Sunday, August 29, 2004

Howard in losing mode: Brown: "the prime minister's announcement today, and the failure that will be involved in that for him to face up to the parliament, shows that he feels he is in a losing mode I think.' Senator Brown said the Greens had not decided where to direct preferences because the party had not seen the policies of the major parties.

"He said the Greens would wait for the major parties to detail improvements for spending on health, education and the environment. He said the Greens expected to pick up a Senate seat in each state at this election.

"'I think there'll be a million Green voters this time,' Senator Brown said. 'For many voters the Greens are going to be the growth spot in this election campaign.'"

Chomsky on the two state solution: Chomsky makes a strong argument against the notion of a 'bi-national' state in Palestine, a notion that seems to be gaining currency even though the two-state solution remains the only viable possibility for peace in Palestine. Not only would the whole world, including the population of Israel itself, (but not including the governments of the US and Israel) accept the two-state solution, but the population of Israel would regard a 'bi-national' state as the destruction of Israel and would fight it with everything they had, up to and including nuclear weapons, according to Chomsky.

"Question: As long as the US Government blocks a two-state settlement, it's unlikely to occur. So why do you think the US Government might support a two-state solution?

"Chomsky: For the same reason that I thought at one time that the US government might withdraw from Vietnam, might institute a limited medical care system, might inform the Indonesian generals that they had to withdraw from East Timor, and on, and on. The government might do what organized activist public opinion influences it to do. This happens to be an unusually easy case. About two-thirds of the public supports the so-called Saudi Plan, which calls for Israel to withdraw entirely from the occupied territories. That goes well beyond the Geneva Accords. Similar majorities want US aid to be denied to either party that refuses to enter into negotiations (meaning Israel, for the past several years), and want aid to the two parties to be equalized if they do enter into negotiations (meaning a radical diversion of aid from Israel to Palestinians). Of course, virtually none of this is published, and people are so deprived of relevant information that they probably do not comprehend clearly what they are calling for. But those are the situations in which educational and organizing activities can make an enormous difference."

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Damaged Goods: How Far Will Republicans Go to Hold Onto Power?: "The Bush campaign strategy is already in play before the GOP convention. The President runs on fear and character assassination--big fear and big lies. While Bush's claims and insinuations are utterly distant from the truth, the strategy can't be dismissed, because Republicans are so experienced at this kind of politics. GOP marketing proceeds on a cynical assumption that voters can be moved by the brazen repetition of evocative falsehoods and broad-brush caricature.... The Bush crowd is smart and skillful, and above all devious. They have demonstrated that to hold on to power, they will do anything. In the background chatter of Washington, a real worry is expressed that the White House might put the bombers aloft and strike somewhere in a supposed emergency -- maybe take out Iran's nuclear program? -- to change the subject big-time and to scare the bejeezus out of American voters just before the election. Normally, I wouldn't take such talk seriously. But when I consider Bush's dilemma and all that's at stake, I begin to think these fears are not implausible. In a newly concocted crisis, would anxious Americans stampede to the President's side? Or would they see through the cynical charade and toss him out? I would bet on the latter, but I wouldn't bet the whole farm."

Grief-stricken father immolates himself as candidates debate war: "Beneath the thin plastic veneer of American society, rage roils around the irrationality of life in the Empire, and occasionally it boils over. As it did in Hollywood, Florida, the other day, when Carlos Arredondo "snapped," as the news reports put it: "Melida Arredondo said her husband knew what was coming as three uniformed Marines approached their front door. "And when they told him Wednesday afternoon that his Marine son, Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo of Randolph, Mass., had been killed in combat in Iraq, police say Carlos Arredondo simply snapped. Arredondo climbed into the Marine Corps van parked outside his home and set it ablaze, suffering severe burns."

"The distraught dad had grabbed a propane torch and a can of gasoline, torched the Marines' van, and then hurled himself into the flames. He was pulled from the burning vehicle, but is now in serious condition, with burns over half of his body. Mrs. Arredondo, in an interview on ABC's Good Morning America, had an explanation: "This is his scream that his child is dead. The war needs to stop."

"ABC News reports that it is "unclear" whether or not Arredondo will face charges. Meanwhile, our two presidential candidates continue to debate the war … the war in Vietnam, that is. You know, the one that ended over thirty years ago. And it isn't even about the war, per se, but one man's experience of it. The race for the White House will apparently be decided on the life-or-death issue of: did John Kerry ever spend Christmas in Cambodia – or was it right across the border in Vietnam?

"No wonder Mr. Arredondo went ballistic."

Friday, August 27, 2004

MPs Plan to Impeach Blair Over Iraq War Record: "MPs are planning to impeach Tony Blair for 'high crimes and misdemeanors' in taking Britain to war against Iraq, reviving an ancient practice last used against Lord Palmerston more than 150 years ago."

"The MPs' decision follows the commissioning of a 100-page report which lays out the case for impeaching Mr Blair and the precedents for action, including arguments laid down in Erskine May, the parliamentary bible, on impeachments dating back to medieval times. The authors are Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and Dan Plesch, honorary fellow of Birkbeck College, London.

"Under the ancient right, which has never been repealed, it takes only one MP to move a motion and the Speaker has to grant a debate on the impeachment. This means, at the least, Mr Blair will have to face a fresh debate on his personal handling of the war and there will have to be a vote in parliament on whether to institute impeachment proceedings. In effect, impeachments were discontinued after Lord Palmerston, accused of concluding a secret treaty with Russia, survived an impeachment debate in 1848. The proceedings were replaced with a convention on ministerial responsibility, with ministers being forced to resign if they misled parliament."

"Mr Price said he believed the case was compelling. "To dust off Victorian constitutional histories and examine precedents from the time of Charles I and Chaucer may seem bizarre. But the conduct of the prime minister has left people and parliament with no alternative if we are to preserve the very basis of democracy.""

