January 18, 2008
1. Sorry for not posting. There was a family emergency I needed to attend and the place had no intertubes connectivity. Fortunately the emergency had a happy ending. I am an uncle now.
2. Spam filter: Dear Uncle$cam, one of your comments was caught about ten times. The problem should(!) be fixed now. Just in case you'd like to continue your valuable contributions.
3. As I am still on the road I can not write the piece on Afghanistan I had in mind. The situation for the imperial NATO/US invaders there is quite hopeless. This diary by Ben Anderson in the London Review of Books gives some impressions on the military and "reconstruction" situation.
Posted by b on January 18, 2008 at 02:27 PM | Permalink
Don't be sorry for not posting, Bernhard, your silence is more informative than hours of sound-btes barfing at us from the state controlled media...
Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Jan 18, 2008 4:43:43 PM | 1
you just take yr time, young fellah - i'm in complete concurrence with chuck
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 18, 2008 4:50:38 PM | 2
super congrats on your new niece or nephew b. i have been offline for a few weeks, back in seattle deep in remodeling. just got wired up and will be catching up. i read an absurd story in the local fishwrap the other day and thought of you all. tv is beyond bogus. i'll be back when i'm done..missing you all.
Posted by: annie | Jan 18, 2008 5:06:55 PM | 3
just be there
a perfect storm is brewing..............
Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jan 18, 2008 5:10:26 PM | 4
it feels sometimes as if it is the famous end-times™ - except this time it is a farce full of blood
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 18, 2008 5:14:51 PM | 5
Anderson's diary piece is an enlightening confirmation of the futility of war. This war, that war, all of them.
Posted by: rapt | Jan 18, 2008 5:36:49 PM | 6
Congrats B on becoming an uncle. I've been offline for a few weeks, after the monitor on my antique computer system fizzled with a small plume of smoke. It was good for me really, because the monitor broke down just in time to head off that nervous breakdown I was looking at. I'm getting too old to engage with the madness that surrounds us, on a non-stop basis.
I've been in a funk for the past weeks, but am feeling slightly more robust now, ready to throw myself back into the fray.
Posted by: Copeland | Jan 18, 2008 6:24:39 PM | 7
Posted by: Alamet | Jan 18, 2008 6:38:49 PM | 8
spent the am watching a devastating doco on the horror of it all. The movie is called War Dance and it is about three Acholi kids living in a Ugandan displaced persons camp. The children belong to a school music group within the camp who win the regional music contest and are off to Kampala to compete in the nationals.
I haven't got to the end of it yet as it is fairly hard for to take in one sitting, although the music is beyond great and the children are hearteningly strong. I don't know if it ends like the Hollywood fairytale it most definitely isn't. This puts "Spellbound" and it's ilk into the shade.
Congrats to the film-makers for grabbing an appealing Hollywood form and using it to tell us a story that most people would find too hard to watch as a straight talking-head in front of mutilated bodies format. Sad to say even most humanists wouldn't consider watching that any more. We know the story only the names and parts of the world change. It becomes vicarious. But then we remain ignorant. This is one solution.
Of course the filmerati of the NYT are probably anxious to discredit the innovative way of getting the word out and their review calls the movie rehearsed and too polished.
Having been around 'realistic' documentaries when they have been made I reckon they are just as contrived. Why not make the subjects palatable when the message is so harsh? No one is doubting the words or the facts.
If you have a rapidshare account go to here Scroll down past the ignorant talk of "africans always having happy smiling faces" (makes me wonder if they can read - most of the kids' dialogue is in english subtitles) and even worse blatant prejudice - what have our children learned? there are rapidshare links.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 18, 2008 6:48:20 PM | 9
I am surprised to see that some MoA-ites appear to have given in to the myth that the pay off by amerika to independence fighters through the awakening program has a ready acceptance, so acceptable now that they are advocating a similar program be adopted in Afghanistan.
Has everyone really thought this through?
