The Nether-World

June 3, 2007

Iraq Update

Filed under: Bush, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 12:01 pm

It’s been a while since I posted anything on Iraq. There doesn’t seem much point in relaying the latest horrors here as they are always superceded by new ones, but it is worth looking at some of the broader developments. First off, General Sir Michael Rose has come out with what may be his strongest statement yet on the futility of a continued coalition presence in Iraq.

“There is no way we are going to win the war and (we should) withdraw and accept defeat because we are going to lose on a more important level if we don’t,” he said.

Well obviously many of us have been saying this for years, but will anyone listen to this senior military officer who has been saying things like this for a while now. There is going to be a reduction of British troops we are told, but Gordon Brown hasn’t specifically said anything about a full withdrawal yet. On the other side of the pond retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez has echoed General Sir Michael Rose by saying that the United States can forget about winning the war.

“I think if we do the right things politically and economically with the right Iraqi leadership we could still salvage at least a stalemate, if you will – not a stalemate but at least stave off defeat,” retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said in an interview.

As for the Bush administration, well they are certainly not listening. America is digging in and plans to stay for at least 50 years it seems.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and a senior U.S. commander said yesterday that they favor a protracted U.S. troop presence in Iraq along the lines of the military stabilization force in South Korea.

Gates told reporters in Hawaii that he is thinking of “a mutual agreement” with Iraq in which “some force of Americans . . . is present for a protracted period of time, but in ways that are protective of the sovereignty of the host government.” Gates said such a long-term U.S. presence would assure allies in the Middle East that the United States will not withdraw from Iraq as it did from Vietnam, “lock, stock and barrel.”

Hmmm, does anyone remember what Donald Rumsfeld was saying at the start of all this?

“It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months,” he said, speaking at the American air base at Aviano, in northern Italy.

Of course Dubya keeps on insisting that US troops are occupying Iraq at the invitation of the ‘sovereign’ Iraqi government.

We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It’s their government’s choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.

The thing is the majority of members of the Iraqi parliament are saying “Leave”. Bush isn’t worried by such a trifling detail however and is pressing ahead with the long term occupation. After all, he still has an obedient Nouri al-Maliki to repeat the increasingly threadbare spin.

The U.S.-backed Shiite leader also dismissed concerns that U.S. forces would stay in Iraq for 50 years following a White House comparison to the U.S. presence in South Korea.

 

“This is baseless because this matter is up to the Iraqi people and the government, and the Iraqi people did not make a decision yet, and discussion on this matter did not take place,” al-Maliki said.

I wonder why that discussion hasn’t yet taken place. From the same source we learn that Turkey is massing its troops on its border with northern Iraq in preparation for a possible military incursion against Kurdish separatists. Somehow Mr al-Maliki’s warning to Turkey seems a little hollow.

“Secondly, the Iraqi territory should be respected, and we will not allow it to become a battleground,” he added. “As we don’t want to harm neighboring countries, so we don’t want the others to enter the Iraqi territory with a military incursion or fight of any kind.”

You what? It’s a bit late to start complaining now about foreign armies entering Iraq isn’t it? Just what the mighty Iraqi army would do in the event of a Turkish incursion is an interesting question. A more interesting question is what would the Americans do? Turkey and Iran are both concerned about Kurdish separatists but Turkey is allied with the USA whereas Iran is enemy number one. America wouldn’t want anything to interfere with the enormous fortress they are having constructed for them at such a cost in lives and money (about the only thing that is being built in Iraq). The plans for the new ’embassy’ were hurriedly removed from the architect’s website we are told because the State department does not want them to be in the public domain. Could these be the plans and drawings they are so worried about? It doesn’t look like a temporary installation does it?

Meanwhile the bombing of Iraqis by the USAF continues with very little reporting on it. May saw The US military’s highest casualty rate since November 2004.The ‘surge’  seems to be every bit the failure it was predicted it would be. Six out of ten Americans now believe the war was a mistake (you really have to wonder about the other four in ten). Perhaps it’s this siege mentality which is making the Democrats cave in to every demand made by the idiot in chief and making them look identical to their Republican ‘rivals’.

