» RT @KerryMP: Was tempted to start FB group for women who wear high heels but mentally capable of understanding TUC motions. 4 hrs ago

» Travelling to B'ham to take part in ITV discussion - explaining why I'm still for soldiers staying in Afghanistan. 4 hrs ago

» RT @unslugged: Hannan gets a job, and they kick out anti-racists http://bit.ly/124ef4 5 hrs ago

» Hated Tory mayor in deep ish! RT @AdamBienkov: Brian Coleman ordered to pay £10,000 legal fees http://bit.ly/tLeZC 5 hrs ago

» RT @NWtm: BNP MEP writes to local paper - they publish, with full address http://bit.ly/Stqe9 7 hrs ago

More updates...


  • Family

    • Ala Abbas
    • Clairwil
    • Daily Rhino
    • Leon Green
    • Liberal Conspiracy
    • Sonia Afroz
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Aqoul
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Blairwatch
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Butterflies & Wheels
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Clive Davis
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr StrangeLove
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feministing
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • Indigo Jo
    • Liberal England
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Humanist Editor
    • New Statesman blogs
    • open Democracy
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Septicisle
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
    • Women Uncovered
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Ariane Sherine
    • Desi Pundit
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Isheeta
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Real man’s fraternity
    • Route 79
    • Sajini W
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Smalltown Scribbles
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head
    • Ultrabrown



  • Technorati: graph / links

    American troops and the Haditha massacre


    by Sunny on 5th June, 2006 at 4:24 am    

    You may have by now heard of the Haditha massacre in Iraq. The Observer reported yesterday:

    The US military is now involved in at least three separate investigations into its own soldiers’ conduct in Iraq that may illegally have led to the deaths of Iraqi civilians. It is widely expected that more incidents will be uncovered. The most serious is the alleged massacre of 24 civilians in the Sunni town of Haditha by a unit of marines. The victims included women and children who were shot after a roadside bomb hit a convoy and killed a US soldier.

    Last week it was revealed that two more incidents have also been under investigation. The first is the death of 11 Iraqis during an American raid near Balad in March. The dead included five children. The second inquiry involves seven US marines and a sailor in the death of an Iraqi civilian near Baghdad in April. It is believed the man was dragged from his home and shot before an AK-47 and a shovel were placed next to his body to make it look like he was an insurgent.

    hadithaIn context, it is much less brutal than the killing fellow Muslims have been inflicting on Iraqis since the war ended, but it is still no excuse at all. This is supposed to be the army of a democractic country that invaded, they tell us, to liberate them from the brutality of Saddam Hussain. They were supposed to minimise civilian casualties and win their “hearts and minds”. In theory.

    It has clearly not turned out that way. But anti-war people, please do not gloat. The Iraqis are getting killed every day by the Americans and by homegrown terrorists and criminals.

    The problem is two-fold. Firstly, the British and American media, still afraid of being branded “anti-American” by the useful idiots of the right, is not rigorously reporting on the problems facing the country. Almost embarassed by the bad news coming out of the country, they stick to reporting on how many people were blown up that day rather than getting to grips with the underlying fundamentals, like corruption, bad practice, incompetence etc.

    Secondly, that the American adminstration is doing nothing to root out incompetence and dishonesty at the upper echelons of the administration. As Andrew Sullivan brilliantly puts it in the Sunday Times: The horrors really are your America, Mr Bush:

    He cannot acknowledge that his own war policy — of just enough troops to lose — has created a war of attrition in Iraq in which soldiers are often overwhelmed and demoralised and stretched to the limit, and so more than usually vulnerable to the psychic snaps that sometimes lead to atrocities.

    His obdurate refusal to change course, to provide sufficient troops, to fire his defence secretary, to embrace, rather than evade, the McCain amendment has robbed him of any excuse, any evasion of responsibility.

    Nevertheless it is not my feeling that we should withdraw. Firstly because it will only create more chaos - it being abundantly clear that Sunnis and Shias there are very happy to kill each other in large numbers in the cover of chaos.

    What needs to happen is that Cheney and Rumsfeld be replaced (while we wait for Bush to go), and the administration conducts a root investigation of such incidents, corruption and incompetence that plague this war.

    We need to continue criticising our government until they are more honest, more open and accountable, and more willing to admit their mistakes and change course when necessary. To pump more money into humanitarian missions and creating stability rather than idiotic “anti-insurgency operations”

    Nothing will really change until we continue to challenge this regime’s competence is questioned to its very core.

    More on Haditha at BBC.co.uk



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Current affairs, Middle East, United States




    88 Comments below   |  

    1. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:16 am  

      Since America saved the Iraqis from the horrid little Saddam:

      Probably ‘insurgent’ Iraqis dead: 100,000+
      Bona fide innocent Iraqis dead: 40,000*

      How many dead people is Saddam being tried for again?

      Talk about dealing with the playground bully by blowing up the school…

      *www.iraqbodycount.net/database

    2. blake — on 5th June, 2006 at 9:23 am  

      i think that the best explanation for why our troops are over there can be summed up in one word…

      oil.

      and no, not just to get it because we are running out, but more or less to secure the reserves so that when we start slipping down the slope of hubbert’s peak hard in the next few years, we will be able to fight for the remaining scraps. what will the government resort to in order to keep this “american way of life” around? obviously killing thousands upon thousands of iraqis doesnt seem to phase them. do you think that nuclear involvement to keep america “free” could be used in the near future? i dont know, but i hope not.

      what do you say on that?

    3. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 10:23 am  

      It fucks me off that saddam, who’s supposed to be so damn ruthless, is being tried for a hundred odd killings back in the early 80s.

      What about all the other killings, you know the ones that were so bad the west had to go and save the Iraqi people? Is it because those cases have got the bush administration’s fingerprints all over them?

      And now that they’re free from tyranny and embracing democracy, see how happily they’re all living together now

      I don’t have a polotics degree to quote something befitting here, but I’d like to read up any dude who saw power being abused in the way the west has done and concluded:

      Fucking bastards

    4. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 10:37 am  

      Sunny, about time PP got with the times. How many massacres, incorrectly, have been put down to insurgents? That’s where the real story is.

      The best the US can do is give ‘ethical’ training to their boys.

      How about ethical training for the journalists and blogrunners?

      Kismet Hardy - your colourful language sums it up completely.

    5. Sid — on 5th June, 2006 at 10:54 am  

      Kismet

      you don’t need a politics degree if you can write so powerfully.

      I thought the Sunday Times article was almost poetic.

      And Sunny:
      “We need to continue criticising our government until they are more honest, more open and accountable, and more willing to admit their mistakes and change course when necessary. To pump more money into humanitarian missions and creating stability rather than idiotic “anti-insurgency operations”

      Is a fucking great call. But don’t expect any contrition from TBlair. And don’t expect any sensible help from the mingers on the StopWar org. Nor the left-wing factionalists of the Pro-War Euston horseshitters.

