"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Little Alternative apparently...

Before reading this piece it is first necessary to forget up until recently a democratically elected leader was attempting to bring some sort of equality to a country ruined by years of imperialist oppression. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected by a large majority of his people and was forcibly removed from power by a US funded milita, a particularily brutal one at that. He is now unable to return to his country having been allegedly kidnapped in order to get him out of Haiti. Once you have fully extracted these facts from your memory, then you can fully understand this journalists view point...

Should the UN Run Haiti? Some See Little Alternative
By Pablo Bachelet
Miami HeraldDecember 12, 2004

UN-protectorate status is being discussed as a possible way finally to bring Haiti out of chaos.
From the anarchy that is Haiti, an old question is rising again: If Haitians can't rule themselves, should the United Nations run the destitute country for them? The question is being batted about in Washington think tanks, cafes in Port-au-Prince and U.S. academic circles, with many saying that there are few options left for a country mired in decades of mismanagement, corruption and political bloodletting.

''The only way we're going to make any progress in Haiti is to establish a good, old fashioned trusteeship,'' said Riordan Roett, the Western Hemisphere director at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Haiti needs a ''multilateral force with a 25-year mandate to rebuild the country year by year. Everything's been destroyed. It's a failed state, a failed nation,'' Roett said.


Everyone agrees that Haiti is in chaos. Since September, clashes by armed gangs of supporters and opponents of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide have left more than 90 dead. The gangs freely walk the streets of three of the nation's four largest cities, for-ransom kidnappings have become routine and the U.S.-backed interim government is being increasingly criticized as inefficient.



For more informed reading on the problems facing Haitians, here is a good start...



Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Michael Crichton's new book: State of Fear

Michael Crichton's new book: State of Fear

Debunks the "myth" of global warming apparently.


and a speech he made before the book was released which explains his view more clearly:

Caltech Michelin Lecture - January 17, 2003

http://www.crichton-official.com/fear/index.html (under features)

At www.realclimate.org a site maintained "by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science."

They have given their views on Mr.Crichton's new book and his speech.



Friday, December 17, 2004

Response to Guardian article

The $65m question
When, how - and where - should we promote democracy?
First we need the facts
Timothy Garton Ash
Thursday December 16, 2004
The Guardian

Would you rather have democracies next door, or dictatorships? Democracies, right? If they are genuine liberal democracies, they are better for the people who live in them and for their neighbours. So, why not promote democracy in neighbouring countries? Or do you think we have obligations only to compatriots, and interests only within the frontiers of our nation-state? If you consider it a matter of complete indifference whether another country's rulers oppress, torture, poison and murder political opponents or ethnic and religious groups within the boundaries of their state, then you need read no further. You will save five precious minutes of your time. Have a nice day.



I've just read your latest article "The $65 Million Question" and was left quite bemused at your logic. Your first question "Would you rather have democracies next door, or dictatorships?" is easy enough, democracies. "why not promote democracy in neighbouring countries?" fair enough, although further qualification is necessary as to what this promotion involves.

The next part of you piece at first glance might seem fair "If you consider it a matter of complete indifference whether another country's rulers oppress, torture, poison and murder political opponents or ethnic and religious groups within the boundaries of their state, then you need read no further. You will save five precious minutes of your time. Have a nice day. Oh, you're still there? Then let's get to the real question: how? We know the wrong way: Iraq. But what's the right way? Which means of promoting democracy are effective and justified?," but the obvious result of your question is forced logic. Because I am opposed to rape, torture etc (as any moral human being must be) I am, according to your logic obliged to 'promote' democracy in another country. Is there no alternative?

Taking for granted that this is the resonable thing to do in a situatioin where the leaders of a country are abusing the people of their country, shouldn't the first thing to do before promoting a new political structure is to choose one that will benefit all its people. Take for instance promoting US democracy in Iraq. The US itself a country with massive inequalities, a death penalty, racial inequalities, discrepancies in voting processes, a hugely ignored anti-war lobby etc. Is this what we hope for Iraq? There's no question that this is still better than what the Iraqi people had under Saddam, but is it the best we can strive for. Perhaps they could come up with something better?

