Monday, May 31, 2004

Bush in Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq

Bush in Babylon: The Recolinisation of IraqBush in Babylon: The Recolinisation of Iraq
: The Recolonisation of Iraq

Tariq Ali is a novelist, essayist, and BBC commentator who was among the best-known radical student leaders in late 1960s Britain. One of the ways he distinguishes himself from his anti-war contemporaries is via prodigious and multidisciplinary cultural knowledge; he once collaborated with avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman on a film about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, for instance. Bush in Babylon benefits greatly from such knowledge. The book is essentially a harsh critique of the way the Bush administration has dealt with Iraq in the wake of 9-11, referred to as "corporate looting." The most captivating chapter centers on the history of Iraqi resistance as exemplified in poetry made by Iraqis in exile. Ali translates important contemporary works by poets who left during Hussein's regime but are still denied entry back into Iraq by Coalition forces. These are works that have traveled from the Internet to the oral tradition, to become instant spoken-word hits, and they provide a fascinating glimpse into the Iraqi situation that one cannot simply find in a daily newspaper in the West or on CNN. Ali's biggest fault is an undisguised disgust for the "imperialist" United States government. When he lists the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alongside those in Vietnam with no discussion of the difference between the two events, he alienates many potential fans of his important work. Bush in Babylon has a lot going for it, despite a polemical tone which invariably grates as one marches through this smart, well-researched book.

Monday, May 24, 2004

NY Times mea culpa for publishing misleading falsehoods about Iraq's WMD

[May 24, 2004] The NY Times has issued a mea culpa saying that some of their reporting leading to the Iraq War was dubious. Uh, duh, they were repeating the lies of the Administration.

However there is a Salon.COM article [] claiming that the principle NY Times reporter on this beat, Judith Miller, was apparently actively cooperating with the White House to get their lies published. She was working closely with the same liar, Ahmed Chalabi and his cronies, as was the Administration, so when Chalabi or one of his cronies might have told her some lie, he will have already told that lie to sources at the White House or DoD whom she could then call to get the confirmation required to publish.

For example, the issue of the Aluminum Tubes supposedly to be used to build centrifuges.

If the double-agent spy business had a trophy to hold up and show neophyte spooks what happens when their craft is perfectly executed, it would be a story by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon that appeared on the front page of the New York Times on a Sunday morning in September 2002. The front-page frightener was titled "Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts." Miller and Gordon wrote that an intercepted shipment of aluminum tubes, to be used as centrifuges, was evidence Hussein was building a uranium gas separator to develop nuclear material. The story quoted national security advisor Condoleezza Rice invoking the image of "mushroom clouds over America."...The story had an enormous impact, one amplified when Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney all did appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, citing the first-rate journalism of the liberal New York Times. No single story did more to advance the political cause of the neoconservatives driving the Bush administration to invade Iraq....But Miller's story was wrong. ...It turned out that the aluminum tubes were covered with an anodized coating, which would have been machined off to make them usable in a centrifuge. But that change in the thickness of the tube wall would have rendered the tubes useless for a centrifuge, according to a number of nuclear scientists who spoke publicly after Miller's story. Aluminum, which has not been used in uranium gas separators since the 1950s, has been replaced by steel. The tubes, in fact, were almost certainly intended for use as rocket bodies. Hussein's multiple-launch rocket systems had rusted on their pads and he had ordered the tubes from Italy. "Medusa 81," the Italian rocket model name, was stamped on the sides of the tubes, and in a factory north of Baghdad, American intelligence officers later discovered boxes of rocket fins and motors awaiting the arrival of the tubes of terror.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

War justifications relied on informants that the CIA had already dismissed as liars.

[May 19, 2004] War justifications relied on informants that the CIA had already dismissed as liars.

See [; Detroit Free Press; May 18, 2004] The defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al Haideri, claimed he had worked at illegal chemical, biological and nuclear facilities around Baghdad. But when members of the CIA-operated Iraq Survey Group, charged with tracing any illegal weapons held by ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, took Saeed back to Iraq earlier this year, he pointed out facilities known to be associated with the conventional Iraqi military. He couldn't identify a single site associated with illegal weapons, U.S. officials said....

The informant in question gets prime billing in "A Decade of Deception and Defiance", a report issued on September 12, 2002 in support of President Bush's highly defiant and inflamatory speech to the United Nations on that day (

The report in turn refers to another report, Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Net Assessment, by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. ( This second report is an independant review of Iraq's capabilities, and some portions of the report were used in the justifications that ultimately led to the war. Note that the phrases were apparently cherry-picked from the report, since the report for example says things about the nuclear capability (e.g. that they had none) which the Administration did not say (e.g. their claim was to point at Iraq's imminent nuclear capability).

The war has gone from bad to worse, to even worser.

[May 19, 2004] And it went from worser to even worserer. Namely, U.S. soldiers are now known to have been torturing, yes, torturing, both Iraqi and Afghani prisoners. This is the U.S., we don't do that kind of thing do we?

[April 29, 2004] The war has gone from bad to worse, to even worser. At the breaking point [; by Robert Schlesinger] Under the rubric of the war on terrorism, the U.S. armed forces are now conducting operations in more countries around the world than at any time since World War II, though in sheer numbers the current force of 10 active divisions is dwarfed by the 90 divisions of the earlier force. The Bush administration's policies have created unsustainable and dangerous conditions in the U.S. Army, according to military experts, retired officers and a growing number of elected officials from both parties. The administration's insistence on doing more with less has left the military unable to secure Iraq, triggering a ripple effect that threatens the morale of active and reserve members of the Army, retention, training schedules and, not incidentally, American lives. While some of the underlying issues predate this administration, they have been exacerbated by the decision to wage a war of choice in Iraq and critically bad judgments on how that war's aftermath would play out. ... Rumsfeld prevailed in the planning for the war and its aftermath. And it was his belief that more from less would work as well with the occupation as it did with the military conquest. His faith was bolstered by neoconservatives' insistence that the U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators; that once Saddam was toppled a democratic Iraq would immediately take its place; and that the allied troops and newly minted Iraqi security forces would bear their share of the burden.