    6. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 10:54 am  

      it’s hardly surprising that a military operation would ever win anyone’s hearts and minds - how can it when these very hearts and minds are being exploded with shrapnel? obvious one would have thought - but probably not to people who haven’t been involved in war. Otherwise i can’t see that anyone had been actually using their brains. look how we react when a terrorist event happens here - how would we react if say London was being shelled on a daily basis and troops roaming the streets? if people just thought for one second the reality of such an event - then imagine how ‘won over’ they’d be by these soldiers patrolling around - treating them like an enemy on the one hand and pretending to bring ’salvation’ on the other. just doesn’t hang somehow does it…!

      anyhow - the bottom line about ’should we withdraw’ or not - whether the US and UK choose ‘to remain’ is one matter - it’s quite another to determine whether this should be a military presence or not.

    7. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:08 am  

      An analogy, if you will.

      Say I came on to this site too often (Sunny would say that’s already happenned) but instead of being a mere nuisance by bombarding you all with messages you don’t want to read and strays every topic away from what you want to talk about to what I want to say, on top of which I had the power to delete and edit every post and spam every user, sooner or later it’d be chaos and most people would want out of PP.

      At this point, would it be ‘nice’ of me to consider withdrawing or maintain a ‘quiet presence’ or would you rather I fucked right off so you could consider rebuilding this place?

    8. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:12 am  

      there’s no point thinking the US and UK somehow are bring ing stability to iraq - i’m sorry - that’s just wishful patriotism.

    9. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:12 am  

      There are no plans for withdrawal. There is every reason to continue the conflict - on both sides.

      The US needs to leave its permanent bases in place. That is the key to understanding what is happening in Iraq.

      If there was peace and acceptance of the new constitution and Iraqi government, but the demand to have the bases removed, do we really think the bases would go?

      Not a chance. Its the last bid to maintain a grip on the oil fields and control global economies. And what do we all do? Spend countless man-years discussing religious conflicts when all wars are about economics.

    10. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:13 am  

      and it’s about as galling as if the terrorists were to turn around to all of us and say - ‘ah but we’re only doing all this for YOUR benefit’. Puh-leese - who would ever accept that around here? NO ONE. so why do we expect the Iraqis to believe the bullshit we tell them?

    11. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:15 am  

      The fundamental problem here is one of democracy and how it’s been completely misunderstood. “bring” democracy to people - huh? ( even if you weren’t using guns that wouldn’t quite work)

    12. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:17 am  

      Why does the other side need to continue the conflict? So they can pin down the mighty American military and stop it from running away with its new ethos of full spectrum dominance.

      You could guess that other side is probably the rest of the world. China & Russia I’d expect at the top of that list (perhaps even India).

    13. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:22 am  

      “Spend countless man-years discussing religious conflicts when all wars are about economics” :-)

      yes its a useful disguise - “oh yes these civilizations are ‘different’ that’s why they clash..” Nothing to do with anything else..oh no.

    14. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:28 am  

      hmm sunny- ” it has clearly not turned out that way. But anti-war people, please do not gloat.”

      why would we be ‘gloating’? - its terrifically sad - who cares who got killed by whom. the fact of the matter is violence is happening period. i always said start a war then it all gets out of control and by the end of it no-one can remember why they’re killing anyone else. Gloat? That’s simply the pro-war’s attempt to shut us up from our ‘i told you so’ and we Should say i told you so.

      how anyone could have ever have justified an invasion and then pretended there would be no civilian casualties, no reprisals, no “side effect” must have imagined we were all stupid. to believe such crap. the kind of crap we hear again and again. if we don’t stand up and say yes it was crap, we’ll just hear it again and again - and in the meantime how many innocent people are going to be sacrificed? and i don’t mean just the ‘iraqis’ - i mean every f*cking person - soldier, bystander, random person, whoever.

      Sorry, but pointing out how ridiculous anyone was to imagine there was going to be a swift painless end is not gloating - it’s trying to do just that - point out the futility of these sorts of ‘actions’.

    15. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:29 am  

      and i’m waiting for the pro-war crew to get their asses out to iraq and put their money where their mouth is. get the soldiers out i say - and send them in to ‘bring’ democracy and ‘light’.

      then we’ll listen to them talk.

    16. IanLondon — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

      What about all the other killings, you know the ones that were so bad the west had to go and save the Iraqi people? Is it because those cases have got the bush administration’s fingerprints all over them?

      That would be the first Bush (senior) administration ?

    17. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:22 pm  

      We did tell them. Millions here and billions across the globe did too.

      But when the prize is so huge - why should they listen?

      Sunny, perhaps its time to take of the blinkers - and stop them developing ideologies to fit the facts on the ground.

    18. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:23 pm  

      I’m too angry to try to crack a funny about this, so I’ll leave it to the master Bill Hicks (pbuh)

      WHOSE GUN IS IT ANYWAY?
      “You know we armed Iraq. You know during the Persian Gulf war those intelligence reports would come out: “Iraq: incredible weapons - incredible weapons.”

      How do you know that?

      “Uh, well…we looked at the receipts.””

      MIGHT OF AMERICA
      I’m so sick of arming the world, then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries, then we go and blow the shit out of them. We’re like the bullies of the world, y’know. We’re like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheepherder’s feet.

      “Pick it up.”

      “I don’t wanna pick it up, Mister, you’ll shoot me.”

      “Pick up the gun.”

      “Mister, I don’t want no trouble. I just came downtown here to get some hardrock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don’t even know what gingham is, but she goes through about ten rolls a week of that stuff. I ain’t looking for no trouble, Mister.”

      “Pick up the gun.”

      (He picks it up. Three shots ring out)

      “You all saw him - he had a gun.”

      FRIENDLY FIRE
      Those guys are in hog heaven out there, do you understand, man? They have the big weapons catalogue opened up.

      “What’s G12 do, Tommy?”

      “Well, it says here it destroys everything but the fillings in their teeth, helps us pay for the war effort, well shit, pull that one up. Pull up G12 please.”

      (missle explosion noise).

      “Cool, what’s G13 do?

      AND FINALLY…
      “This is not a war. A war is when two sides are fighting…’

    19. SajiniW — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

      Difficult question - the invasion created the mess so we should rightfully pick up the pieces. At the same time, we didn’t ‘ask’ the Iraqis whether we should have inflicted ourselves on them, so it may be worth asking them in their now-democratic state whether our presence is worth it or not.

    20. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:26 pm  

      :-) good one..

    21. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:36 pm  

      SajiniW

      The question the US should ask: Can we leave our bases behind - you know, to protect you from yourselves?

