Think Freely About Iraq
about Operation Iraqi Freedom
and about the
Iraq Conflict-Mitigation team &
"It is enough that a lie is believed for three days -
it has then served its purpose."
Medici, 1573-1642, queen consort and queen regent of
# 3 April 28 till
now. Start at bottom
1 March 27 - April
2 April 9 - April
54. Kill the
looters, says Ambassador Bremer and echoes the colonial
mantra: Exterminate all the brutes...
Day 57 - May 15,
2003 - Day 57 - May 15, 2003 - Contrary to all
the propaganda, a rule can now be established: war
criminals and other "bad guys" are not found and brought
to justice for two reasons. First, they could tell
embarrassing things about the US and other Western
governments. Second, they are needed as symbols of the
terrible threat against which we must permanently be on
Our guardian, of course, is the United States of
America and its military-industrial complex.
So, nobody talks anymore about catching Osama bin
Laden. And whatever happened to Saddam & Sons is no
longer an issue. The Bush regime needs them as the
beloved enemies, as the Evil, that will always help
increase the budgets of Pentagon and CIA.
Kim Il-Sung and Mohamad Farah Aidid happened to die.
But Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Osama bin Laden,
Mullah Omar, Moammar Khadaffi, Fidel Castro and now
Saddam Hussein & Sons are all at large although
having been, at one point, hate object # 1. They were the
persons wanted "dead or alive," smoked out, on the run or
whatever the words were that those used who would rather
not be reminded of them today.
Slobodan Milosevic, locked up in the Hague as ICTY's
biggest catch, is the exception to this rule. I guess
late prime minister Zoran Djindjic handed him over behind
the back of his lawyer President Vojeslav Kostunica
because of some expected money and fame that never came.
Instead the Belgrade Mafia came after him, and the West
who pressed him into this dangerously impossible
situation shred crocodile tears at his funeral.
So, why be surprised at a headline in Washington
Post of May 15, Hussein
Loyalists Blamed For Chaos U.S. Commander Vows to Step Up
Here staff writer Peter Slevin exposes the chaos,
failure, cynicism and outright cruelty of the new US
regime in Baghdad. Behind all the problems - water,
electricity, looting, damaged-repaired-and-again-damaged
infrastructure, attempts to ambush US soldiers, lack of
security and order - indeed the list is long - behind it
all lurk, you guessed the American deception: Saddam
Hussein and his two sons and their loyalists reinforced
by Baath diehards.
"Until these people are destroyed or
captured, the security environment here in Iraq will
remain problematic," said Army Lt. Gen. David D.
"McKiernan declined to offer details or estimate
numbers of the resistance he described. But Maj. Gen.
Buford Blount III, commander of the 3rd Infantry
Division based in Baghdad, joined him in saying that
some marauders are not simply criminals, but
politically focused gunmen whose "intent is to attack
anything that the coalition is trying to get stood
No wonder McKiernan declined. It's pure scapegoating.
How come that the Saddam loyalists are emerging only now
and a couple of days after Ambassador Bremer has arrived?
And let's see who Major General Buford Blaunt III? Here
is a flattering portrait of him by Wayne Madsen in
"The man who ordered his tanks to open fire
on the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera, Abu Dhabi TV,
and Reuters is Major General General Buford "Buff"
Blount III. Like his three bosses, General Tommy
Franks, General Richard Myers, and George W. Bush,
Blount is a native of Texas. After the war is over,
Blount will return amid ruffles and flourishes to
accolades from Bush administration officials and a
doting media. It must never be forgotten what crimes
Blount perpetrated on April 8 in Baghdad.
Blount must have had a certain disdain for Al
Jazeera, the independent Arab satellite news network
that has been the bain of the Saudi Royal Family.
