Monday, July 24, 2006


The War in Lebanon: Iraqi Perspective

This blog is mostly about Iraq. It is basically an Iraqi perspective. The comments section of the previous post drifted into the question of the recent conflict in Lebanon. Some people wondered how Iraqis saw things and whether they were interested in the first place. This is how I see it from Iraq.

I have a soft spot for Lebanon. There was a time when many Iraqis spent their summer holidays In Lebanon. I was 13 when I first visited the country and immediately fell in love with it. I was struck by the friendliness of the people, their openness towards strangers and the wonderful lifestyle. The picturesque country and its pleasant cultural and geographic variety are also unique in the region: It is one of the few countries I know where you can move from warmth of sunny sandy beaches to the fresh coolness of mountain air in less than half an hour. I went back to Lebanon many times. I have fond memories of the country and its people.

Some people have indicated that most Iraqis are too busy with their own misfortunes to follow what is happening in Palestine and Lebanon. This is not true. Despite their own misery and preoccupations, most Iraqis are following those developments very closely.

Sunnis mostly do not look at Hezbollah as a ‘Shiite’ movement. The sectarian polarization, bad as it is, has not gone that far in Iraq… yet. In this respect, most Iraqis are united. Most ‘Shiite’ and ‘Sunni’ pro- and anti-Occupation political and insurgency groups declared their solidarity with Hezbollah and Lebanon and their outrage at Israel! Even the puppets and the stooges, have expressed their displeasure! Notable exceptions are the Kurdish ‘leadership’ and the Qaeda people.

Furthermore, these people almost unanimously believe that the root cause of all that is taking place is America, not Syria and Iran! Odd? Not really!

America and Israel keep saying that Hezbollah’s weaponry comes from Iran. What most people here see is that Israel’s superior weaponry that was killing innocent civilians comes from the US.

There is a lot of anger at America and the way the administration is implicitly condoning those criminal acts and giving the Israeli war machine political and diplomatic cover until they have finished their business.

No sir, no hearts and minds won here either!!

What is the matter with these ungrateful people?


I find the similarities in tactics used by the American and Israeli war machines in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon eerie.

Motives: self-defense, eradicating terrorism. Changing declared reasons: freeing soldiers; eradicating terror; no quarrel with the people, strengthening the government. Means: ‘surgical’ bombing followed by ground invasion. Result: Total devastation of civil life, innocents homeless and suffering, numerous children killed and mutilated, ruined civilian infrastructure; destruction of the tools and elements of government rendering the countries ungovernable; and… hatred, popular resentment, vengefulness and more hatred.

Air and fire superiority coupled with bombing ‘incompetence’ (!) resulting in enormous “collateral damage” (meaning murdered and injured innocent civilians) and a high proportion of children as well as devastation of civilian infrastructure, including power stations, water plants, roads, bridges and almost anything of value.

They are doing it again, I thought! It reminded me of the US ‘surgical’ bombings in 1991 to evict Saddam from Kuwait and later, during and after the invasion of Iraq: they bombed schools, bridges, cement factories, powder milk factories, an assortment of other factories, grain silos, civilian air-raid shelters, water treatment and pumping plants, power plants… and hundreds of other targets, unrelated to the war machine, that were hundreds of miles away from the “theatre of operations” for more than 40 days in order to expel Saddam from Kuwait.

Other similarities of note:

The percentage of the population supporting the military action (around 80%)!
The claim that they were doing the bombarded country a favor and that the people should be grateful.
The claim that they were doing it in self defense
Even the signing of bombs, this time by smiling, small children signing on death gadgets likely to hit similarly young children across the border!

Conclusion: The governing powers in America and Israel are two faces of the same coin. I doubt that anyone can debate that. The debate is whether the coin is good or bad.

Another conclusion: Fanatics always, always go too far. This ultimately leads to their own demise… but they can cause a lot of damage in the process.


Regardless of what people (including me) think of their doctrine, Hezbollah is a popular movement and not just a group of terrorists. They have representatives freely and democratically elected into Parliament and Office!! They haven’t done anything that the US and Israel haven’t done!

Very few people seem to remember that Hezbollah, as a movement, was born out of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in 1982 – also allegedly done in ‘self defense’. In fact, they managed to expel Israel from Lebanon; hence their clout in the Arab World!

Nobody mentions that Hezbollah did what it did (attacking and capturing those two unfortunate Israeli soldiers) in an attempt to release their own, held by Israel from the time that it occupied Lebanon. It still holds them six years after it left the country. Why didn’t they negotiate to swap prisoners? No negotiations with terrorists? But they did it before!

Labnana or Arqana?

During the early days of the sectarian polarization under the auspices of the American occupation, numerous people started warning about the “Labnana” (Lebanonization) of the internal conflict in Iraq.

During the first and second weeks of the Israeli assault on Lebanon, several times I heard analysts and politicians warning against the “Arqana” (Iraqization) of the situation in Lebanon.

Perhaps “Amraka” (Americanization) of the conflict would be a better description.

Neocons again?

I had some time ago declared the neocon empire defunct. Perhaps I was hasty. Secretary Condoleezza Rice used the term “Pangs of birth” to describe the present carnage. This is so reminiscent of neocon thinking and terminology. She should have used the term “Creative Destruction” the neocons are more fond of. One would have thought that they would not take the next step in the direction of the ‘new Middle East’ until they were successful in Iraq. Perhaps they are, as far as their objectives are concerned!

Media coverage

There was a time when the international media was literally ‘owned’ by Israel. I can’t help remembering the previous wars between Israel and her neighbors. The media bias was astounding. The other point of view was virtually non-existent!

This time, there was live coverage from Arab and other media channels, dozens of channels. The declared claims of avoiding civilian casualties, acting in self defense, helping the Lebanese government etc. etc. simply could not hold!

This time, Prime Minister Olmert complained about the media’s unbalanced reporting.

It seems that Israel did things with a mentality that assumed that they were going to get away with things like previous times. That was a major error.

As the battles unfolded, the declared objectives of the Israeli campaign were ‘reduced’ several times, clearly indicating that things were not going as planned.

A major casualty in this war was Israel's image of invincibility. It was literally shattered! Yes, Israel had air and fire-power superiority. In more than 2,400 sorties and precision bombings, they killed many children but could not make a noticeable dent in Hezbollah’s primitive armor. When ground skirmishes started, those fighters gave the Israelis a good run for their money. Much of it was reported almost immediately. The impressive Israeli war machine looked clumsy and almost pathetic! Also gone is the image of small country fighting against all odds for survival.

Where to next?

Peace treaties? Normalizations? They will not work. Look at Egypt. Normalization with Israel has officially been consolidated for more than 30 years. Can an Israeli safely walk the streets of Cairo? Can their businesses operate openly?

Nothing, nothing will work until the root causes of the injustice and the terror are addressed.

Meanwhile, to millions of people, it seems that only Militant Religion offers the solution to address these injustices. This is why it has become stronger. To many people, it seems to be the only force capable of striking back. There are more than a billion of these people growing more militant by the day and with every new atrocity. What will they do? Eradicate them all to remove that cancer?

This analogy was in fact used by Israel’s ambassador to the UN:
"When you operate on a cancerous growth you do not stop in the middle, sew the patient up and tell him keep living with that growth until it kills you. You make sure it is totally removed."

If it is a cancer, how are they going to eradicate it? By killing children? Possibly… because some of those children will grow up full of hate and revenge! So, do you eradicate a cancer by increasing cancerous cells? By this reasoning, you will have to kill all children. Is Israel also incompetent?

Is it possible that they are addressing the wrong tissue?


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Sorry for letting the previous post get overloaded again. I had no power for more than a week [our ‘Sunni’ generator operator was abducted by the Mehdi army. He was saved by his ‘Shiite’ brother; may be worth writing about it sometime]. Also, I was in a particularly black mood!


Lebanon was a democracy even before Mr. Bush was born. The problem was that it was built around sectarianism, very much like our new ‘democracy’.

Interesting. You and I published at almost the same time!
I just finished plowing through a couple of papers at the Saudi Debate site, putting together a cliff notes version for my blog. (No need to invest the time to study and have nothing to show for it.) And for different reasons you and I separately came to the same conclusion, that the US fails miserably when it comes to winning hearts and minds.