      We’ll be quite and discrete. You won’t even notice that we exist.

    22. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:50 pm  

      yes and how does one get out of a violent mess? by carrying on the same tactics that started the mess? nope. you can’t still be pointing guns and expect the violence to diminish.

      perhaps we can ask tony waht to do…questions via webcast tomorrow!

      http://sonia.pickledpolitics.com/?p=21

    23. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 12:54 pm  

      You know how Americans love saying ‘don’t go there!’

      If only they added ‘…in the first place’

    24. IanLondon — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:12 pm  

      Was Bill Hicks russian ? Or is that another Bill Hicks ?

    25. Nindy — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:16 pm  

      I agree with Sunny that we have a responsibility to stay in Iraq - we’ve created this god awful mess, and it’d be morally wrong for the US/UK to say “yeah, she’s alright, let’s get our people out of here.” Its just not an option.

      Why? Well, it’s obvious that the Iraqi gov/t - or lack of - is still well in its infancy and a long way away from establishing any concrete forms of democracy needed to provide stability in order for it to stand on its own two feet and manage its people accordingly.

      The problem as I see it, is how long will it take. I’m pretty positive that the Iraq crisis will last beyond the Blair and Bush administration - they’ve created an environment that is hard to comat - young ideological men with an honest if misguided revolutionary ideals and a stern hatred of both the US and UK gov/t.

      tragic.

    26. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:26 pm  

      Nindy, are you sure about what you write? There are NO morals involved. Its self-interest. Both for the Bush/Blair and US/UK (albeit vicariously).

      For any other nation, it would be described as nationalism, in this case its actually imperialism.

    27. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:29 pm  

      “Was Bill Hicks russian”

      No, true blue American who didn’t mind think you should die for the American flag (they sell the for three bucks at K-Mart, you’re in, you’re out, no violence was necessary… plus they’re usually made in Korea).

      Although he was frquently russian off his nuts on drugs…

    28. sonia — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:44 pm  

      Nindy - again - in that case, people need to think hard about what form ‘remaining in iraq’ takes - if this is going to involve a military presence in the current form or in a different guise.

    29. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

      Sunny - here is cut/paste of a letter in the Independent, which outline why we can expect greater wars - apologies for the length but I felt it was a must read:

      Shift in global power could leave the US isolated

      Sir: Chomsky is right. The United States is facing a rapid decline (”All washed up”, 30 May). It remains locked in the assumption that military power (the US is responsible for 39 per cent of global arms expenditure) can protect western economic interests, and America’s own distorted interpretation of notions such as “freedom” and “democracy”. The Bush administration, distracted by its “war on terror”, fails to respond adequately to much more significant threats, and developments in the geo-political environment which may overwhelm the United States and its allies.

      The threats are not unconnected with current American policies and patterns of consumption, especially in relation to climate change and scarce resources. The US has been highly selective in its support for democratic change. US governments have regularly subverted democracy either covertly or through direct military intervention, often supporting client autocracies with appalling human rights records, including those of Pinochet in Chile, Noriega in Panama, Suharto in Indonesia, Saddam in Iraq, and most recently Karimov in Uzbekistan.

      Under the guise of the “war on terror” the US is locked into ghastly adventurism in Afghanistan and Iraq, which while cravenly supported by the British government is reviled almost everywhere else. It has also sought to shore up US economic and political interests in Central Asia, driven by the need for access to oil. Meanwhile there is a seismic shift in global power which could leave the US isolated and thus likely to respond in the only way it will have left at its disposal: through war.

      In 2001 the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was created, uniting China with Russia, and including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan joined later. Iran, India and Pakistan have all been invited to join as observers, and will probably become full members this year. Bizarrely the US asked to join in 2005, but unsurprisingly was turned down. The SCO could emerge as nothing less than an OPEC with nuclear weapons, and with a population of over 2.6bn. It is essential that the UK, and the European Union, take account of these developments and return to a focused debate on why 9/11 happened and how the world community must address issues of inequality, injustice and environmental degradation. These are issues that the US has chosen to ignore, and continues to do so. It may turn out to be a catastrophic folly.

      SIMON SWEENEY

      HEAD OF PROGRAMME, MA INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, YORK ST JOHN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, YORK

    30. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:52 pm  

      To leave Iraq without securing a strong leadership for the Iraqi people would mean all-out civil war, so they need to ensure Iraqis are given a no-nonsense leader who imposes his authority to bring the fragmented groups back together to live as one under one unified political umbrella

      A bit like Saddam Hussein, then

    31. Roger — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

      “What about all the other killings, you know the ones that were so bad the west had to go and save the Iraqi people? Is it because those cases have got the bush administration’s fingerprints all over them?”
      To convict Saddam the prosecution needs to show a direct line of orders, obedience to those orders and consequences of that obedience stretching from Saddam to the actual crime. That’s rather harder than you’d think, actually. Merely being president of Iraq when people were being murdered by the Iraqi armed forces isn’t enough.

      ” whether the US and UK choose ‘to remain’ is one matter - it’s quite another to determine whether this should be a military presence or not. ”
      How else can the US and UK remain except militarily? I opposed the invasion because I didn’t think it was justified either by the official reasons or the unoffoicila reasons, but once it had happened I thought the US/UK occupation was probably less damaging than a withdrawal. Now I think withdrawal is probably going to do less damage to Iraq than a continuing occupation which enables a continuing civil war which cannot be resolved because no-one can win it unless the occupation ends.

      “You know we armed Iraq. You know during the Persian Gulf war those intelligence reports would come out: “Iraq: incredible weapons - incredible weapons.”
      Actually, this isn’t true. The USSR, China and France were the main suppliers of weapons to Iraq. The main financiers of Iraqi arms puchases were other arab states. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_sales_to_Iraq_1973-1990

    32. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 1:59 pm  

      Do you think if America withdrew now, Iraq wouldn’t need to take the morning after pill?

    33. Sid — on 5th June, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

      fuck this for a game of incompetent nation builders…

    34. Roger — on 5th June, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

      “Do you think if America withdrew now, Iraq wouldn’t need to take the morning after pill?”

      And what rough beast, it’s hour come round at lasr
      Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

    35. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 2:53 pm  

      Jesus! The anti-christ cometh hard

    36. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 3:54 pm  

      Refresh - Take my blinkers off with regards to what? I support the troops staying there and finishing off the job, meaning they should stay until the IRaqi army and police force fully come into effect, and a democratic adminstration is also fully set up.

      LEaving halfway will help no one. The Americans then need to leave, entirely, I agree. But given the amount of Al-Qaeda types in IRaq daily blowing up scores of people, I think the danger of everything exploding into chaos even more if the army leaves is very real.

