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spikegifted - Random thoughts

 

Iraq, terrorism and Defence spending

August 31, 2003

The reasons for the US going into war with Iraq should not be used as reasons for the UK to go to war. The very fact that UK joint forces with the US is solely based on the assumption that Iraq has WMD. Well, we all know where we're heading with that.

The reasons why the US and the UK are amongst the favorite Muslim/Arab terrorist targets is not surprising at all. For the US, it is obviously it aggressive military stance and it's policy toward projecting its military might in the Middle East to 'protect its national interests'. Since when has the Middle East became US's 'national interests', I don't know... However, lets not forget the biggest reason why certain Mr bin Larden hates the US is because of US forces basing themselves in Saudi soil, which, of course, led to the events of September 11. Another reason why the US isn't too hot with a number of Arab nations is due to its blind support for Israel. And we all know how much the Arab like to have the Israel disappear.

The UK is a slight different story. Thanks to generations of political genius, the UK has chosen to blindly support US policies. Take our current PM, he chose to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US on not only after September 11, but way after that. And guess what, we got dragged into a bottomless pit, for no good reason.

If you half think the US administration's reason for going to with Iraq is the right-thing-to-do, you really should go and have a cold shower. You can't export democracy. Democracy is derived from cultural, social and historical bases. Simply going in with guns blazing and 'give' an other country democracy will not work. The best you can achieve is a system that looks like democracy, but actually not. The troops in Iraq are being slowly wasted. The conditions of the Iraqis are no better now than they were prior to 'liberation' and they are unlikely to improve for years to come as the social unrest created by the act of invasion has upset the balance and the infrastructure to such an extent that it will take years to return to the level of operation efficiency seen prior to the war.

To justify this war based on humanitarian grounds is just naive. As we can see, winning the war may be relatively easy, but keeping the peace is difficult. Can you seriously suggest that the humanitarian situation in Iraq is better now than it was before the war?

This is according to the CIA World Fact Book, which was updated on August 1, 2003:

quote:
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Government type: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Constitution: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Legal system: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Suffrage: formerly 18 years of age; universal; note - in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Executive branch: chief of state: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Legislative branch: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Judicial branch: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Political parties and leaders: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Political pressure groups and leaders: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Economy - overview: The military victory of the US-led coalition in March-April 2003 resulted in the shutdown of much of the central economic administrative structure and the loss of a comparatively small amount of capital plant.

Exchange rates: Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 0.3109 (2002), 0.3109 (2001), 0.3109 (2000), 0.3109 (1999), 0.3109 (1998), note: fixed official rate since 1982; market rate subject to wide fluctuations

Telephone system: general assessment: an unknown number of telecommunication facilities were damaged during the March-April 2003 war

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So I guess humanitarian has improved since Saddam's days, then...

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August 31, 2003

That's nice... Nice in theory, anyway. The problem, as I mentioned before, is the social dislocation enforced by the military conflict that brought about the 'liberation'.

Thanks to the social unrest and lawlessness, water supplies are constantly disrupted - due to sabotage; people are being killed - either by bombs or being shot, mistakenly, by soldiers who don't understand Arabic and being aggressive; oil export is interrupted - due to sabotage, again; hospitals are flooded by people who can't be treated, not due to the lack of doctors, but medical supplies and equipment; people are in constant fear - thanks to hostile/aggressive military occupiers and armed gangs...

Have you been watching the news lately?

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August 31, 2003

So you're telling me that it's better to have someone who don't speak your language point a gun at you than to have some who speaks your language point a gun at you... If you think that's better, I can't argue with that. However, I, personally, feel that if at least I can understand what the personal pointing a gun at me is saying, I feel I have a chance. Somehow, I don't think there are that many Arab-speaking US or UK troops on the ground. Also, US troops have this attitude of 'shoot first, ask later' - which is why the Reuters cameraman was killed (the US troops thought he was carrying a rocket launcher and point it at them!) You can't even reason with these monkeys!

