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Displaying 161-170 of 25866 results.
ID: 2051
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Oops!
Source:
Body: <p>While the Shrubbers busied themselves turning Iraq into a source of Republican patronage, handing out the jobs and contracts, tens of thousand of Muslim protesters <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50762-2003Apr18.html"> flooded the streets of Baghdad Friday</a>, shouting &quot;No Bush, no Saddam, yes to Islam!&quot; and calling for an Islamic state. The military's flacks and their media lapdogs are already claiming that they regard this as just another swell example of the &quot;Iraqi freedom&quot; we were fighting for being put in action. You know, the same just-letting-off-steam line Donald Rumsfeld took toward those &quot;rambunctious&quot; looters earlier this week.</p><p>But surely many of the war's supporters must be worried. They wanted a modern, liberal-democratic-capitalist state for Iraq that would give up hatred of America and Israel and become an example for the rest of the Arab world. The &quot;democratic domino theory,&quot; this has been called, but it seems that dominos can fall a lot of different ways.</p><p>The neocon/neoliberal supporters of &quot;regime change&quot; are probably right that the people and economies of the Middle East and the world would be better off if that troubled region could suddenly turn itself into Canada, or at least Eastern Europe.&nbsp; Murderous totalitarianism regimes are so last century; they deserve to be changed right the hell out of power.&nbsp;</p><p>However, there are lots of ways that regimes can change. As at least <a href="http://www.policyreview.org/apr03/jowitt.html">some conservatives have admitted</a>, even totalitarian states don't last forever. The Soviet Empire collapsed of its own weight, and at behest of its own leaders and people, when the American Cold Warriors least expected it, without the U.S. unleashing a single bomb or missile on Moscow.&nbsp; Even in that case, the immediate aftermath of communism's collapse was not orderly liberal democracy, but (in many cases) an orgy of ethnic cleansing and organized crime. Totalitarianism suppresses civil society and political expression to be sure, but it also suppresses ethnic particularism and religious fanaticism. Those are forces on the rise all over the world, even among populations that haven't been brutally repressed. Lots of American Christian fundamentalists seemed to regard Bill Clinton as a corrupt, secular dictator, but the conservative Muslims of Iraq had the genuine article to contend with. They were bound to make up for lost time once the lid came off.</p><p>In Iraq, Bush and company decided on a shortcut to &quot;regime change,&quot; perestroika by force, instantly turning the U.S. into a foreign occupier rather than an example. We systematically wiped out the country's political and communications infrastructure, shattering the lives of the many middle-class professionals who had to have reached some accommodation with Saddam's tyranny in order to pursue their careers. These people were the potential core constituency for a secular democratic capitalist Iraq, but the U.S. has created a situation where those people are impoverished and demoralized, opening a vacuum for other types of leadership with other goals. Muslim clerics and their poor supporters (especially the Shiites) were ready to go. I was struck by this passage from the <i><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50762-2003Apr18.html">Washington Post</a></i><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50762-2003Apr18.html"> story on the protests</a>: &quot;In the absence of strong government, Islam often provides the organizing principle, and the civic institutions, of Muslim societies.&quot;</p>
ID: 2052
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Occupational Hazards, or, Walking a Mile in Israel's Shoes
Source:
Body: <p>I still puzzle over the logic that has led Israel's current regime and its strongest U.S. backers to push for the Iraq War and its in-development sequels. (If you feel inclined to doubt this, see <a href="http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030421&amp;s=alterman">Eric Alterman's piece on what he calls the &quot;Likudniks.&quot;</a>) How could pouring gasoline on the fires of Arab and Islamic radicalism and anti-Americanism possibly be good for Israel? It still makes no sense if the goal is saving Israeli lives from suicide bombers and such, a more political answer is suggested by today's news from occupied Iraq suggests.</p><p>&nbsp;It seems fairly obvious that the natural course of events in a free Iraq are much more likely to lead to an Islamic republic than the sort of lapdog western capitalist democracy that the U.S. and Britain want. The Shiite majority in the country, with strong ties to their coreligionists in Iran, are the best organized politically. Their most powerful group stayed away from <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30858-2003Apr15.html">the U.S.