The Nether-World

September 30, 2006

The re-Saddamification of Iraq

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Iraq — netherworld @ 6:31 am

A week ago I commented on a report from the UN’s chief anti-torture expert Manfred Nowak who said that torture in Iraq is now worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. In the same piece I also included an article which reported that mass executions have returned to Iraq.

It looks like these are not the only examples of the re-Saddamification of Iraq. The New York Times is reporting that journalists are experiencing the same censorship they suffered under Saddam Hussein’s regime. This is on top of the risks of getting killed or kidnapped that they face on a daily basis.

Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year.

Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison.
Source

So, remind me again, why did America and Britain invade Iraq? It wasn’t for WMD, or Saddam’s links to terrorism or to make the world any safer. Obviously it had nothing to do with installing a more benevolent government, and only a cynic would dare to mention that it had anything to do with oil… Oops!

Bush and Blair are still trying to portray the Iraq misadventure as a stunning success in the face of overwhelming evidence that shows this stance to be plainly ridiculous. The majority of Iraqi people want the occupation to end, senior British military officers are saying we should pull out. More reports from American and British intelligence are saying that the occupation of Iraq is increasing terrorism rather than defeating it. And yet Bush and Blair steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the evidence under their noses and the demands of the people they are supposed to answer to. They stubbornly cling to their delusions and pretend that this inflexibility is some kind of virtue rather than the crass stupidity it really is.

Now we find that Bush has been lying about the true extent of the violence against the coalition in Iraq.

The Bush administration has misled the American people about the level of violence in Iraq, where there is an attack by insurgent forces every 15 minutes, Bob Woodward, the investigative journalist, said yesterday.

In a new book, State of Denial, Woodward argues that the White House disregarded warnings from advisers in the autumn of 2003 that it needed thousands more troops to put down the insurgency. He says the administration continues to deny the gravity of the situation in Iraq because of Mr Bush’s conviction that it was right to go to war.

“It’s getting to the point now where there are 800-900 attacks a week. That’s more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces,” Woodward told CBS television in an interview to be aired tomorrow night.
Read on

Blair, in his speech to the Labour Party Conference, told us that by pulling out of Iraq “we will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril.” Bush spouts similar rubbish all the time. However the longer we stay in this quagmire, the stronger the enemy actually gets. Bush an Blair’s refusal to face reality gives strength to people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, who can now say with some justification:

“Bush, oh failure and liar, why can’t you be courageous for once and confront your people and tell them the truth about your losses in Iraq and Afghanistan?

“Why don’t you tell them how many million of citizens of America and its allies you intend to kill in search of the imaginary victory and in breathless pursuit of the mirage towards which you are driving your people’s sons in order to increase your profits?”
Source

Giving such an obvious propaganda victory to the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri is no way to win this so called ‘War on Terror’. It would be far better, surely, to listen to the experts and leave. Conventional wisdom says that when you are in a hole, stop digging. That’s not ‘cut and run’, it’s common sense.

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September 29, 2006

Message to the Government from the military: Leave Iraq

Filed under: Afghanistan, Bliar, Iraq — netherworld @ 8:34 am

During his Labour Party Conference speech, Tony Blair said that retreating from Iraq would be “a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril” and that “there are no half-hearted allies of America today”.

That doesn’t seem to be a view shared by senior British military officers. To the dismay of their American counterparts, they want to withdraw from Iraq, which looks more like a lost cause every day, and focus on Afghanistan where they think there is a slight possibility they might be more successful.

Senior military officers have been pressing the government to withdraw British troops from Iraq and concentrate on what they now regard as a more worthwhile and winnable battleground in Afghanistan.

They believe there is a limit to what British soldiers can achieve in southern Iraq and that it is time the Iraqis took responsibility for their own security, defence sources say. Pressure from military chiefs for an early and significant cut in the 7,500 British troops in Iraq is also motivated by extreme pressure being placed on soldiers and those responsible for training them.

[…]

Political arguments, including strong US pressure against British troop withdrawals, have won, at least for the moment. US generals in Iraq privately made it clear they were deeply unhappy about British talk of troop reductions and complained that the British seemed interested only in the south of the country.
Source

The only people now believing in the Iraq mission are the Bush administration and Tony Blair. When the top military brass think that the war is lost, it really is time to give up.

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That awful John Reid speech

Filed under: John Reid, Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 6:39 am

Unsurprisingly, we’ve heard a lot of crap from the Labour Party Conference, from Gordon Brown’s lackluster attempt to look electable, to Tony Blair’s polished but deluded messianic garbage to John Prescott’s apologetic swansong. However, the most dreadful speech of the conference was delivered by the Home Secretary, John Reid. For those wanting to see the really scary side of New Labour in all its horror and hypocrisy, it didn’t disappoint (no wonder Roy Hattersly contemplated shooting himself if Reid ever becomes Prime Minister, an idea that Reid seemed to relish). Other bloggers with stronger stomachs have covered his performance so there is no need for me to repeat what they have been saying, except for this point which does bear repeating [links added by me]:

There are, and there will be, no “no-go areas” in our country for any of our people, whatever our background, colour or creed.

