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"They hate us for our values"

This is Bob Wall's first headline piece for Webdiary but for regular Webdiarists he requires no introduction. Bob regularly posts updates on events in the United States on Kerryn Higgs'  The irises and Patrick Fitzgerald. Variously Bob predicts an ignoble demise of the Bush government in the courts. Time will tell, but meanwhile he has provided us with an extraordinary collection of links and updates spanning three months of eventful time. Here he brings back to our attention one scandal which must never, ever be forgotten.

by Bob Wall

The name Abu Ghraib became notorious when photographs of abuse of Iraqi prisoners became public. That a prison notorious under the ousted regime should again be the scene of gross abuses of human rights under US control focuses attention on one of the standard rationales used by the administration to explain 9/11 - "They hate us for our values".

The administration was quick to punish a "few bad apples" and try to sweep the matter under the carpet. They succeeded to a large extent as the matter became largely a concern for antiwar critics but not of the more general public. It bubbled away beneath the surface until becoming a focus of attention again with the recent release of further photographs: here in Australia on SBS television, while the US, possibly in response to the renewed interest in the matter, has recently announced that it will close Abu Ghraib.

Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation. Bagram, secret renditions and Guantanamo Bay are names and behaviours that require attention. They are not behaviours of governments that uphold the principles of democracy but rather those that demean and diminish democracy and do great discredit to those who perpetrate them. Then there is the blowback, not only in how Coalition troops might be treated if they were captured but in fomenting hatred of the West in those who perceive themslves as targets. This can be seen in attitudes to the US presence in Iraq.

Salon.com has now released The Abu Ghraib Files composed of 279 photos and 19 videos and and account of events and investigations of the events:

Although the world is now sadly familiar with images of naked, hooded prisoners in scenes of horrifying humiliation and abuse, this is the first time that the full dossier of the Army's own photographic evidence of the scandal has been made public. Most of the photos have already been seen, but the Army's own analysis of the story behind the photos has never been fully told. It is a shocking, night-by-night record of three months inside Abu Ghraib's notorious cell block 1A, and it tells the story, in more graphic detail than ever before, of the rampant abuse of prisoners there. The annotated archive also includes new details about the role of the CIA, military intelligence and the CID itself in abuse captured by cameras in the fall of 2003.

The Bush administration, which recently announced plans to shut the notorious prison and transfer detainees to other sites in Iraq, would like the world to believe that it has dealt with the abuse, and that it's time to move on. But questions about what took place there, and who was responsible, won't end with Abu Ghraib's closure.

In fact, after two years of relative silence, there's suddenly new interest in asking questions. A CID spokesman recently told Salon that the agency has reopened its investigation into Abu Ghraib "to pursue some additional information" after having called the case closed in October 2005. Just this week, one of two prison dog handlers accused of torturing detainees by threatening them with dogs went on trial in Fort Meade, Md. Lawyers for Army Sgt. Michael J. Smith argue that he was only implementing dog-use policies approved by his superiors, and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the former commander of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony at Smith's trial.

There is much more and much more to it than a "few bad apples". What do you see when you confront these images and the processes that created the environment in which the abuses occurred? What sense, if any, does it make?

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Read the article

I read the article, in the US-based Editor & Publisher. It says, in part, that two leading British newspapers carried new accounts and details on alleged 'massacres' of civilians in Iraq in the past four months. Except for an AP article and a Knight Ridder account published by some American papers last week the incidents have gained little exposure in the U.S. press.

The most recent incident this month was first brought to light by Time magazine, as it covered another episode last November when U.S. marines killed 15 civilians in their homes in Haditha. The military at first claimed the 15 were killed by a roadside bomb.

The British daily The Independent returned to this story today, adding several details, including allegations by villagers that the Americans had allowed one injured man to bleed to death. The March 15 incident took place in the village of Abu Sifa. According to Iraqi police, 11 bodies were pulled from the wreckage of a house, among them four women and five children aged between six months and five years. An official police report obtained by Knight Ridder said: 'The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people.'

The piece goes on to say: "'The two incidents are being investigated by U.S. authorities, but persistent eyewitness accounts of rampaging attacks by American troops are fuelling human rights activists’ concerns that Pentagon commanders are failing to curb military excesses in Iraq,' the Sunday Times of London reports today."

The Sunday Times also notes "the evidence from Haditha and Abu Sifa last week suggested that the Pentagon is finding it increasingly difficult to dismiss allegations of violent excesses as propaganda by terrorist sympathisers.”

I was not aware the Pentagon had dismissed any such allegations as propaganda, but then I don't read every press release the Pentagon issues. As with many reports, sometimes these stories turn out to be true, and sometimes they don't. One possibility for why these "incidents" have gotten little play in the US media is that they didn't happen. Neither incident, in Abu Sifa or Haditha, has been confirmed.

I think it is vital that the Pentagon make sure the conduct of US military personnel is absolutely squeaky-clean, and when abuses occur, to take immediate and thorough disciplinary action. They say they've done this, and while scepticism is definitely in order, we'd have to look for actual evidence that the Pentagon has done anything inappropriate. It's a bit tough, in the absence of independent investigation, to prove or disprove anyone's assertions. Has more information come to light, Bob Wall? Any corroboration, one way or the other, on these allegations?

Credible sources

Will Howard: “...we'd have to look for actual evidence that the Pentagon has done anything inappropriate."

I'm sure they have. Wish Bob would give us a link to the articles, though.

You'd think if The Times and The Independent were reporting 600 cases of "abuse" and/or "massacres" the web would be filled with the news.

I'm still hoping Maryj comes good with her account of the AWB bribing the Iraqis in the "1970s and 1980s", too.

It's incredible Hawke and Keating never knew, isn’t it?

Then there's the actual famine in Gaza. Actual starvation in Gaza.

I hope this isn't like that fake Al Jazeera link we were pointed to earlier in the thread.

Though at least it was a link.

Fine work indeed

Maryj Shepherd: "Gerard McManus reported a couple of weeks ago that the Australian Wheat Board with government support for the Baath party set up trade offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to facilitate trade in the late 1970's and early 1980's when Fraser was PM and Howard was treasurer."

Do you have a link to that article by Gerard McManus? Or could you tell us where and when it was published? Also, did the Ba'ath Party trade offices in Brisbane remain open under Hawke and Keating? Or did they close down and later reopen under Howard?

Also, earlier you said this;

"AWB shouldn't be trusted to look after a country toilet and reports recently state that AWB were paying bribes in Iraq from late 1970's and into the early 1980's."

- Maryj Shepherd on March 10, 2006 - 12:16am.

Does the McManus article make any reference whatsoever to the AWB "paying bribes in Iraq from late 1970's and into the early 1980's"? This is a remarkable development.

Maryj Shepherd: "The European Union and the US are still contemplating cutting off aid to the Palestinians because they voted for Hamas, Israel keeps closing the border crossing and was forced to let in humanitarian supplies when faced with 1.3 million Palestinians on the Gaza with no food supplies."

Maryj, earlier you specifically claimed that Palestinians were;

"being starved on Gaza because the West doesn't like their chosen government."

