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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Monday, May 31, 2004

Reading Faiza (if America were reported on as Iraq is)

Faiza got a letter from, Joan, an American woman. If you want to know what a news story about America would look like if the same media standards were as those currently for Iraq...check it out:
Dear faiza
I read your blog and everything the other American women told you about us losing our rights is true. After the planes went into the trade centers Americans were afraid and angry. The Bush administration took advantage of the fear and anger to pass some laws that I think are unconstitutional. The right to go into your home without a warrent, to take your belongings, to arrest you and hold you indefinetly without charging you with a crime. We were told that the Government had to "get" the terrorists and these laws
would help them to do that. Most Americans believed that at the time.

For those outside the US, let me exegete this for you. The phrase "The Bush administration took advantage of the fear and anger" means Joan has been listening to Al Gore, the former Vice-President-turned-TV-Evangelist. The laws she's talking about is the "Patriot Act" which as I understand it (I'm not a lawyer [background information]), primarily gave law enforcement the same rights to prosecute terrorism that they already had to prosecute the Mafia. "Hold you indefinitely with out charging you" refers to Jose Padilla who was labeled as an "enemy combatant" for conspiring to blow up a "dirty bomb" (a conventional bomb with radioactive material mixed with it) in the United States (an act that would have made 9-11 look like a traffic accident). This case is making its way through the courts and the Bush Administration will probably lose. But if the Administration lets any terrorists slip through their fingers and if any of those terrorists take part in another major act, Al Gore (and Joan) is not going to give them any points for their adherence to civil rights.
And yes, we do have a lot of very poor people here. We have a lot of social welfare programs, but they don't give the poor people enough to live a decent life. There are jobs, but the jobs for unskilled help don't pay enough to live on. Many families struggle to maintain their families. In rural areas people are very frugal and grow their own food. That helps.

oh. my. blog. Joan's picture brings to mind Bangladesh rather than rural America.
The cost of living is very high. I don't know what things cost in Iraq, but here it costs almost $4.00 for a gallon of milk, a small apartment cost about $700 a month to rent. To feed a family of four would cost about $125.00 a week, and that would be just for basic food, not the prepackaged fancy kind.

Yes. The cost of living in America is high. This is not due to shortages, but because of the high standard of living. I grant you that $650 a month is a lot of money in some countries, but here it can be made by any high-schooler working 20 hours a week.
Our schools are not the best any more. Some of the schools are dangerous. Angry city youth have formed gangs and they fight each other, often killing innocent bystanders. All of this has happened in the last 20 years.

Okay. Everyone got the picture of "West Side Story" meets Riverdale High School? Note: what she says is not exactly untrue (especially in Washington D.C.). But if you didn't know better...
America is in a moral and social decline. Many American families took their children out of the public school system and schooled them at home. We call it home schooling. In fact, I home schooled my children for five years. They went to a public high school, but they went with their morals intact. Drugs and alcohol are a big problem, many kids start using them in high school and before. Drugs are illegal, but it doesn't seem to matter, kids are still able to get them if they want them.

Just as Jeffery recently pointed out that Faiza seems to be a likely Dubya-booster, Joan is her doppleganger in America. Did everyone note that things are so bad that American parents are keeping their children home from school?
In America we still have the freedom to work towards change. There is an opportunity to challenge laws that you don't agree with. One of the things that I worked on for 4 years was a summer program designed for kids at risk of failing in school. It is just one example of a way of trying to help. There are people all over America working for change. I just pray that it isn't too late.

Amen, Joan. And keep up the good work. This last paragraph is an inspiration. Even, Joan, who sees things so darkly in the U.S., recognizes that she is not powerless to make a change. The power of Freedom.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Raeding Raed

I haven't covered Raed since I started. The Jarrars have been so busy lately, that its difficult to keep up. He posted last Wednesday about Chalabi, and I just didn't have the time to review it with any justice. I'm not going to go back. I'll just deal with Saturday's post, except for one thing he said back then that I think is pertinent when reviewing it:
When the American army attacked Baghdad, at that sad day 13 months ago...

I've been calling the Jarrars pessimists about the new Iraq. I've seen my argument with the Jarrars as the problem of Iraqi ambivalence about whether to be glad that Saddam was removed or sorry to see infidels and non-Arabs succeed over a strong Arab leader.

But this statement (I don't think the context puts it in a better light) seems quite declarative to me that Raed is not just a pessimist. Like Riverbend, he was a supporter of the Saddam regime. He's not just nostalgic; he's a reactionary; a Saddamite. He's like those dead-enders celebrating Saddam's birthday in Falujah, Tikrit, and Samarra while his regime collapsed around their ears last year. He's not disillusioned by the American occupation; he was against any change in the direction of Iraq from the beginning. This strikes me as being of major importance when reading Saturday's post.

Now to Raed's latest post:
So yeah. Finally, we have a president and a prime minister. So “they” selected our president and prime minister in a small meeting, But they couldn’t even announce the place of their meeting!!! Haha! What a great strong authority! Hiding in a dark smelly shelter someplace in the “green zone”, and announcing fake governments…People from the new Iraqi government don’t have the power to guarantee their personal safety! How are they supposed to rule a country like IRAQ?

Well, obviously they won't rule it like Saddam who had everyone terrified of thinking in a counter-regime way at night under their covers; where everyone constantly analyzed every word and deed to be sure it couldn't possibly be interpreted as a sign of anything but that they were hopelessly in love with Saddam. However, they knew it might not matter anyway, since arbitrary punishment was part of Saddam's tactic for remaining in power.