We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like and we will never be brow-beaten by bullies.

That’s what it means to be British.
Source

New Labour is responsible for prohibiting protests outside Parliament without prior permission. The very conference hall where Reid spoke these words was a “no-go area” for all but the most sycophantic New Labour loyalists. Reid is being presented as the Blairite alternative leader to Gordon Brown. I wouldn’t want either of these clowns as Prime Minister, but the thought of Reid at the helm of New Labour’s sinking ship is a nightmare scenario that should have us all very worried indeed.

Here’s what some other bloggers have been saying:

BlairWatch
Big Stick and a Small Carrot
Obsolete

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September 28, 2006

The continuing delusions of Bush and Blair

Filed under: Uncategorized — netherworld @ 7:02 am

The gulf between the fantasy world of the Bush/Blair axis and the real world is getting wider. This is particularly evident when listening to the utter drivel spouted by these leaders in their recent speeches and comparing their views with the findings of more qualified professionals and, well, just about everybody else.

Tony Blair at the Labour Party Conference September 2006

“This terrorism isn’t our fault. We didn’t cause it. It’s not the consequence of foreign policy.”
Source

Ministry of Defence thinktank

“The war in Iraq … has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world … Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaida has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act.”
Source

George Bush September 2006

“America is safer and America is winning the War on Terror.”
Source

Declassified excerpt from the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Trends in Global Terrorism released on Tuesday 26 September 2006.

We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.
Source

UN Report 27 September 2006

“New explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of their first appearing in Iraq,” said the report. “And while the Taliban have not been found fighting outside Afghanistan/Pakistan, there have been reports of them training in both Iraq and Somalia.”
Source

Maintaining these unrealistic positions on the ‘War on Terror’ despite all the evidence which points to the contrary and advice from their own experts, demonstrate just how deluded and dangerous these people are.

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September 23, 2006

Another Mass Lone Demonstration

Filed under: Protest — netherworld @ 4:55 pm

Mark ThomasOnce again a group of people descended on Parliament Square to defend the right to peacful protest which is being eroded thanks to the SCOPA laws (.pdf). Like last time it was completely legal as everyone had applied for permission from the police a week beforehand. It was by no means a massive protest and was perhaps a little smaller than the previous gathering. However the atmosphere was just as friendly.

The different issues that people were protesting against were just as amusing as last time.

Some favorites were:

  • Ban all grammatical mistakes on signs
  • Equal rights for pigeons
  • Down with people who dress as the Spanish Inquisition
  • Stop putting bits in cheese
  • Ban the bendy bus (I wholeheatedly agree)

 

Bendy Bus

There were of course many more issues being protested both funny and serious. My attempts at photographing the event using just the camera on my mobile phone were predictably unsuccessful so all these photos are from Gareth at D-Notice. He has more pictures which you can see here.

 

Gareth

These Mass Lone Demonstrations are set to become a regular event. After the protest it was decided by a show of hands to hold this event on the third Wednesday of every month at the same time (6pm – 7pm). On Wednesdays MPs are still in Parliament so they will see the protest. Of course as the winter draws in it will be darker, colder and probably wetter so if you plan on coming to future protests remember to dress appropriately and bring provisions.

 

Grammatical mistakes on signs

If the weather becomes too bad to hang about outside Parliament, Tony Blair’s local pub isn’t such a bad place to go for some refreshment (and that is exactly what Gareth and I did once the protest was over). Hopefully these protests will grow in size as people realise the right to protest is a fundamental element of a democracy.

 

Two lovely protesters

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September 22, 2006

Torture in Iraq worse than under Saddam

Filed under: Iraq, Torture — netherworld @ 12:34 am

We are constantly hearing from the Bush/Blair axis how much better things are without Saddam despite all the evidence that points to the contrary. In March 2004 Tony Blair said:

I have no doubt Iraq is better without Saddam; but no doubt either, that as a result of his removal, the dangers of the threat we face will be diminished.
Source

And just a week ago Dick Cheney said:

“It’s still difficult, and obviously there is major, major work ahead of us. But the fact is the world is better off today with Saddam Hussein out of power.”
Source

Those are just a couple of examples, obviously there are plenty more. So perhaps all those people who supported the war in Iraq would care to explain this:

Torture may be worse now in Iraq than under former leader Saddam Hussein, the UN’s chief anti-torture expert says.
Source

Or this:

The brutal excesses of Saddam Hussein’s regime were relived yesterday as Iraq’s new government announced that it had hanged 27 prisoners convicted of terror and criminal charges.
Source

A few bad apples?, Anomalies? The birth pangs of a new Middle East? Well I guess they will point out that it it isn’t coalition troops doing all this torture and murder. Apart from insurgents, these barbaric acts are being carried out by the Iraqi security services who were trained by … er, us.

