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Iraq: True Extent Of The 'Surge'

The Real State of the Iraq War

Monopoly Capitalism &
The War of the Flea

by Fintan Dunne, 30 January, 2008


Time flies when you are having fun, eh? It was only as recently as January 2007 when the 3,000 troop deaths milestone in Iraq was reached.

Now the 4,000 figure is on course to be breached in as little as six weeks
time, as casualties push over 3,940.

In Mosul just days ago, 5 soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, and yesterday another massive bomb just missed a U.S patrol.

Earlier this month the deaths of 9 U.S. soldiers were reported on a single day.

So, who do you think will get the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. presidency? Or the Republican nomination? And how about Ron Paul?

Of course it's pure coincidence that media's already year-long fascination
with the presidential race has so thoroughly diverted attention from Iraq,
even as another 1,000 soldier's deaths have slipped under the radar of
all but their grieving spouses, children and communities.

To that figure you can add many thousands more soldiers now so
disabled that their lives will never be the same, and the deaths of at
least a further 30,000 Iraqis.

Now the media, president Bush and U.S. military commanders are
sofening up public opinion for the reality that when the extra 'surge'
batallions are scaled back in July, the 130,000 troops present before
the reinforcements were sent, are to remain, indefinitely.

Apparently U.S. military commanders are concerned that the reduction
in violence in Iraq is so tenuous that any withdrawal of troops could see
a return to earlier levels of resistance.

ImageIn truth the Iraqi resistance, well versed in the War of the Flea, have simply followed standard guerilla warfare tactics and declined to fight their enemy full-on during the period of the reinforcement.

Of course they and the G8 instigators of the Iraq invasion both know very well that in modern times, no imperial army has ever successfully occupied a country indefinitely.

The resistance, in the end will win.

The dead and mained on both sides are irrelevant to the real policy behind the invasion: to weaken Iraq and destabilize the emergence of national self-determination in the colonial lands of the Middle East and Near Asia, thus shoring up the global ecomomic position of the G8.

And to create a permanent war climate conducive to the passage of
represive laws aimed at defending the rule of the elite in times of
economic change, when rampant monopoly-capitalism will soon be
under presure as a failed entity.

That ecomomic tsunami is now about to visit the U.S. and other fragile
monopoly-capitalist economies, as the inflationary economic tactic now
predictably flops. But only after the wealthy elite have been carefully
ring-fenced by the repressive apparatus of the national security state.

These callous tactics will not work, as assuredly as imperial occupation
does not work. Change is gathering pace.

In a seemingly unrelated development, the band Radiohead last year
went straight to the market with their last album, cutting the corporate
monopolist EMI out of the profit picture. It's a single example of an
internet-driven process of atomization of the marketplace

It's a communications-fueled process that signals the end of monopoly
capitalism. Whether those at it's helm like it or not.

The military cost of generating the dead and maimed in Iraq and the U.S.,
is merely a fractional overhead on the balance sheet of the elite.

But their ideaology is bankrupt. Economically, socially and politically.

Iraq, Obama and Hillary are merely part of their attempt to subsume the
coming change wave into 'Change-Lite' and avoid their inevitable fate.

US troops reductions in Iraq may slow

Signs Point Toward Pause or Halt to U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq This Summer

ROBERT BURNS, AP News, Jan 29, 2008 17:59 EST

The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in Iraq will slow or stop altogether this summer, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq.

The indications of a likely slowdown reflect concern by U.S. commanders that the improvement in security in Iraq since June — to a degree few had predicted when President Bush ordered five more Army brigades to Iraq a year ago — is tenuous and could be reversed if the extra troops come out too soon.

One of those extra brigades left in December and the other four are due to come out by July, leaving 15 brigades, or roughly 130,000 to 135,000 troops — the same number as before Bush sent the reinforcements.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report to the president and to Congress in April on possible additional cutbacks and any recommended changes in strategy. Petraeus recently said it would be prudent to "let things settle a bit" after the current round of troop cuts is completed in July before deciding whether and when to reduce further.

Majority Democrats in Congress have pressed unsuccessfully to wind down the war quickly, in part out of concern that more firepower should be transferred to Afghanistan, where the security situation has deteriorated. Reluctance by Bush to continue the troop drawdown beyond July is likely to trigger a new round of conflict with the anti-war Democrats, especially with the November elections looming.

Petraeus seems at this point to be inclined to declare a pause in troop reductions after July, although no decisions have been made and there are competing pressures from within the Pentagon. The Army in particular wants additional reductions to enable it to shorten Iraq tours from 15 months to 12 months. The longer tours are among pressures that Army leaders fear could break the force.

Petraeus speaks regularly with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other administration officials to keep them informed of his thinking, although he has not yet made a recommendation to Bush. A senior administration official said Petraeus has made clear he is "concerned about a rush to 10" — a reference to the 10-brigade force level that some administration officials see as an attractive target to hit by the time Bush leaves the White House a year from now.

The administration official said "it really is not determined" yet whether conditions in Iraq will permit further cutbacks. The official briefed reporters last week at the White House on condition of anonymity.

With months to go before a decision has to be made about troop reductions in the second half of the year, it is possible that circumstances in Iraq will change, for better or for worse, in ways that cannot be foreseen. Thus Petraeus is likely to want as much time as possible before committing himself.

The first sign Bush might endorse a pause in troop reductions came earlier this month when he recounted for reporters his meeting with Petraeus in Kuwait on Jan. 12.

"My attitude is, if he (Petraeus) didn't want to continue the drawdown, that's fine with me, in order to make sure we succeed," Bush said. "I said to the general, if you want to slow her down, fine; it's up to you."

In his State of the Union address Monday, Bush emphasized the risks — with no mention of the benefits — of continuing the cutbacks beyond July.

"Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders," Bush said. "General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in the `disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, al-Qaida-Iraq regaining lost ground, (and) a marked increase in violence.'"

He added: "Having come so far and achieved so much, we must not allow this to happen."

In referring to Petraeus' concern about the risk of a "disintegration" of Iraq's security forces, Bush appeared to be quoting from the general's testimony to Congress in September. In those remarks Petraeus cited a Defense Intelligence Agency report on what might happen if there were a rapid withdrawal of American combat forces, not specifically a cut from 15 brigades to 10 brigades.

Gates has stated publicly several times in recent weeks that he hopes conditions in Iraq will permit the withdrawal of an additional five brigades by the end of the year. That would leave a total of 10 brigades in combat, numbering about 100,000 troops. That compares with today's total of 157,000.