-sponsored confab on a new Iraqi government</a>, which was beset with protesters. Pentagon favorite Ahmed Chalabi could not even attend for fear of being labeled a U.S. puppet, an impression that will always be easy for Iraqi nationalists or Shiite radicals to create (even if it ever turns out not to be true) with few leaflets and chanting crowds. Saddam City, a section of Baghdad that is home to 2 million Shiites, <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/news/4D8B99DA28A0F03D86256D090011C515?OpenDocument&amp;highlight=2%2CSaddam%2CCity&amp;headline=Clerics+take+control+over+Shiite+district+in+Baghdad">is said to be virtually independent now</a> and controlled by Shiite clerics with their own police. The Kurds are making with the ethnic cleansing in the North, an action that is sure to evoke a violent response from Arabs Iraqis, the Turks or both. Finally, not even a week into the occupation, there's already been <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/15/international/worldspecial/15CND-NORT.html">an incident in which U.S. soldiers are accused of firing on Iraqi protesters</a>, likely to be the first of many such occasions as Iraq's tumultuous new politics unfold.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The benefit for Ariel Sharon and the Likudniks would seem to be putting the U.S. in the Israeli government's position of trying to control and cow a hostile Arab population, thereby forcing U.S. forever into the Israeli column on the Palestinian issue. Moreover, the tremendous difficulties of politically pacifying Iraq and preventing it from falling into the hands of Islamic radicals might well force the U.S. to adopt the sort of ruthless tactics that Israel has used against the Palestinians (firing crowds, bulldozing houses, air raids on civilian neighborhoods) or at least preclude U.S from complaining about them. If events and Donald Rumsfeld conspire to wipe out Israel's longtime antagonists up in Syria, so much the better. A major U.S. military presence in Damascus, just a geopolitical stone's throw away from Israel itself, would essentially make Israel's problems our own in a way not dreamt of since Ronald Reagan pulled the troops of Beirut.</p>
ID: 2053
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Masters of War: We're Number 1! We're Number 1!
Source:
Body: <p>Tax season and lawn care has been taking away from my blogging time this weekend but I really must respond to the wave of military post-game analyses that have been appearing in the last few days. There were several last week in the <i>Times</i> and <i>Post</i>, though the most annoying headline award has to go to the AP story that ran in our local paper, &quot;<a href="http://www.showmenews.com/2003/Apr/20030413News030.asp">Success in Iraq wows historians</a>.&quot; A more thoughtful version of the same basic &quot;damn, we're good&quot; thesis, from a journalist who knows a lot about Pentagon history and politics, <a href="http://slate.msn.com/id/2081388">appeared in Slate</a>.</p><p>The general message I get from these stories is that the military has successfully addressed many of the problems critics charged it with in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Political geek that I was, I grew up reading <i>Washington Monthly</i> stories about a military plagued by interservice rivalries, boondoggle weapons systems, and outmoded strategies. Those days seem to over.&nbsp; It seems that the service branches have finally learned to play well together, aided by powerful modern communications and targeting systems. Like so many other technological marvels that first appeared 10+ years ago, the various &quot;smart&quot; weapons actually work as advertised now. (I always suspected that there would be frightening military applications for GPS technology, which works well now even if bought as a boating accessory at Wal-Mart.)&nbsp;</p><p>Whether it's good or bad thing to have such a lean mean fightin' machine is debatable. The ability to conquer whole countries with casualties barely in triple figures puts the barriers to worldwide military action lower than they have ever been in our history. The U.S. media's unwillingness to give American viewers any real sense of the human devastation on the receiving end of our weapons lowers the barriers even further. Ironically, the end of the Cold War balance of terror may turn to have cleared the way for a new era of almost constant warfare. The list of U.S. military actions since the late 80s was already long when Clinton left office, and the current crowd seem quite eager to quicken the pace.&nbsp;</p><p>Nevertheless, none of the stories I have read have spent more than a sentence or two considering what seems to me the genuinely determinative factor in the outcome of this war. When the biggest, wealthiest, best-armed nation on the planet attacks one a fraction of its size, isolated from the world for a decade, lacking even the minimal elements of a modern technological arsenal (like a air force!), the result was pretty much guaranteed to be what it was. Empires have been overwhelming inferior foes for millennia, and why should it be any different for us?</p>
ID: 2054
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: You Say They Wanted Liberation, and, It Seems, They Did
Source:
