Monday, February 28, 2005


What America Believes!

In a Harris Poll conducted this month, I found some of the results quite surprising:

44 % actually believe that several of the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11 were Iraqis.

47 % of adult Americans believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

36 % believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded.

Please think about these figures for a minute. They refer to something like 100 million adult Americans. These results are not just surprising… they are quite disturbing.

After two years of Iraq being constantly a top item in the news, with all these issues being thoroughly covered by all media, how is it possible that so many millions do not know? In this age of the freedom of the press, of the huge news networks, of hundreds and hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations… and the Internet…. How can that be possible?

Can someone tell me how this is possible after all the media coverage and after all that has been written and said? What news do all these people watch? What newspapers do they read? What radio stations do they listen to?

Are all those people mad? That certainly cannot be true! They have to be misinformed. But who has been doing that…and why?

If it is possible to mislead so many Americans so easily, and for so long, then of course it is possible for the US administration to do what the rest of the world sees as unacceptable. This being the case, then of course it is not difficult to see that many millions of Americans may willingly support any administration in targeting Iraq, Iran, Syria, France or even Britain… or practically do what they like. Unbelievable?

How can a democracy work with so many people grossly ignorant of simple, basic and important facts?

What hope is there for ‘reaching America’ or discussing finer points if such basic blatant facts are held in error by so many?

What am I doing, wasting my time and yours?


The level of misinformation among in the US is frightening and, as you note, dangerous for the world. You are not wasting your time, however hopeless it seems. Your voice and those of others who know the truth are important if we are jolt this nation back to reality. Thanks for your thoughts and efforts.

We are not different from all the countries of the world, Abu Khaleel.

We are at the mercy of the many Agendas (capital A) of the powerful and the prolific. Our medias are slanted by the left or the right and they are becoming more brazenly slanted.

The big businesses in the U.S. have so much influence I believe that they are one of the strongest.

And then religion is becoming inserted into government policies.

I honestly don't know which "news" channel to believe anymore!

And no one worries about integrity ie. that he or she might lose their job and their reputation over a sentence or two. Ie. the CBS people who leaked about Bush's service record too hastily and got some facts wrong; or Eason Jordon who said American soldiers were targeting journalists in Iraq, or the "friend" of the President's who taped him w/out his knowledge.

Then there is a strange denial going on. I think it is for several reasons. One, was covered by mpeach who spoke of the "My country right or wrong" mentality.

Another is people hate to admit that the person they voted for might be grossly inept. The President may be from the same party that their family has voted for, as far back as they can remember. (Which i think is so wrong to vote by party and not by conscience).

Another is that some families of the soldiers would not want to believe that they are backing anything other than the right cause and we can certainly sympathize since their boys and girls lives are at stake. So this is another form of denial.

And then there are those influences outside of our country like the terrorists themselves who are trying to separate longtime friends ie U.S. and Saudi or potential new friends ie. U.S. and Iraq and Afghanistan.

And you may think I am wrong but there are those who would like to stir up mischief within the U.S.thru the media to pit us against each other. I'm still trying to figure this one out but I know it is there.

So to you Charles, I may not always agree with you but my message is, a country united can overcome anything...

So we are getting bombarded with confusing information all the time.

And no one thinks of this: we are still a people in shock: after 9-11 I think people tucked the tragedy away in their heads to be able to get back to work, etc, but when it came time to vote for a president they thought: well Bush is familiar with the terrorist problem and he rallied us when we were still digging for bodies.

Can you understand this kind of loyalty? I can. Although perhaps because i didn't have any family members die I could vote with more of a clear picture of what Bush was about.

And lastly Abu, I haven't said this yet, but this is a great Blog you have made and ...thanks!!

And just to answer more specifically (but more briefly),to your figures.
To my knowledge I remember the Bush admin. actually stating your last two statistical statements as their own assumptions which i'm sure the public then took as fact.

I personally know no one who think that Iraqis attacked the U.S. but it surely wouldn't surprise me.

You've gotten to the point Charles,
we are still confused about what we heard in the media. So sometimes we think we were misinformed but then we think: "No our government wouldn't stoop so low as to misinform us", so then we think "it must be me, I got it wrong, I'm still just uninformed about it."
But we both know that Cheney and Bush created a subtle, ingenious confusion about an Iraqi meeting with a member of AlQeada in a secret rondevouz and about intelligence reporting that Saddam was talking w/ Alqeada and of course the infamous WMD statements; and just mentioning these things NOT AS FACT, mind you, but just mentioning them, knowing that the unwitting public would make the connection that Iraq= Terrorism and Saddam= Al Qeada, and Saddam united w/ Alqeada and having WMD=the U.S. being attacked w/chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

Then they can go on to state later that if we take the war on terrorism to Iraq we won't have to fight it at home. All because Bush wanted revenge for the attempted assasination of his father.

I believe this was the peak of the evilness of the Bush administration.

It does not follow that I believe what you call the other side, Charles.

I DO believe that Saddam was a murderous megalomaniac who did all those things but i don't have proof that he was acquiring WMD.I'm sure he probably wanted to.

And your last paragraph I do not side with.

My biggest problem with Bush and the Admin. is the deceit over why we should go to war without a provocation against America when the real target was Al Queda.

I’d plump for "uninformed" myself, rather than "misinformed."
I remember Charles’ predecessor, Fathom, remarking here once that in his experience most people in the US weren’t much interested in the war and didn’t talk about it.
Here in NZ, mass coverage amounts to perhaps three short news items and one longer or analytical one per week in the main paper, and a 30 second TV newsbite every second night. A lot of people, particularly the young, don’t read the paper thoroughly or watch the news - too busy having fun. It’s certainly not a topic of conversation between strangers or casual acquaintances. I know this isn’t the US but I presume most people there are just like here, i.e. basically preoccupied with their own concerns and business.
Add to which, only about half the eligible voters in the US turned out for their Presidential elections - the rest were presumably either disillusioned with politics, or just not interested.
If it’s a proper poll, these "detached" people should make up about half the sample, right? If they were indifferent to the elections, despite all the hoop-la, they’d be even more indifferent about Iraq.
Also depends on how the poll was conducted. If the question was, say, do you believe Iraq had WMD, then it is essential there was a "Don’t Know" option: if it was just a yes/no choice, then half the indifferent ones above would probably go "Duh, Yeah, heard that somewhere."
So my gut instinct would be to take the figures with a "grain of salt," maybe halve them?
Except that that’s when it gets really worrying - about 23% of responsible, reasonably well-informed Americans believe Iraq was involved in 9/11?
Perhaps that does suggest misinformation at work.

Charles had a predecessor? I hope you and Fathom get more snow than we Ohioans today, Charles :)Just kidding.

Anyway, my theory is that yes, I hate to admit it, but many Americans could care less about anything other than their backyard.
So when they heard things post 911 it was through word of mouth like the telephone game you play as kids. Where things get screwed up.

But I do think that we were misinformed at the got. level and I'm not saying it was always intentional. Maybe the Admin. realized they were having trouble getting a following for their ideals and so had to try to give further credence to the war effort.
And that's when their connections started puzzling people like me.

Chillicothe Ohio?

Sorry charles and Abu i guess this is not the right forum for this.

Hello Abu Khaleel,
First my President GW Bush, now the entire tribe of Red Americans!
I do get tired of apologizing for this country! I was listening to a right wing TV 'talk-news' program last night. The topic was Iraq and the whether the democrats would suffer at the polls for not supporting Bush's War[the war is so popular????], given highly 'successful' Iraqi elections.A feeble Dem-stooge stated, 'Well, Bush lied about everything..'( The weakling practically apologized a few moments later)
'Moderator'--"You democrats voted for the war, so why should you complain about anything? You'll hurt the troops!(Besides, you can't prove he lied, he just made a mistake![which one?]) 'But the elections 'proved' that things have completely turned around!'
Often the hardsell, takes a 'opinion poll' turn as in..'You believe in freedom, don't you? So you believe in a Free Iraq[is Iraq free right now?], It is a universal right to be free!!'Hearing this tirade, who could feel free to express another opinion? Of course you are quite free to parrot their opinions with gusto!( Just go to ITM for the parrot show) The rightist media attempts to manage and manipulate every event, to create a buzz, to change a topic just as long as they can firmly flavor 'public opinion' with spicy spin. Frankly, you're not wasting my time but for the 60 million who voted for Bush(plus the 80 million who didn't bother to vote against him, Duh-oh!),well...they were lost along time ago. It's all about salesmanship.

just tell me if your family is from Chillicothe ohio, Charles and then I won't ask anything else like that, ok?

I'm from Kent,OH glad to meet everyone.