In brief remarks to The Associated Press during a visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Gates gave no indication that he has changed his view.

"I've said I would hope that we would continue the pace of withdrawals and that conditions on the ground would permit the withdrawals to continue in the second half of the year. That's where I still am," he said.

Although Bush regularly cites Petraeus as the adviser on whom he relies for decisions on Iraq, the general is not the only senior official who will have a say in whether to continue with troop reductions.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday that Gates will offer his views, as will Adm. William J. Fallon, the Central Command chief who is doing his own assessment of Iraq in light of U.S. military requirements elsewhere in the Middle East and in Afghanistan. In addition, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is heading another review with the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

The president met Tuesday in the Cabinet Room with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders, including Fallon, and later was having dinner with the military leaders and their spouses. Bush said he was going to talk with them about the war on terror and their common desire to protect America.

Petraeus himself is publicly cautious about troop levels in Iraq.

In remarks on CNN on Sunday, Petraeus said he is still analyzing conditions in Iraq and may want to wait until after this current series of troop reductions is completed in July before setting a new course.

"We will, though, need to have some time to let things settle a bit, if you will, after we complete the withdrawal" in July of the five brigades, he said, noting that losing five brigades reduces his total combat power by one-quarter.

"We think (it) would be prudent to do some period of assessment, then to make decisions," he added.
Last edited by Fintan on Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:22 pm, edited 14 times in total.
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They only function when open.
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Army 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside was judged by her superiors to be a
model officer. But after suffering a psychiatric breakdown in Iraq, she
has found herself facing criminal charges for attempted suicide and
endangering the life of another soldier.

Earlier this week, facing life imprisonment if found guilty, she atempted
suicide yet again, but survived. The charges have now been withdrawn.

Soldier Suicides at Record Level
Increase Linked to Long Wars, Lack of Army Resources

By Dana Priest, Washington Post, Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside, a psychiatric outpatient at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center who was waiting for the Army to decide whether to court-
martial her for endangering another soldier and turning a gun on herself
last year in Iraq, attempted to kill herself Monday evening. In so doing,
the 25-year-old Army reservist joined a record number of soldiers who
have committed or tried to commit suicide after serving in Iraq or

"I'm very disappointed with the Army," Whiteside wrote in a note before
swallowing dozens of antidepressants and other pills. "Hopefully this will
help other soldiers." She was taken to the emergency room early
Tuesday. Whiteside, who is now in stable physical condition, learned
yesterday that the charges against her had been dismissed.

Whiteside's personal tragedy is part of an alarming phenomenon in the
Army's ranks: Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their
highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980,
according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post.
Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more
than in 2006.

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted
injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began.
Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide,
compared with about 350 in 2002
, according to the U.S. Army
Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

The Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of
post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated. Many Army posts
still do not offer enough individual counseling and some soldiers suffering
psychological problems complain that they are stigmatized by commanders.

Over the past year, four high-level commissions have recommended
reforms and Congress has given the military hundreds of millions of
dollars to improve its mental health care, but critics charge that
significant progress has not been made.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed severe stress on the
Army, caused in part by repeated and lengthened deployments.

Historically, suicide rates tend to decrease when soldiers are in conflicts
overseas, but that trend has reversed in recent years. From a suicide rate
of 9.8 per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2001 -- the lowest rate on
record -- the Army reached an all-time high of 17.5 suicides per 100,000
active-duty soldiers in 2006.

Last year, twice as many soldier suicides occurred in the United States
than in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, the Army's top psychiatrist and author of
the study, said that suicides and attempted suicides "are continuing to rise
despite a lot of things we're doing now and have been doing." Ritchie
added: "We need to improve training and education. We need to improve
our capacity to provide behavioral health care."

Ritchie's team conducted more than 200 interviews in the United States
and overseas, and found that the common factors in suicides and
attempted suicides include failed personal relationships; legal, financial or
occupational problems; and the frequency and length of overseas
deployments. She said the Army must do a better job of making sure that
soldiers in distress receive mental health services. "We need to know
what to do when we're concerned about one of our fellows."

The study, which the Army's top personnel chief ordered six months ago,
acknowledges that the Army still does not know how to adequately
assess, monitor and treat soldiers with psychological problems. In fact, it
says that "the current Army Suicide Prevention Program was not
originally designed for a combat/deployment environment."

Staff Sgt. Gladys Santos, an Army medic who attempted suicide after
three tours in Iraq, said the Army urgently needs to hire more
psychiatrists and psychologists who have an understanding of war. "They
gave me an 800 number to call if I needed help," she said. "When I come
to feeling overwhelmed, I don't care about the 800 number. I want a one-
on-one talk with a trained psychiatrist who's either been to war or
understands war."

Santos, who is being treated at Walter Reed, said the only effective
therapy she has received there in the past year have been the one-on-
one sessions with her psychiatrist, not the group sessions in which
soldiers are told "Don't hit your wife, don't hit your kids," or the other
groups where they play bingo or learn how to properly set a table.

Over the past year, the Army has reinvigorated its efforts to understand
mental health issues and has instituted new assessment surveys and new
online videos and questionnaires to help soldiers recognize problems and
become more resilient, Ritchie said. It has also hired more mental health
providers. The plan calls for attaching more chaplains to deployed units
and assigning "battle buddies" to improve peer support and monitoring.

Increasing suicides raise "real questions about whether you can have an
Army this size with multiple deployments," said David Rudd, a former
Army psychologist and chairman of the psychology department at Texas
Tech University.

On Monday night, as President Bush delivered his State of the Union
address and asked Congress to "improve the system of care for our
wounded warriors and help them build lives of hope and promise and
dignity," Whiteside was dozing off from the effects of her drug overdose.
Her case highlights the Army's continuing struggles to remove the stigma
surrounding mental illness and to make it easier for soldiers and officers
to seek psychological help.

Whiteside, the subject of a Post article in December, was a high-achieving
University of Virginia graduate, and she earned top scores from her Army
raters. But as a medic in charge of a small prison team in Iraq, she was
repeatedly harassed by one of her commanders, which disturbed her
greatly, according to an Army investigation.

On Jan. 1, 2007, weary from helping to quell riots in the prison after
the execution of Saddam Hussein, Whiteside had a mental breakdown,
according to an Army sanity board investigation. She pointed a gun at a
superior, fired two shots into the ceiling and then turned the weapon on
herself, piercing several organs. She has been at Walter Reed ever

Whiteside's two immediate commanders brought charges against her, but
Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, the only physician in her chain of
command and then the commander of Walter Reed, recommended that
the charges be dropped, citing her "demonstrably severe depression" and
"7 years of credible and honorable service."

