Monday, February 21, 2005


Thought some of you fellas might like to reflect on the words of Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) one of Americas most famous minds from about a century ago:

"Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception." - "Chronicle of Young Satan"


"Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out...and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel. ..And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man"--with his mouth." - What Is Man?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Post election thoughts:

Borrowed from: Baghdad Burning"

... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The elections have come and gone.

The day of elections was a day of eerie silence punctuated by a few strong explosions and the hum of helicopters above. We remained at home and watched the situation on tv. E. left for about an hour to see what was happening at the local polling area, which was a secondary school nearby. He said there were maybe 50 people at the school and a lot of them looked like they were involved with the local electoral committee.

The polling station near our house was actually being guarded by SCIRI people (Badir’s Brigade). It was like an voting marathon for all of the news channels- everywhere you turned there was news of the elections. CNN, Euronews, BBC, Jazeera, Arabia, LBC… everyone was talking elections. The Arab news channels were focusing largely on voting abroad while CNN kept showing footage from the southern provinces and the northern ones. I literally had chills going up and down my spine as I watched Abdul Aziz Al Hakeem of Iranian-inclined SCIRI dropping his ballot into a box. Behind him, giving moral support and her vote, was what I can only guess to be his wife. She was shrouded literally from head to foot and only her eyes peeped out of the endless sea of black. She stuffed her ballot in the box with black-gloved hands and submissively followed a very confident Hakeem. E. turned to me with a smile and a wink, “That might be you in a couple of years…” I promptly threw a sofa cushion at him.

Most of our acquaintances (Sunni and Shia) didn’t vote. My cousin, who is Shia, didn’t vote because he felt he didn’t really have ‘representation’ on the lists, as he called it. I laughed when he said that, “But you have your pick of at least 40 different Shia parties!” I teased, winking at his wife. I understood what he meant though. He’s a secular, educated, non-occupation Iraqi before he’s Sunni or Shia- he’s more concerned with having someone who wants to end the occupation than someone Shia.

We’re hearing about various strange happenings at different voting areas. They say that several areas in northern Iraq (some Assyrian and other Christian areas) weren’t allowed to vote. They also say that 300 different ballot boxes from all over the country were disqualified (mainly from Mosul) because a large number of the vote ballots had “Saddam” written on them. In other areas there’s talk of Badir’s Brigade people having bought the ballots to vote, and while the people of Falloojeh weren’t allowed to vote, people say that the identities of Falloojans were temporarily ‘borrowed’ for voting purposes. The stories are endless.

In spite of that, we’re all watching for the results carefully. When the ‘elected’ government takes control, will they set a timetable for American withdrawal? That would be a shocker considering none of the current parties would be able to remain in power without being forcefully backed by America with tanks and troops. We hear American politicians repeatedly saying that America will not withdraw until Iraq can secure itself. When will that happen? Our current National Guard or “Haress il Watani” are fondly called “Haress il Wathani” or “Infidel Guard” by people in the streets. On top of it all, to be one of them is considered such a disgrace by the general population that they have to wear masks so that none of them can be identified by neighbors and friends.

The results won’t really matter when so many people boycotted the elections

No matter what the number say, the reality of the situation is that there are millions of Iraqis who will refuse to submit to an occupation government. After almost two years of occupation, and miserable living conditions, we want our country back. I do have my moments of weakness though, when I wonder who will be allowed to have power. Politicians are talking about a balance that might arise from a Shia, Kurdish alliance and it makes a lot of sense in theory. In theory, the Kurdish leaders are Sunni and secular and the Shia leaders are, well, they’re not exactly secular. If they get along, things should work out evenly. That looks good on blogs and on paper. Reality is quite different. Reality is that the Kurdish leaders are more concerned about their own autonomy and as long as the Kurdish north remains secular, the rest of Iraq can go up in flames.

An example is the situation in Baghdad today. The parties that have power in colleges today are actually the Iranian inclined Shia parties like Da’awa and SCIRI. Student representatives in colleges and universities these days mainly come from the abovementioned parties. They harass Christian and Muslim girls about what they should and shouldn’t wear. They invite students to attend “latmiyas” (mainly Shia religious festivities where the participants cry and beat themselves in sorrow over the killing of the Prophet’s family) and bully the cafeteria or canteen guy into not playing music during Ramadhan and instead showing the aforementioned latmiyas and Shia religious lectures by Ayatollah So-and-So and Sayid Something-or-Another. Last week my cousin needed to visit the current Ministry of Higher Education. After the ministry building was burned and looted, the employees had to be transferred to a much, much smaller building in another part of the city.