Maybe Raed would think better of their administration if all the members of the Iraqi Council had 12 body-doubles running around to confuse assassins and never stayed in the same place for more than a few hours.
The huge disasters we, Iraqis, have after 15 months of the unjustified American war are very difficult to be solved. The stupid mistakes of the bush administration started more than [one] cancer in the exhausted body of Iraq, all of these right winged militias that grew over the last year need decades to be removed.
(emphasis added)

Keep in mind that Raed thinks the biggest mistake Bush made was in not making Saddam's position in Iraq more secure. But the last clause I've emphasized here makes me sympathize for Raed a little more. The reason why Raed is a supporter of the Saddam regime was for fear of the Islamo-facists. Consider what he says next:
I was telling a French friend yesterday how miserable I feel, as a secular Muslim,** when I see the current Iraqi political status. I find myself marginised, as a leftist, by both the American administration and by the main stream of local right winged mood. Bush is helping extremist fundamentalists hijack the flag of Islam from people like me and niki.

Raed seems to believe that a new democratic Iraq will inevitably lead to the ascendency of the mullahs (and to some extent, with the new freedoms of religion and speech, it almost certainly will). He is one of those who saw Saddam as the bulwark against theocratic tyranny. This makes me feel a little sorry for Raed in the same way I do for Riverbend. He's got himself seeing things one certain way so that he can't see the way out even when the door is opened in front of him. By the same token, the passage out that he thinks the Coalition has blocked up was nothing but a painted facade. Here's what I mean:

Certainly, Saddam did represent secular rule throughout the 80s. But after Gulf War I and after the Kurdish/Shi'a uprisings, he increasingly allied himself with Sunni imams and Islamist militias (like Ansar Al-Aslam) to maintain his power (just as the Saud family dictorship has done in Saudi Arabia). He built lots of mosques, he paid out money to the families of suicide bombers in the West Bank (on their way to Paradise), he draped himself in religious symbols. Saddam's secular terror of the body and psyche was no alternative to the Islamofascist terror of the body and soul. And it was bound to only get worse. As Christopher Hitchens said May 18th on Scarborough Country on MSNBC:
Iraq was not just a rogue state run by a psychopathic sadist, but also a failed state...It was falling apart into sectarian warfare. It was falling into misery and destitution because of the sanctions administered by a corrupt and cynical United Nations.

And these divisions were being played upon in the nastiest possible way by the Baath Party. And there were neighboring countries interested in making their own interventions, indeed, as some Saudi and Iranian forces are indeed now doing. All that was going to happen if we let it run. And it would have been infinitely worse if there wasn‘t a Coalition force on hand to prevent it.

What you‘re seeing now is a pale shadow of what would have happened to Iraq if it had been allowed to implode. And we‘d now be having an inquest into look, who let this happen in Iraq? Why did we let it go the way of Rwanda and Somalia?

The answer for Raed is not to sneer at the new government and hope for it's failure. If it fails, the Islamist militias will certainly have their way over much of the country and sectarian/nationalist civil war will have its way over all of it. The way between where Iraq is now and what Raed wants for Iraq is for him to get behind Coalition's vision of the new Iraq and support it with everything he's got. Otherwise, he may find himself flogged through the streets of Baghdad (if he ever returns there) with nothing but the assurance that he was right to soothe the pain of his flagellations.

**Some have asked, what does Raed mean by "a secular Muslim"? How can one define himself religiously and as secular at the same time. Based on the context, I presume he means one that does not believe in theocratic rule.

Another possiblity (and they are not mutually exclusive) is suggested by a Christian missionary friend in West Bank Palestine who informed me that most Arabs don't see religion as most people do in the post-Christian era West. We think of religion as being something you choose. But does anyone remember the slaughter that went on in Lebanon between Christians and Muslims in the 80s? Those acts weren't directed from their local church. In the Middle East, to be a Muslim or Christian is like being Italian or Irish in America. It's all about whether your parents were Mulsim or Christian. To change religions is to renounce your parents, your brothers and sisters, and all your ancestors and choose another family. So Raed might conceivably be an atheist yet still see himself as Muslim as opposed to Christian.

Raed's girlfriend, Niki, has posted an explanation of what she and Raed mean when they call themselves "secular muslims".

I (sort of) regret that I must add Kurdo's World to the list of sites not enabling comments. His site is now a subject for discussion and commenting here. Over the last two weeks, Kurdo has grown increasingly disenchanted with the Coalition due to disappointment in concessions to Kurds in the Iraqi Council. If his comments are exemplary of Kurdish feeling, it seems to me that the Kurds want to see a federalized and independent Kurdistan as a means to eventually break off from Iraq and found an independent state. I think Kurdo chose to disable comments (and his email) due to readers saying how impractical that would be and how hurtful that would ultimately be for Iraqi Kurds. But I shall have more to say on this later.
Kurdo has not disabled commenting at his site. He has only changed the commenting method to BlogSpot's innate commenting feature.

UPDATE: Justify My Love II
From the Comments of this Entry, George has asked in his inimitable and intelligent manner:
hey [deleted], unless you are living in Iraq, what the hell gives you the right to criticize or even critique how they are feeling? Any we in America [sic] wonder why the world thinks we're a bunch of arrogant [deleted]......

To which I responded:
Raed is not in Iraq either. He's in Jordan. No doubt you'll now want to broaden your criteria for commenting about Iraq ever so slightly.