The case hinged in part on whether her mental illness prompted her
actions, as Walter Reed psychiatrists testified last month, or whether it
was "an excuse" for her actions, as her company commander wrote when
he proffered the original charges in April. Those charges included assault
on a superior commissioned officer, aggravated assault, kidnapping,
reckless endangerment, wrongful discharge of a firearm, communication
of a threat and two attempts of intentional self-injury without intent to
avoid service.

An Army hearing officer cited "Army values" and the need to do "what is
right, legally and morally" when he recommended last month that
Whiteside not face court-martial or other administration punishment, but
that she be discharged and receive the medical benefits "she will
desperately need for the remainder of her life." Whiteside decided to
speak publicly about her case only after a soldier she had befriended at
the hospital's psychiatric ward hanged herself after she was discharged
without benefits.

But the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, which has ultimate legal
jurisdiction over the case, declined for weeks to tell Whiteside whether
others in her chain of command have concurred or differed with the
hearing officer, said Matthew MacLean, Whiteside's civilian attorney and a
former military lawyer.

MacLean and Whiteside's father, Thomas Whiteside, said the uncertainty
took its toll on the young officer's mental state. "I've never seen anything
like this. It's just so far off the page," said Thomas Whiteside, his voice
cracking with emotion. "I told her, 'If you check out of here, you're not
going to be able to help other soldiers.' "

Whiteside recently had begun to take prerequisite classes for a nursing
degree, and her mental stability seemed to be improving, her father said.
Then late last week, she told him she was having trouble sleeping, with a
possible court-martial weighing on her. On Monday night, she asked her
father to take her back to her room at Walter Reed so she could study.

She swallowed her pills there. A soldier and his wife, who live next door,
came to her room and, after a while, noticed that she was becoming
groggy, Thomas Whiteside said. When they returned later and she would
not open the door, they called hospital authorities.

Yesterday, after having spent two nights in the intensive care unit, he
said, his daughter was transferred to the psychiatric ward.

Whiteside left two notes, one titled "Business," in which her top
concern was the fate of her dog. "Appointment for the Vetenarian is in
my blue book. Additional paperwork on Chewy is in the closet at the
apartment in a folder." On her second note, she penned a postscript:
"Sorry to do this to my family + friends. I love you."

View Photo Gallery with Audio ... =rss_world
Minds are like parachutes.
They only function when open.

Here's an article on Monopoly Capitalism, a.k.a. NeoLiberalism, a.k.a. The New World Order. ... iedman.htm
Author's note:

[font=Arial]This page was written soon after the publication of Friedman's first major globalization book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree. It also followed closely upon Friedman's repeated ridicule of those who were protesting against neoliberal globalization around the world, people whose grievances I believe deserve to be taken seriously (as I tried to do in my own book of that time). This page was a response to the confluence of these events, and the frustration it expresses should be understood in that context. I make no claim to being a "Friedman expert". In fact, since my deep disappointment with The Lexus and the Olive Tree, I promised myself that I would not spend any time reading Friedman which might otherwise be spent reading things from which I might learn useful and important information.[/font]

Thomas Friedman is the international affairs columnist for the New York Times. His best-selling book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (hereafter LOT), has been hailed as "A brilliant guidebook to the new world of 'globalization'". Friedman is frequently mistaken for an authority on globalization.

Friedman has been among the most outspoken critics of the new social movements which have arisen to challenge neoliberal globalization, and which had their coming out party in Seattle in November-December, 1999. In a column entitled Senseless in Seattle (NYT 12/1/1999), Friedman called the protesters "ridiculous," "crazy," "a Noah's ark of flat-earth advocates, protectionist trade unions and yuppies looking for their 1960's fix", who if they only "stopped yapping" long enough to think "would realize that they have been duped by knaves like Pat Buchanan". And, as subsequent protests have occurred in Washington, Prague, Davos, Quebec, and elsewhere, Friedman has continued to heap calumny upon those refusing to consent to the globalization of neoliberal capitalism.

In this page I suggest that Friedman's understanding of globalization is in fact extremely narrow, one-sided and misleading. His frequent and vociferous denunciations of those protesting against neoliberal globalization, and the arguments which Friedman advances in his book, are singularly ill-informed, poorly reasoned and, in a number of cases, demonstrably false.

For starters, Friedman's book avoids contact with evidence or analysis as if these carried the Ebola virus. Readers may search in vain for a footnote, table, or chart; and there is no engagement with the vibrant scholarly literature on globalization. Instead, facile metaphors and platitudes are piled relentlessly one on top of the other, illustrated with anecdotes from Friedman's travels amongst the world's rich and powerful and (no kidding) corporate commercial advertisements.

"The reader will notice that I quote a great deal from two outside sources. One is The Economist, which has been far, far ahead of every other news organization in understanding and reporting on globalization [here the reader may also notice the heavy ideological baggage with which The Economist's "understanding" of globalization is freighted]. The other is ads from Madison Avenue. For some reason [!], advertising copywriters have a tremendous insight into globalization, and I have not hesitated to draw on their work" (LOT, p. 381).

Friedman here affects bafflement as to why his views of globalization should correspond so closely to those of corporate advertisers. Perhaps advertisers have some extraordinary intuitive understanding, some inscrutable knowledge of globalization, which then finds its validation through the objective labors of the professional journalist. Or perhaps the explanation for this coincidence is much less mystical than Friedman would care to admit; perhaps they're both expressions of the same class-based world view.

Friedman's acknowledgements read like a who's who of global capitalism; there he makes explicit his intellectual debts to Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin of the US Treasury, the super-human Alan Greenspan, James Wolfensohn of the World Bank, Klaus Schwab and Claude Smadja of the fabulous World Economic Forum, the editor of Foreign Affairs, as well as various corporate honchos and financial heavy-hitters (LOT, pp. 379-81). With remarkably little self-consciousness, Friedman comes close to acknowledging the one-sidedness of his sources and the effect which their market-centered world-view has had upon the way he conceives the practice of journalism: he refers to international hedge fund managers as his "best intellectual sources" and happily describes his own enterprise as that of "information arbitrage" (LOT, pp. 21-2).