Body: <p>I'll admit it, it's hard not to be moved by <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A669-2003Apr9.html">the pictures and stories coming of out of Baghdad</a>, though I wish those were balanced more often with pictures of the thousands of Iraqis we have killed and maimed to get to this point. We should also keep in mind that liberation scenes such as these are often performed for successful invading armies, with <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/09/international/worldspecial/09CND-TOWN.html">varying degrees of sincerity</a> but many immediate practical goals. Baghdad citizens are doubtless keen for the U.S. troops to know that they need not shoot or bomb them anymore. Saddam's cannier supporters will want to make the invaders welcome, too, the better to stay off the suspect lists and duck any regime change that might be coming their way. (<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A560-2003Apr9.html">The Baath Party also still has open supporters</a>, even today.) There's a better-than-average chance that lower-level government officials who make friendly with the new bosses now might have jobs waiting for them when the new government is created. (I need to find the link on that.) After all, there are only so many neocons and exile leaders to go around, and in some cases their Arabic is not so good.&nbsp;</p><p>Nevertheless, as an early Americanist, I am a sucker for the part where they pull the king's statue down. &quot;I'm 49, but I never lived a single day. Only now will I start living,&quot; one icon-smasher told the <i><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A669-2003Apr9.html">Washington Post</a></i>. If the U.S. really keeps it promises to the Iraqi people, if it really does act with concern for the welfare of ordinary people (something not done at home too often lately), and really does allow Iraqis to choose their own leaders (<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/opinion/10HERB.html">something the U.S. does not have a very strong record of doing in these situations</a>), then we may indeed look back on this as a great achievement. This was <a href="http://www.columbiatribune.com/2003/Apr/20030408Comm001.asp">one crappy dictatorship</a> in a world full of them that we just felled -- not the Nazi empire or the Soviet Union, but it was considerably more than nothing. Even those of us who believe that the price of toppling Saddam when and how we did was too high should still celebrate the toppling.</p><p>I have my doubts that we really will keep all those promises, at least not in a way that will leave the Iraqis or the Arab world with much of its self-respect intact. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1294-2003Apr9.html">Dick Cheney is looking forward to getting the gas pumps flowing again</a>, for the benefit of the Iraqi people of course, who will get to pay Americans to help rebuild from the damage that other Americans just caused. Let's hope that arrangement won't be the seed of an Iraqi radical nationalist movement that the U.S. will subsequently crush.</p><p><b>Size Matters</b></p><p>It's hard to tell what's in store for Iraqis as law and order disappear along with tyranny. Over here, we have the terrible economy and Republican pillaging to contend with, as well as another long period of right-wing chest-thumping and posturing. The <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/10/opinion/10SAFI.html">egregious William Safire</a> continues the tradition of not being able to tell the difference between a colonial intervention and World War freaking II. And every liberal or former liberal who ever detected an ugly Freudian note to right-wing bellicosity should check <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire040903.asp">this <i>National Review Online</i> piece</a> if they dare. Suffice to say that some seem to value the war for its proof of what we've got in our national underwear.</p>
ID: 2055
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: The Luxury Tot Factor
Source:
Body: <p>Following up on the post below, let me add a point about one necessary precondition for the boomers' warrior dreams, the all-volunteer army.<p> Joining the new military crusade has provided boomer hawks and powerful Washingtonians with a wonderful opportunity for moral thrills and adventure travel, but I am guessing their enthusiasm would be significantly tempered if there was any realistic chance of their own luxury tots (as Karen used to call them during our East Coast period) being forced to endanger themselves or slaughter others. The punditocracy/policy intelligentsia world is a thoroughly urbane one, full of people who who personally shun violence and weapons and want their children to run their own think-tanks and journals of opinion rather than M-1 tanks and automatic rifles. (Personally I was extremely disappointed not to see William Kristol and <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg.asp">Jonah Goldberg</a> and other brave right-wing warriors getting themselves embedded with some platoon full of Alabama boys. It would have been Dukakis in the tank all over again.) In a perverse fashion, and against all conservative expectations, the East Coast/Ivy League/non-Middle American demographic tilt of the media/policy establishment actually works to damp down resistance to conservative military aggression, by ensuring that potential cheerleaders of war have few personal connections to the people doing the dirty work.