The more I learn, the more I see parallels with Vietnam.

The parallels with Vietnam lay in the fact that at some point after World War II, the U.S. forgot how to wage war. Perhaps the good feeling toward American troops the peoples of Europe felt when U.S. troops liberated them from Nazi rule deluded our political leadership into believing that was the usual reaction to an invading force by the indiginous peoples of the occupied country.

Other than that, I agree with your views on the Israeli invasion of Lebenon. I refuse to cloud the issue with the term "Hezbollah" as that is no more than saying Iraq is not being invaded by Americans, but by Republicans. Hezbollah is a legitimate political party within the Lebonese government that was elected to leadership legally and by the people.

I am sad for the Middle Eastern people that your religion is Militant, however. I fear it means a long time without peace for all of you, even if all invading forces were to pull back to their own borders tomorrow.

If you have any power at all, Abu, political, social, or otherwise, I urge you to use it to begin to change that mentality within your people. Perhaps, one day, you too will forget how to wage war.

Hello Abu Khaleel,
I am delighted that you remain alive and kicking (and commenting).
On the atrocity in Lebanon, my perspective is slightly different.
The purpose of the morally reprehensible/intellectually dishonest (and flawed strategy from the beginning) invasion( your 'evil or(and) incompetent' paradox) is clear--it is a dangerous kick from the US-Israel axis of evil, humiliated in Iraq, against provocative Iran. These 'wars of the surrogates' are fundamentally dishonest expressions of the Cold War imperialist mentality of Bush. Rather than risk cutting off the Persian Gulf oil, the US permits Israel and even Ethiopia into their small adventures.

Of course, it is a war crime of the first order to use relatively peaceful countries as ideological or 'real-politik' battlefields(Iraq and now Lebanon) as Bush loves to do, but it is also pointless in the long run as history clearly shows.

If only I could 'prove' to the American Saddamists that this is strategy is a loser and make them acknowledge how deeply wrong it is.
I shudder at the Nazi-like behavior of this US President.

The US has a duty to negotiate in good faith with its enemies FIRST, not last. And if that fails to go to war with their real enemies not bring death and destruction to innocents, even if that risks economic disruption.

There is a "sort of unique, unnatural 'militancy' inherent to" modern Islam.

Can you blame the U.S. for the actions of militant Islamists in Kashmir, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Thailand, Chechnya, etc.?

This is one part of the problem. By no means all of it, but certainly a part of it.

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"Also gone is the image of a small country fighting against all odds for survival."

I suppose it's nice to have something to take your mind off Iraq for a while, Abu.

You seem to hit the nail on the head above. I recently came across an old encyclopedia (another non-bought book) published in 1948. The map section of course showed no such place as Israel - just a compact-looking country labelled Palestine.

In earlier years, for example during the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars, I guess I was rooting for Israel: partly because an Arab win did seem likely to result in millions being "pushed into the sea," partly out of a sort of collective Western guilt about the Holocaust perhaps. And partly because, although one did probably have an awareness of Palestinian dispossession, they were after all only Arabs, right?
But now I agree with you - this isn't a "small country battling against all odds for survival" - that would have been Israel taking the fight to Hizbollah in a ground offensive. This is just state terrorism, using the F16 in exactly the same way as their opponents use IEDs and rockets.

Maybe the brave little orphan had to be tough to survive in the slums - but at the cost of turning himself into a vicious bullying thug?

Far as I can see, those who support Israel's way of "defending" itself must logically believe: the British should not have acted with restraint in Palestine back in the 1940s, they should have "defended" themselves, when the Jewish terrorists kidnapped their soldiers or blew up the King David Hotel, by bombing the daylights out of Tel Aviv, or of the nearest kibbutz.

Would that really have helped in the formation of Israel?

And not quite on topic, but I did find this, from Juan Cole, rather amusing.

"... the Dawa Party of Iraq, from which Nuri al-Maliki hails, is a revolutionary Shiite religious party not that much different from the Lebanese Hizbullah ... the Iraqi Dawa helped to form the Lebanese Hizbullah back in the early 1980s. The Dawa was in exile in Tehran, Damascus and Beirut and it formed a shadowy terror wing called, generically, Islamic Jihad....My understanding is that Nuri al-Maliki was the bureau chief of the Dawa cell in Damascus in the 1980s. He must have been closely involved with the Iraqi Dawa in Beirut, which in turn was intimately involved in Hizbullah. I am not saying he himself did anything wrong. I don't know what he was doing in specific, other than trying to overthrow Saddam, which was heroic.
But, did (the US) really think he was going to condemn Hizbullah and take Israel's side? And if he did, do (the US) think that the Shiite religious parties that backed him would let him stay in office (they are the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Islamic Dawa, and the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr)?"

Of course, George Bush has just been hosting him at the White House. I'm sure Bush must have been used to waking up beside strange bedfellows during his drunken frat-boy years. But should he still be doing it now that he is Preznit?

And he seemed to be back on the sauce, or under the influence of something, at the recent conference of world leaders, when he prattled blissfully and nonsensically into an open mike.

In any other country, in any other time, such an obviously naked Emperor would simply have been laughed out of office by now. Not in the US, however. Too many voters like him, he reminds them of themselves.

Are you really, really sure that you still want to be colonised by these guys, Abu? Wouldn't the Chinese have been preferable? Or the Eskimos? Anyone but these bozos?


Oh yeah, and just to make your day: there is actually another country "where you can move from the warmth of sunny sandy beaches to the fresh coolness of mountain air in less than half an hour." Well, an hour, anyway - for hundreds of miles, the whole length of the country. And it's noted for "the friendliness of the people, their openness towards strangers." Except American tourists, perhaps.

Interview with Gore Vidal at

"Q: You’re a veteran of World War II, the so-called good war. Would you recommend to a young person a career in the armed forces in the United States?

Vidal: No, but I would suggest Canada or New Zealand as a possible place to go until we are rid of our warmongers. We’ve never had a government like this. The United States has done wicked things in the past to other countries but never on such a scale and never in such an existentialist way. It’s as though we are evil. We strike first. We’ll destroy you. This is an eternal war against terrorism. It’s like a war against dandruff. There’s no such thing as a war against terrorism. It’s idiotic. These are slogans. These are lies. It’s advertising, which is the only art form we ever invented and developed."

Circular again

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article + link -->

:: Blood in Beirut: $75.05 a Barrel ::

-- The failure to stop the bloodletting in the Middle East, Exxon's record second-quarter profits and Iran's nuclear cat-and-mouse game have something in common -- it's the oil.

by Greg Palast

I can't tell you how it started -- this is a war that's been fought since the Levites clashed with the Philistines -- but I can tell you why the current mayhem has not been stopped. It's the oil.

I'm not an expert on Palestine nor Lebanon and I'd rather not pretend to be one. If you want to know what's going on, read Robert Fisk. He lives there. He speaks Arabic. Stay away from pundits whose only connection to the Middle East is the local falafel stand.

So why am I writing now? The answer is that, while I don't speak Arabic or Hebrew, I am completely fluent in the language of petroleum. --
=== === === === === === ===

New Zealand is peaceful -> i'd give states a noble prize for that! instead of crying hallelluja's over possibly Swaggart addicts in some other parts... ahh. no. i'll not go into that. that's depressing.
but, but: some US citizen recently told me that about 20% of US citizens want something called armaggeddon. lucky me for having no religion, but brains. (i didn't say that's a guarantee against stupidities ;)

Yup, for dinner tonight, Roast Leg of Anonymous Commenter.
With a piquant sauce blended from Rudeness and Ignorance.

Circular (burp)

Anonymous –

There is a "sort of unique, unnatural 'militancy' inherent to" modern Christianity. Can you blame Islam for the actions of militant Americans and British in Iraq, the Russians in Chechnya, the French in Algeria, Argentina, etc.?

In other words, chum, your argument is specious and bogus. I don’t see Muslim countries invading Eurpoe or America. Rather I see Americans and their lackeys invading Muslim countries. Name the last Muslim invasion of the US, for example. You can’t, because your logic is all twisted.