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

[Official lying]: World safer since Iraq war, says Hill: "The world had become a safer place since the war on Iraq, Defence Minister Robert Hill said today.... The defence minister said there were always risks associated with conflict but Australia had done the right thing.

"'It's always been our view that an Iraq that is democratic ... that is not being led by a person that is responsible for the deaths of over 300,000 of his own people would be a contributor towards a safer world not a less safe world,' Senator Hill said in Sydney. '... Obviously if you engage in a conflict there are risks associated with that conflict but in the longer term it's always been our view that this would contribute to a safer world and safer Australia.'"

Monday, August 23, 2004

PM was told war would spur terrorism: "The Federal Government was warned repeatedly by intelligence analysts before the Iraq war that the conflict would harm the war on terrorism by fanning Islamic extremism and spurring terrorist recruiting. An investigation by the Herald, which has included interviews with several serving and retired intelligence figures, has uncovered that John Howard and his senior colleagues were briefed on the dangers, verbally and in written reports.

"Yet the Prime Minister told Australians on the eve of the conflict that the war would lessen the terrorist threat, contradicting his intelligence advice. The revelation raises serious questions about the inquiry into the intelligence services commissioned by the Government and conducted by Philip Flood. The inquiry never mentioned the warnings about an increased terrorist threat.

"'They were very, very aware of our views,' one former intelligence analyst said. 'We believed it would inflame extremism and increase terrorist recruitment.' The source said these views were relayed in written reports and in verbal briefings to Mr Howard and his ministers in the months and weeks leading up to the conflict. The sources said senior Government members were constantly being briefed on al-Qaeda and terrorism, including the impact of the Iraq war on the jihad being carried out by al-Qaeda."

The only realistic conclusion one can draw is that the Howard Government, along with the Bush and Blair governments, attacked Iraq knowing it would increase the risk of terrorist retaliation, which of course also gives the lie to the government position that terrorists attack because they 'hate our freedoms'. And yet at the same time, all these governments pose as fighting a 'war on terror' and still have significant elements of the population deceived to this extent.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?: Fascinating article on 'conservatism' (ie, aristocracy, oligarchy) and its successful takeover of politics and rhetoric. The weak point of the essay however is economics. His instinct is right in saying both "Economics, unfortunately, is still dominated by the ancien regime" and "Ditch Marx". However, the criticism of both neoclassical economics and Marxism is lame. Economics is the critical weakness of democracy and the left.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

It wasn't Last Year's Bomb but American Policy which Destroyed the UN's Hopes in Iraq: "Even before that awful bomb ripped through our Baghdad headquarters on August 19 2003, taking the lives of 22 of my colleagues, the UN mission in Iraq had already become marginal to the epic crisis being played out there."

"The low point came at the end of July last year, when, astonishingly, the US blocked the creation of a fully fledged UN mission in Iraq. Sergio believed that this mission was vital and had thought the CPA also supported it. Clearly, the Bush administration had eagerly sought a UN presence in occupied Iraq as a legitimizing factor rather than as a partner that could mediate the occupation's early end, which we knew was essential to averting a major conflagration.

"Sergio had nevertheless continued to squeeze whatever mileage he could from what he called the "constructive ambiguity" of a terrible postwar security council resolution; one that sent UN staff into the Iraqi cauldron without giving them even a minimal level of independence or authority. It is not an exaggeration to say that it was this resolution that rang the death knell for the UN in Iraq. Having heroically resisted American pressure to authorize the war, security council members decided to show goodwill to the "victors". "A step too far" was how an Iraqi put it to me on my second day in Baghdad." He said that even those who had grown accustomed to the double standards the security council employed in punishing Iraqis for the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, while acquiescing to a quarter-century of Israeli occupation of Arab lands, were horrified that it could legitimize an unprovoked war that the entire world had clamorously opposed. Many Iraqis were also furious that the UN did not raise its voice against brutal occupation tactics, unaware that custom and diplomacy dictated that UN officials say little in public that would offend the world's most powerful state."

"August 19 2003 is a pivotal moment UN history, not merely because of the unprecedented viciousness of the attack, but because of the lack of an Iraqi, Arab and Muslim outcry over the atrocity. This near silence exposed the depths to which the organization's standing had sunk in the Middle East a result of its inability to contain or even condemn the militaristic excesses of US and Israeli policies in the post-9/11 period. The UN is generally considered to be too willing to do the US's bidding, and its rare challenge on the Iraq war authorization was quickly forgotten once subsequent resolutions pushed the American project in Iraq. Spectacularly egregious was the security council approval of a Spanish resolution condemning Eta for the Madrid bombings when most suspected al-Qaida. This cavalier use of supposedly hallowed security council resolutions was only possible because of support from the US, which wished to protect the Aznar government from electoral defeat."

"The UN is precious - not because of its name, but because it struggles, however imperfectly, to reach global consensus on the world's critical issues. The fanatics who blew up the UN mission dealt a severe blow to its fortunes in the Middle East. But more lasting damage is being done to the legitimacy of this irreplaceable institution by demands to obey US dictates. If it continues to bow to pressure, its capital will be squandered and its resolutions rendered weightless for large chunks of humanity."

Bush hails Iraqi Olympic soccer team as part of re-election campaign: "George W. Bush ... is using the Iraqi Olympic team in his latest re-election campaign advertisements. In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes.""

"At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted.""

""Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," [Iraqi midfielder and goalscorer Salih] Sadir told through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself." Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes.""

""My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"

"Sadir, Wednesday's goal-scorer, used to be the star player for the professional soccer team in Najaf. In the city in which 20,000 fans used to fill the stadium and chant Sadir's name, U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled loyalists to rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr for the past two weeks. Najaf lies in ruins. "I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."

"Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance. "I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq.""

