Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 25, 2008

The New Assault on Sadr

The Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi had blocked the law that would allow for provincial elections this fall. A week ago, under alleged pressure from and negotiations with Cheney, the veto was lifted.

Mehdi is member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) which had won the provincial elections in south Iraq in 2005, when its competitor, the Sadr movement, boycotted the election. New elections would likely be won by Sadr. But allowing the law to pass, does not mean that SIIC, the Iraqi government and the U.S. occupier will allow the Sadr movement to win. If Sadr would win the southern provinces he, together with the Sunni tribal groups he is negotiating with, could set up a nationalist coalition against the government and the occupier.

Instead of holding up the election, the SIIC's new plan seems to be to eliminate its competition by brute force. Dispite Sadr's prolonging of his unilateral truce, there were recently several clashes between government troops and his people in Kut. In Baghdad U.S. troops started house to house searches in Sadr city and accidentally(?) killed a man and his three children in their car. Functionaries from his movement were arrested and allegedly killed by U.S. forces.

Sadr's answer was a call for civil disobedience, "sit-ins" and peaceful protest against the government. But he also threatened a "civil revolt" if the raids continue.

Yesterday the government opened a new front against Sadr by attacking his movement in its stronghold Basra. With U.S. and British air support three brigades of the Iraqi army (certainly under control of U.S. 'advisors') are trying to 'get control' over Basra.

With such an allout onslaught against them, Sadr will not be able to hold his people back much longer. But if he now calls for, or allows, open warfare against the government and occupation troops, his movement might get outlawed and disqualified from taking part in the provincial elections.

If Sadr is smart, he will for now lay low and restrict his groups to deniable commando attacks and guerrilla fighting while continuing to assert social control over the people in the south. But if the provocations against him become unbearable, the Iraqi summer will again be very bloody.

Posted by b on March 25, 2008 at 17:20 UTC | Permalink


argh... yeah, the american and iraqi gov want control of basra and they are willing to commit more genocide to get it, because they no elections won't deliver. can't control the oil w/out basra.

re your link on the OT thread about petraes claiming the rockets on the green zone were the responsibility of iran..

On Sunday, a barrage of at least 17 rockets hit the heavily fortified Green Zone and surrounding neighborhoods, where both the U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters are housed, according to police. Most of them were launched from the outskirts of Sadr City and Bayaa, both Mahdi Army-controlled neighborhoods.

from the same mcClatchy report

Fliers were distributed with the Sadrists' three demands of the Iraqi government: to release detainees, stop targeting Sadrist members and apologize to the families and the tribal sheiks of the men.

The Iraqi security forces issued a statement promising to deal with those who terrorized shopkeepers and students.

"It's an open sit-in until the government responds to our demands. If the government doesn't respond, we will have our own procedures," said Hamdallah al Rikabi, the head of the Sadr offices in Karkh, in western Baghdad .

In the southern port city of Basra, where Shiite groups are battling for power, the Mahdi Army is the most feared force. The British military pulled out of the city late last year, leaving the city in the militia's hands.

The Iraqi government announced a three-day security plan, beginning 5 p.m. Tuesday , to seal Basra off from other governorates and countries, shut down schools and all institutes of education and ban vehicles from entering the province. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki , as well as the ministers of defense and interior, were in Basra on Monday.

Since Sadr froze his militia on Aug. 29 and renewed the freeze in February, militia members and Sadrists have railed against the government for targeting and detaining their members. In Basra, Sadr's office rejected the security plan and warned that it'll react if attacked or if Iraqi forces detain more Sadrists.

As Shiite violence rises, U.S. troop deaths also appear to be rising in places such as Baghdad , where the American military is thinning out its presence as part of its drawdown of five brigades. Attacks against civilians in the capital are rising, according to statistics compiled by McClatchy . Next week, the U.S. will finish pulling out the second of five surge brigades. As part of the drawdown, the military has moved battalions out of Baghdad toward more violent areas such as the northern city of Mosul and Iraq's northeastern Diyala province.

kudos to badger for covering this in several posts recently. the provocations...