But Inquiring Mind did not find my answer sufficient:
CMAR II - I think that you are evading George's question. Raed's current location notwithstanding, would you care to provide an answer? I for one would like to know a little more about you in order to better understand your perspective. What country do you live in? Have you ever been to the Middle East? If so, when and where? Have you ever served in the military? If so, when or where? Perhaps you could include this information in the "About Me" section. Thanks.
Inquiring Mind

Inquiring Mind,
First off, I don't think I evaded George's question at all. To the contrary. Afterall, George didn't ask about MY background. He asked (rhetorically, I believe) what right anyone had to "even critique" the Jarrars' blogs if he is not in Iraq. However, in that case, last January, Lynndie England was one of our wise sages and Raed was an ignorant busy-body. I don't think that, but that's the logical conclusion of George’s argument.

Since I don't think George would advocate such an absurdity, his obvious response would be to broaden his filter of entitled authorities (e.g. those in the Middle East) and attenuate it (e.g. only Iraqi nationals) until he has reached the demographic he wants.

How about this? What if this blog only consisted of excepts from other Iraqi blogs (Iraq the Model, Iraqi and Iraqis, Kurdos World, etc) as though they were responding to Raed? The authors are IN Iraq and Raed is not. Interesting idea for some, but not to me. But I might consider it if I thought it had a chance of changing George’s opinion. But it wouldn’t. He would still find Raed more credible in my opinion. He is not ideologically bound to his "Iraq only" criteria. It's just a debating device.

I don't intend to chase my tail playing the game of Show Your Papers. I like my current set up. I like playing the role of The Disembodied Voice Of Reason. I presume Reason to be universal and not subjective. If anyone finds what I say to be contrary to Reason, say so and show why. Don’t try to gather intellectual pillows to comfort yourself (and cover your ears) that “whatever he says, he only says it because he’s in the military, or he's in the CIA, or he's French, or he's Welsh, or he's Baha’i, or he lives in a Red State, or he's a Zionist, or he uses petroleum products” (most of which is not true, by the way).

Of course, for all I know, Inquiring Mind, you were only interested in my background out of prurient curiosity. Nevertheless, considering the angle and altitude of my analysis on this blog, I don’t believe knowledge of my background is pertinent, and I don’t intend to give it out just to satisfy idle interest.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dereliction of Duty

I will not be demonstrating originality when I say that what the newspapers and television covers, and what the blogs cover are two totally different worlds.

The old media is still covering the pictures from Abu Ghraib when the "new media" (talk radio, blogs, and forums) moved on since before Nick Berg. Now, today, the stories in the press are:
  • the pull-out from Najaf (good news! yea!)
  • The arrest of Cleric "Hook" (good news! yea!)
  • The President meeting with guys who had their hands chopped off by Saddam for not much reason at all (one guy had made a phone call asking about the current price of gold)
  • Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson (blah!)
  • Sen. Kerry's foreign policy and internal security non-plans (yawn)

But if you want find out the important story, then you have to check out the new media. And, kids, THE story here is the REPRIMAND of several soldiers that threw two Iraqis into the Tigris river for being out after curfew. For one of the Iraqi men, his body was dragged from the river ten days later.

What's a "reprimand"? As far as I can determine, it's a black mark in a soldier's record. That's all. They have the option of filing a rebuttal in writing which will also be added to their record. As far as I can determine this is not the first step toward a general court marshall. THIS IS THE FINAL DETERMINATION OF PUNISHMENT. This not good.

Considering what I can glean from the evidence, this is probably what would happen to cops in America who did the same thing. No one saw the man drown, so maybe it is not beyond reasonable doubt that he got out of the river and happened to drown a short time later...but the military does not have to make judgements on whether a soldier's guilt is beyond reasonable doubt. The military can rule on what is most likely.

Here's a powerpoint overview on US Army Justice.

It seems to me that the military, is closing ranks here. Samarra is one of Iraq's "troubled" cities. Early on, they allied themselves with other centers of insurgency like Tikrit. So when these soldiers found these men driving after curfew, they treated them like hostile insurgents. Maybe they were, I have no way of knowing. Maybe in the mind of the military judges, these soldiers were up against a major task and meant no real harm. But great harm was done, and the way we pacify Iraq is a major front in this war.

It seems to me that the well-being of these guys' brother soldiers serving in Iraq (as well as the continuing defeat of the Saddamites and Islamists) depended on these guys being treated very harshly. It seriously bugs me to see commanding officers, who would send a soldier into Najaf to be potentially killed or maimed for life, yet unwilling to see a soldier who has behaved unprofessionally serve a few years in a military prison.

These judges shirked their patriotic duty.

All Terrorists Need to Report to the Make-up Department in 10 Minutes

The great thing about the War on Terrorism is that we get our enemies sent to us from Hollywood Central Casting from old B Spy flicks. Kim Jong Il, the dictator of North Korea, is NOT an ideal enemy from an "image" standpoint. He looks like a Munchkin Donald Trump.

But in the WOT we get a "blind cleric" leading a secret cabal to blow up the WTC. In Iraq we get characters with names like "Dr. Germ" and "Chemical Ali". And now, arrested in Britain, we have cleric Abu Hamza Al-Masri.

Woa! Look at this guy. Clouded eye! A hook! His nickname (I presume by the CIA/FBI) is even "The Hook". Now he's been arrested, so this seems like a good time to re-evaluate his life choices. He could definitely be working 24-7 in the movies.

"The Hook" listening to his MP3s? So he's not just a terrorist, he also illegally downloads?

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Reading Majid

Majid Jarrar is 17 years old. He's full of teenage angst. He's clearly a pretty smart kid, and is one of the administrators of the Al-Muajaha website which as he pointed out recently in the Comments section of Jeffery's blog, does provide a method for Commenting.

His posts have been very black lately, and I hope he's doing alright...teenagers can over dramatize there feelings, and teenage boys get a kick out of "playing" angry. But, who can say? It probably doesn't help that all the Jarrars seem to wear self-pity as a badge of honor. As Rose pointed out in the comments section here recently, being negative is a very bad habit, and it can be worse if one is a teenager and even worse if it is easy to find things to be negative about (as it surely is in Iraq).

