conservatives -- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and particularly Paul Wolfowitz -- made war not for oil or for empire but to end the horror of Saddam Hussein and, yes, reorder the Middle East.

They were inept. They were duplicitous. They were awesomely incompetent, and, in the case of Bush, they were monumentally ignorant and incurious, but they did not give a damn for oil or empire.

But Bush is an (incompetent) Oil man. Cheney headed Haliburton. Oil security is a key American national interest. You've heard the arguments before. A bit more interesting is the empire side. I don't think that the imperial and the righteous motivations can be untangled - particularly for the neo-cons. It's American exceptionalism in full flight.

I'm all for fresh ideas. But they do need some grounding in reality.

Just another quick quote from the review, because it's good for a laugh:

This sort of thing is distinctly against the law, a true career-ender at the CIA and elsewhere, but never mind. A movie does not have to stick to the facts.

Cliches

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post comments on the recently released film Syriana as a political statement, comparing it to opposition to the Iraq War. Cohen is as critical of the staleness of opposition rhetoric against the war as he is of the ineptitude of the Bush Admnistration in justifying and carrying out the war and its aftermath. Cohen says:

"It would be nice if those who agree with Hollywood [in opposing the war] could release their fervid grip on old-left bromides about Big Oil, Big Business, Big Government and the inherent evil of George Bush, and come up with something new and relevant. I say that because something new and relevant is desperately needed. Neoconservatism crashed and burned in Iraq, but liberalism never even showed up. The left's criticism of the war from the very start was too often a porridge of inanities about oil or empire or Halliburton -- or isolationism by another name. It was childish and ultimately ineffective. The war came and Bush was reelected."

A highly relevant essay for Webdiary, where debate on this topic is in need of some fresh ideas. Something other than the same old mantras. [I should note I have not seen "Syriana" myself]

Democracy = Peace?

An excellent critique of the Bush Administration's policy of promoting democracy as a means of assuring security: Beyond 'Democratic Peace' by Susan E. Rice, in the 16 Dec. Washington Post. [No Relation to Sec'y of State Condoleeza Rice as far as I'm aware; though Susan Rice was an Asst. Sec'y of State from 1997 to 2001].

Rice notes: "Democracy and freedom are universal human aspirations as well as wise policy objectives that we should actively pursue. Democratic states are less likely to go to war with one another and more likely to govern responsibly. Yet, the American people would be ill-advised to accept as axiomatic the premise that democracy alone will secure our future or eliminate terrorism."

In particular she makes the case that democratisation and poverty alleviation must go hand in hand as components of state-building. Well worth thinking about in light of the conclusion of the latest WTO talks in Hong Kong.

Iraq Body Count Accountability

See What's the Story Behind 30,000 Iraqi Deaths? by Sarah Sewall in the 18 December Washington Post for an excellent discussion of accounting for civilian casualties in Iraq. Sewall notes "Civilian deaths alone cannot invalidate a war, but they aren't irrelevant either. They inform individual and national deliberations about the Iraq war -- particularly now that the invasion's rationale, stripped of all other explanations, hinges on the good it brings the Iraqi people. Imagine America being liberated from dictatorship by a foreign intervention that kills, say, 300,000 U.S. civilians. A sobering price, but one we might consider worth paying."

Excellent point there by Sewall. In considering the consequences of the Iraq invasion, we must weigh the damage done by the invasion and occupation against the admittedly unknowable damage that would have been done by Saddam's regime (in the form of death, torture, and repression). Accountability has two sides to it in this case.

But, she notes, "To refuse to acknowledge the full spectrum of civilian harm, including Iraqis mistakenly killed by their liberators or protectors, is to deny accountability."

The COTW would do well to clean on this issue. Bush's straightforward statement is one of the few examples of straight talk I've heard from his administration.

Sewall closes with "if war is too important to be left to the generals, then war's effect on civilians is too important to be left to the pacifists. Welcome the president's acknowledgment of a civilian death toll. It can help the nation better match its capabilities to its intentions and reckon more honestly with a military force that is all too easy to use." I couldn't have said it better.

Body Count

James Squires and  Ian MacDougall, I don’t think I have claimed that casualties are worse under Bush than they would be under Saddam, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

So I’ll discuss your figures, and why I think they don’t give us a good idea of the true situation.

You both arrive at figures of (about) 110/day under Saddam and 30/day under Bush. But you are not comparing like with like. For the figures under Saddam, the figures are mostly estimates. Stoykeestimates one million people are missing in Iraq, presumed dead”. GBN Iraq Watch gives more detail, but a large part is still estimated. We don’t know the basis for the estimates, or how rigorous they are. We do know that for Iraq Body Count. It is a count of Iraqi civilian deaths resulting from the military occupation and reported by at least two reputable media organisations. It does not include either the Iraqi military or insurgents. It does include “deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation”, though I suspect those last are mostly unreported.

The Iraq Body Count says this: “It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war.” – and so they are not in the count. Reputable media organizations make that clear when they refer to the IBC. I do not recall any Bush supporter here referring to it.

We know that actual Iraqi casualties are more than the IBC figure – even its maximum. There are frequent reports that Western reporters rarely leave the Green Zone, so it seems likely that a large number of civilian deaths go unreported. GBN Iraq Watch includes an estimate for the Iran war, so we should include the Iraqi military and insurgents in the count. Overall, Saddam and Bush could well be running neck-and-neck.

The Lancet study deserves a mention. If we add 50,000 for the time since it was published, then its estimate would be about 150/day (with a range something like 10-250/day). It’s not fair, because this is even less like-with-like than the IBC. On the other hand, the Lancet study attempted to measure the actual change in mortality attributable to the invasion and its aftermath. It is a real measure (however inadequate) of the effect of the invasion, and even its worst case has an increase in deaths.

One further point: A large proportion of the million come from the Iran/Iraq war or Kuwait and its consequences. The US can’t claim total innocence in either case, but the point is that we should be comparing the casualties now with the (unknowable) casualties to be expected if Saddam was still in power. That’s Saddam with inspections, an unprecedented level of international scrutiny, and no WMD.

So is it good that Saddam is gone from power? Yes. Was it worth the price? We’ll have to ask the Iraqi’s in a few years time.