Posted by: annie | Mar 25 2008 18:55 utc | 1

I wouldn't say SIIC is guaranteed to win against Sadr in Basra. SIIC has been in decline recently, and Mahdi has been gaining strength. This is presumably a trick set up by Cheyney's visit. We should watch for the extent of US air strikes.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 25 2008 20:10 utc | 2

Collective Punishment, aka Warsaw Ghettos, Gaza Strip, West Bank

U.S. forces surrounded Sadr city, eastern Baghdad, while the Baghdad Operations Command imposed a curfew on it as of this afternoon until Wednesday morning, the official spokesman for the Baghdad's operations said on Tuesday.

"The curfew on vehicle and pedestrian traffic started at 6 pm on Tuesday until 6 am on Wednesday," Major General Qassem Atta, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).
Atta did not mention any further details.
Eyewitnesses said that U.S. forces surrounded Sadr city on Tuesday's afternoon, closed all city's inlets, and replaced Iraqi forces inside the city.
Eyewitnesses also said that sounds of discontinuous gunfire and explosions are heard at different neighborhoods of the city.
Power went off at some parts of Sadr city, while people there rushed to buy foodstuff preparing for security deterioration.
One of the eyewitnesses told VOI "U.S. forces allowed four firefighting trucks and three ambulances to enter the city."
He added "People are afraid that U.S. forces may conduct wide-scale attacks and raid operations in the city."
VOI contacted Abdul Latef Ryan, media counselor of Multi national forces (MNF) in Iraq, to comment on this issue, but he said that MNF will issue a release in this regard.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 25 2008 20:41 utc | 3

"With U.S. and British air support ...."

More precision bombing, rockets, etc., winning hearts and minds no doubt.

Posted by: ziz | Mar 25 2008 21:53 utc | 4

the walls, the ghettoisation, the collective punishment, the disproprtionate force - these are all lessons straight out of the nazi occupation of the east or rotterdam for example - petraeus is their stroop

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25 2008 22:41 utc | 5

col. jürgen stroop

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25 2008 22:45 utc | 6

"if Sadr is smart..."

so far Sadr has proven himself to be not only smart, but outwardly interested in being part of an actual sovereign government that can stand on its own. If the American administration was concerned with national autonomy and stability for Iraq, which of course they are not, then Sadr's influence could be an asset. Instead, using violence to provoke violence in order to justify more violence. Alex is right, watch for airstrikes.

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 26 2008 0:01 utc | 7

& the propaganda in the cnnbbcskyfoxetcetcetc - following all the golden rules laid down by the cheney bush junta. they are clearly expecting a retreat on the part of sadr or worse his physical elimination. they are playing it like a very old & battered piano

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 26 2008 0:20 utc | 8

This could be a major battle in the war, if it were to go all the way to a finish. It may well not so go - they may negotiate a settlement, and it will fizzle out. But I would say it is definitely Cheyney who pushed it - only Cheyney and the neocons think that you can smash by military force the largest Shi'a grouping in Iraq. As far as I know, though I don't have a link, Da'wa and SIIC both are individually smaller than Mahdi (and are basically on the wane, there are photos today of Mahdi demonstrations in Najaf (not Mahdi territory), but not of Da'wa or SIIC demos). SIIC has been losing the political battle in the South. The best source is No doubt they thought that Sadr is away at his studies, seize the opportunity.

It is not at all obvious to me that the Iraqi army (as a uniformed Shi'ite militia) is superior to the Mahdi people. The army have uniforms, and nice new pickup trucks, but no heavy weapons. So the only way the army can win, is if the US B52s Basra into a heap of ruins. That will go down well with the Shi'a in Iraq in general. There is an issue of isolation of Da'wa and SIIC from public support.

The Brits have just said on the radio that they have not carried out any air-strikes (though it is not being excluded).

Posted by: Alex | Mar 26 2008 6:43 utc | 9

B Iraq unrest casus belli for Lebanon war?

The Israeli media accuses Hezbollah of involvement in fighting with US troops in southern Iraq amid fierce clashes in Basra.

Two Israeli right-wing newspapers reported that Hezbollah fighters joined Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army who are battling 'for control of Basra and its oil resources'.