So picking at Majid's posts is a little like swatting a kitten for unwinding a ball of yarn. How else is he supposed to behave? I could pick at the outrageous absurdity in statements like those in his May 2 post:
Now, it’s year 2004, and we live in a country that has been “liberated”, but surprisingly, it’s still missing its freedom of expression, freedom of publish, freedom of criticism… we live in a country that has a ministry for human right, but no rights for humans.

But, I don't want to waste space with that. I want to consider what he wrote in the Comments of Jeffery's blog and something else that's very pertinent in that May 2nd post.

In the Comments he writes:
You can always wish that the f***ers you like are the majority of Iraq. But you know what; the JARRARs are the majority... SAD BUT TRUE

At first glance, this is a good sign since it appears Majid might be coming out of his depression a little bit after the death of a young American friend in Chicago. But I want to consider the substance of what he says. The f**ckers like you means those who think getting rid of Saddam was an improvement. The JARRARSs are those who miss the days under Saddam when Majid believed his family would be able to afford to send him to MIT. If Majid is right, then he's using the wrong laugh. "Nyahahaha" is the laugh of a boy who has pushed a smaller boy in the mud. Majid should be using "Bwahahahaha". That's the laugh of a mastermind who has knowingly sold himself to evil. That's probably the way Chalabi laughs when, alone in his office, he gets a directive from Iran.

In the May 2nd post Majid writes:
Ammar, a person who I met after the war, said “those Americans will not succeed unless they ruled like Saddam, we Iraqis are easily inflamed and nothing can rule us except fire”. Now actually there is no Ammar, but there are hundreds of “Ammars” I meet all the time; taxi drivers, grocers, neighborhood guards, unemployed people… whether they liked or not, and whether you liked or not, they know that one fact is life under Saddam was much easier, period.

Compare this with the article by G.A. Ahad in the Guardian (G.A. used to post the G. In Baghdad blog):
Do I regret the war, especially now that things seem to be moving towards chaos here? Not at all. I still think we are much better off than under Saddam. At least now we are free to dream.

There are other Iraqi witnesses (see the sidebar to the right for some) who, despite the fact that the Bush Administration has not shown god-like competence and foresight, despite the mundane mistakes of military operations that result in major human agony and death, despite the despicable and criminal behavior of some Coalition soldiers, despite the fact many Iraqis have used their new freedoms to engage in the very human, very universal tendencies of racism, bigotry, criminal opportunism, and herd mentality, or have ideologically taken the side of those who mean deliberate harm to their country, nevertheless still recognize the unmitigated value of freedom.

So which thinking will shape Iraq's future? That depends on the mindset the majority of the Iraqis take to the polls early next year.

Kurds and Ansar Al-Aslam

Another false premise endemic to whiny Iraqi blog-sites:
1. The Invasion of Iraq was unjustified because no WMDs were found.
2. Ansar Al-Aslam, is a Kurdish-supported , Al Qaeda-supported, anti-American Islamo-facist group.

Number 2. is...True. As far as that goes. Ansar Al-Aslam was based in Kurdish territory and was supported by some Kurds. It also received support from Iran and Saddam and Al Qaeda (but of course that is no proof of a link between Saddam and international terrorists. Ho ho!).

However, Kurds were fighting to drive out Ansar Al-Aslam for two years before the US entered Iraq and have only recently driven them from Kurdish territory with the help of US forces. And now Kurds who were driven from that area by Ansar Al-Aslam are returning home. Here is a beautiful photo essay of the Kurdish area in question thanks to Fayrouz.

(Fayrouz does not have comments enabled on her blog, Live From Dallas,so even though she is an odd-duck among the Jarrars and Riverbend, she is on the subject list for CryMeARiverbend II.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

We get letters! We get letters! We get sacks and sacks of letters!

Here's some quality email and Comments I've received lately:

Nazgol and Rose commented at about the same time and their tones were so similar, that I can't help thinking of them as a single post.

I read your well written article and although I think your logic convincingly supports the idea of considering Saddam as a threat and the urge of removing him from power, I also think it would be appropriate if you think about what is happening to many other human beings. As I don’t live in the US I take your word that US citizen’s feel much better knowing Saddam is not in power any more, but are we, as human beings allowed to ignore what happened to many Iraqis? - nazgol

I know Riverbend and Raed sound annoying to you as they keep blaming Americans. I agree being negative is a very bad habit, but have you ever imagined yourself miserable? Have you imagined everything you take for granted, like electricity, etc, suddenly disappear from your life? War is very horrifying and I am telling you cause I have experienced it once. Hiding in the shelters and not knowing whether you or your beloved ones will be alive after few minutes is not fun. And even worse is after war when you are left with a destroyed country. These are certainly factors to be considered. There is no cause that can justify sufferance of other human beings. - rose

While I sympathize with the plight of all the Iraqis, in this case, negativism can be a very very bad habit indeed. I have no doubt in the Iraqis' ability to overcome the problems (with the help of the US and NGO voluteers in rebuilding its infrastructure). I'm quite confident of the Coalition military's ability to treat the Saddamites, al-Sadr thugs, and international Islamo-facists the way they ought to be treated. But I worry that we will lose the war at home through the whining of so many here in the US who only have their eye on the next election and through undue attention being paid to Iraqis who find so much harm done to them by the removal of Saddam.