Anonymous above (why not give yourself a name?) mentioned "spin," and I suspect that has a lot to do with it.
At New Year I read David Frum’s book about his time as a White House speechwriter during Bush’s first term, and the whole book is basically about spin - when and how to do it. A concrete example was a speech he drafted on some issue, which Bush gave back to him for revision: the headline, X happened or whatever, was wrong, the headline needed to be "Bush Leads!"
Eventually "spinning" seems to almost become an aim in itself, something to be done automatically whatever the news.
A key spin tactic is often to defuse bad news by attacking the messenger. Now that Colin Powell, the All-American hero, is starting to blab about what really went on in the lead up to war, and how Bush ignored his advice, it will be interesting to see what dirt starts being produced about him, to show that he was really a covert liberal wimp all along. The actual facts easily get buried in the dirt storm - and Joe Bloggs in the street will remember Powell’s taste for Commie ice-cream, say, and forget that he told Bush the troop levels weren’t sufficient for occupation.
It’s a variation on the "ad hominen" method of argument, attacking your opponent if you can’t fault his argument. Widely used in spoof comedy debates, and common in junior high school debating societies, but out of place in serious discussion.
Charles is a master of the "ad hominen," probably not deliberately. If you say, "See, Powell said occupation would need more troops," you can more or less guarantee that his answer will be "So! You support tyrants and despots and hate freedom, you liberal you!"
(Trying to explain to him that in most of the Western world "liberal" is a description of a viewpoint, not a term of abuse, is really not worth the effort.)
And so with the beliefs about Iraqi involvement in 9/11. If enough right-wing media pundits claim "Liberals deny 9/11 Link" the message gets across.

Abu Khaleel:

Now, it is finally my turn to be optimistic (at least to some extent). There are undoubtedly ignorant, misinformed people in this country. There are also people that are so apathetic about news, politics, foreign affairs, etc., that they fail to pay attention to any information concerning those issues.

Fortunately, however, the ignorant and apathetic are much more likely to neglect to vote than the informed and politically active. A more interesting survey would have included the number of such clueless respondents that had actually voted in the last election cycle.

My next comment is going to sound obnoxiously elitist (and may upset some of your Australian readers), but really is quite sensible. In my view, the survey results are a good reason to be thankful that we do not have mandatory voting in this country. As shown in the following study, the ill-informed and apathetic are the most likely to neglect to vote (see table III). The self-reported differences between the nonvoters and voter populations concering apathy and knowledge of political issues is simply staggering. The link is . It seems silly and self-defeating to compell persons to vote who do not care about politics or who refuse to make an effort to stay informed.


Something else to keep in mind, opinion polls are about as accurate as exit polls. This particular poll sampled 1,012 adults. I can't speak to the specifics of the Harris poll but I understand that 1) most Americans screen their calls using caller id (telemarketing is such a nuisance most people don't pick up their phone unless they recognize the incoming number) 2) many younger American rely on cell phones which pollster do not target 3) pollster call people at home during working hours when they're not there and 4) there's now a do-not-call registry for telemarketers - pollster may be refraining from contacting individuals on this registry. Additionally, those who work phone banks are not well paid and the industry experiences high turnover so screening of the subjects being interviewed may not be perfectly controlled. Another problem is that the pollster don't tell us how the question was framed - this makes a big difference in how people respond.

If you over-sample the elderly and the unemployed, your poll is going to be skewed.

I would wager that if tomorrow morning I sampled my co-workers (17 of them - ages 27 - 57) that not a single one of them would agree that Saddam Hussein planned the 9/11 attack. (I just asked a colleague who stepped into my office - he agrees with me.)

But I must acknowledge, there's no shortage of morons in America or in Brazil for the matter.

Hello Circular,
(why not give yourself a name?)
You probably know this but in the US many anonymous bloggers are being hunted down and fired by nice corporate bosses. I suppose I could call myself 'gandhi', but anonymous is heroic enough for me these days.
I detest Canadian neo-con David Frum, in particular.
"A concrete example was a speech he drafted on some issue, which Bush gave back to him for revision: the headline, X happened or whatever, was wrong, the headline needed to be "Bush Leads!"-Perfect example of infantile Bushite cheerleading! Hurrah for us!
You may be interested to know that the highly effective Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group has been paid to attack the AARP American Association of Retired People for endorsing gay marriage!One chapter in Ohio[Charles?]refused to endorse anti-gay legistation because it would have affected elderly roommates(hetero). The real reason is that AARP opposes Bush's plan to 'privatize' Social Security(old age pensions).
You simply must understand that America is the most advanced country in the world which means we will see every kind of sci-fi Orwellian thought control coming down the tube long before anyone else. Hurrah for us!
We're number one! We're number one!

OH MY GOSH!!!! Debate over that poll? I hate to tell you this but there are a whole lot of Americans who wouldn't give a straight answer to the pollsters anyway!!!!! It's like the anonymous drug questions in high school...ya sure, EVERYBODY TAKES DRUGS! HA HA!!! There are 3 kinds of people I've witnessed is watching TV and isn't paying attention to their answer, one is a jokester, and the other is most Americans that I've met living coast to coast who have NEVER BEEN POLLED!

I do have to admit though I have run into a few people who get Osama and Saddam mixed up, but usually when you tell them something about the men, you realize that it is only because of confusion between the NAMES. A lot of people do have trouble with all the various Middle Eastern names. I imagine it would be the same for you in Iraq trying to keep track of a lot of Chinese names, just as an example.

And the world is a mighty big place, there is more to it than just Americans and Iraqi's. Don't think the total of any nation in the world is perfectly educated as to the other 6 billion people on earth.

Represent 100 million adults...NO WAY!

Caller ID, no call lists, cell phone users, the various different languages that aren't spoken by the poll people (they only do it in English), etc.

I'd say the remaining 5,000 people in America that get those calls are getting really tired of answering all those stupid polls over and over and over....

Sometimes they say polls happen when they really don' the IAFF that wanted Kerry to win and so endorsed him saying they had polled their union (when they hadn't.) The majority of firefighters all across America really wanted Bush. It is just sometimes political games. See for yourself:

"Hello Circular,
You probably know this but in the US many anonymous bloggers are being hunted down and fired by nice corporate bosses. I suppose I could call myself 'gandhi', but anonymous is heroic enough for me these days."

If you just add your pseudonym at the end of your text, as I do, it’s no different from posting anonymously. But a multiplicity of anonymouses can make dialogue difficult.
If you blog at work you deserve to be hunted down by your bosses. Get back to it!

Hello Circular,
"If you blog at work you deserve to be hunted down by your bosses. Get back to it!"
But I'm the boss!
Icosahedron-I'm 3d and you're not-Ha-ha!

How many people in the world believe that the US is stealing Iraqi oil?

Many people of the world do not "believe" in it. They know it is a fact.

Only dumb US people "believe" US is "bringing democracy" to Iraq.

Woo woo!!!!Right on!

A lot of this is what i said in the second posting, but I forgot to add the very important fact about the lacking of historical grounding in America.

And the misinformers have been around forever--remember that George Washington didn't really chop down a cherry tree-his biographer made it up, and Betsy Ross may not have been the first flag maker but a relative "recalled" things his way in his book.

And it's so true diogenes that we are deluged with so much--it's turning me schizophrenic at times--that you believe in what makes sense to YOU or what feels safe.
I tell you its a psychologists' playground out there and w/ all the media outlets it's only going to get worse.Do you wonder why some of us sound paranoid? Please be gentle w/us!!


I think that the U.S. is not so bumbling and incompetent as we are self-centered.

You have to admit we are aggressive though- we have businessmen who run the show.

Imperialistic?-we always claim the negative but why do we put so many bases in the ME? (I am curious, not defensive). Do you know?


You ask 'Why do so many smart people have so little common sense?'

It was a group of 'smart people', members of Mensa, who in early 2003 agreed that 'if we oust Saddam from Iraq, we should be able to claim the Iraqi oil'. It was a member of Mensa who in November 2001 claimed that rather than simply going after Osama bin Ladin, we should bomb the Qa'aba.
I don't know if any of these opinions were put in print by those who held them. I do recall both of the conversations.

(For those who don't know--Mensa is an organization of folks whose IQ is above 135, or perhaps 140--in other words, an organization of folks who think they're smart)

I am not surprised by the level of ignorance, as I find nearly any in-depth conversation can uncover amazing depths of igorance, even among those one might assume be knowledgeable. (For instance, an Armenian-American acquaintance once claimed that the assassination of the Turkish ambassador by Hanpik Sassounian was a Soviet plot because 'the Armenian homeland is in PERSIA, not Turkey')

Abu Khaleel,

I do not believe you are wasting your time. However, most Americans, as far as I can tell, are uninterested in anything beyond their daily lives. Those who read your blog are unusual in that we are interested in learning more about the world. As we interact with your posts, you affect us, and through us you affect the people with whom we converse.

Be Well,

That Diogenes dude can tell it like it is, can’t he?
A sideline on US historical misinformation - I’ve just been reading a book about British POWs in Germany in WWII. Part of it deals with British annoyance at the way the commercial demands of US popular culture distort the truth, the classic being Steve McQueen’s heroic participation in the movie The Great Escape. There were in fact no Americans involved in the escape from Stalag Luft III. Similarly a recent movie apparently involved a US destroyer snatching part of the Enigma secret from a sinking U-Boat. That actually happened, but it was a British effort, before the US even joined the war. US actors had to be involved in the Colditz series, and apparently the producers had to fight to get them to adopt British accents - there being no Americans in Colditz either. Probably few Americans know that two of the D-Day beaches were taken by US forces, three by British and Canadian forces.
I don’t know how deeply this sort of thing reaches into the minds of young Americans, but it must certainly contribute to the "deluge of information" (and misinformation) Diogenes talks about.

"The basic theme on this website seems to be that the US is a bad aggressive imperialistic hegemon, and at the same time a bumbling and incompetent fool."

Charles! You’ve got it! Well done!
Only joking - we don’t really think that about the US. Now the Bush administration, however ...
(Hope this doesn’t post twice. Blogspot seems to be playing up.)

