Back From Baghdad 157

The good news is that I am back safely from Baghdad where I attended (and spoke at) the Arab League conference on Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The bad news is that as usual I am knocked flat with a bug or two picked up on my travels.

I will write on the subject matter of the conference and on the Baghdad experience when I feel a bit stronger. But one thing is for certain – the politicians who peddle the line that, while they may have been wrong about WMD, Iraq is now a haven of freedom and democracy, are telling a most blatant lie. Nothing in the mainstream media conveys the sense of what a total disaster zone Baghdad now is, and I have never been anywhere – not Uzbekistan, not Turkmenistan, not Belarus, not Sierra Leone during the war – that felt less like a free democracy. More detail later.

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157 thoughts on “Back From Baghdad

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  • Courtenay Barnett

    We wonder why the shootings and violence. Consider the arms alphabet below:-

    “Firearms manufacturers in the United States”
    The following 114 pages are in this category, out of 114 total. This list may not reflect recent changes.

    Airforce Airguns
    Alexander Arms
    Ethan Allen (armsmaker)
    American Spirit Arms
    Arcadia Machine & Tool
    Ares Incorporated
    Armscor Precision International
    Auto-Ordnance Company

    Barrett Firearms Manufacturing
    Bay State Arms
    Bond Arms
    Browning Arms Company
    Bryco Arms
    Bushmaster Firearms International

    C-More Systems
    C. J. Weapons Accessories
    Calico Light Weapons Systems
    CCI (ammunition)
    Charles Daly firearms
    Charter Arms
    Cobray Company
    Colt’s Manufacturing Company
    Cooper Firearms of Montana

    Dan Wesson Firearms
    Dillon Aero
    DPMS Panther Arms
    DuBiel Arms Company

    E. Remington and Sons
    European American Armory Inc.

    Freedom Arms
    Freedom Group

    Stanley Gibbs
    Great Western Arms Company

    H & R Firearms
    Harris Gunworks
    Henry Repeating Arms
    Hi-Point Firearms
    High Standard Manufacturing Company
    Hopkins & Allen
    Arthur L. Howard

    Ithaca Gun Company
    Iver Johnson

    Jimenez Arms
    John Jovino Gun Shop
    John Rigby & Company

    Kahr Arms
    Kimber Manufacturing
    Knesek Guns
    Knight’s Armament Company

    Land Warfare Resources Corporation
    Daniel Leavitt
    Les Baer
    Lewis Machine and Tool Company
    LWRC International

    Magnum Research
    Magpul Industries
    Marble Arms
    Marlin Firearms
    Massachusetts Arms Company
    Meriden Firearms Co.
    Merwin Hulbert
    Microtech Small Arms Research
    Miniature Machine Corporation
    Montana Rifle Company

    New England Small Arms
    Nighthawk Custom
    North American Arms

    O.F. Mossberg & Sons
    Olympic Arms

    Picatinny Arsenal

    Remington Arms
    Robinson Armament Co.
    Rock River Arms
    Jacob Rupertus

    Sabre Defence
    Savage Arms
    Serbu Firearms
    Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company
    Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company
    Sierra Bullets
    Smith & Wesson
    Springfield Armory
    Springfield Armory, Inc.
    Stag Arms
    State Arms Gun Company
    Stevens Arms
    STI International
    Stoeger Industries
    Strayer Voigt Inc
    Sturm, Ruger & Co.

    Textron Marine & Land Systems
    Thompson Center Arms
    Tobin Arms
    Troy Industries

    U.S. Fire Arms Manufacturing Company
    U.S. Ordnance
    U.S. Repeating Arms Company

    Virginia Manufactory of Arms

    Water Shops Armory
    Daniel B. Wesson II
    Western Cartridge Company
    Wilson Combat
    Winchester Repeating Arms Company


    Z-M Weapons

    Categories: Firearms manufacturers by nationality
    Manufacturing companies of the United States

  • Phil W

    @BenFranklin. Failed states cannot act as a focus of opposition to the US. Neither can they enter into alliances or trade agreements with China.

    Of course the US would prefer to have a country ruled by a tame dictator, prepared to keep his country a US dominion, but if you cannot have that, then a chaotic non-state of competing warlords is manageable. If the US can project force there (and with its bases around the world it usually can) then it effectively controls the territory and any valuable resources to be found there. Promoting sectarianism is a good tactic here. This was developed in Iraq (where generally Shia and Sunni lived reasonably harmoniously before the invasion) and is now spread to Libya, Syria etc.

    Short of ‘failing’ states is the time-honoured tactic of balkanisation, as carried out on Yugoslavia. A lot of small squabbling states is much easier to exert influence over than a large united one. Sudan is the latest victim of this.

    These tactics are not new. This is how the British empire operated.