Regarding my analysis of the mis-guided argument that the Coalition did a bad thing in taking out Saddam because we haven't found the WMDs that everybody (including the French and Germans) thought were there, Tom thinks we should change the subject...
First off, you're basing this debate on a false premise. You state that opponents of this war say it's unjustified because WMD's were never found. But millions of people in the USA and around the world opposed this war before the invasion. We went to the UN before the invasion. We cited 441 then, in an attempt to gain support for the war. It was not forthcoming. We then invaded on the premise of pre-emption. Without UN backing, this war was illegitimate. The Coalition of the Willing can not enforce UN resolutions; only the UN can.

Tom, note that I put a NUMBER ONE (1) in front of that argument. There were many good reasons for taking out Saddam and many claims for why it was unjustified, imprudent, and evil. I plan to work my way through them one by one. But, I do have a duty not to neglect my Jarrars reading and now I've got this new fixation with Momar's Fly Girls posse. Give me time.

But, your email brings up why I think that 99% of the war protesters are phonies. In 1991, Bush 41 organized a UN sanctioned action to excise Saddam from Kuwait. There were world-wide protests in America, Europe, and the ME. "No Blood For Oil!" Then in 1998, President Clinton by-passed the UN to engage a war to drive Serbia out of a region of its own country. Were there massive protests in Europe or America? Nope. There were a few scattered teeny protests by people who looked to be killing time between IMF summits. But there were no signs equating Clinton with Hitler. There were no celebrities denouncing the war overseas. The Russians and Chinese complained, and Iraq was against it. Big deal. There were no anguished news stories in the major Western media about civilian casualties as there were in 1991, even though we deliberately targeted marginal military assests such as civilian electrical generators and water treatment plants.

Then in 2001, during the invasion of Afghanistan, it all cranked up again. The focus on civilian casualties in the news, the "illegality" of fighting a war while not wearing a blue helmet...it only took the New York Times until Oct 31, 2001 to declare Afghanistan a "quagmire". There were all those commentaries about how the Afghani culture was unable to get its mind around the idea of democracy and that "democracy cannot be imposed from the outside". Then when it became clear that Dubya's re-election wouldn't hang on the success of Hamid Karzai, it was okay for Aghanistan to be able to figure out democracy...in fact, if we only didn't get distracted with Iraq, it would probably be easy.

The fact is that 99% of the opposition to the war in Iraq now (and in Afghanistan before) is purely political. The Europeans were mad at the Bush Administration for not signing the Kyoto treaty even though it would NEVER have passed the Senate (which is why the Clinton Administration never signed it either). In America (and Europe too), a lot of people would rather see Dubya get a black-eye than have a successful democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan; rather see Dubya fail to keep his country safe than to see him succeed at it. This is when "protest" is unpatriotic (there, I said it). This is when gloomy prophecying is actually a lifting of the leg to the love for freedom and civilization. It's not illegal, and it shouldn't be. But Negativism carried to a certain extent can align itself with the enemies of freedom, and I think we passed that line a long time ago.

During WWII, you could have pointed to many more "war atrocities" and civilian deaths of the sort lamented in Iraq. America had never been attacked by Germany or Italy; they were no threat to us. But America went to Europe first, because she was needed there the most at the time. And by golly, the horrors of the unavoidable means of carrying out a war against the Axis Powers was worth the intended end.

Christine sent me an email to tell me how sorry she felt for me:
I happened upon your site today, and I was shocked and saddened to see that you find it necessary to "comment" on other people's blogs the way you do. I found Riverbend's blog some months back, and Zayed's, Raed's, WildfireJo's, and many others, and have appreciated having the ability to read what they, who are there, have to say. Unlike you, I don't read and judge -- I just read. After all, perhaps the biggest point lost on the Bush Administration and their team going into war was what the perspective of the people of Iraq would be -- and that's why we have the mess we do in Iraq right now. Maybe they should be doing more reading. And with an open mind!

Don't you see that it doesn't matter what any of us here in the West believes to be true? To win the hearts and minds of Iraqis and others in the Middle East, we won't succeed by scolding them or issuing "correct minded" opinions to them -- we must learn to work with their perceptions, AS THEY SEE THEM -- no matter how foreign they may appear to Westerners, no matter how contrary to our interests.

I don't think your ridicule of what these bloggers say is helpful. (Even the title of your blog is an attempt to ridicule Riverbend -- which is really a very sad reflection on your character.) Why can't you just blog about what's going on and say what you think? (Like they do.) Are you so insecure that you can't just give your own perspective on things and feel confident of your ability to influence people? What kind of a person feels they have to cut someone down to improve their own stature? That's one thing that always impressed me about Riverbend -- she just writes what she sees and feels, what she thinks about what's going on in her world. She doesn't get involved in mudslinging or attempting to discredit anyone who disagrees with her (like you do). You do yourself and your culture a disservice. I'm sorry for you -- you don't seem like a very nice person.

Thank you for your concern, Christine. You are clearly a very sensitive person, and I, of course, am not.

Look, imagine this is 1958 and we have the Internet. Naturally there would be a lot of White Separatists in the South...they would be in a strong majority there. Since my family whom I dearly love and respect would be among them, I can attest that Racism does not only flow from an evil mind. It comes from not setting back and looking at the one's beliefs analytically and objectively. I don't have to hate White Separatists (or Black Separatists) to disagree with them.

But, if the Internet existed in 1958, there would be a lot of blogs by white people talking about the "outrageous the behavior" of the National Guardsmen imposing their values on others. They would talk about the arrogance of Yankee liberals unsettling things in their communities. They might even speak of the poor desperate white people forced to resort to violence by an oppressive Federal government and New York media. As I said, their opinions would be in the majority and as we moved through the 1960s their claims that the country was going to Hell in a Handbasket would certainly look justified.

