Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 20, 2005

Open Thread 05-29

Two years of war on Iraq and other tales ...

Posted by b on March 20, 2005 at 8:42 UTC | Permalink


How to screw up foreign relations:

WaPo: U.S. Misled Allies About Nuclear Export

In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state.

But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.
The Bush administration's approach, intended to isolate North Korea, instead left allies increasingly doubtful as they began to learn that the briefings omitted essential details about the transaction, U.S. officials and foreign diplomats said in interviews. North Korea responded to public reports last month about the briefings by withdrawing from talks with its neighbors and the United States.

Posted by: b | Mar 20 2005 8:50 utc | 1

More on misleading:

LONDON (AFP) - The head of Britain's foreign intelligence agency told Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) that the case for war in Iraq (news - web sites) was being "fixed" by Washington to suit US policy, according to a BBC documentary.

MI6 supremo Richard Dearlove briefed Blair and a group of ministers on the United States' determination to launch the invasion nine months before hostilities began in March 2003, the BBC programme will claim on Sunday.

After attending a briefing in Washington, he told the meeting that war was "inevitable", according to The Sunday Times newspaper.

"The facts and intelligence" were being "fixed round the policy" by US President George W. Bushs administration, Dearlove said.

The allegations against Blair just weeks before an expected general election are likely to reopen a feud between the government and the broadcaster.

The two fell out last year over allegations by a BBC reporter that the British government "sexed up" the case for war.

The documentary argues that Blair had signed up to follow Bushs plans for regime change in Iraq as early as April 2002.

Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary who resigned as leader of the House of Commons over Iraq, claimed that the threat of weapons of mass destruction was not the prime minister's true reason for going to war.

"What was propelling the prime minister was a determination that he would be the closest ally to George Bush (news - web sites) and they would prove to the United States administration that Britain was their closest ally," Cook tells the programme.

"His problem is that George Bush's motivation was regime change. It was not disarmament. Tony Blair knew perfectly well what he was doing.

"His problem was that he could not be honest about that with either the British people or Labour MPs, hence the stress on disarmament."

The Panorama documentary comes one day after thousands of protestors marched through London demanding that Blair pulls British troops out of Iraq and warning against any more "Bush wars".

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 20 2005 10:26 utc | 2

Two years later:

Shoot first, pay later culture pervades Iraq

Two bursts of automatic gunfire rang out across a busy street in west Baghdad, echoing off the walls of the Australian embassy and one of the city's major hotels.

A few seconds later, a three-vehicle convoy belonging to a private security company, transporting a foreigner working to facilitate Iraq's parliamentary elections, began to drive away from the scene.

Askew in the centre of the street sat a civilian car, a neat line of bullet holes piercing its hood and windscreen. The driver lay some five metres away, wounded in the side and stomach, and going into shock. Later that day, he died in hospital.

Another motorist, who was driving with his two children in the car, stood dazed in the street, his head lightly grazed by a bullet.

Scenes such as this, witnessed by FT correspondent Awadh al-Taee on January 23, repeats itself time and again across Iraq. This Baghdad neighbourhood of Kerrada alone, according to local police, sees one fatal shooting a week by either private security companies or the military.

Posted by: b | Mar 20 2005 11:31 utc | 3

Off Track - America's economy is losing its competitive edge and Washington hasn't noticed.

But there was something else I noticed: Whereas a decade ago the most creative, groundbreaking stuff came from Silicon Valley, now it all seemed to come from overseas. The plasma televisions were from Korea; the computer-like cell phones were from Finland; the feature-packed digital cameras were from Japan.

During the last six months, we have begun, quietly, to enter a newly tense moment, with university presidents, business leaders, and columnists delivering ominous-sounding reports and editorials about the threat to American innovation posed by a freshly competitive world—the renewed vitality of western Europe, Japan and Korea, and the ravenous growth of China and India. “We no longer have a lock on technology,” David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate and the current president of the California Institute of Technology, wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times. “Europe is increasingly competitive, and Asia has the potential to blow us out of the water.”

Posted by: Fran | Mar 20 2005 11:47 utc | 4

The old cynic in me says that Halliburton is not just overcharging the US taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, they are also stiffing their suppliers.

How low can they go?

Kuwait-US discord over oil payment

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 20 2005 13:37 utc | 5

Under the title of "other tales" America's Gulag

Posted by: mdm | Mar 20 2005 14:08 utc | 6

Well, I have no real news to tell, so, heres what I've been doing. I went to my home town firemans ball last weekend. The band was great and its always a good time in small towns. Went to the firemans ball last night in the town I manage. Our community is raising money for a new jaws of life, they raised $1200 last night for a college scholarship named after the person who helped start the department.