[anon] “Somone [sic!] please remind me of anything significant New Zealand has ever accomplished in world affairs.”

Hm. You’re right. New Zealanders pretty much stick to themselves.

I don’t recall them sending child-raping sodomites to “liberate” foreigners across the world.

I don’t recall them promoting sadism as a national interrogation policy.

I don’t recall them bombing a country to oblivion and then forcing the natives to pay for rebuilding it.

I don’t recall them breaking treaties they signed on washed-out pretexts like double-dealing hypocrites.

Geez, what an insignificant little country, not to have done any of those things.

[anon] “We saved the world from Nazis, fascists and communists at a terrible cost in human life and suffering.”

Oh, well, even if I accepted said arguments (given that communist China is currently doing very well and that Russia did all the heavy lifting in WW2), “saving the world from Nazism” does not automatically mean you can paste little black moustaches to your lips and take over where Herr Hitler left off.

Eeeh. I didn't see that Abu Khaleel had already taken out the trash. My reply seems a little odd, now. O well.


Please note:

Abu Khaleel said in this article:
"Meanwhile, to millions of people, it seems that only Militant Religion offers the solution to address these injustices. This is why it has become stronger. To many people, it seems to be the only force capable of striking back. There are more than a billion of these people growing more militant by the day and with every new atrocity. "

My paragraph about the Muslim religion being militant was based from this. Also, this:

"One of the rules of Islam, which can be found in the Koran at Chapter 3, line 19, states: 'The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam.' In Chapter 3, line 86, the Koran states: 'He that chooses a religion over Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost.' Christians having chosen a religion over Islam are considered infidels and idolaters. In Chapter 2, lines 190 to 193, the Koran dictates to all Muslims to 'Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage.'"

Which was taken from a transcript of a speech Rosie Malek-Yonan Author of "The Crimson Field" gave before the U.S. House of Representatives.
Hearing Date: Friday, June 30, 2006 Committee: House Committee on International Relations.

Which BobGryffin was kind enough to post in the last thread. If you would like to read the entire speech, and you should as it shows an interesting perspective, you may do so here:

I don't pretend to have read the Koran any more than I've read the bible, but even I know that it teaches that those who give their lives in an act of destroying the enemies of allah are promised eternal glory in the afterlife, as well as 77 virgin maidens, and probably a bunch of other stuff, though I sort of drift off after the 77 virgins . . .

I always wondered . . . what are they supposed to do with those 77 virgin maidens? I think the christian bible teaches that a man may only join with one woman, and vica versa.

Anyway, to everyone:

An astounding difference between americans and muslims: Since the Iraq war began there has not been one report of an american in the continental U.S. capturing, torturing, and beheading a single muslim. Yet muslims capture, torture and behead civilian contractors who are in Iraq to rebuild what we have destroyed. Along with reporters, women, children, etc.

Do you remember that 19 year old pfc that was captured in the beginning of the war? The female who had broken both of her legs in a helicopter crash and was captured along with several male soldiers? The males were tortured and killed within a matter of days. The woman, with two broken legs, was repeatedly raped and sodomized for weeks before U.S. Special Forces were able to free her and return her to her family.

Unfortunately I cannot remember her name, and I have no wish to google "parapalegic rape victim".

Don't try and paint Americans as rapists and sodomites when muslims are doing the same thing. "Oh, but Americans tortured the arab prisoners in that prison!" Give me a break. They stripped them down and took pictures of them in humiliating poses. Sure, it's wrong (a little bit funny) and they should not have done it, and they deserve any punishment they get. But I think I would volunteer to have a picture taken of me that made it look like I was rogering my cellmate if the choice was between that and the torture experienced at the hands of radical muslims, culminating in having your head severed from your neck with a dull machette!

Not much of a choice, really.

Say, do those decapitator guys get 77 virgins too? Or maybe they just get one for every head they cut off . . . That might be worth looking into.

Basically, all I'm saying, is that there are bad apples in every group of people. Not all muslims participate in these executions. Not all American soldiers rape 14 year old girls and kill their families to cover up their crimes. Infact, it was a U.S. soldier who turned in those deranged psychopaths. And if there were any justice they would not get the death penalty, they would be handed over to the radical muslim groups for trial.

If you can call summary execution after excrutiating torture a "trial."

"Abu kaleel" is a coward. He deletes any post he disagrees with.

You loyal Abu followers don't know this, because you are not too bright, but your host is an insurgent Sunni who was, not too long ago, begging for U.S. money:

Go check out this website and see what your hyprocite host has been up to. Fools.

American Patriot:

Abu Kahleel is not yet deleting your posts (unlike those of your demented Anonymous compatriot,) I suspect because you do occasionally make a bit of sense.
So a little friendly advice:
1) Try to get your facts right. (Remember your Pakistani earthquake in Afghanistan?) The person you are referring to is obviously the cute Private Jessica Lynch, who was captured, injured, after a convoy ambush (not a helicopter crash) in April 2003. If you do a little Googling, you will find that she was not molested, but was indeed treated as well as possible under the circumstances in an Iraqi hospital, until her staged "rescue" by Special Forces. Her official "biography" says so, although the hack author did try to imply possible molestation while she was unconscious, not very convincingly. A black female soldier was captured in the same incident, shot in the foot, and was treated well. Publishing nonsensical hearsay does your cause, whatever it is, no good at all.
2) Make clear the point of your post. We are still waiting for you to come clean on what your cause is. You quote texts to show that Islam can be interpreted as a "militant" religion. So what? I could quote Biblical texts that are equally damning about Christianity. If I did, I should then have to state my reason for doing so - presumably that I think that Christianity is evil and must be attacked until all Christians are either wiped out or converted to Atheism. Or something equally stupid.
What is your purpose in demonstrating that Islam is militant - what do you want us to do or think? Agree that all Muslims should be wiped out, or turned into Americans? Or are you just saying, "these guys are nasty, so we are justified in being just as nasty?" Or are you a closet "perpetual war, American Jihad against Muslims" propagandist?
You have published some statements that indicate that you are critical of your government and of its policies in Iraq, which seems to indicate a definite desire on your part to join the majority of the human race, who agree with you. So what conclusion are you inviting us to draw from your post above.
In plain language, please. Do not attempt to write on both sides of the paper at once.


P.s. Anonymous above, before you are deleted: that website seems to have expired in 2004, and is only cached on Google? Can you give a more detailed reference linking Mr Kahleel to it?

@ Simian Anonymous, 29/7/06 7:54 AM (before Abu Khaleel deletes you, & our answers).

"You loyal Abu followers don't know this, because you are not too bright".

No, indeed we do. So what?

Abu Khaleel was not "begging for US money", but pointing out the chances of international investments in 'liberated Iraq'.
From your (four-handed) point of view you should have commended him!

A pity that his hopes were crushed, thanks to your (US) enlightened rule over Iraq, by the horrible nightmare we see.

Damn! Something in the paper today leaped off the page and hit me between the eyes. And now I can't find it again.
Someone observed that in this War in Lebanon, so far, more children have been killed than soldiers or fighters.
(I bet the same could be said about Iraq since 2003. More Iraqi children have probably been killed by US fire than US soldiers have been killed by all causes.)
What is this telling us? What is this telling us?



I'm pretty new here having been referred over from

I've started readings your book and am enjoying it. You have a very easy and pleasant writing style.

I noted that you got your start with computers working in process control. That's how I cut my teeth in the computer world. I worked in both statistical process control and plant automation.

I'm about the same vintage as you. When I walked into the plant, they were barely using computers at all. And this was an aerospace plant!

Kids today have no idea what it was like to be a computer person in an era where you were treated like some kind of technological shaman. It sure was fun to be on the cutting edge of this stuff when it all started.

Sorry for the long post, but wanted to compare experiences with you!

Best regards.

You have to read it to believe it.

"I came over here because I wanted to kill people."

By Andrew Tilghman
Sunday, July 30, 2006; B01

" I came over here
because I wanted
to kill people."