Friday, August 20, 2004

'Press freedom' in the 'fledgling democracy' of 'sovereign Iraq': "There are worrisome signs that the battle for Najaf will be a 'no-holds-barred' campaign. The Allawi government has ordered the expulsion of all members of the press from the city. Najaf's police chief issued a warning to the media saying, 'We will kill you if you leave your hotel. I will put four snipers on the roof to shoot anyone who leaves.' This strongly suggests that the Bush Administration wants no written or photographic record of the brutality they are planning. The curtains are being drawn so the savagery can begin."

Thursday, August 19, 2004

More fun at expense of corporate media: "WITH ALL DUE respect to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, who was polite to me when we spoke on the phone earlier this year, I had to laugh at his 3000-word 'We Fucked Up on Iraq' piece that came out last week. Kurtz's Aug. 12 piece, entitled 'The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story; Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page,' was the latest in what is likely to be a long series of tepid media mea culpas about pre-war Iraq reporting. The piece comes on the heels of the New York Times' infamous 'The Bitch Set Us Up' piece from this past May, in which that paper implicitly blamed hyperambitious hormone-case Judith Miller for its hilarious prewar failures."

"The Post piece featured an array of senior and less-senior reporters who let us in on the shocking revelation that stories questioning the Bush administration's pre-war intelligence claims were often buried deep in the news section, while Bush claims ran on the front. Revelations included the heartwarming Thelma & Louise tale of Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward teaming up to get Pincus' WMD skepticism piece into the paper just days before the country went over the cliff into Iraq."

"I marched in Washington against the war in February 2003 with about 400,000 people, and I can pretty much guarantee that not more than a handful of those people gave a shit about whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That's because we knew what the Post and all of these other papers still refuse to admit—this whole thing was never about weapons of mass destruction. Even a five- year-old, much less the literate executive editor of the Washington Post, could have seen, from watching Bush and his cronies make his war case, that they were going in anyway.

"For God's sake, Bush was up there in the fall of 2002, warning us that unmanned Iraqi drones were going to spray poison gas on the continental United States. The whole thing—the "threat" of Iraqi attack, the link to terrorism, the dire warnings about Saddam's intentions—it was all bullshit on its face, as stupid, irrelevant and transparent as a cheating husband's excuse. And I don't know a single educated person who didn't think so at the time. The story shouldn't have been, "Are there WMDs?" The story should have been, "Why are they pulling this stunt? And why now?" That was the real mystery. It still is."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

50th Anniversary of Dien Bien Phu: "The defeat led to the death of French colonialism in Indochina and provided a tremendous impetus to liberation movements the world over. It showed that a small Asian country could defeat a powerful European colonial power. Soon thereafter, the Algerian people rose in revolt against French colonial rule and freed themselves after a protracted struggle lasting six years. The French colonies in West Africa became independent by 1960. The wars in Vietnam and Algeria had exhausted the French state. It had spent over two billion francs and committed more than 450,000 troops in Indochina for no obvious gain."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Gildenlow: basis of Israel: "1937 Winston Churchill said that he didn’t see the Palestine people as having the rights to their nation, just because they lived there, just as the native American Indians or the blacks of Australia should not have any claims on their lands. In this context, his whole argument rested on the case that some races are more refined and evolved and should therefore have a natural right to whatever land they found suitable. This is the political, and dare I say philosophical, point of departure displayed by the British government, as well as the US government, and even by UN when they 1947 split the nation in two, giving the Zionists 55% of the country (still a country they did not have any other right to more than a right based on racist ideologies). Within a year, the Zionists had taken 76%. 1948 the state Israel was announced, acknowledged by the US government within a few minutes."

"In 1969 the Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir claimed that there were no such thing as a Palestinian. Prime Minister Menachem Begin called them animals on two legs, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called them locusts that could probably be crushed. These are not the hillbillies talking at the local bar after a few beers to many – these are the political governmental power talking, laying the foundation for a serious disaster with no winners. The Israeli government has always had the support from US, Britain and even UN, and just like the two former ones, terrible crimes against human rights have been committed, dressed like something else. The “War on Terror” is the perfect excuse to finish the job and put a glossy furnish to a decade long genocide. Simply put; poke the dog long enough and it will bite you, unfortunately giving you the perfect reason for its termination.

"After this historical escapade, I must begin with stressing the point that terror actions are always wrong and I feel strongly with all the victims. I emphasize this very strongly! However, I must also add that I see both sides as political victims in this situation. If you corner someone and take away all his/her status, rights and land, you create an enemy with nothing to lose – I claim that every human being can be turned into an avenger or stressed out animal, it’s all about how the surroundings form this being."

"As with the US way of dealing with political issues, today’s media knowledge makes it very important for every government to make sure that their agenda is supported by a language that has a morally charged connotation in their favour. Thus, we get used to seeing two sides from only one side, so to speak."

"All the atrocities performed by the Israeli government will not be called “terrorism” simply because they are calling the shots, rolling the dice. Nevertheless, there have been countless acts of terror towards the marginalized Arabic population of the area today known as Israel. It was seemingly a grand gesture to give away parts of a nation to the Zionists, and I’ll be the first to agree they deserved it, but unfortunately it wasn’t really theirs to give; it was stolen goods.

"As for the solution then… It is hard to see a good way out of this – it has gone way out of control and everyone involved are so emotionally biased and hurt, blind in many ways to the human value of the “enemy”.... So, can I claim that the Israeli people should be thrown out of their country and Palestine be reformed? Of course not. Can I claim that the Palestinians be thrown out from the country they once owned? Of course not. At some point you will always cross that line beyond which there are no right answers (even though, in my own words, we are always looking for a painless redemption), and a painful compromise must ultimately be made."