  • Clark

    Ben, I don’t think that there is any “they” as such. What there seems to be are a lot of entities of varying power, applying influence upon each other in every way from persuasive to genocidal. Increasingly, there is a convergence of the interests of very powerful entities, such as US/UK/Israel + oil companies + arms manufacture + “Private Military Contractors” versus Iraq.

    And yes, chaos can be an objective, until it is achieved. This then creates a good excuse for “imposing order” and “reconstruction” (contracts, contracts), and thus the cycle continues.

    It’s like the backdrop of perpetual war in Orwell’s 1984, the root motivation being the consumption of excess productive capacity. Technology could easily supply a good standard of living for everyone, but what would there then be for the powerful entities to compete over, and where would they find people desperate enough to do their bidding?

  • Clark

    Besides, effective authoritarianism is too easy; just do appropriate conditioning (people will consume media voluntarily), and make rules that people want to follow anyway (go to work, go shopping, and do recreation, like Huxley’s Brave New World). But that doesn’t satisfy the true control-freak, who needs to know that people are being forced to feel like shit.

  • Brendan

    But but, surely the surge ‘worked’, and we are in the process of creating a stable democracy?

    Ha. All you can really do when polticians spout their criminally insane babble is to laugh. I simply can’t listen to most of them anymore. Obama is the worst culprit, to be honest, but Dim Dave isn’t far behind in the laughable bullshit stakes. Eventually, people got wise to Tony Blair’s line in faux-sincere horse manure, and they are getting wise to Dim Dave; Obama is a slightly different kettle of fish, being dazzlingly articulate, but people will soon get wise to his schtick, too. This is a positive, and not to be taken lightly: these things pass, I like to believe. This neoliberal empire? It too shall pass, one hopes anyway …

  • Mary

    Platell has just said on Marr that Obama’s speech after the shootings was the best speech she has ever heard from a politician. !! WTF.

    She was wearing an eye patch which added some surreality to her appearance reviewing the papers with Richard Wilson.
    ‘In 1999, Platell took the role of ‘spin doctor’ to William Hague. She sought to present Hague as a more mature and rounded character……’ She failed.

    Boris Johnson and Jack Straw are billed to follow. Off switch now in operation and a walk in the wet awaits.

  • Mary

    The Comet chain collapse costs HMRC £26m. I bet that local councils will lose out too due to unpaid business rates arrears. Redundancy pay is borne by the state and then there is Job Seeker’s Allowance as I cannot imagine that there are many similar jobs available for those unfortunate employees made redundant.

    I heard from an ex-employee that all the high end stock was being shipped to France where the owners have another chain whilst the junkier stuff goes from the closed stores to those remaining open. They will gradually be closed.

  • Mary

    Jiggery pokery.

    December 15, 2012 7:18 pm
    OpCapita could recover £50m from Comet
    By Andrea Felsted

    Deloitte’s report into the administration of the electricals chain, scheduled to be published on Monday, will show that Hailey Acquisitions, the investment vehicle through which OpCapita structured the deal, is the secured creditor and stands to make the recovery from the administration.

    OpCapita also received a £50m cash dowry from Kesa, now known as Darty, when it acquired Comet in February. It continues to own Comet’s warranties business, which is not in administration.

    The recovery could spark fresh questions about the collapse of Comet, where all stores are due to close by December 18, and thousands of jobs will be lost.

    OpCapita, run by Henry Jackson, a former investment banker, structured the deal to buy Comet through a separate vehicle called Hailey Acquisitions.

    OpCapita’s backing came from Greybull Capital, which specialises in acquiring underperforming and troubled companies, as well as Elliott Advisors, a US hedge fund, according to two people familiar with the situation.

    Deloitte’s report will show that at the date of administration, Hailey was owed £145m.

    During the administration Deloitte has been selling stock, and will be paying about £40m to suppliers.

    Some £1.5m will be distributed to staff for arrears and holiday pay, while unsecured creditors will be paid £200,000.

    This leaves about £50m available for Hailey although the report will show that it would still be shouldering a loss of about £95m from the deal.

    OpCapita declined to comment.

    Deloitte’s report will also show that in the year to April 30 2011, Comet made a loss of £32m. In the year to April 28 2012, this deficit rose to £95m, while in the five months to September 30, Comet lost £31m.

    Comet plunged into administration in November, after running out of cash. People familiar with the matter said suppliers had become increasingly nervous over the preceding weeks, seeking more onerous terms from the business.

    With Comet stocking up for the peak Christmas trading season, this put a strain on its cash flow.

    Entrepreneur Clive Coombes had been in talks to acquire some Comet stores, but a deal is looking increasingly unlikely.

  • Mary

    Here we go. The second NHS general hospital to be put out to the vultures. And you thought I had been exaggerating before!