Over a mess-tent dinner of turkey cutlets, the bony-faced 21-year-old private from West Texas looked right at me as he talked about killing Iraqis with casual indifference. It was February, and we were at his small patrol base about 20 miles south of Baghdad. "The truth is, it wasn't all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like, 'All right, whatever.' "

He shrugged.

"I shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing," he went on. "Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza.' "

At the time, the soldier's matter-of-fact manner struck me chiefly as a rare example of honesty. I was on a nine-month assignment as an embedded reporter in Iraq, spending much of my time with grunts like him -- mostly young (and immature) small-town kids who sign up for a job as killers, lured by some gut-level desire for excitement and adventure. This was not the first group I had run into that was full of young men who shared a dark sense of humor and were clearly desensitized to death. I thought this soldier was just one of the exceptions who wasn't afraid to say what he really thought, a frank and reflective kid, a sort of Holden Caulfield in a war zone.

But the private was Steven D. Green.

The next time I saw him, in a front-page newspaper photograph five months later, he was standing outside a federal courthouse in North Carolina, where he had pled not guilty to charges of premeditated rape and murder. The brutal killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in Mahmudiyah that he was accused of had taken place just three weeks after we talked.

When I met Green, I knew nothing about his background -- his troubled youth and family life, his apparent problems with drugs and alcohol, his petty criminal record. I just saw and heard a blunt-talking kid. Now that I know the charges against Green, his words take on an utterly different context for me. But when I met him then, his comments didn't seem nearly as chilling as they do now.


A very impressive effort of coverage.

"Hello" Anonymous,

Good to see you here again too!

Cile, Circular, Italian, Bruno,

I was offline for a few days.

I don’t know how regularly dustmen call in Holland, NZ, Italy or SA. They are rather irregular in Iraq! The best thing to do with trash is to ignore it until the dustman calls! I had deleted a couple of offending, abusive remarks but unfortunately it seems I was a bit too late. I wish you hadn’t responded! If I delete any more, I would have to delete your remarks as well. I wouldn’t like to do that. So I guess I will leave everything there. In a way it tells what some of those dreadful, hateful people are like and what they believe arguments and civilized debates are all about. That kind of trash does more harm to their cause because ordinary human beings passing by will know what these people are like.

What really bothers me is not our obnoxious anonymous caller (by now I am quite familiar with their tactics of personal attacks and debate-derailment techniques); it is people with similar mentality in high positions of leadership and responsibility who think in a similar manner that worry me. For our anonymous friend to call me an anti-Semite may in a way be acceptable if we assume a high degree of ignorance on his or her part. But when similar remarks are made by Mr. Howard Dean, Chairman of the National Democratic Committee, well… that is truly sad. He made the same remark about Mr. Maliki when the latter visited the States. I am certainly no fan of Mr. Maliki, but a person Mr. Dean’s position should know that Maliki is himself a Semite. It says a lot about the caliber of those in high politics in America. Refusing to condemn Hezollah does not necessarily make him anti-Semitic. Most countries of the world don’t regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In fact, most members of Hezbollah are themselves Semites. Yes, yes I know what some of them mean by anti-Semitism in the States… but do we all have to accept that definition of things, ignoring history, anthropology and other facts of life? Rings a bell?


Juan Cole is doing a good job of following events in Lebanon; so is Robert Fisk (and the BBC I may add). I don't know how much of that is penetrating those image curtains in the States.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that (non-bought) book you mentioned was published in NZ!

Can’t I leave you alone for a few days without you getting into a quarrel?


I don’t know how far back you go but I started my work in process control in earnest on DEC’s PDP 8e with all the ancient paraphernalia of teletype, paper-tape reader... It always amuses me to see the shock and ridicule in young people’s reaction to the statements that you could do serious work with 4k of RAM or that it took about 25 minutes to “log-on” from paper tape and get started every morning!! They find all that so hard to believe. Actually, later I went on to a disk-based system. The ‘disk’ was a bulky cartridge 1 foot in diameter that could hold a full 100k of data.

The process that 'state-of-the-art computer' was controlling was something else! It was about maintaining a flow of water at a regulated controllable temperature (to calibrate heat meters). I used two large tanks, one with boiling water. For mixing and flow control, I used pneumatic valves actuated by little solenoids. You can imagine the scene with water vapor fumes and short, rapid sounds of air-bursting. A few of my friends insisted on me letting them know when I ran a test so that they could come and watch!!

For a few years, that was my world. I enjoyed it enormously. I had so few worries then!

It was a pleasure to be reminded of some things of the past. Thank you.

[American patriot] “Don't try and paint Americans as rapists and sodomites when muslims are doing the same thing.”

So … let me get this straight. You’re indulging in moral equivalence in order to excuse the heinous behaviour of people that has come halfway around the globe in order to inflict this behaviour on others?

I like, I may add, your generalisation of “Muslims” being responsible. Can I then excuse a beheading in Iraq on the basis that “Christian” fundamentalists in Waco behaved in an atrocious manner?


Clearly your rhetoric excuses nothing, and entirely evades the point that people would not be getting shot at, beheaded or otherwise liquidated if they were not part of an invading army.

[Patriot] “Oh, but Americans tortured the arab prisoners in that prison!" Give me a break. They stripped them down and took pictures of them in humiliating poses.”

Quite apart from your not quite grasping the enormous Muslim and Arabic cultural disgrace that such behaviour brings upon the victims – and I submit that many Iraqis would indeed rather die than endure it – the fact is that torture did indeed occur at Abu Ghraib.

The Taguba report refers to rape and severe physical treatment. The Hooded Man WAS electrocuted. US Senators that were shown the full extent of Abu Ghraib’s atrocities in a closed multi hour session emerged talking about rape and murder.

Abu Ghraib is part of a larger US scheme to get rid of the Geneva Conventions and to circumvent restrictions on abuse. The fact is the programmes were approved straight from the top.

You know, there’s a reason why you will run into so much anti-Americanism these days. Some of it is a hold over from the old commies. Some of it is a backlash to the enormous cultural reverberation your country has. But most of it, I suspect, is a congealing of opinion that America is acting, today, more like its enemies of old than a power that is worthy of respect and leadership. Until you clean all the rot out of your government, things will go from bad to worse. Mark my words.

Abu Khaleel –

Your recalling of early computer technology was fascinating. A whole 100 KB? Wow, how could you EVER fill up such a large disc? In fifty years, those systems will be worth their weight in gold as collectors pieces …

From Circular

Nice rant, Diogenes.

Speaking of computers, and books, I did go through a book-buying phase once, Abu - back in the 1960s, when I was a fan of science fiction. (This was your "hard" predictive science fiction, not the modern sword-and-sorcery stuff.)
One subject of a lot of this fiction from the 40s and 50s and 60s was of course the computer. As I remember it, most of the stories featured advanced versions of the sort of thing you were playing with - gigantic machines tended by lab-coated acolytes. Almost universally the writers seemed to suffer from a failure of imagination or prediction: they just didn't forsee the microprocessor. Or when they did, like Isaac Asimov with his "positronic brains" in his "I, Robot" series, their other predictions were wildly out - universality of humanoid robots, for example. (A lot of writers were hung up on cities full of personal flying cars, presumably because modern traffic gridlock hadn't yet been invented. Imagine Baghdad with everybody jetting about in flying cars!)
I'm certainly no military tactician, but it seems to me that what we might be seeing in the "war on terror" is a similar sort of failure of imagination or prediction on the part of the US leadership - military and civilian - a conviction that aerial bombardment is the best solution to all military problems. Maybe it is, on the coventional battlefield, but it just seems counter-productive, to me, in a battle for hearts and minds, or for subjugation of a population. One of my abiding images of the last 5 years, in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Gaza and Lebanon, is of the Arabic looking man, with a dead child in his arms, glaring impotently at the sky where the F16s soar, piloted by remote alien beings. The Israeli pilots destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon wherever they feel like it also remind me of another science-fiction staple, the impervious aliens descending on a defenceless Earth.
Maybe it's a variation on the doctrine of that military mastermind, Donald Rumsfeld - you go to war with the weapons you have, not the ones you might want or wish to have. (One reason perhaps why the British have a slightly better image than their allies in the WOT - they can't afford massive aerial support for their ground operations.)
Surely, even if the Israelis do succeed in neutralising Hizbollah and demoralizing the Shia south, presumably by a ground offensive with these reserves they are calling up, the rest of the Lebanese are not going to just forget about their cratered roads and airports, the rubble in their cities, their interrupted lives and livelihoods?
Makes you realize just how insane, and futile and counter-productive, the aerial attack on Iran will be.
In the SF stories, of course, the devasted Earth usually comes up with a last-minute unexpected counter to the aliens, and everybody lives happily ever after, in their flying cars with their robots in attendance.
Doesn't seem to be much chance for that in the Middle East.

