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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Nuclear Nightmare Diplomacy

Martin Samuel writes in Tuesday's Independent "[s]anctions would hurt an unpopular regime in Tehran, whereas an air strike would unite the people behind it." While I agree with Martin's conclusions regarding the disastrous consequences of a war in Iran I find his logic abandoned him in his closing statement.

He sees air strikes causing a strengthening in support for nuclear ambitions. 'Bombs will unite the people' as it were. Obviously, any sort of carnage inflicted on ordinary Iranians is bound to increase nationalist resolve, exemplified by the governments defiance over the nuclear issue. However, Mr. Samuel offers no similar prediction when it comes to the effect of sanctions on the same ordinary Iranians. But to understand what Iranians can expect from sanctions and what their reaction may be one need look no further than their neighbour Iraq.

Denis Halliday, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq until 1998 said "[t]hese sanctions represented ongoing warfare against the people of Iraq. They became, in my view, genocidal in their impact over the years, and the Security Council maintained them, despite its full knowledge of their impact, particularly on the children of Iraq."

Hans von Sponeck, Halliday's successor wrote in his letter of resignation, "[h]ow long should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?"

Sanctions in Iraq are claimed to have accounted for approximately half a million excess deaths in children under 5. The effect on Iranian public opinion can be easily estimated.

1. http://www.unison.ie/stories.php3?ca=33&si=1551997
2. http://www.medialens.org/alerts/04/040423
3. http://www.mafhoum.com/press4/114S25.htm

"On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency will convene in Vienna, with a proposal to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. It is not true that economic sanctions would not work without the support of Russia and China. Sanctions would slow the Iranian economy and mire the nuclear schedule. Sanctions would hurt an unpopular regime in Tehran, whereas an air strike would unite the people behind it. "

Martin Samuel in...
The Independent


Who's agenda?

Dear Ms Kennedy,

Friday's opinion piece outlines Hamas' options, choose either hate or reconciliation. Unfortunately the writer's interest in documenting the historical record is exposed in the last sentence, "[t]he real worry is that there may be no point in asking Hamas to change because the Palestinian people voted for an agenda of hate - not negotiation."[1]

Hamas have been and may well continue to be a organisation which utilizes aggression to cause political reaction, however, consecutive Israeli governments have been equally if not more committed to policies of aggression. It is therefore clear "Israelis have voted for an agenda of hate, not negotiation." Would any journalist supposedly committed to accurate reporting, that aims to avoid pitfalls such as shock tactics, make this statement?

Yours sincerely,

"Since 1989, readers can make contact with their representative in the Editor's Office to act on their behalf - seeking corrections or clarifications or explaining why none is warranted, as appropriate."[2]

1. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/
2. http://www.ireland.com/about/p_intro.htm


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Benevolent Terror

Kola Odetola doesn't sit on the fence. Agree or disagree, it's still a thinker.

via Media Lens Messageboard

[For more check out the Global Echo]

"Hamas and Winston Churchill

Hamas kills innocent people in a campaign of terror? yes they unnaceptably do. But so did Winston Churchill who launched a cruel campaign of ferocious terror bombing on German civilains during the second world war incinerating tens of thousands of women, pensioers and children in their own homes for the crime of being born German.

There was no ambiguity about the aim, it was to terrorise ordinary Germans into withdrawing support from their country's war effort, it was also a war crime, though you would struggle to hear it ever described thus in this part of the world

Historians, pundits and commentators and even many ordianry people accept it as a necessary evil aimed at preserving England's independence and ancient freedom's.

So why the outrage at the suicide bombings by Hamas on innocent civilains, acts cleary as cruel and cold blooded as the 'great' Churchill's and with the same objective, preserving the independence and rights of an equally historic people..

If the English are alowed to commit war crimes to defend their freedom's why aren't the Palestinians?

When the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, there was no attempt to disguise the objective - to so terrify the japanese people, who were the obvious target, as to not only force a surrender, but to serve as a chilling warning to all nations (especially non white ones) on the terrible consequences of threatening American freedoms and rights.