    37. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 4:05 pm  

      ‘But given the amount of Al-Qaeda types in IRaq daily blowing up scores of people’

      If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought you were reading from a Bush Bible.

      a) there weren’t al-qaeda operating in iraq before all this shit

      b) anyone in Iraq who wants to fight back (seeing as they can’t be called soldiers because this war isn’t allowed to have a defending army) are branded ‘insurgents’, and ‘al qaeda types’

      If I went on a crazy one because my girlfriend left me and did a michael ryan, being the muslim that my parents are, you don’t think I’d be labelled an ‘al qaeda type’ in all the papers the next day?

      And that’s someone you know.

      People are blowing scores of people up in Iraq because they’re pissed off and, without saddam’s rule, can go back to killing each other because they don’t agree with each other’s faiths.

      Sunnis and shi’ites are killing each other (which one of them are al qaeda tupes again?), while America and Brits kill the rest

      It’s fucking sick to see them as people there to help

    38. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

      Kismet - I’m not in favour of the whole “insurgents” etc stuff either. But it is undeniable that there are daily suicide bombs that kill more Iraqis than the Americans do. What do you suggest will happen to them? They’ll stop if the Americans leave? Rubbish.

    39. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

      No they won’t stop. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to applaud America when they finally take credit for the peace there whenever it comes.

      If I killed your family and your neighbour started beating you up and I said ‘I’ll help you’, you wouldn’t like it if people said: ‘you should really thank kismet you know, if he left your neighbours would beat you more’

      No. I killed your family.

      America killed Iraq’s.

      Any suggestion that they’re the good guys over there is fucked up

    40. Jai — on 5th June, 2006 at 4:24 pm  

      I remember seeing a dicussion about this topic last week — apologies, I can’t remember exactly where, but it was either Newsnight or one of the major US international news channels — where it was suggested that after Western troops leave Iraq, the country will subsequently be attacked by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey in an attempt to expand their own territory and carve up the country as per local ethnic/religious affiliations. It could, therefore, be a catalyst for even greater warfare in that part of the Middle East.

      I don’t know how realistic this scenario actually is, but it’s an interesting — not to mention disturbing — idea.

    41. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 4:26 pm  

      Oh Saddam must be wanking right now

    42. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

      Well, both the Saudis and the Iranians are trying to gain more influence in Iraq, since they hate each other etc. So it’s not exactly an implausible theory.

      Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention because the US has an incentive to say the above. But given the daily attacks in Iraq and the amount of people being blown up, it is a very real threat.

    43. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:01 pm  

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t many of them blowing up civilians by mistake because they can’t get to the US and their sympathisers?

    44. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

      No. That is a misconception. Most of the bombs (incl suicide bombs) have been at market places, other public places or even near mosques.

    45. Kismet Hardy — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

      Saddam them all

    46. Chris Stiles — on 5th June, 2006 at 5:38 pm  


      Refresh - Take my blinkers off with regards to what? I support the troops staying there and finishing off the job, meaning they should stay until the IRaqi army and police force fully come into effect, and a democratic adminstration is also fully set up.

      At the moment they just seem to be barely keeping a lid on situation that is slowly getting worse from day to day.

      So it seems to me that to improve on this they’d need a properly funded reconstruction program dedicated to defending and creating a proper civilian infrastructure.

      Additionally they’ll need a Shinseki sized force on the ground - a rolling deployment of two or three times the amount of soldiers in Iraq presently.

      To do the former they have to raise taxes. To do the latter without breaking the US Army, they have to raise recruitment or introduce conscription. Is there the political will to do any of this?

      Or only sufficient to keep the lid things for now - dissemble wildy about any future government, and retreat under fire leaving Somalia on the Euphrates with a force of several thousand US soldiers hunkered down inside fortified bases?

    47. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 6:05 pm  

      Reason I say blinkered - is that you seem to accept this abiding feeling that the US will and needs to solve the problem. No it won’t, or shall we say, not the way you and I might think it needs solving.

      The ‘friendly’ massacres are a part of military campaign to pacify. This is probably the belated Awe in ’shock and awe’.

      As I said lets follow the real story.

      I would suggest you read the letter I posted upthread which indicates what needs to be done. US problems have been there for a very long time and after Iraq may not go away until the US is a former power.

    48. Roger — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:13 pm  

      I have a horrible feeling that the only end to the Iraqi civil war would be to withdraw the US and allied troops and leave the Iraqis to settle it- however lethally- among themselves.
      Refresh; “The ‘friendly’ massacres are a part of military campaign to pacify.”
      How can the alleged US massacres have any pacifying effect when they are all pretty minor compared with the massacres Iraqis inflict on other Iraqis?

    49. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

      Roger, what else can they be? We only hear of those that some brave local journalist has captured. They may, and I feel sure they are not the only ones we’ll hear about.

      As for pacifying - that is an understood strategy - kill a few natives to show you mean business. “Don’t mess with us”.

      Faluja was the more obvious one.

      As for the locals killing each other - well what do you want me to say? The two could well be inextricably linked. But what the US are doing is what I was referring to.

      Shake and bake? More like shake ‘n’ vac.

    50. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 7:36 pm  

      Doesn’t their whole use of language turn your stomach, especially now its gone downhill:

      we got used to ‘collateral damage’. Now we have ‘hammer time’, ’shock and awe’, and then ’shake and bake’

      A ‘painless’ war with the language designed for the ghetto kids to fight.

    51. Roger — on 5th June, 2006 at 8:12 pm  

      Sorry, Refresh; you can’t terrify people with your atrocities unless they are known. If the US is committing secret atrocities as a policy it defeats what you think is the purpose of the atrocities. The problem with killing a few native’s to show they mean business in Iraq is- again- that the natives are killing many more natives, so either the USA has got to kill many more natives or they’ve been outdone. The most likely explanation is momentary bursts of anger- lose your temper with a machine gun and you’ll do a lot of harm- and the fact that the US army isn’t trained or equipped in mind-set or weapons for the war they’re in makes them happen. Add unit and comrade loyalty and you’ve got bigger killings and cover-ups.
      There’s some interesting thought on the language used to justify crimes- “the tongue’s atrocities” in Hill’s phrase- in Paul Fussell’s The great War and Modern Memory. It was one of Orwell’s obsessions of courxe and he’s still worth reading on it.

    52. Ravi4 — on 5th June, 2006 at 8:15 pm  

      Sunny - I disagree with you about the wisdom of going into Iraq in the first place (with reluctance I think it was the right thing to do). But I totally agree with you about the utter incompetence/negligence/brutality of the “post-war” reconstruction. Hadithah and Abu Ghraib are only the most visible examples. Rumsfeld’s willingness to question the Geneva conventions, condone practices like waterboarding and refusal to have a larger occupation force made a massive contribution to the terrible insecurity there now. We’ve got to push US and UK to do much better – getting rid of Rumsfeld and Cheney would be excellent first steps. And I completely agree with you on the need to stay in until the Iraqi army is ready to ensure security on its own.

