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by Brendan O'Neill - Spiked - 29 May 2003
UK prime minister Tony Blair's visit to Iraq is a fitting symbol of the coalition's campaign. Blair wants to thank British troops for their 'humanitarian and reconstruction efforts' in this 'noble' mission to rebuild a nation. Yet his visit will be of 'lightning' speed, because the new Iraq remains a volatile and unpredictable place where, according to one report, 'few feel safe'. Postwar Iraq is unravelling. Coalition forces chased a weakened regime out of a weakened state, with little sense of what might take its place. The war has left a vacuum, which various armed and unrepresentative groups are trying to fill. It devastated Iraqi infrastructure: 32 out of 35 hospitals in Baghdad have shut down, as illnesses like cholera and diarrhoea have risen exponentially; in Um Qasr, the one remaining hospital has 12 beds to cater for 45,000 people.
Within the coalition too, things are unravelling. Britain and America's shoulder-to-shoulder stance has given way to bickering: US soldiers accuse British commanders of war crimes, while British troops threaten legal action over American 'friendly fire'. US and UK officials clash over which side is better at peacekeeping, while the no-show of Saddam's illegal weapons has led to some seriously public buck-passing among the US elite . For all Blair's grand statements about 'reconstructing Iraq', the coalition's intervention has devastated Iraq and shown up some tensions inside the coalition camp. An operation that was intended to give America and its allies a sense of mission on the international stage has only exposed a hole at the heart of the West, and left a hole in the heart of Iraq.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:17 AM
US Forces Make Iraqis Strip and Walk Naked in Public
(The Memory Hole)
On 25 April 2003, the newspaper Dagbladet (Norway) published photos of armed US soldiers forcing Iraqi men to walk naked through a park.
On the chests of the men had been scrawled an Arabic phrase that translates as "Ali Baba - Thief."
A military officer states that the men are thieves, and that this technique will be used again.
No word yet from the newly liberated Iraqi people about some of them being summarily found guilty of theft, forced at gunpoint to strip, having a racist phrase written on their bodies, and then made to walk naked in public. No doubt the Arab/Muslim world is impressed by this display of "democracy," "freedom," "due process," and "no cruel or unusual punishment."
We wonder if the soldiers will be using this technique on their comrades who stole $13.1 million in Iraq. Or the journalists who looted Iraq's art.
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posted by Lorenzo 8:11 AM
US finds evidence of WMD at last - buried in a field near Maryland
Julian Borger in Washington - Wednesday May 28, 2003 - The Guardian
The good news for the Pentagon yesterday was that its investigators had finally unearthed evidence of weapons of mass destruction, including 100 vials of anthrax and other dangerous bacteria. The bad news was that the stash was found, not in Iraq, but fewer than 50 miles from Washington, near Fort Detrick in the Maryland countryside. The anthrax was a non-virulent strain, and the discoveries are apparently remnants of an abandoned germ warfare programme. They merited only a local news item in the Washington Post. But suspicious finds in Iraq have made front-page news (before later being cleared), given the failure of US military inspection teams to find evidence of the weapons that were the justification for the March invasion. Even more embarrassing for the Pentagon, there was no documentation about the various biological agents disposed of at the US bio-defence centre at Fort Detrick. Iraq's failure to come up with paperwork proving the destruction of its biological arsenal was portrayed by the US as evidence of deception in the run-up to the war.