Can someone please tell me the difference between the bomb at Hiroshima and the one on a bus in jerusalem, beyond the fact that one probably killed a score, the other 100,000, and that one bomb was delivered by a person who was ready to kil but not to die, and the other by a person was at least ready to share the fate of those he murdered?

Can we honestly say, beneath all our fine sentiments and noble ideals that the rights of white nations are not regarded as more important, more valuable, far more unquestionable that those of darker skinned ones? Including the right to commit heinous crimes and get away, nay even be regarded as 'gisnts of history because of it?

Or maybe as Trotsky said it all depends on who writes the history.

So, probably if in 100 years time the Arabs restore the international dominance they lost 500 years ago, we'll see TV docu soaps of smiling distinguished guests, in savoil row suits and benevolent smiles discussing in between benign interuptions by a popular TV hostess and an engrossed, respectable audience, the merits of the two final candidates for the popular TV man of the century awards - Sheikh Yassin of Hamas or Ayatollah Nasarullah of Hizbollah?

Killers they might be but a hundred years earlier the series was one by an even bigger killer - Sir Winston Churchill."


Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas win democratic elections

" Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free." President Bush

US/UK finally succeed in bringing democracy to the Middle East (if we, for a second, forget the Israeli interference)?

Apparently not:

"Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, joined the US, Britain and other countries in calling on the Islamist group, which has killed hundreds of people in suicide bombings, to renounce violence and its goal of destroying Israel if it wants international recognition.

"If a government led by Hamas or in which Hamas is a coalition partner is established, the Palestinian Authority will turn into an authority that supports terror," said Mr Olmert. "Israel and the world will ignore it and make it irrelevant."

The Irish Times makes it's 'liberal' credentials clear:

"The Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas, responded quickly and it will soon be seen whether a coherent government can be formed. The real worry is that there may be no point in asking Hamas to change because the Palestinian people voted for an agenda of hate - not negotiation."

Who is that last sentence attributable to?

The latest poll asks "Is this the end of the Middle East peace process?"

One would be forgiven for wondering, "What Middle East peace protest?"

Politicians in Britain say Hamas must now renounce violence and it's illegal attacks on a sovereign nation.

Yesterday a Question Time audience member asked "Should Hamas listen to this sound advice or should it follow the lead of the British government and illegally invade Iraq?" The question was ignored.

Tony Blair recognises the problem:

"Of course, we recognise the mandate for Hamas, because the people have spoken in a particular way in the Palestinian Authority, but I think it is also important for Hamas to understand that there comes a point where they have to decide between a path of democracy or a path of violence."

But no one has called for Israel's recognition of Palestine, it's renunciation of violence and it's commitment to peace.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tolerating Intolerance

Cartoons, great wars and backward tribes. Responding to Kevin Myers latest article is a gargantuan task, not because it would take an encyclopedic knowledge and a saints patience, but because that's not the point. Mr. Myers doesn't want to understand Arab cultures or even amass a vague notion of them, his words are simply the dehumanisation of our new foe.

In the late 19th century Punch magazine portrayed the Irish as Neanderthals and described them as "the blight of their own land, and the curse of the Saxon." Savage and inhuman monsters are typical of any propaganda campaign, the ideas prey on our general ignorance, where simple facts such as the number of books translated into Arabic or the number of Arab intellectuals one can recall are offered as proof of barbarity. Selective evidencing at its finest, made all the more comical by Myers beration of Chomsky for the same thing.

There may be "millions of pious Arabs who know nothing whatever about the non-Arab world, and for whom the intellectual processes of enquiry, analysis, scepticism and logic are utterly alien," but having admitted this it would be prudent for one to admit there are also millions of westerns with the same deficiency when it comes to the orient.

Where Iraq is concerned, Iraqis are indeed fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq, they are fighting a war against foreign occupiers, foreign fighters, foreign influence. They are fighting pseudo democratic officials in pseudo democratic institutions and this is all in addition to surviving from day to day. History is not just history, it is sanctions, it is torture, it is poison gas, it is war and it is playing out as we write. Democratic rights do not extend only as far as the ballot box. Dissent in a democracy is an obligation. We don't relinquish responsibility for our elected leaders once they are in power, because we don't always get what they promise. That is why we see discrepancies in Iraqi opinion polls and that is why occupation forces remain.