Israeli view of the 2003 Iraq War

Some of the comments in this report by Jonathan Spyer, The Impact of the Iraq War on Israel's National Security Conception
, are pertinent to this discussion. It's a well-researched overview of Israeli policy attitudes in the wake of the Iraq War. In particular Spyer notes,

"The [2003 Iraq] war was presented in part as an element of a larger attempt to root out what were perceived as the sources of terrorism in the region. To this, the United States added support for democratization in the Arab world."

"Israeli thinking remained skeptical throughout regarding any likelihood of rapid political transformation toward democracy in the Arab states as a result of western action in Iraq. In the Israeli view, empirical evidence to date for such a process taking hold is minimal. The working assumption is that for the foreseeable future, the region's current regimes and ideas are likely to remain dominant. The issue of ideas is of significance here: given the strength of Islamist oppositional movements in the region, the likelihood of upheaval resulting in gains for radical Islamists rather than the tiny liberal and democratic forces in the Arab world is also a factor in Israeli thinking. Beyond the Palestinian sphere, however, Israel is largely a spectator with regard to such developments."

In view of yesterday's election, perhaps even the Israelis might be re-evaluating their assessment.

With regard to Israeli concerns about WMD (a topic I've covered before), Spyer says

"in the period preceding the War of 2003, Israel perceived a threat from four neighboring states: Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Libya. The willingness of Saddam's Iraq to employ non-conventional weapons was made apparent in the Anfal operations in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1988. His desire to strike at Israel was also demonstrated in 1991. Libyan hostility to Israel and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) ambitions were also well-documented. Israeli policymakers have long considered, however, that the central threat in this regard emanates from Tehran. The combination in Iran of long-standing nuclear ambitions (preceding the Islamic revolution of 1979), an advanced scientific and technological sector relative to the region, and extreme hostility to Israel deriving from the Islamist ruling ideology gives the Iranian threat unique gravity" and "The failure to find WMD in Iraq following the war, however, raises the question of the gravity or extent of the pre-war threat, regardless of what was sincerely believed prior to the invasion. Israeli strategists, certainly, were on record prior to the war as considering that Iraq possessed a residual quantity of WMD, and Israeli citizens were issued with renewed gas masks and updated atropine (an antidote for nerve gas) in the weeks leading up to the war."

(See also my comments and quotes from military intel chief Farkash on pre-war Israeli intel assessments of Iraqi WMD potential in the Scott Ritter thread.)

Spyer closes with

"the eventual outcome of the 2003 invasion is still far from certain. A failure to establish a stable, pro-western regime in Baghdad will be perceived as a victory for those regional forces hostile to Israel. But whether this would substantially alter the direction of events of immediate relevance to Israel is questionable. The emergence of a stable, unified Iraq, would form a significant contribution to regional stability. But again such an outcome--even were it to be achieved--is not expected to substantially alter the basic contours of Israel's threat perceptions and responses to regional challenges."

Saddam's casualties vs the Coalition's

In my post of 07/12/2005 on this thread I said, “I have read as much as I could amongst opinion and comment on press sites and blogs since before the war began. In all that, I have never once encountered an opponent of the war who did not concede that the fall of Saddam was a good thing. (Usually, it was said in passing from one bucketing of Bush to the next.) Such people praise the fall, while at the same time condemning the only conceivable means whereby it could have been brought about.”

Unfortunately, Sid Walker [at 12/12/2005] has since deprived me of standing room on that. In his opinion the fall of Saddam “was NOT a good thing, given what came afterwards. Indeed, in the light of three years actual experience of post-Saddam Iraq, it was a very BAD thing.” This leaves me with no honest alternative. In future I will have to say “I have only ever once encountered one opponent of the war (name of Sid Walker) who did not concede that the fall of Saddam was a good thing…” Takes the punch out of it, in my opinion.

After stating that the fall of Saddam was a BAD thing, Sid adds, inter alia, the following paragraph:

“Outcome of the armed invasion of Iraq and the smashing of its previous Government have been appalling for very large numbers of people, especially, but not only, in Iraq.” [sic]

Interestingly, the website of the BBC has just published results of a survey by Oxford Research International which was commissioned by the BBC and other international news organisations:

Interviewers found that 71% of those [Iraqis] questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad.

When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse.

However, Iraqis appear to have a more negative view of the overall situation in their country, with 53% answering that the situation is bad, and 44% saying it is good.

But they were more hopeful for the future - 69% expect Iraq to improve, while 11% say it will worsen.

In all, 1,711 Iraqis were interviewed throughout the country in October and November 2005.

Under Saddam’s regime, the Baathist gangsters who ran the country shut down dissent ruthlessly, often before it even began, through widespread and deliberately random terror. A new 700 page documentation of this, written by a number of scholars of many nationalities, has just been published in France under the title Le Livre Noir de Saddam Hussein (The Black Book of Saddam Hussein). From the review in The Australian, (see the above link) the following:

“Sinje Caren Stoyke, a German archeologist and president of Archeologists for Human Rights, catalogues 288 mass graves, a list that is already out of date with the discovery of fresh sites every week.

Stoyke estimates one million people are missing in Iraq, presumed dead…”

That figure presumably does not include the Iranians and Kuwaitis killed in Saddam’s two wars of aggression.

Saddam was in power from July 1979 to March 2003, which was close to 25 years, and around 9,000 days. One million dead in 9,000 days is a rate of around 110 people per day. The Coalition has been in Iraq for close on 1,000 days, and in that time, according to the campaign group Iraq Body Count, the total number of civilian dead [up to December 1 2005] is “between 25,685 and 29,201”. If we call it a round figure of 30,000 civilian casualties in that time, and blame them all on the Coalition (after all, it started the war) then the rate is 30 people per day. This, while deporable and tragic in its own right, is around one third of the “peacetime” rate in Saddam’s Iraq.

So there is a very good basis for arguing that had Saddam been left alone, the casualties would probably have been considerably higher than they have been since he fell. The casualties of the Coalition’s invasion have included many Saddam loyalists, who otherwise would probably have survived, so the identities of the casualties would have been different each way. But even if we place equal value on the life of a Baathist thug and that of one of his victims, which I am disinclined to do, the Coalition is still in front of Saddam by miles.

An obvious move for Sid at this point, if he inclines to maintain his current position on the matter, is to challenge the above figures. I suspect he might.

Today the Baathist gangsters who used to run Iraq, and various people sympathetic to them, are running a terror operation on the Iraqi people. The overwhelming majority of its victims are Iraqis.