Our firemen are fairly well equiped. New air tanks for everyone this year, new turnout gear last year. A new emergency vehicle, new fire truck two years ago and a new ambulance last year.

Our local firemen recieve money for each run, but they turn that money back into a fund (none take pay, its a volunteer department) for any runs. They are a good group of guys and gals, some have thirty years volunteering. Thats dedication.

Some of the car wrecks and house (and barn) fires I know these people have went to would make me totally ill. I am glad their there and I take my hat off to them.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 20 2005 14:33 utc | 7

Here's a break from all the bad stuff, this is good for a little smile - at least for the women. Dowd has some interesting stuff on the Y and X chromosomes.

X-celling Over Men

Posted by: Fran | Mar 20 2005 14:34 utc | 8

Deconstructing Iraq: Year Three begins

Posted by: Comfortably numb? | Mar 20 2005 15:30 utc | 9

Oil, Iraq and the neocons: BBC video

Posted by: Nugget | Mar 20 2005 16:27 utc | 10

Correction American Gulag


Posted by: mdm | Mar 20 2005 17:58 utc | 11


Posted by: norvegia | Mar 20 2005 19:33 utc | 12

There is an interesting new website: Discover What the World Thinks About U.S.

A collection on international articles about the US.

Posted by: Fran | Mar 21 2005 6:03 utc | 14

Rolling back the New Deal, welcome to the Old Deal.

BTW – as a mildly impoverished lower-middle-class type – I did take note on my trip to Egypt – that “middle class” Egyptians were probably financially better off than me.

Although the housing market is ‘down’ in Egypt – it doesn’t stop them building. Many lower-middle-class Cairo families also have a holiday home on the Mediterranean. The four hundred Km stretch from Alexandria to Libya is wall-to-wall summer resorts. Most of these people actually own what they have, while I am just the caretaker of the bank’s property.

Posted by: DM | Mar 21 2005 6:18 utc | 15

Interesting article on, suggesting that dollar might stabilise where it is, more or less.

In summary, the thesis seems to be that the increase in dollar value of foreign assets and the returns on them offsets the outflow of funds caused by the trade deficits. However, the article concludes

As long as foreign investors, especially foreign central banks, are willing to hold US assets, the dollar's exchange rate does not need to devalue by as much as would have been the case if all the adjustment had to come from trade alone. Put another way, the sustainable current account deficit may be higher than otherwise thought.

So it might take a while longer for Bush and company to spend the US into economic oblivion. Maybe they'll need that Iranian war after all.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 21 2005 12:15 utc | 16

"If it were up to me, I'd kill the Americans and drink their blood."

– Jilan Hassan (aged 14), orphaned at Tal Afar, January 18th 2005, when U.S. troops killed her parents.

You don't even understand why these people don't speak English anyway, you're shouting 'Stop!' and the car's still coming at you—you've got to fire."

Posted by: Teaching English as a foreign language | Mar 21 2005 12:34 utc | 17

That autumn, Professor Irving Fisher of Yale made his immortal estimate: "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
J.K Galbraith, The Great Crash 1929.

Posted by: Colman | Mar 21 2005 12:44 utc | 18

I don't know if this book has been referenced here before. I talked to my cousin Friday and he is reading "The Oil Factor" by Stephen and Diane Leeb. I plan to read it. You can pull up chapters through google.

Posted by: jdp | Mar 21 2005 13:20 utc | 19

@DM regarding home owners in the S Hemi, there are influential Western capitalist theorists (trying to remember the title of a deeply annoying book by a deeply annoying author whose name I have also happily forgotten) who think that "the problem" with the third world is that those people don't "leverage their assets," i.e. borrow lots of money on their houses and place themselves and family at the mercy of fluctuating interest rates and international usurers. this is "the reason" for their poverty, you see -- that they don't understand how to get into debt. as I recall I nearly threw the book across the room at that point...

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 21 2005 19:20 utc | 20

(nothing to do with anything above, but I think everyone else has gone home, and I need the practice, so...)