Are you missing the point altogether? How can we promote democracy, or simpler still, independence for people? Easy, stop any involvement thats detrimental to people. That means in Haiti, in Isreal, in Libya etc. That means paying compensation to countries that have suffered due to the invovlement of western 'democracies' in the past, including Nicaragua, Afganistan, Vietnam etc. Thats a start. Don't supply weapons to dictatorships, don't pretend genocide isn't going on. Don't support dictatorships while they slaughter hundreds and thousands of their population and don't pretend history, is just history. You are right to say "Then let's get to the real question: how? We know the wrong way: Iraq," but this was well predicted before the invasion. How can we expect a people who know we, not 'sat idly by', but actively supported (with weapons, with handshakes, with ignorance) the death of many of their family members and fellow country men to accept us as their saviours?

So far I've imagined that the war in Iraq was for the prupose of promoting democracy in Iraq, but although this may be your objective in Iraq, you are not fighting this war, you did not wage this war. The minute group of politicians who deceided to go to war aganist their old friend chose to do so for several reasons:

"The primary goal is to make it clear to Saddam that we expect him to be a peaceful neighbour in the region and we expect him not to develop weapons of mass destruction. And if we find him doing so, there will be a consequence."—U.S. President George W. Bush at his first White House news conference; Feb. 22, 2001


"Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." --George W. Bush March 22, 2003 Radio Address

"Our mission -- besides removing the regime that threatened us, besides ending a place where the terrorists could find a friend, besides getting rid of weapons of mass destruction -- our mission has been to bring a humanitarian aid and restore basic services, and put this country, Iraq, on the road to self- government. And we'll stay as long as it takes to complete our mission. And then all our forces are going to leave Iraq and come home"
-made by Bush in Ohio

Most of which have been unfounded accusations. They identify your reason as the forth aim. It is also quite obvious this aim exists only on the condition that all other aims before it are extant. Is this not reason enough to be cautious when advocating the 'promotion' of democracy?

There is no doubt that there are people around the world suffering under brutal regimes, but lets not kid ourselves that we are selflessly giving up the lives of US/UK soldiers, not to mention countless Iraq civilians (whose lives we generously forfeited too) for democratic purposes.

We are not the police of the world.

Yours sincerely,


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Gary Webb takes his own life

Compare and contrast...

OBITUARIESGary Webb, 49; Wrote Series Linking CIA, DrugsBy Nita Lelyveld and Steve HymonTimes Staff Writers
December 12, 2004
Gary Webb, an investigative reporter who wrote a widely criticized series linking the CIA to the explosion of crack cocaine in Los Angeles, was found dead in his Sacramento-area home Friday. He apparently killed himself, authorities said.



Gary Webb, RIP
No thanks to the L.A. Times
by Marc Cooper

First the L.A. Times helped kill off Gary Webb’s career. Then, eight years later, after Webb committed suicide this past weekend, the Times decided to give his corpse another kick or two, in a scandalous, self-serving and ultimately shameful obituary. It was the culmination of the long, inglorious saga of a major newspaper dropping the ball journalistically, and then extracting relentless revenge on an out-of-town reporter who embarrassed it.

Webb was the 49-year-old former Pulitzer-winning reporter who in 1996, while working for the San Jose Mercury News, touched off a national debate with a three-part series that linked the CIA-sponsored Nicaraguan Contras to a crack-dealing epidemic in Los Angeles and other American cities.

A cold panic set in at the L.A. Times when Webb’s so-called Dark Alliance story first appeared. Just two years before, the Times had published a long takeout on local crack dealer Rickey Ross and no mention was made of his possible link to and financing by CIA-backed Contras. Now the Times feared it was being scooped in its own backyard by a second-tier Bay Area paper.