If this is some short term strategy by amerika to get through the 08 elections without a continuous stream of disturbing news from amerika's most recent colonial near-acquisitions, it may have reduced the immediate short term death toll. But temporary or permanent, amerika has created a really lethal rod for it's own back while simultaneously destroying the micro-economic foundations of Iraq's rural provinces. All without putting in a sustainable long term alternative. It is unlikely this program can be dismantled with the same aplomb that introduced it.
The money is being paid directly to end users probably to ensure that all 'power' associated with the giving is retained by amerika, if a local paymaster were appointed, then that power would reside with him. Eventually the paymaster will accumulate sufficient power to become a 'thorn in the side' aka pain in the butt.
In addition giving an ambitious person money isn't likely to send them away happy and content. The person won't say thank-you that's fine, see you later. They will see the money as stepping stone to getting more and are likely to keep coming back with further demands, all this while paying bugger all out to the pointy end, the 'former insurgents'. Such paymasters are easy to decry and difficult to empathise with but they are also unlikely to allow the same total disruption of the local economy that an outsider such as an amerikan officer would. The reason is as self serving as everything else such a person does. That is since they were already in a position of some power in the local community which is why the outsiders recruited them, they will have an investment in ensuring that at least some elements of the former structure remain.
Ordinary people are a little different they will take the money and find a shady spot. Not for nothing do rural Australian Aborigines call the welfare payments they get 'sit down money'.
The same is true in Iraq or anywhere. Of course coming from an agrarian society, rural Iraqis will find more things to do with themselves than communities who have always lived a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but they won't be nearly as driven to produce as they had been, since they now have that largely 'covered'.
There is a major difference between these payments and more mainstream welfare payments. That is, piling injustice upon stupidity, only some families are being paid to 'sit down'. The others are expected to survive in an already tough economic situation with less 'real income' competing against others who will suddenly have more 'real income'.
Imagine for a moment a basic rural economy that was probably pretty unsophisticated before the murderous sanctions of Clinton and Major. The Awakening Payments will flush a great deal of cash into these small well-established trading systems. Since the money hasn't been accompanied by any increase in productivity which might otherwise provide a simultaneous lift in the amount of tradeable goods, this cash is going to be sloshing around chasing pretty much the the same or less (see 'sit-down' above) goods and services than that which were available before the awakening dollars appeared.
The amerikans may plan on using the payments as a way to get Iraqis hooked on consumption, but that is unlikely to occur short term.
Remember the debacle of 03 and 04 when the spruikers for the corporates arrived in Iraq in droves to push the same Chinese manufactured amerikan intellectual property the rest of the world is learning to loathe, but ended up as the victims, just for a change?
I suspect the images of good old boys getting their heads sawed off are still firmly lodged in the amerikan psyche. While the "surge has worked" propaganda may have taken shallow root; will it have supplanted the hardy perennial of the last decade, "All Ay-rabs are crazy blood lusting killers who hate amerikans' freedom"?
Somehow I suspect that even a Willie Lomax crossed with the most determined Horatio Alger character, and complete with his matched luggage set of sample cases, plus gloriously colourful power point presentations, will be jumping on the red eye to Fallujah for a while.
If left for 'later' then it will simply be too late.
So it is unlikely that even if Iraq had a transportation infrastructure which could support such a massive increase in imports, that anyone will come to sell them.
Consequently these dollars will be in the hands of some families, those who took up arms and then elected to become a concerned citizen or whatever, but not others. Inevitably the money will inflate and distort the micro economy leaving those who haven't gotten onto the 'payroll' at a disadvantage as purchasers.
So these 'others' who for whatever reason weren't included in the initial "Awakening program" are going to find out very quickly that they have to get onto it if they want their families to eat. Of course those families which didn't participate in the insurrection will be at a disadvantage. That's gonna be good for the empire. Those who didn't fight it will quickly learn to resent it. Worse from the point of view of the empire, those who did fight against the empire but weren't included in the program, the most committed nationalists, will have to join up too.