&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, the draft didn't restrain the cold warriors who brought us Vietnam, but even then they managed to devise a system (educational deferments) that exempted most of their children. And I have to believe it is significant that the Bush administration and the Republicans have yet to speak of, or ask the American public for, <i>any</i> sort of sacrifice in the name of <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/03/sprj.irq.woolsey.world.war/">World War IV</a>. Not even a moderate financial burden, much less a new draft or mass mobilization. The current warmongers are well aware of how shallow the support really is out there and how necessary it is to keep their war or wars on a vicarious level for most people. That is why this president is unlikely to ever take on a truly formidable military target, like North Korea, no matter how well such a war might fit his doctrine. It is also why the architects of the current conflict relied on largely fake but clearly limited justifications like WMDs and the supposed Saddam-Qaeda link, rather than the extensive smash-all-Arab-states, Americanize-the-oil-patch agenda they have been discussing in Washington policy circles for years.</p>
ID: 2056
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: What a Day for a Warrior Daydream
Source:
Body: <p>This passage from <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A59702-2003Apr8.html">a story I just read in the <i>Washington Post</i></a>, on the American media's reaction to the high journalistic death toll in the Iraq War, encapsulates (unintentionally, I imagine) one of the forces that is driving the current enthusiasm for war in the news media, politics, and many other quadrants of U.S. culture. Having already become the hottest journalistic status symbol going -- note the participation of such decided non-specialists in war reporting as Dr. Bob Arnot, rising anchorman David Bloom, and (in my area) the <i>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</i>'s longtime statehouse reporter -- the popularity of the &quot;embedding&quot; program has not flagged a bit now that it has proved to be rather dangerous:</p><blockquote><p>Indeed, the depressing news about fallen colleagues doesn't seem to have deterred many newshounds.</p><p>&quot;Despite the danger, we have so many more people who want to go than we can put in,&quot; said ABC's Slavin. &quot;It's an incredible story. For people who grew up watching war, it's time to live out the fantasy.&quot;&nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>Here's what I make of this: the baby boomers now run the world we live in, and most especially they dominate the media, as both producers and consumers. Having moved beyond their youthful enthusiasms for world peace, long hair, free love, and disco, the baby boomers have now finally discovered what was missing from their lives: a nice, cleansing war, maybe even a bunch of them.&nbsp;</p><p>Wars (World War II, the Cold War, and Vietnam) defined the baby boomers' early lives -- the very existence of this generational cohort/concept stems from a war -- but educated baby boomers largely avoided direct participation in warfare themselves. (Just check out the various boomer age chickenhawks now holding down positions of power.) In many cases, their war-experienced parents and grandparents had the good sense to help them avoid the war zones. Yet growing up with a popular culture soaked with military imagery and righteous violence, the boomers developed a deep aesthetic and emotional appreciation for war. Inveterate experience shoppers that they are, many aging boomers seem to feel that the world of ordnance and air strikes, especially in the service of a global crusade like the one they believe ennobled their fathers, offers the most truly authentic experience available. For much of the last decade, it was book publishers and pseudo-educational television channels who supplied (and encouraged) the baby boomers' romance with war, which at first looked like a product of nothing more sinister than sentimentality towards aging parents.&nbsp;</p><p>Now we are finding differently. For many boomers in the media and politics, the Iraq War and its prequels and sequels is, as the ABC executive said, an irresistible chance to live out a fantasy, to finally have a &quot;good war&quot; of their own. They got their Pearl Harbor on 9/11/01, and while it was frustrating that no world-domination-bent empires were behind that attack, the neocons had their own mini-Hitler waiting on the shelf. Very mini, in terms of the real threat he posed to the rest of the world, and certainly not worth trashing the international system the baby boomers' fathers fought to build, but nasty and awful enough nonetheless to let the Washington boomers don their fatigues with a beautiful feeling of, as they say, moral clarity.</p>
ID: 2057
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Could Supporting the Troops Also Include Sparing Them?