Your'e so bad, Circular!


I try my best.
Further to the above, I meant to say: when the "Battle of Fallujah" film comes out, it will doubtless feature a few dozen heroic Marines, surrounded and outnumbered by thousands of sinister terrorists.
Semper Fi.

We are stealing oil? Is that why it hit 53 bucks a barrel and we are expected to pay 3 dollars a gallon this summer? To assume that the majority of Americans are ignorant unimformed sheep says the same for the rest of the world. US politicians do not hold a patent on propaganda or spin, the same tactics are used around the globe. In some cases ie. China, Syria, Iran, and yes, Sadam era Iraq there was no dissenting opinion allowed. This silly blog would not be permitted. So are those people more "informed" than Americans? The media's job is to sell advertisements, not to inform. Yea Fox news has a conservative bend, and yes Hollywood is blatantly conservative/Democrat but that merely serves to divide up the advertising dollars amongst the outlets. At least we have the right to discuss issues here without fear of our tongues being removed in the middle of the night. PS an F-15 cannot carry the warhead payload necessary to wipe out Syria, A Los Angeles class however, probably could!! All hail technology!

Abu Khaleel

I hear what you are saying and share with you the frustration. However I wanted to assure u that you are not wasting your time, you are educating America!! Please don’t take these polls seriously because sometimes they don’t really reflect the views of the Americans depend on where and when they were conducted. i.e in New York, NY vs Des Moines, IA ( don’t get me wrong I really like the Midwest). Last week I was flying from Germany to United States on AA and there were bunch of American solders with me on the flight, I kept watching them from a distance and notices A) they are very young B) they are not white Americans , they are mostly Latinos or African Americans C) they were whacked! During the 9 hours flight they kept asking for hard liquor, listening to Arabic songs and watching the daily bombing in Iraq on DVD! Now you might be thinking to yourself and how is that related to the recent poll? I would have to say, it is related… these people are lost…. Miss leaded and confused! When we reached the US soil I looked at one and said hey when are you going back? He looked at me as if he was in a different world and said NEVER! I said no need to ask u how was it, he said it was F*&^ awful! Have u seen a recent poll that was conducted on these solders and there moral level?? Properly not! Abu Khaleel there are some REALLY ignorant people in here, some of them don’t really know or care where the heck is Iraq on the freakin map!
Here is a joke for you, when I told a colleague that I will be going to Europe she responded are u going to drive or fly!!!! That tells you something!!!
Keep educating America abu khaleel that is the least u can do! 

whatever happened to taking the higher moral ground?

Unity , Charles, not division.


California, Texas and Florida still have mandatory bilingual programs.

In my town,educators are working hard at the elementary level again on reading and writing. My son was reading at 4 and my daughter at an early 5 years. But then, my parents were teachers so I had good role models.

You can be tough on my commentary but you might want to go a little easy on the new people:)

Belatedly, congratulations to Zina for an interesting post.
Charles, I told you earlier about the invalidity of the ad hominen argument, the attack on the messenger rather than the message. Your response to Zina’s post shows that you are very slow to learn - "C minus, could do better."
Zina contributed two interesting observations, one about soldiers returning from the war and one about a co-worker. She appears to be either a newcomer to English, or a victim of the US education system. In either event, your first instinct was to ridicule her English, rather than address the substance of her post. This is the ad hominen approach to argument. It is neither sensible nor manly. You qualify your offence by offering a belated conditional apology, but why this instinct to strike out nastily in the first place? Do you have some problems you would like to share with us?
Speaking of the US educational system, and the mention of bi-lingual instruction, I am reminded of a news item I saw about a former Governor of Texas, early last century, who opposed bi-lingual instruction on the grounds that "if English was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for us!"
(Since Charles will undoubtedly misinterpret this, I suppose I must explain that whatever Jesus spoke, Hebrew or Aramaic or whatever, it certainly wasn’t English. Nobody spoke English 2000 years ago. The point I am implying is that the Governor was a stupid, ignorant cracker not fit to govern groundworms. Very like a more recent Governor of Texas.)

I apologize for not being a fluent English speaker! I was born and raised in Iraq and came to the states 6 years ago with minimum English education and now working for one of the big four accounting firms in the US if that matters! My point was to encourage abu khaleel to keep this blog up and running and educate everyone, including me, on the daily happenings in Iraq. Zina

Good morning Bruno,
(By the way, what is the time difference between the U.S. and South Africa?)

I see your justification for sabotaging one's own pipeline if one thinks the occupiers will use it for the occupation.

However, I don't like it. It is wasting one's own country's natural resource -the most vital resource to man. Not to mention the pollution it causes. But again, I guess it is technically justifiable.

Abu Hadi-I can see the headlines in the papers now: "Mensa member masterminds bank robbery and leaves a pocket protector at the scene as his calling card".

"I suppose if the US was run by a criminal and murderous dictator who gassed ..blah..blah.. then the majority of Americans would probably support it....phoney straw man arguments again -get real.....Of course some wouldn't(asking and answering your own question).
Please spare me the trouble of editing such illogic from your responses (before posting)-it just chews up bandwidth.
"The American revolution probably had large chunks of the population supporting one side or the other".True 1/3 of the colonists were pro-British and many had to emigrate from democratic America So what is your point?

"The numbers from Iraq are quite different. In a country of 25 million, you have perhaps 1-2% who apparently support the insurgents (aid and comfort), with about 0.02% actively engaged. Now 40-50K fighters can cause trouble - to be sure." Even Rumsfeld doesn't know how many insurgents there are. How can you make up numbers out of the air? Oh yeah, 'straw man' again..

"Why would the insurgents be against elections?"
Because they fear disenfranchaisement by the tyrany of a vengful majority or which to run their own affairs (self-determination).
"The point of the elections wasn't to elect a government for the next 25 years."
How do you know? Shia are an absolute majority. Nothing is guaranteed by democracy, just look at the US congress today.
"What particular principles or values would 'freedom fighters'oppose in this process?"
You sarcastically like to call them 'freedom fighters', they are anti-US insurgents, strongly unified by a determination to remove the occupier but with many other agendas.
"The 'puppet' argument doesn't fly because the government is temporary, the US didn't control who ran(really? the candidates were all from the US appointed GC), and in any case next year there will be new elections."
The puppet government was Bush's idea-remember the world's largest embassy, US troops for decades, etc. Bush has given up on that, Sistani totally defeated him.
"As long as democratic principles are codified in a constitution, 'freedom' is guaranteed by the political process."
That's not even true in the US. The First Amendment was needed due to grave short comings of the 'democratic' constitution.

"It is violence that creates the possibility for the rise of an oppressive regime."
Democracy can't be oppressive? Nonsense- as any black American.
"Two years, and thousands of civilian casualties into their divine strategy, the insurgents convinced the Iraqis to risk death and 'vote' instead of fight."

SOME Iraqis were convinced to vote-
2% of Sunnis were, 80% of shias and 95% of Kurds were. You can't simplify your way out, Charles.

Charles, there is a story from the US civil war you may have heard. A union soldier calls out to a confederate 'insurgent', 'why are you fighting?'. Confederate yells back 'Cuz ya'll Yankees are down here!'. Don't pretend you don't understand the insurgent's motivation, it's as natural as breathing.

"These kids don't need coddling. I hope she is a kid/young adult. What they need is a responsible adult to tell them the truth - and not some politically correct coddling that leads them directly nowhere."
Spare the rod, spoil the child eh? You're such an old fossil.

These responses differ somewhat. The first, on Iraqi hijackers, is simply and glaringly wrong. The second question has a grammatical mistake: it provides no correct object for the verb 'plan.' That may have confused some respondents. Poll responses are known to be highly sensitive to the phrasing of the questions. Many of those who publicly sought the war have since claimed that the Saddam regime moved its WMD stocks to Syria before, or during the early stages of, the war. Their statements may have influenced some of those who answered affirmatively the third question.

Yep, democracy in action. During the 1960s, a poll is supposed to have found that a significant minority of Americans believed that Franklin Roosevelt was the current president. He had died in 1945. It IS a bit scary. On the other hand, the US is both one of the youngest countries and one of the oldest democracies, since at least 1775. During the same period, France has had 3 kingdoms, 2 empires, and 5 republics. Plus a successful coup as recently as 1958.

The US Department of Defense officially refers to the current conflict in Iraq as part of the "war on terror." I personally don't think that Iraq had much to do with terrorism DIRECTED AGAINST THE US prior to the current war. There certainly are plenty of anti-US terrorists in Iraq now. The official terminology seems to me a half-truth at best, and seriously misleading at worst.

Michael in Framingham

Giuliana Sgrena was freed today by Italian intelligence. No blitz was necessary, no guns, no force.


While Sgrena was going to the Bagdad Airport with three agents of Italian Intelligence, America soldiers fired to the car. One of the agents protected Sgrena with his body. He was killed by American fire. Sgrena and the other two agents had been injured. Agents had no weapons. An happy ending was transformed to a tragedy.

In Italy we still do not understand if USA sent to Iraq a "professional" army. Hard to think to those guys as professionals. :( We have many soldiers there, but we are there to help, not to fire on anybody is moving, allies included.


Are the US government and Saddam's regime the same? To you the differences are just 'blah, blah, blah.' I disagree COMPLETELY.

I do not contend that they are the same, never have, never will. For one thing warmonger Saddam is in jail and warmonger Bush is not.