If Sid went to Iraq, he might find a select few Iraqis who would like to have Saddam back in power. But I doubt he would find them agreeable company.

Saddams Casualties vs Coalition

Ian, I have posted this observation twice now on Webdiary (with the accompanying information) and both times I  am met with stony silence. I think it is an uncomfortable observation for many anti-war people who claim to have the Iraqi’s interests at heart. Many of them probably do, but I think in reality it is a political cause for them, hence the calls for the Coalition to pull out (which would be a disaster at this stage for the Iraqi people. Something that the BBC poll demonstrates the Iraqi people know too).

Iraq Update

Ian MacDougall notes: "Interestingly, the website of the BBC has just published results of a survey by Oxford Research International which was commissioned by the BBC and other international news organisations"

See also State of Iraq: An Update in this Wednesday's New York Times (and open the graphic).

The authors note "An increasing number of critics argue that the war is already lost and that we may as well withdraw, while others claim we are clearly headed to victory, and Americans would know that if only the press would stop emphasizing the negative."

"Our judgment, based on data compiled by the American government, the news media and independent monitors, is that trends in Iraq do not support either of these extreme views."

"A sober reading of the data argues against a rapid withdrawal, which would concede the fight to the terrorists. But this does not mean we can't shift policy. We could announce a plan for substantial troop reductions (but not complete withdrawal) over the next 12 to 24 months, as most Iraqis say they desire."

re: What if the war never stops?

What if the most obvious (although non-official) 'reasons' behind the illegal invasion of Iraq and subsequent moves to balkanise the country are never even mentioned in a long list like this?

May I suggest that facilitating more complete Israeli domination over its neighbours - and plans for the eventual re-opening of an oil pipeline to Haifa - had more than a little to do with this otherwise inexplicable lapse into insanity?

A cock-up or a conspiracy?

The invasion of Iraq, on grounds clearly ludicrous at the time, was a conspiracy to make a cock up. It was a plot to destroy a country, quite deliberately - a country of some 20 million folk - and to inflame the 'Moslem street' worldwide against 'Christian invaders', and vice versa, setting us all up for war without end.

Nice guys, the conspirators.

Of course, ending apartheid and demilitarising the Holy Land would put an end to their insane plans.

Long live President Marwan Bargouti, future Mandela of the Holy Land? Good luck to Peretz – a real Israeli partner for peace at last?

Could sanity return in the most unlikely of places?

re: What if the war never stops?

Was this war ever meant to stop? After all it was supposedly to transform the Middle East into a model of Democracy, and consequently a host of US military bases, which could never happen in our lifetime. Remember those who are behind it, the Richard Perles, Wolfowitz etc are all ex-Stalinists. But how ex are they ? Maybe they want permanent revolution and believe future history will hail them as the geniuses they believe they are. George Bush is just a means to an end for them. All that happens is the language keeps changing in this permanent war. On the day 14 US Marines die in attacks the President simply goes on TV with of a hand-picked adoring audience in front of huge gold sign saying Victory.

Guerrilla fighters are now called "insurgents" or "terrorists" along with the guerrilla war called an "insurgency". The stripping of industrial awards and workers rights that took decades of true reform to achieve are called reforms themselves. The right to finally hire and fire at will is called "flexibility”. You can do anything now and call it the opposite and a population who are now fed a diet of "reality" TV shows which are anything but, believe whatever they are told as long as the storyteller, is in a higher position than them and uses the right wording. We get a host of people, including on this forum who keep telling us that we have never had it better. Unless I'm missing something I'm living the same lifestyle I have for the past 20 years. Sure the toys have got better but that's not down to the government.

That's in the west of course. In a place like Iraq they are fighting tooth and nail to rid themselves of their occupiers. The war will ultimately end but who really knows how or when. The one thing that is certain is that it will not be in the US and it's allies favour. The deaths of their own soldiers will eventually move public opinion to demand an end. Unless the US administration has finally found away to turn the laws of history and reality on their heads.

What most in the present fail to comprehend is that they themselves could be witnessing history in the making. This could be the end of the great American experiment and empire that worked so well for over 200 years but maybe in it's decline and final years.

re: What if the war never stops?

"What if like Australians, Iraqis want freedom and they reject foreign rule?"

Then they'd join that vast majority of Iraqis pursuing the path of constitutional and political reform, and stop blowing up Shi'ite mosques.

Wouldn't they?

re: What if the war never stops?

What if someone in the media did an honest analysis of the reasons behind this western obsession with Iraq? What if they got honest and admitted it was all about the obsession with the need for more oil by the US? What if they suddenly start to ask "who gave us the right to murder Iraqis who were not hurting us"?

An enormous amount has been written this week about a young man hanged in Singapore and Howard said today it would by hypocritical to try and change China and other places over the death penalty - he doesn't seem to give a toss that the US has just murdered 1000th person, 335 of them in Texas - and that it would be hypocritical to try and stop Hussein being killed.

Even the Murdoch rag the Sunday Mail in Adelaide, has today a pretty impressive editorial against the death penalty and the turning in of the Bali 9 knowing they will be shot. The thing none of them has mentioned is the death penalty we imposed on tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children without trial, charge or sentence.

Asleep at night, cuddling up to mum or dad and BOOM - dead.
No rhyme, no reason, no cause. Just dead.
Who gave us the right?

re: What if the war never stops?

Can the British see no irony that they are sending the chief of police of Northern Ireland to remove any anti-British elements in the Basra police force? Well guess he would be used to such situations after we heard all about the "steak knife" activities, a British agent involved in the nastiest of alleged bombings of the IRA.

Since the British agents were discovered with explosives and weapons and shot their way killing local police to try to evade arrest and then "rescued" by the violent assault of the UK military, killing more local police. It seems the men were going to be tried for terrorism. OUCH.

The Basra governor and police demanded the UK hand the men back for trial.

How are you so sure that "insurgents" are blowing up Mosques and not trouble-making ruthless agents like those found in Basra and protected by the Brits?

Most of the insurgents are locals. Why would they fight and want the occupiers to leave? Why would they accept an imposed constitution and "elected" persons who are supported by the occupiers. The French didn't accept the Vichy government despite all the stooges of the Nazis mouthing on about supporting the Vichy. Meanwhile the Vichy removed dissenters and tortured them.