    December 14, 2012 8:50 pm
    NHS hospital seeks private tenders
    By Gill Plimmer and Sarah Neville

    More National Health Service hospitals could be taken over by the private sector after the government gave the go-ahead to George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton to seek tenders, the first time the coalition has formally paved the way for the outsourcing of an entire general hospital.

    Although Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire became the first to be managed by the private sector when it was taken over by the Aim-listed Circle Health this year, the process had been started under the Labour government.


    Pity the denmoralized and destabilized hospital staff and the now worried patients in the hospital’s catchment area.

  • Clark

    Sunday musings: whatever happened to self-doubt? Has it been banished by the Hippy / New-Age crowd as a “negative emotion”? Do the doctors medicate it away in all who “suffer” from it? Is it just that most of us no longer attend church once a week to be reminded that we all fall short of perfection? It seems to me that there is an increasing shortage of people asking themselves “what if I’m wrong?” and “could there be other explanations?”

    It is said that power corrupts. I’d say that both wealth and power also inflate the ego. Lack of self-doubt probably accumulates at the top, like cream and scum.

  • Fred

    Today I read how police are re-investigating a house where boys from a care home were taken for the pleasure of high ranking establishment figures in the 1970s. It seems the police raided a party at the house but only to prosecute the owner.

    Then there are reports about the police victimising striking miners in South Yorkshire.

    And how the RUC were complicit in a murder.

    Makes a change from reading about how the police were hand in glove with the newspapers or what really happened at Hilsborough.

    Just a few bad apples of course.

  • mark golding

    Same old, same old…

    – the shock, the torture, the open wound still festers in Iraq while its oozing poison continues to infect and contaminate, indiscriminately, madly, killing any resistance to Britain’s reckless clawing at resources and power, to swing the scales of command and servitude back to a Western plutocratic world.

    Yet we know this great treachery, this vile treason, this pact with the terrorists that hides a bloody truth, here, a simple example:-

    We are listening, millions of us, to people like Victoria Clark who tell the whole stories in the face of this collective delusion. The gate-keepers failed to manipulate our cognitive map in 2001 – we have revealed the zombies that colluded and conspired to smash Iraq and murder a million children, innocent souls not unlike the primary school kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. These criminal are still free to live their corrupted lives.

    It is the same spook-zombie mentality that murdered 189 accountants, book-keepers and budget analysts at the Pentagon; I said murdered and I mean just that.

    Naval aid Cmd Doug F Cochranes’ testimony, still classified, is very convincing, from it one can conclude that the American air-defence systems were purposely rendered impotent by the Bush administration in 2001 yet the truth behind American lives sacrificed by greed remains hidden from public view by fear and questions who answers have faded; just like the poison from former Defence Secretary Rumfeld mouth that “cannot remember” – the same man with the power to launch a nuclear strike who did nothing for one hour while America died – a conspiracy because he who controls the past controls the future.

    Thankfully an end is looming, a new beginning – yet is that peace, is that justice and reconcilation or is that war, injustice and suffering – convincingly it is in your own power of intention to choose.

    Anyone for Bingo?

  • Duno

    Hope you are better soon Craig.

    A quote for the above artical posted by Mary..

    “To me it is clear what needs to happen… We need the Palestinians to understand there is only one path to statehood, and that is through negotiations with Israel.”

    It’s like seeing a grown man with a club beating up a child. And Cameron with his sick and twisted friends says they can only sort it out between themselves.


    Words fail me. Who in there right mind would say this is what will solve things, let alone say it’s clear, CLEAR. ?

  • nevermind

    Welcome back, hope your gut ache sorts itself soon, Baghdad sounds hell.
    US federal states and society has one choice before a chocolate dollar implodes and the economy nose dives, that is to declare a gun amnesty and call in all arms from the public, no exceptions. People can shoot in clubs and on ranges but nowhere else, humans are not stable enough to bear arms and increasing rages in a highly strung society, the constant din of gun violence in the background.

    Opposing such change, the NRA’s policies to support the US citizens so called right to bear arms, will have to be defeated or the situation will get more dire. Once two more million face the prospect of living in shacks, or the forests and and, the real problems with gun proliferation will become apparent.

    Obama’s crocodile tears were not spilled over Afghanistans innocent children, or those who died in Gaza from their white phosphorous burns, and Netanyahu is an all controller, a psychopath who displays such compassion bypasses all the time, the true signs of a racialist.

  • norse

    disarm the goats along with the sheep?
    make the goats sheep?
    between us and them and their totalitarian state
    who stands

    apart from these ‘goats’??

    you seriously think these regular traumas and atrocities are spontaneous?

