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Iraq: it gets worse « Previous | |Next »
June 19, 2004

The neo-con dream - the road to Jerusalem going through Baghdad plus democracy, once established in Iraq, would sweep the Middle East - is now in tatters. Here is part of the case:

1.The second major justification for the Iraq war has been rejected by an independent commission investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks, dismissed claims of a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida held by the imperial presidency. The 9/11 commission said there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the September 11 attacks against America. And there is no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.

2.The first major justification for invading Iraq--- the weapons of mass destruction possessed by Iraq-- has long been discredited, due to the failure to to find any.

There go the central justifications for the invasion of Iraq.

3.What we are left with are the consequences of the invasion. Australia is part of a bloody occupation, with rising dislike and antagonism of the US occupation force. The latter is facing an insurgency, which it is trying to crush.

4.Let us not forget the repressive side of the occupation associated with the the siege of Fallujah, provoking the uprising of Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, and then the Abu Ghraib scandal that made publci the underside of operation Iraqi freedom:

The caption says that an unmuzzled dog appears to be used to frighten a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Two military dog handlers told investigators that intelligence personnel ordered them to use dogs to intimidate prisoners.

Another photo from the Washington Post indicates that this abuse of prisoners amounts to inflicting physical pain:


It is unclear whether these wounds were caused by dogs. What we do know is that use of stress positions and dogs at Abu Ghraib were approved by the "highest levels" of the officer corps and civilian officials at the Pentagon. This regime was a way to control the other, the Arab. This regime of mastery over the other would use the disorders of the prisoners sexuality to humiliate them, in order to destroy their attachment to the Islamic principles and values that gave their life meaning.

These are images of sado-masochistic activity and of brutalization and suffering repeated. The cruelty and humiliation evoked glee from the American guards at their mastery over Arabs through forcing them to perform perverse actions.

5.The upcoming transfer of sovereignty in Iraq is nothing like full sovereignty. Juan Cole reckons it is a publicity stunt - without substance.

Iraq is a political disaster that undermines the carefully-crafted image of John Howard as the Anzac PM and father of the nation. The father stands exposed: he has a contempt for the Islamic world and disdain for the conventions Geneva that would restrain the thrust of Empire.

The political father through his ministers (eg. Senator Hill) is busy defending the pleasure gained by Americans from the cruelty and humiliation of Arabs who have threatened the homeland.

By covering up what it knew about the regime of cruelty in Iraq, the Howard government is defending the desire to exploit the suffering of Iraqi's for sado-masochistic pleasure. This discloses the Australian political unconscious: Orientalism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:46 PM | | Comments (28)


Where are you VOS? Gathering strength for another assault on decency and common sense?

Have a look at that bloke bleeding on the ground. For the moment he is Jewish, not Muslim. Feel the rising bile, the outrage and injustice? Contrast it to the cheerful schadenfreude you normally experience. That's the core of your racism. Diagnosis is free, but I have to say the prognosis isn't good.

As a first time reader of this blog I take it VOS is the resident right wing troll (although I notice Steve Edwards also pays a visit).
Things are looking bad in Iraq and the sooner we withdraw from the coalition of the willing the better. I would still like Australia to give aid to the Iraq, even more than proposed, as they are going to need it.
I read Jaun Cole's site too and think it a great source for background.
Those photos really are disturbing.


In case you didn't notice, the perpetrators of the Abu Ghraib abuses are being court martialled. And, if culpability for this leads up the chain of command, then highers up will pay, as well.

These guys are already being prosecuted and punished. And the internal US Army investigation that has resulted in these courts martial began long before the first abuse photos were ever leaked. General Taguba's investigation explicitly stated that there was no evidence of direct orders from senior officers to commit those abuses in the prison. But, if such evidence surfaces, heads will undoubtedly roll.

So what do you want to do, court martial the perpetrators twice for the same offence?