"Oh, just that our revolution represented a big split in society. You don't have that in Iraq. 60% of eligible voters risked death to cast a ballot. Turnout would have been much higher if not for violence and intimidation."
Actually I think I proved my point, roughly 1/3 of Iraqis are with the insurgency, so it statistically does resemble the US revolutionary war. And the turn out would have been lower, much lower if Sistani had not ordered Shia on threat of eternal damnation to vote.

"The fighters - by all estimations - are a tiny percentage of population and they compeltely lack a national platform."
The insurgents are playing it safe, not confronting superior US firepower, just ask the US generals in Iraq about the 'increasingly sophisticated foe'. How many 'partisans' fought the Germans in the open? That's the nature of guerrilla war.

So you agree its not a nationalistic insurgency. Thanks.
Wrong again--it is an anti-US insurgency. If US troops left, I think Zarqawi as a different foreign devil who soon be eliminated in some kind of deal.
"The angry majority has shown its patience time and again. Its your extremists who are doing the killing, not the shia. So your freedom fighters reject representative democracy and think its ok to kill because someone might get mad at them and hold them accountable for their butchery? That's brilliant!"
didn't follow that last bit...

"They are about 60% of the population. The best hope for any minority will be to get involved in political process to protect their rights."
Iraqis are looking at the minority Kurds to see what they can expect from the Unified Iraqi Alliance.
"What do these insurgents offer?"
An angry protest only a fool would ignore.
Minority rule by the same folks that brutalized the majority?
It's not even that organized and doesn't have to be--US troops and 'stooges' are the red capes for raging insurgent bulls.

"So minority dictatorship is better? Jeeze."
You seem to go from one extreme to the other. Abu Khaleel knows his people, there is a unique solution for Iraq's political problems so forget about imposing your own ideas.

Such as bomb the shia?
Yes, the salafists.
What do they want for Iraq?
The mentality is not constructive. It's 'I'm agin' it!'
What political values do they espouse?
AS a group on this issue, removal of foreign occupiers, pretty one dimensional program don't you think?

"Good for Sistani. So you mean its not a puppet government?"
Sistani is not in the government. I don't believe he has ever even spoken to an american in his life.
He doesn't like US troops, believe it or not.
"Or it is a puppet government?"
As I said every major politican running was already a member of Bremmer's GC(Abu Khaleel--correct me if I am wrong.)
"Sounds like W isn't in control and that the Iraqis are in control."
The terrorists are largely in control, thanks to W.
"Sounds like democracy is in the works... But oh I forgot - Sistani is a puppet." Is the Pope Bush's puppet? Not everything revolves around Bush.

"My point is that escalating violence will increase the chance forthe establishment of a less democratic regime."
Then remove the cause of the violence--US troops.
"That is the hope of the insurgents. That is why they are bent on escalating violence."
The violent ones are to a certain extent 'running on fumes(anti-US hatred)'. Their 'backers' need to be welcomed in their own country. Without fuel the insurgency will end.

"Ah - so you want to claim the elections were illegitimate and do not represent the will of the Iraqis. I guess that's all you have left - it doesn't surprise me."
I welcomed the elections, but they were certainly unrepresentative. I expect that the errors of the US civil war 'reconstruction' will be repeated in Iraq. The hatred of the US South lasted well over 100 years after a different 'unrepresentative election'.
"Except for the fact that the sooner the violence stops, the sooner reconstruction and reconciliation will take hold, and the sooner US troops can start leaving." Reverse the order and you may have a plan, Charles.

"But rather than beatthe poor kid I prefer to be honest. You would coddle and lie. Which strategy is going to be more productive?"
You understand me so well. I will always prefer an gentle lie to your brutal truth, because that is how the world really works.

Ah! Charles is talking about the deluded sailor Bush (ahoy, me hearties) and his buddies Rummy and Wolfie and Condie and all (yo ho ho and a bottle of rum) and the grim old captain Powell who told him the ship would sink.
Gurgle gurgle.


"I will always prefer an gentle lie to your brutal truth, because that is how the world really works."

The truth is only brutal if you have lived your whole life in a fantasy. Wasn't it Plato who said 'A ship is safest in the harbour, but ships were not meant for the harbour'?

Your truth has made you bold, Charles. For all your bravado, I don't think you are launching great enterprises (but maybe great fantasies).
My truth has made me cautious, to the point that a gentle lie can be given and taken calmly. Occasionally, I err on the side of disbelief or skepticism. I don't think life is a fantasy, but serious business.
Where I ask 'What is truth?',
you say "What I have written, I have written!'

"Now if your ship has holes, and all your buddies tell you it is seaworthy, and for some unexpected reason you actually have to set sail, and it sinks in the open ocean, should you blame the grim old captain who said you were a fool not to fix your boat, or your buddies - as you sink slowly to the bottom?"
As to your metaphor; To be honest, I would have nobody to blame but myself.

I’m afraid that apart from leaky boats I’m not quite clear exactly what you have been discussing, Charles. Something to do with education? If it relates to Zina’s post, my wife is an expert teacher of English to adults for whom it is a second language. Her experience seems to be that many of them quickly reach a "plateau" of fluency which enables them to get by, and make slower progress past this point, factors being age, motivation and frequency of usage. As I only know English and schoolboy French, I can’t comment, except perhaps to say that fluency in more than one language is for obvious reasons much more common in Europe than in the USA. I have great respect for Iraqis like Abu Kahleel and Riverbend who Blog in fluent idiomatic English with subtle nuances.

I just wanted to give Dario my condolences on his countryman.

Sincerely, an American

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

I have read some of the replies to your post. I think "What America Believes" and the Poll numbers are indeed an indication of what we think as a people. In my case, I have not discussed the war in Iraq with anyone other than family and one other or two individuals. I run a business and see 15 to 20 people at day. There is no discussion of politics. Talk is of everyday things, not politics or wars. We as Americans maybe do not pay as much attention to world politics and wars as many might think we should. That is what the government does. The people we elect do that job. They are supposed to look out for our interest in the U.S. and we by and large believe that they do their job. If we feel they are not doing the job, then we elect someone else. Naive, perhaps. Uninformed, perhaps. How many people actually watch or listen to the news in the U.S., not as many as you might think. The news last for only 30 minutes a day on the big three stations and unless it directly effects you as a person, the news is not very important. one might have an opinion about the war and it causes but it's just that, an opinion, does it have to be informed, no. We are free to think and do as we please. You can't make a free people be well informed on issues that are unimportant to them.
4 or 5 people are killed in one way or another every day in large cities in the U.S. does it matter to each other individual in the city ? No.
Were the WMD in Iraq. Who cares?
Ask this question: What is a WMD, I bet 50% don't know. Were Iraqis involved in 9-11,They are all Arabs right, so who cares which country they came from. That is the governments job to sort them out. If the government fails us then we will elect someone else to do the job. There have been no more terrorist attacks in the U.S., so the government is doing it's job.

Bloody hell, Abu, you’ve conjured another one out of the Pit. This Jimmy K. guy above is really rabid - halfway through his Blog, he has a good old sneering session at Canadian "liberals" who want to ban ownership of pit bull dogs.
I know a young girl who was savaged by one of these beasts in a completely unprovoked attack. Two years later, she’s still having her face put back together.
Go, Charles, go, here’s a kindred soul for you at last!
Abu, the details of the Harris poll don’t matter that much - 50% of all Americans, or as I’ve suggested maybe 25% of thinking literate Americans.
Either way, this is a sick, sick nation.

Things seem to be coming more clear in Iraq.

It looks like we are headed towards an independent Kurdistan that houses and bases US troops as a necessary condition for survival - which means the US gets its bases to project force if necessary into Iran and Syria.

And the rest of Iraq - we are still hoping a long-term civil war can be avoided.

Allawi, who unlike Sistani is a US puppet, looks to remain the Iraq's head of state for the foreseeable future. Which means the troops stay, which means the fighting continues which means an independent, prosperous or stable Iraq moves further and further from possiblity.

I may be wrong. I can't see the future and time will tell.

If I'm right, this is close to what - according to me - has been the US best-case scenario all along.

If the story about the UIA's votes being shaved by 8 points is true, that shaving was enough to give the Kurds, working with Allawi, a veto over the formation of a new government.

But if the elections proved that Mr. Allawi has less than 15% support among the Iraq people, Allawi remains head of state, there is nothing to be added to the question of whether or not the elections were legitimate.

Now Circular, I'm offended. Please watch your wording...


Dear all:

I think 911% of Americans believe that Giuliana Sgrena was shot by accident...

A couple of months ago I posted a link to an "accident" like what happens with Giuliana. Father and mother killed in front of their five kids.

And of course is very strange that people was doubting she was kidnapped by IR after gathered information about Fallujah II and, in the end, American troops tried to kill her.

Was the Italian Inteligence as dumb as the American one? I don't think so.

That was homicide in first or second degree. As 100.000 other ones.

But Charles knows better...

Anyone who quotes David Frum is a sad fool.

Frum is a spoiled rotten rich kid who has never worked a day in his life.

Mommy was a famous Canadian radio personality - a lifelong voice of the government-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Daddy is a prominent Toronto doctor - a specialist in fraudulent real estate scams.

The Frumlet lives in a million dollar Washington D.C. town home - a present from daddy.