Not surprisingly, then, Friedman's book is uncritical toward globalizing capitalism in general, and passionately embraces the interests of investors in particular - i.e., those interests most closely associated with the agenda of neoliberalism - which Friedman represents as avatars of a universal interest in freedom, progress and prosperity: "A fundamental truth about globalization" is that it "emerges from below, from street level, from people's very souls and from their very deepest aspirations. Yes, globalization is the product of the democratizations of finance, technology, and information, but what is driving all three of these is the basic human desire for a better life - a life with more choices as to what to eat, what to wear, where to live, where to travel, how to work, what to read, what to write and what to learn" (LOT, p. 285).

Friedman believes that advances in information technology and new financial vehicles and practices - the forces he believes are driving globalization - have combined to make globalizing capitalism egalitarian and democratic: "For the first time in American history both Joe Six-pack and Billionaire Bob are watching CNBC to see how their shares in the market are faring" (LOT, p. 105). This kind of thinking leads Friedman into the most bizarre hallucinations: "Soon everyone will have a virtual seat on the New York Stock Exchange" (LOT, p. 58).

Friedman's flights of fantasy notwithstanding, the ownership of wealth in the USA is more unequal than at any time since the late 1920s.

According to Federal Reserve data for 1998, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans owned over 82 percent of stock and 86 percent of bonds owned by individuals (including indirect ownership through mutual funds), as well as 91 percent of business assets. And ownership of these financial and business assets is even more disproportionately concentrated in the stratospheric regions inhabited by the wealthiest half of one percent of the population, who owned over 31 percent of stocks, almost 32 percent of bonds, and almost 55 percent of business assets.

Happy news, perhaps, for an information arbitrageur and his "best intellectual sources"; but hardly a liquidation of class-based inequalities of wealth and their attendant differentials of social power. Likewise on a global scale inequalities continue to mount as the neoliberal project has unfolded: according to the UN Development Program, in 1997 the 20 percent of the world's people living in the wealthiest countries received 74 times as much income as the 20 percent in the poorest countries; up from a ratio of 60 to 1 in 1990, and 30 to 1 in 1960.

Only in Friedman's imagination is globalizing capitalism egalitarian or democratic.

At times, Friedman seems almost to glimpse the anti-democratic implications of the developments he is describing. Almost, but not quite. For example, in a world of globalizing finance and electronic transfer of funds, Friedman admits, governments are increasingly obliged to weigh carefully their social, fiscal, and monetary policies against the interests of investors who may exit en masse in response to expectations of lower relative interest rates, higher relative inflation rates, or currency depreciation. In Friedman's words, "[government's] main job these days is enticing the Electronic Herd and Supermarkets to invest in their states, doing whatever it takes to keep them there and constantly living in dread that they will leave" (LOT, p. 116). Attracting investors requires adoption of the neoliberal policy package - fiscal and monetary austerity, de-regulation and privatization, openness to international trade and investment - to which Friedman (in one of his many capitalized and cartoonish neologisms) refers as the "Golden Straightjacket".

"Once your country puts on the Golden Straightjacket, its political choices get reduced to Pepsi or Coke - to slight nuances of taste, slight nuances of policy, slight alterations in design to account for local traditions, some loosening here or there, but never any major deviation from the core golden rules. Governments ... which deviate too far from the core rules will see their investors stampede away, interest rates rise and stock market valuations fall" (LOT, p. 87-8).

The democratization and enhancement of liberty which Friedman imputes to globalizing capitalism then appears to boil down to an enforced constriction of political horizons such that the most we could hope for would be a choice between Pepsi or Coke. Friedman, however, seems oblivious to the enormity of this irony.

Furthermore, Friedman is eager to authorize the use of US power - including military force - to support this anti-democratic world order. "The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist ... And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." (LOT, p. 373).

In Friedman's twisted world, if people are to realize their deepest aspirations - the longing for a better life which comes from their very souls - they must stare down the barrel of Uncle Sam's gun.

The one-sidedness of Friedman's understanding of globalizing capitalism makes it difficult for him to grasp the arguments of critics and protestors who appear to him either ignorant and irrational, or duplicitous and malevolent:

"this anti-globalization movement is largely the well intentioned but ill informed being led around by the ill intentioned and well informed (protectionist unions and anarchists)" (NYT, 4/24/2001)

"The economic quacks peddling conspiracy theories about globalization; the anti-free-trade extremists, such as Ralph Nader's group, Public Citizen; the protectionist trade unions; and the anarchists. These groups deserve to be called by their real name: 'The Coalition to Keep the World's Poor People Poor.' " (NYT, 4/14/2000).

"they offer the third world no coherent plan for how to develop and preserve the environment. Their only plan is that developing countries stop developing." (NYT 4/14/2000)

Here Friedman's assertions imply a chain of reasoning which looks something like this: (1) neoliberalism is the only possible form of globalization; (2) globalization promotes economic growth; and (3) economic growth and trickle-down is the only thing which will help the world's poor. Therefore, we are expected to conclude, neoliberalism is the best friend the world's poor ever had, and anyone who opposes neoliberalism is in effect promoting global poverty! Each link is this implicit argument is deeply problematic. (1) While beloved of the champions of neoliberalism, Margaret Thatcher's slogan, "There Is No Alternative" (TINA), is simply false, as you will see below on this page. (2) The claim that neoliberal globalization promotes growth is dubious. And (3) we have seen above how neoliberal globalization has been accompanied by manifold increases in inequality. Further, even within the world bank there has been controversy over whether economic growth is sufficient to reduce global poverty.

From the perspective of an information arbitrageur, however, questioning the intensification and institutionalization of neoliberal capitalism makes you a backward-looking Bolshevik:

"too many unions and activists want the quick fix for globalization: just throw up some walls and tell everyone else how to live. There was a country that tried that. It guaranteed everyone's job, maintained a protected market and told everyone else how to live. It was called the Soviet Union. Didn't work out so well." (NYT 12/8/99)

"People can talk about alternatives to the free-market and global integration, they can demand alternatives, they can insist on a 'third way,' but for now none is apparent" (LOT, p. 85).