The Times mustered an army of 25 reporters, led by Doyle McManus, to take down Webb’s reporting. It was, apparently, more important to the Times to defend its own inadequate reporting on the CIA-drug connection than it was to advance Webb’s important work (a charge consistently denied by the Times). The New York Times and the Washington Post also joined in on the public lynching of Webb. Webb’s own editor, Jerry Ceppos, also helped do him in, with a public mea culpa backing away from his own paper’s stories.

Webb was further undermined by some of his own most fervent supporters. With the help of demagogues like Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a conspiracy-theory hysteria was whipped up that used Webb’s series as "proof" that the CIA was more or less single-handedly responsible for South-Central’s crack plague — a gross distortion of Webb’s work.

But that conspiracy theory played perfectly into the hands of the L.A. Times. When its own three-day series appeared a few months later — attempting to demolish Webb — the Times disproved a number of points that were never made by Webb, primarily that the CIA consciously engaged in a program to spread the use of crack.

The Times’ Washington-based reporter McManus, who spent most of the late ’80s and early ’90s as one of the less-curious fourth-estate stenographers to the Reagan/Bush administrations, relied principally on CIA sources to vindicate the CIA in the anti-Webb series. Citing a "former CIA official" named Vince Cannistraro, McManus wrote that "CIA officials insist they knew nothing" about the Contra-drug dealers named by Webb. Cannistraro, however, was more fit to be a subject of the Times’ investigation than a source. Over the length of the Times’ series it was never mentioned that Cannistraro had actually been in charge of the CIA-Contra operation in the early 1980s, that is, before moving on to help supervise the covert program of CIA-backed Islamic guerrillas in Afghanistan (who themselves were, and continue to be, knee-deep in the heroin trade).

Which brings us back to this week’s obit written by Nita Lelyveld and Steve Hymon. The lead and body of the obit focus on the discrediting of Webb by the L.A. Times and fail to mention his Pulitzer until a dozen paragraphs down in the story.

Long before we learn of Webb’s Pulitzer, won in 1990 for reporting on the Loma Prieta earthquake, Lelyveld and Hymon obediently recite their own paper’s indictment of Webb’s exposé on the CIA-drug connection. They quote the 1996 McManus slam on Webb, saying, ". . . the available evidence, based on an extensive review of court documents and more than 100 interviews in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and Managua, fails to support any of [Webb’s] allegations."

It’s an astounding and nasty little piece of postmortem butchery on Webb (which never mentions that after his series appeared, Webb was voted the 1996 Journalist of the Year by the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists). Absolutely missing from Webb’s obit is that it was his series that directly forced both the CIA and the Justice Department to conduct internal investigations into the scope of any links between the Agency and drug dealers.
Worse, the results of those investigations proved that the core of what Webb alleged was, indeed, true and accurate. When CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz presented the findings of his internal investigation to Congress in 1998 (two years after Webb’s piece and the ensuing Times vindication of the CIA), he revealed for the first time an eye-popping agreement that the CIA had cemented with the Justice Department: Between 1982 and 1995, the CIA was exempted from informing the DOJ if its non-employee agents, paid or unpaid, were dealing drugs. In short, it was the policy of the U.S. government to turn a blind eye to such connections.
The same report by the CIA inspector general, by the way, admitted what we all knew in any case — that those connections did, in fact, exist.

And here’s the low point in this tale: After the CIA inspector general made public the second part of his investigation — the one sparked by Webb — which admitted to some links between the agency and Central American drug dealers, the L.A. Times chose not to publish a single story about the report. (No surprise here. Back in 1989, when a panel led by Senator John Kerry found similar CIA–drug-running links, the Times showed equal disinterest.)
In short, when it came to the Gary Webb series and its allegations, the L.A. Times wound up being more protective of the CIA than the CIA itself.

None of this explains why, in Webb’s obit, Lelyveld and Hymon omit the on-the-record admissions by the CIA of its involvement with drug-connected Contras, an admission owed directly to Webb’s work. Maybe, you say, the Times reporters are lazy and just didn’t look beyond their own paper’s archives. And because the Times didn’t cover those admissions, Lelyveld and Hymon remain (eight years after the fact) in the dark.