His journalism career was a gift from Conrad Black - a Canadian media lord who made his money the old-fashioned way ... what he didn't inherit, he borrowed.

The Frumlet married well - a daughter of another newspaper - the tabloid that brought British "big boobs on p.3" journalism to Canada.

David Frum is such a boob that he got fired from his job as a White House third-under-assistant spin doctor.

Anyone who thinks he has anything to say might be smarter to read him before sniffing the Peruvian Marching Powder.

Has anyone heard from Abu Khaleel?

I hope he is ok!


I think Abu is busy giving interviews on US network TV. He suggested that not everybody in Lebanon was on board with Bush on the 'immediate' Syrian pullout. Next day Hezbollah showed up with 1/2 million demonstrators to prove his point. Coincidence?...I think not!
He appears to be in a horserace with Juan Cole for the 'Cassandras of Iraq I-told-you-so prize'.
Anybody see Rummy lately, Donald Trump is looking for him(Yah fired!).

Are you dead?

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

MPeach I can forgive, but 6:45 should not be allowed to post!!


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

We are the Terrorist. We have commited acts so brutal and unAmerican and un Christian We now are naked for the world to unite and pay back from all Free nations we overthru and put dictators in charge of mass murder.

"We" who, mpeachw? You are not included in this "we".

You, and the guys like you, are the hope for US and the world.

Bush, the mass murder and Charles, the blinded fan of the mass murder, they are this "we", not you.

The Attempted Assassination Of Giuliana Sgrena

Had everything gone as planned, an American sniper would have assassinated Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena with one shot, following the sniper's code of 'one shot, one kill'. The only independent witness to what happened would then be dead, as both her guardian, the heroic Nicola Calipari, the driver of the car, and the other two passengers were Italian secret service agents, thus worked for Berlusconi, and would be unable to say anything (on other accounts, the driver may have been an Iraqi, but he could easily be disposed of). The Americans obviously could have killed everyone in the car by simply blowing it up, but it would then have been impossible to claim that this was just another mistake made by a panicking speeding driver at a checkpoint.

By firing lots of rounds, but with only one shot killing anybody, it is clear that either the Americans are terrible shots, or all the flying ammo was simply a ruse to hide the only shot that mattered, the one that would kill the person with the information on what happened in the chemical warfare attacks on Falluja. All the Americans, except for the sniper, were shooting to miss. The sniper had her lined up, only to be foiled by the heroic sacrifice of Nicola Calipari. Ironic that the neocons are stymied by a combination of altruism and duty, things they cannot possibly comprehend.


I have to thank you, Alvaro for commenting that impeachw is one of the hopes for the world. Many of us Americans are really frightenend by the anti-american sentiments. But there are many of us who feel like impeachw, we just aren't heard.

You know, impeachw sounds like a Christian. Many Christians in this country are taught at a very early age to be humble and do good works but not to brag about those works.

I think this is a problem in a way. Because many Christian Americans who have been upset by Bush's policies don't see themselves as ones to speak up--they'd rather minister to the poor and hungry. Or they are scared by the anti-American sentiments out there and are afraid to speak; a sort of paralyzation comes over a country that is constantly criticized. You know we never hear anything positive in our own news, let alone in the international news.

In my church's Book of Confessions it says first to honor your Father in Heaven, then your earthly father and mother and anyone with authority over you including your country's leaders.

While I'm sure Chrisitian Americans don't always consciously think "I have to honor President Bush" it is at least ingrained in their learning to not stand against their President, to not be leaders in this way.

So go ahead and be critical, but know that even if we are not always vocal, there are certainly those who are doing things behind the scenes to try to bring about change. God bless you.


Charles and Diogenes,

I agree that the journalist shooting was more than likely an accidental shooting. Sgrena is saying that the Americans came to the vehicle and shouted that there was a dead person and they tried to give her an IV and that they seemed stunned.

And besides soldiers being high strung or confused as Diogenes says, I believe by now a lot must be getting battle fatigue where they aren't sleeping well and their minds aren't working right.
This could then explain too the differing stories on both sides.


I hope Abu's just gone down to his farm, or is reorganising his Blog like he said he might, and that nothing has happened to him.
The following from Charles is difficult to resist:

"But for all the attention given to mistakes, there is very little credit given to successes."

Could you list these successes, Charles, in an systematic way? The ones that have been worth all the chaos and bloodshed for innocent Iraqis?

The Washington Post article was interesting , Charles with yet another visual of what might have gone on. It made me a little ashamed to realize that I don't know all the complexities of the checkpoint situation.

My major curiosity is why is there contention over whether the car was speeding or not-has anyone heard if this has been ironed out?

What I think is unfortunate is the delay in getting out the facts (which is justified) in some of these instances, in order to logically analyze the situation. The delay in these situations makes it appear as though the military, etc. has somtehing to hide when they really don't. It's all the messiness of war. Face it Charles, we will always look like the "bad guys" until this war is over.

And it goes back to Diogenes--this is why you only wage war as a last resort.

Touche', Charles on your last point.

I think I will chill and just read posts for awhile.


Charles you still don’t get it.
NZ doesn’t have any Divisions - our population is less than that of a medium-sized US city. Nevertheless our troops have served overseas, mainly under the auspices of the UN, since the end of WW2. They have been lethal when necessary - in Malaya, Korea, Borneo, Vietnam and Afghanistan - and most recently in East Timor. But mainly their work has been in reconstruction and peacekeeping - clearing minefields in Cambodia and Angola, monitoring borders in the Middle East, keeping the Indonesian militia out of East Timor while rebuilding the villages, stabilising a province in Afghanistan - and they are far happier with a hammer rather than a Steyr in their hands.
As far as I’m aware, they have never called the locals "Gooks" or "Hajis," they have never said "If it’s dead and Vietnamese, it must be Viet Cong," "If they don’t stop fast enough for our checkpoints, they deserve to get blown away." By what right do your troops set up checkpoints in Iraq, two years after you have "liberated" the place? (Go on Charles, whine whine, but it’s those terrible terrorists, we have to keep killing innocent Iraqis until we’ve beaten the terrorists. What sane nation would want to join into that?) Whose country is it anyway? Yours or theirs? I drive constantly around my country - how do you think I would feel if my right to do so was constrained by a whole lot of uninvited, ignorant, trigger-happy hillbillies who have no enduring business here and no understanding of the place?
Remember Zina’s comment about her colleague who asked her if she was going to fly or drive from the US to Europe? I find this so hard to believe - that an adult could be that ignorant in this day and age. I certainly wouldn’t want her brothers over here toting guns.
Don’t you read anything that Abu has actually said? Sure, it’s great freeing Iraq from the Saddam regime - but it’s not so great when you replace his regime with troops whose first instinct in any situation is to shoot the nearest Arab. Apparently they’re also shooting their allies - the British have asked that US troops transiting their area be given lessons in recognition of the Union Jack, to stop them loosing off at anything that moves. These are the guys with real NCO’s and officers, Charles, and properly trained troops, who have got it right in their part of Iraq.
If you are going to be the only superpower in the 21st century, rushing around spreading freedom and democracy wherever takes your fancy, can’t you at least get it a little bit right? So far you’ve got it all wrong in Iraq, just like you did in Vietnam.
Don’t the troops of a nation to some extent represent the mood and nature of that nation? Germany’s ruthless SS in WW2, Eisenhower’s "greatest generation" in Europe and the Pacific, Mao’s fanatical hordes in Korea, the incredible courage of the Vietnamese refusing to give in against a nation 20 times their size, the united and motivated world forces of Gulf I? And the frightened, trigger-happy, "blow it all away, let God pick up the pieces" Marines and GI’s in Iraq?
After two years, you’ve managed some half-assed elections that haven’t produced any tangible results.
Tell us more about your "successes," Charles. Then you might get some kind words.

Dear Circular,

I take offense to the comment about our troops first instinct is to shoot the nearest Arab. That is VERY prejudicial. You do realize that some of our soldiers are Arabs? I really doubt that is the emotion going on.

Although I don't believe in the reason we are over there, did it occur to you that the reporting of several incidences of friendly fire being the majority of American accidents is because we have the most troops in Iraq? Have you heard that Italy wants to negotiate but not tell us about where their people are going to be?
Have you also heard of battle fatigue?

And lastly, would you like it if your hard-working soldiers, many of whom signed up in the military to get decent pay when their communities are depressed ie. West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee-(AND by the way you may call them Hillbillies, but please use a capital H if you are going to Circular because they've earned that proud name; it means HONESTY, PRIDE, LOYALTY, HONOR and HARD WORKMANSHIP) and were not by their choice involved in the decision to enact the war that they were stuck in) would you like it if YOUR troops were insidiously villified by allies, yes allies??

Please think about it is all I'm asking.


O.k. so I goofed. I meant to say some of our soldiers are Arab-american.

And one more thing, Hillbillies are a hell of a lot of fun, too.

Have you ever seen the Blue Ridge Mountains? Well, them thar hills can make folks just-a-give away thar inhibitins'!!!

Youre' wrong for once, Diogenes.
I believe debaters, writers, scholars you name it have an obligation to rise above the hurtful rhetoric that does nothing but to instill more hatred.

Do you want so many people to stir up the world in such a hatred that might cause a new unjustified war against the U.S.? Not that we don't deserve it, but I'm just asking for people to remember the hardworking QUIET Americans that were/are against the war and let's give them some respect.