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May 26, 2007

Under The Weather

Filed under: Civil Liberties, Fruitbats, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 4:33 am

Sorry about the lack of posts. I seem to have come down with some nasty lurgy which is making staring at a computer screen for any great length of time give me a headache (not to mention the blocked sinuses, fever, aching muscles and hacking cough), and stringing a coherent sentence together is difficult. So as a total cop-out, here are ten other stories collected over the week (in no rational order) that are worth reading:

  • Ministry of Truth on John Reid’s latest attack on our freedoms.

  • Mask of Anarchy on McDonald’s efforts to to have the word “McJob” removed from the dictionary.

  • Rachel has returned from her honeymoon only to face yet more abuse from a batshit cyber-stalker and is asking for help.

  • Grimmerupnorth on why Jon Cruddas is a dishonourable hypocrite who should not be elected to the Deputy Leadership.

  • Not Saussure on yet another attack on our civil liberties by our wonderful government.

  • Blood & Treasure on the latest ratcheting up of the hate campaign against Iran.

  • Ten Percent on America’s renewed sabre rattling against Iran and on just who is really supporting Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon.

  • Lenin’s Tomb on the secret air war in Iraq.

  • Tears for Lebanon on the misery that the Lebanese people are facing.

  • Obsolete on Margaret Hodge’s latest outburst in favour of the BNP (supported by Hazel Blears no less).

Hopefully I’ll be back to ‘normal’ blogging as soon as I feel a bit better.

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April 29, 2007

Crocodile Tears From The First Lady

Filed under: Bush, Iraq — netherworld @ 12:46 pm

What an utterly stupid thing to say! The Raw Story (via Agitprop) has a report of an interview with Laura Bush conducted by NBC’s Ann Curry. The interview was about Malaria Awareness Day but Ann Curry asked about other things and that led to a question about Iraq:

MS. CURRY: I also asked Mrs. Bush about other challenges her husband is facing.

(To Mrs. Bush.) You know the American people are suffering watching —

MRS. BUSH: Oh, I know that very much. And believe me, no one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this, and certainly the commander in chief, who has asked our military to go into harm’s way.

Yup, that’s right, the suffering of the Iraqis in their ruined country or of the families of dead and maimed coalition soldiers pales into insignificance when compared with the suffering of Dubya and his Stepford wife who agonize over every casualty. Can you picture them in the residential part of the White House or on their Crawford ranch in front of the TV sobbing at the news of death of yet another American soldier the way his parents would? No, somehow I can’t either.

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Riverbend Is Leaving Iraq

Filed under: Blogging, Iraq — netherworld @ 9:31 am

I suppose this was predictable as Iraq becomes more and more dangerous. Riverbend the Iraqi author of the excellent Baghdad Burning blog is leaving Iraq along with her family (via Blairwatch).

On a personal note, we’ve finally decided to leave. I guess I’ve known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?

Since last summer, we had been discussing it more and more. It was only a matter of time before what began as a suggestion- a last case scenario- soon took on solidity and developed into a plan. For the last couple of months, it has only been a matter of logistics. Plane or car? Jordan or Syria? Will we all leave together as a family? Or will it be only my brother and I at first?

After Jordan or Syria- where then? Obviously, either of those countries is going to be a transit to something else. They are both overflowing with Iraqi refugees, and every single Iraqi living in either country is complaining of the fact that work is difficult to come by, and getting a residency is even more difficult. There is also the little problem of being turned back at the border. Thousands of Iraqis aren’t being let into Syria or Jordan- and there are no definite criteria for entry, the decision is based on the whim of the border patrol guard checking your passport.

An airplane isn’t necessarily safer, as the trip to Baghdad International Airport is in itself risky and travelers are just as likely to be refused permission to enter the country (Syria and Jordan) if they arrive by airplane. And if you’re wondering why Syria or Jordan, because they are the only two countries that will let Iraqis in without a visa. Following up visa issues with the few functioning embassies or consulates in Baghdad is next to impossible.

So we’ve been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees- the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare- stay and wait and try to survive.

On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else- as yet unknown- is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I’ve had since the age of four? Is there room for E.’s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?

The problem is that we don’t even know if we’ll ever see this stuff again. We don’t know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends… And to what?