"I’m not a Christian, but there are certain aspects I wish that all creeds could take to heart (and I mean Christians too, since they seem to have missed these bits totally). It’s about turning the other cheek, not kill and treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. Basic humanism. The interesting thing is, it took until the end of the 20th century to scientifically prove that this behaviour is in fact the most rewarding, both for the individual and on the bigger scale. In other words, cooperation will make you reach your goals to a much larger extent than any act of greed or violence. Take less and you will get more. Being kind is being clever. It is called Game Theory. War and violence has now been scientifically proven to be a dysfunctional means of achieving any purpose whatsoever. For any side. Now, how has that knowledge changed our behaviour?"

"the Israeli ambassador’s behaviour at the exhibition in Stockholm last month? Terrible. I’m sorry to say this and I do not mean to offend anyone, possibly apart from Mazel and Sharon. Art is a way of dealing with difficult topics, and Zvi Mazel was not to judge the value of that piece of the exhibition better than the artist himself, or any other spectator for that matter. I can understand that it stirred a lot of emotions and I could have forgiven him for his action, but I cannot forgive his defence of that action. And for Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister (and, let us not forget, the former Foreign Minister) of a supposedly modern society to officially support this kind of action is deeply disturbing! A travesty of governmental power and a mockery of political communications and relations. If a piece of Israeli art would offend, say the French, would it be correct of their ambassador simply to go there and destroy it? And would that be accepted by the Israeli government? Of course not. No nation would consider that proper procedure, were it the other way around. What then, in Sharon’s opinion, should be an ambassador’s role and rights? I mean; these are two grown up men we are talking about, with high political positions – if they cannot be rational and communicative, then who can we expect to be? Talk about setting a moral example supporting rouge justice. Mazel broke Swedish law (which, I daresay, is not unlike any other nation’s law in this matter) by destroying a piece of art at a museum, and was applauded by his own government. Perspective, please! There are so many things and patterns that need to be destroyed to make this a better world – that was simply not one of them. Nor, I might add, are human beings."

"I am simply unwilling to submit to the misleading contemporary, however unspoken, concept that being opposed to Israeli politics means you are anti-Semite, just as little as being against Bush means you are pro-terrorism. Those leaps of logic are huge, and very dangerous! I strongly oppose violence of any kind, just as I oppose narrow-mindedness and political persecution, and nationalistic and patriotic hypocrisy and ethnocentrism. It must end, and walls are not the answer. FBI agents on the flights are not the answer. Bombing is not the answer. Fear is not the answer. Understanding is. A worn down and naïve concept? Well… Sometimes the truth starts to sound like a cliché, simply because in our hearts we have known it for so very long. We just fail to live by it."

"To all our Israeli fans I want to add: take care until we meet! And once again: I hope I haven’t pissed people off with my political answers. I thought many times about simply skipping those questions, but I figured silence was never a good way of dealing with problems. I have tried to find my way through these difficult issues and mine fields, but as we all know, language is a very blunt tool and I can only hope you see what I am trying to express.
I only wish for every human being to be respected and have good lives without fear and hate, regardless of race, nationality or creed. But for that to happen, I think we must all start to make amends and learn the gentle, but difficult, arts of forgiving, modesty and understanding. It has a word. Empathy."

Edwards: Reporting for Duty: "In truth the killing always starts with you and us - the public. First, we have to be persuaded that we are led by good, reasonable people who absolutely would not kill unless they had to. Psychological buffers must be set up in our minds to protect us from the realisation that our leaders are willing to kill cynically - for power, for profit, for the status quo.

"Because these buffers erode over time, our leaders must be manufactured fresh, smiling and new every few years by the same system of power with the same ruthless goals. We know all about Bush-I and Thatcher, but things are different now. Now there is Clinton and Blair. And now Bush-II and Blair. And now, perhaps, John Kerry and Gordon Brown. All arrive declaring their determination 'to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world', while the same boot continues stamping on the same human face - for ever.

"The killing, actually, starts with the surreal emptiness and manufactured optimism of party conferences and conventions. Have you noticed how desolate you feel when you see John Edwards' fake perma-grin, and when you see John Kerry's carefully rehearsed salute as he declares, idiotically, 'I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty'? Do you notice how you cringe when you see Kerry pointing into the crowd - a gesture associated with confident authority and power? Do you notice there is something nauseating about the empty cliches, about the speeches about nothing, about the cheering about nothing? Isn't it deeply wounding that, after millions of years of history, humanity has arrived at this utterly fraudulent charade as an expression of 'democracy'?"

FTA: bad politics drives out good economics - Ross Gittins: "In John Howard's pre-election search for another Tampa, the best he's come up with so far is the free trade agreement with the United States. As a wedge issue the trade deal doesn't have nearly the same populist appeal as the need to defend our shores against marauding refugees, of course, but the parallels with Tampa are surprisingly strong. The key to wedge politics - to hammering an issue that drives a wedge through the other side's ranks - is to find a populist subject about which your own supporters have no moral qualms but the other side's supporters have plenty.

"The Labor Party is highly susceptible to wedging because it contains a majority of pragmatists who think they have no choice but to bow to populism, but a large minority who can't see the point of being in politics if you don't stand up for your principles. Kim Beazley's Labor ended up supporting the Government on Tampa but this did it no good. It took too long making up its mind to impress those potential Labor voters living in fear of being overrun by boat people but still alienated those misguided souls believing even refugees were entitled to humane treatment."

"The FTA was shaping up as a junior Tampa. The majority of the shadow cabinet felt they had no choice but to tick it, while the minority couldn't see why they should acquiesce in such a bad deal for the economy.... Leading the outcry would have been the Murdoch press, whose American lord and master stands to gain from the US Government's efforts to make the world a cushier place for US exporters of intellectual property, such as Twentieth Century Fox."

"Suffice to say the Opposition Leader has shown himself to be surprisingly adroit at sidestepping Mr Howard's attempted wedges.... It's been reported and widely rumoured that the people closest to negotiating the deal wanted to walk away from it when the Americans proved so intransigent, particularly on agriculture. And when President Bush declined to yield any concessions after Mr Howard phoned him with a personal appeal. But Mr Howard insisted the bad deal be accepted. Why? Because of the loss of face the Man of Steel would suffer when it became known his mateship with Dubya counted for so little. Because he had to show something good had come from our participation in the Iraq war."