That no alternative is apparent to Friedman and his "intellectual sources" should not be taken to mean that there are none worthy of discussion. Indeed, ongoing transnational dialogues among activist groups, non-governmental organizations, and other elements of an emerging global civil society have generated some remarkable proposals for a more sustainable, egalitarian, and democratic world. For example, the Peoples Hemispheric Agreement of 1998 was drafted by coalitions from Canada, Quebec, Chile, Mexico, and the USA, and reflected previous negotiations among groups from throughout the hemisphere, eventually coming together to form the Hemispheric Social Alliance. The HSA's most recent discussion draft, entitled Alternatives for the Americas, is available from the Alliance for Responsible Trade. On a more ambitious global scale, similar kinds of multilateral proposals have been integrated into the Global Sustainable Development Resolution, which declares as its overriding purpose that "the people of the United States and the people and governments of the other nations of the world should take actions to establish democratic control over the global economy". While the distinction appears to have eluded Friedman, it is nonetheless important to note that the political programs of transnational solidarity and democratization which these documents embody are as different from Buchaninite nationalism and protectionism (premised on the scapegoating of "foreigners") as it is possible to get. Friedman is doubly mistaken here: he is wrong when he says that there is no alternative and he is wrong when he claims that the agenda of critics and protestors is xenophobic and protectionist.

There are indeed meaningful alternatives to the world inhabited by Thomas Friedman and his friends.

This page has been created by Mark Rupert, a political scientist at Syracuse University.

For a view of globalization as if unequal power matters, check out my new book (co-authored with Scott Solomon) Globalization and International Political Economy, published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2005.
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Wow, this is so much great information.

I was looking up War of the Flea on Amazon and found this guy's review extremely interesting. His name is Robert David Steele.
See his review at ... 1574885553 (which was linked previously in this thread by Fintan), and see Robert's profile at ... 83-5813507.

Also related I found 2 websites he'd listed on his Amazon profile:

Question for you deeper analysts (Patrick, Gary, Fintan, etc...) -
Is this Robert dude straight-up, or what? Any clues?

just cos things are fucked up doesn't mean it isn't progress...

RedMahna wrote:Also related I found 2 websites he'd listed on his Amazon profile:

Question for you deeper analysts (Patrick, Gary, Fintan, etc...) -
Is this Robert dude straight-up, or what? Any clues?

Well, here's an article from earth-intell, if this is any clue.
Michael Schuer Nails It--Bin Laden is Winning and US is Losing for Lack of White House Integrity

See the link dated below. Here are the six reasons Bin Laden seeks to harm the US, and every single one of them is justified. Both the White House and Congress are full of corrupt charletans, and we agree with CNN's Jack Cafferty who said (somewhat tongue in cheek) two nights ago, "Anyone who votes for an incumbent should lose their US citizenship."

Schuere says on the record: "He and his followers hate us because of specific aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Bin Laden lays them out for anyone to read. Six elements:

1) our unqualified support for Israel;

2) our presence on the Arabian peninsula, which is land they deem holy;

3) our military presence in other Islamic countries;

4) our support of foreign states that oppress Muslims, especially Russia, China and India;

5) our long-term policy of keeping oil prices artificially low to the benefit of Western consumers but the detriment of the Arab people; and

6) our support for Arab tyrannies who will do that.

To reinforce Schuer, we also provide links to three books that comprise the toika for redirectly US foreign policy. There are others, but these are essential.

1) Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

2) Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

3) Defeating the Real Axi of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025

Bottom line: We the People have a federal government that is broken across all three branches; corrupt, uninformed, unethical, and totally uncaring about the best interests of the USA or its most important soverign resource, We the People. It is time to dissolve this government, and create the Second American Republic that is comprised of minimalist bureaucracy, moral communitarian capitalism, social business, social entrepreneurship, and a commitment to creating a prosperous world at peace. This is not rocket science. All it takes is integrity.

OK, maybe MUSLIMS hate America for all these reasons. Maybe some Al-Qaeda members do. I heard that Palestinians actually were laughing at America on 9-11, USA getting some payback.

But Bin Laden?
He must not have read the Republican Kosovo or Bosnia report. You would think he'd read "Osamagate".

oh, and keeping oil prices artificially low .. LOL
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I heard that Palestinians actually were laughing at America on 9-11, USA getting some payback.
If you mean the 'dancing woman' video, that one was exposed a few years after as another "news op". A few days before 9/11, the dancing woman had been given candy or free tickets to the beheading or something, then filmed dancing with joy. Then they ran the footage a few days after 9/11, and announced that she was "a typical Palestinian, delighted over the carnage in NYC."

Hard to believe any journalist woud sink that low, eh? :?
"No matter what happens, ever... there's ALWAYS at least one reason. And the top reason is ALWAYS money."

I heard that CNN refuted that it was staged, and I heard a woman who was IN Israel at cafes, and watching people celebrate 9-11.

I say, so what?!! Given all the SHIT they personally experienced from American bombs landing on their heads, killing and maiming them and their families and friends, I would expect they'd celebrate.

Didn't people celebrate killing Zarqawi and even other "collateral damage" in the US? Didn't a lot of ppl agree with Limbaugh that Abu Gharaib was mere "hazing"? There's no moral high ground here, and more important, there is no moral LOW ground if some members of the "Arab street" celebrated what they saw as an attack (by their kin) on America.

However, it was definitely a PSYOP framed to demonize Palestinians in the minds of Americans and other Westerners.

For lack of a better place to share it at the moment, I dropped in to Amazon and ended up in a couple 9/11 debates.

This one starts here:

excognito says:
>>> A whole wing of the 9/11 truth movement also embraces holocaust denial and moon landing conspiracy, all wrapped up into one grand conspiracy theory.
That is EXACTLY what I just said, LOL. A *wing* of the movement arose, loudly and boisterously, and latched on to this, much like the original insane conspiracy theorists of the John Birch Society saw a communist conspiracy everywhere, even in President Dwight Eisenhower.

Some of them were probably true believers in these ideas, but this is so corrosive to rational and scientific debate, that many "normal" people have argued that this Nazi element seems more of an intentional "Trojan Horse" to 9-11 debates, rather than a mere cultural artifact in wider society. (Either moths attracted to light, or an intentional psyop.)
>>> Please say more about who you believe did 9/11, and why.
I cannot say specifically who DID 9/11, I don't have access to that data.

I can say that there are many gaping holes in the official story. There are scientific and engineering debates about the buildings of course, there are also newspaper stories that describe the "hijackers" as not only secular, but as wild playboy types on booze and coke, unlikely to become martyrs, and more, who they were partying WITH!