Read the whole post

I can’t begin to imagine the horrors that Riverbend and all Iraqis have had to put up with since the illegal invasion and subsequent catastrophe. I hope that wherever she ends up, she and her family will be safe and either be able to return one day or find a better life somewhere else. I’ve been reading her blog regularly over the last few years and it always provided a unique, personal insight into the tragedy that Iraq has become. I’ll miss her posts from Iraq but getting the hell out of there seems like the most sensible thing to do. Wherever she ends up I hope she keeps writing as she has a real gift for it. Good luck Riverbend.

*UPDATE*

Ten Percent has an interesting post on how hard it is for Iraqi refugees to enter the United States (Britain isn’t taking many in either).

 

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April 13, 2007

Bush Tells It Like It Is

Filed under: Bush, Iraq — netherworld @ 1:18 am

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There isn’t a lot you can say about the recent bombing of the Iraqi Parliament that hasn’t been said before. Despite more troops in Baghdad with the so-called surge, things just keep getting worse, as indeed, those against this tactic warned. Now even the most secure parts of the city can be attacked. It must be having the same affect on American morale as the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam war, especially when coupled with the complete destruction of a well guarded bridge on the same day.

The thing that struck me about this bombing (apart from the sheer audacity of it) was Bush’s inane ramblings about it. If Bush was left speechless about the attack, he really shouldn’t have tried speaking. It wasn’t just the Iraqi MP’s who were out to lunch.

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March 22, 2007

Tony Blair And Depleted Uranuim

Filed under: Bliar, Iraq — netherworld @ 7:59 pm

A petition on the Downing Street website which asked the Prime Minister to Ban the use of DU (depleted uranium) weapons in warfare, has now expired. Because I signed this petition, I received an e-mail with a link to the part of the site which has Tony Blair’s reasons for dismissing this petition (along with all the others). This is what he had to say:

The Government considers that the country’s Armed Forces deserve the very best equipment with which to protect themselves and to succeed in conflict. At present, the best anti-tank munition for the Army’s Challenger Main Battle tanks is the 120 mm anti-tank depleted uranium (DU) round. This round will remain part of our arsenal for the foreseeable future because the use of DU is legal and because its use does not present the health risks suggested by a very small minority of scientists.

DU is only weakly radioactive and this is agreed by independent expert groups. Many independent reports have been produced that consider the battlefield effects of using DU munitions. These are available on the World Wide Web and include work by the Royal Society, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). No widespread DU contamination sufficient to impact the health of the general population or deployed personnel has been found in environmental surveys and no traces of DU have been found in urine samples collected from several hundred UK veterans who have served in both Gulf conflicts and the Balkans. In short, contrary to popular belief there is no reliable scientific or medical evidence to link DU with ill-health or with birth defects.

Media reports of DU-induced cancers and birth defects in Iraq have not been substantiated with credible scientific evidence. Many other factors need to be considered as possible causes, for example, some scientists have blamed the former Iraqi Government’s use of chemical weapons on its own citizens.

Really? I suppose you can draw that conclusion if you withhold research into the effects of DU.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2001 said they posed only a small contamination risk.

But a senior UN scientist said research showing how depleted uranium could cause cancer was withheld.

Blair’s statement seems to have been largely lifted from the MOD website. The same website also states that the cleanup of DU contamination in Iraq is being left to the Iraqi government. So why would the US military make tape warning of the effects of depleted uranium and then not show it to troops? UK personnel in Iraq were issued with this Depleted Uranium information card by the MOD:

MOD Card:

“DU Information Card (introduced 03/03) F Med 1018

You have been deployed to a theatre where Depleted Uranium(DU) munitions have been used.

DU is a weakly radioactive heavy metal, which has the potential to cause ill health

You may have been exposed to dust containing DU during your deployment

Further Information

You are eligiable for a urine test to measure uranium.
If you wish to know more about having this test, you should consult your unit medical officer on return to your home base.
Your medical officer can provide information about the health effects of DU.
Information is also available on the MOD web site:

A useful resource on Depleted Uranium munitions an be found at the Campaign against Depleted Uranium. There you can find reports about the effects of DU and links to other sites on the subject.

Just as a reminder of what we are talking about, here is an old video about the effects of Depleted Uranium from the beginning of the Iraq War (warning, this video is highly emotive and has some very disturbing images).