"With business economists, their masters are so fearful of offending the Government they're not even allowed to say what they really think about a drunken-sailor budget, much less something so far out of their bailiwick as a trade deal. With business itself, most of the key industry groups were squared away privately during and immediately after the deal's negotiation. The sugar lobby, of course, was bribed in public. I suspect that, after eight years in office, the Government has got it through to the business lobbies that, if they want to put their case to the minister in private, the price is never to criticise in public and always to give forth approving noises whenever a new policy is announced.... If, as I fear, the nation lives to regret the economic sovereignty it's giving away in the FTA, history will hold it against the memory of one John Howard. But we will all share the blame for allowing ourselves to be railroaded."

In this article Gittins seems for once to have jettisoned his patronising 'economics editor' style for something with some genuine bite and sting. Yet another sign of how people formerly regarded as 'conservative' find themselves left behind by the relentless drift to the right.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Ralph Nader: Let The Voter Beware: "Nader has gone to great lengths to exploit the lack of knowledge most Americans have about how other democracies around the world work, and thus deceive people about both the history and present reality of our electoral system and the role of third parties in it."

"[The founding fathers] created a flawed constitution. The major flaw was that national elections are held on a first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all basis. Which means that if three or more candidates compete in a race, it's virtually guaranteed that somebody with less than a majority of the vote will end up winning political power. The result of this flaw is non-democratic minority rule, instead of the democratic ideal of majority rule."

"Few other democracies are locked into a two-party system like ours because most emerged in their current forms after 1861, when John Stuart Mill proposed the idea of proportional representation in his book "Considerations on Representational Government." It solved, once and for all, the problem of Madison's factions making a nation less democratic.

"Under proportional representation - in use in virtually all the other democracies of the world - the percent of the vote a party gets determines the percent of seats they have in Congress or Parliament. It's far more democratic than our system, and if Madison were alive today he'd be wishing he'd thought of it in 1787 when he helped write and sell the Constitution."

The author here conflates 'preferential voting' with 'proportional representation'. They are different concepts. He also adopts the common but incorrect assumption that proportional representation means the percent of votes a party gets determines the percent of seats it gets. In the Hare-Clark system the voter votes for and elects individuals, not parties, an improvement over the 'party list' system.

Deceptions over Iraq strongly condemned: "A statement from more than 40 ex-military and diplomatic officers will condemn Australia's commitment to the Iraq invasion as based on deception, and call for Australia to stop rubber-stamping American policies."

"[The statement] is expected to strongly condemn the misleading of the Australian people over the reasons for invading Iraq, and carry the message that if what the Australian Government says cannot be trusted by its own citizens, Australia cannot expect its word to be trusted internationally.

"The signatories argue that the alliance relationship between Australia and the United States, and the ANZUS treaty, are important but do not require Australia to consistently echo policies decided in Washington by the US administration. They believe the invasion and occupation of Iraq have led to an obvious increase in terrorism rather than the predicted decrease. The outcome has been to raise Australia's profile as a terrorist target considerably."

Friday, August 06, 2004

MY WAR - Fear And Loathing In Iraq: Men In Black: "There was reports of a buncha people, wearing all black armed with AK's hanging out there. Our job was to locate and kill them. We were driving there on that main street, when all of the sudden all hell came down all around on us, all these guys wearing all black (Black pants, and a black t-shirts tucked in), a couple dozen on each side of the street, on rooftops, alleys, edge of buildings, out of windows, everywhere just came out of fucking nowhere and started firing RPG's and AK47's at us. I freaked the fuck out and ducked down in the hatch. I yelled 'WE GOT FUCKIN HAJI'S ALL OVER THE FUCKIN PLACE!!! THERE ALL OVER GOD DAMNIT!!!' Bullets were pinging off our armor all over our vehicle, and you could hear multiple RPG's being fired and flying through the air and impacting all around us. All sorts of crazy insane Hollywood explosions bullshit going on all around us. I've never felt fear like this. I was like, this is it, I'm going to die. I cannot put into words how scared I was. The vehicle in front of us got hit 3 times by RPG's. I kind of lost it and I was yelling and screaming all sorts of things. (mostly cuss words) I fired the .50 cal over the place, shooting everything."

The Hand-Over That Wasn't: Illegal Orders give the US a Lock on Iraq's Economy: "in reality, the United States is still in charge: Not only do 138,000 troops remain to control the streets, but the '100 Orders' of L. Paul Bremer III remain to control the economy.... the interim constitution of Iraq, written by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, solidifies the orders by making them virtually impossible to overturn."

"A sampling of the most important orders demonstrates the economic imprint left by the Bush administration: Order No. 39 allows for: (1) privatization of Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3) "national treatment" — which means no preferences for local over foreign businesses; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership licenses. Thus, it forbids Iraqis from receiving preference in the reconstruction while allowing foreign corporations — Halliburton and Bechtel, for example — to buy up Iraqi businesses, do all of the work and send all of their money home. They cannot be required to hire Iraqis or to reinvest their money in the Iraqi economy. They can take out their investments at any time and in any amount.

"Orders No. 57 and No. 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector generals in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations. Order No. 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq's laws. Even if they, say, kill someone or cause an environmental disaster, the injured party cannot turn to the Iraqi legal system. Rather, the charges must be brought to U.S. courts."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Rocinante (No cynicism required): CRISIS IN DARFUR---NOT TO MENTION THE "LEFT" (AGAIN): "The Darfur crisis is following a pattern which is so well-worn now that it has almost become routine. Saturation reporting from a crisis region; emergency calls for help broadcast on the electronic media (such as the one recently on the BBC Radio 4 flagship ‘Today’ programme); televised pictures of refugees; lurid stories of “mass rapes”, which are surely designed to titillate as much to provoke outrage; reproachful evocations of the Rwandan genocide; demands that something must be done (“How can we stand idly by?”, etc.); editorials in the Daily Telegraph calling for a return to the days of Rudyard Kipling’s benevolent imperialism[6]; and, finally, the announcement that plans are indeed being drawn up for an intervention."