Source:
Body: <p>Given the fact that most criticism of the Iraq War has been directed at civilian policymakers rather than American soldiers, I have always refused to accept the bullying conservative effort to frame the debate on the war as one of &quot;supporting&quot; the troops or not. Unfortunately, this frame seems almost irresistible for many Americans, despite the fact that it completely robs people of their critical faculties and political rights where the use of military force is concerned. Conditioned by the ubiquity of the damaged Vietnam vet in popular culture -- the trope started out in serious antiwar films only to become a cheap action-movie plot device -- I would guess that Americans buy into the mythology of widespread public mistreatment of the troops during Vietnam. It sometimes seems like every baby boomer who ever saw a hippie on television has become convinced that they personally spat on soldiers daily back in the 60s and now need to redeem themselves by loving foreign wars today. The support-our-troops tactic also feeds into the relentless therapeutic personalism of our present culture, the boiling down of all issues to matters of some individuals' personal feelings and qualities.</p><p>Anyway, what I wonder is, why is it not supportive of the troops to avoid sending them into battle unless we absolutely must, to defend ourselves from immediate threats? This is the crux of my opposition to starting this conflict, and to the whole pre-emptive war policy. War is far too awful, even for the winners, to ever become an elective or favored policy, as the new Bush doctrine seems to make it.<p> It is clear that many of the battles in this war, while going great for the U.S. in terms of military goals, have been horrific, lopsided slaughters in which our armored soldiers got the experience of killing hundreds of desperate, poorly armed people while being barely threatened themselves. As described in some of the more vivid and honest &quot;embed&quot; stories, the battles sound like scenes from some alien-invasion movie, only this time <i>we</i> are the invulnerable invaders annihilating anything that gets in our way. What kind of toll would this experience take on any reasonably sensitive, well-adjusted person?</p><p>I was struck, almost to tears actually, by the reaction of the captain interviewed in this <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/news/894006.asp">Dana Lewis story from NBC</a>, about a ragtag Iraqi ambush of an American column last week that resulted in total carnage for the attackers:</p><blockquote><p>OUT OF THE dust and haze came a hail of gunfire from Iraqi soldiers who were driving trucks and jeeps and even taxis. The Iraqi army had been laying in wait for days on this road. As the Americans came north, the Iraqis opened fire with everything they had &#8212; automatic machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Most of the fire came from buildings alongside the road, and the Americans answered with everything they had &#8212; outgunning the Iraqis and leaving hundreds dead.&nbsp;</p><p>One American soldier from the 101st Airborne died on the top of a tank when he was struck by a bullet under his arm and beneath his bulletproof vest. . . .</p><p>Capt. Brad Lauden said units from his 270th Armored Battalion never trained for this kind of fighting back at their home base in Kansas. &#8220;These are desperate people doing desperate things in order to survive,&#8221; Lauden said, &#8220;throwing everything they have at us.&#8221;. . .</p><p>But it wasn&#8217;t just the regular Iraqi army the U.S. troops took on. U.S. Army commanders were surprised to find Saddam&#8217;s elite Republican Guards, too, especially so far south of Baghdad &#8212; 65 miles from the capital. Lauden said the Iraqi soldiers used women and children as human shields. American soldiers who were fired upon, fired back. &#8220;Soldiers had to do the unimaginable &#8230; the unthinkable,&#8221; Lauden said.</p></blockquote><p>Then there were these scenes from <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/06/international/worldspecial/06INFA.html">the <i>Times </i>story</a> describing Saturday's incursion through Baghdad, a message pitch to show that the US can move through the city at will. A canny politico-material move, no doubt, but another one that produced scenes of one-sided mayhem that are clearly going to be haunting some of our soldiers for a while:</p><blockquote><p>Sgt. Anthony A. Cassady described a scene that several others also mentioned.