Just like the present Iraq regime, removing torturing and murdering, is that what you would support C Parsons? Would you support such a regime, just as bad as Saddam? give them a bit more time and they'll be dropping death from the sky like Saddam - oh hang on they already have in Fallujah, al Qaim, etc. But that doesn't matter to some as it makes embarassing realities obvious. That one murderous regime foreign/US tool has been replaced by another murderous regime foreign/US tool.

Maybe that is why they are fighting them. So why are we doing it? Why are we condoning murderous regimes and torture?

An unoccupied peoples can elect whom they wish.

re: What if the war never stops?

Those that support the Iraq war on a basis that was never given in the first place for the invasion and occupation (regime change for democracy was explicitly rejected by John Howard as a reason for invading Iraq - at the time) have the onus of explaining exactly what law or 'right' subsists in the US, the UK and Australia et al to invade a sovereign country, no matter how odious its regime.

You see, if 'odious regimes' and our moral abhorance of such is the basis for the right of the strong (the US and whoever decides to go along) to invade when and how it likes, we face two problems.

The first is the charge of hypocricy - why not Burma for example? How democratic is Saudi Arabia? How to explain US support for murderous and undemocratic regimes in the Caspian Basin as we discuss all this? Why the sudden distaste for a regime that was just as odious, murderous and undemocratic when it was supported by the US as recently as just prior to its invasion of Kuwait some 14 years ago?

If you claim moral superiority such that you need never apologise or explain, then your actions will perforce come under strong scrutiny by those that oppose your claims to moral superiority in the first place. That is a fact of life, and notwithstanding the fawning over the US that some of the sillier journalists indulge in, the fact is that the rest of the world does note these things, even if News Ltd would prefer they didn't.

This does not mean that France et al are any more 'moral' than the US. They are not. Their scrutiny and attention is invited because the US makes its morality the basis for the claim that it may determine who to invade and provide reasons that are supposed to be beyond criticism, such as support for democracy and the rest, when there are plenty of other places it could act, with a lot more international support, and a lot less damage to its own reputation, should its claims here be taken seriously.

The second problem we have is the issue of legitimacy and where the 'right' to take unilateral action subsists. As I understand the proposition for supporters of the war, the issue of international law and the rules governing the use of international force are irrelevant, on two grounds.

The first usually cited is that the UN Security Council is so flawed, that it is able to do nothing useful, so it is irrelevant in any calculation of the use of force by the US. The second, related proposition as I understand it, is that international conventions, laws and the like, are:

a) inapplicable to the US by virtue of the US capacity to simply ignore them (practical reality if you like) and/or;

b) in any case need not be taken account of, because the UN itself is so morally flawed, that nothing emanating from that body has the least moral claim on anybody, or at any, rate, not the US.

The problem with this second form of calculation and excuse for international lawlessness, is that it cuts not both ways, but all ways.

Remember, the US will not always be in the position it is in now. Real leadership consists in claiming the 'do as I do, not as I say' mantle, rather than 'I have got the biggest one - eat my dust'. If the right to ignore laws, even those fashioned by people we don't like in the international sphere, rests on the capacity of a strong international actor to just thumb its nose at world opinion, how do those who think is OK for the US but not for anyone else, feel about China's ripost, when some day we say, 'but you had no mandate for the invasion of Tawian'?

re: What if the war never stops?

Oh mate, you've really led with your chin on this one, C Parsons!

What if right-wing illusionists like you leave the Wonderland of sham-"elections" "democracy" and actually attend to the reality of conquest, atrocity, cupidity and the realpolitik of power?

{That's one hell of a list in the article above. You've (unconvincingly) answered ONE of the sentences and totally blanked out the rest}

What if C. Parsons finally attends to the beam in his own eye, stops regaling us with his bizarre P.J. O'Rourke reminiscecs of the 60's/70's (?) "left" of his undergrad days {Lewis Carroll: "You are old Father William/ And you hair has turned quite white"} and attends to his OWN pattern of DENIAL and to his extremist Trotskyite doctrine of "freedom" acheived through violent conquest and overthrow??

What if the main national product of Iraq was artichokes and wax candles?

What if the new state of Israel had been established in the German Black Forest region (who else but the Germans owed the Jews a homeland?) or in the Pacific Micronesia and the power-configuration of the Middle-East was very different than today's?

What if Bush and his Stalinist comrades read (the Romanian/Jewish poet who wrote in German) Paul Celan??

"Our talk of justice is empty until the largest battleship has foundered on the forehead of a drowned man"

"Do not be decieved: this last lamp does not give more light - the dark has only become more absorbed in itself"

re: What if the war never stops?

Angela Ryan: "Just like the present Iraq regime, removing torturing and murdering, is that what you would support C Parsons? Would you support such a regime, just as bad as Saddam?"

Assuming, of course, that a democratically elected regime can, somehow, be "just as bad as" one which was not democratically elected, I am tempted to say 'yes'.

Apart from anything else, a democratically elected regime - no matter how odious - at least confronts the possibility that it will ultimately be forced to answer to an electorate, will be more liable to be exposed for its misconduct by competing political forces, be liable to be openly criticised in the media, have to answer to an independent judiciary, etc, etc, etc.

It is that very possibility which everywhere offends and frightens the enemies of open society, who prefer the comforting certitudes of one party states.

And this is all quite apart from the fact that Angela simply asserts that the regime in Iraq is "just as bad" as Saddam's - presumably an assumption based on the recently reported statements made by Mr Allawi - something which in itself would have been utterly unthinkable under the former Ba'athist regime.

Apart from its facile illogicality, what other messages are implicit in the stance of people like Angela?

That they would prefer the return of the Ba'athist regime?

That they wish to see the murdering, racist "resistance" depose the elected government of Iraq?

Indeed, some very prominent "peace activists" - such as our own beloved John Pilger and the UK Ba'ath Party MP for Bethnall Green George "lickspittle" Galloway - do indeed openly support the "resistance", in Pilger's case even without receiving cash payment.

What would someone like Angela propose now to do with the elected government of Iraq? A government installed by popular vote under a constitution which itself has received the overwhelming assent of the Iraqi people?