Heavy fighting broke out between Mahdi Army forces and Iraqi security members in Basra on Tuesday after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched a crackdown on "armed groups" in Iraq.

The report alleged that "the Iraqi [Hezbollah] draws on its Lebanese command for orders, fighters, arms and cash".

The publication of report could be a scenario by the US and Israel to make case for waging another war against Lebanon, an Arab political analyst told Press TV, on condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the issue.

Posted by: johnf | Mar 26 2008 7:41 utc | 10

I suppose at this point Sadr is going to have to prove his popular support in advance of provincial elections because in order for the sons of (falling apart) iraq to weasel into legitimacy via (corrupt) election results (justifying) that bring down (by coup) the Maliki fraudulent government that wild bill petreaus finds so unwilling (because they love the iranians) to compromise. And threaten to make a mockery of his wild middle east road show, brother can you spare another year extravagansa - you get the picture - its back to the future 2004. So he's gotta go, or so they think so. Ha! fat chance.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 26 2008 9:22 utc | 11

Because this coyote is not named Wiley.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 26 2008 9:37 utc | 12

The report alleged that "the Iraqi [Hezbollah] draws on its Lebanese command for orders, fighters, arms and cash".

As far as I know there is absolutely no relationship between Lebanese and Iraqi Hizbullah. The connection here is manufactured in Israel, for Israeli propaganda purposes.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that there is quite a big potential for negative results for the US position here. If the Iraqi army goes in and doesn't succeed, and maybe has to be rescued by US airstrikes, the Maliki "government" will lose prestige (even more than at present!). US airstrikes will push more Shi'a into joining al-Sadr. The Iraqi army (Shi'a units) is not going to fight very hard against brother Shi'a, and not be pleased to see brother shi'a bombed to hell. There are already conflicts elsewhere than in Basra, and the Sadrists have well shown they can stir up trouble all over. Finally the Brits at Basra airport are going to be shown to be completely impotent, and useless. This will weigh heavily back in Britain, and will quadruple the present demands for complete British withdrawal from Iraq.

All in all bad news for the United States.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 26 2008 12:18 utc | 13

McClatchey's Leila Fadel writes:

The battle at the oil-rich port began before dawn Tuesday and lasted into the early evening before subsiding slightly as the Mahdi Army, headed by firebrand cleric Muqtada al Sadr, defended positions in several neighborhoods. In the dead of night, residents reported artillery shelling, mortar rounds and guns being fired outside their homes.

In the al Timimiyah neighborhood, government forces surrounded a Mahdi Army stronghold and the home of the Rwaymi family, who residents said are well-known oil smugglers and supporters of the militia.

In al Qibla, just west of the city center, the Mahdi Army repelled attacks by Iraqi security forces, burned military vehicles and took weapons, residents said. The militia also briefly took control of a police station.

In the al Jamiyat neighborhood, gunmen seized the Iraqi army headquarters near al Manaseer Mosque, a few miles west of the city center.

In central Basra, gunmen took control of some of the main streets and spread out on rooftops.

That doesn't sound like the Iraqi army is winning. Anyway, Maliki gives them an ultimatum
Iraq's prime minister on Wednesday gave gunmen in the southern oil port of Basra three days to surrender their weapons and renounce violence as clashes between security forces and Shiite militia fighters erupted for a second day.
Sadiq al-Rikabi, a chief adviser to al-Maliki, said gunmen who fail to turn over their weapons to police stations in Basra by Friday will be targeted for arrest. He added that they also must sign a pledge renouncing violence.

"Any gunman who does not do that within these three days will be an outlaw," he said.

Fat chance ... three days to prepare defenses ...

Posted by: b | Mar 26 2008 14:09 utc | 14

no, b - i think the united states is setting up for a slaughter - like fallujah & tal afar

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 26 2008 14:39 utc | 15

i think the united states is setting up for a slaughter - like fallujah & tal afar

i thought mosel was next in line. cheney visits and they change targets? hmm. the oil factor.

Posted by: annie | Mar 26 2008 15:52 utc | 16

this is possibly the beginning of the biggest showdown of the war thus far. the combination of the invader and their puppets taking on the most largest most unified segment of the population over control of the oil distribution.

i don't see how this can end w/out either massive carnage or massive reconciliation. reconciliation doesn't appear on the agenda.