No. I fear the answer is worse than that. One of the Times reporters who wrote the obit, we now learn, called veteran reporter Bob Parry the other day for comment on Webb’s death. Back in 1985, Parry and his partner Bob Barger — working for the AP — were the first to break the story of CIA involvement with drug-linked Contras. Says Parry: "The Times reporter who called to interview me ignored my comments about the debt the nation owed Webb and the importance of the CIA’s inspector-general findings. Instead of using Webb’s death as an opportunity to finally get the story straight, the Times acted as if there never had been an official investigation confirming many of Webb’s allegations."

Gary Webb’s work deserved to be taken seriously and to be closely scrutinized precisely because of the scope of his allegations. As more-objective critics than the Times have pointed out, Webb overstated some of his conclusions, he too loosely framed some of his theses, and perhaps (perhaps) overestimated the actual amount of drug funding that fueled the Contra war. And for that he deserved to be criticized.

The core of his work, however, still stands. When much of the rest of the media went to sleep, Gary ÿWebb dug and scratched and courageously took on the most powerful and arrogant and unaccountable agencies of the U.S. government. His tenacious reporting forced those same agencies to investigate themselves and to admit publicly — albeit in watered-down terms — what he had alleged.

Webb’s reward was to be drummed out of the profession. After his editors cowardly recanted his stories (which they had vetted), he was demoted to a suburban bureau. After a year, Webb quit and wrote up his findings into a book. The book was mostly ignored by the press. Webb took up a job as an investigator for the California Legislature and helped spit-roast one Gray Davis. Last year, Webb lost that job and yearned, unsuccessfully for the most part, to get back into journalism. From a conservative Southern California military family, Webb was driven not by an ideological agenda but rather by a sense of fairness and justice. He was found last Friday in his Northern California home after he shot himself to death.

Recently, Webb was interviewed for a book profiling 18 journalists who found themselves discredited or censored. Let his own words be a more fitting epitaph than the hack-job L.A. Times obituary:

"If we had met five years ago, you wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me . . . I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests . . .

"And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job . . . The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress."

Gary Webb, R.I.P.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Food for Oil

Seeing as no one who considers themselves 'pro-war' will even consider a UN led alternative due to it being deemed untrustworthy since the break of the news relating to "Oil for Food" (not for the far more obvious and long standing problems inherently part of the organisation due to the power weilded by the countries within it) which has yet to be investigated and therefore stand as mere alegations at this stage. Here is an article from Scott Ritter, a man who is used to being ignored (and then vindicated).

The Oil-for-food 'scandal' Is A Cynical Smokescreen

by Scott Ritter
December 14, 2004

United States Senators, led by the Republican Norm Coleman, have launched a crusade of sorts, seeking to "expose" the oil-for-food programme implemented by the United Nations from 1996 until 2003 as the "greatest scandal in the history of the UN". But this posturing is nothing more than a hypocritical charade, designed to shift attention away from the debacle of George Bush's self-made quagmire in Iraq, and legitimise the invasion of Iraq by using Iraqi corruption, and not the now-missing weapons of mass destruction, as the excuse.




Guardian get it wrong again...

Mr. Rusbridger,

In todays "Leader" you contend that the reason for the invasion of Iraq was for the purpose of deposing of a cruel dictator and giving the people of Iraq a better life.

"invaded in order to depose a cruel dictator and give its people a better life."

I was wondering whether you think that this is rather misleading or is it that you are in the process of implementing Orwell's Newspeak? I have yet to hear of this reason being either the primary, secondary or tertiary aim of the invasion according to government sources. Infact I have highlighted the quote "Our mission -- besides removing the regime that threatened us, besides ending a place where the terrorists could find a friend, besides getting rid of weapons of mass destruction -- our mission has been to bring a humanitarian aid and restore basic services, and put this country, Iraq, on the road to self- government. And we'll stay as long as it takes to complete our mission. And then all our forces are going to leave Iraq and come home" made by Bush in Ohio as one thats identifies your reason as the forth aim. It is also quite obvious this aim exists only on the condition that all other aims before it are extant.