Hello Abu Khaleel,
The comments of Howard Dean were odd and biased. Dean is the chief money raiser for the Democratic Party and his comment shows he dare not irritate the Zionist lobby in US politics. He got in hot water a while back for saying that the Democratic Party should appeal to poor rural white voters who now overwelmingly vote Republican--it was not seen as obsequious enough to the powerful black and latino voting blocks. Many of the richest men in America are pro-Israel Jews and non-Jewish Zionistic Christians who believe their holy duty is to stand by Israel. This submissive behavior to a foreign entities and 'special ethnic groups' is actually quite embarrassing to most Americans who are also fearful of being labeled anti-semites or racists and therefore Nazis.
I think Faiza Jarrar wrote that Americans are not actually free (but they always pretend they are).
I wonder how long the pretence will last?

My apologies,

I did not intend the reference to Rosie Malek-Younan's speech to produce the effect seen above.

Anyone wanting to understand Ms. Malek-Younan's point of view can contact me via my blog (if they have a blogger account) or they can google Semele, Nuri Kino, Seyfo. Knowing the context of Ms. Malek-Younan's statements, I understand her point of view, but I do not share it. My argument is that American behavior in Iraq has exacerbated an existing situation, bringing it close to a genocidal boiling point. If the US behaves likewise in Syria or Iran, I expect similar results in regards to the Assyrians.

Y'all non-Americans, I've noticed something over the past several months. A growing number of former G.W.Bush supporters have been concluding that they were misled, and that neither the administration nor the Republicans in congress represent them. I do know some folks who continue to support the current policies, but they are outnumbered (among my more conservative friends and acquaintances) by those who feel betrayed.
----on another note:
Interestingly, it seems like most of us computer types here are of roughly the same age. I remember disk packs over a foot in diameter, and boot up processes which left time to brew coffee.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin

Bob Griffin: "Y'all non-Americans ..."

Bob, in the friendliest possible spirit, could I suggest that you not address we-all Non-Americans as "y'all."
We are not in Mississipi, and have no desire to be there. With the Empire in a state of terminal collapse, cultural imperialism is inappropriate.
Next, you'll be asking us to mis-spell theatre, centre and colour, and refer to the letter "zee," which will upset Mr Shakespeare (Thou whoreson ZED! Thou unnecessary letter!) And you'll be wanting us to write someone, instead of writing TO them. You may even expect us to to call gridiron "football," which we will never do.

After y'all have had to U-Haul yo sorry asses out of Eye Rak - operation Ezy-Bug-Out - you will need all the friends you can get, and most of them will speak the Queen's English, not the Bush version. (Yo! Blair!)

Sorry for posting too much, Abu. I'll go out and buy some books.



I do beg pardon for my error in choice of a second person plural pronoun. Properly I should have said "A note to those of you who are non-Americans". I observe that my tone in the former post was rather informal, using rather colloquial grammar and syntax.

I am not myself from Mississippi, nor indeed from 'the southern states'. While I have spent some time in the 'south', and have acquired some local speech tendencies while there, I am by preference, by birth, and by up-bringing a Californian.

Lacking a reliable sense of humor, I hope I was not offensive in my vocabularly or syntax, as I had no desire to offend. I prefer to offend only when I choose to do so, rather than when affected by an odd tendency either towards colloquialisms or towards grammatic and syntactic formality.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin


I remember working with punch cards, cassette tapes, and other ridiculous forms of "memory." I also remember those giant floppy disks. (You could use them as a frisbee.) Can't wait to see what they come up with next!


I saw that you had snow today in South Africa. It was 102 and muggy as hell in New Jersey where I was today. I'm jealous!

Nice phonetics, circ.

Addressing your points, perhaps you should read the posts previous to understand the entire gist of the diologue I was undertaking with Pumpkintown. I had merely expressed sorrow at the words of Abu who said that more and more young muslims were turning to the more militant factions of their religion, then was forced to clarify why I would say muslims are militant because Pumpkintown, like you, appeared not to have read, or perhaps merely missed, the point made in previous posts to which I was alluding.

As to my "mistake" about the earthquake in Afghanistan, while the epicenter of the quake was indeed around 60 miles north of Islamabad, if you would care to look at a map ( you will see that any quake measuring 7.9 on the Ricter scale is going to effect more of Afghanistan and India than Pakistan. However, as the epicenter was close to several cities within Pakistan it was there in which it did the most damage. It did, however, damage many rural communities within the mountainous regions of Afghanistan which border Pakistan. It generally being the mountainous regions in which insurgents, and those the U.S. might suspect to be insurgents, hide I felt no qualms in saying that the earthquake had affected them as well. Indeed, one death was reported in Jalalabad, Afghanistan caused directly by the quake, and it caused minimal damage as far as Kabul.

I did not address this point earlier as I did not wish to waste time explaining what should be self-evident: Earth-quakes do not recognize borders, and am only addressing it now since you seem to be trying to use this as a weapon against me.

As for Private Lynch (which I should have remembered because one of my best friends in school was named Lynch) reports in the American media when she was first rescued reported that she suffered rape and sodomy at the hands of her captors. The fact that she would not offer any comment and the interviews with her father only seemed to confirm these statements. If PFC Lynch has since released a public statement to the contrary I had not seen it.

Also, if you read the statement given by Rosie Malak-Yonan which you can find here: she also speaks of Assyrian women who have been raped by muslim men because they did not wear the proper garb. Which makes the point moot in any case as I was merely pointing out to whomever had said it, that muslims rape women just as Americans do, that there are evil men amongst every nationality and you cannot paint an entire people by the actions of a few, but rather how those people deal with the few who act against the moral concensus of the whole.

As for your later assertation that American fire has killed more children than militants I would have to say you are wrong and perhaps you should get some facts before you make such inflamitory statements. For instance, the fact that the vast majority of civilian deaths in Iraq have been caused by other Iraqis, and or insurgents of Middle Eastern origin.


Please do not feel in anyway that I have been attacking you or attempting to belittle your arguments. I say this because it would seem that you have set yourself against me as far back as your final post on the previous thread in response to a statement I made which was meant only to clarify an argument I agreed with.

As for the underlying message of the Koran being one of peace and cooperation amongst all peoples . . . I rather thought it would be. That seems to be the underlying message of every religion, all religions being, at heart, one and the same as they are all variations on one message sent from the same source. It is only when man attempts to interpret this message that problems arise.

In my opinion organized religion is the most evil invention man ever created. Nothing has caused more bloodshed and evil throughout history than organized religion.


As I stated to Circular, I am not trying to excuse the actions of anyone and, if you read the post, I stated my belief that those psycopaths should be handed over to a local court for trial.

I would also like to state that I am aware of the social and religious stigma attached to the humiliations visited upon the Abu Ghraib prisoners. No doubt that is why the guards chose such tactics. I maintain, however, that humiliation is better than excrutiating pain and a slow death. If you are correct in stating that many muslim men would choose such a death over such humiliation then it only confirms my belief that they need to reevaluate their priorities.

Now to address Circular's second point.

"2) Make clear the point of your post. We are still waiting for you to come clean on what your cause is. You quote texts to show that Islam can be interpreted as a "militant" religion. So what? I could quote Biblical texts that are equally damning about Christianity. If I did, I should then have to state my reason for doing so - presumably that I think that Christianity is evil and must be attacked until all Christians are either wiped out or converted to Atheism."

Having addressed the topic of militancy in the Islamic religion, and my reasons for stating them, I will instead attempt to outline my "cause" as you still do not seem to understand what I am trying to do despite my having stated it many times.