If you had the U.S. at your mercy would that make you happier? If the answer is yes, even in jest than you have just become the same as the few ungodly Americans that did commit unjustified actions. As the native Americans say, walk a mile in my moccassins...

O.K. I guess when I say quiet, I mean many things-the people who can't speak up for themselves-those who are poor who joined the military to survive and can't see speaking against the war due to poverty and disloyalty toward their comrades, those who are passive I e, some Christian and Muslim-Americans and especially the sects like the Amish. Mothers like myself who by the way I email and write the Congress quite frequently about the war and the Israeli-Palestinian issue and I keep not hearing back. I want to protest in my small town and I hope to this Spring. We have had protesters here since the war began, I'm proud to say. But my point is, they never get on the front pages of even the local newspapaers. And we can't all afford a Washington trip.

I need suggestions, Diogenes on what to do. I feel so helpless. I wish we here could write up some sort of international petition. Food for thought.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Where is Pumpkintown?

O.k. I have an idea. We stage a protest against the U.S. govt getting involved in other countries affairs. We do it in a town in Ohio known for protests. A small one so if we get lots of people it will really make news.
Ohio makes sense because we were the state that fought out the election with such gusto and we are an important state. And mostly we should have it here because I can't leave. Just kidding.

But my condition is it is not a protest against the war because I do not want our troops to leave the poor Iraqis high and dry and undefended. It now would have to be a protest about staying out of other countries business and to call for the need for better rhetoric with our Arab brothers. how crazy does this sound?

I haven't been to this forum for a while actually... I've had an acute shortage of three essential ingredients: time, means... and motive.

Also, I feel that we are in the process of watching the formulation of a new ball game. There is so much input... but much of it so vague! And... I am questioning the very concept of this blog!

I have just read through all your comments. So many good points from so many good people... as well as some bad ones by a few 'bad apples'. America must have been having some bad apple seasons for a few years in a row! I have had to tidy things up a bit to leave a clean discussion.


An 'uninformed' person does not know. Those people "believe" something that is not true. How did all those millions of people get that impression? Have you already forgotten all that what was said and insinuated by the media and by senior administration officials?

If we imagine a simple person thinking that 9/11 was done by those bloody Airabs. Eye-raq is an Airab country. Therefore Eye-raqis must be responsible for 911. Will you not concede that some misinformation at a more sisnister level has taken place sometime in America?

By the way, your unprovoked and ill-mannered attack on Zina was mean.
It seems that you have "lived abroad for much of the 90's". That sounds more than the period Zina has spent in the States. Have you learned that country's language to the same proficiency as Zina's English? If you haven't, then that says something about your (lack of) learning capabilities. Through your many comments in this website, you certainly have demonstrated very clearly your (lack of ) ability to learn anything new.

If you have learned that foreign language, then please accept my apologies.

How does that feel? It is basically a tactic we are all bcoming familiar with: Assume, Attack... and (occasionally) Apologize. Sounds familiar?

You are still welcome to comment (I really want you to) but I respectfully request again that you do not spam this section of this blog. I will be grateful if you restrict yourself to a maximum number of comments that is equal to two more than the highest number of posts made by anybody. Is this fair? This may act as an incentive for you to reflect a bit more before posting. So far, you have managed to offend almost all regular participants... most of the time needlessly. Was that 'common sense' bit really necessary?

Let us all please have a civilized debate.

Welcome back Abu Khaleel. We were worried about you.

My apologies in advance. I'm sure I'm the vague one. I'm going to try to write down my points to edit them, before posting.


Thank you. I am afraid I was the one who was a bit 'vague'! I was actually referring to the political situation in Iraq up there. Sorry. I should have have been more explicit.

I wish you could tell us more about your experiences in Iraq.


Who’s this "Abu Kahleel" guy that has suddenly joined in the discussion? Where did he come from?
Good to see you back, Abu. I certainly hope you recover your motivation to Blog, otherwise I’ll have to wrestle with the symptoms of "Iraquna Withdrawal."
If you want suggestions: is the "Letter to America" theme perhaps approaching a use-by date? Are you perhaps either preaching to the converted in the case of many of us, or battering your head against a brick wall in the case of the die-hard war apologists? The "what a stuff-up!" "not a stuff-up!" debate becomes increasingly sterile with the passage of time, and the Bush administrations’ attention seems to be wandering elsewhere anyway: maybe they have consigned Iraq to the "Too Hard" basket and just want to get out with some sort of intact image for their fanatical constituency?
Is more emphasis on the "Glimpse of Iraq" theme possibly the way to go? I know you don’t want to be a mere reporter, but information about what real, ordinary Iraqis are thinking and feeling is so hard to come by, with independent reporting more or less shut down, and is really appreciated out here. I’m sure many of us would like to hear more about "the country I know and live in, not the one portrayed ... by the mass media."Could the Glimpse section be re-opened for Comments? What are the best jokes circulating about the outcome of the "election?"

Circulator-are you by any chance related to a Circular?

I like it when you are in a good mood! I agree that Glimpse of Iraq is nice. I wish Abu Khaleel would write more too. And that we could all chat. Kind of like a round table discussion.

Circulatory, Ohio (and others)

To tell you the truth, I enjoy writing the "Glimpse" more than this one! These letters frequently leave me feeling angry and bitter (any idea why? ;) I'm sure you have already noticed that many of the people I mention there are people I know. This is probably why I switched off the comments section. There were some hateful and truly obnoxious comments that deeply offended me in attacking or insulting people that I love and respect.

I promise that I will make the effort to post more frequently there... external factors permitting.

As to contemporary events, I have always felt that there are numerous Iraqi bloggers doing just that. Besides, the energy required for such an exercise requires a younger soul! What is it that you feel is missing?

As to this blog, I really don't know yet. The Iraqi component seems certain to have a larger share of the new ball game that will be unfolding… with the US administration pulling some of the main strings from behind the scenes. If we discuss that too often, I am sure some of our American friends here will start yelling "conspiracy theory"!.

There is also my promise of discussing the issue of religion … but such murky waters may attract some ferocious sharks. I can give you the bottom line on this: I believe that there is a thin line that can be charted between appeasing religious feelings of millions… and secularism. Surprising? Well, I think I can defend my position, but the subject may be boring to many.

What do you think?

i was wondering if in "Glimpse" sometime you could tell us about Harun Rashid. And if it is true he gave all of his orders in formal Arabic poetry?


Hello Abu Khaleel,
"There is also my promise of discussing the issue of religion … but such murky waters may attract some ferocious sharks. I can give you the bottom line on this: I believe that there is a thin line that can be charted between appeasing religious feelings of millions… and secularism. Surprising? Well, I think I can defend my position, but the subject may be boring to many.

What do you think?"
Not boring in the least. Rather the reverse. But I must warn you that this is a highly contentious subject(with me)!
Secularism is failing around the world, losing ground here in America with the reformed alcoholic Bush financing his religious charities with the my tax money. America was founded as a secular nation and is now being destroyed by the partisan warfare of nauseating anti-science religious fanatics. Of course I want to hear what you want to say about the role of marginalized secularism in Iraq. What a world!

Regarding swimming with sharks, Abu, since you seem to be soliciting an opinion:
As a very devout unbeliever, or disbeliever, or non-believer, I must confess to a profound lack of interest in the details of the doctrines and beliefs of any religion, if that’s what you’re talking about. But doubtless others here would feel differently.
(I don’t even feel guilty about it either. At the last Census here in NZ, about 30% of the population identified themselves as having ‘No Religion.’ Most of the remainder identified themselves as adhering to one of the mainstream Christian denominations, but other surveys of Church attendance suggest that a lot of these are at best nominal rather than practising in their claimed religiosity, so you could safely say that the majority of the population are for all practical purposes non-religious. It doesn’t seem to be doing us much harm, as far as being a fundamentally decent society is concerned. I gather something similar could be said about many European states. I don’t know if we’re leading the world into the future, or into perdition, but at the moment it feels OK.)
Something that would interest me, regarding secularity, is my vague awareness of the UN Declaration of Human Rights thingy, promoting all manner of equality before the law, between the sexes, between races and faiths and sects, etc. To what extent, if any, is there a clash between these presumably secular principles and Muslim beliefs as they may affect the citizens of a future Iraq? What about the Muslim world in general? Are these contentious questions, or is that the thin line you are talking about?

For you dear Circular,
"A philosopher may deplore the eternal discord of the human race, but he will confess that the desire of spoil is a more rational provocation than the vanity of conquest. From the age of Constantine to that of the Plantagenets, this rapacious spirit continued to instigate the poor and hardy Caledonians: but the same people, whose generous humanity seems to inspire the songs of Ossian, was disgraced by a savage ignorance of the virtues of peace and of the laws of war. Their southern neighbours have felt, and perhaps exaggerated, the cruel depredations of the Scots and Picts: and a valiant tribe of Caledonia, the Attacotti, the enemies, and afterwards the soldiers, of Valentinian, are accused, by an eye-witness, of delighting in the taste of human flesh. When they hunted the woods for prey, it is said that they attacked the shepherd rather than his flock; and that they curiously selected the most delicate and brawny parts, both of males and females, which they prepared for their horrid repasts. If, in the neighbourhood of the commercial and literary town of Glasgow, a race of cannibals has really existed, we may contemplate, in the period of the Scottish history, the opposite extremes of savage and civilized life. Such reflections tend to enlarge the circle of our ideas: and to encourage the pleasing hope that New Zealand may produce, in some future age, the Hume of the Southern Hemisphere."