The following quotes may be useful in any future articles or a possible correction.

"(The U.K., U.S. and Spain) reserve their right to take their own steps to secure the disarmament of Iraq."— British ambassador to the UN, Jeremy Greenstock; Mar. 17, 2003

"The primary goal is to make it clear to Saddam that we expect him to be a peaceful neighbour in the region and we expect him not to develop weapons of mass destruction. And if we find him doing so, there will be a consequence."
—U.S. President George W. Bushat his first White House news conference; Feb. 22, 2001
"Our cause is just, the security of the nations we serve and the peace of the world. And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." --George W. Bush March 22, 2003 Radio Address

"The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons.... The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year....The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month and from year to year. To ignore these threats is to encourage them. And when they have fully materialized it may be too late to protect ourselves and our friends and our allies. By then the Iraqi dictator would have the means to terrorize and dominate the region. Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX - nerve gas - or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally." -- George W. Bush Rose Garden remarks, September 26, 2002

We can't allow the world's worst leaders to blackmail, threaten, hold freedom-loving nations hostage with the world's worst weapons. --George W. Bush

One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites. --Pentagon Spokeswoman Victoria Clark Press Briefing March 22, 2003

Free nations will not sit and wait, leaving enemies free to plot another September the 11th -- this time, perhaps, with chemical, biological, or nuclear terror. We'll remove weapons of mass destruction from the hands of mass murderers. And by defending our own security, we are ridding the people of Iraq from one of the cruelest regimes on earth. The United States and our allies pledged to act if the dictator did not disarm. The regime in Iraq is now learning that we keep our word. --George W. Bush April 5 2003 Radio Address

Our mission -- besides removing the regime that threatened us, besides ending a place where the terrorists could find a friend, besides getting rid of weapons of mass destruction -- our mission has been to bring a humanitarian aid and restore basic services, and put this country, Iraq, on the road to self- government. And we'll stay as long as it takes to complete our mission. And then all our forces are going to leave Iraq and come home.
--George W. Bush April 24, 2003 Remarks at Lima Army Tank Plant - Lima, Ohio


"On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech that the Iraqi dictator "had long established ties with al-Qaida."
"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001." He added: "With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got."

Also, as US officials have made it clear that they intend to keep a military presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future it may be in the interest of "fair" reporting to refer to their "exit stategy" as something more accurate, perhaps "military diminution."

"The result is to cast grave doubt over whether the Iraqi security forces will be capable of managing without the Americans"

"exit strategy"

Yours sincerely,




Friday, December 10, 2004


The first thing to do, is to identify the reasons for an invasion of iraq. As i see it there are three, firstly an attack on iraq could be motivated by the percieved threat caused by iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, secondly an attack motivated for the purpose of defending another country from attack by iraq, and lastly an attack for humanitarian reasons, i.e. to help the civilian population of iraq.

The first is easily refuted, the President himself went from this "[there is] no doubt the Iraqi regimecontinues to possess the most lethal weapons ever devised" to this "White House officials are no longer asserting that stockpiles of banned weapons would eventually be found."

As there is now no doubt that Saddam did not possess WMDs and it easy to deduce that this was known well before the invasion. Simply by looking to those charged with overseeing the disarmament of iraq gives ample evidence that there was no threat to the US or any other coaltion country, "On Iraq’s WMD, Scott Ritter, the former top weapons inspector, claimed that when he left in 1998, 90 to 95 percent of Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons (CBW) had been destroyed and any remaining anthrax or sarin would be useless sludge." It is useful to note that Scott Ritter says here, that, he "left." The US government line is that weapons inspectors were thrown out, this however is false, they were ordered to leave by the UN, to use an "uncontroversial" (if, however, true in this case) source "The U.N. orders its weapons inspectors to leave Iraq after the chief inspector reports Baghdad is not fully cooperating with them" [Sheila MacVicar, ABC World News].