So, where do you think Najaf is? Baghdad? The point about terrorism is to create a sense of unease or terror in the population. It doesn't have to happen at your door step, it just has to happen and people know about it. People feel threatened by the threat of terrorism. The fact that the IRA targeted Warrington doesn't mean that other towns in mainland UK were save - quite the opposite!!

Oil export was seen as the key to finance the rebuilding of Iraq. However, thanks to the poor security provided by the coalition arm forces, they can't protect this life-line for the Iraqis. Sabotage is just a demonstration of the opportunism allowed by the poor security. No more, no less. You can't hide or make excuses for the invading armies - they can win the war but can't keep the peace. Tell me so, if otherwise.

There's no sign of the invading armies can resolve the current unrest in the population. As time goes by, and as the invading arm forces loose their grip on situation, the soldiers will be pushed further and put on edge. Civilian casualties may not be a big number right now, but soon (and sooner than you'd like) they're going to go up. Watch this space.

Since you brought up Dr David Kelly, I'd like to make the following observation: In official capacity, he supports the war; but on personal grounds, he did not. The evidence he gave to the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Joint Intelligence Committee were very different from what he expressed to his friends and colleagues (I'm not going to use his comments to journalists, as they're colored). If in doubt, you should take a good long look here.

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August 31, 2003

Well, I just hope those trigger-happy GIs are listening to the translators.

Back to geography, the Kurdish north Iraq hasn't been touched by those who worked for Saddam for a long time. So, war or no war hasn't made much difference for them. They're still being trapped by the Turkish on the one side and the rest of Iraq on the other. Yes, I guess the Kurds are now in a position to participate in the making of a new Iraq, but that will be a long time coming. However, terrorist activities are not limited to Baghdad and Basra. Returning to my point - the very fact that there are terrorist and sabotage activities, it terrorizes the population, it puts people under pressure, it puts everyone under suspicion... It is invisible and it is ever present. Deal with the security, you'd deal with the root of the problem. As far as Basra is concern, it's not the end of the story. You've probably missed the coverage of some rather angry people in Basra making their feelings known to the British troops there. Why do you think our troops are being killed? Why do you think they're now patrolling with full military head gear rather than just a beret? The population of Basra is so grateful to our troops being there that they're giving them hugs and kisses as they pass by... I must have missed something.

With regards to oil export, I recognize that oil pipelines are hundreds of miles long, I've seen oil pipelines and I know what they are. So we're looking at a country where the only usable port has been destroyed and it's being repaired. We don't know when the port will be usable again, but hey, it's their fault that they have only one usable port to begin with, right? So we're now pushing oil through the pipeline to get some money into the money box. Oops!! The pipelines have been sabotaged!! That's just tough luck, isn't it?? Can you be more irresponsible? The port was working just fine before the invasion took place. Who destroyed it? Troops? The sabotage? Who cares? It was destroyed as the result of the invasion. The oil pipelines are being sabotaged. Why weren't they being sabotage when Saddam was around? Surely the Iraqis didn't like the Saddam regime any more than the invading troops - why didn't they sabotage the pipelines back then? Anyway, what happened to that 'liberation' thing? Does liberation means saboteurs can do what they want? Where's the security? Isn't security one of the basic human rights? If the invading armies are there to 'deliver' democracy, which is considered a basic human right, isn't the right to live in a secured environment? So we now have a country that has no democracy and no security! Well done, folks!!

So, tell me: how much oil is being exported? How much money is the Iraqis are getting back? How much of this money is being paid to repair damages done during the invasion? How much of this money is being paid to repair the sabotaged equipments? How much money is left to provide health care and improve living standards - like regular supply of electricity??

With respect to Dr Kelly, you and I can disagree. But I'd advise you to take a good long look at the transcripts and figure out for yourself what Dr Kelly did or did not think about the status and positions of the Iraqis' weapon systems and our government's interpretation of them.

