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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  • Clark

    Cryptonym, 16 Dec, 8:09 pm,

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

    Cryptonym, modern humans have hunter-gatherers for ancestors. Hunting is not “deviant”, and I doubt that you are as pure as your ego tricks you into believing. Look within to find the authoritarian that uses left-wing moralization to disguise itself.

    Always, moralists criticise the most visible activities while ignoring the more mundane behaviours that have much greater effects. Moralists rage against those who kill animals themselves, but say little about the far more widespread consumption of produce from captive domesticated livestock. The few people killed by guns are highlighted, but the thousands of road deaths and the routine domination by drivers of motorised vehicles over less powerful road users go unmentioned. And so on.

    There will be little meaningful political dialogue until all parties recognise both their own motivations, warts and all, and the essential human qualities that give rise to their supposed adversaries. Only if these realisations are made can mutual respect enable moral posturing to be outgrown in favour of honest negotiation.

  • norse

    Some of the less insular here might appreciate this mans verve and photos.

    « Occupy fizzled out because it could neither articulate its aims nor move beyond the sign-waving stage. Had Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin contented themselves with squatting on a grassy patch while flashing signs at passing horsemen, you and I would be wolfing baked beans and bangers for breakfast, pasties for lunch, then howling God Save the Queen before kick off on the telly. Instead, we get to vote for our own insufferable deadweight. Hurrah!

    Suffocated by unpayable debts, unemployed, underemployed and/or reduced to dwelling in a foreclosed home, tent, car, garage, tool shed or dead mall entrance, will we wise up soon enough to unite and fight back against this military banking complex that’s ruining us all? »

    Faint hope, faint hearted, perhaps.

  • giles

    Audible misery on 5Live that Mo didn’t win it. Other than that minor amusement, massively over the top, almost cult-like worship of celebrity.

  • Ginger Nuts (was: useless eaters)

    “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.”

    Yawn. Really? Save that one for the mentally disabled, the under 16s and those that are easily shocked.

    [Mod/Jon: Posted as “useless eaters”, sock-puppeting again]

  • doug scorgie

    Punished for not being a whistle-blower

    A former army medic has been found guilty of misleading and dishonest conduct after the death of Iraqi detainee Baha Mousa in 2003.
    The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled Dr Keilloh was aware of the injuries but failed to report them or examine other detainees.

    Mr Mousa died with 93 injuries in British army custody.

    Mr Mousa had been hooded with a sandbag for nearly 24 hours and suffered 93 injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose, during the final 36 hours of his life in the custody of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.

    The panel ruled that while the injuries to Baha Mousa and others were the responsibility of British soldiers, there were “clearly failings by others with responsibility towards the detainees to have safeguarded their welfare”.

    On 19 September 2006, Corporal Donald Payne pleaded guilty to a charge of inhumane treatment to prisoners making him the first member of the British armed forces to plead guilty to a war crime.

    During the court martial, Corporal Payne admitted he “enjoyed” hearing Iraqis call out during torture, describing their cries of pain as “the choir” He was cleared of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. Six other soldiers were cleared of any charges.

    After pleading guilty to the offence of inhuman treatment of persons protected under the Geneva Conventions, Corporal Donald Payne was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, reduced to the ranks, and dismissed from Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, on 30 April 2007.

    All other charges against Corporal Payne, and the other defendants were dropped when the presiding judge, Mr. Justice McKinnon, ruled that there was no evidence against them.

    The Independent reported that the charges had been dropped because the presiding judge said “There is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks.”

    Detainees claimed that the British soldiers had held kicking competitions, competing to see who could kick the prisoners the hardest.

    These are our hero’s folks they could just as easily turn against their own people in any future civil protests or unrest that could challenge our super-elite masters; they will only be following orders.

    No senior officers or government ministers have been held to account on this issue.

    Take note.

  • Cryptonym

    I wasn’t considering animal rights one bit Clark, human animals excepted. And don’t want to bring animals into it because it’s not relevant. There is no moral dilemma at all, killing animals for fun is itself distasteful, but the proliferation of gun clubs and shooting ranges and thus gun ownership is an entirely different matter, doesn’t matter to me that they’re firing at targets (usually human forms incidentally) or clay discs rather than fluffy bunnies. It serves no useful purpose whatever. Licensed legal gun ownership inevitably leads to many guns falling into wrong hands, whether that’s quite so bad as it seems though is doubtful as massacres here happen almost always with legal guns in licensed hands, which wouldn’t otherwise have happened if not for availability.