      Most of the contributors to this thread give the impression that they think Saddam’s Iraq was a nice place to live. It was not. Repeated opinion polls in Iraq show most people think removing Saddam was the right thing to do (even if people in the rest of the world disagree) and the majority want the US and UK out when Iraq is stable. http://www.iraqanalysis.org/info/55

      Did the US really do it for democracy? I have no idea. But, whatever the failings of the current Iraqi Govt, it is democratically elected, and the current Parliament includes many parties (most), including Sadrists, who oppose any permanent US presence in Iraq.

      Did the US do it for oil? I have no idea. But if they did do it for that reason, they seem to have failed. The Iraqi constitution guarantees that Iraqi oil will remain Iraqi property. (see articles 109 & 110 – http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2005/issue3/Iraqiconstitution/constitution.html ). Iraqi oil is still being pumped by Iraqi state owned companies. If those arrangements are to be changed, the new Iraqi political system ensures that it will be done a hell of lot more openly than under Saddam.

      Refresh – the letter you posted is full of holes and out of date information. Have you not heard that Uzbekistan’s Karimov kicked the US out after they slammed his human rights record? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4457844.stm

      Pinochet et al are historical examples of the tradition of REALISM in US foreign policy, NOT “neoconservatism”. The fact that US foreign policy now (as always) is inconsistent is due to the fact that the neconsoservatives are not in charge. Condoleeza Rice is not a neoconservative – throughout her long academic career she seems to have been much closer to being a traditional realist. See the quote from her Foreign Affairs article, written before Bush won the election, criticising Clinton’s interventions and nation building in William Rees-Mogg’s Times article today http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2210942,00.html

      The current continuous suicide bombing, shootings, kidnapping etc in Iraq is dreadful. But if the US/UK etc pull out, things would get a lot lot worse. But I’ve read (although can’t find the reference) that there’s still enough heavy ordnance from the Saddam era stored in Iraq to fight a real WWII style war there. “Coalition” withdrawal now would almost certainly result in those weapons taking part in a full scale civil war. Things might still come to that. But there’s still a chance that the political process will produce a level of stability which will keep the terrorist violence at a manageable level (ie still continuing but at hopefully lower levels than now) for the foreseeable.

      A final point. Some of the comments in this thread seem to imply that the deaths of Iraqis are justified so long as they contribute to the humiliation/failure of the US. That’s the kind of depraved world view that decent liberals rightly condemn when espoused by US realists like Nixon, Kissinger and Rumsfeld. It’s equally depraved when espoused by so-called “leftists”.

      Where’s Amir when you need him? He’d be able to quote original sources to refute the empty arguments made in this thread.

    53. Ravi4 — on 5th June, 2006 at 8:23 pm  

      By the way, if anyone wants a reliable, progressive, “street level” insiders’ view of what’s going on in Iraq, you should check out the Iraqi blog “Iraq the Model” http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

      Don’t be put off by the neo-con sounding title. Written by Mohammed and Omar – a pair of impecunious Baghdad dentists – it’s an honest, inspiring, heartrending read. Hating the “resistance”, incredulous at the incompetence and cruelty of the occupation, sceptical of all Iraq’s politicians and factions, without any nostalgia for Saddam, completely honest about the horrible problems they face daily (eg they can’t post for days on end because they can’t refuel their generator, or because religious fanatics stop the flow of newspapers which they use to try and report on what’s happening), yet unwaveringly in favour of democracy and human rights, still unwilling to give up hope and optimism that some viable form of democracy will emerge out of Iraq’s chaotic and bloody political process.

      They’ve been labeled as neoconservative stooges, and unwisely agreed to meet Bush and other US Govt officials while visiting the US in about 2003, but what they write shows they really aren’t having their strings pulled by anyone.

      Theirs is a far more honest and balanced source of what’s going on in Iraq than the stuff put out by most of the media – or that other disgusting Iraq blog (which has been turned into a book), by the anonymous “Riverbend”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4847424.stm someone who openly talks about the nice time she had under Saddam’s regime and yet faces no questions from her idiot western media admirers about why it was that she was so privileged in Saddam’s terror state, or what her blanket condemnation of all Iraq’s politicians as “puppets” or her nostalgia for the reign of the Butcher of Baghdad might say about her motivations, perspectives or judgment.

      Read Mohammed and Omar. Particular highlights so far:

      Fear about press censorship: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/04/baghdad-without-newspapers.html

      Depression about sectarian violence: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/03/mortars-were-louder-than-reason-in.html

      What they think of supporters of the “resistance”: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/03/know-your-enemies-dudes-pt-ii.html

      The violent and practical hassles of trying to blog in Baghdad: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/05/on-nothing-in-particular.html

      The violence hits them directly again: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/04/kill-us-but-you-wont-enslave-us.html

      Cautious hope about Iraq’s political future: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/05/looking-at-new-government.html

      Looking forward to foreign investment in Iraq’s oil: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/05/new-oil-policy.html

      Why, despite everything, at the end of the day, they’re still glad the Iraq war happened: http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/2006/03/third-anniversarysacrifice-fear-and.html

      ***end of advert***

    54. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 9:06 pm  

      Roger, outdone perhaps.

      Ravi, not sure I see that hole. Do you accept the general thrust of that letter?
      With regards allegation that there is some satisfaction at some ritual humiliation - think again. This is effectively what Sunny had already referred to as ‘gloating’ - and I believe Sonia dealt with effectively.

      Personally, don’t give a damn about the finer definitions of neoconservatism. No would I be impressed by an original sources that Amir might put up.

      I am more disappointed that you accuse others in revelling in Iraqi deaths, but willed on the war however reluctantly.

      Of course now they had better stay and fight whatever the cost. But the cost is always on the side of the Iraqis. Isn’t it?

    55. Sunny — on 5th June, 2006 at 9:10 pm  

      As for the locals killing each other - well what do you want me to say? The two could well be inextricably linked. But what the US are doing is what I was referring to.

      Refresh - I hope you are not making excuses for those terrorists who are blowing up other Iraqis on a daily basis.

      What annoys me about current Muslim coverage of the war in Iraq is that they shriek and scream about the US army killing Iraqis, but say nothing about other Muslims doing the same.

      It suggests to me this isn’t really about what is good for the Iraqis, but rather a long distance vendetta against the US.

      I agree with Ravi4 on that the letter you posted was full of holes. I don’t know why people keep talking up China as if its going to take over. It’s people are still much poorer than Americans and techonologically they are far far behind. Not only that, I’d much rather prefer a powerful American govt than a Chinese one. The Chinese are ten times worse, and if you’ve ever been to northern India and spoken to the Tibetans there you’ll understand.