In an effort to explain why no chemical or biological weapons had been found in Iraq, the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said yesterday the regime may have destroyed them before the war. Speaking to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations thinktank, he said the speed of U.S. advance may have caught Iraq by surprise, but added: "It is also possible that they decided that they would destroy them prior to a conflict." The US germ warfare programme at Fort Detrick was officially wound up in 1969, but the base has maintained a stock of nasty bugs to help maintain America's defences against biological attack. The leading theory about the unsolved anthrax letter attacks in 2001 is that they were carried out by a disgruntled former Fort Detrick employee; equipment found dumped in a pond eight miles from the base has been linked to the crimes. The Fort Detrick clean-up has unearthed over 2,000 tonnes of hazardous waste. The sanitation crews were shocked to find vials containing live bacteria. As well as the vaccine form of anthrax, the discarded biological agents included Brucella melitensis, which causes the virulent flu-like disease brucellosis, and klebsiella, a cause of pneumonia.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 2:36 PM
EDWARD SAID: An Unprecedented Crisis . . . The Arab Condition
(Edward Said, Counterpunch, May 20, 2003)
My impression is that many Arabs today feel that what has been taking place in Iraq over the last two months is little short of a catastrophe. . . . I will not spend time arguing that everything that has been done to promote Arab nationalism can be excused for its abuses, its short-sightedness, its wastefulness, repression and folly. The record is not a good one. But I do want to state categorically that, since the early 20th century, the Arabs have never been able to achieve their collective independence as a whole or in part exactly because of the designs on the strategic and cultural importance of their lands by outside powers. Today, no Arab state is free to dispose of its resources as its wishes, nor to take positions that represent that individual state's interests, especially if those interests seem to threaten US policies. In the more than 50 years since America assumed world dominance, and more so after the end of the Cold War, it has run its Middle Eastern policy based on two principles, and two principles alone: the defense of Israel and the free flow of Arab oil, both of which involved direct opposition to Arab nationalism. . . . The result today, after the invasion of Iraq, is an Arab nation that is badly demoralized, crushed and beaten down, less able to do anything except acquiesce in announced American plans to gesture and posture in all sorts of efforts to re-draw the Middle East map to suit American and obviously Israeli interests. . . . And as for American plans in Iraq, it is now absolutely clear that what is going to happen is nothing less than an old-fashioned colonial occupation rather like Israel's since 1967. The idea of bringing in American-style democracy to Iraq means basically aligning the country with US policy, i.e. a peace treaty with Israel, oil markets for American profit, and civil order kept to a minimum that neither permits real opposition nor real institution building. . . . To someone who reflects on the situation from the outside as I do, I find it amazing that in this moment of crisis, there has been no evidence of any sort of appeal from the rulers to their people for support in what needs to be seen as a collective national threat. American military planners have made no secret of the fact that what they plan is radical change for the Arab world, a change that they can impose by force of arms and because there is little that opposes them. Moreover, the idea behind the effort seems to be nothing less than destroying the underlying unity of the Arab people once and for all, changing the bases of their lives and aspirations irremediably. . . . Whether they want to or not, the Arab people today face a wholesale attack on their future by an imperial power, America, that acts in concert with Israel, to pacify, subdue, and finally reduce us to a bunch of warring fiefdoms whose first loyalty is not to their people but to the great superpower (and its local surrogate) itself. Not to understand that this is the conflict that will shape our area for decades to come is willingly to blind oneself. What is now needed is a breaking of the iron bands that tie Arab societies into sullen knots of disaffected people, insecure leaders, and alienated intellectuals. This is an unprecedented crisis. Unprecedented means are therefore required to confront it. The first step then is to realize the scope of the problem, and then go on to overcome what reduces us to helpless rage and marginalized reaction, a condition by no means to be accepted willingly. The alternative to such an unattractive condition promises a great deal more hope.