My cousin’s wife wanted to have her college degree legalized by the ministry and my cousin wasn’t sure about how to go about doing it. So I volunteered to go along with him because I had some questions of my own. We headed for the building containing the ministry employees (but hardly ever containing the minister). It was small and cramped. Every 8 employees were stuck in the same room. The air was tense and heavy. We were greeted in the reception area by a bearded man who scanned us disapprovingly. “Da’awachi,” my cousin whispered under his breath, indicating the man was from the Da’awa Party. What could he do for us? Who did we want? We wanted to have some documents legalized by the ministry, I said loudly, trying to cover up my nervousness. He looked at me momentarily and then turned to the cousin pointedly. My cousin repeated why we were there and asked for directions. We were told to go to one of the rooms on the same floor and begin there.

“Please dress appropriately next time you come here.” The man said to me. I looked down at what I was wearing- black pants, a beige high-necked sweater and a knee-length black coat. Huh? I blushed furiously. He meant my head should be covered and I should be wearing a skirt. I don’t like being told what to wear and what not to wear by strange men. “I don’t work here- I don’t have to follow a dress code.” I answered coldly. The cousin didn’t like where the conversation was going, he angrily interceded, “We’re only here for an hour and it really isn’t your business.” “It is my business.” Came the answer, “She should have some respect for the people who work here.” And the conversation ended. I looked around for the people I should be respecting. There were three or four women who were apparently ministry employees. Two of them were wearing long skirts, loose sweaters and headscarves and the third had gone all out and was wearing a complete “jubba” or robe-like garb topped with a black head scarf.
My cousin and I turned to enter the room the receptionist had indicated and my eyes were stinging. No one could talk that way before the war and if they did, you didn’t have to listen. You could answer back. Now, you only answer back and make it an issue if you have some sort of death wish or just really, really like trouble. Young females have the option of either just giving in to the pressure and dressing and acting ‘safely’- which means making everything longer and looser and preferably covering some of their head or constantly being defiant to what is becoming endemic in Iraq today.

The problem with defiance is that it doesn’t just involve you personally, it involves anyone with you at that moment- usually a male relative. It means that there might be an exchange of ugly words or a fight and probably, after that, a detention in Abu Ghraib. If it’s like this in Baghdad, I shudder to think what the other cities and provinces must be like. The Allawis and Pachichis of Iraq don’t sense it- their families are safely tucked away in Dubai and Amman, and the Hakeems and Jaffaris of Iraq promote it.

At the end of the day, it’s not about having a Sunni or Shia or Kurd or Arab in power. It’s about having someone who has Iraq’s best interests at heart- not America’s, not Iran’s, not Israel’s… It’s about needing someone who wants peace, prosperity, independence and above and beyond all, unity.

Remeber this interview (Part 1)

Saddam Interview Airs In IraqFeb. 27, 2003

The historic interview between CBS News Anchor Dan Rather and Saddam Hussein aired Thursday on Iraqi television.

As CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports, there was no choice whether to watch it as it was broadcast on all Iraqi four channels. For the residents of Iraq, though, it was a novel experience.

According to most Iraqis, Saddam is never seen by them to be asked direct questions. But there was little doubt expressed about how their president did. Their reaction is even stronger on what they think of the White House rejection of Saddam's challenge to President Bush for a televised debate.

"I think he is a coward. That's all," says Quasem Aziz Habib, a university student.
The interview also drew controversy at the White House. The Bush administration had sought to have a senior official rebut Saddam's statements in the interview on 60 Minutes II, but no agreement could be made in time with the network.

CBS News had said it would accept Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney or Secretary of State Colin Powell on the show, but the White House only offered officials the network deemed inappropriate for the broadcast.
The 60 Minutes II Interview In his first interview with an American reporter in more than a decade, Saddam Hussein remained defiant, even though his country is surrounded by one of the most lethal fighting forces ever assembled. Defiant - even in the face of an impending war that seems certain to end his rule and, quite possibly, his life.