</p><p>A family in a car stopped on Highway 8's median, evidently hoping to endure the sudden eruption of fighting they had driven into. A large truck, mounted with an antiaircraft gun, hurtled toward the column and was shot. It careered onto the median and struck the car, bursting into flames. As the American column passed, a man, a woman and three children &#8212; the youngest an infant &#8212; struggled with their injuries and burns. The man, presumably the father, was on his back. One child's fingers were virtually severed.</p><p>&quot;Being a dad myself, that's the hardest part,&quot; said Sergeant Cassady, who manned a .50-caliber machine gun on the roof of an armored command vehicle. &quot;I've got six kids at home, and I can't imagine it. I'd just as soon die than see that happen to my kids.</p><p>&quot;Just to drive by and be helpless &#8212; man,&quot; he said. &quot;It makes you feel selfish.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>OTHER READING: I concur in the <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/april0301.html#040603535pm">Talking Points Memo recommendation</a> of a <i><a href="http://www.policyreview.org/apr03/jowitt.html">Policy Review</a></i><a href="http://www.policyreview.org/apr03/jowitt.html"> article</a> that gives the first real conservative critique of Bush foreign policy that I seen.&nbsp;</p>
ID: 2058
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: The Road to Damascus, with Bradley Fighting Vehicles
Source:
Body: <p>The argument that is most often brought up to me in favor of the Iraq War, or to put the circumstances more exactly, in challenge to criticism of the war, is essentially Saddam as Hitler/Saddam as supervillain. The man and his regime are irredeemably bad, so therefore taking him out, by any means, must be good. This is a hard argument to counter, and a great example of the way that the Shrubbers have been able to create situations and frame agendas where political debate is almost impossible.&nbsp;</p><p>The tendency of the argument is extremely dangerous in the way it potentially authorizes any action, no matter how high the human, financial, or political cost. It is especially dangerous when it is used so flexibly as to collapse the vast differences in the cases of early 21st century Iraq and 1930s Nazi Germany in terms of the threat they posed to the world. The former was prospective and theoretical, the latter real and growing. But let's accept the Iraq evil/war good argument for a second because, as Tom Paine said of King George, Saddam really does crawl through the world like a worm, and I will be glad to see him overthrown.</p><p>As this argument has been presented to me, and the American public, and (apparently) the soldiers who talk to reporters, it applies only to this particular regime and justifies only this particular war. The problem is, this one war is not all the administration is planning. Now that the troops are in Baghdad, it is clearer than ever that this just the beginning of former <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/03/sprj.irq.woolsey.world.war/">CIA director James Woolsey approvingly calls a &quot;fourth world war&quot;</a> that will involve the military defeat or forcible cowing of any other country (especially in the Middle East) that might be hostile to us. Syria will be next, and even old allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the list. I don't that most of the ex-liberals and middle Americans who have reluctantly embraced this war know what they have signed on for: a generation or more of serial wars, interventions, and occupations.&nbsp;</p><p>Let me be clear. This is not just me spinning overheated scenarios out of political hostility. Just a couple of posts ago, I was still hoping that an expansion of the war to other Middle Eastern targets was a neocon wet dream that cooler heads would prevent. Unfortunately, a <i>New York Times</i> piece today, &quot;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/06/international/worldspecial/06POLI.html">Viewing the War as a Lesson to the World</a>,&quot; makes it perfectly clear that the Commander in Chief is not one of those cooler heads:</p><blockquote><p>Shortly after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a stark warning to Iran and Syria last week, declaring that any &quot;hostile acts&quot; they committed on behalf of Iraq might prompt severe consequences, one of President Bush's closest aides stepped into the Oval Office to warn him that his unpredictable defense secretary had just raised the specter of a broader confrontation.</p><p>Mr. Bush smiled a moment at the latest example of Mr. Rumsfeld's brazenness, recalled the aide. Then he said one word &#8212; &quot;Good&quot; &#8212; and went back to work.</p></blockquote><p>Whether because he has been convinced by the neocons or just assumes that any Arab or Islamic government were de facto accomplices in 9-11, Shrub is obviously down with the belligerence and aggressiveness of the Pentagon chickenhawks. For a look at just how sweeping the neocon foreign policy intellectuals' plans are -- they explicitly see this as the beginning of new global struggle like their late lamented Cold War (only without the superpowered opponent to prevent us from threatening or using force as often as we wish), see Joshua Micah Marshall's&nbsp; persuasive <a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.marshall.html">new <i>Washington Monthly</i> article</a>.&nbsp;</p>