Before assuming command of the Third Infantry
Division, Blount was the Program Manager for the Saudi
National Guard. Unlike the U.S. National Guard, the
Saudi Guardsmen are the shock troops for the Saudi
royals. They are every much as committed to the Saudi
princes as Iraq's Republican Guards were committed to
Saddam Hussein. Blount undoubtedly sympathized with
his Saudi benefactors when they disparaged Al Jazeera
and their Qatari financial backers. There have been a
number of heated exchanges between Saudi Crown Prince
Abdullah and Qatar's Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani
over the coverage of the Saudis by Al Jazeera.
Blount probably did not have to think twice about
teaching Al Jazeera a lesson on behalf of his Saudi
friends. For at the same time Blount lorded over the
Saudi National Guard, he was also a top military
adviser to Abdullah. Blount's connections to the
Saudis and his disregard for the safety of Al Jazeera
journalists may appear to be highly unprofessional.
However, when considering that officers like Blount
are merely modern-day mercenaries, acting on behalf of
corrupt royal regimes, oil company interests, and
neo-conservative political operatives, his actions in
Baghdad are very understandable -- painfully so."
I read on. Peter Slevin mentions a remark by L. Paul
Bremer III, the newly installed director of the U.S.
Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance,
which is managing post-war Iraq.
"According to someone present when Bremer
addressed his staff in a closed meeting, he mused that
U.S. forces might need to shoot looters to deter
Incidentally, I watched CNN and saw that Paul Bremer
gave a press conference today in which he was asked to
comment on whether he had actually said so and then was
also asked other questions by the same journalist. In his
answer he did not even mention whether he had said so or
not; he concentrated on the reinforcement of soldiers to
arrive in Iraq shortly. Thus, he did not deny that he had
So, I take it, the highest American authority in
today's Iraq muses that freedom, democracy and prosperity
may require a little killing of people who have been made
poor and destitute because of 12 years of sanctions that
his country was second to none in maintaining at whatever
humanitarian cost. And if they do not belong to that
category, they are Saddam loyalists (as a rule, Americans
offer no evidence) and deserve to be killed.
To "deter," he says. The concept of deterrence is one
with which L. Paul Bremer III is well-acquainted as a
long-time associate of alleged war criminal Henry A.
Kissinger, and himself a security hawk and anti-terrorism
more about Mr. Bremer here - and expert killings of
anyone who is a dissident in the eyes of the Bremer
From the dissident's point of view, it doesn't make
that much of a difference whether you are killed by
Saddam or Bremer. You are targeted because you are a
dissident and angry. Paradoxically, perhaps, Saddam was
comparatively honest. He didn't pretend that he was
creating freedom and democracy for the Iraqis.
53. The way
Iraqis are portrayed and treated is racist, but do we see
Day 48 - May 6,
2003 - Dr. Hoda Ammash was arrested yesterday
in Bagdad. Reality is concrete. Let me use this event,
this human drama to illustrate the racism of our politics
and media, virtually all of them. Because, there can't be
any excuse for the media treatment of anyone not proven
guilty of any crime being portrayed in that manner. And
she is not alone in being de-humanised by media who dare
not stand up to US psycho-warfare, propaganda and
Of the 55 on the - tasteless - deck of cards depicting
leading Iraqis the Bush regime wants to catch, I've
talked at length with three. They are Dr. Ameer Al-Saadi,
the scientific adviser to Saddam, Tariq Aziz, the deputy
prime minister and Dr. Hoda Ammash, the only woman in the
top leadership of the Baath party and a microbiologist.
They are all "in US custody" now, Hoda Ammash since
yesterday on May 5. She was the highest-ranking woman in
Iraq. You see my photo of her here
I was stunned by CNN presenting her first as "Dr.
Germ" and later as "Mrs. Anthrax." The only footage,
repeated over and over, showed her in green uniform
walking upon an American and Israeli flag and greeting,
fist raised, a huge crowd of Baath party youth. It was
also stated that Saddam had her father killed. He was an
old friend of Saddam and, at the end of his career, Iraqi
ambassador to Finland. I haven't seen that killing
confirmed anywhere. The other part of the story was that
she got her PhD in the US and that she could be useful as
a guide to the weapons of mass-destruction we have been
told that Iraq's old leadership has been hiding.