Dan Rather met him on Monday, in the oldest and largest presidential palace, at a time when the U.N. arms inspectors have accused him of having prohibited missiles. And at a moment when President Bush has said time has run out, that the only thing Saddam can do to prevent war is to disarm immediately. Anything short of that, the president says, is a game.
At this moment, the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is preparing what could be his final report to the U.N. In a matter of weeks, with or without international support, the American and British forces could begin an all-out assault on Baghdad.

[In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed the Saddam interview as "60 minutes of lies, deceptions and propaganda." Fleischer said the interview included one notable lie by Saddam -- that Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missiles don't exceed U.N. limits. Fleischer said that U.N. weapons inspectors have declared the weapon's range to be greater than the allowed 90 miles.]


Rather: Mr. President, do you expect to be attacked by an American-led invasion?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: We hope that the attack will not take place. But we are bracing ourselves to meet such an attack. To face it. You’ve been here for a few days, you see how people live. They live normally, they get married, they visit each other, but at the same time they hear the news. The officials in America keep talking about attacking Iraq. And it’s normal that the people prepare themselves for such a possibility. At the same time they are praying to Allah to stop the Americans from going through with it and to spare the Iraqis from the harm that those on the bandwagon of evil want to inflict upon them.

Rather: Are you afraid of being killed or captured?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: Whatever Allah decides, we are believers. We believe in what he decides. There is no value for any life, without faith. When we were young, ordinary people in Iraq, before, the Iraqi people had suffered a lot of deprivation and backwardness. We decided to place ourselves to the service of our people. Bear with me. My answers are long.

Rather: Mr. President, I have all night.

Translator for Saddam Hussein: We did not ask the question whether we were going to live or die. It's morally unacceptable to ask such a question. Nothing is going to change the will of God. The believer still believes that what God decides is acceptable.

Narration: But we reminded President Hussein that he has more earthly concerns –- more than missiles that U.N. inspectors say have a longer range than permitted threatening Iraq’s neighbors and capable of attacking American troops in Kuwait.

Rather: Mr. President -- do you intend to destroy the Al Samoud missiles that the United Nations prohibits? Will you destroy those missiles?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: (pause) (nat) We have committed ourselves to Resolution. It is on this basis that we have conducted ourselves, and it is on this basis that we will continue to behave. As you know, we are allowed to produce land to land rockets with a range of up to kilometers, and we are committed to that.

Rather: I want to make sure that I understand, Mr. President. So, you do not intend to destroy these missiles?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: Which missiles are you talking about? We do not have missiles that go beyond the prescribed ranges, by the U.N.

Rather: I mean, the missiles that Hans Blix says that he wants a commitment from you that they will be destroyed.
<---(Hans Blix) Translator for Saddam Hussein: No violation has been made by Iraq to anything decided by the United Nations. If the intention is to rewrite those resolutions, then we will be entering a new framework. A framework in which the United States will be made to forsake its own position and take a new road towards harming Iraq. In the interview, Saddam Hussein gave no indication he will capitulate to an ultimatum from Chief Weapons inspector Blix -- to begin destroying the missiles by this weekend. Indeed he hinted he will not. Saddam also rejected Bush Administration allegations that besides the missiles delivery system he still has weapons of mass destruction. Translator for Saddam Hussein: I think America and the United States and the world also knows that Iraq no longer has the weapons. And I believe the mobilization that's been done was in fact done partly to cover the huge lie that was being waged against Iraq, about chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. That is why, when you talk about such missiles, these missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations in Iraq. They are no longer there.

Narration: The Bush Administration says Saddam Hussein is just trying to fool the world one more time about his missiles and his weapons of mass destruction. And he faces a new U.N. resolution accusing him of failing to prove he has disarmed. A resolution which, if passed, would in effect authorize war.

Rather: Will the new proposed United Nations resolution, the one that's just out this week -- will this make any difference at all in your position?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: The basic position, there is no change. We have not pursued any weapons of mass destruction. So, what do they want to issue new resolutions about now?

Rather: So basically, no change in your position.
Translator for Saddam Hussein: The basic stand of our position is clear. We do not compromise our independence or our dignity or our freedom. At the same time we will continue to commit ourselves to what has been decided by the United Nations. If the new resolutions infringe upon our dignity then our position towards such a resolution will be in line with our previous positions.

Rather: Mr. President, have you been offered asylum anywhere? And would you, under any circumstances, consider going into exile, to save your people death and destruction?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: I can understand the motive behind your question. This is a very American style. And it may not be liked by some. But I can understand. However, I will answer your question.