There's little wonder that John Cole is one of Gary's fave sources of info on the Middle East because Cole is very much from the hard left anti-US/anti-Zionist mould. While his lefty opinions by themselves are not unusual in academia, Cole's notoriety derives from his active role in trying to scuttle legislation in Congress that would ensure that Federal grant money for ME studies would be used for its intended purpose - encouraging a cadre of ME linguists some of whom could serve in US military, diplomatic and intelligence agencies. This legislation was necessitated by the fact that the Middle East Studies Association in the States was dominated by 60s-esque tenured radicals like Cole who refused to cooperate with the US government that was funding their programs. Cole would apparently love nothing more than to live in a lefty echo-chamber where never is heard a dissonant word, and the skies are not cloudy all day. Heaven forfend that a supporter of the Bush administration would actually be able to get a doctoral fellowship!! We can't have people like that sullying the hallowed halls of academia!

As for my purported "racism," first let me point out the promiscuous overuse of that term by the left. It is the epithet of choice for leftwingers who employ ad hominem pejoratives in lieu of substantive argument.

I have repeatedly pointed out that the principles I espouse are applicable across the board; that I terrorism is defined by the nature of the act, not the ethnicity of the perpetrator. As a matter of fact, this "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" relativistic bullshit is a staple of the left, not conservatism. It is the left that preaches the post-modernist doctrines of Derrida, et al, the proclaim the impossibility of objective truth or ethics. So, Glenn, you might want to look a bit closer to home for those who employ logical non sequiturs and inconsistencies to support their creed.

And, finally, as a first time reader of your virgin contribution to this blog, Andy, let me say that I am singularly unimpressed. Calling me a troll is a pretty pathetic substitute for a rational refutation of my arguments.

If you ever want to have a serious debate on an issue of substance, let me know, eh?

If it is the terrorists doing the torturing or killing it is scandalous-when it is us,it can be justified.
I would like to stick a broomstick up the arse of every right wing zealot and attach an alsatian to their balls(if one could find them)and then ask if torture is OK.

'promiscuous overuse of that term(Racism) by the left' Interesting that the 'right' of the OzBlogosphere should be so ready to promiscuously, if indeed that is the correct descriptor, use that term. I refer to the readiness with which Blair et al indulge. Let there be no mistakes. GC summarises the goings on in Iraq, at Abu Ghraib and who knows how many other unknown places in that sorry country, quite succinctly. Man's inhumanity to his fellow man. It goes on, regardless of what the world in general may think and probably always will. That's not a valid reason to sanction what has occurred, nor permit it occurring at some future point in time. War may well be war, but that doesn't condone the sideshows which spring from it.

As a matter of fact, this "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" relativistic bullshit is a staple of the left, not conservatism.

It would seem that you also suffer from relativistic bullshit as can be seen from one of your statements on a previous post.
And, as for Iran-Contra, I fail to see how halting the spread of Marxism in Latin America is a manifestation of rapaciousness.
It is well documented that the Contras used extreme terror tactics in their campaign to overthrow the Sandinistas.

Another example perhaps closer to your heart would be the tactics the Zionists used in trying to drive the British out of Palestine. A hand grenade thrown at the families of the British occupiers was found to be an effective terrorist tactic.
Where these people terrorists or freedom fighters or both.


Cheap accusations are easy. Substantiation is something else, entirely. The two largest armed Jewish groups, the Haganah and Etzel, limited their actions to attacks on the British military. The King David Hotel served as British military HQ and thus was a legitimate target.

The tiny Lehi, AKA the Stern Gang, did engage in terrorist activities. It assassinated British officials and police, a la Michael Collins in Ireland. I do not recall, however, the Lehi deliberately attacking the families of British personnel.

Yet, there is no doubt about the fact that the Lehi engaged in terrorism, and as such was condemned and despised by the overwheling majority of the Jewish Yishuv (community in Mandatory Palestine). That's why, after the Lehi assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo, the Hagana engaged in what is known as the "Saison," when it cooperated with the Brits in destroying that splinter movement. By that time (1944), the Lehi was down to a few dozen terrorists, and with the intell provided by the Hagana, these guys were easily swept up by the Brit police and deported to a prison camp in Ethiopia.

A miniscule movement, by far the smallest of the three armed Jewish organizations, did engage in terrorism, true enough. But, your attempt to portray the entire Zionist enterprise as terrorist is simply false.