    While some nomadic hunter-gatherer idyll might appeal, it predates even communal living and farming, with it comes violent tribalism and territorialism. I’m quite happy with people living as noble savages, if they eschew technology with it, making their own bows and arrows from forest debris and sheep entrails for example. I think cowboy films and glamourisation of violent crime and criminals plays a part too in the sickness that has resulted. Solutions strictly for this country too, the United States is too fucked-up beyond all repair, to worry or care about. No notions of bad collective karma either, we’re sentient adults, not superstitious throwbacks.

    I’m just off to catch a pot of yoghurt, wish me luck, no need sacrifice a newborn even if you think it’ll help, I’ll just corner one in the fridge, they’re not hard to catch.

  • Cryptonym

    “Those who call shooting sport need shooting.”

    You don’t think I meant need shooting, do you, I meant need shooting. Pathological psychological need –see where you’re coming from, as if I would have such illiberal thoughts!

  • thatcrab

    Count yourselves lucky not to have Olympic mortar launching, grenade chucking, mine planting, 100 meter commando crawl… :}

  • Clark

    Cryptonym, here on the farm where I live the harvested grain leads to a large rat population every Summer. The rats that the local lads shoot die a more humane death than the majority, which are either poisoned, or starve in winter after the grain has been shipped elsewhere.

    In the surrounding woods live deer. Their population is culled to 1600 by order of the Forestry Commission. Since humans wiped out the natural predators hundreds of years ago, the deer population has to be contained to prevent the woods from being decimated. The venison is made available at the local market.

    On Thursdays, a crowd of rich men arrive and shoot at pheasants. The local shoot is reasonably managed, and the pheasants are used for food. Many of the rich men are a pain, acting like they own the place, being rude to the locals and churning up the footpaths with their cars. Some of them don’t seem to handle their guns very safely; my uncle would have a fit. They get bored with shooting shortly after New Year and it’s a relief when they fuck off.

    Bows and arrows are technology, too, and there are still hunter-gather societies.

    “Iraq is too fucked-up beyond all repair, to worry or care about”

    Charming. What? Sorry? Oh, you said “the US”, not Iraq. Oh, that’s all right then. No racism around here.

  • thatcrab

    Its a bit steep to suggest the R word squire 🙂 If you pray you well might for the USA, but they aint short on being worried about. Maybe we arent either.

    Little dogs and cats can deal with rats too. Game could be trapped if not familiarised and ushered towards the abattoir when the season arrives.

  • thatcrab

    On second thoughts that could get be bit gruesome considering the pet savagery required to deal with populations of larger pests… Firearms instant appeal is a tall order to take out of use entirely.

  • Cryptonym

    Limited uses then. The majority of the rats die naturally.

    If the deer decimated the forest then, no more food for deer, thus less deer, if they don’t roam too far in search of more grub. Malthus. Deer might nibble lower branches, but until they evolve long necks like giraffes, and even then, I would think the damage they could do to established forest would be quite limited.

    Your still talking animals though, most keen ‘shooters’ would run a mile from a barking dog, the closest they’ve come to a deer is one depicted on an xmas card.

    But us Townies be fools, know nothing of cun’ree ways.

    The US: Not racism at all, pragmatism; never mind the big picture, legislative and enforcement solutions in the UK to prevent most gun nut run amok scenarios are within our purview. The US isn’t, its sheer preponderence of weapons means attempts to disarm the populace would in the short term be ugly, in many cases taking their guns ‘over their dead body’ would require just that, but would in time prevail. If the argument is that an armed citizenry is necessary to prevent tyranny then surely they’d have risen up, done so long ago?

  • Ginger Nuts (was: useless eaters)

    “Andrew Feldman – Destined to be charged with raising money for the new-look Conservative Party, Andrew Feldman (circled, at the left of the picture), 40, met Mr Cameron (circled, right of picture) at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is a close friend and tennis partner of the leader.”