Posted by: annie | Mar 26 2008 16:06 utc | 17

this is a premeditated slaughter organised at the highest spheres of imperial power. they presume sadr has lost his military capacity or they would not dare - that has been evident all along - that u s forces never ever, ever is capable of confronting other than weakness. the iraqui troops are pure theatre. as b has pointed out often enough - heavy armnaments & bombing will do the real work of the massacre

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 26 2008 16:10 utc | 18

Burning Basra to the ground, a city of nearly 2 mio, will surely play nicely with the Arab and Persian streets. Definitely.
Does Bush really intend to beat Saddam on every count, including the bad treatment of Shias? The Kurdish leadership should worry about this, they're next.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Mar 26 2008 16:46 utc | 19

i don't know what anna missed thinks but it appears to me like' vietnamisation' all over again - don't they get new textbooks at their military schools

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 26 2008 17:08 utc | 20

Commentary on the battle by the acknowledged expert on Basra, the Norwegian Reidar Visser. Much more about Basra on the same site.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 26 2008 20:54 utc | 21

60 freedom fighters killed by US airstrikes in Hilla.

As R'Giap says above, the "gloves are off", to paraphrase.

This is an Iran/US joint operation, I kid you not.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 26 2008 21:19 utc | 22

... meanwhile, back in the states, I read in my "corporate sponsored" newspaper how Obama is distantly related to Brad Pitt, and Hillary to Angelina Jolie (seriously).

Also, new episodes of America's favorite TV shows are starting to reappear, now that those whiny writers have been marginally rewarded and ushered back to work to keep us stupid with dazzle (did you hear Britney had a cameo on "How I Met Your Father"?).

What I am trying to say is too many Americans are totally incapable of putting REAL WORLD EVENTS into the proper context, because the mainstream media here has apparently completely sold out. I wouldn't be surprised if LOST was just another ordinary case of CIA PSY-OPS.

Luckily, thanks largely to sites like MoA, I'm much better prepared to answer my friends and coworkers when they ask questions like: so, what's going on?

Posted by: Lizard | Mar 26 2008 23:33 utc | 23

alex, from your visser link

Whereas ISCI since early 2008 has been more outspoken in its attack on any interference by the central government in local affairs (much on the Kurdish pattern), Maliki has often defended the vision of a reasonably coherent and potent central government. In early March, ISCI demonstrators criticised Maliki’s two security chiefs in Basra, General Mohan al-Firayji and Abd al-Jalil Khalaf, the police commander.

yeah, i can understand his 'vision' motivation. on the other hand i wouldn't consider it 'reasonable'. in this case i think him and cheney have the same model for 'potent central government'. reads 'strong executive power' wrt the executive (maliki ie occupier) being able to appoint/dismiss governors of the state.

Posted by: annie | Mar 27 2008 0:21 utc | 24

The analogy to Vietnamization is interesting, and in many regards parallel to whats going on now in Iraq. Both the much ballyhooed, but disappearing Iraqi army insurgent sweep of Mosul and now the sweep of Basra recall the incursions into Cambodia and Laos by the ARVN (with U.S.assistance) that were largely conceived of as PR campaigns. Designed as demonstration models to showcase Nixons program of turning over the war to the Vietnamese, for the purposes of showing the progress of ARVN military development (and competence) politically, that was suppose to intimidate the VC and NVA. It also allowed Nixon to to claim steps were being taken to wind down the war as so promised in the last election. And he began to withdraw large numbers of troops, both out of combat rolls and out of country.

The problem was that both ARVN operations into Cam&Laos turned out to be minor disasters, that if they demonstrated anything, it was the means and manner of the incompetence of the ARVN. Not the least of which turned out to be the enormous gulf in commitment and motivation compared to especially the NVA.

And what I suspect is also (motivation & commitment) the great failing of the current Army fielded by the Maliki government. Because unlike SVietnam, the Maliki government has virtually no political currency within the population. And therefore, the army. Even compared to Thieu, Maliki is on very thin ice, with many armed men within his military who are if not unmotivated, are alternately motivated, against his rule. Every time he announces one of these showcase operations to (please the occupier) he demonstrates the
exact geography of his weakness.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 27 2008 1:34 utc | 25

excellent comment anna missed.