And then there would be me: commenting on their blogs; offering a means for others to comment on their blogs. I don't think it shows any respect toward these bloggers to read their blogs without offering them the left sides of our brains.

What is the connection in my opinion between the Jarrars and Riverbend and Wildfirejo and White Separatists? They didn't reason their way INTO their current opinions, so consequently their opinions reflect their uncritical emotions:
1. The US is killing Iraqis (oh really? I thought they were fighting thugs who wanted to unstablize Iraq...oh! Your counting those too!)
2. Iraq is still suffering a year after Saddam was removed (a year is not really a long time to solve that sort of thing and if the insurgents would stop blowing people up more NGO volunteers would come to help and foreigners would invest in the country and things would improve).
3. Iraq is not secure (well every time the Coalition tries to solve the insecurity problem, you complain).

This sort of thinking strikes me as inherently unreasonable, and it is this sort of viewpoint that makes it difficult for some Iraqis (like our bloggers in question) to stop whining and start appreciating the marvelous (oh yes "marvelous" look at the repression and poverty in the other Arab countries and you'll see what I mean) opportunity they and their country have been given.

Momar Watch
There's actually a new film documentary on Momar's "African Heat".

(bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you!)

It's called "Desert Amazons: Qaddafi’s Female Bodyguards".
It's by a young American film student, Rania Ajami. Needless to say I am watching for it at a theater near me. It is currently (apparently) making the rounds in France. Curse the French! Why should they see it first!

Speaking of movies, Joe Bob Briggs, that erstwhile drive-in movie reviewer has a great article about The Mo in The National Interest. Excellent! CMAR2 says check it out. It's got Spelling-Fu.

Also, man oh man! Who is planning Momar's wardrobe. Every time he leaves the house he starts an outrage of the sort previously reserved for Michael Jackson or Madonna. Well anyway, he ought to.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Lets start with the basics

So often, certain bloggers talking about Iraq and also many many people commenting here start with the same falacious presumptions. I'm going to answer them here, and then I don't have to answer them any more...right. Hah! Suuure.
1. The Invasion of Iraq was unjustified because no WMDs were found

Wrong. While it is true that the Coalition invaded Iraq with the presumption that Saddam had WMDs (brace yourself) that was not the reason for the invasion. It's understandable that someone could be momentarily confused about this, but by now one really should have worked it out.

The US argued for the invasion of Iraq because Saddam had not complied with the terms of the UN ceasefire back in 1991. You see, Saddam was not just required to dispose of WMDs, he was required to VERIFY that he had done so. For that reason alone he was liable for invasion. (He was also not supposed to rearm afterward but I'll get to that in a minute).

[Edited to add an appropriate link.]

IF Saddam had no WMDs during the inspections in 2002, it seems very likely that HE did the fooling, not Bush and not Blair. I say IF that is true, then it seems that he wanted to simultaneously out-last the will of the UN to maintain sanctions AND keep the nations around him and the Kurds and Shi'a in his country BELIEVING that he still had them.

According to David Kay, while the inspectors didn't find WMDs, all the Iraqi commanders believed they existed -- but they always thought some other unit was the one that had them. So he was fooling his soldiers as well.

The French and Germans (although against an invasion) never disputed he had them either, because he behaved so guiltily. So should the Coalition...should even France or Germany...have accepted Saddam's "good word" that he didn't have WMDs, especially when he was all the time (wink, wink) implying that he did have them? No. And if UN administrators had not been skimming food and medicine away from poor Iraqis, no one probably would have. Saddam fooled us all. Too bad for Saddam.

David Kay also found evidence that Saddam himself was being fooled. Saddam himself thought he was conducting a secret nuclear program, but his scientists were hoodwinking him. And that was another reason he was not cooperating with inspectors to verify the destruction of those weapons. When the world eventually looked the other way, Saddam would surely have conducted a careful audit, found out how his nuclear program had gone awry and set it right again.

The CIA is taking a beating for not knowing that Saddam didn't have huge stock-piles of weapons for easy access all over Iraq. But, considering the deceptions folded within deceptions, can they really be blamed?

Once again, this is IF they weren't there in 2002. That is why 100 years of inspections would never have given us a reasonable assurance that Saddam had disarmed as he agreed to; as he was required to.

(But as comedian David Spade said, "If your Mom tells you, 'In four months I'm going to check your room for weed', when she finally checks your room, she's not going to find any weed. It's going to be at your friend Sudan's house.")

Furthermore, IF Saddam, after 12 years avoidance and lies had suddenly shown up with documentation and witnesses that he had destroyed his WMDs back in 1994, could we ever have been convinced it was not an elaborate trick? Could any assurance on Saddam's part by that time have being credible? Wouldn't we all have been patsies to believe it?

Now, AFTER the invasion, we KNOW that he doesn't have them anymore, and in the shadow of 9-11 you can hardly put a price on that sort of assurance.

So even if no WMDs are EVER found...even if they no longer existed in 2002...Saddam was flaunting the UN ceasefire, so there was 100% reason to take him out. Since he didn't verify that he got rid of them, the risk that he had them was all too likely, all too perilous, and all too real.

The Europeans seem to have a problem grasping this, but I think if they had seen their OWN economies wiped out...billions upon billions of dollars lost in a matter of hours, they would see things differently.

Finally, it doesn't really matter if he had got rid of them. He was secretly maintaining his ability to reconstruct his WMD programs...even his NUCLEAR programs...in order to rebuild them after the world looked the other way. So it hardly mattered if he did destroy his WMDs (which I doubt), and verified their destruction (which he didn't), and dismantled his WMD production capacity (which he at least did not think he had done). He and his sons were a menace, they would always be a menace. There was nothing for them but to take them out. No other option (unfortunately) was available.
[whiney voice]"But America has a nuclear program, why couldn't Saddam have them?"