- Maryj Shepherd on March 20, 2006 - 12:01pm.

Is there any evidence whatsoever of Palestinians "being starved on Gaza"? I'd be horrified if that was happening. Please let us know.

"Utter Debacle".

An interview with a founding member of the elite US Delta Force.

As with any claims made there is the matter of credibility. Apart from seeking further sources to make comparisons there is the question of the credibility of opposing views. So comparing this man's credibility with that of Bush and Cheney might be interesting.

British papers focus on alleged US massacres in Iraq.

“The Pentagon claims to have investigated at least 600 cases of alleged abuse by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to have disciplined or punished 230 soldiers for improper behaviour. But a study by three New York-based human rights groups, due to be published next month, will claim that most soldiers found guilty of abuse received only ‘administrative’ discipline such as loss of rank or pay, confinement to base or periods of extra duty.”

Polls indicate that Iraq is a major concern for the American public - I have posted many polls on Irises for those who wish to check - and that could have serious consequences electorally. Of course there are other issues that have the public offside. What is the current state of play?

The midterm contests in a President's second term are almost always treacherous, but this time around, Republicans thought it would be different. The 2006 elections, coming on top of their gains in 2002 and 2004, would make history and perhaps even cement a g.o.p. majority in Congress for a generation. George W. Bush's credibility on national security and the states' aggressive gerrymandering, they believed, had turned the vast majority of districts into fortresses for incumbents. But that's not turning out to be the case. In recent weeks, a startling realization has begun to take hold: if the elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives and could come within a seat or two of losing the Senate as well. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought Republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way Washington is run, told Time that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: "Had enough?"

The GOP has problems that will need fixing. Bush might think that desperate times require desperate measures.

Now that is a truly worrying thought.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Just a little more on

Just a little more on that marvellous "take it or leave" style which advocates that either you stay and support the Coalition's efforts or you support the alternative – the militias taking over – this from Editor and Publisher reporting on Howard Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” (on CNN):

KURTZ: Bush and Cheney essentially seem to be accusing you and your colleagues of carrying the terrorist message by reporting on so many of these attacks. What do you make of that?

LOGAN: Well, I think that's -- that is a very convenient way of looking at it. It doesn't reflect the value judgment that's implicit in that.

As a journalist, if an American soldier or an Iraqi person dies that day, you have to make a decision about how you weigh the value of reporting that news over the value of something that may be happening, say, a water plant that's being turned on that brings fresh water to 200 Iraqi people. I mean, you get accused of valuing human life in a certain way depending on how you report it.

And also, as – I mean, what I would point out is that you can't travel around this country anymore without military protection. You can't travel without armed guards. You're not free to go every time there's a school opening or there's some reconstruction project that's being done.

We don't have the ability to go out and cover those. If they want to see a fair picture of what's happening in Iraq, then you have to first start with the security issue.

When journalists are free to move around this country, then they will be free to report on everything that's going on. But as long as you're a prisoner of the terrible security situation here, then that's going to be reflected in your coverage.

KURTZ: There is no question that the dangerous conditions for journalists there are making it much harder to report on some of these signs of progress... But critics would say, well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there.

LOGAN: Well, who says things aren't falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn't see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces.

What about all the American soldiers that died this week that you didn't see on our screens? I mean, we've reported on reconstruction stories over and over again, but the order to (ph) general for Iraqi reconstruction says that only 49 of well over 100 planned electricity projects happened…

…You don't think that I haven't been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let's see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? Oh, sorry, we can't take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked about, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.

Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage. And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked.

I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country. Reconstruction funds have been diverted to cover away from reconstruction to -- they've been diverted to security.

Soldiers, their lives are occupied most of the time with security issues. Iraqi civilians' lives are taken up most of the time with security issues.

So how it is that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here?

Sounds like the "authorities" and the "Security apparatus" are well on top of the issue. Who's in control at the present? If one were to believe the White House/Miranda Devine line, the journalists are.

Best not advocate any withdrawal – either from the current policy settings or from the country – because we may well be supporting the "other side" taking what they demonstrably have: control.

Fuel For Thought.

Greg Palast has his take on the thesis that the war in Iraq was about oil. More accurately, the price of oil.

Has the battle of Baghdad started?

The battle between Sunni and Shia Muslims for control of Baghdad has already started, say Iraqi political leaders who predict fierce street fighting will break out as each community takes over districts in which it is strongest.

"The fighting will only stop when a new balance of power has emerged," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, said. "Sunni and Shia will each take control of their own area." He said sectarian cleansing had already begun.

Another account.

Suffer the little children.

New York - One of the most tragic consequences of the Iraq war has been its effect on children. The war continues to claim them among its main victims, while the health of the majority of the population also continues to deteriorate. In the 1980s, Iraq had one of the best health care systems in the region. Following the 2003 invasion by the coalition forces, an ongoing cycle of insurgent violence and occupation forces’ counter-attacks have significantly damaged the basic health infrastructure in the country. As a result, Iraq’s health system cannot respond to the most basic health needs of the population.

Terrible situation but:

The head of the U.S.-led program to rebuild Iraq said Thursday that the Iraqi government can no longer count on U.S. funds and must rely on its own revenues and other foreign aid, particularly from Persian Gulf nations.

"The Iraqi government needs to build up its capability to do its own capital budget investment," Daniel Speckhard, director of the U.S. Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, said.

The burden of paying for reconstruction poses an extraordinary challenge for a country that needs tens of billions of dollars for repairing its infrastructure at the same time it's struggling to pay its bills.

Iraq's deputy finance minister, Kamal Field al-Basri, said it was "reasonable" for the United States to sharply cut back its reconstruction efforts after spending about $21 billion.

"We should be very much dependent on ourselves," al-Basri said.

Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, called the U.S. reconstruction effort "a dismal failure. It hasn't met any of its goals. It's left a legacy of half-built projects, built to U.S. standards, which Iraq doesn't have the capability to maintain."

Recall earlier links to the alleged financial scandal.

But they can afford other things.

Even as military planners look to withdraw significant numbers of American troops from Iraq in the coming year, the Bush administration continues to request hundreds of millions of dollars for large bases there, raising concerns over whether they are intended as permanent sites for U.S. forces.

Questions on Capitol Hill about the future of the bases have been prompted by the new emergency spending bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week with $67.6 billion in funding for the war effort, including the base money.

Although the House approved the measure, lawmakers are demanding that the Pentagon explain its plans for the bases, and they unanimously passed a provision blocking the use of funds for base agreements with the Iraqi government.

"It's the kind of thing that incites terrorism," Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said of long-term or permanent U.S. bases in countries such as Iraq.

So when people write analyses as to why the US should leave, the question is does the US want to leave?

Or is it a case of "Mission Accomplished"?

More on US Behaviour.

Phil Moffat, hi. Thanks for the support and the views on the behaviour of the US that is the issue here. I concur with your sentiments. Thank you to all who are contributing to what is here.

On behaviour:

DemocracyNow! on the latest alleged massacre by US forces.

A dramatised account of the experiences of three Britons who were caught up in Afghanistan and ended up at Guantanamo Bay.

It is under its title The Road to Guantanamo.