Posted by: annie | Mar 27 2008 2:15 utc | 26

conceived of as PR campaigns. Designed as demonstration models to showcase Nixons program of turning over the war to the Vietnamese, for the purposes of showing the progress of ARVN military development (and competence) politically,

sure fits w/VOI via badger

The official spokesman for the American forces said Wednesday that the military operations that have been going on in the provinces of Baghdad and Basra are not a war being waged by the Iraqi government against the Sadrist movement's Mahdi Army, nor is it a war between America and Iran. Rather, this is a completely Iraqi initiative, with the Prime Minister making the decisions, to put an end to the outlaws who are hiding behind the cover of religion and politics.

Posted by: annie | Mar 27 2008 2:23 utc | 27

I should probably add that the Vietnamization program was not conceived as a program that would end the U.S. presence and involvement in Vietnam, but rather one that would end U.S. active combat missions (other than advisory/air support) and reduce the number of U.S. troops (sound familiar?). Nixon and Kissinger thought that a robust performance (in the above operations) by the ARVN would show the NVA that they had become a viable army - and as a consequence the North would negotiate a stalemate in Paris. Thereby, ala Korea, paving the way to a permanent scaled down occupation (also familiar).

I suppose they keep repeating the same mistakes, because they're the same type after the same thing. Or, sociopathic is - as sociopathic does, I guess.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 27 2008 4:00 utc | 28

Seems like the Maliki/Badr attack on Sadr's forces was a complete failure: Iraqi Army’s Assault on Militias in Basra Stalls

During a briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday, a British military official said that of the nearly 30,000 Iraqi security forces involved in the assault, almost 16,000 were Basra police forces, which have long been suspected of being infiltrated by the same militias the assault was intended to root out.
Though American and Iraqi officials have insisted that the operation was not singling out a particular group, fighting appeared to focus on Mahdi-controlled neighborhoods. In fact, some witnesses said, neighborhoods controlled by rival political groups seemed to be giving government forces safe passage, as if they were helping them to strike at the Mahdi Army.

Even so, the Mahdi fighters seemed to hold their ground. Witnesses said that from the worn, closely packed brick buildings of one Mahdi stronghold, the Hayaniya neighborhood, Mahdi fighters fired mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, automatic weapons and sniper rifles at seemingly helpless Iraqi Army units pinned on a main road outside, their armored vehicles unable to enter the narrow streets.

Posted by: b | Mar 27 2008 7:02 utc | 29

A comment on Juan Cole's Informed Comment suggested that the point of the attack on Basra was to get the Sadrist members of parliament to walk out in a huff, so that the oil law could be passed in their absence. Not a bad thought.

I am certain Cheyney is behind this attack.

However Cheyney doesn't understand Middle Eastern politics. The oil law, even if passed, would only be respected in the short term. Once the politics had changed, it would be ignored. An underhand trick of that sort does not last. By way of comparison, the Iraqi constitution was ignored within a few months of its passing.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 27 2008 7:29 utc | 30

Hmm - SAS soldier killed in Iraq gunfight

An SAS soldier was killed in Iraq in a gunfight early yesterday during a covert operation in the Baghdad area, sources said last night.

The Ministry of Defence, which does not comment officially on the activities of the UK's special forces, said only that a British soldier was shot and killed in Iraq.

Posted by: b | Mar 27 2008 9:06 utc | 31

Oil near $106 on Iraq pipeline explosion

"This morning saboteurs blew up the pipeline transporting crude from Zubair 1 by placing bombs beneath it. The pipeline was severely damaged," a Southern Oil Company official told Reuters.

"Crude exports will be greatly affected because this is one of two main pipelines transporting crude to the southern terminals. We will lose about a third of crude exported through Basra," he said.

Iraq exported about 1.54 million barrels per day from Basra in February.

That's $50 million a day lost. Maliki will learn pretty fast that its better to pull back ...