It's the same story by almost all the international
media and their websites. Sweden's largest liberal,
Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) on-line doesn't bother to
cover the story at all, but in an old article by the
paper's Washington correspondent Lennart Pehrson, she is
mentioned as "Mrs. Anthrax for her work with biological
weapons." Being in Washington, he must know the truth of
course. The Danish liberal daily, Politiken on-line,
tells that Mrs Anthrax has been arrested and that she has
worked with another scientist, Rihab Taha, who is called
Given this media coverage, I ask myself whether anyone
can get a human impression, or image, of this women?
Imagine what kind of feelings "Mrs Anthrax" will raise
among the average Americans. Her movement over those
flags in military garb? It doesn't matter to any decent
journalist that her relationship, if any, to biological
weapons is pure conjecture, allegation, or hypothesis and
guilt by association. It's enough that the US has put her
on a card like "Most Wanted", that her alleged crime is
hinted and that she has been given her nickname by
someone powerful we don't want to question. She
has produced anthrax and she is a criminal.
And wasn't she on this deck of cards for a reason? CNN
does not bother to later announce that its use of "Dr.
Germ" referred to another scientist, either. Who cares,
after all, ALL Iraqis are kind of criminal and there is
no risk this woman would will be allowed by the US to
hire a lawyer and defend herself against this smear
I thought that anyone under the sky was innocent until
proven otherwise by a legal procedure. I thought anyone
being arrested for an alleged crime had a right to a
lawyer. I thought smear campaigns belonged somewhere else
but to free press reporting.
I am reminded of Colin Powell's statement weeks before
the war that it wasn't enough to take out Saddam and a
few individuals, the US needed to take out "all the
infection." The people running a sovereign state, a
member of the United Nations that his own country has
been an ally of and supplied with technology for weapons
of mass destruction? Infection? Iraqi leaders are germs,
anthrax - one big infection, an Evil, in the world body
that the US has a God-given mandate to kill and so clean
the world to the benefit of all of us.
What the sanctions did to the innocent Iraqis, could
not be done to someone who was considered human beings
like yourself. They must be lower, wrong, less human,
less civilised, less worthy of humane treatment. What was
done to them during the media war - the Iraqi perspective
on the conflict virtually absent from or media and
debates, or ridiculed - can only be done to someone you
don't respect. The way they were treated during the
military war, can only be done to someone whose lives do
not have the same inherent value as "our" lives, people
who don't count as human beings. Remember, half the
people of Iraq are children and youth under 16, and
George W. Bush and Tony Blair accepted that the arsenals
they brought to the region included nuclear weapons.
Those you plan to nuke "if necessary" are not people you
see as human beings unless you are mentally
Or remember how
Dan Rather of CBS could not understand how President
Saddam Hussein could get the idea that he was qualified
to have a satellite-televised conversation with George W.
Bush. Why not? Because, in contrast to us, the Iraqis are
simply not part of civilisation, they are filthy,
undeserving, abject; in short, they are not at a level
that entitles them to talk with us. They are Evil and we
are Good and we don't talk to them.
The racist attitude, the contempt for weakness, is so
integrated in the Western persona and social cosmology
that it does not even strike people as an element of
racism, of deep cultural violence.
All the Brutes, is the title of a book
about Europe's colonialism and missionary zeal by the
Swedish author Sven Lindquist. Read it! Nothing has
changed. A country of 7,000 years of history is being
colonised by the US military. iraqis deserve no respect
but to be bombed, be controlled, be humiliated and be
killed - germs as they are. All the infection must be
killed to achieve the perfect, pure world. Eterminate
them with our own mass-destructive weapons, if
I wonder who are we healing in the process? How
brutalising this whole paradigm is to ourselves? Time
will show. I allow myself to be ashamed even if it turns
out later that Doctor Hoda Ammash was involved in
52. Lessons of
war: Arms trade create leaders like
Day 45 - May 3,
2003 - Formally, the war is coming to a close.