My cause is peace. Unfortunately I am not in control of any of the world's governments which means I don't carry alot of weight, and so must attempt to influence the few thinking minds which I have access to.

I believe I have been somewhat successful in steering the topic of debate away from the pointless finger pointing into the past that infested every thread, though that may have merely been the immediacy of the topic of Israel invading Lebenon and nothing to do with me, but I have not yet been able to coax a plan for Iraq's future out of Abu, nor anyone else that might be in a possition to give an informed opinion.

Peace is not going to come about by the actions of the Americans. If we stay in Iraq they will continue to fight us. If we leave Iraq they will fight each other. The only people who can achieve peace for the Iraqi people are the people of Iraq.

Israel invades Lebanon. Who does the world blame? Israel, naturally, but that is not enough. They must blame America as well, demonizing America as well as belittling, even excusing Israel by removing the responsibility for these attacks from their shoulders and placing them on ours.

Granted, the U.S. has not exactly done all it could to put a stop to these attacks, but once more I ask, "Why is it always our responsibility to fix every injustice in the world?" If your countries do not like what Israel is doing form an alliance of countries and put a stop to it! That is what the U.N. is meant to do, but it seems to have failed.

Perhaps New Zealand, South Africa, and Italy can get together and send a peacekeeping force into Lebanon and Izrael to enforce a ceasefire. If nothing else your countries could volunteer for such an action within the UN, which might actually be enough to motivate them. As it stands, however, the burden of peacekeeping is meant for U.S. soldiers to bear. As the current U.S. government does not want a ceasefire until Hezbollah is destroyed (and possibly not until Syria and Iran have been sucked into the war), that is not going to happen anytime soon.

As for not "writing on both sides of the paper" that is impossible for me and most Americans. As my "cause" as it were is to do away with sides and sectarianism and create a united human race with no more need to kill each other over what word they happen to use to describe their belief system, it is anethema to me to pigeon-hole myself.


I too am viewing from the inside and the thing which scares me most is not the number of Americans which support the war, but the vast majority who do not give it a second thought. Of the people I know who keep current on the situation in the middle east, a very small percentage of them support the war effort. Those that do are either members of the armed forces, or retired military over the age of 60.

What scares me most is that of the people I know perhaps only 5% of them even follow events in the Middle East, none of whom are currently attending college.

lulu is not working fine, book doesn't arrive!!!
however, you're okay? (??)

book has arrived!!
but where are you? ??

Cile, Friends,

Just a quick note to let you know that I'm ok. I haven't been to the blog for some time. I have no generator and only about half an hour of electricity per day (if we're lucky)... and therefore very little time online! Much is happening. Will write again soonest.

Hello Abu Khaleel,
A little news here, Lieberman who Bush effusively kissed on the mouth in public ( considered bizarre is the US), was defeated by an anti-war Democrat but has chosen to run against the party.
He feels that the war in the Middle East against Terror must not be decided by anti-war people.
Cheney, Bush's spiritual father( similar to Zawahiri and Bin Ladin?), was quick to warn that anti-war Democrats were 'snakes','scorpions', traitors, etc. (Maybe..'apostates'?)
People here seem to be tired of Bush's mission to rebuild Iraq and there is a chance that his party will lose the congressional November election, which would be the end of his power. So the latest Heathrow bomb 'plot'-apparently there was no actual attempt but the British police arrested a ring who were phoning some Pakistani Al Qaeda-was an ideal opportunity for Bush to tell us how dangerous things are and what a good job he was doing protecting us. He will never let us find out how dangerous it actually was because that is a state secret, of course. He will
continue to try to frighten the US public with the specter of 'Islamic fascism' as this theme continues to work well for him despite his enormous failures.

Isn't cancer eradicated with radiation? It's probably the only thing that kills cancer completely. I could be wrong, I'm not a doctor or anything.

Abu Khaleel:

The post Hez/Israeli war analysis has already begun. Juan Cole links to Anthony Cordesman's initial military analysis at the follwing URL: . I have found his predictions and analysis regarding the Iraqi insurgency to be quite accurate. Cordesman draws too many thought provoking conclusions to address here, but I think your will find that it is worth your attention.


In my case, I've just had enough of this issues already on Iraq and Hezbollah. It's all comments we can make and sometimes I feel bad that no matter how much we try to air out our sentiments. Whether we like it or not. There is nothing much we can do but pray.

I would like to pose a question to Abu Khaleel, and any other Iraqi citizen for that matter.

Where do you see Iraq in five years, and what steps do you think are necissary to achieve these goals? How would you go about building the Iraq you hope to live in?

As things stand all our peoples can do is fight each other with guns and bombs. Perhaps if we know what each side wants we can work together in an attempt to see that these things come to pass.

[diogenes] “Bruno -- you are observing from the outside. I am observing from the inside. I assure you that you have understated the problem.”

Oh, boy …

[American patriot] “I maintain, however, that humiliation is better than excrutiating pain and a slow death. If you are correct in stating that many muslim men would choose such a death over such humiliation then it only confirms my belief that they need to reevaluate their priorities.”

There’s an interesting story that I read somewhere about an Iraqi that was being given the treatment by Hussein’s sadists. They gave him the choice of being stripped naked and having a beer bottle shoved up his behind (painful but hardly fatal) or having a large building nail hammered into his back. The Iraqi chose the nail. Evidently his sense of self-worth and honour was greater than his fear of pain and physical damage. Perhaps it is us that need to re-evaluate what we stand for as people.

Well, Bruno, that's sort of like the old joke. There's a Catholic Priest, a Rabbi, and a Hindu Priest. They're all captured by savage jungle tribesmen. The chief of the tribesmen gives them a choice. They can be brutally gang raped by all the men of the tribe and allowed to live, or they can be killed in a horrific way.

The Catholic thinks about it for a while, then decides that according to his scriptures choosing death would be another form of suicide, which would damn him to Hell. His God wants him to do everything he can to stay alive, so he chooses to be raped and allowed to live.

The tribesmen do a number on him and leave him bruised and broken in the bushes, but still alive, and he eventually recovers.

Then its the Rabbi's turn, he just saw what happened to the Catholic Priest, but his beliefs are the same, so he too chooses rape and allowed to live.

Then its the Hindu's turn. He tells the chief that no matter how painful and slow his death, he knows that when he does die he will be reincarnated and his past life will be forgotten, so he chooses death.

So the tribesmen rape him until he dies.

The moral of the story being that some choices are no choice at all. Now, had that man you mentioned made the other choice, and was allowed to live, and was then set free (you do not say if that was part of the choice) he would now have the last laugh. He also could have gone on to perhaps bring about the downfall of Saddam, or if nothing else become a suicide bomber, so his death would have served some purpose.

Not to mention, having a spike driven into your back would only kill you if you were very lucky. Or if they left it in and you never got any treatment. I think in that situation I'd try and negotiate. "Is the spike going to hit any vital organs? What about my spine? Can you just drive it in between my shortribs, below the lung and above the kidneys?" That sort of thing.

Tough choice, all told. Frankly, I'd like to die with my colin intact.

Abu Khaleel,

I just finished reading your book this past weekend. Wow! Fascinating, and informative.
May it sell well.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin

When will we hear more from Abu Khaleel? Our media has told us there is quite a bit going on in Iraq just now. They are saying Al Queda is gaining in leadership, snapping up the pieces of the insurgent groups our military manages to decapitate. What do you think of this, Abu? What do you think of Al Queda? What do you think of Iran, and the tactical political maneuvering the U.S. is using to draw Iran into the war?

Acclaimed author Jostein Gaarder, best known for the novel Sophie's World, has written a critical opinion piece on Israel in Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper. Not surprisingly, it sparked a fiery debate on political, religious and cultural fronts. Check out my post about this at

Dear Abu Khaleel,

You haven't posted for almost two months.

Please, let us know if you are well.

Dear Italian,

I am in Amman, Jordan at the moment. I have finally succumbed to pressures from family and joined them for a much-needed break. I am doing a lot of walking and thinking… but I have no idea what to do next!