Furthermore, I challenge you to provide plausible evidence that even the Lehi deliberately targeted the families of British personnel. I don't recall such a thing happening, even though the Etzel committed other sorts of acts that could be fairly characterized as terrorist.


The following comes from Stratfor, a private sector firm that provides strategic analysis to the business community. It provides a different take on the Iraq story to what you tend to hear in the lefty echo chambers you habitually frequent. I think that even you will find this fair-minded and objective:

"Geopolitical Diary: Tuesday, June 15, 2004
June 16, 2004 0705 GMT

A strange note emerged in Iraq today. Posted on an Islamist Web site, the note -- purported to be by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of a jihadist group -- painted a grim picture of the group's status. According to the note, the group was hard pressed in Iraq, its base of support withering. Al-Zarqawi said that unless the situation changes, his members would have to choose between martyrdom and moving to another country to carry on the war. The Associated Press later reported that the text matched a message intercepted and distributed by the United States in February.

This leaves three possibilities. First, the entire message could be U.S. disinformation designed to undermine al-Zarqawi's credibility. That is not inconceivable -- such efforts are both expected and appropriate in a war -- but it would not explain the note's presence on the Web site, particularly not four months after its initial publication. Second, it could simply be an old message that a webmaster mistakenly decided to post. Having had our own exciting times with webmasters and their posting habits, this too is conceivable. However, we would assume that even a webmaster working for an Islamist Web site would notice that this particular post was out of keeping with the main thrust of the marketing department. Someone had to decide to post that message and, unless the entire Web site is simply U.S. disinformation -- which would not explain other pieces on the site -- that would indicate rational intentions. Finally, this could be a reposting of the original message because the current situation poses challenges similar to those in February.

The Iraqi resistance was reeling in February, recovering from the failed Ramadan offensive. It looked like their backs were against the wall. This was reversed during the April offensive. But the fortunes of war have shifted again. With the changes in relations between the United States and a number of Sunni groups, the shape of the war has altered. Al-Zarqawi's strength is in the Sunni community and -- if we are to believe the message -- the community's evaluation of the situation has changed. The base of support for outright resistance has shifted, leaving al-Zarqawi increasingly isolated.

We tend to believe that the message was both authentic and deliberately reposted, simply because the situation he describes seems to reflect the reality on the ground. It was noted by many that al Qaeda does not normally admit problems. That is generally, but not universally, true. After the first of the year, Osama bin Laden delivered a message pointing out the severe problems in Iraq and elsewhere and blaming the Saudis.

Al-Zarqawi is not really a favorite of bin Laden. In fact, one of al-Zarqawi's problems is that al Qaeda has focused its operations on Saudi Arabia, and has provided only limited support to al-Zarqawi. One of the points of the message might have been to put bin Laden on notice that if al-Zarqawi goes down in Iraq, he will blame al Qaeda for insufficient support. It is a tactic that might trigger more help at a time when he desperately needs it.

The fact is, once again, it appears the Iraqi situation is stabilizing. The Baathists are exploring some sort of relationship with the coalition. The Shia -- including al-Sadr -- have thrown in with the new, non-Shiite government. And now al-Zarqawi has issued an official notification of despair. Given the fact that the United States will be pursuing strategies to minimize casualties, the summer might turn out much better than the spring was. The appointment of a new commanding general in Iraq will go far toward ensuring a more prudent strategy.

Before the Bush administration starts celebrating, a number of points should be made. First, guerrilla actions have subsided but have not disappeared. Second, there was a three-month gap between the collapse of the Ramadan offensive and the next wave. If that is any precedent, the guerrillas have until midsummer to regroup and strike again. Finally -- and most important -- regardless of what happens in Iraq, the situation with Iran and developments in Saudi Arabia are not looking good. The United States could wind up stabilizing Iraq only to have two simultaneous crises blow up.

Still, there is no denying that the situation has improved, and we suspect that note reflected al-Zarqawi's feelings. The United States has not been in a position to feel good about Iraq for a long while. It is too soon to feel good, but it is not too soon to feel a little better. The problem is that every time the administration feels a little better, it gets cocky and gets nailed. Feeling poorly is probably a good antidote."

So much wind, so little air.