Many of us worked frantically to prevent it and argued in
favour of alternative, civil and diplomatic means. But
the war did take place and in this sense - and this sense
only - we lost. Saddam Hussein and his regime is gone an,
beyond dispute, that is a blessing. President Bush is
expected to declare the war over, and there will be
numerous attempts to justify the war through that
But I am reminded of Gandhi's marvellous formulation
that "the means are goals-in-the-making."
It would be too typically Western to discuss only who
has won and who has lost in the actual war in Iraq and in
the debate about the war. The war is nothing but a phase
of a conflict formation that stretches much further in
time and space. The military war is, as I have argued in
180, only one of three wars or struggles.
But the idea of military war as a means to achieve
some - in this case, rather changing goals - deserves to
be constantly challenged. It is never irrelevant to
analyse the costs in a broad sense and discuss whether
the same results could have been achieved in different,
less violent ways. Indeed, if we say that that is
a waste of time to discuss now the war is over, we accept
the de facto primacy of violence in international affairs
and, thus, abdicate the role of the intellectual. A true
intellectual, to my mind, never celebrates an ounce of
unnecessary violence, like the good doctor never
spills more blood or causes the patient to suffer a
longer period of recovery than absolutely necessary to
combat the disease.
We need, in other words, to discuss what lessons to
learn. Triumphalism has no place in situations like this:
12 years of sanctions (1/2 to 1 million dead Iraqis) and
a devastating war, the direct results of which are
thousands of dead civilians, thousands of dead soldiers
and a country of 24 million people virtually devastated -
physically, politically and culturally - and under
foreign occupation. And it seems to me that that is the
true price for the single achievement that Saddam Hussein
and his dictatorial regime is gone.
Given the necessity of understanding better the causes
and effects, the achievement and its price, the costs and
the benefits, it is indeed striking that so few have
related the problem of Iraq and Saddam to the problem of
the global arms trade. Well, it is not that strange given
that the Five Permanent members of the Security Council
are all a) countries with weapons of mass-destruction
(WMD) and b) together account for 85 per cent of the
world's total arms trade.
This connection is as simple as it is obvious - and
ignored. It is common knowledge that Saddam was obsessed
with the idea of arming modern Iraq to a full-spectrum
super regional power status and that he did this by means
of buying what was needed. Since he wanted the most
sophisticated technology and then planned to reduce
foreign dependence by building a domestic military
research and arms production capacity, he and he agents
turned predominantly to the West. How this was done is
described in details by many analysts, for instance by
Said Aburish in Saddam
Hussein. The Politics of Revenge (2000). Since
Aburish was involved to a certain extent in Saddam's
endeavour, his analysis is, I believe, particularly
insightful and credible.
As yourself whether Saddam would have become the
Saddam we know had it not been for French, British,
German, American and Russian corporate and/or political
interests in arming him. Did the ready availability of
the weapons on the international, more or less murky,
market combined with almost unlimited oil wealth
stimulate Saddam's obsession with militarised grandeur?
It is documented beyond dispute that the arms exporting
governments and individual salesmen turned a blind eye to
his human rights violations, wars, WMD ambitions and
dictatorial ways when they were able to make profits or
pursue their own foreign policy goals through him and his
Here is a longer quotation from Aburish that says it
"It is my eprsonal belief that Western
governments know most of what Saddam was doing. But
since it represented a secret, there was nothing
beyond American congressional insistence on inking
Iraq with terrorism because of its backing for Yasser
Arafat's former associate Abu Nidal and others.
Certainly, the British knew of the activities of the
Iraqi cultural centres and that Saddam was behind the
assassination of former Iraqi intelligence chief Abdel
Razaq Al Nayyef in front of London's Intercontinental
Hotel in July 1978.(I am totally unable to determine
why the people accused of this crime were released.)