"What is unmistakable is that in recent months, an hysterical atmosphere has grown up around the very same designated enemy in Khartoum that has been targeted by the Great (civilized and largely English-speaking) Powers, and this hysterical atmosphere has spread so widely, it has dragged much of the world behind it by the nape of its neck. Not to mention some disconcertingly prominent segments of the Left, I hasten to add. Just like previous times."

"Or how about the UN Security Council's passage earlier today (13 in favor, 2 abstentions) of Res. 1556, co-sponsored by the United States and Britain, "paving the way for action against Sudan in 30 days if it does not make progress on pledges to disarm the militias accused of indiscriminate murders, rapes and other attacks against civilians in the Darfur region," according to the UN News Center ("Security Council votes to threaten Sudan with action over Darfur crisis," July 30, 2004)? In UNSC Res. 1556, we have an instance of the world's two Super Predator States---the very invaders and occupiers of Iraq, need I remind everyone?---successfully sponsoring a Security Council resolution not in the least way incompatible with their imperial projects and still able to find support among human rights groups and the Left. Sound familiar?"

We can assume that Bush will not be able to connect in any significant manner with this issue, but even Blair would have trouble convincing a deeply sceptical world public opinion of his "humanitarian intervention", ie war.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Russian Oligarchs and their takeover of the state: "The 'oligarchs' are a tiny group of entrepreneurs who exploited the disintegration of the Soviet system to loot the treasures of the state and to amass plunder amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars. In order to safeguard the perpetuation of their business, they took control of the state. Six out of the seven are Jews. In popular parlance they are called 'oligarchs'--from the Greek word meaning 'rule of the few'.

"In the first years of post-Soviet Russian capitalism they were the bold and nimble ones who knew how to exploit the economic anarchy in order to acquire enormous possessions for a hundredth or a thousandth of their value: oil, natural gas, nickel and other minerals. They used every possible trick, including cheating, bribery and murder. Every one of them had a small private army. In the course of the series they are proud to tell in great detail how they did it. But the most intriguing part of the series recounts the way they took control of the political apparatus. After a period of fighting each other, they decided that it would be more profitable for them to cooperate in order to take over the state.

"At the time, President Boris Yeltsin was in a steep decline. On the eve of the new elections for the presidency, his rating in public opinion polls stood at 4%. He was an alcoholic with a severe heart disease, working about two hours a day. The state was, in practice, ruled by his bodyguard and his daughter; corruption was the order of the day. The oligarchs decided to take power through him. They had almost unlimited funds, control of all TV channels and most of the other media. They put all these at the disposal of Yeltsin's reelection campaign, denying his opponents even one minute of TV time and pouring huge sums of money into the effort. (The series omits an interesting detail: they secretly brought over the most outstanding American election experts and copywriters, who applied methods previously unknown in Russia.)

"The campaign bore fruit: Yeltsin was indeed reelected. On the very same day he had another heart attack and spent the rest of his term in hospital. In practice, the oligarchs ruled Russia. One of them, Boris Berezovsky, appointed himself Prime Minister. There was a minor scandal when it became known that he (like most of the oligarchs) had acquired Israeli citizenship, but he gave up his Israeli passport and everything was in order again.

"By the way, Berezovsky boasts that he caused the war in Chechnya, in which tens of thousands have been killed and a whole country devastated. He was interested in the mineral resources and a prospective pipeline there. In order to achieve this he put an end to the peace agreement that gave the country some kind of independence. The oligarchs dismissed and destroyed Alexander Lebed, the popular general who engineered the agreement, and the war has been going on since then. In the end, there was a reaction: Vladimir Putin, the taciturn and tough ex-KGB operative, assumed power, took control of the media, put one of the oligarchs (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) in prison, caused the others to flee (Berezovsky is in England, Vladimir Gusinsky is in Israel, another, Mikhail Chernoy, is assumed to be hiding here.)".

Blair graves claim untrue: "Downing Street has admitted to The Observer newspaper that repeated claims by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that '400 000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5 000 corpses have so far been uncovered."

Uzbekistan: Ally in war on terror: "Six hours after Jamal Mirsaidov met with the British ambassador, the limp and mutilated corpse of his grandson was dumped on his doorstep. The body was battered and one arm appeared to have been immersed in boiling fluid until the skin had begun to peel off. Mirsaidov is a literature professor in the ancient city of Samarkand. His mistake had been to write a letter to Tony Blair and George Bush alerting them to the daily torture meted out to dissidents in Uzbekistan, their new ally in the war on terror."

"[British Ambassador] Murray has paid a more direct price for his decision to step out of the bubble of isolation and immunity in which most diplomats live and challenge such abuses. His distinctly undiplomatic assessment of Uzbekistan's human rights record propelled him into a lengthy battle with the Foreign Office. He was subjected to a humiliating disciplinary investigation, had his personal life publicly shredded and suffered a string of health problems. He became the rogue ambassador. Not so much Our Man in Tashkent as Our Uzbekistan Problem."

"In 2002, $79 million went to the Uzbekistani security forces and law enforcement (in 2002, the US aid budget to Uzbekistan was $220 million in total) - the same people whom the State Department accused of "using torture as a routine investigation technique". Murray has plenty of first-hand evidence of the Uzbekistani's "routine methods". Sitting in the plush living room of his ambassadorial residence, he tells me: "People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities."