Fate Playing

Because the message somehow met a goblin
Because precedents tripped your expectations
Because your London was still a kaleidoscope
Of names and places any jolt could scramble,
You waited mistaken. The bus from the North
Came in and emptied. I was not on it.
No matter how much you insisted,
Begged the driver, probably with tears,
To produce me or to remember seeing me
Just miss getting on, I wasn't on it.
Eight in the evening and I was lost and at large
Somewhere in England. You restrained
Your confident inspiration
And did not dash out into the traffic
Milling around Victoria, utterly certain
Of bumping into me where I would have to be walking.
I was not walking anywhere. I was sitting
Unperturbed, in my seat on the train
Rocking towards King's Cross. Somebody,
Calmer than you, had a suggestion. So,
When I got off the train, expecting to find you
Somewhere down at the root of the platform,
I saw that surge of agitation, a figure
Breasting the flow of the released passengers,
Then your molten face, your molten eyes,
Your exclamations, your flinging arms,
Your scattering tears
As if I had come back from the dead
Against every possibility, against
Every negative but your own prayers
To your own God. Then I knew what it was
To be a miracle. And behind you
Your jolly taxi-driver, laughing, a small god,
To see an American girl being so American,
And to see your frenzied charriot ride--
Sobbing and goading him, and pleading him
To make happen what you needed to happen--
succeed so completely, thanks to him.
Well, it was a wonder
That my train wasn't earlier, even much earlier,
That it pulled up, late, the very moment
You irrupted onto the platform. It was
Natural and miraculous and an omen
Confirming everything
You wanted confirmed.

(....and that's all I can remember, until...)

.....splashed over me
Like love forty-nine times magnified,
Like the first thunder cloudburst engulfing
The drought of August
When the whole cracked earth seems to quake
And every leaf trembles
And everything holds up its arms, weeping.

Ted Hughes.

(the errors are all mine)

Posted by: ooph | Mar 22 2005 12:11 utc | 21

Most of these people actually own what they have, while I am just the caretaker of the bank’s property.
Same with people in Serbia and me living in a wealthy west "American province/ dominion"...
But soon they will be forced to BORROW and borrow…and borrow (some of them earning enough already are).

Posted by: vbo | Mar 22 2005 13:56 utc | 22

By the way we have seen tonight on SBS TV here American documentary
documentary">">documentary from Robert Greenwald

Has anybody seen it?
One wouldn't know whether to cry or to scream after watching it.
Lately we are seeing a lot of anti-Bush documentaries here in Australia...Has Howard decided to leave the boat? Just wonder...Even Mafia boss Berlusconi is shit scared from Bushco mafia …not to mention Howard-coward (as they call him here)…We’ll be the last to leave…

Posted by: vbo | Mar 22 2005 14:12 utc | 23

Hot Docs: Unconstitutional

Posted by: vbo | Mar 22 2005 14:17 utc | 24

And while I am here something to make you laugh...
It's about OUR new future QUEEN:
Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb, and Quasimodo were all talking one day. Sleeping Beauty said, 'I believe myself to be the most beautiful girl in the world.' Tom Thumb said, 'I must be the smallest person in the world.' Quasimodo said, 'I absolutely have to be the ugliest person in the world.' They decided to go to the Guinness Book of World Records to have their claims verified. Sleeping Beauty went first and came out looking deliriously happy. 'It's official, I AM the most beautiful girl in the world.' Tom Thumb went next and emerged triumphant, 'I am officially the smallest person in the world.' Sometime later, Quasimodo came out looking confused and simply stated, 'Who is Camilla Parker Bowles?'

Posted by: vbo | Mar 22 2005 14:35 utc | 25

Talk about WMD, well Americans will be remembered for a long time in Iraq (DU), like in Vietnam )Agent Orange) - a topic that is continuesly ignored. How many more children with deformations will have to be born before we note.
After the War Comes Cancer

Information collected for a German project investigating the use of uranium-charged ammunition in Iraq shows that when Iraqi women fear for their children's health, it is with good reason.

After two wars where oil wells were torched, chemical factories bombed and radioactive ammunition fired, the first thing Iraqi women ask when giving birth is not if it is a boy or a girl, but if it is normal or deformed. The number of cancer cases and children born with deformities has skyrocketed after the two Gulf Wars.

"Since 1991 the number of children born with birth deformities has quadrupled," said Dr. Janan Hassan, who runs a children's clinic at a hospital in Basra in southern Iraq. "The same is the case for the number of children under 15 who are diagnosed with cancer. Mostly, it is leukemia. Almost 80 percent of the children die because we neither have medicine nor the possibility to give them chemotherapy."

Doctors have also recorded an extreme rise in cancer cases among adults. "In 2004 we diagnosed 25 percent more cancer cases than the year before and the mortality rate increased eight-fold between 1988 and 1991," said Dr. Jawad al-Ali of the Sadr Hospital in Basra.