    56. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 9:22 pm  

      Sunny

      This is the danger of posting on here. Say anything that is critical of US policy and hegemony we end up in accusations of muslim bias or even supporting the ‘terrorists’. A low blow if you ask me. You must be tired.

      Surely the question is that the US army is under the control of an organised body - a highly developed state - and promotes its actions under the banner of democracy and freedom. SO is it OK to pinpoint the hypocracy?

      Now the letter I posted referred very clearly to what needed to be addressed otherwise the risks were too great for all of us. I hope you didn’t miss that.

      It says, despite the holes you seem to have found, that the world is not sitting still and the US is losing its way.

      It also says that unless there is a real and purposeful corrective to US policy, then expect the US to lash out on its way to a terminal decline.

    57. Ravi4 — on 5th June, 2006 at 10:14 pm  

      Refresh - I’m sorry if you felt I was accusing you of revelling in Iraqi deaths or supporting terrorism. That wasn’t my intention. What I meant is that some of the comments on this thread - not yours I think - conveyed the message that the Iraqi deaths were a price worth paying for containing US power. That’s a common theme in some sections of the antiwar movement. It’s equivalent to the US Realist argument of the 1960s that the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese deaths was a price worth paying for containing Soviet power. And I find it odious. The war I reluctantly support is FOR Iraqi democracy and rule of law, not for some horrible theoretical cold blooded balance of power. I don’t think any innocent Iraqi death is “worth it”. In fact, I don’t think any innocent death is “worth it”, ever. That’s one dilemma of being humane without being a pacifist.

      The distinctions between Realists (eg Kissinger, Rumsfeld), neoconservatives (Wolfowitz, Perle et al) and liberal internationalist interventionists (eg Clinton, Walzer, Holbrooke) are very real, not in any way “fine” and thus by implication pointless. It seems to me that US foreign policy throughout the post cold war era has shifted between these varying traditions, usually combining more than one at any single time. US foreign policy, like policy of any large government, doesn’t submit to easy pigeonholing.

      I don’t accept the general thrust of the letter you posted. (Any letter starting “Chomsky is right” makes me immediately suspicious.) There are incredible faults in US foreign policy (and domestic policy) and we need to fight against them. Haditha, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, abortion, creationism etc etc. But the idea that the US is ready to start fighting more big wars now - at a time when the Iraq war has destroyed the “neo-con” dream, and the US population is sick of foreign military missions? I just don’t buy it. And the description of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is pure fantasy. The SCO “uniting” China, Russia and India? And isolating the USA? What about the India-US nuclear deal? ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4880192.stm )

      Sorry, I don’t mean to sound bullying. It’s just my opinion in the end. As I think I’ve said before, Iraq is one of those issues which is poisoning debate within liberal circle and ought to be quarantined to some extent. Although we can’t ignore it forever.

    58. Refresh — on 5th June, 2006 at 10:45 pm  

      Ravi, can you justify the invasion of Iraq on the basis of any economic imperative? Can you envisage a period when the bases in a pacified Iraq may prove useful for incursions into other middle east states?

      Because in the end there is no such thing as ethical foreign policy (although I’d have been more than happy for Robin Cook to have established such an approach).

      The moral/humanitarian wooly stuff is for pulling overs our eyes.

      Had the Iraq invasion gone according to the dreams of the Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Perle - then would we not have already been debating US versions of Abu Ghraib and Haditha (probably worse) in Tehran and Isfahan?

      As for you being bullying - hope you don’t feel you were.

      As for poisoning liberal debate - its only those who wish a new ideology to fit the facts who are to be blamed. Eustonistas spring to mind.

    59. Ravi4 — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:11 pm  

      Meant to say, Sunny’s points about China are spot on.

      Refresh - we’re going to have to agree to disagree about this. Whatever economic dreams anyone in washington might have had for Iraq have long disappeared down the Tigris.

      Whatever you think of the moral/humanitarian stuff, it was the only objective I supported in Iraq, and as far as I can see the only viable justification for it now. (I never thought WMD were a good enough reason to invade.)

      As far as I can see, the Iraq invasion shows that an occupation of Iran was never a realistic prospect. And, given the depth of opposition in Iraq, the idea of using bases in Iraq for pressuring other middle eastern states in any foreseeable future seems equally far fetched to me, whatever anyone in the Pentagon might have dreamed of pre March 2003. I’d oppose it of course.

      I’m closer to being a Eustonista than a Galloway supporter.

    60. Sid — on 5th June, 2006 at 11:34 pm  

      I’m closer to being a Eustonista than a Galloway supporter.

      If those are the option, deal me out.

    61. Refresh — on 6th June, 2006 at 1:09 am  

      Ravi I think we have agreed on quite significant points.

    62. sonia — on 6th June, 2006 at 10:20 am  

      good point Sid - that’s like being between the devil and the deep blue sea!as far as i can see the only thing the eustonistas were doing were distancing themselves from SWP and similar types. defining yourself in opposition to something isn’t usually a particularly smart tactic especially since we all know two ends of the spectrum usually tend to be as dogmatic as the other. this whole business about looking at things in a bipolar way is silly - and erm..likely to lead to mental disorder!

    63. Roger — on 6th June, 2006 at 1:24 pm  

      “Surely the question is that the US army is under the control of an organised body - a highly developed state - and promotes its actions under the banner of democracy and freedom. SO is it OK to pinpoint the hypocracy? ”
      It is vital to pinpoint US hypocrisies and blunders. That is a very different thing from alleging without evidence that the US has a secret government-authorised policy of systematically massacring civilians as part of its “shock and awe” mission.

      “Ravi, can you justify the invasion of Iraq on the basis of any economic imperative? Can you envisage a period when the bases in a pacified Iraq may prove useful for incursions into other middle east states?”
      Well that’s the odd thing about the invasion of Iraq. The only reasonable explanation is that the US government really did persuade itself that Saddam had immediately practicable WMD and they really did believe really did believe the invasion would be welcomed as a delrious liberation and everything would fall wonderfully into place afterwards. If the US were practising amoral realpolitik they could have openly or secretly have done the same thing with Saddam that they did with Ghadaffy- announce all is forgiven and watch him closely. The US army isn’t equipped or trained for a long occupation of Iraq and wasn’t so when it went in.

    64. Rakhee — on 6th June, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

      Sunny - “I’d much rather prefer a powerful American govt than a Chinese one. The Chinese are ten times worse”.

      Can you elaborate on this please? I know we’ll probably enter in a debate on Communism, Human Rights and so on, but to say that you’d honestly prefer the US to the Chinese is a huge statement to make and I’d like to know why.