Posted by: b | Mar 27 2008 13:59 utc | 32

anna missed, re pr campaign

Speaking to the Times of London in an interview published Thursday, President George W. Bush declared that

The Times headline?

"President Bush: Iraq violence is a 'positive moment.'"

eyes rolling

sociopathic is - as sociopathic does

i'll say

Posted by: annie | Mar 27 2008 14:07 utc | 33


anna missed, re pr campaign

Speaking to the Times of London in an interview published Thursday, President George W. Bush declared that the latest wave of violence in Iraq yielded "a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law."

The Times headline?

"President Bush: Iraq violence is a 'positive moment.'"

eyes rolling

sociopathic is - as sociopathic does

i'll say

Posted by: annie | Mar 27 2008 14:08 utc | 34

As b says, it is not evident that the Iraqi army is winning. Video from the Mahdi side, set into this page:

The Mahdi people have a captured Humvee, with the slogan Ya Qa'im Muhammad sprayed on it (Shi'ite slogan), and there's a burnt-out army personnel carrier.

I can't see how the Iraqi army can win.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 27 2008 15:16 utc | 35

Maliki is unable to push it to a finish, as I predicted.

Breaking news: The Fadila Party Criticises the Basra Operations

By Reidar Visser (
27 March 2008

[Postscript to yesterday's article, The Enigmatic Second Battle of Basra, at ]

After a long silence on the Basra operations, the parliamentary bloc of the Fadila party has within the past hours released a statement criticising the impact on civilian life in Basra and asking for an end to the operations "as soon as possible". This is not quite as hostile as the reactions by the Sadrists, but it underscores internal Shiite divisions regarding control of Basra and shows how little room for manoeuvre Nuri al-Maliki really has. His remaining allies are ISCI, Daawa and the independent Shiites, but neither he nor the independents share ISCI's preference for a weak central government. Unless Maliki is able to secure defections from ISCI (or a change of their policy in the federalism question) this seems to be a poor basis on which to build a coalition.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 27 2008 16:38 utc | 36

the walls, the ghettoisation, the collective punishment, the disproprtionate force - these are all lessons straight out of the nazi occupation of the east or rotterdam for example - petraeus is their stroop

random morning thoughts...

I think it is an unbroken historical legacy, a continuous process of the industrialisation of warfare and extermination, a confluence of the ideas of "hygienic" chemistry and nationalist/militarist/masculinist obsessions. that continuity is obfuscated by our nationalist educational systems, which "take sides" and portray e.g. the Nazis as an ahistorical blip, a weird moment of pure Evil, rather than as participants in an historical continuum of refinement and "improvement" of the tools of occupation and control.

the Nazis studied the Boers and British methods in Africa; W Churchill recommended the use of the then-novel "poison gas" on African indigenes; the Nazis practised modern warfare on the Spanish revolutionaries (and the US and UK governments also backed the Franco regime); Guernica was a trial run for the Blitzkrieg theory and modern aerial bombardment, but bright minds on all sides were already thinking about the possibilities as soon as the first dirigibles flew. the poison gas of WWI trench warfare was based on insecticidal chemistry, and after the war the insecticides were 'improved' based on the vast profitable "experiment" of trench warfare; come the Nazi regime and the gas used to murder Jews en masse in the camps was a pesticide. like the revolving door of CEOs becoming senators and senators becoming CEOs, the technology used to slaughter "lower life forms" en masse rotates between deployment against invertebrates and deployment against despised human beings redefined as lower life forms. the basic idea of achieving cleanliness and closure by mass slaughter never changes. collective punishment, collateral damage -- just another way of describing "bycatch" or "side effects" or "overspray."

the victorious Allies grabbed and studied the notebooks of the Nazi merchants of horror, and gave special postwar protection to Nazi scientists who might be useful in further developing the tools of occupation and liquidation for "the good guys" (as if there were ever any good guys in this filthy business) -- as Tom Lehrer noted in his Ballad of Werner von Braun. the Israelis studied apartheid S Africa as a textbook example of how a small Euro/White minority could control a larger colonised, indigneous nation... the ironies, the hypocrisies, the tragedies are endless. what goes 'round comes 'round, over and over.