Well, it's anyone's guess what Angela would think, but if history is any guide we can perhaps look back to the political Left's ecstatic raptures as Pol Pot's thugs "liberated" Cambodia, or the approving encomiums of Wilfred Burchett as he toured the Demokratik People's Republik of North Korea, or CP Snow's glowing accounts of life in Mao's China, or Sydney Webb's and Beatrice Potter's fulsome praise for Joe Stalin, or the countless other acts of supine grovelling to genocidal dictators by the "intelligentsia" of the Left.

Given the track record, Iraq's greatest hope lies I would say in the fact that the political Left in this country supports the insurgency.

re: What if the war never stops?

C Parsons, exactly what bit of International Law forbids the occupied from resisting occupation? And if it is true as you seem to be claiming, that resistance against the Iraq government now amounts to opposition to lawful sovereign government (because of the Iraq Constitution which was supported by a vote etc) then on what basis are the Coalition of the willing still there, occupying the country?

If that government told them to leave and they didn't, what would that mean. And by the way, your typical neo con slur that 'the left' supports the insurgency (and by inference terrorism), invites this comment - I would rather be on the same side of history as conservative US and Australian critics of this war, than on the side of failed Trotskyite blowhards, whose appetite for unaccountable power, 'lying for a higher purpose' and liking for 'permanent democratic revolution at the point of a gun', would make Stalinists and Maoists, blush. Thanks but no thanks - you can have that distinction all to yourself.

re: What if the war never stops?

The US went to war against Iraq, as I think I may have mentioned before, because, 1) the US wants hegemony in the region, 2) needed to get Saddam off Israel’s back and because 3) Iraq has the world’s second largest oil reserves.

The US did not go to war against Iraq because it had WMDs or because it was pursuing nuclear weapons or because Saddam was being beastly to the Kurds and the Shi’ites or because he supported al Qaeda or because he was involved in 9/11 or because he was a threat to the US and the rest of the world.

These were simply lies that the dumb and gullible were meant to go along with in order for the US and its allies to accomplish the three other main objectives. The war, as many of us have known since the beginning, and which the rest are now beginning to come to terms with and are now realising, was instigated by a hardcore group of neoconservatives within the Bush administration, the details of much of which are on the Irises thread thanks to Bob Wall’s massive effort of document collection.

The war has actually, despite appearances, mostly gone as planned. The three main objectives have been achieved. However, the spin-offs from the accomplishment of the main objectives have not been realised. It was rather hoped that the Iraqi people hated Saddam so much that they would welcome US forces with open arms. Wrong.

The Iraqi people hate the US forces being in their country even more than they hated Saddam. This is a problem. It’s not so much a problem on the ground in Iraq – the US has never had a problem sacrificing grunts and treasure for its wars and, besides, the US forces are now training Iraqis to do the dying for them – but it is a problem at home in the US where public opinion is working against the war because of the perceived notion that the US grunts are being sacrificed for something that turned out be lies.

We must not, however, loose sight of the main reason for the war in the first place – oil. The US now has hegemony in the region and it has got Israel’s monkey of its back but, while it controls the oil, it has not yet secured it for its own and Israel’s use – which was to be one of the spin-offs from the main objectives. The biggest problem now for the US is to secure the oilfields and secure the pipelines that export the oil.

Of course, in order to maintain hegemony in the region and control over the oil reserves the US will have to stay in Iraq. This they will do by training an Iraqi force that will ultimately be subservient to US needs. This force will be controlled by Iraqi lackeys of the US in much the same way as the Iraqi puppet government will continue to be subservient to US needs. In order to justify staying in Iraq the US (and its Iraqi lackeys) will always need an enemy there.

Enter the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Middle East, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, created by the US in order to be the hated and despised enemy of all that is good in Iraq. However, there is also the real enemy – the insurgents who do not want the US in their country. These are the real thorn in America’s side. Al-Zarqawi they can control. They can resurrect him at will whenever they need a scapegoat to explain away some awkward disaster or suicide bombing when the insurgents have gone a bit quiet in their actions. But the insurgents they can’t control. In fact the insurgency seems to be snowballing at the moment.

Sooner or later the US will have to negotiate with the insurgents to buy a bit of quiet time. That’s when they will resurrect al-Zarqawi to create a little mischief, just enough to keep US forces in Iraq forever. Now if only they could control the insurgency...

In the end it will be the insurgency that will be America’s undoing in Iraq – not al-Zarqawi or al Qaeda or ‘terrorists’ – just ordinary Iraqi young men who are sick and tired of the killing of their families, the destruction of their homes and the plundering of their resources.

Why would the US actually want the war to stop? Then they really would have to go home and leave all that lovely oil to some one else. Unless there was another war...

re: What if the war never stops?

There are no ‘what ifs’ in the liturgy. The answer to every question put, is known.

What if the various ‘world leaders’ had told Bush to go take a cold shower after 9/11?

What if ‘we’ had not invaded Iraq?

Where would the world community be today?

What if those of us who if not approving of the invasion, thought it on balance it was probably justified — me, in spite of younger friends of mine telling me repeatedly that the evidence was against it — had taken the time to look into the situation, and joined the clamour of those opposed to the invasion?

I have written before that Bush, and those who are pulling his strings, is not one whit better than Hitler. Those who joined him in the invasion are no better than those who joined Hitler.

Hitler did what he perceived was best for Germany and in an attempt to make what he believed was a better world. Bush is doing the same. The world would have been/ be a better place had either or both of them been stopped before they got started.

After an assassination attempt on Saddam in 1982 143 Shiite civilians in the Iraqi village of Dujail were killed, apparently in retaliation.
Saddam and seven of his aides are facing charges for their alleged involvement.

The Trial of Saddam Hussein, comment and analysis from Beirut, Dubai, Jidda, Amman and Tehran, October 20, 2005.

On about the 3/4/04 four Americans who the US said were coalition civilian contractors were killed and mutilated in Fallujah. The local people said they were carrying weapons and wearing camouflage clothing and flak jackets. In retaliation the coalition forces during the April 2004 siege of Falluja killed more than 600 people — men, women and children. Iraq Body Count Falluja Archive, extracted From News Sources, 2004.

In a just world Bush, Blair, Howard and their associates would be in the dock with Saddam and his mob.

An observation: have others noticed that every atrocity in Saddam’s time is personalised to Saddam, while every atrocity committed by the coalition is the doing of errant foot soldiers, while it is vehemently asserted that ‘this is not the way Americans behave?’

re: What if the war never stops?