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posted by Lorenzo 7:06 PM
Plundering the Museums of Baghdad
(Walter Sommerfeld, CounterPunch, May 17, 2003)
Since the fall of Baghdad, anarchy has reigned in this city of five million. Everyone is armed to the teeth, and shooting can be heard around the clock, especially at night. . . . Theft, robbery and murder are daily fare. Armed robbers commit carjacking in broad daylight. . . . Particularly shocking for most Iraqis was the fervor with which their infrastructure and cultural heritage has been destroyed. Many independent eyewitnesses are unanimous about this. Apparently the infrastructure of this ancient state was systematically plundered, district by district. Whatever was not worth the taking, was destroyed. In museums, libraries and cultural centers, in the country's 15 universities, in every ministry with the exception of the Ministry of Oil, in hospitals, state warehouses, hotels, banks, palaces of government ministers, and also in the German Embassy, the French Cultural Institute and the UN-Building. Even at the beginning of May, plundering continued throughout the day. . . . A resident reports how US soldiers commanded chance Iraqi bystanders on the museum grounds, to go into the museum and help themselves: "This is your treasure, get in! . . . The most surprising detail in all reports was the assertion that American soldiers often made the looting possible at all, by breaking open or unlocking well-protected doors and then animating bystanders to plunder: "Go in, Ali Baba, its yours!" -- shouted the Americans, say Iraqi eyewitnesses. Among Americans., "Ali Baba" has become an almost generic term for Iraqi looters. A member of the UN Development Agency observed how Americans forced open the Technical University, opened computers and removed their hard drives, before allowing looters in. . . . A high-ranking museum official reports that the day after, two tanks rolled up, and American soldiers broke open the doors of the main building and spent around two hours unobserved in the display galleries. Afterward, they removed certain objects and transported them away. . . . The 15 universities of Iraq have been totally looted and burned. Only the University of Baghdad in Djadaria remained untouched. There, Americans had made their headquarters. Of the infrastructure of the Mustansanja University, along with that of Bologna the oldest in the world, nothing has been left -- even fixed installations were dismantled -- including the electrical wall-sockets, and the campus burned down. On the campus of the Arts Faculty of the University of Baghdad in Wazinja almost everything has been destroyed, also its Department of Archaeology, which as extension of the Iraqi Museum delineates the sources of the more than 5'000 year-old period of high culture. The fires have caused several buildings to collapse. Of the Library of the Germanistic Section, which contained over 15'000 volumes, only solidified slagheaps of ash remain. . . . "Under Saddam, it was bad, but now it is worse. Why was this done to us?" asked the director of the Department of Archaeology of the University of Baghdad: "Our future looms darkly. We have trust in nothing. We only wish to survive."
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posted by Lorenzo 5:31 PM
An attempt to try Tommy Franks for war crimes in a Belgian court has outraged the US
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, May 20, 2003)
On Wednesday, a human rights lawyer filed a case with the federal prosecutors whose purpose is to arraign Thomas Franks, the commander of the American troops in Iraq, for crimes against humanity. This may be the only judicial means, anywhere on earth, of holding the US government to account for its actions. . . . Franks appears to have a case to answer. The charges fall into four categories: the use of cluster bombs; the killing of civilians by other means; attacks on the infrastructure essential for public health; and the failure to prevent the looting of hospitals. There is plenty of supporting evidence. . . . US forces dropped around 1,500 cluster bombs from the air and fired an unknown quantity from artillery pieces. British troops fired 2,100. Each contained several hundred bomblets, which fragment into shrapnel. Between 200 and 400 Iraqi civilians were killed by them during the war. Others, mostly children, continue to killed by those bomblets which failed to explode when they hit the ground. The effects of their deployment in residential areas were both predictable and predicted. This suggests that their use there breached protocol II to the Geneva conventions, which prohibits "violence to the life, health and physical or mental well-being" of non-combatants. . . . The armed forces also deliberately destroyed civilian infrastructure, bombing the electricity lines upon which water treatment plants depended, with the result that cholera and dysentery have spread. Protocol II prohibits troops from attacking "objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as ... drinking water installations and supplies". . . . The armed forces of the US, in other words, appear to have taken short cuts while prosecuting their war with Iraq. Some of these may have permitted them to conclude their war more swiftly, but at the expense of the civilian population. Repeatedly, in some cases systematically, US soldiers appear to have broken the laws of war.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:30 PM