You are going off the deep end again, e.g., Bush is worse than Hitler and the U.S. purposefully targets journalists. Talk about binary, un-nuanced thinking. Is there any immoral act that you will not accuse the U.S. of embracing when reacting to Charles’ jingoism?

To cite a further example, your comments concerning the non-U.S. source for the vast bulk of Saddam's weaponry are transparently disingenuous. The purpose of Charles' question was quite obviously to rebut the frequently made assertion the U.S. armed Saddam or that Saddam was a pliant U.S. client. The fact that the U.S. greatly constrained military sales to Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war when Saddam desperately needed them belies such claims. Of course, the U.S. helped both Iraq and Iran in that war when either side looked as if it might score a decisive victory. This policy was pursued largely because the U.S. feared that a clearly victorious Iraq or Iran would become more militarily aggressive and move on to threaten other neighboring states. Such events could have resulted in further death, destruction, and civilian suffering ( the altrusitic concerns) as well as having grave effects on world energy prices and the world economy (issues of economic self-interest).

Abu Khaleel:

I, for one, would be very interested in your thoughts on how the Iraqi politicians can accommodate passionately held, but frequently competing, religious and secular values in a new constitutional system. After all, political compromise is the preferred means by which democratic governments reach a consensus for action on contentious issues.



You are going off the deep end again, e.g., Bush is worse than Hitler and the U.S. purposefully targets journalists. Talk about binary, un-nuanced thinking. Is there any immoral act that you will not accuse the U.S. of embracing when reacting to Charles’ jingoism?

To cite a further example, your comments concerning the non-U.S. source for the vast bulk of Saddam's weaponry are transparently disingenuous. The purpose of Charles' question was quite obviously to rebut the frequently made assertion the U.S. armed Saddam or that Saddam was a pliant U.S. client. The fact that the U.S. greatly constrained military sales to Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war when Saddam desperately needed them belies such claims. Of course, the U.S. helped both Iraq and Iran in that war when either side looked as if it might score a decisive victory. This policy was pursued largely because the U.S. feared that a clearly victorious Iraq or Iran would become more militarily aggressive and move on to threaten other neighboring states. Such events could have resulted in further death, destruction, and civilian suffering ( the altrusitic concerns) as well as having grave effects on world energy prices and the world economy (issues of economic self-interest).

Abu Khaleel:

I, for one, would be very interested in your thoughts on how the Iraqi politicians can accommodate passionately held, but frequently competing, religious and secular values in a new constitutional system. After all, political compromise is the preferred means by which democratic governments reach a consensus for action on contentious issues.


Duh! What?

Well, I am a little more heartened about my countrymen and women.

Check out for a new ABC/Washington post poll about how Americans feel about the war in Iraq.(I'm sorry I don't know how to give you a link yet).

And, at the same address see: Global News, where Mundhir Sulaiman- an expert on U.S. national security affairs says:
"Traditionally, Americans do not support military intervention and human losses in order to achieve aims like spreading democracy."



It is true that journalists have been "targeted" in the sense that a weapon was purposefully fired in their direction, but that is not what most people mean when they use the phrase. They mean deliberately attempting to kill or harm a journalist. As you concede, you have cited no direct evidence of such deliberate attempts. As to your inference that there is a pattern of occurrences which support of conclusion that such deliberate attempts are common or are policy, it is illogical in view of the significant number of friendly fire incidents in this war.

Of course, the remaining issue is fire discipline and communication. The anecdotal evidence that you cite is, in my view, insufficient to draw generalized conclusions as to discipline or the lack thereof. What is your standard for fire discipline and communication, a complete lack of friendly fire or journalist incidents? I would submit that perfection is an unreasonable standard for human conduct, particularly in matters as complex and dangerous as conducting a war.
This is not to say that greater efforts should not be made to reduce the number of such incidents.

You also wrote, "Bush may not have an explicit ideology of racial eradication, but the ideology that he, and to a lesser degree, America as a whole seems to believe in, is in the creation of client states, control of foreign resources and utilizing subservient labour pools for profit."

This may truly be your opinion, but I doubt it. Such rhetoric sounds more like an accusation that the U.S. is in essence running a series of Nazi forced labor camps through its client states. I submit that your characterization is an insult the victims of his atrocities. You might want to bear in mind that the Nazis were responsible for the death of 20 million Russians and the purposeful execution of over 6 million Jews, gypsies, communists, homosexuals and other "undesirables." Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that your 100,000 figure is accurate, it utterly pales in comparison to Hitler's legacy of depravity.

As to client states, the U.S., like every other world power throughout history, has attempted to influence both allies and enemies in a manner that furthers its own interests. There is nothing necessarily sinister in such an approach as long as it is tempered by a certain level of respect for other nation’s rights and certain ethical limits. What those limits are or should be under a given set of circumstances are matters that are likely to be debated for all of human history.

Last time I checked, Americans were paying the same exceptionally high prices on world energy markets as every other country. Why doesn’t the U.S. get a better price than everyone else from its clients for this most important “foreign resource?"

As to subservient labor, there is no dispute that the U.S. generally favors relatively free trade, free-market economic policies.
Whether such policies are harmful or beneficial to the economies of other countries is a matter of considerable debate between fair minded people. As a result of such policies, the Chinese have become one of the world’s leading exporters of manufactured products. China can hardly be accused of being an American client; it is more like an emerging rival.

Are you really such a committed ideologue that you think nearly all the world's evil flows from American capitalist greed and global military ambitions? If so, Utopia merely awaits a reversal of American military and economic strength. Perhaps, China, the great respecters of human rights (sarcasm alert), will usher that golden period of history if it becomes the world’s leading economic and military power.

Bruno, from our past debates, I know that you are far more nuanced in your thinking than what you have let on. Could you do me a favor and cool down the rhetoric a little, not matter how mad Charles makes you, so that I don't feel compelled to respond. Thanks.


My family is more of German and French descent but I am a tiny bit Scotch-Irish.

And my 7 yr. old daughter, Tessa wanted me to say, "Top O' the Mornin' to Ya!!!!"

Charles, different topic.

As an American do you think that
America is less globally sensitive than other countries of the world?

I do and am trying to figure out the reason. I just began thinking that it could be because we are not surrounded on all sides by countries very differnt from us with the exception of Mexico. So we have not had to get along and share others languages and cultures too much. (Canada is much like us, so I don't count it).

But the thing I can't figure is that WITHIN the U.S. we have had to be sensitive to all of the different immigrants and their nationalities so why again, aren't we as world- conscious as other countries like England, for example?

Therefore I wonder if it has to be a setup like Europe or the other continents where you have a united nations of countries AROUND you but not WITHIN you in order to understand and be sensitive to the world at large. Does this make sense?

I think it does as I type this, because it just occurred to me that the people within our borders all try to ameliorate to the majority.The melting pot theory.

Yet when it comes to ie. Europe each country has many countries surrounding it and noone has to give up their integrity as much. They are all forced to get along population-wise AND border-wise which is better for learning how to be peace keepers.

I think the big 'ole U.S.'s problem is we are like a big, isolated lonely bear who gets cranky and paws and attacks
things it doesn't understand. You know isolated animals WILL preemptively attack because their perspective has been distorted from being alone too long. When I think of this i am beginning to feel kind of sad!!

I wonder what you non-Americans think of this.

BTW, I am not taking sides on the targeting or not of journalists by the U.S., but I do like your last quote.

O.K. maybe we are not so much like the cranky bear, but I believe we are like the bear coming out of a hibernation, now that we are realizing we need to wake up and communicate with those who are a world away from us.

Again, maybe we will slowly come out of this (I pray) but we had isolated ourselves. Just 5 years or so ago, I knew nothing about Arabs or Muslims, Charles. I did not know that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believed in one God or that we have many of the same prophets. We are the same family of religions, so to speak. Thus if we had learned more about the Muslim/Arab world maybe 9-11 would not have happened.

I absolutely believe that we are one of the most generous countries around, but we need to realize that money alone does not cure the worlds ills. The Arab/Muslim world wants to know that they have our ear on topics like the Palestinians not having a home. They have wanted to believe that we are not just out for our own self-interest in business relations. I read where the Q'uran says that one of the greatest things you can be is an honest businessman. How many of these do we have in America-Halliburton? Enron? Worldcom-or whatever it is called? And yet our businesses of course affect how other countries look at us.

They are re-opening a lawsuit against McDonalds in England because there is this new willingness to stand up against America and her trying to dictate how business is run internationally.

It really scares me that in my mind I can remember as a child being so proud of America and thinking you know, we were the land of milk and honey and the do-gooders for anyone who just asked for help. But we became an entity that gave itself the right to determine what other countries need
the old father- knows- best syndrome.

George Washington once said: "unity at home, isolation abroad."

Today we could take this to mean unity at home and stay out of other countries affairs unless they ask for our help.

I don't believe the Administration is evil, but that they are slow to learn from their mistakes. I do believe that Bush has a heart in there somewhere but that he constantly surrounds himself with people that are in line with his ideals. I like the presidents who were willing to listen to an opposing viewpoint once in awhile.
George Washington I believe eventually saw his error in the bad treatment of the American Indians and I do believe he was coming over to realizing the hypocrisy of a free nation that still enslaved blacks.