Rather: Thank you.

Translator for Saddam Hussein: I was born here in Iraq and I was born as a genuine believer. I am proud to have been born fearing God, and I have taught my children the value of history and the extreme importance of iman, of our heritage, that we must maintain the honor of nationalism, and pan-Arabism. The importance of that is essential to the nation and to the Arab nation.

And now, I am also teaching this to my grandchildren. And-- I have always talked to the Iraqi people in this sense, since the days of our underground-- freedom-fighting. We do not change our position. Our position is basic. We have been born in Iraq. This is part of a glorious nation. A great Arab nation. And we have lived here. That is why, talking about asylum, whoever decides to forsake his nation is not true to the principles. We will die here in Iraq. We will die in this country and we will maintain our honor. The honor that is-- required of our people. I believe that whoever asks Saddam to-- or, offers Saddam asylum in his own country, is in fact a person without morals because he will be directing an insult to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people who have chosen Saddam Hussein, unanimously, to continue to lead the people of Iraq

Narration: The Iraqi President told us that the first Bush administration threatened it would bomb Iraq back to a pre-industrial age and then attacked his country with thousands of warplanes and helicopters and missiles.

Saddam Hussein: Colleges were destroyed and bridges were destroyed and palaces. They destroyed buildings, factories, they killed people and elderly. But they did not push Iraq back into the pre-industrial age.

Narration: Saddam said his country stood up to the challenge from one Bush administration in and, if forced to, will stand up to this new Bush Administration as well.

Saddam Hussein: We hope that war will not take place but if war is forced upon us, then Iraq will continue to be here. This country with a history of over years. This country, the cradle of the first civilizations of humanity, will not finish just like that even though a huge power may want it to be like that. Nobody, nobody should accept that Iraq will finish in such a way.

Rather: Mr. President, Americans are very much concerned about anyone's connections to Osama bin Laden. Do you have, have you had, any connections to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden?
Translator for Saddam Hussein: Is this the basis of the anxiety in the minds of U.S. officials? Or is it the basis of anxiety in the minds of the people of the United States?

Rather: Mr. President, I believe I can report accurately, that it's a major concern in the minds of the people in the United States.

Saddam Hussein: We have never had any relationship with Mr. Osama bin Laden. And Iraq has never had any relationship with al Qaeda. And I think that Mr. bin Laden himself has recently, in one of his speeches, given-- such an answer, that we have no relation with him.

Rather: Do you or do you not agree in principle, with the attack?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: Let me tell you absolutely clearly. We believe in humanity. We believe, in accordance with what Allah, the God Almighty, has taught us. In the same way that God has taught humanity as a whole. That there must be a law governing humanity, and governing relations in humanity. That there should not be an aggressor, while others are silent about the aggression. There should not be a killer, while those who watch and applaud the killing.

Rather: Not so long ago, you were clearly hailed by Arabs from Palestinians to Jordanians throughout the Arab world as the quote Arab Avenger. Are you still relevant on the Arab street? Or has Osama bin Laden made you with other Arabs irrelevant? If you can understand the question. Thank you.

Translator for Saddam Hussein: This is not our goal. What we want is not a personal issue. What we want is what Allah wants and what our nation wants. We want our nation to be happy, not to be spoken of as heroes. The most basic thing to be said about Saddam is that he is a true son of his nation… and to say he did his best for his people and his nation.

Rather: And he does or does not agree that Osama bin Laden is now-- the champion of the Arab streets?

Translator for Saddam Hussein: You, how do you see it? Mr. Rather is an intelligent person. I believe that he wants to get to the truth and not merely provoke or to try to get someone to say something that might be held against him. The most essential thing is to stop the aggression against our nation and the Iraqi people. You see how the Palestinians are killed on their land, and their homes are demolished and their properties are destroyed and no one is trying to take away their handcuffs, to free them. So if you in America consider Osama bin Laden a hero, we are not jealous of him. And if the Arabs consider him a hero, we are not jealous of him. Jealousy is for women. And men are not supposed to be jealous of one another

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Army Recruiters Tell Applicant to Lie and Cheat

Army Recruiters Tell Applicant to Lie and Cheat. In early 2005 David McSwane went undercover to see how far recruiters would go to get him into the service.

amazon quicklinker

Favorites linker

google adds