Thankfully there is an underlying hope in Mr. Myers diary. The Irish Times' tolerance of Kevin Myers ravenous intolerance is a sure sign that history is a clever teacher.

An Irishman's Diary

"Chomsky is a chump - a brilliant and dysfunctional genius, like the autistic child who knows the day of every date in 2001 BC, but can't explain why we have a calendar. He inhabits a fantastic world, in which cabbalistic covens in Washington ruthlessly control the world, conducting genocides here and massacres there, diverting rivers to cause drought, felling rain forests and driving entire species into extinction. These cabals can do this undetected because they control the media - which is presumably why he got an almost unprecedented two-page interview in this newspaper last weekend...."

© The Irish Times


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Logical thoughts

Dear Madam,

In response to Sean Whelan's comments on Chomsky's 'perverse' logic, it should be pointed out that this 'perverse' logic it not necessarily his own. Martin van Creveld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a leading Israeli military historian made the statement that "Iran would be insane not to develop [WMD], surrounded by hostile and threatening nuclear powers, including the global superpower," Chomsky most likely referenced it. The logic is sound, it is the consequence that is perverse.

Yours etc...


"Madam, - In your edition of January 17th under an article entitled "Chomsky blames US for Iran crisis", you quote Noam Chomsky as follows: "Iran would be crazy if it did not develop nuclear weapons".

It is an unfortunate reality that Dr Chomsky's observations have almost a perverse logic to them. Contemporary Iranian history has been beleaguered by American intervention to the detriment of that country.

In 1953, with the collaboration of the British, the Americans helped to undermine the elected social democratic government of Iran. They installed the Shah, who acted as their enforcer in the region and guaranteed US control over the vast oil reserves.

It was in this political and social context that Islamic extremism filled the vacuum left by the subversion of the democratic government and heralded the rise to power of the Ayatollah Khomeni on popular anti-American sentiment.

Once again, along with its surrogate state in the region, Israel, the US is threatening military intervention against Iran. At a time when the mullahs and their constituency are being exposed to democratic and secular forces inside the country, America's posturing will rally the nation behind the current regime. For the Iranian people know that they can only guarantee and assert their independence by acquiring the ultimate sanction, namely a nuclear capability. - Yours, etc,

SEAN WHELAN, Nenagh, Co Tipperary."

The Irish Times


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Chomsky and the 'liberal' media

Just got back from Chomsky's lecture in UCD on 'Democracy'. In response to my (quite selfish) question (there were several journos present):

"My question concerns so called Western elites.

To what extent is the corporate media; The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Irish Independent etc complicit in Iraq's illegal war, as a result of their inaccurate portrayal of the case for war and the resulting conflict?"

[sorry, I'll have to paraphrase]

He said he could not account for Irish or British medias because he didn't read them enough (I felt he shied away from this) but he could say that based on the American media:

They are obliged to follow the political line, unable to deviate from it noticeably (inferring their complicity, but not stating it). He said critical analysis of the corporate media is essential. Saying, there is alot of this analysis in America, a small amount in Britain and very little elsewhere.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Sharia Law Europe

Kevin Myers posits in today's Irish Times that the present war in Iraq is part of a global fight against Islam, defeat there would mean Mark Steyn's hypothesis of a Sharia Law Europe would no doubt come true, sooner rather than later. I take issue with most if not all of Mr. Myers' article, but there is one outstanding issue, that of Iraq. The present conflict in Iraq has never been a war against Islamic extremism, what Mr. Myers simply defines as Islam of any sort, it was proposed out of the apparent defensive necessity. Defence against non-existent weapons of mass destruction it turns out. The rule of law, the absence of democracy, the subjection of human rights, these were never issues. Blair's official spokesperson, quoted in 2003; "If Saddam Hussein co-operates, if he's serious about disarmament, then he can stay in power."