U.S. Troops 'vandalise' ancient city of Ur
(Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, May 18, 2003)
One of the greatest wonders of civilisation, and probably the world's most ancient structure - the Sumerian city of Ur in southern Iraq - has been vandalised by American soldiers and airmen, according to aid workers in the area. . . . They claim that US forces have spray-painted the remains with graffiti and stolen kiln-baked bricks made millennia ago. As a result, the US military has put the archaeological treasure, which dates back 6,000 years, off-limits to its own troops. . . . Land immediately adjacent to Ur has been chosen by the Pentagon for a sprawling airfield and military base. Access is highly selective, screened and subject to military escorts, which - even if agreed - need to be arranged days or weeks in advance and carefully skirt the areas of reported damage. . . . Ur is believed by many to be the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. It was the religious seat of the civilisation of Sumer at the dawn of the line of dynasties which ruled Mesopotamia starting about 4000 BC. Long before the rise of the Egyptian, Greek or Roman empires, it was here that the wheel was invented and the first mathematical system developed. Here, the first poetry was written, notably the epic Gilganesh, a classic of ancient literature. . . . The Pentagon has elected to build its massive and potentially permanent base right alongside the site, so that the view from the peak of the ziggurat - more or less unchanged for 6,000 years - will be radically altered. . . . There are reports that walls have been damaged by spray-painted graffiti, mostly patriotic or other slogans, and regimental mottos. One graffiti reads: 'SEMPER FE' - Always Faithful - the motto of the Marines, who stormed through this region on their way to Baghdad, and form a contingent at the base.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:45 PM
Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'
When Private Jessica Lynch, a 19-year-old army clerk, was captured by the Iraqis and rescued by US special forces, the story became one of the great patriotic moments of the conflict. Reports claimed that she had stab and bullet wounds and that she had been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated. Yet, there was no sign of shooting. No bullet inside her body and no stab wound. Only road traffic injuries. She was assigned the only specialist bed in the hospital and one of only two nurses on the floor. "I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle," said Dr Harith a-Houssona, who looked after her.
Witnesses said that the special forces knew that the Iraqi military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital. There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried "go, go, go", with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital -- just like action movies with Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan.
Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Harith had arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance. But as the ambulance, with Private Lynch inside, approached a checkpoint American troops opened fire, forcing it to flee back to the hospital. The Americans had almost killed their prize catch. The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage by using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing the film themselves. The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV and action movies, notably the man behind Black Hawk Down, Jerry Bruckheimer.
But doctors now say she has no recollection of the whole episode and probably never will. *** I wonder if they told her to have "no recollection." ***
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posted by Hal 7:44 PM
With a little help from his friends
Vin Suprynowicz - Sunday, May 11, 2003 - Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Douglas MacArthur was the perfect choice to administer postwar Japan -- many who knew him said he thought he was born an emperor (or at least a shogun), anyway. But who's this guy Jay Garner, dispatched by George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to undertake the unenviable task of bringing Iraq halfway home to the 21st century? I'm glad you asked.
Three-star Gen. Jay Garner (retired) served as commander of this country's Space and Missile Defense Command, outside Washington, D.C., from 1994 to 1996. Garner subsequently served as assistant vice chief of staff for the Army until his retirement in August 1997, after which he went to work as president of SY Technology. And that's where his resume starts to get interesting.