The use of DU munitions, though not illegal under international law, does go against established principles of humanitarian law. Belgium has now banned uranium weapons, the first country to do so. This ban will affect US shipments of uranium ammunition and armour plate via the port of Antwerp. Obviously there is at the very least a question over the safety of the use of DU munitions which was reported on as far back as 2003 if not earlier. To dismiss the call for a ban on these weapons out of hand seems irresponsible in the extreme.

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February 28, 2007

Help Make Ugly Rumours Number One

Filed under: Bliar, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 2:15 pm

*UPDATED*

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This is one of the best ideas the Stop The War Coalition has come up with; to get an anti-war song into the charts on the fourth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. And the idea seems to be working. At last Saturday’s massive protest, thousands of people bought the song using their mobile phones after it was successfully plugged by George Galloway. The song is actually quite good in my opinion; soulful and funky at the same time, and it has been a while (as far as I know) since a song has entered the charts which has any meaningful content.

The Song is called WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and it is a cover of an Edwin Starr song played by a band called Ugly Rumours. If that name sounds familiar, it should – it’s the same name as Tony Blair’s student band. According to Music Week magazine, early sales suggest the song will go into the top 10, the BBC reports.

Ben Grey, who produced the song, told the BBC News website: “We wanted to try and reach the people who might be more into watching X-Factor than listening to politics.

“Marches and rallies can be dismissed and ignored but a hit record will mean everyone is talking about this issue.”

Next month marks the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Mr Grey said: “Imagine what a message it would send to the world if this record was number one during that anniversary.”

So, by now, hopefully, you’ll be wondering how to get hold of the song. I’ll leave it to the Stop The War Coalition to explain:

Thousands of protestors on yesterday’s magnificent TROOPS OUT / NO TRIDENT demonstration used their mobile phones to buy the Tony Blair spoof record WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR.
http://www.uglyrumours.com

We need your help. Join the many thousands who have already bought WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and we can get it into the Top 10. Buying the record is extremely simple. There are two methods:

If you have a mobile phone, all you have to do is text PEACE1 to 78789. This will charge £1.50 to your mobile phone bill and you will immediately get a text message explaining how you will receive WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

To buy the record online, go to http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj and follow the instructions for downloading WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

For just £1.50 you can get a prime minister into the charts with a song for peace, but of course we want to do more than embarrass Tony Blair. We want his warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan to end immediately. We want to help stop plans to attack Iran. We think Tony Blair should be held accountable for war crimes. Getting the spoof Blair record into the Top 10 can play a part in publicising the anti-war message, which represents the view of the majority in this country who oppose the Bush-Blair wars.

Please buy WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? now and encourage as many people as you can to do the same.

TO BUY:

  1. Mobile Phone text message PEACE1 to 78789
  2. or

  3. Download at http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj

Demonstrations are all well and good, and, of course, very necessary, but they do tend to be ignored and the police, with the help of the media, are less than honest about the numbers of people who turn up. Making this single Number One in the charts will send a strong message to Tony Blair and his gang of warmongers and pile even more embarrassment onto him. That’s £1.50 well spent as far as I’m concerned. Here is the video on YouTube to entice you further (plays better second time).

*UPDATE*

I’m hearing from Lenin’s Tomb that the BBC has already banned the single as it entered the Top Ten, fearing that its anti-war message will offend our very pro-war government. Needless to say, I think this is a very dumb move by the BBC. Banned songs have a tendency to rocket up the charts and if questions are asked in Parliament about the banning of the song (as George Galloway MP is threatening to) then that will be even more publicity for the song and further embarrassment, not just for the Prime Minister, but also for the BBC.

This demonstrates what a good idea the producing and publicising of this single was. Now there is even more of a reason to buy this single. Please buy the single from here or text “peace1” to 78789 and strike a blow not just for peace but also for freedom of expression.

 

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February 25, 2007

The February Stop The War Protest In London

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Democracy, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 3:40 am

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All in all, the Stop The War protest was a fun day out as well as a serious exercise in democracy and (it seems) the only way to get heard these days. I emerged from Hyde Park Corner tube station into pouring rain thinking that it would be as miserable an experience as the tube journey (no Northern or Victoria lines so the Piccadilly line was very overcrowded). Anyway the weather cleared up shortly after I met up with Rachel and the rest of the day was very pleasant.