ID: 2059
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: Candy from Uniformed Strangers
Source:
Body: <p>In general I have to say how relieved I am that the fighting has not been as intense or bloody as it seemed like it was going to be last week. Obviously we in the U.S. have not been told the whole story yet -- see <a href="http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1049413227648_10/?hub=SpecialEvent3">this Canadian TV report</a> about what the Red Cross is finding in terms of civilian casualties -- but by invading foreign army standards (as set earlier in world history), we seem to be acquitting ourselves reasonably well.</p><p>U.S. TV has had to strain pretty hard to find the desired images of the Iraqi people welcoming the liberators and being cared for by our troops, one would have to strain even harder to depict the war as a battle between the U.S. and the entire Iraqi population. I saw a fairly emblematic image on a CNN commercial fade-out this morning: a wary-looking Iraqi boy being offered what looked a piece of candy by a smiling female American soldier. The boy did not seem too joyous, showed little interest in the candy, but the solder's warmth and concern seemed genuine. I guess the question of this war is whether that little boy is going to remember the candy or the battle that preceded as he grows up.</p><p>I think that question is a genuinely open, and the answer will probably be influenced by the degree to which we can appear to be more helpful than controlling in the months and years to come. Unfortunately, as European colonialists discovered, it is almost impossible not to seem oppressive and demeaning to the locals in these situations. Americans should think about Boston and New York before our Revolution, or the South during Reconstruction. There the occupying troops and occupational/colonial governments were of the same language and culture as the local populations, and still found themselves on the receiving end of riots, vigilantism, and hatred. Bush has put us in a very tough spot.</p>
ID: 2060
Uid: 29
Author: 0
Category: 43
Title: (In the Process of Getting) Liberated and Loving It (Not So Much) in the Baghdad Suburbs
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Body: <p>The <i>Guardian</i> gives <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,928533,00.html">a little slice of what it's like</a> for poor Iraqi civilians to be &quot;freed&quot; by a high-tech U.S. miltary onslaught:</p><blockquote><p>Yesterday's strike took out two homes of an extended family of about a dozen. Tuesday's raid destroyed the local school, and on Monday a poor baklava seller, pitied by the entire neighbourhood, lost his wife, mother, sister, nephew, and two sons to American missiles. Here in Sueb, 22 miles from the centre of Baghdad and just beyond the ring of burning crude oil that marks the outer reaches of the Iraqi capital, where urban sprawl ends and desert begins, a battle that has gone largely unseen has been raging for days.</p><p>Yesterday, American troops were within 30 miles of the city, only days away from the bloodiest fighting - and ultimate prize - of this conflict.</p><p>But while the outcome of the war will be decided with the capture of the obscene palaces of Saddam Hussein along the banks of the Tigris in the heart of the city, the American forces must first conquer the periphery.</p><p>Sueb and the other suburbs that appeared as population growth outstripped available land in Baghdad lie directly on the Americans' path as they draw nearer to the columns of thick, oily smoke that mark the capital's outer defences.</p><p>After the US troops suffered setbacks in the south of Iraq in the early days of the war, the people on the next frontline are ruing their fate.</p><p>The last five days have seen intense, round-the-clock bombardments, forcing locals to flee to makeshift underground shelters, or to relatives elsewhere in the city.