It seems that I have reached the end of the line in Iraq. My farm came to a complete standstill some time ago. What little voice of moderation I had to offer was being increasingly overwhelmed (at times even drowned) by the 'forces of darkness'. Now, I have reluctantly left and I feel extremely bad about leaving the place in such difficult times but I had little more to offer and couldn't possible support my family from over there. I went on for a while by selling everything of value on the farm and moved to the next stage of trying to sell part of the farm itself but nobody was interested in buying farmland in the Triangle of Death.

In the area around the farm, the forces of darkness on both sides are prevailing over the others. After some friction with one of those forces, my farm was raided again (by the US army!) ransacked again and my man there was detained for a few days, again with his young son (Good old Captain James, who works at the largest camp in the region, had no idea what unit did that or why! Another coincidence?) One of his other two sons has been released; the other one remains in Bucca. Now the man took his family and fled the farm to the nearest town, itself in considerable turmoil! The farm is totally deserted. So many years of hard work simply going down the drain.

News from our neighborhood in Baghdad is far worse.

Despite all that more than 95% of me wants to go back. However, people important to me are putting their weight with the other 5%!

The situation in Iraq, as I'm sure you are aware, is rapidly deteriorating. There is a serious attempt to "canton-ize" Baghdad and the surrounding "mixed" region accommodating nearly half the population of Iraq- something I wouldn't have thought possible in my wildest dreams! Maliki's government seems to be coming to an end of its viability. Maliki simply couldn't deliver on security, corruption and sectarianism! And I frankly don't blame him; His regime was born out of these very forces! His reconciliation plan (emptied of substance by the US and forces from within his camp) is grinding to a halt.

Important segments of the American political and intelligence establishment are now saying some of the things that you and I and others on this blog and elsewhere have been saying for quite a while… but perhaps a bit too late – at least as far as the devastation of Iraq is concerned!

Dear Abu Khaleel,

thanks be to God that you are alive and out of Iraq!

Do listen to your 5%, and stay away of harm's way! From what you say, it seems that your presence in Iraq wouldn't make a difference anymore, anyway.

And, when you can, keep posting from Amman...

It is so great to hear that you are safe and well, Abu.

Perhaps that should be "as well as can be expected ..." What a total shambles this futile American enterprise has become! The stupid sods haven't just ruined your country, they seem to be determined to ruin their own as well while doing so. Good luck to them, I say. They've become the Saddam Hussein of nations: brutal, boastful and deluded.

"I have no idea what to do next!"

I have a suggestion: don't go back to Iraq. Not for a long time yet, anyway.

But I and I'm sure many others will be very grateful to hear any results from all your walking and thinking. Or are you all blogged out by now?


Dear Abu Khaleel,
I'm glad you are safe in Amman, and am sad that it should be necessary.

Even to this point there are far too many Americans who believe the US needs to remain in Iraq. In a number of political districts it appears that the major difference between Republicans and Democrats regarding Iraq is how they voice their commitment to 'staying the course'.

I wish I could offer some hope.

Be Well,
Bob Griffin

Hello Abu Khaleel,
Happy Ramadan! Thankfully you are out of harms way.
Here in the US a new breeze may be blowing. Bush's party may lose Congress and his policies will be inspected critically and some will be rejected. This will be difficult as Bush prefers the dictatorial attitude in leading. Still there is a strong chance that troops will be reduced and disengaged from the 'security sweeps' which accomplish nothing except to stir up the insurgents. His plans for Iraq and its oil may be abandoned. There may be hope for Iraq after November 7th.

Hi Abu Khaleel. You might not read this, but I'm just popping by to tell you that we still worry about you and hope you are OK. Particularly with the latest Lancet report on the amount of Iraqis killed as a result of the invasion. Drop a post sometime. :)

Dear Abu Khaleel,

hoping you safely in Jordan, could you give us your most relevant and informed opinion about the 'Lancet' study?

It is creating quite a stir in the Iraqi 'blogosphere'...

Bob, "Hello" Anonymous, Bruno,

Thank you so much. I appreciate your thoughts and your concern.


Regardless of any sampling weaknesses and assumptions, the Lancet study is the only systematic attempt that we have to date at attempting to estimate the number of Iraqi casualties!

What are the alternatives?

The "Iraq Body Count" which relies on media reports? Any child in Iraq knows that these fall far, far short of what is taking place in the country. How many of these incidents do you (a keen follower of events) read about in the media? How many of the attacks on US forces that reach a hundred a day get coverage?

The other source often sighted is the figure issued by the Baghdad Morgue. Although no doubt accurate, it only gives the count of bodies received, which is only a fraction (sometimes a small fraction) of the true numbers!

The other alternative is President Bush's estimate of 30,000 casualties. By now I hope we all know how "credible" that is and how "credible" the gentleman has been!

The numbers in the Lancet report are an estimate. But it's the best we have so far. I personally believe that the median often quoted is an underestimate! Those who doubt it are invited to live in Iraq for a few days!


Words do not fail me! There's just too many of them and I'm too old fashioned to express myself using the words that I have in mind. Remember that Australian of yours going through the alphabet? Well, there are simply not enough English and Arabic letters. Let's say, as you politely put it, I am just 'blogged out'.

But just to keep in touch, I have posted some of my 'more constructive' thoughts or, if you like, some of the results of my 'walking and thinking'!... on the Glimpse blog because that post is more of a glimpse of Iraq than political. As it stands, I'm not sure it makes much sense. I hope I can elaborate on it on this blog if I get the chance so that we can discuss the thesis.

Abu Khaleel, thank you very much for updating. It's easy for all sorts of gruesome fates to be imagined.

Re. the Lancet, the standard tactic of denial and smoke has been followed with this latest report. All manner of criticism has been levelled at the Lancet concerning their methodology, which is the same (standard) methodology traditionally used to statistically record epidemics and war deaths. The deaths in Darfur have been collected using the same methodology, and nobody disputes THOSE.

Interesting to note the immense effort going into showing that the Lancet figures are wrong, and the complete absence of effort by the SAME critics to discover, if their criticism of the Lancet is to be believed, the TRUE toll.

They just don't want to talk about dead Iraqis, period.

I wonder how they sleep at night?

Same way you do, Bruno. Curled up in a ball, hugging your teddy bear ...

Good to know you're still around, Abu, and still analogising (if that's a word?)

Mind you, I still have trouble with extending your metaphors, just as I did a while ago with your "curtains around America." If you mix red, green and blue, don't you just get black?

For Iraq today, perhaps that's appropriate.

But perhaps your three categories of forces do tell us something. Apparently the conventional wisdom now in the US and UK is that they have to remain in Iraq, to "stay the course," because the alternative is a descent into full-scale civil war. But what you seem to be saying is that the alternative is not civil war, in the sense of two organised armies competing, but just a descent into complete chaos as all the various "forces of darkness" simply go for it in a fit of total nihilism. (Example: the reported tensions growing between Badrists and Sadrists in the South? Doesn't matter who you are fighting, as long as you're fighting someone? Isn't that the Somalia/Mogadishu scenario?)

You also seem to implying that, for all sorts of reasons, almost nobody (not the US, not the "legitimate" Iraqi government, not the neighbouring nations, certainly not the resistance or the death squads or criminals) really has much genuine interest in the emergence of an independent, peaceful, prosperous and stable Iraq. Only the ordinary people want that - and they don't count.

The Lancet figures seem to me to be all too believable, just considering the amount of ordinance (bullets and bombs) that's been expended in Iraq over the past three years, by all sides.

What's missing is any estimate of what proportion of that 600,000 were genuine "bad guys," insurgents, die-hard Baathists, Al Qaeda fanatics, etc. My guess would be very few. When you look at all the hi-tech resources the US military has available - spy satellites, drones, body armour, etc - and then you look at this month's US casualties, you have to conclude that the rebels or resistance in Iraq, whoever they are, are pretty damn proficient, those that are still alive and fighting. And there seem to be more rather than fewer of them. They make the Viet Cong look like amateurs.

" ... possible solutions out of the present quagmire… and why the task is so formidable!"