If we are really to look at the result, not the process, what can we expect? Firstly, we can expect conditions in Iraq to remain relatively static for some time, the rebuilding of Iraq is no longer a coalition agenda. We can expect Shariah Law to begin to dominate. We can expect increased distrust of 'the West'. We can expect posturing, similar to that which Iraq experience in the 90's, towards Iran. The moral outcome is not a pretty sight and the process, as we all know, was disgusting.

To put Mr. Myer's generalising shoe on the other foot, a majority of Western people have supported their state officials in wars and sanctions costing tens of thousands of innocent lives for fear of people they know nothing about. Thankfully, enough 'cheap' blood has been spilt for that majority to realise the reality and oppose the sanctimonious scaremongering Mr. Myers frequents.

As for the Muslim takeover of Europe , they obviously have some lessons to be learnt. The 'Western' ethos of integration seen in Australia , North America and Israel is a much more effective model.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lest we forget

Blairs official spokesperson: "If Saddam Hussein co-operates, if he's serious about disarmament, then he can stay in power." (2003)

There was no ambiguity about the reasons for fighting. The only text which matters is the motion the Prime Minister put down in the House of Commons on 18 March, just before hostilities began. It asked members of Parliament to support the decision of Her Majesty's Government "that the United Kingdom should use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction".

There was nothing else in the motion other than citations of various United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Regime change was not a British war aim. It won't do as a post facto justification, however much we may have subsequently learnt about the murderous tyranny of Saddam Hussein. For in his speech on 18 March, the Prime Minister stated: "I have never put the justification for action as regime change. We have to act within the terms set out in resolution 1441 - that is our legal base." After a long and tense debate, the motion was carried in the teeth of substantial dissent in the Prime Minister's own party. (2003)

via Darren at Media Lens Messageboard


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Exchage with Iraqi human Rights Org

I forwarded the letter in the previous post to:

It seems support for US intervention is relative to what one stands to gain from it. Although it is nigh on impossible to argue with someone who has had first hand experience of what Saddam was. Though I'm sure some of those who have experience of what the US is in Iraq would have differing opinions.

Dear Khalid, (Spokesperson, Iraqi Human Rights Organization in Ireland)

This is a copy of an email I have forwarded to the Irish Times editor in response to your letter in the Times.

If this email was sent in error I apologise for any inconvenice.


To which:

Dear Dav,

Many thanks for your kind letter.

I hope to get some free time to write back to you about the many mistakes thatyou have made in your letter. Its problematic for non Iraqis who do not have adaily contacts with Iraqis inside Iraq and also do not know its history andculture to be accurate when they make dangerous conclusions about what is goingon in Iraq these days. Its like myself writing about the political map ofIreland without having enough information about the history and the Irishculture. However I can not wait to tell you about one of these mistakes, youare totally wrong to say that the "terrorists are focusing on the Iraqipolice". For your information the terrorists left 14 car bombs in manycivilians areas of Baghdad killing as I said indiscriminately the Innocentpeople of Iraq, it is so bad to have little knowledge and also it is painfulfor me to believe that you the civilized Western is given the killers who aretrying to create a new Taliban in Iraq an execuse to kill the Iraqi police whoare giving protection to our nation.I think this is enough for the time being.

Many thanks,

Dear Khalid,

Thank you for the thoughtful response.

However I feel you have misrepresented my point. I have not given any excuses for insurgent attacks. I have simply pointed out what researches have found to be the most reliable identification of insurgent targets.

The Sunday Telegraph recently reported the results of a poll undertaken by the British MoD, the results were a damning indication of the lack of support for coalition occupation. The poll found that "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks [on British troops] and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country."
Which also supports the findings of a report conducted by The Center for Strategic and International Studies at the end of 2004. It concluded that the Iraqi insurgency was "largely domestic in character, and had significant popular support," while the number of attacks on Coalition Forces accounted for approximately 75% of all attacks.

I am certainly not attempting to justify attacks on innocent civilians.


Dear Dav,

Thanks again. I am talking about what I have got from your letter and not whatyou have in your mind. I hope that you will try to read it again but as anneutral observer and see clearly for yourself if its not "a terroristssupportive letter".I do not want to go further but let me tell you that these 14 car bombs wereleft just during the last two days and killed many kids and elderly people andyou and others have no option here either to support the coming national unitygovernment or the terrorists.