 

 

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September 21, 2006

Israel makes a withdrawal from the West Bank

Filed under: israel, Palestine — netherworld @ 1:36 pm

However, it’s not the kind of withdrawal that the Palestinians were hoping for. Rather than leave illegally occupied territory, the IDF (the most moral army in the world) has taken to robbing banks… again.

Israeli troops have raided a bank and the offices of money-changers in West Bank towns, confiscating funds they say were intended to fund militants.

The army said it seized almost $1.5m (£0.8m) in raids on premises in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm and Ramallah.

The money had mostly come from Syria and Iran and was intended for Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, the army said.

Palestinian sources have said that millions of dollars, documents and files were “stolen” in the raids. At least eight currency exchange offices and a small bank were destroyed, the Israeli army said.
Source

Not content with withholding Palestinian tax revenue and persuading America and Europe to cut aid to the desperate PA in order to starve the Palestinians into recognising the kleptocracy which has stolen their land, Israel has stooped to helping itself to the meagre funds remaining. This is not the first time that Israel has resorted to robbing Palestinian banks using the excuse that what little money the Palestinians have is obviously for the use of terrorism. In 1994 the IDF raided four banks stealing millions of dollars in cash.

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September 19, 2006

Time to tell Blair to go

Filed under: Bliar, Nu Labour, Protest — netherworld @ 5:38 am

 

Manchester Demo

This weekend the Labour Party will hold its annual party conference in Manchester. With all the recent drama over the leadership of the Party, the litany of policy failures and a looming NHS strike, it should be an interesting event. Not that New Labour is planning to let anyone but the most loyal of party members into the conference. Rather than have another repetition of last year when an 80 year old refugee from Nazi Germany was roughed up and manhandled out of the auditorium for shouting “nonsense”, the Party intend to strictly veto attendees.

However this is the best chance we will have to send Tony Blair an unequivocal message:

 

It’s Time To Go!

 

The Stop The War Coalition, with other groups, is organising one of its most important demonstrations so far. A huge protest is planned in Manchester on September 23 at 1:00 pm. If you are able to make it to Manchester this Saturday, I urge you to attend an help deliver to Tony this very simple message which he is having so much difficulty understanding. For full details of the protest including information on coaches and trains as well as a map of central Manchester with relevant meeting points and the route, please click here.

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The damage to Lebanon’s cultural heritage

Filed under: Culture, Lebanon — netherworld @ 4:31 am

The recent conflict in Lebanon, as well as causing over 1,000 civilian deaths and ruination of the country’s infrastructure, has also damaged some of the world’s most important archaeological sites. The worst damage is to the ancient port city of Byblos which is badly affected by the huge oil spill caused when Israel deliberately bombed the Jieh power plant several times causing the release of 15,000 tons of oil which has created the worst environmental disaster in the Mediterranean. The ancient stone harbour is now coated in thick toxic sludge.

Byblos, which has been continuously inhabited for more than 7,000 years, is still suffering from the oilslick.

The Lebanese authorities have not been able to clear up the oil, which leaked when the power station at Jiyyeh south of Beirut was bombed by the Israelis.

As the wave reaches the shore in Byblos, more oil is brought in from the Mediterranean Sea.

This is a town that has been invaded by many civilizations – but a man-made environmental disaster now threatens the port.
Source

Unless urgent action is taken soon the damage will become permanent. Other historic sites, although not directly bombed were damaged by the vibrations of nearby bombing. Particularly endangered are the splendid Roman ruins of Baalbek, some of the finest examples of imperial Roman architecture outside of Italy. Cracks in the lintel stones have widened and in Tyre frescoes have also been damaged on a Roman tomb.

Unesco is launching an urgent appeal for funds to restore these world heritage sites.

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September 15, 2006

New Labour getting its priorities right

Filed under: Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 12:15 pm

New Labour appear to be trying to figure out a way to close hospitals without it costing them votes.

Ministers have denied reports that prominent Labour ministers and officials have met to work out ways of closing hospitals without jeopardising marginal seats.

The Times on Friday revealed an email passed which showed that the meeting included Labour chairman Hazel Blears and political advisers from Number 10.

The emails show that health secretary Patricia Hewitt asked for ‘heat maps’ to be provided, which indicate where hospital closures or reorganisation of health services could cost votes in marginal constituencies.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “There is a secret political debate going on to try to minimise the damage to the Labour Party.”

But speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, health minister Rosie Winterton said the meeting was simply seeking to take “a longer view in terms of political developments”.

She said it was “absolutely not” the case that decisions on hospital closures were taken at the meeting.
Source

It’s nice to see Labour’s priorities; not ‘how do we stop this sort of thing?’ but ‘how do we get away with this sort of thing?’ One way of getting away with it seems to be to close hospitals in constituencies not held by Labour

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