Posted by: Fran | Mar 22 2005 16:49 utc | 26

From>Fort Bragg, this weekend:

Cindy Sheehan's eyes showed no fear, only fierce determination. The co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace stepped forward and a crowd of nearly four thousand people slowly began to follow her up a steep hill and into the nation's consciousness. The mother of Specialist Casey Sheehan, a soldier who now lies in a grave in Vacaville, California, traveled all the way across the country to Fayetteville, NC, the town outside of Ft. Bragg. She came to grieve and to add her righteous anger to a growing sentiment among military families and veterans that the war in Iraq is wasting the lives of yet another generation.

A young man in a red beret and a desert camouflage jacket walked purposefully behind her. The banner he helped carry read "Iraq Veterans Against the War." Joshua Despain served in Iraq with Ft. Bragg's 82nd Airborne. A friend died in combat. Questioning the reasons for that sacrifice, Despain refused to return to Iraq after being granted leave in the U.S. The Army quietly discharged him rather than allowing his case to draw attention to the growing discontent among its ranks. Now he along with nearly 150 other men and women from across the country are raising a collective voice against the war they fought in. Many of them were in Fayetteville for their first national meeting.

As the march moved forward, wives with husbands deployed to Iraq walked beside the fathers and mothers whose sons and daughters also serve. Military Families Speak Out, with a membership of over 2,000, has been a leader in the current movement to end the war. Kara Hollingsworth of Ft. Bragg, whose husband isn't due to return from his second tour of duty until November, carried her four-year-old daughter and looked not the least bit intimidated by the weight of representing the thousands of local families with loved ones in harms way.

At Fayetteville's Rowan Street Park the marchers were greeted by hundreds of police officers. A few dozen counter-protesters held thoughtful signs, including my favorite, "Osama is Yo Mama." This small but obnoxiously vocal group perched unmolested on a grassy knoll overlooking the park as the groups of students from Quaker colleges and the parents of slain soldiers had their backpacks searched and their bodies gone over with metal detecting wands. Still, the enthusiasm of the crowd grew instead of abating as Ralph Baldwin, a Vietnam veteran with some serious musical talent, kept them entertained during the nearly hour long search process.

I was in SF for Saturday's anti-war rally and march. Rain was forecast, so the turnout was smaller than it might have been -- I would guessimate between 7 and 10 thousand, much smaller than the marches before the war when people still thought they could prevent it. The usual sectarian ranters were present, but there was a strong labour presence -- many Bay Area unions, from writers to postal carriers to teachers to teamsters to dock workers -- and strong contingents of both Hispanic and Black youth. There were also white college kids getting scared about the draft (about time, guys and gals), and the traditional strong and musical Palestinian contingent. Several US Jewish peace groups expressly protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine as well as the US occupation of Iraq. And there were more US church groups than I remember. The police presence was heavy and rather humourless but not (that I saw) aggressive. I did notice a disturbing trend among SFPD officers to the new militarised look -- shaved heads and combat fatigues. Only a minority of cops still look like regular human beings, and they sent out very few female cops that day.

On arriving at San Jose Diridon train station on my way home the following afternoon, I was surprised to find cops crawling all over the station, prohibiting passengers from entering the waiting room by the direct route but making us walk all the way around the building outdoors (in the rain). We passengers thought there must be some dangerous criminal on the train with us, but as I came around the corner I realised the cops were just overreacting as usual to a small anti-war demonstration taking place outside the station.

A thousand or so local San Jose folks with umbrellas and rain slickers were waving plastic-bagged signs protesting the Iraq invasion and occupation, the Israeli occupation, the Patriot Act, and George Bush generally. It was all rather sweet. It also seemed to have upset the local constabulary no end -- there were at least 3 police SUVs, a number of panda cars, two sheriff's cars, and a whole phalanx of cops posturing thuggishly in front of the station doors. I mean, these guys were making a conscious effort to look mean and large :-)

The protesters -- at least half of whom appeared to be little old white- and gray-haired ladies -- politely murmured "excuse me, Officer," as they passed through the cordon to use the station restroom. Clearly a dangerous crowd. Or perhaps the officers were there to protect us from the Viet Nam and Iraq war vets, some in wheelchairs with US flags flying from them, some able-bodied, who had joined the protest. Or the wispy hippy-dippy kids with tie dyed macrame hats who said nervously, "Peace, dude," as they passed the coppers, each of whom would have made 4 protesters at least by body weight.