Jane Doe: "C Parsons, exactly what bit of International Law forbids the occupied from resisting occupation? And if it is true as you seem to be claiming, that resistance against the Iraq government now amounts to opposition to lawful sovereign government (because of the Iraq Constitution which was supported by a vote etc) then on what basis are the Coalition of the willing still there, occupying the country?"

On both counts, quite clearly, the sovereignty of the legally constituted, popularly elected, constutional and internationally recognised government of Iraq - or the "enemy" as you doubtless call them? As in the Iraqi government now holding its seat in the United Nations?

The "resistance" is in fact an insurrection directed at overthrowing the popularly elected, constitutional authority of Iraq.

That authority is allied to the Coalition forces. That's why you oppose them, remember? Ditto Saddam Hussein and other such "peace activists".

Just wondering. What do people like you propose to do with the legally elected government of Iraq if the racist murderers and Ba'athist reactionaries, or "resistance" I suppose you'd call them, regain power in Iraq?

Back to the mass executions and genocidal wars of yore, I suppose? As in before the "occupation" as you call it?

When what you'd imagine to be the "legal" (or what others call "Fascist") regime was in power?

Right?

Darn, that "vote", too. Actually now a series of overwhelming popularly supported votes.

Such a nuisance to the "peace" movement, aren't they? Voting?

re: What if the war never stops?

CP, the election isn't until 15 December. Jesus you are even harder than a Murdoch editor to get off the broken record about Iraq.

The place is a catastrophe of our making - full stop.

re: What if the war never stops?

Beautifully summed up; any more comments seem futile. Let's just hope it's not a work in infinite progress.

Vienna

re: What if the war never stops?

Ok. I've got it! We have Saddam in hand, right? And we have rebuilt the military, at least partially, to at least the proficiency of the old Iraqi army.
And of course the terror camps and death squads are back and operational.

How about we give Iraq back its beloved leader, straight into power, in control of the military. I'm sure he could go back to providing riches, great health care and services (as long as you are not a Shi'ite, Kurd, Marsh Arab, Westerner or Jew), a peaceful nation, which is all Iraq really wants. I mean, this liberation was such a bad idea and all - those Arabs will never accept democracy, huh!

Let's give them back their strongman and let everyone get back to ignoring the place as they did for 35 years! That way we can focus our attentions on all the new refugees fleeing Iraq, that being the highlight of the benevolence of the last reigme, right?

re: What if the war never stops?

C Parsons, so that's all right then - sure it's been a little messy, but hey what's a few thousand (no we don't do body counts) Iraqi deaths when we are busy selectively spreading democracy whever there is-oh I don't know-broccoli or something. The enemy? Well for every Iraqi killed and wounded and for the tens of thousands who mourn them, who do you think they believe the enemy is?

You know people can hold more than one idea at a time. 'If you are not with us you are against us' makes great snappy dialogue for the US new media, but is crappy and dangerous foreign policy as well as shoddy analysis.I have no enemies in Iraq as such, at all, and neither do you if you had a grain of sense or humility in the face of what has occurred.

If you think that any country that is occupied will not a have a certain proportion of people who will just keep going until the occupiers leave, you either know nothing, believe that somehow Iraqi's are 'different from everybody else', and only 'bad guy' resist invasion, or believe that because 'we' say so, resistance to an occupation somehow becomes illegitimate.

Your 'smear' that those who oppose the illegal, disastrous, catastrophic and utterly unnecessary war that was unleashed by one of the worst cabals ever to roost in Washinton, are supporters of Sadaam Hussein makes me laugh. I was part of demonstrations against Saddam Hussein when you were probably nodding your head in agreement at how wise our 'senior partners' in world pacification were, when they supported him againt the hapless Iranians using - wait for it-yes-poison gas! But I forgot, that was yesterday and today is now. Today the Iranians are---what exactly? part of the axis of evil, or our 'partners in peace' in southern Iraq. Or perhaps both?

re: What if the war never stops?

"How about we give Iraq back its beloved leader, straight into power, in control of the military."

Stuart Lord, inadvertently you may have come up with the solution to Dubya's Iraq debacle.

He could offer Saddam a return to power - on condition that Iraq immediately resumes war with Iran.

This would save American lives, protect the only democracy in the middle east, help destroy a few million more expendable lives and of course, it'd be great for the weapons industry.

re: What if the war never stops?

Max Fuller's Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq is a copiously referenced article that helps explain why the death rate in Iraq ain't about to drop any time soon.

Well worth a read, it's described by Online Journal's Mike Whitney as "the most disturbing and thought provoking article of the year". I think he may be right.

Western spooks - and paid local stooges - are apparently fueling the fires of terror and hate in Iraq. The goal seems to be to ferment sectarian conflict so it becomes 'self-sustaining'. I imagine a few Aussies are involved in these war crimes; does anyone in Parliament have the guts to even ask the question?

Whitney concludes:

"The war on terror is the underlying myth that animates the American war-machine and breathes life into the coercive apparatus of state terror. Fuller's article uncovers a fissure in the block-wall of government secrecy and gives us a good look at the worm-infested core of imperial rule. Global terrorism flows from Washington like a toxic river that has breached its banks and threatens to flood everything in its path."

re: What if the war never stops?

Stuart Lord get over it. Invading Iraq was a really stupid thing to do, events speak for themselves. I suppose it must be hard for those who have supported this debacle to come to terms with the fact that they have been had. Stuart you will just have to live with the knowledge that you were stooged, big time.

re: What if the war never stops?

A link that puts the Iraq war into context -
here

re: What if the war never stops?

Marilyn Shepherd: "CP, the election isn't until 15 December. Jesus you are even harder than a Murdoch editor to get off the broken record about Iraq."

There have already been a number of elections in Iraq since the overthrow of the Hussein dictatorship, Marilyn, at the regional, municipal and national level.

re: What if the war never stops?

Steve Turbit: "Hey CP, if Hassan said he saw the meat grinder, it must be true, right? Yes, it was right next to the WMDs, directly adjacent to the garden with the pixies at the bottom of it."

Steve, may I point out that I have been long saying in this forum that those purporting to be concerned with "peace" in Iraq almost inevitably end up defending the Ba'athist Fascist regime, its dictator and its murdering paladins.