Cautions - It is a dramatisation. It is a 90 mins video. It is replete with violence and coarse language.

Here is an article about who gets punished for abuses.

What to do next?

Scott Ritter has an answer.

As America reaches the third anniversary of President Bush's decision to invade and occupy Iraq, there is for the first time the unsettling realization brought about by the clarity of acts that emerges only after the passage of time that something horrible has happened.

This awakening of collective awareness on the part of the American people is reflected not only in the numerous polls which show President Bush's popularity plummeting to all-time lows, largely because of the war in Iraq, but also the collective shrug of the shoulders on the part of the one-time cheerleaders for the war in Iraq -- the mainstream American media -- when covering the hollow rhetoric of the President as he tries to rally a nation around a cause that has long since lost its allure.

No amount of flowery language and repeated pulls at the patriotic heartstrings of America, no repeated assault on the senses and sensibilities through repetitious referral to the events of 9/11 can jump start a second phase of the kind of mindless nationalistic fervor that greeted the erstwhile Cowboy President when he first herded a compliant America down the path of war with Iraq three years ago.

Looking back on the string of unfulfilled objectives, broken promises, squandered dreams, shattered bodies and eviscerated lives that was and is the war in Iraq, one thought emerges plain and clear. This isn't simply a result of bad governance. This is criminal.

That might just help the push to a new paradigm. Thank you, Roger, for that.

Conversion to reality the answer

CP asks me: "Daniel, what should be the appropriate reaction?"

The answer is simple: convert the world to reality by banning all religions then such preposterous nonsense would never arise.

Suddenly, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Six-day-a-Week-Bike-Riders, etc, would disappear along with their capital-intensive, smoke and mirrors infrastructure and the world would be filled with human beings, all of them equal, all of them ready to get the most  out of the here and now.

The sale of religious assets, world-wide, would provide enough money to make everyone in the world millionaires (the Vatican would make a significant contribution by itself) ending poverty and the need for war.

Anymore questions, CP?

The answer

Daniel Smythe,

 I hope Kim Beazley does not read what you have written, I can just see him saying "If we are elected we will ban all religions" it has probably got more chance of being implemented than Medicare Gold. It would suit Labor as they would not have to cost it.

Two Legs Bad. Four Legs ...

First they came for the Jews, but I ...

Then they came for the Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, but I ...

Then they came for the Six-Day-a-Week-Bike-Riders, but I ...

Then they came for the cow breeders, but I ...


Then they came for the cows! And the cows knew how to fight back!


Vive Timor-Leste!

C Parsons: "As in East Timor, for instance?"

You should ask Nels, CP, remember it was his views we were discussing.

As for me, your meaning is unclear. The "local uprising" in East Timor - ie, Falintil, the guerilla resistance led by Gusmao - had been going for as long as the occupation. It never "failed" as such, but had limited success against occupying forces with superior resources.


I think that Bob’s contribution stands for itself. The only bit I possibly disagree with is the title "They hate us for our values". I wonder if the ordinary Iraqi knew what our values were in the first place and I wonder if they cared. Personally the guts of my feelings are with Angela who wrote:

“Values are not what people say, they are what people do. If the two are different then deception and hypocrisy are more values apparent.”

Values or not, the Iraqi people now know that we of the COW indulge in torture, rape, murder and theft while the architects of those crimes go unpunished, and the loyal and patriotic executioners are labelled bad apples and slapped on the wrist. That is the TRUTH no matter how we try to spin or divert from the guts of what Bob has written. Horta, Mandella or Micky Mouse have absolutely nothing to do with this topic, for this topic is about behaviour, our behaviour, and quite frankly it disgusts me. It also disgusts the Iraqi people, our victims, and as the years go by those executioners will have to live with their deeds, their demons, and it will also disgust them.

To the executioners and architects of this disgusting behaviour a few lines from Henry V, with one small addition of my own in parenthesises:

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with (DIS) advantages,
What feats he did that day.

If we of the COW wish to enlighten the Iraqi people about our “values” then maybe we could begin with justice. We should bring the architects of these vile and criminal actions to trial (not the bullshit trials in progress today) and those who are guilty should be locked up to rot in hell for the rest of their lives, for the deeds they did that day.

And for those who may contemplate the possibilities of spinning the above then you can go to hell. That is all I have to say on this topic.

Will Howard

Will Howard, how about you tell us all in which direction you believe the US should head from here in an attempt to improve the situation in the Middle East? I for one find that you have a interesting perspective to offer and would enjoy reading your take on the current and possible future situation.

Maryj Shepherd: "...and

Maryj Shepherd : "...and to this day (Howard) has not said a solitary word about the massive numbers of murdered civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan that we were complicit in."

Not to mention his role in the Australian Wheat Board's subversion of the Food for Oil programme which was intended to offset the negative humanitarian effects of the UN Sanctions on Iraq.

Bless your humanity, Maryj. You're a wonderful person.

Now, on a closely related topic and in response to your earlier specific statements, I was wondering if you could tell us::

  • How many Palestinians are being "starved by the West"? And by which countries in "the West"?
  • Also, could you refer us to your source indicating that AWB was paying bribes in Iraq "from late 1970's and into the early 1980's"?

Thanks for you humanity. And keep up the fight against hypocrisy and lies.


CP I have always assumed you were an intelligent person but really, you must find the stories for yourself or be a little more attentive.

The European Union and the US are still contemplating cutting off aid to the Palestinians because they voted for Hamas, Israel keeps closing the border crossing and was forced to let in humanitarian supplies when faced with 1.3 million Palestinians on the Gaza with no food supplies.

Gerard McManus reported a couple of weeks ago that the Australian Wheat Board with government support for the Baath party set up trade offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to facilitate trade in the late 1970's and early 1980's when Fraser was PM and Howard was treasurer.

Now we watch Howard squirm and wriggle over this appalling crime against humanity that the AWB committed against the Iraqi people.

Many seem to think that it was Australian money but it was Iraqi money needed to feed a starving population that was stolen by the AWB with the government's nod and wink and given to the Butcher of Baghdad to keep oppressing people.

Mind you, rorting the oil for food program would not have been possible if the world hadn't inflicted this deliberate genocide on innocent human beings in the name of getting one man. The sanctions themselves were a crime against humanity that caused a modern day genocide that our leaders refuse to admit.

Double standards

Ross Chippendale: "I heard Howard almost frothing at the mouth this morning in his outrage at the proposed execution in Afghanistan. I agree with him, of course it's an outrage."

Were you frothing at the mouth at the time?

Daniel Smythe: "I might strap on a broadsword, paint a cross on my tunic, begin a Crusade. Anyone care to join me?"

You can just imagine Daniel's reaction, or course, if in the United States or Australia someone was sentenced to death for converting to Islam?

Daniel, what should be the appropriate reaction?

Should Howard ignore it?

Jacob A Stam: "CP (I see you're on 'first names' with the great man), clearly Mandela was referring to "violent forms of political struggle" by affected peoples themselves, not 'liberation' by way of conquest by bellicose external parties."