I would like to have joined the rabble on their wet little march through downtown SJ, but needed to catch my bus home. There were no counterprotesters, and random comments from uninvolved travellers in the station were not unkind. Some were merely annoyed at the "nuisance" of having a crowd out front ("I'm supposed to be meeting my husband, how can I find him with all these people in the way?" said one tired and agitated woman), some thought it was all a bit silly and laughed ("Jeez, don't these people have anything better to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon?", or "Guess there's nothing good on TV, huh."). No one (in my hearing) expressed any real anger, or any heartfelt support of Bush. I noticed that some people seemed nervous about even watching the protest, as if they might be somehow "implicated" if they stood and watched it for too long. It is true that the cops were giving dirty looks to some of us who stood near the station doorway (safely in the dry) watching the show; but whether this was annoyance at our obstructing the entrance to the building, or general hostility because we looked too kindly disposed towards the protest, who could say?

It made me remember that, for the moment, the US is still sort of a free country, i.e. the cops were looking mean but they were not firing live rounds into the crowd as they would in Haiti or several other places -- or as US troops would have if we were Iraqis in Falluja. Realising how very safe it is to protest here in the US, by comparison to many other places, made me wonder why there were not more people doing it -- but then I remembered the great paradox of social activism. When there is enough individual liberty that protest is safe, most people feel comfortable enough that no protest seems necessary. It is only when the crackdown is harsh, when friends and relatives are disappearing and being tortured, when books are actually being burnt in the streets, that protest suddenly becomes an urgent priority -- after it has become dangerous.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 22 2005 18:15 utc | 27


BUSH: I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help. And maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean, I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you.

now: Pentagon Reaffirms Globocop Role

who said anything about walking?

Posted by: b real | Mar 22 2005 22:57 utc | 28

bartcop has words to fight with:

For those who don't know, Churchill is a Native American. His ancestors were hunted for sport. They weren't even worth enslaving, according to the prevailing attitudes.

Sure, it was dumb for Churchill to phrase things like he did,
but how would anybody feel if their entire race was 90 percent wiped out?

Posted by: citizen | Mar 22 2005 23:05 utc | 29

Where, oh where, is Carmen San Diego:


Posted by: Groucho | Mar 23 2005 1:26 utc | 31

You scooped Me THFYA.

All in a good cause.

Posted by: Groucho | Mar 23 2005 1:30 utc | 32


Posted by: Groucho | Mar 23 2005 1:50 utc | 33

read that AP foia request w/ a, make that a block of salt. what w/ the 500 hours of gitmo video supposedly looking for a release, the timing of an unsourced detainee's "evidence" that he enabled bin laden's getaway is quite remarkable. and right when the fbi rpt comes forth on the obviously poor intel gathered by torturing suspects there. do we look that stupid?

if ubl is/was alive, i figured he was involved in the getaway covered in sy hersh's piece on u.s. special forces helping the taliban & friends escape from afghanistan in nov 2001. it's all special forces these days. whaddya need? a refresher course?

Posted by: b real | Mar 23 2005 3:35 utc | 34

and pepe escobar writes that ubl was nowhere around tora bora in dec 2001, having already walked off "undisturbed" into the sunset w/ "four Yemeni mujahideen."

Posted by: b real | Mar 23 2005 3:40 utc | 35

Pat Roberts and spies in the classroom who'll pose as academics abroad

That should ensure that real academics become targets all over the world, but at least a covert eye can be kept on those enemies within fsr more effectively than via the efforts of Horowitz.

Posted by: Spycatcher | Mar 23 2005 5:51 utc | 36>This photo (at the top of page) is bothering me.

Is the female detainee blindfolded? If so, why? Is it now SOP for US cops to blindfold any random person that they feel like detaining? What the H is the point of that? So that we can't see their badge numbers? What are they planning to do to this woman, that they don't want her to see their faces or badge numbers?

Or has the photo been photoshopped to conceal her identity? Or was she wearing a blindfold as part of her protest?

Why did they arrest her child with her? of what are they accused? why did the cops handcuff a girl-child? What is the back story behind this disturbing image? Will we ever know? Who is the woman and why was she singled out?

It coulda been me
but instead it was you
and it could be me, dear brother, dear sister
before we are through...

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 23 2005 7:27 utc | 37

was listening to that just today.very fitting all over again and all to soon.

Posted by: onzaga | Mar 23 2005 9:38 utc | 38

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