Ahmed Hassan Mohammed is an eye-witness to the systematic torture and murder of his family, along with others, by functionaries of the Ba'athist regime.

He was there. You weren't.

He's giving sworn testimony against the perpetrators. You are echoing their denials on the basis of absolutely no first hand knowledge whatsoever.

Please see my comments about ‘denial’ below.

Don't take these remarks personally. And I realise you are not alone. I mean, I know "peace activists" who deny Saddam gassed the Kurds. Nothing surprises me.

re: What if the war never stops?

Hey CP, if Hassan said he saw the meat grinder, it must be true, right? Yes, it was right next to the WMDs, directly adjacent to the garden with the pixies at the bottom of it.

re: What if the war never stops?

Jane Doe: "C Parsons, so that's all right then - sure it's been a little messy, but hey what's a few thousand (no we don't do body counts) Iraqi deaths when we are busy selectively spreading democracy whever there is-oh I don't know-broccoli or something."

Hey, remember how John Howard "lied" about Saddam's meat grinder torture machine?

Well guess what turned up in eye witness testimony at Saddam's trial today....

"I swear by God, I walked by a room and ... saw a grinder with blood coming out of it and human hair underneath," Hassan told the court. During the testimony, Barzan, sitting behind Saddam in the dock, interrupted Hassan, shouting: "It's a lie!"

Hassan said: "My brother was given electric shocks while my 77-year-old father watched ... One man was shot in the leg ... Some were crippled because they had arms and legs broken."

An eye witness, Jane. An eye witness. Mr Ahmed Hassan Mohammed, 38. Appearing for the prosecution.

Meanwhile, the 'peace' movement appeared for the defense.

"Hassan's testimony brought the charges chillingly to life after chaotic procedural wrangling during which former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark led a defence walkout over threats to the lawyers and a challenge to the legitimacy of the court."

Get the picture?

re: What if the war never stops?

C Parsons, do you have any comment to make on the shooting dead of two of Saddam's defence lawyers? Was it the KKR, random violence, or what? Best guess will do, and supporting argument would be appreciated.

Should Saddam be having a proper trial? You know: rule of law: a properly constituted court; absence of bias (perceived and actual); fair procedures; testing of evidence. That sort of stuff. If not why not, and if so, is he getting it? (In passing, I ask the same question about David Hicks.)

What about this conclusion to the article you quote:

The sometimes chaotic scenes added to concerns the court is not ready for a trial that cuts to the quick of yesterday's sectarian tensions, a week before parliamentary elections.

A senior United Nations official told Reuters yesterday he doubted the proceedings could ever meet international standards.

Is it just an accident of history that the trial is occurring now?

re: What if the war never stops?

You presume too much T Tazman. I don't want the US to end. I'm afraid of what may happen if it crashes. It has before.

re: What if the war never stops?

Michael de Angelos, so the great American experiment is coming to an end? But what then? The Europe model??? perhaps Europe is more terminal than the US? How about another dose of Stalin? Right, now we have it, sure success!

re: What if the war never stops?

Damian Lataan Was the fall of Saddam a good thing?

re: What if the war never stops?

Ian McDougall says: “It would seem to me that the problem for the above three commentators is explaining why so many millions of Iraqis have gone along with the Coalition’s attempts to build democracy in place of Ba’athist tyranny…”

It’s called having a bet each way. Sometimes it’s called ‘jockeying for position’ for the day when the US leaves Iraq. The Iraqi people, according to polls (you can Google these up easily yourself), have had enough of American occupation. The political and religious interests of Iraq are taking as much advantage as they possibly can of whatever the US is offering in order to be in the best political position on the day that the Iraqi resistance causes the US to finally pull out of Iraq with no strings attached, something I might add the US is not want to do while a single drop of oil still sits under Iraq’s sands. But something they may have no alternative to do if the American people say they have had enough of Bush’s lies and the death of American kidz for those lies and Halliburton’s rip-offs.

re: What if the war never stops?

Timothy Wong (05/12/2005 12:11:29 PM) asks the pertinent question: “What if the main national product of Iraq was artichokes and wax candles?”

The short answer is that its internal affairs would get about as much attention from the governments and media of the world as do those of Madagascar, a country with comparable population whose major exports are coffee, vanilla, shellfish, sugar and cloves.

Peter Hindrup (05/12/2005 5:46:39 PM) alluding to the fact that every question in the ‘What if?’ series is begged, says “There are no ‘what ifs’ in the liturgy. The answer to every question put, is known.” Then he asks the only significant question which is not in John Miate’s original series: “What if ‘we’ had not invaded Iraq?”

No sooner asked than answered: “The world would have been/ be a better place…”

I have read as much as I could amongst opinion and comment on press sites and blogs since before the war began. In all that, I have never once encountered an opponent of the war who did not concede that the fall of Saddam was a good thing. (Usually, it was said in passing from one bucketing of Bush to the next.) Such people praise the fall, while at the same time condemning the only conceivable means whereby it could have been brought about.

So what if we (minus the not-in-my-names) had not overthrown Saddam? What on Earth (perhaps the wrong phrase to use here) could the source of the information or inspiration be that would enable anyone to say “The world would have been/ be a better place…”?

Just one of many possible scenarios: In face now of proven inability of his opponents to move against him, Saddam does oil deals with non-Anglophone customers, and uses the money and influence to get back into WMD. He moves again against Kuwait, and into Iranian Khosestan. Israel, now supported only by Western rhetoric, is more isolated than ever. It sometime afterward launches a (not unprecedented) preemptive strike on Saddam’s nuclear facilities. With the Arab world united behind him, Saddam replies with rocket and ground assaults, joined by troops from a few other Arab nations, and (as with the assaults on Iran and Kuwait) letting no scruple deter him. Israel responds with a nuclear missile onto Baghdad; its ironic Final Solution to the problem of Arab hostility… Or some variant on this theme.

I would have more logic behind me in saying what I say than Peter Hindrup has for his own case, simply because we know the outcome of leaving Saddam, his henchmen and his psychopathic sons in control of Iraq. The west did that (guided by ‘pragmatism’, and prioritizing ‘stability’) from 1979 to 2003.

Jane Doe (05/12/2005 3:07:29 PM) asks: “C Parsons, exactly what bit of International Law forbids the occupied from resisting occupation?”

Michael de Angelos (04/12/2005 11:45:58 AM) says: “In a place like Iraq they are fighting tooth and nail to rid themselves of their occupiers.”