As in East Timor, for instance? And why? And what if, as in Iraq in 1991, the local uprising failed? Because it was "betrayed" when the West didn't intervene as Bob Brown complained?

Struggle, Conquest, Intercession

CP (I see you're on 'first names' with the great man), clearly Mandela was referring to "violent forms of political struggle" by affected peoples themselves, not 'liberation' by way of conquest by bellicose external parties.

As to the case of beleaguered Abdul Rahman, it's good to see that even millenarianist flat-earthers are on the side of the angels, at least sometimes. Probably if Abdul had converted to Hinduism, help from on high would not be forthcoming.

A Waste of Time.

Will Howard, "Well, Bob Wall, perhaps I've misunderstood the point of your posting."

Indeed you have.

"So maybe you could clarify what the issues 'really' are."

They have been clarified a number of times so it could be considered a waste of time to do so again. However, there is one comment you made that is sufficient to confirm that it is indeed a waste of time:

"And after all you did say "Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation" [italics mine]. I agree completely."

The context you placed this stratement in is one of trying to justify the introduction of irrelevant material:

"I'm not sure how broad or narrow you intended the discussion to be, Bob, but you know how Webdiary is. Threads sometimes take unexpected turns. And after all you did say "Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation" [italics mine]. I agree completely."

That was not the context in which I used the comment and thus a misrepresentation of my comment to promote your argument.
The nature of this matter was dealt with when the tactic was first used. It was explained how it was a blatant act of dishonesty. Then, despite the explanation a second person used the tactic and was provided with a reminder of its nature. Perhaps the reminder was too gentle and I should have stuck by my original description of it being a reprehensible act of dishonesty as that might have emphasised the point.

Yet here you are repeating the act of dishonesty, with emphasis as well.. Either you have failed to understand or it was deliberate. Either explanation does not recommend wasting any more time on your posts.

Where Are You Joseph Heller? Franz Kafka?

I suggest we pause and have a close look at what is going on here.

Bob Wall used the sentence Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation in his piece. He also used the quote "They hate us for our values", apparently in an "ironic" sense. Indeed he chose this to name his piece.

A number of commenters, including me, took up the challenge presented by these lines. After all it is hardly difficult to understand where Bob Wall is coming from.

For doing this we have been repeatedly and variously described as "disruptive", creating a "distraction", a "waste of time", "irrelevant" and "failing to understand".  And now "dishonest".

Why? Because Bob Wall says he used this language in a certain "context" and we have not used the same context as him. Presumably that is some other events that he apparently sees as comparable to Abu Ghraib and "values" apparently in his "ironic" sense.

But to use the same "context" as Bob Wall means you have to agree with him, at least in regard to his principal propositions. It is of course impossible to use this "context" and disagree with him. It is the "context" he chooses which is the main problem. It is his "context" that is the reason why his piece and everything else he has written is such nonsense.

Hence it is impossible to disagree with Bob Wall and not be regarded by him and his cheer squad as "irrelevant", "distractive", "disruptive" and "dishonest". Unless you accept his "context", and therefore the body of his argument, you have no place in this discussion. Never mind how strong your argument may be. He has defined the rules and the rules define you to be "irrelevant". And "dishonest".

This is as good an example of the authoritarian habit of mind of those who have appropriated the label "liberal/left" for themselves as you will find. For that reason, and only that reason, this is an important thread. This is precisely what George Orwell railed against. This habit of mind is why so much of the so-called "liberal/left" has abandoned the democracies, human rights and basic decent values. And why so many of them are now siding with the tyrants, murderers and fascists.

As for Bob Wall's line of reasoning. Franz Kafka would be nodding with a typical melancholy despair.


Bob Wall,

I'm amazed, and offended, that you've accused me of dishonesty. I'm asking straight, on-topic (at least I think so) questions. I certainly haven't lied. OK, Bob, one more time, maybe you could clarify what the issues "really' are.

If I've missed the point, as you say I "indeed" have, I'll stand corrected. Honestly. If you don't want to clarify issues, and engage opinions without dismissing them as "irrelevant" and "disruptions," it's not clear to me what you're doing here on Webdiary.

I have to admit I'm frankly a touch miffed that in this fairly democratic forum, you have decided to take it upon yourself to decide what is or is not "irrelevant." I think there may be a few other opinions around the place, Bob. And you still have not explained how my comments were irrelevant or dishonest. What exactly is your "goal," such that comments like mine are a "disruption?"

Is there some sort of proceeeding or ceremony going on that I'm "disrupting?" I haven't lied, haven't personally attacked anyone, haven't deliberately misrepresented anything. I have a point of view, to be sure, which you or anyone else is quite at liberty to agree or disagree with.

But you seem to be implying that my post represents - I don't know - some sort of infiltration of "your" thread? Is it some kind of exclusive club? Is there a secret handshake? Are Webdiarists only allowed to participate as long they don't post anything you consider "disruptive" or "irrelevant?" I think I've stuck to Webdiary ethics quite strictly. Yet here you are accusing me of "a reprehensible act of dishonesty." Wow. That's heavy stuff, dude.

You're Amazed!!!

Will Howard, you say you are amazed but have a look at this:

"And you still have not explained how my comments were irrelevant or dishonest."

Compare it with this from my previous post to you:

'"And after all you did say "Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation" [italics mine]. I agree completely."

The context you placed this statement in is one of trying to justify the introduction of irrelevant material:

"I'm not sure how broad or narrow you intended the discussion to be, Bob, but you know how Webdiary is. Threads sometimes take unexpected turns. And after all you did say "Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation" [italics mine]. I agree completely."

That was not the context in which I used the comment and thus a misrepresentation of my comment to promote your argument.
The nature of this matter was dealt with when the tactic was first used. It was explained how it was a blatant act of dishonesty. Then, despite the explanation a second person used the tactic and was provided with a reminder of its nature.'

Notice anything?

Guest Ed Ross - I see a little pattern here! Take it easy guys.

Yeah I notice something

Bob Wall asks "Notice anything?" Funny you should ask. I do notice something. And it stinks pretty badly. Geoff Pahoff captured it best. This kind of endless circling has become a parody of itself. I would try to satirise you, Bob, but you're doing too good a job yourself. Heller, Kafka, Orwell, Swift, Voltaire. None of them has anything on you.

You still have not explained how anything I've posted is "irrelevant" or "disruptive" let alone dishonest. And I have a funny feeling you won't.

Hamish: so when do we all leave it to the intelligent third parties to decide for themselves? Now would be fine.

The other point

The irony, Bob Wall is that I was, in part, agreeing with you. In particular, and this is worth repeating, I opined that: "Some of 'them' really do hate 'us' for (their perception of) our values.

My own view is that the first step we need to take in defending those values is to be true to them. That means, for a start, shutting down Gitmo, and holding everyone in the Bush Administration who was responsible for the Abu Ghraib abuses accountable.

So is the issue that the only acceptable posts on this thread are ones that not only agree with you, Bob Wall, but do so on your terms? I said "To me the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are betrayals, not expressions, of 'Western' (especially American) values.

It is just as flawed an oversimplification to conflate US misbehavior in these contexts with US values as it is to consider the actions of groups like al Qaeda to be expressions of inherent values in Islam." You agree? You disagree? Why or why not? Anyone?