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It was obvious from the beginning that this was going to be a very large demonstration, there were hoards of people at Speakers Corner and the march didn’t get started until about 1:30 PM and people were still arriving. We positioned ourselves close to some excellent drummers to keep our energy up and we were entertained by some performers dressed in funky day-glow skeleton costumes, a bit like a 21st Century Danse Macabre I thought, only funnier.

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The route the march took was down Park Lane then down Piccadilly into Haymarket and finally into Trafalgar Square for the rally. That short distance took over two hours which should help give an idea of how many people there were. Sky News was apparently reporting ‘several hundred people’, I heard that the police said there were 10,000 protesters while the organisers claimed 60,000 (George Galloway said it was 100,000). From the ground it was impossible to tell but based on previous demonstrations I guessed (and this is just a guess) between 40,000 and 50,000 people turned up. Both Rachel and I had the foresight to take our hip flasks with us. Mine had Cognac and Rachel’s had whiskey and when you’re shuffling along a few swigs definitely helps. We also had whistles so we could contribute to the drumming and chanting.

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Meanwhile, back at Blairwatch H.Q., Tom had the good idea of live blogging the event, the plan being that I’d send pictures from my camera phone and he’d put them on-line. So I put away my digital camera and tried taking pictures on the mobile. I then spent what seemed like the best part of an hour fiddling with the settings in previously unseen menus because although my phone has a nice 1.3 mega pixel camera, you can’t send any picture via MMS which is more than 100 kb in size. Luckily Rachel came to the rescue and sent a steady stream of photos to Blairwatch with her phone until I sorted mine out.

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Trafalgar Square was totally packed when we arrived and it was very difficult to move about. However, we did eventually manage to find a way to the top of some steps where we watched some of the speeches. The best speech by far was that of Mark Thomas.

 

George Galloway too made a rousing speech. The organisers had erected a large video screen so even at the distance we were at, we could see whoever was speaking. The sound was very clear too, so well done to the organisers for that.

 

When Yvonne Riddley started speaking we took that as our hint to call it a day and locate a nice cosy pub for some refreshment (after a bit of a search we settled on Le Garrick and very nice it was too). After that it was time to brave the tube again and it was even more crowded than before.

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I didn’t watch any news reports on television about the event but you can see the BBC report on-line here. You can also see more photos on my Flickr site. Hopefully the demonstration succeeded in showing the Government just how much opposition there is to the Iraq war and to the renewal of Trident. I hope it also sent a warning to Blair about involving himself in the coming war in Iran. The people are no longer buying the bullshit he’s been peddling and they are sick of the continuous wars that will be his legacy.

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Anyway it was a fun way to make the point, all the more so by having such good company.

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More Bloggage and some nice pictures over at Lenin’s Tomb. There are also good reports from The Disillusioned Kid, The Heathlander and Devises Melting Pot. If I find any more reports I’ll post the links. Feel free to let me know in the comments of any more reports.

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February 12, 2007

The Coming War On Iran

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, israel, Protest, US Politics — netherworld @ 10:42 am

I have been trying to avoid writing about Iran for the last week or so; partly in order to focus on other issues and partly because it is such an awful and depressing situation that it’s easy to become obsessed with it. However, the drumbeat of war is getting louder so it’s time for an update.

On February 24 there will be another demonstration in London against the Iraq war and the looming war in Iran. In my next post I’ll provide details, but this is roundup is to show why we need to protest. It’s been nearly four years since the invasion of Iraq and all the lies we were told in the build up to it. History is now repeating itself. Just as Iraq was demonised with disinformation, so Iran is today. America insists it is not planning for a war with Iran, however all the signs point to the contrary. In fact former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy believes World War III has already begun. It seems that Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former chief of staff of the Russian Army, was right when he said that there would be an attack “within weeks” predicting that it would start in April:

“we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc.”

Lo and behold, what do we see now?

The United States is moving closer to war with Iran by accusing the “highest levels” of the Iranian government of supplying sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed 170 US troops and wounded 620.

The allegations against Iran are similar in tone and credibility to those made four years ago by the US government about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of 2003.