Damian Lataan (05/12/2005 2:47:11 PM): “The Iraqi people hate the US forces being in their country even more than they hated Saddam. This is a problem.”

It would seem to me that the problem for the above three commenters is explaining why so many millions of Iraqis have gone along with the Coalition’s attempts to build democracy in place of Baathist tyranny, and why the overwhelming majority of the victims of the ‘occupation resisters’, ‘tooth and nail fighters,’ and differential haters have been Iraqis: in mosques, marketplaces and schools.

Running a series of attacks on randomly selected and mainly Iraqi civilian targets makes no sense if you are about fighting a patriotic guerilla war. Sense is made of that policy only if it is seen as an attempt to reassert the ruthless Baathist dominance that Iraq knew for so long.

Apropos of the parallel thread The end of the fourth estate? I am not fond of The Australian, finding it to be a rather nauseating read in the main. However, it occasionally has a good feature or two. Courtesy of Normblog, two days ago I came across its review (by Rebecca Weisser, “a former Australian diplomat and specialist in Francophone affairs”) of The Black Book of Saddam Hussein, recently published in France and written by Arab, American, German, French and Iranian authors. Weisser’s review is entitled The Big Black Book of Horrors, and is here.

It fits very well with this thread. Peter Hindrup & Co may be able to read it and come away unmoved, repeating something like ‘Bush is no better than Hitler or Saddam,’ but that would be their problem.

re: What if the war never stops?

C Parsons, well put.

re: What if the war never stops?

Damian Lataan: "It’s called having a bet each way. Sometimes it’s called ‘jockeying for position’ for the day when the US leaves Iraq."

Except the voters of Iraq openly defied threats of violent retribution if they voted - and defied actual widescale violence by the thugs of the so-called "resistance".

Over and over and over.

To characterise this startling defiance as an entire nation of people duplicitously "having a bet each way" is an insult to the people of Iraq, and perhaps indicative of the small value the admirers of the so-called "resistance" in the West place on democracy.

In fact, let's be blunt. Anyone still supporting the Iraqi "resistance" is an avowed enemy of democracy in Iraq, and actually party to the declared genocidal intentions of the insurgency.

Iraqis may well indeed want the Americans out of Iraq, but that doesn't mean they also reject democracy.

And given that, and the declared policies and open violence of the so-called "resistance" - very largely directed against majority Iraqi Shi'ite civilians and Kurds - it is not at all likely they would all want all the Coalition out of Iraq all at once, either.

The hope of those who want the Coalition to immediately withdraw from Iraq is an easy victory for the "resistance" over the elected government of Iraq, and the imposition of an alternative.

That alternative, of course, is presently in the dock berating an Iraqi judge, along with six of his former cohorts, and fighting to avoid the noose.

In the absence of the Coalition, the ceaseless provocations of the largely Sunni "resistance" militias would not go without answer from the Shi'ites and Kurds, as recent events have shown.

The Coalition presence in Iraq could, then, be the major moderating force between opponents in what is in effect a civil war.

Ironically, it could be the Coalition is all that stands to prevent a new genocide in Iraq - this time with the Sunni as the principal victims.

What are the options being proposed by those who oppose the Coalition in Iraq?

Shia militias exercising wholesale power over the Sunni minority, perhaps with Iranian backing?

A Sunni/ al Quaida insurgency installing itself as the new government of Iraq?

What fate do the "peace activists" have in mind for the Kurds?

Another "liberation of the masses" in the manner of Pol Pot, most likely. Or an ethnic cleansing in the manner of the failed Yugoslavian state.

The success of the elections has been a slap in the face to the so-called "peace" movement, and is a standing rebuke to the so-called "resistance".

That is why it is so important to them to belittle the achievements of the Iraqi people.

The "resistance" daily kills Iraqi people for a reason. They are their true enemy.

re: What if the war never stops?

Damian Lataan (07/12/2005 8:41:06 PM), as you would know, when we as individual humans are confronted with some information or set of facts which does not fit well with our world view, the range of choices available to us rapidly reduces to two. We can either (a) explain it, which may involve the often painful process of amending or even scrapping our current world view, or (b) explain it away.

The latter is, in my experience, by far the easier of the two.

“The political and religious interests of Iraq are taking as much advantage as they possibly can of whatever the US is offering in order to be in the best political position on the day that the Iraqi resistance causes the US to finally pull out of Iraq with no strings attached”, is in my view explaining away the fact I cited, namely that “millions of Iraqis have gone along with the Coalition’s attempts to build democracy in place of Ba’athist tyranny.” I say this because the Iraqi people could have embarrassed the Americans severely by following the tactic being urged on them by various Sunni leaders (with characteristic threats appended) of simply boycotting the elections, as the Sunnis in the main did, and to their later discomfort. The attempt to build Iraqi democratic government would have collapsed at that point, and Bush would have faced mounting domestic pressure to abandon the whole Iraqi project, oil or no oil. The various Iraqi tribal factions could then have sorted out the basis of the next dictatorship.

The overwhelming majority of the victims of the Iraqi “resistance” have been (Shia) Iraqis. Not Americans. That also does not fit well with your view that the “resistance” is aimed at causing the Americans to pull out of Iraq. It is better explained as an attempt to reinstate the previous Sunni-backed Baathist tyranny, which in turn means that it would most likely lead to civil war if it did succeed in forcing the Americans out. Should the “resistance” win power, all Sunnis, and particularly those who voted in elections would be in a very difficult position, and those who actually stood as candidates would likely be liquidated. The easiest course for all Iraqis is to keep low and boycott anything sponsored by the Americans. Just to go out and vote took a great deal of courage on the part of each individual voter, the more so since Iraq has precious little democracy in its history.

‘Having a bet each way’ explains nothing. There were no penalties on offer from the American side for not voting in any elections. There certainly were from the “resistance” side. All such two bob each way fence sitters were likely to get shot, but from only one side of the fence.

Of course, “‘jockeying for position’ for the day when the US leaves Iraq” really amounts to participating in the democratic process, which is itself a constant ‘jockeying for position’ in all countries and wherever it occurs. People participate in the process as candidates and voters because they want their voices to be heard, and their preferences taken note of. Which also goes a long way to explain why people become Webdiarists, and some even start blogs of their own.

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