I can say (I posted this on a separate thread on Stansfield Turner's "Burn This Book" so I won't repeat it in full)


that about 1-2 dozen individuals (depending on how counted), representing a handful of interconnected foreign policy groups, published at least FOUR statements, varying in directness vs. ambiguity,

a) that it was necessary and imperative that the US military be expanded, revamped, built up, with huge new budget allocations

b) that it was necessary and imperative that the US engage in multiple simultaneous wars in the Middle East/Eurasia to establish global hegemony (including against allies who compete with the US for energy)

c) that it was necessary and imperative that the US embark on this path quickly, in a window of opportunity that presented itself with the Bush admin (Clarke and others testified that invading Iraq was top agenda from day one)

d) that the largest barrier was the American people and their (our) reticence about engaging in wars of imperialism and their (our) apathy towards "aggressive foreign policy"

e) that a possible solution -- or perhaps the only practical solution -- to that political reality was -- pick your euphemism -- a bloodbath on American soil. Euphemisms included "major security threat" "major catastrophic event" "new Pearl Harbor" "get lucky - like we did on Pearl Harbor" and perhaps other expressions that don't come to mind at the moment.

The individuals who published these statements represent the cream at the absolute top of conservative and neo-conservative think tanks and lobby groups, but also the cream of ostensibly-liberal-but-super-imperialist think tanks and lobby groups, and there is much crossover and interlink between these groups.

These individuals are not merely pundits or wisecrackers, but also held key positions around the Pentagon (Defense Policy Board), and also within the Bush cabinet/DoD (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith's Office of Special Plans, and many others). The Council on Foreign Relations (another source group) is not just any old lobby group, though it claims that this is all it is. These CFR individuals are power players and many of them take cabinet positions. Many journalists and other intenational businesspersons. Yes, the Bush cabinet contains many PNAC members, but it's a bit larger than just "the neo-cons".

All that they published was is a set of suggestions, a set of ideas, but the PNAC blueprint was essentially cut-and-pasted into what became The Bush Doctrine. This is the outside-inside nature of this stuff, you really have to study it a bit.

This is far more than mere coincidence that all these individuals and groups are espousing the same policies and projections. They have been quite open about it. There's nothing really secret about this. There is an amazing degree of SYNCHRONICITY on these ideas.

Think about a normal criminal case, like a dead ex-spouse, with this much synchronicity and planning. Cops DO look at notes, emails, other paper trails. This isn't obscure notes, it's published policy positions.

The only "secret" part is you would think that *someone* in the mainstream media -- especially someone on the "Washington beat" who already knows all these people -- would have noticed all these synchronous ideas being published and would have written about them, perhaps in the year *before* Sept 11.

I'm not one who subscribes to the "Foreign Affairs" publication of the CFR. I assume that real Washington reporters DO, unless they are just stenographers of press briefings. Even Seymour Hersh has never compiled this. Even "fringe" Congress persons who are quite reasonably calling for a complete investigation, which was resisted and initially blocked by Bush, have *NOT* come forth with this stuff.

This synchronicity has been extended to Fox News pundits (and others) who said in 2007 that America needs to be hit by a bloodbath *AGAIN*, i.e. "we NEED a new 9-11". That's in quotes because that IS a direct quote from Fox pundit John Gibson, with his colleagues making similar statements.

Has CNN or other media discussed this outrage? Maybe briefly, and I'm not aware of it. I'm pretty sure that none of them discussed it in the context of previous pro-terrorism statements, such as before 9/11.

So WHO ACTUALLY DID IT? Who knows. My rational mind says that these Pentagon-related and White House-related and Wall Street-related and Intelligence-related individuals KNOW SOMETHING and that they evidently assigned or arranged for somebody to do it, or at least that someone picked up on the *urgency* and carried it out. It's pretty clear in my mind that this was not Osama or Al-Qaeda -- as we know them, i.e. Islamic Radicals -- who just happened to do exactly what these government people needed done.

On the other hand, Al-Qaeda was created and supported by this exact same cabal 2 decades ago. The Heritage Foundation had 3 Al-Qaeda lobby groups (called "Afghan freedom fighters"), i.e. this wing of the US govt and Intelligence was quite *INTIMATE* with what we now call Al-Qaeda. The Christian Coalition gave them firm backing, attacking any Congressmen who refused to support them. Reagan gave them a national holiday on March 21, for several years. Don't be stuck on names, we all know about "holding companies" and "brand marketing" and the like. "Al-Qaeda" is a brand name, like Pepsi or Marlboro or Bush.

The question of "who did 9/11" as in "who manned the planes" or "were the hijackers CIA assets, dupes, or Manchurian candidates" or "were the planes manned by remote control" or "was a missile used on the Pentagon to supplement AA 77" or "were explosives used to cause the WTC towers to disintegrate in mid-air and if so who planted them" or "what individuals placed the pre-9/11 put options on AA and United and Merrill Lynch that Congress/WH/Commission decided was not worth pulling the data to check" and a zillion other good questions are about as relevant as "ballistic tests on Lee Harvey Oswald's alleged gun" and "who was the actual shooter".

Who cares?

In other words, these are interesting questions about the minutae, but the larger point about LHO is that there's a paper trail of important and extraneous documents revealing his relationship with the CIA and FBI (one of which is IN the Warren Report), and a trail of witnesses placing him with other individuals very close to FBI/CIA, such as Banister and Fairplay for Cuba.

The first obvious point is that LHO was NOT a "lone gunman" as the official narrative says, but someone with "connections". That alone is enough to discredit everything else. There is much more that could be said, and many people have investigated these things in excruciating detail, the "hall of mirrors" of intell + conflicting details, but no more is really needed.

OH, maybe the point that the guy JFK fired from CIA -- Allen Dulles -- whose job description was carrying out coups -- was made the point man on the Warren Commission. Other than these two points, the rest is "filler". Right?

Once you have this much info, in contrast to the official narrative, the only rational conclusion is that JFK was a hit by elements of the government, and that this hit involved lots and lots of complicity including amongst media representatives who have a lot more time than I do to add 2 + 2 together.

When I think about this political cabal, on both sides of the aisle, and how ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE it was that this 9/11 bloodbath occur to trigger what became branded as the War on Terror, my conclusion is that it was probably done with long-existing robotic technology. With that kind of URGENCY and NECESSITY, you don't rely on flaky suicide bombers for what can be carried out with complete push-button reliability.

Jim Penname says:

Well... Gary, if you're an amateur, you're among the best of them and lay out the case for that side well with few exceptions.
I can believe that our government is corrupt and otherwise dishonest. I just can't believe
that they can be THAT corrupt and evil.
I've seen Bill Kristol asked about the pNAC . It is pretty open. Sometimes maybe they just get it right.