Wow, Glenn, I am overwhelmed by the profundity of your counter-argument.

You could be nuked by common sense but nothing could get thru your thick skull.

Boring, prejudiced and just plain wrong. The trifecta.

A government cannot be called sovereign if the security of its territory and control of its armed forces is in the hands of a foreign military power.

Plug in Iraq as the former government and the US as the foreign military power.

So Juan Cole is highlighting some big spin by the imperial presidency and Senator Robert Hill, the Australian Defence Minister. What their spin gives us is the appearance of Iraqi sovereignty.

What do you want, Gary, political prestidigitation? Do you really think that these sorts of political transitions happen overnight? MacArthur ruled as a benign despot for six years after 1945 before democratic rule began in Japan.

Your impatience is quite incongruous, given the complacent attitude towards Soviet repression that you demonstrated in your Reagan postings.

So let me get this straight: Reagan was a bad guy because he hastened the fall of Soviet tyranny - he should have allowed events to take their natural course, even if it meant that disidents like Anatoly Scharansky would spend many more years in gulag. But, when it comes to the American enterprise of liberation in Iraq, suddenly things can't happen to quickly. In Iraq, anything less than absolute and immediate democracy is evidence of a vile American imperialist plot. While you were quite happy to wait... and wait.... and wait for the liberation of hundreds of millions from a far worse Soviet tyranny.

Consistency is hardly your strong suit, Gary.

I'm talking about sovereignty not democracy. If it is not a transfer of sovereignty then don't call it that. Call it what it actually is: a puppet regime with democratic trappings.

Again, Gary:

How long did it take for post-war Germany and Japan to attain sovereignty after their defeat in 1945?

Moreover, as I said before, I detected no such impatience for the implementation of sovereign democratic government in your attitude towards other tyrannies. I guess that sovereignty is really what matters to you, regardless of how despotic it may be.

The selectivity of your impatience betrays your partisan anti-American agenda.

God those anti-Americans, they're everywhere aren't they?

How about you go live in America. All you have to do is tell us who you are and we'll do a whip round for the fare.

Unfortunately, Glenn, you're right. There's a lot of anti-Americanism going around. You seem to have a terminal case, yourself.

And, your "Australian isolationism - love it or leave it" line is pretty pathetic. Your dedication to the democracy, ideological diversity, and the free marketplace of ideas is truly inspiring.

'And, your "Australian isolationism - love it or leave it" line is pretty pathetic.'

If you don't like it, bugger off.

'the free marketplace of ideas'

It's pretty sick hearing that from someone like you.

That's precisely the point, Glenn. You have no tolerance for those whose views differ from yours.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Moreover, I'm pleased to inform you that I won't be leaving Australia. There's far too much work to be done here for that.

a bientot

'You have no tolerance for those whose views differ from yours'

Some views are acceptable; yours aren't. Hitler's differed from mine, and I assume from yours. Would you tolerate his?

'Quod Erat Demonstrandum'


'Moreover, I'm pleased to inform you that I won't be leaving Australia'

All parasites need hosts I guess.

So I'm a Nazi, now, am I? You complement your totalitarian intolerance with a dash of historical ignorance.

You keep digging yourself in deeper, Glenn. Perhaps you want to stop while you're behind.

And, given that I am gainfully employed and not on any form of public assistance, I take it that the epithet "parasite" is directed towards my political views. So, I guess anyone who isn't a rabid lefty is a parasite in your book, eh, Glenn?

'Perhaps you want to stop while you're behind.'

You'd love that, but no. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

'I am gainfully employed'

Doing what?

'I take it that the epithet "parasite" is directed towards my political views'

No. Anyone who calls themselves Australian but who's primary allegiance is to another country (or countries, as in your case) is to my mind a parasite - especially if this external allegiance endangers their host country.

Just as the Hilalys of this world can piss off back to Iran or wherever if they wish to carry their ancient ethnic and religious prejudices into my country, so can you. I don't distinguish between the two, which people like you devote your lives to... I simply want my family to live in a country relatively free of the sort of prejudice that seems to come so naturally to yuo (and Hilaly etc)

I am gainfully employed as a writer, editor and political commentator.