Value systems

Washington has increased pressure on Afghanistan to end the prosecution of a man facing possible execution for converting to Christianity after the case angered President George W Bush's evangelical supporters.

Howard's hypocrisy

I heard Howard almost frothing at the mouth this morning in his outrage at the proposed execution in Afghanistan.

I agree with him, of course it's an outrage.

He went on to say he would apply as much pressure as he could to have that decision overturned.

I notice a slight discrepancy betweeen this issue and the Singapore and Guantanamo Bay issues. Re Singapore Howard said we had to respect their laws, but apparently not Afghanistan.

Re Hicks, no comment as we cannot interfere in US policy.

Where do you stand John Howard? We know, don't bother responding.

Howard and Afghans

Thanks Ross,

His hypocrisy takes my breathe away. The refugees on the TAMPA were largely from Afghanistan and some of them were Christians who were forced back because we deemed they couldn't possibly be persecuted for being Christians. Some Iranians were forced back to the mad mullahs for being Christians and it was Christian Iranian and Iraqi refugees who spent the cruelest and most prolonged times in detention because we claimed that Christians in those countries were not persecuted.

Howard didn't care about sending little babies born in Australia into war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, didn't care that 25% of babies under 5 die of starvation and disease, didn't give a stuff when 353 refugees drowned on SIEVX and to this day has not said a solitary word about the massive numbers of murdered civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan that we were complicit in.

Join the Crusade!

Thanks to CP. for alerting us to this calamity in Afghanistan. Executing Christian converts. What barbarity! We should bomb the backward bastards immediately.

Er... sorry... I forgot. We've already bombed their country flat and occupied it, haven't we? Ungrateful beggars. We bring them enlightenment and Adidas shoes and they turn around and bite the hand that feeds them.

I might strap on a broadsword, paint a cross on my tunic, begin a Crusade. Anyone care to join me?

...Daniel Smythe's invitation to jihad

Sounds like you're already on your very own 'crusade', Daniel Smythe; either that or someone's been dabbling in Afghani hash. Are you confirming your belief in a basic right to execute other people because of their religious beliefs, or rationalising an(other) Afghani christian death away because of the invasion of a majority muslim country by a majority christian country? Either way I am sure you have a truly unique sense of fairness and justice and I can only hope I never have the misfortune to be in the unfortunate position of needing to rely on your sense of judgement for anything.

If this is the type of rationalisation and logic that is consuming real human values and replacing them with cardboard cutouts of really engaging causes, then the outlook is indeed poor. "They" will no longer need to hate "us" for "our" values, merely feel contempt.

Maybe ask Jesus?

Phil Kendall: "I would ask such commentators to once and for all please explain, how attempting to use force, in the form of the US military, to solve 1 or 2 or both above, differs from an Oh, so primitive armed robbery - and in the case of the illegal invasion of Iraq, brutal armed robbery including murder: Mass-murder for oil?"

Well, Phil, I've offered;

  • my personal explanation on that point and
  • that of a Nobel peace laureate and former guerilla fighter, José Ramos Horta, and
  • even quoted Senator Bob Brown calling on the Prime Minister of the day to put "pressure on Australia's allies to intervene in Iraq" to stop Saddam's ruthless oppression of his people, and
  • a United Nations Resolution (1483).

And you are still not satisfied.

Since there's no precedent from Scripture or the Koran specifically mentioning Iraq, I'm not sure what else I can do to satisfy you.

Attention: Burma still under the boot

While we sit around our keyboards discussing the decades-old crimes of Saddam Hussein, millions of Burmese remain under the boot of tyranny.

Our failure to SEND IN THE TROOPS NOW makes us COMPLICIT in the CRIMES of the Burmese generals who are running their country and their people into the ground.

Let's STOP THE APPEASEMENT. An end to the tyranny in Burma can only be accomplished by sending overwhelming armed force to SHOCK & AWE those generals into submission.

In all seriousness, however, I'd settle for anything a little more fierce than those bands of human rights advisers Canberra has been sending.

C Parsons, you are so right to point to the FAILURE of the US policy of APPEASEMENT of Saddam in the 1980s. In fact, it was an appeasement that crossed the line into outright opportunistic engagement.

CP asks rhetorically: "Perhaps the view of the Nobel Peace Laureate [Horta], whose personal experience of the futility of an oppressed and downtrodden people seeking alternative, peaceful dispensations from tyranical, militaristic regimes, shouldn't be a guide to action in the case of Iraq?"

Interesting point, however I recall that Mandela, who also spoke for "an oppressed and downtrodden people seeking alternative, peaceful dispensations from tyranical, militaristic regimes", himself weighed in against the Iraq war.

So, the question for us here is: Whose "personal experience" should be given priority?

Incidentally, CP's reference to the East Timor case recalls to mind that the response to the 1975 invasion of ET by Suharto's Western allies was one of appeasement, indeed again crossing the line into opportunistic engagement.

Hmmm, another accommodation that cost masses of people dearly when the chooks came home to roost decades later.

What Mandela said

Jacob A Stam: "Interesting point, however I recall that Mandela, who also spoke for "an oppressed and downtrodden people seeking alternative, peaceful dispensations from tyranical, militaristic regimes", himself weighed in against the Iraq war."

Nelson was not opposed to violent struggle;

At the beginning of June 1961, after long and anxious assessment of the South African situation, I and some colleagues came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force.

It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle, and to form Umkhonto we Sizwe... the Government had left us no other choice.

- Nelson Mandela, African National Congress history site

neither emotion nor logic

G'day CP, (why does José?) may I (briefly) enquire; do you deliberately miss my point? Which is, that violence begets only 'more of the same', and exactly that 'more of the same' is leading us over the precipice, down the tubes towards the ghastly greenhouse gurgler?

Now, to a novice, the illegal invasion of Iraq may not appear to be directly related to the greenhouse threat, but since 'a' if not 'the' prime motivation behind the US and UK murderous slaughter of innocents, general mayhem and bombing Iraq back to the stone-age was, is and forever will be (unless stopped), access to and/or control, if not outright theft of Iraqi oil, an' that to maintain the US' obscene life-style including gas-guzzling behemoth SUVs (and in Aus' case, fat 4WDs). In other words, invading Iraq is contributing to "the sky is falling"); QED. And not just by-the-way, lots'n lots'a dead (innocent!) Iraqis.

Considering Horta, has it occurred to you that he may be motivated by exactly what is said to motivate Australia in cosying up to the great Satan - err, bully US, namely a craven way of saving his own bacon?

Then, I do not have the time to fully scrutinise UNSC 1483 (2003), but I have looked at 1546 (2004), which, one might suppose, would supersede it.

UNSC 1546 mentions oil just the once:

Recognizing the benefits to Iraq of the immunities and privileges enjoyed by Iraqi oil revenues and by the Development Fund for Iraq, and noting the importance of providing for continued disbursements of this fund by the Interim Government of Iraq and its successors upon dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority...