The Americans knew about the chemical warfare plant,
approved the Karkar mobile telephone system sale and,
thinking that Iraq was changing, considered selling
Saddam target drones made by Teledyne Ryan Corporation
of San Diego and General Electric engines for his
torpedo boats. The French were as aware of Saddam's
plans to develop atomic weapons as anyone. Italy,
Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina and other countries
received inquiries from the representatives of the
Iraqi government which betrayed their purposes. Even
neutral Switzerland was contacted and agreed to sell
the Iraqis Pilatus jet trainers,a deal which was
actually concluded after the start of the war with
If it was so, why did they all look the other way
and allow Saddam to continue his efforts - which, as
we shall see, were to grow more ominous after the
start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980? Indeed, the
situation begs the question of whether the West's
accommodation of Saddam was part of an overall policy
decision, a co-ordinated effort or a
What the suppliers had in common was negative: an
obvious lack of moral standards. There is no evidence
whatsoever that Saddam's treatment of the Kurds and
Shias mattered to anyone, except for some leaders of
the American Congress who spoke out in the middle of
the 1970s, mostly to please Israel. No one ever
exposed the methods of his dreaded security apparatus.
Nor did Saddam's suppliers pay much attention to his
reliance on the terrorists Abu Nidal and Abul Abbas in
certain overseas elimination operations. This
laissez-faire attitude continued until he invaded
Kuwait and threatened the oil supplies of the West."
(Aburish, 2000, p. 154-155).
A much stricter, restricted and transparent arms export
policy would have prevented the export to Saddam. But the
one thing all the suppliers had in common was "an obvious
lack of moral standards."
We need to discuss how the self-righteous West is almost
always historically a party to the conflicts and in the
regions it invades and certainly not a impartial mediator
with noble interests in helping the locals live in
Saddam, the warrior and militarist, was predominantly a
product of Western profit-seeking and international
strategic calculations, a puppet on many a player's
string. He wasn't innocent and the Western arms supplying
governments, including those of the US and UK, knew it.
Indeed, together they are the most responsible for his
The "coalition" and those who argued for a military
strike to remove him have been deeply responsible in two
ways for his regime, its cruelty and dictatorial style:
a) by selling him the means to conduct wars and
militarise his society (and probably torture technology,
too) and b) by turning the blind eye to his inhuman
policies to protect corporate interests.
He only became a villain in the eyes of the West when he
threatened its oil supplies by invading Kuwait.
Whenever President Bush and others justify war and
intervention with reference to moral arguments and "evil"
we can be sure that there is mischief brewing. Most
likely it is a ploy to cover up thoughtless and immoral
policies in the past and get access to some new
51. How media
could be as professional in peace as they are in
Day 41 - April 29,
2003 - The media interest in Iraq is rapidly
fading. SARS, North Korea and each country's local
affairs are now taking over. We'll probably soon be back
to where we were months ago: very few journalists in
Iraq, almost no media interests in the sanctions or the
point of views of the Iraqi citizens. With the drama of
bombing, troop movement, killing, friendly fire, physical
injuries and uniformed people giving press-PR-briefings,
the interest is also vanishing.
Yesterday, for instance, the media were showing
extremely uninventive footage from the meeting held by US
retired general Jay Garner with selected Iraqi leaders in
a boring conference centre in Baghdad. Much of it was
filmed from a "dead" angle, from the back of the room so
we could see all the backs of the participants.
The viewers were told that important groups boycotted the
meeting, but I found no investigation, no questions
raised to the Americans running the meeting on any
channel or news website: how did you select those in this
room and why are some not here? And General Garner and
his people do not give daily press conferences like the
Such is the reporting of peace or, in this case,
"peace." It is boring, indifferent and distanced. It lack
nerve, intensity and drama. It is as if there is no need
for investigating what is going on, because now there is
peace, isn't it.
When physical bodies are at stake, the media are
there, embedded. But when the psyche, the cultural and
the political bodies are at stake?