Because, Iraq was unique among all nations on Earth in that they were expressly denied the right to have WMDs as part of the ceasefire agreement after she was driven from Kuwait by a UN-backed Coalition.

That's enough for today. Tomorrow, I want to talk about Majid and then the next day I move on to Abu Ghraib and other "war atrocities" of the Coalition.

2nd Update on Qadaffy's Fembots
Here's a news article about Momar's Angels taking on Egyptian bodyguards at an African summit.

This image was not referencible. It is a pic of a trio of sultry Momar groupies.

Here's a pic of Momar's top female hench. The inner core of his "deadly lovelies". She's a black belt. One article refered to her as "heavy-set" which I think is small minded. I say "bones are for dogs".

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Justify My Love

Thanks to Jeffery for his specific instructions on getting the Comments option to work as desired. Some have advised me that Haloscan in not necessary since BlogSpot Comments permit anonymous blogging; but I find the BlogSpot Comment interface confusing, and it could make people think they cannot comment anonymously.

I'm still getting email about what a terrible thing this blog is…critically analyzing other people’s blogs. One reader says:
Sorry, I don't understand why you insist they have to have a comments section? Do you believe it holds them accountable? If so, why do you demand accountability from them, yet you do this anonymously? Anonymous commenting on a personal blog is hardly necessary, is it? These Iraqi bloggers are not public officials, they're citizens. Why is it necessary that you are given the opportunity to provide feedback on everything they say?

I'm sorry, but it seems really very bizarre to create a blog simply because some other blog will not let you leave comments there. Why not just email them?

It's akin to you walking behind someone you meet on the street and countering or arguing every point they make, then claiming it's your right.

Um…well, actually it’s more akin to standing on the street, passing out flyers critiquing the flyers of the fellow on the other side of the street. And I do claim it is my right. If someone says something in public, why should I not have the right to comment on it publically?

But why do I think a Comments section is desirable? One might as well ask why a newspaper should have Letters to the Editor section. Yes, and I also claim the right to do this anonymously – just like Madison, Hamilton, and Jay. I don’t want to be placed in the position the original CMAR was in – deciding whether it is worth it place my family in jeopardy to publish a blog. This a time when the most distant crazy person in the world is 12 hours away. Faiza & Co. are not anonymous, but their adversaries are advocates of civilization and free speech. Those I whom I view as adversaries, the Bathists and Islamo-facists and their sympathizers, put bombs on public streets (or apologize for their right to do so). So I’ll continue to post anonymously.

But for anyone who agrees with everything Faiza & Co say, this site is a benefit to you too. Use the Comments section to leave notes of support for them, point out what you liked most about what they had to say.

Speaking of which, has anyone checked out the pictures section of Faiza’s blog? Fantastic! Based on media photos, one could get the idea that Iraq is nothing but bombed-out buildings, barbed wire, and humvees (burning and shooting). These pictures show the beauty of Baghdad.

Reading the Comments at Jeffery's site, someone mentioned Col. Momar Gaddaffi's bodyguard. So I googled around for it. Yowsa! They all look like the backup singers in the "Simply Irresistible" music video. President Bush has got to do this country a favor and invite Momar up to Crawford for a summit!

If anyone cares after checking out the pics, here's serious analysis of Momar's internal security organization.

By the way, why is it that after running a military dictatorship for all these years, Momar is still just a colonel?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Riverbend and her friends the insurgents

I'm still having trouble figuring out how to make anonymous posting easier (such as you see on Jeffery's site). Anyone who knows more about this than I do, please let me know what to do.

Scott commented on my last posting. He didn't seem to disagree with anything I said, he just has a problem that I exist:
Don't you have any more originality than to heckle other people? and not only that but to set up a blog stictly to ape a defucnt heckler.

I still think it still serves a purpose. I don't see any difference between commenting on Raed and Riverbend and commenting on a Washington Post article. Heck, I wouldn't have even known about Riverbend or Faiza or a lot of other sites if it hadn't been for Cry Me A Riverbend.

As for originality, Riverbend (for example) seems to mostly just repeat the assertions of insurgents and Muqty's henchmen. I consider this site my chance to comment on people who think that insurgents are forced to kill soldiers and NGO workers but that the Coalition does everything it does out of a desire to be cruel. Since Riverbend and Faiza and Raed aren't interested in permiting commentary at their sites (a typical Bathist tradition from what I can tell of Saddam's and Syria's regimes), they are welcome to respond here or on their own sites if they think their arguments have enough foundation.

But, on to Riverbend's most recent posting (En Kint Tedri, May 22)...

She's very happy that the Coalition is looking closely at Chalabi, but she asks:
Chalabi was America's lapdog- why is he suddenly unsuitable for the new Iraq?

Err...well maybe it's because the Coalition doesn't care about having a "lap-dog". (gasp!) It can be surprising for some when they add two to two and get four. Fortunately for Riverbend, she does not arrive at so unsetting a figure; she grasps wildly at 9, 42, 182, whatever:
Why this sudden change of heart towards Mercenary #1? People are saying that it is a ploy to help him rise in popularity, but I can hardly believe that. Could the decision-makers currently mulling over the Iraq situation be so ridiculously optimistic? Or could they have really been so wrong in the past?

Actually, they gave a reason: They suspect that possibly Chalabi himself, but more likely his chief security officer has sold himself to Iran. The Coalition does not seem to be willing to tolerate the Iraqi democracy being undermined by Iran whether it be through Chalabi or a self-important religious pretender. Riverbend may be correctly assessing Chalabi's credibility but her default bigotry prevents her from reaching the obvious conclusion that Coalition's ultimate goal is a stable and free Iraq.