In December 2001, the Space and Missile Defense Command announced it intended to award SY Technology a five-year contract in the amount of $48 million. The defense command claimed the contract was being negotiated on a sole-source basis because SY Technology was uniquely qualified to do the work. Baker disputed the notion, saying dozens of other contractors were equally qualified. In his February, 2002, deposition, Garner denied using personal relationships to land contracts. "I do not go to my friends for business," Garner said, according to the transcript. "I get business from my friends, but it's not solicited by me. It's given to us because of the quality of our company." *****um, riiiiiight*****
*****And I bet you thought the shrub had cleared up corporate corruption - I mean Ken Lay is in jail, right?****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:53 AM
U.S. Proposes Broader Control Of Iraqi Oil, Funds
(Colum Lynch, Washington Post, 09 May 2003)
The Bush administration today offered the Security Council a resolution calling for the elimination of more than a decade of international sanctions on Iraq and granting the United States broad control over the country's oil industry and revenue until a permanent, representative Iraqi government is in place. . . . The proposal would give the United States far greater authority over Iraq's lucrative oil industry than administration officials have previously acknowledged. . . . The resolution would eliminate all non-military trade sanctions on Iraq, endorse the administration of Iraq by the United States, Britain and other countries that took part in the war, and give its blessing to U.S. efforts to form a transitional government known as an interim Iraqi authority. . . . But the United States and its allies would control the political and economic life of Iraq until an internationally recognized Iraqi government emerges. Under the system proposed by the administration, the proceeds of Iraq's oil revenue would be placed in an Iraqi Assistance Fund held by the Central Bank of Iraq, which is being managed by Peter McPherson, a former deputy Treasury secretary and Bank of America executive. . . . Although the resolution underscores the right of the United States to administer Iraq and its resources for an initial 12 months, it notes that its authority would be automatically renewed each year until the Security Council decided to end it. . . . The resolution would leave open the prospect of the United States tapping into Iraq's oil revenue to finance its own costly efforts to disarm Iraq. . . . The resolution makes no reference to a U.N. role in certifying Iraq's weapons inspections, a proposal that France and Russia have pressed. "The coalition has taken over the process of inspecting in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction," the text says, adding that it does not envision any role for the U.N. weapons inspection agency "for the foreseeable future."
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posted by Lorenzo 2:41 PM
US seeks broad control of Iraqi oil, funds
Washington Post - 05/09/03
"The Bush administration circulated a draft resolution among key Security Council members today calling for the elimination of more than a decade of international sanctions on Iraq and granting the United States broad control over the country's oil industry and revenue until a permanent, representative Iraqi government is in place. The resolution ... would shift control of Iraq's oil from the United Nations to the United States and its military allies, with an international advisory board having oversight responsibilities but
little effective power." A transitional Iraqi government, which U.S. authorities have said they hope to establish within weeks, would be granted a consultative role. The proposal would give the United States far greater authority over Iraq's lucrative oil industry than administration officials have previously acknowledged.
*****Lissenup maggots!! READ MY LIPS!!!! It's NOT about the OIL!!! Really.
All you flag-waving lemmings who continue to believe that really, really should take the red pill - But that's just this ole curmudgeon's opinion******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:16 AM
US invasion produces human catastrophe in Iraq
(Jerry Isaacs, WSWS.org, 5 May 2003)
An unprecedented social calamity is confronting the Iraqi people as a result of the US invasion and the widespread looting that followed the removal of the Baghdad government. Virtually every element of the civilian infrastructure—electrical and water supply, telecommunications, health care, schools, transportation, even the financial system—has broken down, threatening the country’s 24 million people with the spread of infectious diseases, hunger and more death. . . . At least 3,500 civilians were killed and another 6,000 injured by American bombs, missiles and ground attacks during the three-week war. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers—the bulk of them young conscripts—were also killed, although the number may never be known because the US refuses to present even an estimate of Iraqi casualties, civilian or military. . . . The statement noted that newly armed militia groups were forcing civilians to flee their homes and were offering “protection” against looting for hospitals. The statement warned of the danger of the outbreak of ethnic, tribal and religious violence that could imperil thousands of civilians. . . . The statement concluded by calling on US authorities to hand over reconstruction efforts to the United Nations . . . The White House has steadfastly opposed any such measures and instead has directly blocked humanitarian aid from agencies connected to the UN or the European Union. Last Friday, US authorities refused to allow a Belgian aircraft, loaded with vaccines, ante-natal care equipment and operating tables, to land in Baghdad, citing security concerns. The action was widely interpreted as an attempted to punish the Belgian government, which had opposed the US war. . . . US officials have barely acknowledged the social catastrophe in Iraq. The main preoccupation of the Bush administration has been seizing Iraq’s oil resources, securing lucrative “reconstruction” contracts for US companies closely tied to the White House and suppressing the growing number of Iraqi demonstrations demanding an end to the US occupation. . . . In fact US efforts to resume the flow of oil from Iraq’s southern oilfields were completed ahead of schedule and the massive northern oilfields near Kirkuk are expected to be up and running in a matter of weeks. . . . Meanwhile, the social disaster facing millions of ordinary Iraqis is worsening. . . . Before the war, the Hussein government distributed several months of rations to every Iraqi family but experts expect that food to run out soon. Food is available in private markets in Baghdad and other cities, but the poor could not afford to buy it before the war and now prices have shot up. . . . The food crisis has been exacerbated by the damage done to Iraq’s irrigation system, which has lost electrical power. Experts expect the country to produce only one-third of the crops it did in 2002. . . . Many of Baghdad’s 33 hospitals remain closed due to power cuts, medicine shortages, lack of staff and fear of continued looting. . . . “Unfortunately, we can expect many more young children to die rapidly,” said George Hatim, UNICEF’s chief officer in Baghdad. “Humanitarian groups can do a great deal but they cannot be a substitute for a whole system. We’re talking about a whole population, we’re not talking about a refugee camp or an internally displaced population. Iraq is now in a sense a stateless state and it is the children who are now suffering and paying the price.” . . . The Royal Society, the UK’s national science academy, has demanded that American and British military forces remove the toxic residues left by up to 2,000 tons of depleted uranium (DU) weapons used during the war. Many scientists believe that DU—used in armor-piercing rounds and “bunker-buster” rockets and bombs—causes cancer and other severe illnesses after its radioactive residue goes into the air or seeps into water supplies. .. . . US officials have said they have no plans for any DU clean-up in Iraq nor will they even test all US soldiers for exposure.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:52 AM
Robert Fisk: War Over?
(Robert Fisk, ZNet, May 6, 2003)
George Bush has announced the end of the war. But try telling that to the Shias and the Badr Brigade . . . When Iraqi civilians look into the faces of American troops, President Bush famously told the world on Thursday, they see strength and kindness and goodwill. Untrue, Mr Bush. They see occupation. . . . take a closer look at Secretary of Defence Rumsfelds cosy, sinister little speech to US troops in Baghdad a day earlier. . . . It was filled with all the usual myth-making: the many Iraqis who flocked to welcome the Americans on their liberation of Baghdad, the fastest march on a capital in modern military history (which the Israelis achieved in three days in 1982). But the key line was slipped in at the end. The Americans, he said, still had to root out the terrorist networks operating in this country. What? What terrorist networks? And who, one may ask, are behind these mysterious terrorist networks operating in Iraq? I have a pretty good idea. They may not actually exist yet. But Donald Rumsfeld knows (and he has been told by US intelligence) that a growing resistance movement to Americas occupation is gestating in Iraq. . . . Already it is possible to identify some familiar landmarks in the progress of occupation: a series of brutal incidents for which the Americans are never, ever, to blame. Just like the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the killing of civilians is never the fault of the occupiers. The driver and the old man shot and killed by US forces near a checkpoint in Baghdad, and the little girl and the young woman badly wounded whose tragedy Channel 4 witnessed, received no apology from the United States. A family is shot in its car in southern Iraq; cameramen are killed in the Palestine Hotel; 15 Iraqis, including at least one child, are gunned down in Falujah. For the Americans, it is always self-defence. Though, strangely, few if any Americans have been seriously wounded in these incidents. . . . they are not going to take orders from ex-General Jay Garner, whose all-expenses-paid trip to Israel to express his admiration for the Israeli armys restraint in the Palestinian occupied territories is well known in Iraq. And they realise full well that Americas big corporations are preparing to make millions from their broken country. . . . Iraq today resembles not some would-be democracy but rather the tragedy that greeted the British when the German occupation of Greece ended in 1944. . . . Mr Bush says the war is over, or words to that effect. Then Shia resistance begins to bite the Americans in Iraq. Of course, Mr Rumsfeld will have warned of this: it will be characterised as the famous terrorist networks which still have to be fought in Iraq. And Iran and no doubt Syria will be accused of supporting these terrorists. The French did much the same in their 1954-62 war against the FLN in Algeria. Tunisia was to blame. Egypt was to blame. So stand by for part two of the Iraq war, transmogrified into the next stage of the war on terror.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:38 PM