    “Schooled in that crucible for high-achieving Jews, Haberdashers’ Aske’s in Elstree”

    “On 17 December 2010 Feldman was created a life peer as Baron Feldman of Elstree”,_Baron_Feldman_of_Elstree

    Is it coincidental that the last two main fund raisers of the two main political parties operate under the cover of ‘tennis partner’ and ‘close friend’ of ‘the Leader’, just like ‘Lord’ Levy and Blair, as if this somehow makes their corruption of our political bodies acceptable. or indeed their ‘relationship’ appear to be normal.

    It would be nice if they had some political credentials once-in-a-while, other than simply being rich Jews buying influence for themselves and Israel at the cost of everyone else in this country. Feldman, as a man who is ‘aware of his roots’, has no views on anything whatsoever other than promoting Jewish power in the guise of political Zionism.

    Also, he (along with Levy) are not only buying influence during the term of the parliament, but their automatic selection (and approval, despite the obvious motives for such an award) for a peerage ensures that they have a lifetime of opportunity to represent and promote their nefarious agenda.

    While newspapers and TV are more interested in gay marriage and obsessing about royalty why would anyone give a toss about who’s destroying this country, and future generations, through the uncontrolled orgy of fraud, corruption, usury and debt?

    [Mod/Jon: Posted as “useless eaters”, sock-puppeting again]

  • Mary

    Another one of the Friends. A hypocrite on marriage too.

    No surprise here.

    Speeches concerning references to ISRAEL.

    Overseas visits
    Name of donor: Conservative Friends of Israel
    Address of donor: 458 Westbourne Terrace, London W2 3UR
    Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): £1,417 from CFI; plus two meals provided by other hosts, estimated cost of £100.
    Destination of visit: Israel
    Date of visit: 20-25 February 2011
    Purpose of visit: fact finding political delegation to Israel and the West Bank.
    (Registered 14 March 2011)

    Wonder what this outfit below is? And who funds it?
    Name of donor: Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR)
    Address of donor: 1 Olympic Way, Wembley, Middlesex HA9 0NP
    Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): air tickets, transport, food and hotel costs; total £1,084
    Destination of visit: Jordan and the West Bank
    Date of visit: 7-12 October 2011
    Purpose of visit: fact-finding political delegation to Jordan and the West Bank
    (Registered 10 November 2011)

    He is also a friend of Azerjaiban.

  • nevermind

    Another brilliant far east advisor on military movements, just said on Radio 4, re: the Island in the South China sea and various interests groups claiming some islands with disputed rights, that

    ‘Japan last week had to scramble its first fighter aircraft since 1947, because one of China’s vessels that had strayed into its airspace’.

    This is the sort of quality reporting that does not get corrected on the spot, it helps to dumb down the issue, news reporting and those whyo laughing it off, whilst some react with hilarity and other cut themselves shaving, this sort of short shock US news reporting with no sense of reality or choice of words justifies their annual broadcasting tax take.

    Evans above, he’s right, bring more women into the news rooms, although this mornings report came from a woman, can’t remember her name, she had a US twang in her voice.

  • Fred

    “But us Townies be fools, know nothing of cun’ree ways.”

    Well you got one thing right anyway.

    We have to shoot their dogs when they go killing our sheep.

  • willyrobinson

    @Useless Eaters
    ‘Yawn. Really? Save that one for the mentally disabled, the under 16s and those that are easily shocked.’
    Since General Petraeus’s famous surge there’s been far fewer news stories of any kind out of Iraq. There’s a vacuum where journalism ought to be, so any kind of narrative can take root. It’s not a big story that we’re not being told all the news by MS media, but it’s big when you can point, like Craig, to where and how.

  • Clark

    Mary’s Wikipedia link is informative. The real problem in the US involves handguns. Guns are used violently mostly by young adults (probably males, but the article doesn’t quantify that). Gun violence correlates strongly with urban poverty.

    Cryptonym, I’m a townie, too, but I got stranded in the countryside by rising housing prices. Excessive deer prevent woodlands from regenerating and/or spreading by eating the fresh shoots. When observing deciduous woodland across a field, note that the foliage all appears to “hover”, parallel above the ground, like cumulus clouds sitting at a common altitude base. You won’t find many leaves below deer-head height, and where sapling growth is being encouraged, fences or other protection is used.