Presumably you are still in Jordan, and intending to stay there until the way out of the quagmire emerges.
About 2050 AD? You'ld be about 100 years old by then, wouldn't you?

God damn the black ship George Bush, and all who sailed in her!


[circular] “Same way you do, Bruno. Curled up in a ball, hugging your teddy bear ...”

Hey! How did the story of the teddy bear get out? ;)

[circular] “What's missing is any estimate of what proportion of that 600,000 were genuine "bad guys," insurgents, die-hard Baathists, Al Qaeda fanatics, etc. My guess would be very few.”

Very few indeed. I remember reading that the US army claimed to be killing around 1000 “insurgents” per month. If we extrapolate it since 2004, when I read this, we’re talking about probably 65-72000 dead “insurgents” out of a claimed force of 20000. Wait! That doesn’t make sense! Unless Iraqi guerrillas have a magic way of resurrecting themselves … ?

Here’s the truth of what is happening in Iraq, thanks to Mr Hersh, as usual:

“There has never been an American army as violent and murderous as the one in Iraq”
By Martin Lukacs - The McGill Daily – 30 Oct 2006

“Hersh described video footage depicting U.S. atrocities in Iraq, which he had viewed, but not yet published a story about. He described one video in which American soldiers massacre a group of people playing soccer. “Three U.S. armed vehicles, eight soldiers in each, are driving through a village, passing candy out to kids,” he began. “Suddenly the first vehicle explodes, and there are soldiers screaming. Sixteen soldiers come out of the other vehicles, and they do what they’re told to do, which is look for running people.”
“Never mind that the bomb was detonated by remote control,” Hersh continued. “[The soldiers] open up fire; [the] cameras show it was a soccer game.” “About ten minutes later, [the soldiers] begin dragging bodies together, and they drop weapons there. It was reported as 20 or 30 insurgents killed that day,” he said. If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said.” //end

Is it any wonder that the US Army enjoys such “popularity” in Iraq?

The Resistance (Muqawama) in Iraq IS pretty damn efficient. Part of the efficiency stems from the fact that they have moles and double agents riddled everywhere. Part of it stems from the fact that the vast majority of Iraqis either outright cheer on attacks, or simply don’t give a damn.

The whole “sectarian” thing is to my mind the US’ last card, which has, I guess, proved to be pretty successful at diverting violence from itself to Iraqis. The latest “coup” rumours fit into a pattern of the US playing one side off against the other.

America Switches Sides in Iraq War
March 16th, 2006 - by Scott Horton|

“ So why is Bush trying to pin this three year old war on Iran? - besides the fact that the liar Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress was working for them of course, but Bush was shopping for their bill of goods, so that doesn’t count. It was Bush who sent the US Army into Iraq with the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq on their heels and pushed this democracy crap, resulting in the election to power of the SCIRI-Da’wa-Iran dominated United Iraqi Alliance in January of 2004 and December 2005.

Remember the Salvador option? That was the US bringing the sickest killers of the SCIRI’s Badr Brigades into the “interior ministry” of the new Iraqi government, and setting them loose on the Sunni. They have been US allies. Now our government is doing what it does to all its loyal servants, it’s betraying them.

Justin Raimondo nailed it last week in his article “Biddle’s Pivot.” After quoting the article “The Grand Delusion” by Stephen Biddle (Any relation to the Chairman of the second Bank of the United States?) in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, advising a rethinking of the direction of America’s Iraq policy, Raimondo says:

“What this means, in effect, is that it is time to start tilting toward the Sunnis. If the Shi’ites continue to defy U.S. efforts to shape the political landscape of postwar Iraq, then we must play the Sunni card, employing force if necessary” //end

Now here comes Time magazine explaining the details,

“The ongoing dialogue between the U.S. and the Sunni insurgency is based on a shared wariness about the influence of Iran and its supporters in Iraq. U.S. officials are now saying bluntly that it’s time to bring back the Baath Party, excluding only those that are guilty of specific crimes. That reflects a growing acceptance among U.S. officials that the military and bureaucratic know-how in the Sunni community is badly needed, even to help run the security forces that the U.S. is standing up.” //end

Ergo – my interpretation – the US hits Iran, and the Sunnis die instead of US troops as the Shiites rise up. Diabolical and sick … but expected.

Having read your post on Glimpse, I came to a realization. I was, indeed, thinking of the various factions in Iraq as sort of armed camps, hidden within cities full of unaffiliated people of course, and while that may be the case in some instances, I now realize it is in no way that simple. In any given apartment building there could be fifty different people who lean toward fifty different groups. Most people are not true fanatics about any given cause. They may believe in something, they may even refuse to question that belief (the second aspect being, in my mind, what makes a fanatic) but they will not act blindly on that belief when someone calls upon them to do so unless they are convinced what they are being called upon to do adheres to their particular belief system.

Which is why Americans have such a hard time understanding these various groups. It is why they have come to be called "fanatic" and "radical". I'm certain that, in their view, they are neither "radical" nor "fanatic" just as they think of the murders they commit as "just" and not evil. Just as Americans think of the murders being committed by our armies as "just" and not evil.

The principal American ideal, the basis of our belief system, is not "freedom" or "equality", though that is what most people will say if asked. It is the Argument. It is Debate. Americans are, perhaps, less free than many peoples of the world. All of the "World Power" countries are oppressed not by dictators and armies, but by capitalism. The dollar is our shackle and chains. It is the reason for our existence. We get up in the morning to work for someone to give us a stack of paper, which someone else takes more than half of, in order to live and buy material things which we "need" to fit in socially. With all of this there is very little time or energy left in one's day to question the government which rules us, even to get upset about it.

We are so intimidated by the futility of fighting the system that we do not even try. America will not Stand. As long as we have our cable TV, internet, video-games, films, music, sports, whatever, we are content to sit idly by while our government continues to steal our freedoms one by one by one.

To do otherwise would disrupt "the system" and make everyone else's life much more difficult.

We do not understand people who work, not for money to survive, but to simply survive. It has been so long since we have had to subside in anyway but the sort of "assembly-line living" which is the capitalistic norm that we do not remember that man is an animal that was meant to survive by killing.

I am not in anyway saying that Iraqi's or other peoples are all primitive savages who live by hunting and gathering, only that it is probably still common in many places there for someone to buy a live chicken, take it home and butcher it for dinner. I have never killed or cleaned an animal to eat in my life. (Other than fish, but most people hardly think of them as animals.) The majority of americans have not. It is simply not something necessary for our survival. Some do it for "fun", but those of us who do not do not understand what is "fun" about it. The assembly line takes care of all this for us.

All of this may seem to be off-topic to most of you, but I believe it helps explain a bit of the american side of what Abu was talking about in his post on A Glimpse of Iraq. There has not been violence of any kind within america, not even the sort of "violence" necessary for survival, that it is incomprehensible that someone could believe killing people because they have a different opinion, much less because they deserve it, could be "just."

We will debate and argue until our face is blue before we will pick up a gun and kill the opposing side. Bear in mind I am speaking of the average american person, not the government. What is more, we are taught to question our beliefs. One of the first adages taught to our children is "don't believe everything you hear." Also "don't believe everything you read."

We are taught to question and to formulate our own ideas and to build our belief system from this, rather than to accept what one person tells us as truth, be that person the President, the Pope, or our own parents. Which is why we have so many different beliefs in America and there is no real unifying religion.

I write this not to debate or contrast Abu's post on Glimpse, but to create a complimentary expansion, if you will, from a different perspective. To view the world in two colors is narrow-minded and ignorant. To put it in terms an American will understand . . . would you watch a black and white TV when there's an HD plasma hanging on the wall?

I just want to extend my heartfelt advice to the people who created chaos in such places where our brothers living in their beloved country, please cease the war and stop it forever. Let peace rule over us all, in our minds and hearts.

We can not stop this fight when an alien wanted to have business in one country but that one country will refuse the offer but the alien still penetrate and pursue what they wanted.

Sorry for letting the previous post get overloaded again. I had no power for more than a week [our ‘Sunni’ generator operator was abducted by the Mehdi army. He was saved by his ‘Shiite’ brother; may be worth writing about it sometime]. Also, I was in a particularly black mood!

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