</p><p>&quot;We are beginning to believe that the Americans want to take revenge on us for what happened before,&quot; said Fareed Fathi. Like many in Sueb, he is a &quot;free worker&quot; - or unemployed. &quot;All of the people are very afraid,&quot; he says.</p><p>And so this easily forgotten neighbourhood, part village, part spillover suburb, a dumping ground for Shias too poor to afford homes in Baghdad proper, finds itself in an unwanted - and lethal - position of strategic importance.</p><p>&quot;There are bombings - missiles and airplanes - all day long, and all night,&quot; said Walid Hathem, whose home was replaced by a giant crater a few hours before dawn yesterday. &quot;It's continuous.&quot;</p><p>High above, a vapour trail from a US jet arced across the sky, and the ground shook from a nearby incoming missile.</p><p>While in central Baghdad the war has arrived as a series of interruptions to daily life, Sueb and the other extremities of this vast city are being softened up for America's assault. Here, as in other outlying areas of Baghdad, civilians are also paying the price for living close to enticing targets.</p><p>On the far side of the village portion of Sueb, Saddam Hussein's farmhouse emerges from a grove of palm trees, and a radar installation marks the start of the military zone of Radwaniyah, a few miles down the road.</p><p>As each day brings more people out into the streets of central Baghdad, the people on the outskirts of Sueb have spent their nights in tiny burrows in the mud - rudimentary bunkers reinforced with steel drums and scavenged wooden beams.</p><p>None of the shelters is large enough to stand in - nor sleep in. &quot;There are 10 or 15 of us there every night,&quot; said Suad Abdur Rahman, a cousin and neighbour. &quot;There is no room to lie down, no room to breathe. &quot;We crouch one on top of another, with one child on each knee.&quot;</p><p>Despite such precautions, in Sueb as in other outlying areas, America's bombardments have brought almost daily casualties.</p><p>On March 26, an explosion killed nearly 20 Iraqis on the main road of Shaab, on the northern perimeter of Baghdad. Two days later, more than 50 people were killed when a US missile struck a crowded marketplace in the Shouala neighbourhood, a hurriedly built suburb for working class Shias not unlike Sueb.</p><p>On Monday, tragedy struck in Sueb when US missiles killed six members of the family of the lowly baklava seller, Ali Abdul Rasul, and five others living in the same road. Twelve houses were destroyed in the blast, hastily built one storey structures crumpled into the earth.</p><p>&quot;The people living in this area are the very poorest people. It really is so cruel that we are being hit,&quot; said Taliya Ali Mohammed, whose house, down the road from Mr Rasul's, was strewn with shattered glass.</p><p>In these neighbourhoods, shared circumstance and geography - the houses are practically on top of each other - magnify the impact of America's bombs. In Sueb's case, they have been bound even tighter over the generations by ties of blood and marriage.</p><p>At 4am yesterday, after the children had cried themselves to sleep, the missiles destroyed two homes, leaving Mr Hathem with few possessions beyond a kerosene cooker and a television set. The entire clan felt the loss. They also witnessed it.</p><p>&quot;When the missiles came in, everything shook,&quot; said Yas Khudayar, who shared a tunnel space of barely 2 square metres with a wife and five children. &quot;We expected to be dead any minute.&quot;</p><p>Next door, at Ms Rahman's house, the floors were carpeted with broken glass and chunks of plaster. Overhead fans were plucked from the ceilings like flowers.</p><p>&quot;Just look at what those Americans have done,&quot; she said. &quot;We hate them now more than ever. What have we done? Why should our children suffer? Saddam Hussein has not hurt us. He hasn't been a nuisance to us.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Doubtless the now homeless poor of Sueb would be even more worried if they know about <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/03/international/worldspecial/03EXIL.html">the band of Republican apparatchiks, munitions executives, and retired generals</a> that Washington now has waiting on the beach in Kuwait, tanned, rested, and ready to be installed as Iraq's new rulers. Some of them even brought books to read on Iraqi history and culture. (Poverty and urban planning would be nice subjects to bone up on, too, but I know that's the bleeding heart intellectual in me talking.) If we can just keep a war going another month, the new bosses might even finish a couple of those books. </p>