"Oil revenues", hmmm. WA gets 5% of the Northwest shelf; I wonder how much Iraq might get from the mainly US oil-majors (ie. sharks), when they've finished? Have you heard of the new kid on the block, PSAs (production sharing arrangements)?

The CPA of Bremer put all sorts of nasties into Iraqi law (what's that about occupiers having no such rights?) If what the US is doing in Iraq, (amongst all other dastardlies), is setting up a puppet-regime (mad if ya don't, criminal if ya do), all the UNSC resolutions in the world won't stop a single, tiny bit of any of the US' massive, rapacious rip-offs. The US didn't get to be "Number 1" by being Mr Nice Guy, now did it? - an' that's exactly the world's biggest problem.

And, in the end: there must'a been a better way. Too late now, but we just gotta do betta.

the 'parlous' state of play

As I see it, there are at least 3 factors here deserving the qualification 'parlous':

1. peak oil,

2. the US fiat currency,

3. and the 'biggie', the greenhouse.

Smart-arse commentators who use 'big words' like geopolitics or Realpolitik, ort'a wash their mouths out, an' that with soap.

I would ask such commentators to once and for all please explain, how attempting to use force, in the form of the US military, to solve 1 or 2 or both above, differs from an Oh, so primitive armed robbery - and in the case of the illegal invasion of Iraq, brutal armed robbery including murder: Mass-murder for oil?

If little Johnny in the school-yard is robbed of his lollies by being beaten up by some beastly fat bully blimp, and goes crying home to his mummy, then the school, these days (not 'back then' in my days), will reasonably take appropriate action against that bully.

If it were to happen amongst young adults in Cronulla, say, there would most likely be a cacophonous outcry, and 'drastic things would be done' about it.

So really, daaarlings, why should anyone let the US get away with it? (Tip: 'nukular', and a real - actually 'unreal' - madman on the button) - but how unfair - and Oh, so totally stupid - is that?

Murphy is reputed to say: give me a fraction of a chance, an' I'll bugger things right up. Also, bad things can happen, when good people do nothing. Just like in D-land, before '39. Remember that?

Time to restart the climb, out'a the slime.


In reply to 'Quixotic' (Voices crying in the wilderness, G'day Daniel Smythe), all journeys begin with a first step, an' someone's gotta do it. And G'day also to Roger F, humming "If I had a hammer..." Now I'm off for the weekend, but as a small bon-bon (long but 'worth it'), this:

The Iranian Nuclear Showdown
By David MacMichael
Former CIA analyst
[courtesy of ICH]

Ends with: "The Iran nuclear issue. An unnecessary crisis, totally manufactured and fatuously pursued. Just one more Bush administration fiasco."

And, having read it, one could conclude that the so-called 'leaders' of the US, UK, France, Germany (any etcs? Aus?) are acting just as if they were right back there, in that same school-yard mentioned above. Except, of course, that some'a their toys are 'nukular', and their victims are all of us, we the people. Bah!


Remember also number three above, which could bugger us all.

So, why does José Ramos Horta support the Coalition?

Phil Kendall: "G'day C Parsons. OK for Horta; 50% for sentiment, too bad about the wrong tool - war. CP, you didn't explain exactly why war, as opposed to something else?"

Indeed, what would José Ramos Horta know about political struggle, war and peace?

Perhaps the view of the Nobel Peace Laureate, whose personal experience of the futility of an oppressed and downtrodden people seeking alternative, peaceful dispensations from tyranical, militaristic regimes, shouldn't be a guide to action in the case of Iraq?

After all, his own people's thirty year struggle against the Indonesian regime can only be indirectly compared with that of the Iraqi Kurds or the Shiite majority or the Marsh Arabs or the other separate ethnic minorities who were dominated by the illegal Ba'ath Socialist regime of Saddam Hussein and his noisome sons.

Saddam actually murdered his way to the top, literally selecting out his parliamentary opponents and sending them to the firing squad.

He then conducted waves of reprisal attacks against communities even suspected of supporting his political oponents.

Attempts were made by Iraqi patriots to kill him and Uday, with horrendous consequences for thousands of innocents as the regime's security forces rounded up entire communities.

Saddam's Soviet era allies pleaded unsuccessfully with him, for example over the Kuwait occupation.

US appeasement of him in the 1980s was both inefectual and universally condemned.

UN Sanctions failed, and were systematically corrupted.

Even humiliating defeats in costly and pointless wars with his neighbours didn't unsettle him.

Previous national uprisings against the regime failed and those involved ruthlessly suppressed.

"The House calls on the Prime Minister Bob Hawke to act immediately to put pressure on Australia's allies to intervene in Iraq to stop the slaughter of the Kurds and establish their right to self-determination ... we're in the disgusting position of sitting on our hands while these people are absolutely slaughtered - the least we can do is get our Prime Minister to speak up and put the full weight of this country towards the protection of these innocents." - Bob Brown, 1991

So, I can understand why José Ramos Horta may have formed his own judgement about all this.

Phil Kendall: "The US has the knowledge, money and force to make the UN work, and bring Saddam and all the other baddies to justice – without resorting to mass-murder, mayhem and bombing back to the stone-age."

Please see the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1483 which;

  • Lifts the sanctions burden on Iraqi people
  • Encourages the international community to help the Iraqi people build a better future
  • Establishes the position of a UN Special Representative
    Winds down the Oil-for-Food program (OFF) over a six-month period
  • Supports Iraqis in charting their own political and economic future
  • Reaffirms the Coalition’s commitment to work with the UN and an Iraqi Interim Administration to transition authority to an internationally recognized government.

As you can see from the link to the US State Department web site, Resolution 1483 has the support of the US government.

Evidence: the two-headed dragon.

Fiona made the following statement: "However, my professional training as a lawyer and as a scientist leaves me guilty as charged of one particular flaw: a liking for evidence."

Surely the perspective and thinking of a scientist is very different from that of a lawyer. A lawyer is paid to oppose and negate the charges made against their client. To do this, they attack both the evidence and witnesses provided by the Crown and seek to present their own evidence and witnesses as well as using technicalities within the highly imperfect legal system (and their own personalities) to win the case.

A scientist operates from an entirely different position. He or she thinks up a hypothesis then seeks evidence to prove or disprove it. The scientist is truly seeking after truth. The lawyer, for money, is seeking to win.

Evidence for both means very different things as it so obviously does for many Webdiarists.

Another compromising position

Hi Angela. I'm afraid I'm going to have to put you in a bit of a compromised position with regards to your above link. 

The site that you linked to is not the Aljazeera that you think it is. The real site can be found here. The one that you linked to seems to be a knock off site with a strange conspiratorial bent. I wouldn't be too quick to believe all that's written on those pages.

As much as I hate to give CP et al. any kind of ammo, pointing this out is the right thing to do. Sorry.

Is objective analysis compromised by preconceived ideas?

Hi Mark.

I am afraid you could never put me in a compromised position and live husbands can be so unreasonable about such things. I forgot to mention that one should not assume one knows "what I think". Such assumptions do what the "Odd fellows" show once demonstrated.

 Just as a matter of interest, have you tested your hypothesis about the site, compared its reliability to, say, another news source from the US? Or is it not liking what is written? That can certainly cause objective analysis to be compromised, so one has to be careful. I too have been caught out.