the historical arc of industrial warfare is transnational, supranational. Krupp sold to all sides, as has every arms merchant before and since. the escalation ("arms race" is a classic games theory model) is endemic, structural, inevitable without strong intervention in deliberate, organised opposition to imperialism and profiteering. the walls, the ghettoisation, the collective punishment, the disproportionate force are the face of Taylorism and industrialism as applied to warfare and colonialism, the "improvement" of warfare for "increased efficiency" (and of course, greater profit).

along with this goes the industrial mindset which increasingly regards the entire biotic realm as a Problem to be exterminated and replaced with controlled, standardised artificial monocrop. when Israeli wingnut demagogues talk about the Palestinians as "cockroaches" or as a "disease" they are not merely echoing Nazi antisemitic rhetoric in a horrid historical travesty, but hewing to the long cultural tradition that springs from (among others) Pasteur and Liebig, of a hatred and loathing for "microbes" and for the working class, the peasantry, "the masses". Pasteur -- staunch royalist -- spoke of the masses and of microbes in the same disgusted tone, and of revolutionary ideas as like the corruption in a wound that leads to gangrene and rots the body/social order, causing the death of the brain/soul (the King and royal caste).

there is a cultural continuity between the millions of acres of genetically identical monocultured cropland now disfiguring most of the world's agricultural land, and the Aryan eugenicists' ideal of reducing the human race to one blond, blue eyed archetype of standardised height, weight, and physical fitness. the urge to conformity, uniformity, microcontrol, predictability, repeatability, surely has been in us from the beginnings of militarism and hierarchy; but the industrial revolution was like mixing crack with the baccy. the success of industrial processes (which from the beginning were driven by military "needs" -- the first mass produced assembly line techniques were used to make Remington rifles -- Ford's automobiles were the second wave; and the artificial soda process that jumpstarted industrial chemistry was invented in response to a military requirement for munitions materiel, not for soap making) lent the militarist/Taylorist cult of regimentation and uniformity a halo of divine right -- if it succeeded so spectacularly at yielding working machines, temporary gluts of resources, "labour savings" and immense profits, how could it be wrong? and besides, it tweaked the human appetite for control and power.

and so the mania for standards, metrics, artificiality, control and conformity spreads and spreads, lending a new and bland acceptability to genocide and the destruction of nations. as one US grunt said of the Iraqis, they are sure backwards and poor, they don't even have a McDonald's or a Carl's Jr. ... and even as we speak, over the last few years, Proconsul Bremer's fiat laws attempt to wipe out the diversity of Iraqi agriculture and force their farmers to grow GMO strains of patented corporate wheat from U agribiz -- standardised monoculture, licensed and controlled, thousands of acres of undifferentiated monocrop binding the farmer to the new feudal order of intellectual property and privatisation of germline... world without end, the factory and the assembly line and the money economy remodelling every facet of human existence, the new totalitarianism of the market.

it is not possible to unravel the war economy w/o unravelling these memes -- the myth that distance equals cleanliness (what we don't see doesn't concern us, aerial bombardment is "clean" warfare, emissions elsewhere mean "clean" vehicles, dumping our waste on the third world keeps our countries "clean", dumping our sewage and toxic effluent in rivers keeps our homes "clean" and so on); the myth that "efficiency" is a virtuous end in its own right (efficient at what? to benefit whom?); the myth that money is more important than biotic reality; the myth that infinite growth is possible; the myths of race and nation, of taxonomic obsession that flies in the face of the grand symbiosis of biotic systems; and so on...

but I'm raving...

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 27 2008 19:00 utc | 37

Abu Muqawama says

Why, some wonder, is the U.S. closer to the Iran-backed ISCI and Badr Brigades than it is with the Sadrites? Why does this make sense? Two Baghdad political veterans have ruefully pointed out to Abu Muqawama that while Sadr has more popular support, the ISCI crowd have something more valuable: they speak English. One former State Department veteran with whom Abu Muqawama spoke a few months ago pointed out that former Iraq honcho Meghan O'Sullivan was particularly vulnerable to falling under the sway of those politicians who didn't just speak in that confusing gutteral language where they write from right to left in co-joined letters. Ergo: they speak English, so they must be our friends! Hoo-ray, democracy!