The reluctant converts will be extremely pissed even if they are let in without too much hassle. How would you feel if this happened to you?
So that you needed to be seen to side with the enemy to feed your family. Do you think it would make you a committed, loyal member of the new hierarchy?
If amerika doesn't take these guys on, says they already have enough 'awakened Iraqis' the outsiders will create a few vacancies by killing off those already signed up.
This is a great imperial program. NOT! Those who didn't fight the empire are being punished and those who did are being rewarded. Pretty soon even the least politically committed Iraqi will find that if they want to eat then they have to shoot some amerikans and get 'awakened' by the bosses of those they shot.
From the amerikan empire's point of view it is rather like the joke about the bloke who used to hit himself on the head with a hammer all day long because it felt so good when he stopped.
From the Iraqi point of view which is the only one I care about, any amerikan in Iraq deserves what he/she gets IMO; the problems will be even worse.
There will be a massive increase in the size of the black market economy which has become more dominant with each hurriedly introduced, improperly thought through interference USuk have made.
The sanctions would have been the black market incubator, the black market was hatched by the oil for food program, and nurtured by the invasion which caused destruction of much of the agricultural production. Remember the vids of farmers being shot up by helicopters? That may be beyond the memory span of Faux news viewers but every Iraqi remembers.
A black market is a disaster for any new government, right when is struggling to be heard above the din as it tries to impose it's will from the centre (Baghdad) out.
A lot of shit is talked in the west about democracy and what a great thing it is for ensuring governments are responsive to their population. The facts are that contrary to what we were taught most governments, totalitarian or not, require the support of a large section of the community to survive. The expansion of a black market will cause a further reduction for Green Zone Iraqis viability especially once the amerikan administration is all ensconced in the new embassy. The Iraqi puppets are still seen as largely powerless in the small administrative stuff. They may have the ability to sign or not sign the oil proposal that seeks to rob Iraq blind; but day to day permits and the righting of injustices (most often perpetrated by the amerikan invaders) remains in the hands of the illegal amerikan administration. The old saw 'all politics is local' comes to mind and the Iraqi central government will be isolated by the amerikans and the black-market, two of the most vital areas of the 'new Iraq' the two which they have absolutely no control over. If an administration can't do any favours it has no community support, withers and dies. However it would be a mistake to imagine that all the 'legislators' in the Green Zone are replicas of the west's shiny suited, combed over, shit-eating faced pols. Leaving those buggers feeling deserted will have consequences.
There is little doubt that plans are afoot to introduce a similar program to Afghanistan. It is difficult to know how much support they have but an early sign is Robert Gates bid to increase the US Marine deployment to Afghanistan.
Amerikan troops will have to supervise any awakening style program in Afghanistan. If it were to be attempted within the much looser NATO command structure the 'leakage' would be vast. The marines with their style of top down oppressive administration, far tougher than the Army were the early adopters of the awakening strategy in Iraq. Since thus far leakage hasn't been an issue in Iraq (well not publicly but I bet that minds far more determined and wise in the ways of arcane amerikan military bureaucracy than any of us have developed all sorts of rorts), the marines will be Afghanistan awakenings early adopters.
With luck the shit will hit the fan in Iraq before the Afghanis, who have been subjected to every other form of indignity and brutalization by amerika in the last couple of decades, have to cop the ultimate indignity of seeing their boldest and toughest reduced to dollar junkies. Even if the former heroes do eventually turn on their tormentors, as they most surely will.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 18, 2008 7:30:31 PM | 10
Uncle B., congrats to you and the lucky parents. Oh and the Anderson diary was one interesting read, thanx for the link.
Out of a unit of 36 soldiers, three have been killed and 12 seriously injured.
That's nearly half the unit, in six months. Unreal. But compare that with:
One man said: ‘Life has no meaning for me anymore. I lost 27 members of my family. My house has been destroyed. Everything I’ve built for seventy years is gone.
and one starts to get the real picture.