  • Mary

    david white‏@davidwhite020
    BBC really should dump Andrew #marr in 2013 and replace him with a proper current affairs interviewer.

    Jack Straw says he’s “comfortable about decisions he took”, so he approved of Labour’s kidnap / torture squads? #marr #marrshow

    Ha ha, Jack Straw “corrects” himself from Labour’s renditions to “alleged renditions” We know what you really mean Jack. #marr #marrshow 38.30 in if you are interested.

  • nevermind

    I’m talking about a collapse of a world currency, Norse.
    When the wars can’t be paid for anymore, when oil producing countries don’t IOU’s anymore, but prefer to be paid in gold or a basket of currencies.

    When hundreds of thousands default their mortgages because banks are calling in collateral or work has dried up or alternatively has been ‘sourced in one of the other TPP countries, as it would bring more profits for share holders.

    That’s when those guns will get used, when desperation forces people into sad corners, when hungry people steal to feed themselves. There will be one newtown after the other.

  • Mary

    The weapon of choice for the ‘shooter’ in Newtown. Manufacturing ceased at one plant last year. That’s the thing to do. Keep suing these makers of weapons of death and they will go out of business. The NRA and the weapon manufacturers own the Congress so that the law is prevented from being changed.

    The new bossman at Freedom Group.

  • Mary

    The tentacles actually belong to Cerberus, the three headed dog and Messrs Feinberg and Richter, who have made a killing from the bank collapse and the subsequent depression.

    ‘Firearms — Acquired Bushmaster Firearms, Inc., from Windham, Maine native Dick Dyke for an undisclosed sum in April 2006, and purchased Remington Arms in April 2007. Under Cerberus direction, Bushmaster Firearms acquired Cobb Manufacturing, a well-respected manufacturer of large-caliber tactical rifles in August 2007. Cerberus also acquired DPMS Panther Arms December 14, 2007.[57][58] Remington Arms acquired Marlin Firearms in January 2008.[59][60] In October 2009, Remington Military products acquired silencer manufacturer Advanced Armament Corporation.[61] These companies were combined into the Freedom Group.’

  • norse

    Why a raven [email protected]?

    Are they afraid that the ‘goats’ might ‘take arms against a sea of trouble and by so opposing end them?’
    American goats are not British goats. Tyranny was predicted and provided for in their Constitution.
    They had just escaped from it.Tyranny.

    Who pays the Pîper?
    Who pays the Piper?
    Who calls the tune?

    Prescient the tale about the children turned into rats being led to hell by the Piper.
    Who is King Rat?
    True he pays well when he can use us, and then?

    My question.You seriously think that these regular atrocities and collective traumas are spontaneous?

  • Cryptonym


    “People can shoot in clubs and on ranges but nowhere else”

    I would go further, my opinion is in this country there should be no lawful reason for possession of a firearm of any kind. Those who call shooting sport need shooting. Olympic and Commonwealth Games, international bodies for example should redefine what is classed as sport, even if that means some nasty Gulf monarchies have no participants or medals, denormalise and eliminate these deviant pastimes. There is still opportunity to make the 2014 Commonwealth Games free of these non-events with public pressure. Yes criminals will still use them for which trained civilian armed police officers should be on call, but not routinely armed. We need to delegitimise gun ownership. I think people in this country would be surprised just how many legal guns there are out there with dubious justification. Creeping militarism of the police and of society, needs positive action to roll it back.
    The state’s monopoly on violence – the police and military – would be correspondingly de-escalated and unjustifiable in time, with trusted accountable government a precursor.

  • Mary

    Anyone watching BBC 1’s Sports Personality of the Year? The Limp Ics theme continues. The same singer from the opening ceremony sang tonight and we had the Queen and Bond again. The three presenters were filmed in a helicopter coming low across London to arrive at the Excel centre.

    Coe is there poised to get his Lifetime Achievement award. Heavy emphasis on military at the start. Six personnel from the services accompanied last year’s winner in to a film backdrop of our boys in Afghanistan. 16,000 in the audience at the Excel Centre, cost unknown. They have just moved on to an award to a 7/7 survivor. An award was created in the late Helen Rollason’s name and it was presented to a paralympian whose life was saved by a policewoman to give it to. Her acceptance speech was worthy of one from our dear leader at the party conference.

    A very lavish piece of propaganda will culminate in an appearance by Kate who will present the award to the sports personality of the year. There is laser lighting, a huge stage and a full live orchestra.

    The laugh is that Sky broadcast most of the sport live now and that Claire Balding, who is one of the presenters tonight, along with Sue Barker and Lineker (no show without them!) is about to transfer to Ch 4 who are taking the horseracing that the BBC used to cover. Ch4 also covered the Paralympics and not the BBC.

    Cryptonym They have just honoured the chap who won a gold in shooting!

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