Senior US defence officials in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed the bombs were manufactured in Iran and smuggled across the border to Shia militants in Iraq. The weapons, identified as “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs) are said to be capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

How very timely! Note the “speaking on condition of anonymity“. Perhaps they are not as certain as we are being led to believe by some media outlets.
Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East History has a little more detail. He debunks the New York Times article which claims that:

In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.

Sounds quite authorative and convincing doesn’t it? However Juan cole says:

This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.–and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers. It is true that some casualties were in “East Baghdad” and that Baghdad is beginning to rival al-Anbar as a cemetery for US troops:

Hmmm, the assertions aren’t quite so convincing now are they? As always, it’s the timing of these claims that are suspect. As America makes these claims and denies provoking Iran, a third Navy carrier group is about to follow the second carrier group already steaming toward the Persian Gulf. At the same time as this news emerges, we hear that Israel has been testing a missile system as a “message to Iran“. And this is of course after numerous Israeli threats and an alleged attempt to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

Iran in the meantime still maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it poses no threat to Israel. Of course America, Britain and Israel refuse to believe the Iranian claim. As John Pilger points out:

Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations – until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear programme to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to “go anywhere and see anything”. They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei says that an attack on Iran will have “catastrophic consequences” and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

Compare this threatening behaviour with the complete lack of concern about Israeli plans to build a nuclear power station despite having an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a reputation for flaunting international law as well as a habit of bombing its neighbours and ethnically cleansing the illegally held land it has conquered. As Pilger mentions, Israel has not signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has and wants to stay within the rules.

Iran is not defenceless; it too has been testing missiles and it has a formidable military bolstered by a state of the art air defence system purchased from Russia. On top of this, it can create havoc in Iraq and Lebanon and also destabilise oil supplies by blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes. But it is unknown whether it can see off an American/Israeli attack. A war, if it happens, will be conducted largely from the air. If there is to be any invasion, it would be in the small area known as Khuzestan where 90 percent of Iran’s oil comes from (ironically this was the area Saddam Hussein tried to invade with American backing).

The calls for attacking Iran are, of course, coming from the neo con part of the Bush administration personified by Dick Cheney and advised by the American Enterprise Institute. The plan is to taunt Iran into doing something which would give America an excuse to respond. It is assumed that an attack on Iran would disguise the total failure of the Iraq mission. The Bush administration is now planning for the inevitable failure of the ill-advised “surge”. This bare faced aggression has prompted Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (of all people) to make some very critical statements about America.

“What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master…

“It has nothing in common with democracy because that is the opinion of the majority taking into account the minority opinion…

“People are always teaching us democracy but the people who teach us democracy don’t want to learn it themselves.”

Needless to say, his statements have sparked a war of words between Washington and Moscow. Putin might be a fine one to talk about democracy and abuse of power but that doesn’t make what he said about America any less true.

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January 28, 2007

A Quick Question

Filed under: Iraq, Media, Protest — netherworld @ 6:05 am

Has anyone else wondered why the BBC would spend so much time covering the anti-Iraq war protests in Washington when they give minimal coverage to anti-war protests here in the UK? I only ask because I’ve been watching their coverage and it seems much better than what they report of UK protests. They made it the first piece on their News 24 hourly bulletin with a clips of Jane Fonda and a member of Congress speaking. I don’t recall the BBC giving such attention to the numerous similar anti-war protests held in Britain since 2003 when over a million people marched. Is it because it is deemed unusual for Americans to protest against the war (it isn’t incidentally) or is the BBC prevented from adequately covering UK protests but free to report what happens in the USA? I genuinely don’t know the answer.

Last week the Iraq war was debated in Parliament for the first time since 2003 (Tony Blair didn’t seem to have the courage to attend despite his stated eagerness to debate these issues). Outside Parliament was a small group of protesters. No coverage was given to this. But for those brave enough to attempt to use the frankly awful search function on the BBC News website, you can find news of peers protesting outside Parliament about, erm… the right to protest outside Parliament (I don’t remember that being broadcast), something a bunch of us have been doing for some time.

Hopefully this new-found eagerness to report on anti-war protests will mean some of these coming events will get some coverage but somehow I doubt it.

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