Many thanks again,

Dear Khalid,

I accept you do not wish further correspondence so I will refer to my original email:

"it the courage of those who fight a +non-violent+ insurgency that will end occupation and prevent civil war."

Those that are fighting both occupation and the violent insurgents\r\nthrough peaceful means, such as protest, are the best hope for peace in Iraq.

Thanks for your time


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What the polls say

Dear Madam,

Khalid Ibrahim of the Iraqi Human Rights Organisation is guilty of the same mistakes he accuses Lara Marlowe of committing in Tuesday's Irish Times. He wrongly asserts that the insurgency is predominantly a foreign force bolstered by remnants of the Baathist party. The insurgency is in actuality largely home grown force and predominantly targets the US military. With the US fading back in terms of visibility in Iraq, preferring to increase even less accurate and accountable air strikes, today killing 14 members of the same family, the insurgent attacks are focusing on the Iraqi police, seen as collaborators.

While it is true many Iraqis live in relative peace, Iraq's most densely populated areas are still in the midst of conflict. This continuing crisis is seen by many Iraqis as a result of occupation. Most, if not all, polls conducted in the past two years have followed three repetitive themes, the need for security, the recognition of the legitimacy of the insurgency and the call for an end to occupation.
Dr. Khalid Ibrahim has admitted this sentiment before; "Of course, all Iraqis do not want occupation and want to end it but I am a supporter of international action," [1] but he now fails to find the link between the international action that led to the massacre following the first Gulf War and the present action that has now led to over 100,000 deaths.

He is right to pay tribute to the strength and the determination of the Iraqis to build a new democracy, it the courage of the peaceful insurgency that will end occupation and prevent civil war.

Yours sincerely,

1. Irish Examiner

Letter in the Irish Times:

Madam, - Lara Marlowe's review of the situation in Iraq (The Irish Times, December 29th) ignored all the healthy signs there and reached misleading conclusions.

There is no civil war in Iraq between Shia and Sunni as she claims. What we actually have is some suicidal bombers coming from abroad - accommodated by the Ba'athists who were involved with Saddam in killing Iraqis for more than 35 years - targeting indiscriminately the innocent people of Iraq.

It is not easy to stop those brainless killers knowing that they have bases and support from neighbouring dictatorships. However, they are active in certain pockets, while the rest of Iraq is calm and peaceful. You could visit many cities such as Najaf, Kerbala, Samawa, Erbi, Suleimanya, and see for yourself that people are making the best out of the new and first democratic era in the modern history of Iraq.

Millions of Iraqis participated in the three polls during 2005, despite the threats of the terrorists. These polls have been authenticated by the United Nations.

The turnout in the December 15th election was 70 per cent, with Sunnis going to the polling stations in massive numbers. The various political parties have now agreed to establish a national unity government which could be a reality very soon.

The trial of Saddam Hussein is another healthy sign of the new Iraq. The court has given him and his team of lawyers the freedom to say in public whatever they want - which does not mean that the court is afraid of Saddam, as suggested by Ms Marlowe. On the contrary, it means that the dictator is facing the justice that he never delivered to his 2 million victims, many of whom were killed and buried in mass graves without any trial.

Ms Marlowe quotes the former interim prime minister as saying human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad or worse as in the time of Saddam. All Iraqis know that this is not true. He said that for political gain during the last election in which he lost many seats. The reality is that we have hundred of political parties, newspapers, and independent TV stations and people are enjoying their freedom. Also many international institutions were invited to investigate any claim of torture in any location inside Iraq.

The democratic process in Iraq, which Ms Marlowe likes to put in quotation marks, is moving forward. We have to pay tribute to the strength and the determination of the Iraqis to build a new democracy in their country. Any fair-minded person can see its huge effects on a region marked by corrupt rulers and oppressive regimes. - Yours, etc,

KHALID IBRAHIM, Spokesperson, Iraqi Human Rights Organisation, Trinity College, Dublin 2

The Irish Times