Sure, been watching these two...

AlJazeera and AlJazeera. Why two of the same-ish name? Suspect "why" is to capitalise upon the name, financial motive, but maybe to confuse at times of heavy traffic for a particular story. Both have been running similar articles you may find as I have and there is an interesting subtle difference in the reporting.

Compare the reporting of the Basra incident and see what you think. By the way, what part of the information was incorrect and how did it compare to the blackout for the same date in BBC and ABC here? Both are named Aljazeera.one .com and one.net and one is from the states from memory when I looked it up a while ago and the other is based in Qatar and recently half purchased by an Israeli according to the Haaretz site, but I didn’t see the name of the purchaser or if it went through and was finalised.

What is really interesting is that both have been proven more reliable with time about most issues of international tension involving the US or Russia interests than local US services (no surprise after all the rubbish from the Iraq war lies published and since) and are the first with many issues that take a while to surface.

Certainly assessing news sites is fraught with risk from misinterpretation or information and sometimes it takes quite a deal of time to validate a certain news report. Reliability always depends upon the issue reported and how that affects the interests of the prop. of any news service or the national interests that may tone such reporting. Remember the Mirror editor sacked in the UK?


But we've seen this story before

Try this : From ABC Tuesday, September 20, 2005. 8:43am (AEST) Under attack:

A British soldier leaps from a tank after an angry crowd pelted it with petrol bombs (Reuters) UK denies storming Iraqi jail to free soldiers ... "Police and local officials say the two undercover soldiers were arrested after opening fire on Iraqi police who approached them.

They say the men were wearing traditional Arab headscarves and sitting in an unmarked car. "They were driving a civilian car and were dressed in civilian clothes when shooting took place between them and Iraqi patrols," an official in Basra said."

From the (suspect?)  Aljazeera "Last September, British soldiers, wearing Arab garb and head dress, were caught preparing for a terror attack in the Iraqi city of Basra. The British SAS drove their car towards a group of Iraq police and started opening fire at them." (In haste; perhaps more digging tomorrow, phil.)

We don't count their dead

Iraqis at least know precisely the value the governments of the US, the UK and Australia place on their individual lives. Zero. But, as long as Saddam is gone, I guess that's OK.

Voices crying in the wilderness.

Phil and Bob, what you are trying to do is praiseworthy but Quixotic.

Talking about America and values in the one sentence is a contradiction.

Then suggesting that war is immoral is almost treasonous. What are all those struggling armament manufacturers going to do if war is banished? What will America do if it can't use its military might to threaten and bludgeon the world or engage in periodic, imperialist wars to boost its economy?

I think you both should be sent to re-education centres to have your views corrected. Guantanamo University is accepting enrolments, I believe.

They assign an Alsatian dog to each new member (complete with handler) plus a nice orange uniform. And, as a bonus, you get Coke and a Big Mac every day if you sing God Bless America.

the 50:50 split

G'day C Parsons. OK for Horta; 50% for sentiment, too bad about the wrong tool - war.

CP, you didn't explain exactly why war, as opposed to something else?

For example, Malcolm B Duncan over at [WD Imagine... The Wonder of it all] said "A legal system exists for the purpose of adjudicating disputes ..."

Q: So where's our international legal system?

Q: And where's our international police?

A: It's the UN, which the US ignores.

The US has the knowledge, money and force to make the UN work, and bring Saddam and all the other baddies to justice – without resorting to mass-murder, mayhem and bombing back to the stone-age.

The US doesn't do that (support the UN) because it can get (= take, mostly, at the point of a gun) all it wants and more: with 5% of the world's population, they consume 25% of the resources.

All those clever-dick lawyers, in the US and elsewhere including here, could conjure up an operating UN, with enforcement, in a flash – if they so desired. Hmmm?

This is the real problem: everybody knows what's right, but nobody does anything about it. We, the people, do not have the power; those with the power misuse it.

Real statesmen (as opposed to poseurs – B, B & H and now Horta) would understand what I'm saying, where the bloody hell are they?

Don't take my word for it.

Phil Kendall: "OK CP, but riddle me this: why did it have to be war?"

Let's ask Nobel peace laureate and freedom fighter José Ramos Horta:

"Time and again as I watch the barbarity inflicted on innocent Iraqi civilians, often women and children, pass with seeming silence and indifference from the rest of the world, I ask where are those who are so quick to take to the streets to protest every alleged U.S. sin -- be it real or imaginary? If they are so appalled at the graphic photos showing the depraved acts committed by a small number of American servicemen -- photos that, never let it be forgotten, were unearthed as a result of the U.S. Army's own investigation -- surely they should be even more appalled by the daily carnage inflicted on the Shia majority in Iraq."

- José Ramos Horta, October 17, 2005

Prior to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he pointed out:

"If the anti-war movement dissuades the US and its allies from going to war with Iraq, it will have contributed to the peace of the dead."

"Saddam Hussein will emerge victorious and ever more defiant.

"Containment is doomed to fail. We cannot forget that despots protected protected by their own elaborate security apparatus are still able to make decisions."

- José Ramos Horta, 27 February 2003

I have previously mentioned the fate of Iraqi citizens who took it into their own hands to try and assasinate Saddam and his sons.

On the one hand, we have the views of people like Bob Wall and Marij Shepherd. On the other hand, we have those of people like José Ramos Horta.

Nice Try But

CP, quoting Horta is good but hardly the most definitive advocate for your point of view. I understand what he is saying but I also understand the context in which it was said. He experienced, first hand, the brutality inflicted on him and his countrymen while Australia and the rest of the world turned their backs for 25 years. In terms of comparative evil, he would easily choose the path of intervention because of the relief that it can bring to a people's suffering and he may be correct. But that is not really the point.

Your argument, equating who is the bigger bastard and the one who kills least to a morally superior position, is completely bankrupt. Perhaps, if you or I were facing the point of a gun, we may momentarily throw overboard the niceties of comparative philosophies and save our hides by whatever means were at our disposal. That is not the position in Iraq.

Your defence of the status quo fails on most philosophical considerations and stands only as an ideological bulwark to disguise the toady acquiescence of Australia and the hegemonic pursuits of a gradually failing world giant. In your words I read a measure of desperation, casting about to find any argument at hand without consideration of quality.

The world is a violent and cold-hearted place. Realpolitik must be practised. If this is the truth then you should have the courage to say that you prefer that we practise it without regard to any moral considerations, instead of the subterfuge that is your current refuge.

The most significant problem with the current squirming of the BBH triumvirate is that they believe that they must maintain the lies or lose credibility. History is littered with the corpses of those who have played that game and lost.

However, there is a faint glimmer of hope. Already we have seen a remarkable turnabout in the demeanour of Bush. Each day there is a little more humility, a little more apology, because the political situation in the US is dire for the Republicans.

Having been shown that the Republicans are as corrupt and immoral as the other lot, the citizens of the US are ready for another paradigm shift that is beyond the influence of the perverse black magic of spinmeister, Karl Rove. Blair is lining up retirement.