      I’m no expert on the political history of China but if you’re accusing their government of being a ruthless dictatorship then surely the same can be said about the US, who can be the same, just not as outwardly explicit about it.

    65. Roger — on 6th June, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

      Just compare the number of corpses, Rakhee.

    66. sonia — on 6th June, 2006 at 2:31 pm  

      erm surely none of this is the point. Animal Farm please people - who is in power is immaterial. it’s the power they have that’s significant. put any ‘angel’ in a position of power and we’d all have to watch them like a hawk.

      but in any case - yes no. of corpses - how are we going to compare? when we most likely don’t know the extent of the no. of corpses.

    67. Sunny — on 6th June, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

      “but to say that you’d honestly prefer the US to the Chinese is a huge statement to make and I’d like to know why.”

      Huh?? It’s not a huge statement to make! China is a non-democratic dictatorship run by a bunch of corrupt people who lock up thousands of people every year on the smallest of pretences. There is no comparison where I’d rather live and which regime I prefer.

    68. Rakhee — on 6th June, 2006 at 3:43 pm  

      Funny that, considering the US is ALSO run by a bunch of corrupt people who have ALSO locked up people on the smallest of pretences, for example:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1657839,00.html

      As for number of corpses, can take your point but it’s a relatively weak argument to make. Which country is better? One which has killed 200 million people in its history or 300 million? Is that how you judge a good country against a bad? And which corpses do we include in this count exactly? Will it include all the people who have been killed in wars as instigated by the US?

      I’m not saying that China is perfect - very very far from it. I also think that to compare two countries who are so different socially, economically and politically is pointless to a certain degree.

      However, I’d like to know more facts before we start making sweeping generalisations and encouraging negative stigma’s about China, in favour of a continent which, from my perspective, has shed loads of blood on its hands.

    69. Sunny — on 6th June, 2006 at 3:48 pm  

      I also think that to compare two countries who are so different socially, economically and politically is pointless to a certain degree.

      No it’s not. You can use certain baseline examples and modern day measures to decide where you want to live. Where would you rather live? China or the USA? Where would you feel free?

      And the rendition link is not good enough I’m afraid. China does not even have an open court system that you can try and take cases to.

    70. Don — on 6th June, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

      I don’t see that there is a serious debate to be had regarding whether China and the US have comparable Human Rights records.

    71. sonia — on 6th June, 2006 at 3:59 pm  

      ahem! yes and the US isn’t doing very well on democracy at the moment - lipservice yes..

    72. justforfun — on 6th June, 2006 at 4:00 pm  

      Read this link, and it is for this reason I am glad India has the bomb. To stop any ideas like this ever gaining ground in China.

      http://in.rediff.com/news/2003/oct/27spec.htm

      http://www.tew.org/editorial-oped/trin-gyi-pho-nya/0104.html

      China is not only India’s worry but also Bandladesh’s. In the next 100 years Bangladesh will be threatened by the double whammy - rising salt water from the Bay of Bengal and lack of fresh water as the Bhramaputra is diverted into the Yangtze and other canals going to North China.

      It is for the need for water that Tibetians have been crushed. One only has to look at the hydrology of China and see that all the great rivers of Asia start in Tibet and then to see that the Chinese can never let Tibet be free.

      http://www.tew.org/geography/t2000.hydrographic.html

      India its self has some pretty outlandish ideas to divert the Bhramaputra, but at least India is open to negotiation and compromise.

      Justforfun

    73. sonia — on 6th June, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

      i get your point sunny, but i can see what Rakhee’s getting at as well.

    74. sonia — on 6th June, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

      rising river levels is definitely a problem in bangladesh. there isn’t a lack of fresh water - though - with all that rain? but access to clean pure water is a problem.

      still thanks for pointing that out justforfun..will be keeping my eyes peeled. better go off and ask my beijing based journalist friend what the hell is going on..

    75. justforfun — on 6th June, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

      Rain doesn’t fall all the year round ;-)

      OT - The bore holes in Bangladesh are an arsenic poisoning timebomb that has just gone off. The law of unintended consequance that was not forseen when the wells were sunk. Now that people are dropping dead, the water has been tested and many wells are contaminated. No one thought that Arsenic existed in sedimentary layers layed down over 100k years so no-one tested for it when the wells were made. So plans for all esturine bore holes in the world are now being re-evaluated. I dig up the exact number soon.

      Justforfun

    76. Rakhee — on 6th June, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

      Take your points Sunny but have you ever visited the place or spoken at length to people who live in China?

      I went their last year, met many people (both native and people who had moved from Europe or US to work) and they were actually quite p**sed off with people who feed these stigmas and make out that they are all living in a restricted way.

      The general consensus from people I met in Beijing and Shanghai is that they don’t feel restricted AT ALL. They would argue that actually, they feel very free and need a single government to lead their way to become a global superpower.

      I know the picture isn’t entirely pretty - especially as you move further in land to rural areas - but things are changing out there and believe it or not, some of it is very very positive.

      Although you’re right, there are base line similarities, a direct US comparison is not straightforward. I stand by this point I’m afraid - to a certain degress it is like comparing chalk and cheese.

    77. Roger — on 6th June, 2006 at 7:01 pm  

      “One which has killed 200 million people in its history or 300 million? Is that how you judge a good country against a bad?”
      To begin with, compare the number of deaths among their own citizens caused in the last century by the two governments. The CCP in its time in power has murdered several million of its citizens and starved a few million more to death. The people now running the country were junior- but hands-on; they had no choice but to get their hands bloody- apparatchiks in such acievements as the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. The way a country treats its own citizens- or, in the case of China, subjects- is a good guide to the nature of its political system.

      “I went their last year, met many people (both native and people who had moved from Europe or US to work) and they were actually quite p**sed off with people who feed these stigmas and make out that they are all living in a restricted way.

      The general consensus from people I met in Beijing and Shanghai is that they don’t feel restricted AT ALL. They would argue that actually, they feel very free and need a single government to lead their way to become a global superpower.”
      Well, they would if they’re the kind of people who think being a “global superpower” is a good thing to want. Indeed, the very fact that they don’t know the are restricted- if they were telling the truth- shows how restricted they are. Not many chinese people live in Beijing or Shanghai in fact. They are what you might call Potemkin cities and it is the Chinese peasantry which supports the comparative luxury for those that do live there and provides the cheap labour that keeps it all going.

    78. Ravi4 — on 6th June, 2006 at 10:41 pm  

      Rakhee – Roger’s right. Chinese people that I’ve spoken to when pushed haven’t been able to justify the lack of freedom of speech, arbitrary detention, repression, and massive use of the death penalty in their country. There are simply no parallels between the human rights records of USA and China.