Posted by: b | Mar 27 2008 19:19 utc | 38

Murdoch reports.........all is well for the British Empire, meanwhile

Abu Iman barely flinched when the Iraqi Government ordered his unit of special police to move against al-Mahdi Army fighters in Basra.

His response, while swift, was not what British and US military trainers who have spent the past five years schooling the Iraqi security forces would have hoped for. He and 15 of his comrades took off their uniforms, kept their government-issued rifles and went over to the other side without a second thought.

Such turncoats are the thread that could unravel the British Army’s policy in southern Iraq.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 27 2008 21:37 utc | 39


i notice the monster murdoch also reports that on of the principal iraquian puppets of the so-called 'surge' - has himself been kidnapped & his home burnt to the ground

my overwhelming feeling however, based on the cowardice of u s forces & their puppets is that they never fight strong forces - that they know or presumed that the forces of sadr were weak - & that this 'heroic' efforts by maliki's slaves would be played like an old film

either they have seriouslly underestimated sadr or they are playing up the resistance to create a sense of grandeur where only sordid politics & brutal poverty exist because i have noticed that sadr has been calling for a political negotiation

as i sd the other night it seems like some of the mock battles the arvn 'fought' against the viet cong - which were almost classic exercises of absence of will & a complete inability to fight

this has been a war where the planning goons have stolen every narrative from the worst 100 films in american cinema & played them out for the most impoverished press who wouldn't know the truth if it hit them directly with an rpg

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 27 2008 22:31 utc | 40

Much curious speculation (in the arab press) on the assault on Sadr reported both by Badger & Marc Lynch. That the operation is willed by the Iranians, frustrated by Sadrs continued and growing influence in advance of provincial elections along with the disintigration of team Shiite UIA, but more importantly the nationalists alliances he has recently forged with Sunni parties Accord and Dialogue and also with Allawi. All of which deal Iran (&the U.S.) out of the (future) equation of being the central power broker(s) in Iraq. This all pretty serious in several respects, the most of which any hope for a future independent Iraq may now hang in the balance - if any pan Iraqi nationalist bows under the combined U.S. Iranian pressure. I guess we'll see whether these alliances are backed up (and strenghthend) by participation or are just words. Or if Maliki's army is not up to the task - in which case he's likely finished.

Posted by: anna missed | Mar 28 2008 9:06 utc | 41

Now the U.S. officially joins the fight: U.S. Armor Forces Join Offensive In Baghdad Against Sadr Militia

BAGHDAD, March 27 -- U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting.

Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army's AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.
Several Mahdi Army commanders said they had been fighting U.S. forces for the past three days in Sadr City, engaging Humvees as well as the Strykers. By their account, an Iraqi special forces unit had entered Sadr City from another direction, backed by Americans, but otherwise the fighting had not been with Iraqis.

"If there were no Americans, there would be no fighting," said Abu Mustafa al-Thahabi, 38, a senior Mahdi Army member.

Posted by: b | Mar 28 2008 9:59 utc | 42

Via TPM,

Many Shiites believe—not unreasonably—that Maliki ordered the offensive in Basra now in order to destroy Sadr's base of support and thus keep his party from beating ISCI in the upcoming provincial elections.

Late last month, Iraq's three-man presidential council vetoed a bill calling for provincial elections, in large part because ISCI's leaders feared that Sadr's party would win in Basra. The Bush administration, which has (correctly) regarded provincial elections as key to Iraqi reconciliation, pressured Maliki to reverse his stance and let the bill go through. He did—at which point (was this just a coincidence?) planning began for the offensive that's raging now.

The current fighting in Basra is a struggle for power and resources between those warlords. It's hard to say which faction is more alluring or less likely to fall under Iranian sway. Neither seems the sort of ally in freedom and democracy that our president conjures in his daydreams. (The lively blogger who calls himself Abu Muqawama speculates that Bush officials have embraced ISCI because, unlike Sadr, its leaders speak English.)

Posted by: Hamburger | Mar 28 2008 10:27 utc | 43

The comments to this entry are closed.