But imagine that the media covered the post-war
situation in roughly the same manner they covered the
Then I believe you would have journalists "embedded"
with Garner's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian
Assistance, one with each department. Because that is now
the occupation command centre. We would have sharp
questions raised about its legitimacy, about what they
aim to do; there would be a camera showing how they work,
how they contact local people, negotiate and solve
conflicts with them. We would get a sense of how they
treat the Iraqis.
There would be a constant monitoring of the problems
they encounter throughout the Iraqi society, of the
demonstrations, the boycotts, and the resistance against
the occupation. There would be in-depth coverage of the
post-war traumas, the sick and the wounded, the cases of
post-war suicide. We would learn about the
long-term human consequences after war and
There would be in-depth interviews with all kinds of
representatives of this fascinatingly complex country; we
would finally get to know the situation of women, youth
and children, of ordinary people with whom the media
can talk freely now Saddam is gone.
While we have seen how cruel a few people have been to
the rest, we would now get reports on how many and
different Iraqi men and women helped each other,
supported and sheltered each other, how much fundamental
goodness there also is in an among people. We
would see the courageous people, the peace heroes, the
peace lords who refused intellectually and otherwise to
participate in looting and in killing and intimidating
other people in the time of crisis. We would see how
people today help each other recovering without the help
of the Americans. As it is now we are told that only the
Americans are helping the Iraqis, not that Iraqis are
helping other Iraqis &endash; as if they did not have
neighbourhoods, families and interest associations.
We would see documentaries about the history, culture
and religion of Iraq so that many more people in the rest
of the world, not the least the arrogant West, would
learn, simply become better educated.
We would see intensive discussion, panels and
dialogues among American and other Western scholars, on
the one hand, and Iraqi and other Arab scholars. If they
don't take place by themselves, they would be brought
together by the larger media. Why? Because, if the media
- intentionally or unintentionally - contribute to war by
conveying propaganda, psycho-warfare and disinformation,
why should they not also contribute to peace? What would
prevent BBC and CNN etc. in the present situation to
bring people together, to help bring about mutual
understanding and reconciliation?
The answer, I believe, is lack of an awareness of the
potentials of peace for the media, lack of a trained eye.
There is not a (male) journalist who cannot see the
professional opportunities that war is, but I have done
enough training seminars and lectures with journalists
from around the world to know that editors and many
journalists have absolutely no training in seeing the
professional opportunities in peace. And if they do,
their editors or those who own the media find that
We would have media going to schools and hospitals
(those aspects have disappeared completely now). Imagine
a journalist would "adopt" one school somewhere in Iraq,
talk with teachers, pupils and parents and then talk with
the American administration about that particular
school's recovery. Not the physical reconstruction but
the healing of that school community as a whole.
He or she would illustrate for us how this school's
problems are related to Saddam's regime, to the
sanctions, to the overall socio-economic situation, and
to the destruction of the war. We would get an impression
of the lovely children and their families, their
potentials, their hopes and fears. The journalist would
go and ask the Americans who are now responsible for
Iraq's schools what they intend to DO for this particular
school, how it figures in the overall plans
somebody must have for the country.
This would give us an Iraq with a human face, an image
of humanity. It would contrast the inhuman face of the
old Saddam regime , the war and the occupation.
All this would give us an image, an implicit vision of
peace and the potentials of people and of civil
society, now the military society has made its -
appalling - statement.
To monitor the civil problems as well as the
potentials of peace in the Iraqi is now absolutely
essential. To keep many and critical media eyes on what
the US administration does (and does not do) with and to
Iraq is no less important.
It can't be done if most leave and the rest do
unimaginative reports of the backs of passive, or
Schools of journalism, media research institute and
we, the readers, listeners and viewers, now have a
tremendous opportunity to improve, to learn, to focus and
ask better questions. In order to do better next. To be
neutral the media must do peace reporting (at least) as
well as they do war reporting. More and more inventive
peace-oriented media work could even help us all see
alternatives to war next time...
TFF & the authors 2003
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