I hope to email w/you soon.

Oh and as for the journalist issue, I can't argue to this because I don't have the resources you and Bruno have.

You don't have to answer, Charles, and I don't know why exactly I want to know, but are you a Christian?

Abu Khaleel, I like your idea of the topic of religion.

Your roots are showing. Why did you stop believing?

I hope you didn't take that wrong.

I meant that your Presbyterian roots are showing.

O.k., Charles, that kind of just slipped out.

why do you think people think you are a right-wing Christian fundamentalist? I don't see you as such.

It's weird because I feel at home on this site-(the first of it's type I've been to). But in the two Ohio towns I've lived in, the first being a village of under 5,000 people, I have never met but maybe one person who feels like I do.I don't even know too many Democrats.

Yet we were so divided in this state at elections. Where are all the Democrats, I say? I forget, was New Hampshire a red or blue state? I believe blue, correct? Maybe we should switch states??


since when do soldiers get "a bigger say" in the matters of their countries? And what do you say to those soldiers who were already enlisted before Bush made a wrong turn? Is every man capable of walking on Godlike principles?
There were some deserters and still are who left/leave the American military due to opposing principles about Iraq. There was, I believe a south-western American I remember reading about who went AWOL because he felt he was compromising his principles. The article made me cry because he was ostracized by many.Yet I was so proud of him.

I don't think the soldier who is a pawn in all the countries I know of should be fodder for insults unless he is the one himself who took a deliberate wrong turn. And I'm not saying we don't have our demons.

But also, in America the biggest enrollment of citizens into the military is in the region called Appalachia, one of the most depressed regions in the country. The armed forces provide the only decent paying jobs for these people. I doubt these people read up on the policies of the government. Their fault? Yes and no. They are surviving themselves.

This is why, little Jessica Lynch whose own brother didn't think her body was fit for the military became a soldier against the odds in order to pay for college.

I do not feel sorry for her. I am only saying that there ARE decent, honorable American soldiers.

By the way, those soldiers who did step beyond the bounds of decency were from one of the few countries whose press is able to talk about it.

Sometimes when reading comments I wonder the same thing "are we wasting our time".

But then I think, I suppose at least it's getting people thinking. Who knows, perhaps one day the thinking will become more sentient.

As for whoever mentioned not-voting ~ there is a huge gulf between the apathetic not-vote and the articulate not-vote. The one is done without conscience, the other is done (or not-done as the case may be) through an organised publicised campaign with an intent to raise questions and provoke dialogue.

Peace, we will get there. Eventually.


I just wanted to put a human face on our soldiers. By reading these posts I get more and more of a human face from all of you, but the soldiers rarely get to speak. Just as the Iraqi victims don't. I so respect them both.

If I don't give you a human face then we Americans are all monsters who have "blown a fuse". Bruno, you know I believe we aren't as civilized as some of the rest of the world. We are spoiled brats. And yes, our lifestyle is dumming us down. But we are humans and there is hope for us. Have you seen the American boy's site "Wer'e sorry world"? (I apologize if the wording is off.) It is really thought-provoking as simple as it is.

O.k. the site is called: Sorry Everybody and for those who are disillusioned with us please go to this site. Yes there are kids AND adults who are being very trite and shallow on this site but there are many heart-wrenching pleas for forgiveness and there is planning on the site for the two sides of America to get together to discuss what we are doing in the world.

Make no mistake- I don't believe we are worth the salt in the two Abu's tears, but I HAVE to keep hope alive and working towards change.

Hi Charles,

I hate to say it, but I heard something in the news about how we weren't letting Italian investigators see the car. I mean, what's that about?

(oops. I thought that this had posted already. Well, I never leat a reply go to waste so...)

[charles] "First, that combat zones are not inherently dangerous and therefore when someone gets hurt it must be the result of a conspiracy."

No, I just happen to find it more than a little fishy that the very people that have been pissing off the US military always seem to get hit, repeatedly, over and over, be it by bomb or boot or bullet ... but sure Charles, that's just a coincidence. Even when the 50th one is blown apart it'll be a coincidence. When the traffic light turns red and the cars all stop simultaneously, that's also a coincidence. No problem.

On Sgrena:

You said yourself that neither you nor I had all the facts, yet here you are, embarrassing yourself with pointless, breathless speculation on what did or did not happen. Tell me, are these points which you trumpet "FACTS" or speculation?

Imagine if in fact the "airport road" was in fact a tightly guarded 'secure' road WITHIN the Green Zone, and that if one wanted to gain access to this road one would have to pass through a stringent checkpoint manned by American soldiers? Imagine if the large calibre bullets which hit the car hit it from BEHIND? Imagine if in fact the Italian mission had been in full liaison with American authorities all along? Imagine if one did not have to drive at high speed to aquaplane through a puddle of water?

Gee, well, I guess you'd look pretty darn stupid then. I'll be sure to remind you if that's the case. Until then, I suggest we leave this waste of time till later.

On US Soldiers:

""[me] US soldiers routinely lie about the circumstances of their misdeeds."
[charles] Let's not throw stones Bruno - eh? Do you have any evidence that soldiers 'routinely' lie? Do you know any soldiers Bruno?"

As a matter of fact I do. The Palestine Hotel incident comes to mind. The murder of Zeyad's cousin comes to mind. The phantom fire directed at the Marines involved in the Fallujah massacre comes to mind. The incident where a soldier point blank shot a civilian dead in Sadr City, and then tried to claim he had drawn a weapon, contrary to the evidence of his own friggin fellow soldiers comes to mind.

These are just off the top of my head.

But, I tell you what, I'm not even going to bother pasting the relevent articles. Obviously there were a few bad apples involved, mixed with some lying Iraqis, and lack of evidence, and some tragic bad judgement (excusable of course) that led to these and other incidents. So, given that I know in advance the excuses that you will scrabble for, let's just drop the matter, eh?

"If the US policy was to kill journalists then there would be a lot of dead journalists."

There ARE a lot of dead journalists.

Your "We received orders to assassinate so-and-so journalist." argument does not really cut much ice with me. The case that I am making is that the *attitude* that it is acceptable to kill journalists if their deaths can be excused as tragic collateral damage is encouraged within the US military. This attitude is furthermore encouraged by the cursory and dismissive investigations given into the cases of abused, beaten or killed journalists. Given that the ROE are so elastic, pretty much any soldier who wanted to dispose of a journalist has carte blanche to do so, because he knows that it is virually guaranteed that nothing will happen to him. Now, add to that the anti journalist stance taken by the US brass, and one can understand the series of "accidents" that continually happen to non embedded journalists.

My point: The INTENTION to 'shut up' independent journalists is there. The means vary.

This is quite apart from the 'targetting down' of uplink signals and broadcast stations. Or the Serbian incident.

""WAS there a genocide in Kosovo?"

The same Serbian leadership that executed genocidal tactics during breakup of Yugoslavia was getting started in Kosovo. Maybe they had good intentions Bruno. Maybe."

Names. Dates. Facts.

And how they correllate.

I see none.

But hallelujah for making this extrapolation, because this is exactly the same extrapolation that I make with the US. I see the same, dictator-luvin', havoc wreakin' USA starting its usual tricks in Iraq. Yet we are asked to forget your entire sordid history with Iraq and believe that THIS time it's different. THIS time the "liberation" is completely disinterested and driven by pure goodwill. Of course you can't expect us to believe you ... ?

"[me] My statement: IF you support action against the Serbian media of the time THEN you also support action against the US media which has drummed up a case for war against Iraq in the same manner."

[charles] Your suggested argument would have validity only if the US media and the Serbian media (and the contexts within which they function), were equal. They are not. Your argument would also require equivalence between the US and Serbian authorities on how they control the media. They are quite different. Therefore your argument itself is not valid."

Uh, let's cut to the chase, OK?

Firstly, we are talking content, and how that content leads to people dying as a basis for violent action against the media. Reality: the US public, as a large result of your media's actions condoned an illegal invasion that has resulted in the deaths of probably ten times as many people as the highest realistic 'total' of people killed as a result of Serbian action. Strictly speaking, that makes your media many times more guilty than the Serbian equivalent.

Secondly, whether the media is state media or merely independent media that symbiotically acts in tandem with the state position has NO bearing on the validity of my argument. You are trying to twist the discussion by bringing in irrelevent factors into it. You are in essence saying 'state media' is fair game by its mere virtue of being state media, and US media is not game by its mere virtue of being US media.

Do you realise how flawed this sounds?

It's the ol' "some people are more equal than others" attitude.

[charles] "One of the insurgents - who was filming the attack - uttered 'alla akhbar' just before he was killed. I suppose those ladies (and a few guys) from KY should have called a time-out to check for valid ID cards? Eh? Was that guy a journalist?"

That guy was (maybe) a journalist, but IMO fair game for a bullet in the head. The same as if an embedded journalist is whacked in an actual firefight, that's too bad.

Charles, you don't realise that there are a LOT of other incidents that I have not mentioned of journalists being hit by US fire that I could mention. I don't mention them because IMHO they were 'genuine' incidents of a news guy being just a little too brave in getting his story and paying the price for it. Or of troops firing randomly because they were in the process of being attacked. Or genuine 'collateral damage'.

Maybe my judgement is wrong.

Maybe I should list ALL of them in monotonous detail and listen to you excuse them one by one.

That'd be fun, right?


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on Blogwise