I can believe that elements of Al qaeda have been in and out of intel and security circles,
and the military.
I just think that they have played us, more than we played them. And that they exist, based on a context of events that includes the murder of Sadat.
In general I line up with King.
But don't take anything away from g-the-amateur;. Very impressive.
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Bleak picture of Iraq conditions

Millions of Iraqis have little or no access to clean water, sanitation and
healthcare, five years after the US-led invasion, according to the Red

The Swiss-based agency says Iraq's humanitarian situation is "among the
most critical in the world".

It warned that despite better security in some areas, millions had been left
essentially to fend for themselves.

Some families spend a third of their average monthly wage of $150 (£75)
just buying clean water, the report found.

'Worse than ever'

An even worse humanitarian crisis in Iraq will only be averted if much
more attention is paid to the everyday needs of Iraqi citizens, the report
by the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Iraqi children gather filthy water in Baghdad in September 2007

Many Iraqis still lack basic sanitation

Healthcare in Iraq was "now in worse shape than ever" and the services
that are available are too expensive for many people, the report said.

Iraqi hospitals lack qualified staff and basic drugs, facilities are not
properly maintained and public hospitals provide only 30,000 beds, less
than half of the 80,000 needed, the Red Cross reports.

The agency said the current situation had been exacerbated for the 27m
population by decades of previous conflict and economic sanctions.


The report also says that tens of thousands of Iraqis had effectively
disappeared since the start of the war.

"Many of those killed in the current violence have never been properly
identified, because only a small percentage of the bodies have been
turned over to Iraqi government institutions," it said.

A man weeps after a bombing in the Baghdad area in 2005

Despite security gains, many Iraqis still suffer bloodshed

Violence rates in the country have fallen 60% since last June, although the
US military commander there, Gen David Petraeus, says the security gains
are fragile and could be easily reversed.

But Beatrice Megevand Roggo of the Red Cross said: "Better security in
some parts of Iraq must not distract attention from the continuing plight of
millions of people who have essentially been left to their own devices."

Tens of thousands of Iraqis - nearly all men - are in detention, according
to the agency, including 20,000 inmates at Camp Bucca near Basra, which
is run by US-led multinational forces.
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Patrick Cockburn, Correspondent for The Independent,
reports from Baghdad that Iraq is really no longer a country

Recent articles by Patrick Cockburn:
Firebrand Sadr finds moderation

By recently renewing a six-month ceasefire, the young Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has won praise from the United States and from the Baghdad government.

Moqtada Sadr

Moqtada Sadr hopes to do well in October elections

But will his new-found moderation last? Mr Sadr has long kept people guessing.

In the early days after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was often
dismissed as a naive young firebrand.

President George W Bush once described his militia, the Mehdi Army, as a
"band of thugs".

But Patrick Cockburn of the Independent newspaper, author of a
forthcoming book about the cleric, thinks the Americans have consistently
underestimated him.
Patrick Cockburn: Iraq is a country no more.
Sunday, 16 March 2008

'It reminds me of Iraq under Saddam," a militant opponent of Saddam
Hussein said angrily to me last week as he watched red-capped Iraqi
soldiers close down part of central Baghdad so the convoy of Nouri
al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, might briefly venture into the city.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the US and the Iraqi governments
claim that the country is becoming a less dangerous place, but the
measures taken to protect Mr Maliki told a different story. Gun-waving
soldiers first cleared all traffic from the streets. Then four black armoured
cars, each with three machine-gunners on the roof, raced out of the Green
Zone through a heavily fortified exit, followed by sand-coloured American
Humvees and more armoured cars. Finally, in the middle of the speeding
convoy, we saw six identical bullet-proof vehicles with black windows, one
of which must have been carrying Mr Maliki.

The precautions were not excessive, since Baghdad remains the most
dangerous city in the world. The Iraqi Prime Minister was only going to the
headquarters of the Dawa party, to which he belongs and which are just
half a mile outside the Green Zone, but his hundreds of security guards
acted as if they were entering enemy territory.

Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is
today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high
concrete walls. Different districts even have different national flags. Sunni
areas use the old Iraqi flag with the three stars of the Baath party, and the
Shia wave a newer version, adopted by the Shia-Kurdish government. The
Kurds have their own flag.

The Iraqi government tries to give the impression that normality is
returning. Iraqi journalists are told not to mention the continuing violence.
When a bomb exploded in Karada district near my hotel, killing 70 people,
the police beat and drove away a television cameraman trying to take
pictures of the devastation. Civilian casualties have fallen from 65 Iraqis
killed daily from November 2006 to August 2007 to 26 daily in February.
But the fall in the death rate is partly because ethnic cleansing has already
done its grim work and in much of Baghdad there are no mixed areas left.

More than most wars, the war in Iraq remains little understood outside the
country. Iraqis themselves often do not understand it because they have
an intimate knowledge of their own community, be it Shia, Sunni or
Kurdish, but little of other Iraqi communities. It should have been evident
from the moment President George Bush decided to overthrow Saddam
Hussein that it was going to be a very different war from the one fought by
his father in 1991. That had been a conservative war waged to restore the
status quo ante in Kuwait.

The war of 2003 was bound to have radical consequences. If Saddam
Hussein was overthrown and elections held, then the domination of the 20
per cent Sunni minority would be replaced by the rule of the majority Shia
community allied to the Kurds. In an election, Shia religious parties linked
to Iran would win, as indeed they did in two elections in 2005. Many of
America's troubles in Iraq have stemmed from Washington's attempt to
stop Iran and anti-American Shia leaders such as Muqtada al-Sadr filling
the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The US and its allies never really understood the war they won that started
on 19 March 2003. Their armies had an easy passage to Baghdad because
the Iraqi army did not fight. Even the so-called elite Special Republican
Guard units, well-paid, well-equipped and tribally linked to Saddam, went
home. Television coverage and much of the newspaper coverage of the
war was highly deceptive because it gave the impression of widespread
fighting when there was none. I entered Mosul and Kirkuk, two northern
cities, on the day they were captured with hardly a shot fired. Burnt-out
Iraqi tanks littered the roads around Baghdad, giving the impression of
heavy fighting, but almost all had been abandoned by their crews before
they were hit.