    Cryptonym, I’m sorry that I keep picking on you, but your apparent assertions that everything will improve if we just ban A and B while imposing C and D, seem too simplistic. One of nature’s great lessons is that diversity brings resilience. Diversity needs appropriate conditions in order to flourish. The unregulated corporate feeding-frenzy progressively concentrates power and wealth, leading to conformity. After WWII, public support for socialist government constrained that for a while, but government is now subject to widespread subversion through lobbying, corruption and propaganda.

    “Under Heavy Manners”:

  • Komodo

    Welcome back. O/T but illustrating the questionable nature of a “free democracy” on the other side of the pond:

    “It’s a loser’s game to suppress private money that is sound in order to protect government-issued money that is unsound,” writes Seth Lipsky in the Wall Street Journal.

    Not wholly unrelated to Saddam’s fatal decision to get out of petrodollars, I suspect…

  • ~enabling act

    True, the ICC and complementary universal-jurisdiction criminal law is the only remaining check on US dictatorships at home at abroad. Congress is gelded, as the Clandestine Service has worked hard to prevent any repeat of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. And HSBC has it made – when they ate Marine Midland they became NCS’s new & improved BCCI. There is one very tender pressure point to squeeze: the illegal state of emergency imposed by the National Clandestine Service and its COOP-planning cutouts. A state of emergency is governed by conventional international law including CCPR Article 4. The state can’t just tear up the rules in a pinch. Our government must inform all other treaty signatories of each specific state duty it’s chosen to suspend, and why. An undeclared state of emergency is just as illegal as an undeclared war. With the international community, the US government maintains that there is no public emergency with all kinds of horseshit: it’s not a public emergency, it’s a plain old garden-variety emergency, or a double-secret emergency, anything to avoid the law. Nobody’s fooled. At home, the illegal state of emergency is maintained as a parallel totalitarian government – media propaganda focuses on civic ceremonial like futile elections and partisan rhubarbs, but individuals and groups get dropped through a wormhole into an arbitrary emergency regime if their connections or capacities threaten to impede state crime. Ask Nima Ali Yusuf, or Cynthia McKinney or Julian Assange or Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. Assassinations, provocations, state-incited terror cough911cough and other state crimes grease the skids for emergency decrees. The US population will only get wind of their legal protections from outside US borders.

  • Jon

    @Enabling Act – please use paragraphs, it makes things much easier to read 🙂

    @Ginger Nuts. If you keep posting under different names, I’ll regard it as sock puppetting, and will remove your posts. There is no reason to change your nick for every thread.

  • Ginger Nuts (was: useless eaters)

    Since General Petraeus’s famous surge there’s been far fewer news stories of any kind out of Iraq. There’s a vacuum where journalism ought to be, so any kind of narrative can take root. It’s not a big story that we’re not being told all the news by MS media, but it’s big when you can point, like Craig, to where and how.

    Sorry, I don’t buy that for one second. There is no vacuum of journalists in Iraq. Try using a search engine to look for blogs by Iraqis and news agencies, there are plenty, Iraqis love their politics. I suggest you are not trying hard enough.

    [Mod/Jon: posted as “useless eaters”, in fact this is Ginger Nuts]

  • useless eaters

    “If you keep posting under different names, I’ll regard it as sock puppetting, and will remove your posts. There is no reason to change your nick for every thread”

    Sock-puppeting is the practice of engaging oneself in conversation using different identities. Periodically changing a nick is not sock-puppeting and it’s certainly not changed on every thread. I’m sorry if it’s making it hard for you to collate all my posts, I didn’t realise you found them so interesting.

    Obviously I’m relieved that your tone and pro-active threat to delete me has nothing to do with the content of my posts and everything to do with me abusing the ‘Name’ field.

  • Jon

    Ex Pat, you are welcome to post here in general, but your large posts featuring large numbers of links are not really on-topic – especially the ones that are so large you have to split them into several parts!

    I believe I have previously suggested to you before that you should get your own blog, and you can link from here if it is relevant to the topic in hand. With that in mind, I’ve removed three substantial posts in this thread. But do join in the conversation with everyone here.

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