To condemn Saddam vociferously for his 'rape rooms' and non-existent 'mass graves' and yet to say nothing about the barbrous torture regime of Uzbekistan is a classic example of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is important, because is reveals the stated motives for some action are not the real motives, which begs the question of what the real motives are. The real motives are, of course, strategic, financial, economic, state, political, military. And it is inevitable what the outcome of such motives combined with great power will be. As Chomsky has said, Washington is the world capital of terrorism.

US Media Kills Story that Iraqi PM Executed 6 Prisoners: "The US media has surprisingly failed to pick up the shocking disclosure by Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s leading newspaper, that the Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi personally executed six suspected insurgents in a Baghdad police station."

In the memory hole for the moment, but if, like Saddam himself, Allawi disobeys orders or becomes a liability for the US, we can be sure that this and other stories will be readily retrieved.

FTA: Even a trade-off agreement unlikely - Alan Ramsey: "Latham says he won't buckle, either. The Labor leader told a gobsmacked press conference the Opposition would 'fight like Kilkenny cats' to get its amendments adopted. Can we believe them? Who will break first? Or are we to get an election fought on whether Australia wants a free trade agreement after all? How absolutely delicious it has suddenly become."

Thank heavens Latham appears to have some gumption in him after al. Howard's political persona ('support our troops', 'wave the flag', 'war on terror', 'back the alliance') ought to be demolished head on.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Dreyfuss rubbishes the 9/11 Commission: "This is a nod in the direction of admitting that the terrorists don’t just “hate our freedom,” as President Bush constantly intones, but that there are fundamental policy differences that feed into anti-American sentiment in the region, and which Osama bin Laden draws upon. Yet the commission doesn’t recommend a single policy change, or even a review of those polices, or even a study to find out what policies exactly are considered “anti-Arab” and “anti-Muslim.”

"I’d expect Jon Stewart to suggest that we fight Osama bin Laden though MEFTA. Or by having America “stand up for its values.” But the 9/11 Commission?"

"Despite some juicy tidbits about the Bush administration’s post-9/11 obsession with Iraq, the 9/11 Commission unconscionably lets Bush off the hook on this one. Nowhere in the report does it conclude, as virtually any fair-minded observer would, that the attack on Iraq had nothing to do with the so-called War on Terrorism. (In fact, even the fair-minded have concluded that the war on Iraq was a major setback to the battle against Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism.)

"And nowhere does the commission say point-blank that Iraq was innocent of ties of Al Qaeda. It’s a glaring omission. And it allows Chairman Kean to get away with nonsense like this: “There was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.”

"With a straight face, the commission ... reports many instances of Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith demanding attacks on Iraq. Best, of course, is the one reported in a footnote (page 559, Note 75), citing a memo to Rumsfeld “that appears to be from Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith.” Says the commission: “The author suggested instead hitting outside the Middle East in the initial offensive, perhaps deliberately selecting a non-Al Qaeda target like Iraq.” This, said the commission, “might be a surprise to the terrorists.” That is so hilariously stupid on so many levels that it almost doesn’t need comment."

Is Florida Facing a New Polling Fiasco?: "On the floor of the Democratic convention, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Florida Senator Bob Graham if the state had solved the problem of hanging chads and punch-card ballots, which had caused such havoc in the last presidential election.

"Graham noted that those problems had been solved, but pointed to another problem: about half of Florida voters will use electronic voting machines in November, even though '(We) do not have any verifiable backup in case one of those machines malfunctions or there's a challenge to the accuracy of the machines.'

"Blitzer seemed shocked by this. 'Well, how is that possible in this day and age you don't have a backup?' Graham's answer was stunning: 'Because I'll say (Florida) Governor (Jeb) Bush and his administration have stonewalled the efforts to get a paper trail behind these electronic machines.'"

Fisk: Iraq is about to implode: "I am sitting in my room in Baghdad watching British Prime Minister Tony Blair, grinning in the House of Commons as if he is the hero of a school debating competition; so much for the Butler report.

"Indeed, watching any Western television station in Baghdad these days is like tuning in to Planet Mars. Doesn’t Blair realize that Iraq is about to implode? Doesn’t Bush realize this? The American-appointed "government” controls only parts of Baghdad — and even there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority. Iyad Allawi, the “prime minister”, is little more than mayor of Baghdad. “Some journalists,” Blair announces, “almost want there to be a disaster in Iraq.” He doesn’t get it. The disaster exists now."

Monday, August 02, 2004

Head of MI6 tried to include 'lies' in WMD report: "His [John Scarlett, head of MI6] suggestions were rejected. But after pressure from the US and Britain, the ISG produced only a bland, 20-page document about the failure of their 1,400-strong team to find any trace of WMD in Iraq, rather than the expected 200-page analysis, The Mail on Sunday said."

"ISG officials were said to be "stunned and dismayed" by the request.The ISG member was quoted as saying: "Inclusion of Scarlett's nuggets would have been grossly manipulative of the truth. Let's face it, he wanted us to include lies. "Everything Scarlett wanted in was based on very old evidence which we had painstakingly investigated and shown to be false," he said."

Scarlett is Blair's man and it is impossible to interpret this as other than desperate manoevres by Blair to save himself by further lying about WMDs.

Chomsky: why a real withdrawal is not possible: "...expeditious withdrawal, with a clear deadline, and an authentic rather than merely nominal transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. That isn't in the cards, but not because of concerns that the region will be left in chaos; rather, because it would mean abandoning the primary and quite crucial war aim of establishing the first stable military bases in a dependent client state at the heart of the energy-producing regions, a major lever of world control, as has long been understood. The US isn't about to do that.