      Some comparisons: The Pickled Politics test – in the USA Rakhee could blog on Pickled Politics freely slagging off any govt in the world including the USA; she couldn’t slag off the Chinese govt while in China. The Amnesty international annual human rights report, which you can get to from Sonia’s diary (http://web.amnesty.org/report2006/index-eng ), shows USA executed 60 people in 2005. China – with about four times the population of the USA – executed 1770 ie almost 30 times as many.

      I’m sorry, but you just can’t blame this on society, culture or history. It’s not as if non-white, non-Western peoples are incapable of maintaining free societies.

      Otherwise, how do you explain Taiwan – democracy, freedom of speech, passes the Pickled Politics test, 3 executions in 2005? Or South Korea – democracy, freedom of speech, passes the PP test, no executions in 2005? Or the Philippines – democracy, freedom of speech, passes the PP test, no executions in 2005?

      And you can’t blame it on economic development or the size of the country (“China’s so poor and so big that it just HAS to repress and execute its own citizens”) Otherwise how do you explain India – poorer than China, population only about 20% less, yet democracy, freedom of speech, passes the PP test, no executions in 2005?

    79. firebrand — on 6th June, 2006 at 11:17 pm  

      wow, lots of preaching to the converted here. nice to see that some people have the correct perspective with regards to u.s. vs. china human rights comparisons - the u.s. has big problems, but they are NOTHING compared to what china does to its own citizens on a regular basis. to say otherwise is beyond foolish; it is ignorant.

    80. Don — on 6th June, 2006 at 11:30 pm  

      Ravi4,

      Excellent points, but the 1,770 is just the admitted figure. With capital punishment for tax evasion, some estimate four times that. Not to mention how the state then disposes of the (almost) dead offenders. For the western market. Oh, aren’t we a wonderful species.

    81. Rakhee — on 7th June, 2006 at 9:21 am  

      “the u.s. has big problems, but they are NOTHING compared to what china does to its own citizens on a regular basis. to say otherwise is beyond foolish; it is ignorant”.

      Do you have insider knowledge on what happens in the US? What makes the US such a shining example of morality all of a sudden? I agree that there is not freedom of speech in China and I agree that they violate some human rights which is wrong.

      But don’t you think the states is wrong also? You can actually go on line and find out who has been executed in the US and in which way http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=414&scid=8. Isn’t that wonderful.

      I agree that people should have the same basic human rights, I just can’t seem to get my head around using the US as a direct comparison.

    82. refresh — on 7th June, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

      The point isn’t about the US regime vis-a-vis US citizens (and similarly China) - the point is about their imperial tendencies.

      How they are and likely to be with ‘lesser’ nations. That’s you and me folks. ‘You’re either with us …or ‘

      And in the end wouldn’t we want both China, US and the rest of working towards the same goals?

      It is nearly but not too late for the US, but God forbid when it is - expect some serious ructions. For you and me.

    83. sonia — on 7th June, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

      re: Sunny’s point re: would we want to live in the US or China - that’s an interesting question. in some ways ( e.g. freedom of speech) it would appear that the US is better off. and that may be the case for citizens - e.g. if you’re a US citizen, but it may not be such a clear cut distinction if you’re not. If you live in the US and you happen to not be a citizen - well then things are quite different. back in the days when i lived in the US - it wasn’t a good time to be saying ANything if you were a foreigner - especially from a country that wouldn’t be so willing to look after you if you got into trouble. the least you would have to worry about is being kicked out - and the most being held without right to trial ( and that’s when your nationality kinda makes a difference). i moved there in Aug 2001 and left after a year.

      a lot of people would probably prefer to live in the US compared to China - but as a friend points out - as a foreigner in both these countries - daily life doesn’t really make a difference.

      anyway, refresh has a good point about the imperial tendencies. the reason why there needs to be a focus on the US is their position of global power and hegemony.

    84. sonia — on 7th June, 2006 at 2:37 pm  

      the point i guess im trying to make is if you yourself designate yourself as superpower no. 1 and go around moralizing about other people, you ought to have your affairs in order first.

      people in glass houses and pebbles and you get my import.

    85. Ravi4 — on 7th June, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

      Rakhee – I don’t think anyone in this thread has claimed that the US was a “shining example of morality”.

      I agree with you that the States is also wrong about a lot of things – death penalty, abortion, creationaism, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Haditha, International Criminal Court and lots lots more. But in comparison to China, as Sunny put it, “the Chinese are ten times worse”. On the death penality China is actually THIRTY times worse thatn the US – at least. And I think Sunny only made the comparison because it was in the anti-American article posted by Refresh.

      Your comments seem to imply that you believe there is a monstrous conspiracy hiding massive US human rights abuses which rival China’s political prisoners, re-education camps, censoring of the internet, violence against Falun Gong and massive use of the death penalty. But your link to the US death penalty website and the incredible detail in the AI report on the US (compare it with the AI report on China) shows just how much info is available in the US – and is used by civil society in the US to agitate for change.

      Compare the US with India (or South Korea or Taiwan) and the picture is different.

      Sonia – are you really saying no country should ever say or do anything about another country unless they’ve got their own house in order first? Should the US and UK have not opposed Hitler until they had stopped segregation and ended imperialism in India? Should they have refused to send aid to Stalin until he had agreed to free all the inmates of the GULAGs and allowed multiparty elections?? Should India not have intervened in East Pakistan until they’d sorted out poverty, literacy and Kashmir???

      And are you really comparing the hard time you had in the US with the hard time people have in China????

    86. Refresh — on 8th June, 2006 at 1:13 am  

      Ravi, it would be sad to let this continue without reminding you that the article I posted was critical of current US policy and long-standing behaviour. It warned that the US needed to do something about dealing with the root causes. Before its too late!

      If you think that makes it anti-American, then you’ll not get a response.

      However if you think there are no root-causes….and you don’t want to hear what Chomsky has to say or presumably Pilger, Fisk then I can’t see what we are debating other than providing cover for one side or the other.

    87. Ravi4 — on 8th June, 2006 at 6:50 am  

      Refresh - as you pointed out before, we’ve agreed on many things, including the big faults in US foreign policy that we’ve got to point out and stand up to. The problem I have with the letter you posted, and with Chomsky and Pilger, is that while they identify some key problems with US policy, their overarching explanation is too crude and simplistic (the only power in US policy is the corporations, big oil, military-industrial-complex, democracy is a big sham, the US is a nazi state etc etc) to have any credibility for me. Also, most of the stuff I read by Chomsky is just incoherent much of the time these days.

    88. Jai — on 8th June, 2006 at 10:57 am  

      Apologies for the slightly off-topic post, but for those of you who may not have had the chance to catch the news this morning, the US has killed Al-Zarqawi in an airstrike. It’s currently “Breaking News” everywhere.

      http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/06/08/iraq.al.zarqawi/index.html

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2009. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.