Some however are not totally convinced by this, but the list of reports confirming this goes on, "A report from U.N. weapons inspectors to be released today says they now believe there were no weapons of mass destruction of any significance in Iraq after 1994" [USA Today]. And this is continually backed up by Iraqi dissidents. It is beyond doubt now that there is and never was a WMD program in operation. Accepted by everyone, save those who still hang on to the belief he transported them across borders just before the invasion, for what benefit, is unknown and probably unfounded.

Secondly, that the war was neceessary to defend other innocent civilians in bordering countries. There is no real need to go in to detail, but it would be useful in the context of noting the US reponse to this kind of action in the past. For instance the Iraqi invasion of Iran (aided by the US) and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (used as the reason for the first gulf war).

Thirdly, the humanitarian option. "Saddam is a vengeful despot, who has already used chemical weapons on his own people, which is the ultimate horror." This roughly sums up, the thrust of ones arguments for the invasion. And at face value this seems a "fair" (for the purpose of continuing the article, I will leave the choice of war as the first/best option till later) reason for attacking in the hope of regime change. But, although this may be the conclusion you arrived at (a US led invasion of a soverign country for the purpose of 'taking out' an evil dictator) this may greatly differ from what was planned by the invading force (i.e. the US and the UK).

To understand what motivates them it is useful to ask what was the US and UK reaction to Saddam's use of chemical weapons aganist his own people (kurds in the north and south, and Iranian people), the reaction was to increase support. This is easily discovered by consulting the governmental records. Support was in the shape of agricultural export, including "dual usage" (could be used for both agricultural and military purpose) machinary and materials that could be used to create chemical weapons. This was for the purpose of apparently "increasing US exports and helping the US deal with iraqi human rights." This was reversed soon after, by imposing sanctions, known to have killed over 500,000 children.

At this time a reporter for ABC news, using French satallite technology discovered Saddam was in the process of creating chemical weapons. This however was dissmissed by the Pentagon, but however has resurfaced recently as evidence for the new war on Iraq, even though, as I have already mentioned, weapons inspectors reported that Saddam was almost fully disarmed. Therefore it is reasonable to assume, that the evidence was not used at the time, (and almostly likely already known by the Pentagon due to their far more advanced satallite systems and their "defense" network) because Saddam was considered useful.

The height of Saddam's threat, during the late 80's, also coincided with the height of US funding. And was best shown by the fact that even with US/Russian/European help, he was unable to defeat the inferior Iranian army, not exactly the major threat now shown by western media. Then followed the invasion of Kuwait, a major crime, but not according to US leaders, and when seen from the perspective of his previous atrocities, not all that serious.

Following the first gulf war, Saddam committed more of his, now repetitive attrocites, the savage crushing of the Iraqi uprising, who were given no assistance (all that was asked, was access to captured Iraqi weapons). These rebels were then obviously left helpless as Saddam took his revenge on their insubordination. The US obviously did not want the uprising to prevail, they did not want Saddam uprooted. This scenario was repeated in the north soon after.

Therefore "stability" prevailed. The state department's line at the time was that "the best of all worlds would be an iron fisted military junta who would rule Iraq the same way as Saddam has done, but without Saddam's name" [New York Times]. Brent Scowcroft said in 1996 "it would not have...been to our interests to have Saddam overthrown, because any replacement might have been worse." So the deaths of thousands of rebels was acceptable.

Now almost ten years on, the coalition of the willing have taken it apon themselves to invade a starving country with a huge military force, killing thousands of civilians, allowing their already wrecked country to be infested by terrorist forces (this was well predicted by many terrorist experts before the invasion) and the polution of their land by depleted uranium.

"Today, nearly 12 years after the use of the super-tough weapons was credited with bringing the war to a swift conclusion, the battlefield remains a radioactive toxic wasteland" (remember this battlefield is someones home), "contamination will make food and water unsafe for consumption," "There were photos of infants born without brains, with their internal organs outside their bodies, without sexual organs, without spines, and the list of deformities went on and on. There also were photos of cancer patients. Cancer has increased dramatically in southern Iraq. In 1988, 34 people died of cancer; in 1998, 450 died of cancer; in 2001 there were 603 cancer deaths."