"There are other reasons. An independent Iraq would probably take steps to gain a leading position in the Arab world, which would mean confronting the main enemy, US-
backed Israel. hat would mean rearming, probably with WMD, to counter Israel's. It might also lead to improving relations with Iran. Not impossible is a Shi'ite
alliance with Iran and a majority-run Iraq, which might further stimulate moves towards independence in the nearby Shi'te areas of Saudi Arabia, where the oil is. That would lead to domination of the world's energy resources by an
independent Shi'ite alliance. Nothing inevitable about any of this of course, but hardly impossible. Can you imagine the US tolerating anything like this? These are among the reasons why permitting democracy in Iraq, even if the rhetoric were meant seriously by Washington and Western commentators, is hardly a likely prospect."

Sunday, August 01, 2004

RollingStone article reveals new info about Abu Ghraib: "The secret files -- 106 "annexes" that the Defense Department withheld from the Taguba report last spring -- include nearly 6,000 pages of internal Army memos and e-mails, reports on prison riots and escapes, and sworn statements by soldiers, officers, private contractors and detainees. The files depict a prison in complete chaos.... the intent of Miller's report was clear to everyone involved: "It means treat the detainees like shit until they will sell their mother for a blanket, some food without bugs in it and some sleep." ... detainee number 151108, said he witnessed a translator referred to only as Abu Hamid raping a teenage boy. "I saw Abu Hamid, who was wearing the military uniform, putting his dick in the little kid's ass," Hilas testified. "The kid was hurting very bad." A female soldier took pictures of the rape, Hilas said.... An Army investigator later asked one of the seven Iraqis how he felt that night. "I was trying to kill myself," replied Hussein Al-Zayiadi, detainee number 19446, "but I didn't have any way of doing it." ... The facility was under constant attack from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.... Six detainees and two soldiers were killed, and seventy-one were injured.... "Today an entire compound of 500 prisoners could not be fed due to bugs and dirt in the food.... he reported that "for the past two days prisoners have been vomiting after they eat." ... According to an internal investigation, prisoners in one compound "were marching and yelling, 'Down with Bush,' and 'Bush is bad' and other slogans to that effect." The detainees threw rocks at guard towers and at soldiers on the other side of the concertina wire.... Fearing they were on the verge of a mass prison break, the guards were given the go-ahead to use deadly force, and they opened fire with live ammunition. Three detainees were killed and nine were wounded. Nine soldiers were also injured in the riot.... The prisoner pulled away and fell to his knees to say a prayer. "At that point," Cathcart told investigators, "I knew it would be a gun battle." He was right. The detainee suddenly turned, withdrew a 9 mm pistol from under his pillow and opened fire on Cathcart from close range."

Israeli activists, intellectuals recognize the right of return: "We are united in a critique of Zionism, based as it is on refusal to acknowledge the indigenous people of this country and on denial of their rights, on dispossession of their lands, and on adoption of separation as a fundamental principle and way of life. Adding insult to injury, Israel persists in its refusal to bear any responsibility for its deeds, from the expulsion of the majority of Palestinians from their homeland more than half a century ago, to the present erection of ghetto walls around the remaining Palestinians in the towns and villages of the West Bank. Thus, wherever Jew and Arab stand together or face each other, a boundary is drawn between them, to separate and distinguish between the blessed and the cursed.

"We are united in the recognition that this country belongs to all its sons and daughters - citizens and residents, both present and absentees (the uprooted Palestinian citizens of Israel in 1948 ) - with no discrimination on personal or communal grounds, irrespective of citizenship or nationality, religion, culture, ethnicity or gender. Thus we demand the immediate annulment of all laws, regulations and practices that discriminate between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, and the dissolution of all institutions, organizations and authorities based on such laws, regulations and practices."

Why do they hate us? - Disinfopedia article on this core concept of thought control as used by the Bush Administration: Bush, October 2001: "I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am -- like most Americans, I just can't believe it because I know how good we are."

Bush, an ignorant and deluded or self-deluded man, probably believes what he says here. Its an open question as to whether Howard, who adopts wholesale the ideology and politics of the Bush Administration in order to 'maintain the alliance', is equally ignorant and deluded.

Osama bin Laden, November 2002:

# "Because you attacked us and continue to attack us."
# "Under your supervision, consent and orders, the governments of our countries which act as your agents, attack us on a daily basis;"
# "You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of your international influence and military threats."
# "Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures."
# "You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down."

"Nearly two days after the horrific suicide attacks on civilian workers in New York and Washington, it has become painfully clear that most Americans simply don't get it. From the president to passersby on the streets, the message seems to be the same: this is an inexplicable assault on freedom and democracy, which must be answered with overwhelming force - just as soon as someone can construct a credible account of who was actually responsible. ... any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process - or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world - seems almost entirely absent." Guardian/UK, 12 September 2001

Australian actors attack 'Free Trade' Agreement: "Actor David Wenham, who shot to fame in the SeaChange series, said he recently returned from the US where he and American colleagues 'openly talked about America's dominance in the film and TV industry'.

"He said none of them had heard about the agreement. When it was discussed that Australia would receive more American programs but the US would not receive more Australian programs, Wenham's colleagues asked him how the Government could be satisfied with such an arrangement. "I had no reply,' he said."

US forced out of Ramadi: "In the capital of the largest province of Iraq's so-called 'Sunni triangle', rebels have taken to announcing their daily arrival by loud- speaker. 'Close your shops before 1400. We don't want to hit anyone. The fighting will begin after 1400. Stay safe,' trumpets the megaphone strung to a white Nissan pick-up that circulates around the main thoroughfare of Ramadi at 1pm.

"By 13:45 the streets empty. The governorate buildings, the police station and shops close. The police and the Iraqi National Guard, who had patrolled the town, disappear from the streets. Fifteen minutes later the resistance emerges from the side-streets into the main thoroughfare: five Daewoo saloon cars, and 15 Nissan pick-ups armed with rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs.

"They remain until daybreak, when the local security forces arrive for their eight-hour shift and markets briefly spring to life. The uneasy accommodation - whereby guerrillas and Iraqi security forces work in shifts - comes as several large Iraqi towns have recently fallen outside the control of US forces and its allies in the Iraqi interim government."