The war was too easy. Consciously or subconsciously, Americans came to
believe it did not matter what Iraqis said or did. They were expected to
behave like Germans or Japanese in 1945, though most of Iraqis did not
think of themselves as having been defeated. There was later to be much
bitter dispute about who was responsible for the critical error of dissolving
the Iraqi army. But at the time the Americans were in a mood of
exaggerated imperial arrogance and did not care what Iraqis, whether in
the army or out of it, were doing. "They simply thought we were wogs,"
says Ahmad Chalabi, the opposition leader, brutally. "We didn't matter."

Read rest of article: HERE
Patrick Cockburn: This is the war that started with lies,
and continues with lie after lie after lie

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

It has been a war of lies from the start. All governments lie in wartime but
American and British propaganda in Iraq over the past five years has been
more untruthful than in any conflict since the First World War.

The outcome has been an official picture of Iraq akin to fantasy and an
inability to learn from mistakes because of a refusal to admit that any
occurred. Yet the war began with just such a mistake. Five years ago, on
the evening of 19 March 2003, President George Bush appeared on
American television to say that military action had started against Iraq.

This was a veiled reference to an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein by
dropping four 2,000lb bombs and firing 40 cruise missiles at a place called
al-Dura farm in south Baghdad, where the Iraqi leader was supposedly
hiding in a bunker. There was no bunker. The only casualties were one
civilian killed and 14 wounded, including nine women and a child.

On 7 April, the US Ai r Force dropped four more massive bombs on a
house where Saddam was said to have been sighted in Baghdad. "I think
we did get Saddam Hussein," said the US Vice President, Dick Cheney. "He
was seen being dug out of the rubble and wasn't able to breathe."

Saddam was unharmed, probably because he had never been there, but
18 Iraqi civilians were dead. One US military leader defended the attacks,
claiming they showed "US resolve and capabilities".

Mr Cheney was back in Baghdad this week, five years later almost to the
day, to announce that there has been "phenomenal" improvements in Iraqi
security. Within hours, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up in the
Shia holy city of Kerbala, killing at least 40 and wounding 50 people. Often
it is difficult to know where the self-deception ends and the deliberate
mendacity begins.

The most notorious lie of all was that Iraq possessed weapons of mass
destruction. But critics of the war may have focused too much on WMD
and not enough on later distortions.

The event which has done most to shape the present Iraqi political
landscape was the savage civil war between Sunni and Shia in Baghdad
and central Iraq in 2006-07 when 3,000 civilians a month were being
butchered and which was won by the Shia.

The White House and Downing Street blithely denied a civil war was
happening – and forced Iraq politicians who said so to recant – to pretend
the crisis was less serious than it was.

More often, the lies have been small, designed to make a propaganda
point for a day even if they are exposed as untrue a few weeks later. One
example of this to shows in detail how propaganda distorts day-to-day
reporting in Iraq, but, if the propagandist knows his job, is very difficult to

On 1 February this year, two suicide bombers, said to be female, blew
themselves up in two pet markets in predominantly Shia areas of
Baghdad, al Ghazil and al-Jadida, and killed 99 people. Iraqi government
officials immediately said the bombers had the chromosonal disorder
Down's syndrome, which they could tell this from looking at the severed
heads of the bombers. Sadly, horrific bombings in Iraq are so common
that they no longer generate much media interest abroad. It was the
Down's syndrome angle which made the story front-page news. It showed
al-Qa'ida in Iraq was even more inhumanly evil than one had supposed (if
that were possible) and it meant, so Iraqi officials said, that al-Qa'ida was
running out of volunteers.

The Times splashed on it under the headline, "Down's syndrome bombers
kill 91". The story stated firmly that "explosives strapped to two women
with Down's syndrome were detonated by remote control in crowded pet
markets". Other papers, including The Independent, felt the story had a
highly suspicious smell to it. How much could really be told about the
mental condition of a woman from a human head shattered by a powerful
bomb? Reliable eyewitnesses in suicide bombings are difficult to find
because anybody standing close to the bomber is likely to be dead or in

The US military later supported the Iraqi claim that the bombers had
Down's syndrome. On 10 February, they arrested Dr Sahi Aboub, the
acting director of the al Rashad mental hospital in east Baghdad, alleging
that he had provided mental patients for use by al-Qa'ida. The Iraqi
Interior Ministry started rounding up beggars and mentally disturbed
people on the grounds that they might be potential bombers.

But on 21 February, an American military spokes-man said there was no
evidence the bombers had Down's. Adel Mohsin, a senior official at the
Health Ministry in Baghdad, poured scorn on the idea that Dr Aboub could
have done business with the Sunni fanatics of al-Qa'ida because he was a
Shia and had only been in the job a few weeks.

A second doctor, who did not want to give his name, pointed out that al
Rashad hospital is run by the fundamentalist Shia Mehdi Army and asked:
"How would it be possible for al-Qa'ida to get in there?"

Few people in Baghdad now care about the exact circumstances of the bird
market bombings apart from Dr Aboub, who is still in jail, and the mentally
disturbed beggars who were incarcerated. Unfortunately, it is all too clear
that al-Qa'ida is not running out of suicide bombers. But it is pieces of
propaganda such as this small example, often swallowed whole by the
media and a thousand times repeated, which cumulatively mask the
terrible reality of Iraq.

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Bush again talks of Iraq victory five years on
Thu Mar 20, 2008

President George W. Bush said on Wednesday he had no regrets about
the unpopular war in Iraq despite the "high cost in lives and treasure" and
declared that the United States was on track for victory.

Marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion with a touch of the
swagger he showed early in the war, Bush said in a speech at the
Pentagon, "The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable."

With less than 11 months left in office and his approval ratings near the
lows of his presidency, Bush is trying to shore up support for the Iraq
campaign, which has damaged U.S. credibility abroad and is sure to
define his legacy.

But he faced the challenge of winning back the attention of war-weary
Americans more preoccupied with mounting economic troubles and
increasingly focused on the race to pick his successor in the November

Bush's Democratic critics used the anniversary to press accusations that
the Republican president launched the invasion based on faulty
intelligence, mismanaged the war and failed to put together an exit

"Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over
whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning,
and whether we can win it," Bush told an audience of top military officers
and Pentagon employees.

"The answers are clear to me: Removing Saddam Hussein from power
was the right decision, and this is a fight America can and must win," he

Rejecting calls from Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and
Barack Obama for a timetable for early withdrawal, Bush touted security
gains from a troop build-up or "surge" he ordered last year. He insisted
that "retreat" would embolden al Qaeda and Iran and put the United
States at risk.

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