Now, Glenn, what's good for the goose should be good for the gander. What occupies you when you're not hurling ad hominem abuse at those who presume to disagree with you?

And, as for my purported parasitism, I love and am loyal to Australia. And, I believe that Australia's best foreign policy and security interests are served through a vigorous alliance with the United States.

You and I happen to differ on this point. But, why can't you respect my right to analyse Australia's interests in y own way without succumbing to the rather childish urge to indulge in personal insults and invective?

'I am gainfully employed as a writer, editor and political commentator.'

For who or what? The AIJAC newsletter? The Likud Times? Intolerance Today? The Wall Street Journal? The Weekly Standard? Town Hall? Are you so ashamed of your work that you can't show us some?

'What occupies you when you're not hurling ad hominem abuse at those who presume to disagree with you?'

I help arrange the examinations at Sydney Uni. Over to you.

'I believe that Australia's best foreign policy and security interests are served through a vigorous alliance with the United States'

How vigorous? Where would you draw a line? Could you bring yourself to do so? Can you imagine any scenario under which you'd agree to cut off diplomatic relations with the US or Israel? If not, you're not serious about being an Australian.

'But, why can't you respect my right to analyse Australia's interests in my own way without succumbing to the rather childish urge to indulge in personal insults and invective?'

If the people you and your warmongering cohort have maimed, killed and dispossessed can manage to wear all that without turning into bloodthirsty terrorists (and most, despite what you seem to think, don't), then I think you lot can wear a few insults. Perfectly justifiable and rather accurate insults, even if I do say so myself. Insults don't preclude the insulter from making sense - it surprises me how many of you lot can dish it out, but go all whiny when someone fires back, giving the trusty old 'ad hominem' a fearsome workout. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

You see my invective as 'childish' and I likewise find your attitudes profoundly immature and self-serving. But what I'm striving for is a functional relationship with the truth, one which retains a child's apprehension of the difference between right and wrong, unencumbered by the ethnic and cultural and religious overlays that seem to dog the moral sense of so many adults, the sort of spin and the propaganda that both the US and Israel (and sadly, us too) are currently swimming, drowning in. Saudi too, and much of Jordan and Syria and Egypt as well. Nationalism and ethno-religious chauvininsm are my particular bete noires, being among the most dangerous forms of ignorance, so it's no wonder someone like you gets on my wick.

Get used to it, because while you hang around, I'm not going away.

you write:
"There's little wonder that John [sic] Cole is one of Gary's fave sources of info on the Middle East because Cole is very much from the hard left anti-US/anti-Zionist mould. While his lefty opinions by themselves are not unusual in academia...."

Very misleading. You condemn through the use of labels. If I remember rightly Juan Cole supported the American invasion of Iraq and turned against it because of the way the Americans handled the occupation.

Cole's trajectory is similar to that of Kenneth Pollak is it not? In 2002 he wrote a book called, 'The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.' In this text he advocated the invasion of Iraq to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein before he acquired a functioning nuclear weapon.

Like Cole, Pollock now takes a critical stance to the US occupation of Iraq. Under the Bush administration the war has gone off the path, as has the reconstruction. The question is whether the situation is salvageable.

Time to stop throwing the slogans around.

Funny, Glenn, one would think that Marxist totalitarinism might feature amongst your list of betes noir (the plural 's' is applied to the "betes," not the "noir") given that its toll of victims during the 20th century is conservatively estimated at 70 million persons.

As far as your "not going away," knock yourself out. You do neither yourself, nor your cause any service with the ad hominem rants substitute for argument in your polemical repertoire.

Be my guest.

'(the plural 's' is applied to the "betes," not the "noir")'

Oh well, you win. (Though just quietly, if we stacked up all our misspellings and syntactical gaucheries, your pile would tower over mine).

'the ad hominem rants'

Couldn't help yourself could you? I'd like a tenner for your every refuge in that tired old trope.

I agree that it's tired, Glenn. And the source of that fatigue lies in the unlimited pool of personal insults that you apparently have at your disposal.

If you don't want to hear about ad hominem rants, maybe you'd better argue on the issues.

Ever heard of playing the ball, not the man?