Next she goes on to deride the Coalition for taking on the difficult task of excising from Iraq a band of kidnappers, of bomb-planters on public streets, of sabatours of oil pipelines and electrical lines, of terrorizers of non-government organization volunteers:
Meanwhile, a couple of days ago, 40 people were murdered in western Iraq while they were celebrating a wedding- an American helicopter fired at the civilians, killing women and children. Apparently, the guests at the wedding were shooting klashnikovs into the air. You'd think that the Americans would know by now that shooting klashnikovs into the air is a form of celebration and considering the fact that the party was far from any major town or city, the shots were virtually harmless.

Riverbend, from her perspective, knows no more about what went on there than I do from mine. It is not inconsistent for the Iraqi insurgents to muster and attack from positions near bystanders and women and children. Actually they are known to attack from houses with the intention of having them destroyed in the fighting. Anyway, the Coalition forces seem to having come to that site based on intelligence that foreign insurgents were gathering there, not just because people were shooting in the air.
There's more to this story than a lil' o wedding. As Maj. Gen. Mattis pointed out:
"How many people go into the middle of the desert 10 miles from the Syrian border to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?"

This story is still developing.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Rising from the Riverbend Again

I've started this site because the original CryMeARiverbend was forced off by death threats and someone posting his name.

I don't know CMAR nor do I have any contact with him, but I'm seriously annoyed at this sort of method of deterring free speech. I think it exhibits the sort of mentality that the Iraqis and the Coalition are currently trying to root out. Just over half of Spanish voters may back down in the face of Terrorism, and (who knows) perhaps even the Americans will elect someone who promises to distance himself from the war (by putting the UN in charge). But I don't intend to.

To get things started Raed is already gloating over the squelching of CMAR by death threats. He also makes a point of congratulating those who participated in this dispicable action.
Loosers of the Week
ladies and gentlemen
it is my pleasure to announce the fall of two of my small enemies
The Barking dog
The Terrified ChoCho Chicken
congratulations everyone

Leaving aside the irony that Raed has finally found a common enemy with the Coalition in Chalabi, his jubilation over the shutting down of the CMAR site in this fashion finally provides a hint of the sort of Mid-Eastern Paradise Iraq would be if he were in charge of the reconstruction.

I think it's time Raed had some sort of image to enhance his blog and help us all to understand what he is about.

With typical credulity, Riverbend is citing the Terrorists' declared motives for murdering Nick Berg: That it was because of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal. The fact that they kidnapped him before the scandal became public is something that just doesn't come up. She also says:
Foreigners in Iraq are being very, very careful and with good reason. Many of the companies have pulled out their staff and are asking the remaining workers and contractors to be extra careful and as inconspicuous as possible.

Which of course is why the insurgents are the only real enemies of Iraqis. Riverbend uses the word insurgents in "quotations" and then asks:
So why was it an intifadhah, or popular uprising, in 1991 and now suddenly it's an insurgency? The people fighting in the streets of Najaf and Karbala aren't trained warriors or former regime members… they are simply people who are tired of empty promises and hollow assurances.

It probably was a "popular uprising" in Falujah, but it's an "insurgency" because people who are fighting for the return of a Saddam Hussein or another dictator are not fighting for the "popular" good: they are fighting for their own twisted good at the expense of their fellow citizens. She goes on:
The people fighting in the streets of Najaf and Karbala aren't trained warriors or former regime members… they are simply people who are tired of empty promises and hollow assurances.

I'm not Iraqi, but it has been reported on other Iraqi blogs that the people fighting for Muqty are street thugs who are being paid to cause trouble by the same, and that the money comes from the Iranian mullahs who bear the Iraqi people no good will. Of course, the idea that these are people fighting because they are "tired of empty promises" is laughable. The Iraqis were promised freedom of religion (which they've received), freedom of speech and association (even the Communist Party is operating openly). The Coalition promised a hand-over of the government on June 30, 2004 and that date is not likely to be missed. They were promised elections about 6 months after that,and that date hasn't been missed. So What are the empty promises???

Muqty's paper finally got shut down when it began to openly call for killing Coalition soldiers but the same would happen to a paper in the United States - you are not allowed to specifically advocate murder.

What troubles persist in Iraq are largely due to Muqty's Punqties causing trouble and the insurgents in Fallujah whom you so love. They are they ones driving away international organizations and killing people building water treatment plants. They are the ones who are blowing up oil pipelines, electrical lines, and kidnapping workers in power plants. Was the Fallujahn "popular uprising" also caused by "empty promises"?? The first "uprising" there was April 2, 2003! BEFORE the war with the Saddam regime was even over! This is the city where they had public celebrations of Saddam's birthday.

So, Riverbend, now you have your answer. That's why Muqty's thugs and the Fallujahn trouble-makers are "insurgents".

She goes on:
Ossama is from Saudi Arabia, Al Dhawahiri is Egyptian and Al Zarqawi is Jordanian. Which countries in the region are America's best allies? Let's see now… did you guess Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt?! Fantastic!

It is an ironic twist that the nations in the MidEast in which the governments are not openly hostile to the US, are the ones where the people hate the US (albeit the governments themselves frequently help to gin up that hatred). The ME nations where the governments are openly hostile, are the ones where the US is relatively popular (for example Iran). I'm told by Arab friends that this is because when the leaders are educated in the West and the militaries are supported by the West, the people associate their oppression with the West. This is but ONE reason why the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were ultimately essential to good US-ME relations.