The simple fact is the thousands of people who have died in this war have died not for the sake of bringing democracy to their country, but because Western governments want control of their resources. The list of people that would be alive today if it wasn't for this war includes not only Iraqi civilians, but US soliders, aid workers, the contractors executed and those hundreds of people kidnapped by terrorist gangs.

What should have been done? The first and most easily accomplished would have been to stop the support for this "despotic monster." In the case of the early 90's, an uprising should at least, have not been hindered, a UN presence would have been called for in the event of a successful uprising to try and produce democratic procedures. More recently, weapons inspectors should have been increased, sanctions should have been lifted and given the fact that Saddam had little or no support, his regime would have failed ratherly quickly. A starving population cannot organise an uprising (This, however would never have been tolerated by the US, considering their reaction to rebel uprisings following Gulf war I. The reality is, the US never wanted the Iraqis to dispose of Saddam, as it may have led them to elect a government that represented THEM). For those who can't wait, and given the US gift for organising coups, Saddam could have removed from power without the level of bloodshed seen now.

To understand this fully, try to put yourself in the position of an Iraqi before the war. You are starving, you hate your "leader," you have no outside support. What do you want? Would you prefer firstly food, then assistance in overthrowing your dictator (this was never an impossibility and has been replayed time and time again throughout history) or would lyou prefer a huge invading army to firstly bomb you (this negates the fact that bombing had been continual throughout the 90's) and then to invade you, killing between 15 and 100+ thousand of your family and friends, leaving your land radioactive and your government a puppet of a foreign state.

"We don't do body counts" [General Tommy Franks, US Central Command].

Considering that the forces of "freedom and democracy" have seemingly not bothered to keep a record of civillian deaths, and who have failed to provide a conclusive account of coalition troops dead (including those dying off the battle field due to injuries, suicide etc). Therefore those who were sent to fight a "war" for the purpose of defending their country from an imminent threat (known at the time to be false and since then admitted to be false by the US president) are not even given the respect of being counted and instead flown home in secrecy. Today in Britain (presumably another centre of "freedom and democracy") 11 representatives of "Military Families Against the War" a group made up of families who have either lost relatives serving in Iraq or are presently serving in the Black Watch have been refused permission to hold a minutes silence outside Downing Street as a protest aganist the war. If this is your "freedom and democracy" you can keep it. But it is not your right to force it on other people and other countries.

The simple fact is that President Bush used the 9/11 attacks to attack Iraq, by continually linking Iraq with terrorist organistions. None of these links ever existed. The problem is, now they do, Iraq has been flooded by terrorists, using the terrorised (by the coaltion forces) population's anger to forward their own aims.

The war in Afganistan, launched for purpose of finding Bin Laden, managed to ravage an already destroyed country, leaving thousnads dead, and millions on the brink of starvation, but, apparently just, as there is a chance that democracy may now be in the future. The history of this country is long and brutal, and also includes the C.I.A. training of Bin Laden and his subsequent funding (Billions).

The removal of Saddam is without doubt a good thing, but just because the result (Actually just one result. Others include deaths, injuries, the breaking of International Law etc) is acceptable, does this infer that the war was just. This is a moral question and therefore restricted to individual bias.

The main thrust of the US/UK Government line is that even given the fact that there are no credible war aims, we (as the people of the US/UK) must support the war, because its intention is to remove Saddam. Your choice I guess.

As an after thought: (From official US documents)

Terrorism: "the unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives."

Low Intensity Warfare (Official US Policy): "... a political-military confrontation between contending states or groups below conventional war and above the routine, peaceful competition among states. It frequently involves protracted struggles of competing principles and ideologies. Low-intensity conflict ranges from subversion to the use of the armed forces. It is waged by a combination of means, employing political, economic, informational, and military instruments. Low-intensity conflicts are often localized, generally in the Third World, but contain regional and global security implications."