Afghanistan war is just beginning: report
From correspondents in Kabul
January 18, 2008
THE Taliban has seriously rejoined the fight in Afghanistan, an NGO security group said in a report that concluded the country was at the beginning of a war, not the end of one...
Posted by: Juan Moment | Jan 18, 2008 8:56:25 PM | 11
Great catch. Disturning to read, but hardly a suprise. Resembles, for those with memories, Vietnam--more than a little.
Posted by: Gaianne | Jan 18, 2008 9:29:07 PM | 12
Wrong war, gia, run back to the movie archives and pull out "the tank". Remember we trained these people to beat the russians, we are their new target. They want to go home. And we stand between there and home. Not a nice picture.
Posted by: jim | Jan 18, 2008 9:55:32 PM | 13
American electoral politics is assuming an almost hallucinatory aspect, what with McCain saying that 10,000 years "in-country" might be just fine, as far as US military occupation forces in Iraq are concerned. And along comes Huckabee, saying more or less, that the US Constitution really ought to be amended, in order to be aligned with the divine laws of the "Living God".
This too is the season of slapstick: a racially-charged food fight between Obama and Hillary, in which both seemed to have been diminished. And one ignores, at one's peril, the strange automatronic movements of Romney. The inanities of Thompson. And don't forget Mr. Nine-Eleven, who has settled like an octopus into the corrupt electoral wiring of Florida, where the diabolical fixers hatched Year 2000's Cosmic Egg.
I'm convinced (or nearly convinced) that the US electorate is being set up for some kind of political "conversion experience" with resonant religious overtones. In one column you will have the unambiguously diabolical rat; and in the winner's circle, the other choice, the exceedingly cute, family-values-certified, fluffy, well-appointed rat. And you're an American voter.
What's your move?
Posted by: Copeland | Jan 18, 2008 10:06:02 PM | 14
Write in vote for Kucinich.
Posted by: catlady | Jan 19, 2008 12:52:54 AM | 15
at least I live in a state with real paper ballots marked with real graphite.
Posted by: catlady | Jan 19, 2008 12:53:56 AM | 16
the move is dem, unless the vote is split and mccain gets the white house.
then, punishment. ok, alright? feeling me?
it will only take 4 years of post-W sh**sville with the democrat in chief making speeches about how things will be better sometime, and the oil companies taking double, to ease the long term spanking the RNC could take. they just want that oil, and to kill whatever gets in the way, simple. They need it for military superiority, much less the money. The dems want it but won't act for it, they'll pull out and get their punishment. With the dems, everything goes sideways, but they pull out and get cracked. With one of them, we get new nuclear power plants too thanks so much. They can't go anywhere we would wish without 3 terms. Then the hippy seeds will show one small leaf.
Posted by: bellgong | Jan 19, 2008 12:54:32 AM | 17
giuliani has had a promised-the-presidency smile since 911, when he did the cleanup.
mccain got the same and has gotten in line.
The RNC would prefer to keep it's electorate christian (sic) pet, but has got to have a plan to put an unbeliever in office. s-p-l-i-t t-h-e v-o-t-e.
Anything near 45% will do the job. CNN will report whoever they want as winner, and the lawsuits can be trumped. Gore was wrong, there will be a final arbiter. With black robes, they can sound the void.
As we have learned, nothing can be said continuously, instead of having rhythm.
A new liar in chief, we will have Shah-ed ourselves!
Posted by: bellgong | Jan 19, 2008 1:20:36 AM | 18
Uncle b! Congratulations!
Posted by: beq | Jan 19, 2008 7:57:11 AM | 19
Congratulations B. Enjoy...
Posted by: Tangerine | Jan 19, 2008 4:50:25 PM | 20
Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Jan 19, 2008 4:52:11 PM | 21
Yes, b, Congratulations. Rest up that good mind of yours.
Posted by: Rick | Jan 19, 2008 6:45:00 PM | 22
Congratulations on your unclehood, B. Take your time and thanks for all that you do.
Posted by: Monolycus | Jan 20, 2008 2:51:45 AM | 23