Only here in the mystical Land of Oz is the wicked witch still weaving his spell. His demise is inevitable because history cannot be denied. Australians will say one day, "What were we thinking?"

Of course that should not mean that the plum of winning government should fall into the hands the incompetents of the Left, though in a two horse race that is exactly what it means.

What a system we have! My characterisation of the last election was that it was a contest between an arm-breaking thug and an immoral, lying midget. Such is the quality of politics in this country which you happily endorse. Are there better expectations?

They Don't Hate All Western "Values"

At the risk of being irrelevant, here is an alternative perspective to these issues. In the clear voice of Christopher Hitchins:

Well if everyone else is allowed to rewind the tape and replay it, so can I. We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.

I'm sure you'll excuse my naïveté

C Parsons: "had Saddam not been overthrown, he'd still be in power."

OK CP, but riddle me this: why did it have to be war? Q: Were there no reasonable alternatives (war as unavoidable last resort)? A: Yes; an' I suggested one at the time myself, little ol' geopolitical strategic amateur that I am. [Orig here: WD 2003/02/12], [cited here: WD Imagine... send in the cavalry?].

Why d'y reckon it is, that the pro-wars continue to call us anti-wars 'Saddam appeasers'?

If nothing else, the UN could'a left it to Blix - then ramped up the pressure, up'n up - without ever resorting to blitzkrieg. That's what our cops always try to do, in a domestic hostage-type situation - liberate without killing anyone, hmmm?


Malcolm B Duncan: "If the original operational plan had been executed [1991], Saddam would have been taken out..." - err, 'scuse me, but just how do you know what the 'original operational plan' might'a been, please? I was observing 'Desert Storm'; they stopped immediately after their "highway of death" fish-in-a-barrel, turkey-shoot massacre. They horrified not only the entire world, but themselves as well.

Then: "Air bombardments create a particular dilemma. Assuming the mission plans are within the rules of engagement, they are lawful..." - err again, even if your 'rules of engagement' smoke-screen were to be valid, what if the entire war is illegal? Kofi Annan said he thought it was, an' he ort'a know, hmmm?

Finally: "For all you bleeding hearts who think that killing is just wrong and should never happen..." - OK Malcolm, assuming you'n yours're all innocent, how'd you like it if one or more of yours (so you'd still be around to witness it), were blown to bits - or more prosaically perhaps, in the "Let's go play in Iraq" lingo: pink-misted?


Please read carefully, one more time: if there was a valid reason to go to war, they would'a used it. There wasn't; they lied [lie -n. 1 intentionally false statement (tell a lie). 2 something that deceives. -v. (lies, lied, lying) 1 tell a lie or lies. 2 (of a thing) be deceptive.], and they did not get UNSC permission: it was illegal and therefore murder. Mass-murder for oil, in fact; for oil, for the US$, for bases, for Empire, because they could - but democracy only marginally and then only as excuse of last resort (after the fact) - how many times?


The whole idea of war/killing etc is morally bankrupt, and in this Iraq context it's criminal to boot. Bah!

If all you've got is a hammer, every problem might look like a nail.

Time to take away the US's hammer, don't ya reckon?


No offence unintended

Sorry, Phil Kendall, I missed a couple of your challenges. I shall reply to both here.

We do not have an international legal system in the sense of a body of principle that can be applied to individual cases (the system of law we have domestically). We have international politics.

The UN is as much use as a ruptured condom.

I was observing Desert Storm as well. It was obvious to anyone that the plan was to go straight for Baghdad. I rather think Storming Norman said so in his memoirs and it was Powell and Bush snr who ordered him not to. It's a pity Norman wasn't Nelson or Australian.

If the entire war is "illegal" (which is a meaningless concept because there is no tribunal with the authority to make such a declaration) the rules of engagement are still capable of being lawful for our troops while they operate within them.

How would I feel if some bastard came in and killed members of my family? First, it would depend whether they were family members I cared about (there's a particular uncle for whom no tears would be shed before bedtime). If they were in the cared-for class, I'd be really shitty and, these days, being an even more belligerent middle-aged bugger than I was in the Army, I'd probably go out, hunt them down and kill them. If I didn't get up on a self-defence defence, I'd probably have to disclose the conviction on my practising certificate renewal – that would save heaps in insurance.

Andrew McRae Of course

Andrew McRae, of course "values" are there for all to see. The people involved in the Abu Gharib prison scandal are either in a military prison or are facing military justice. For them there is no approval "tacit" or otherwise only the "values" of justice.

Malcolm B Duncan: "(Jay White) couldn't be more wrong. He might care to remember Operation Desert Storm, an action sanctioned by the UN in which forces did go to Iraq and Saddam remained in power. While George Bush snr may not be as dumb as the son (and I'm prepared to accept argument on that), he certainly got that one wrong. If the original operational plan had been executed, Saddam would have been taken out, and probably tried at the Hague with no opportunity for his Party or supporters to re-arm. A short occupation would have followed and then they could have been left to their tri-partite civil war without external intervention".

Yes this is likely true although for whatever reason this did not happen. So ten years down the track a new President is dealing with a different set of problems. Unfortunately nobody as yet has invented a way to change the past.

Finally, it is obvious to everyone (and should have been from the start) that Iraq is a lost cause (whatever that cause may have been). Save for a strategic withdrawal with minimum casualties (ours not theirs), there is no rational solution. Politically, this is one of the greatest disasters in Middle East geopolitics since the Poms devised partition to get up the noses of the French. The enemy, kiddies, is fanaticism, both religious and political. Conventional warfare is no answer to it.

So, I have a request for the Runt and the newly unpierced Brendan (with a name like that he just has to be a Muslim): bring the lads back in Hercs not body bags and do it now please.

With respect it is not obvious to me that Iraq is a "lost cause" whatever that means? I suppose for most of last century there have been many who believe that the entire Middle East is a lost cause. I am not one of those people.

If the COTW leaves Iraq now we will be leaving many to the fate of who knows what? Perhaps we can all look to the Dutch example for a possible future guide.

These are some of things those that take to the streets demanding withdrawl will have to look into their own hearts for the answer and decide if they feel comfortable with taking this chance. Walking away is easy, people do it in all forms everyday, still does not make it the correct course of action.

As yet there thankfully is not one serious contender for President 2008 that has even entertained the thought of doing this. Perhaps that has something to do with "values"?


Jay White, it really is just the Irish question all over again. For my money, walk out and let them get on with it. There will come a point where either they stop killing one another or there is no-one left to kill.

I do not see it as a domestic issue in any fashion other than the need to withdraw our troops and I really don't give a stuff what happens after we do. I have never seen any strategic advantage in our involvement.

If that seems selfish or hard-hearted to you, I rather tend to be selfish and hard-hearted about the needless extinction of lives that once could have been mine.

If this war is of any benefit to this country, send the Runt and the beauteous Brendan.

Oh no, not more compromising positions!

Oh no, and here is the US and UK again described in compromising positions. Lucky we only believe Fox News isn't it?

Hate to think explosives in cars implicate persons, why it is just for a party up the road isn't it?

The dangers of collective guilt and punishments and pre-emptive action that has been happily meted by our allies out is that it sets a precedent.


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