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September 1, 2003

With the level of sophistication that the US and the UK possess in locating and identifying weapons of mass destruction and each of these invading countries’ forensic capabilities, I’m very surprise by the fact that they haven’t found a single trace of the weapons actually being there. Trust me, if and when these weapons are being found or the signs of the weapons ever existed, the whole world would know about it because if a single site existed to have either held or made WMD, it immediately justifies the invasion. But no! There’s no sign of any WMD actually existed. If you so desired to prove what I’m saying is in fact incorrect, please indicate any evidence the invading powers have found. Of course neither they nor you have any. I’m disappointed that someone who appears to be intelligent has been so comprehensively lied to but still doesn’t want to accept the lack of any evidence in the cold light of day. I’m truly sorry.

I’m certain that the US won’t want to keep their troops over in Iraq a day longer than necessary – it costs a lot of money to keep men, equipment and supplies over there. But the day that the US or its allies pull out appears to be a long way away. There’s just no hope of any working infrastructure being developed in the near future – all thanks to the social dislocation and the distrust that is developing between the Iraqis and the US post-war administration. The police and defensive army will not be formed easily also. The nucleus of the former Iraqi police was formed around Ba’th party members or Ba’th ideology sympathizers. To build up a police force quickly, you need to find experienced leaders who, guess what, used to in the police – hence they’re likely to be fear and hated by the people and those in the police that are not Ba’th party related. If you want to exclude everybody who had any links with the Ba’th party, you’ll probably ended up completely rebuilding the entire police force, from the ground up. How long do you think that will take?

The army is going to be even trickier. It has to be an army of sufficient size to provide the basic requirement of protecting the country from external and internal threats, but at the same time, small enough so that it can’t become the aggressor to others. That’s a fine balance. Additionally, historically, there’s little distinction between the army and the state. This is not a westernized country or culture. The structure of many non westernized countries is very simple: party-state-army, all interlinked. Anyway, if an army is built, the generals in command can easily turn against the government, get rid of it and install a military regime! That would be sight to behold!!

In terms of the US’s lack of patience with the Iraqis on the diplomatic front, you touched on a very raw nerve here! You’re telling me that the non-compliance with UN resolutions justify the escalation of US/UK pressure and hence military action. So, what are you going to do about a country that:
has been defiling UN resolutions since the 1970s,
has repeated invaded other countries and territories,
has in its procession nuclear weapons,
has been responsible for the murder of hundreds or even thousands of civilians in countries around it and
has carried out a systematic economic isolation of its neighbor?

A country like this is ripe for a good beating by the US! This country should be considered one in the ‘Axis of Evil’. But no! It’s Israel and it’s the US’s strongest ally in the Middle East. Please don’t patronize me with this thing about failing diplomatic methods. This is a clear case of double standards. When it suits the US, it chooses to ignore the minor inconvenience of blatant contravention of rules and resolutions. But when it’s otherwise, the US is willing to make up new rules so that no matter what the target does, it will be hit – one way or another. Don’t forget, the Iraqis did submit a rather lengthy document to the UN regarding the statuses of its weapons of all kinds. However, the US chose to ignore that, and guess what – they can’t find any WMD!!

Many Americans were, in fact, not in favor of the war, but they were not in a position to object it. Why? After September 11, Americans needed to be ‘patriotic’. Supporting the administration was ‘patriotic’; not supporting the decisions and actions of the administration was seen as ‘un-patriotic’ and is usually frowned upon. And being ‘un-patriotic’ is not a done thing! So, the average American has a severe level of peer pressure to comply or just shut up. To the point that a large number of people actually supported the aggressive stance of the administration, against their better judgment. I’ve a number of friends who are American and quite a few of them (around a dozen) are not living in the US. They’re from different background and have different political views (some of them even voted for the current President in the last election), but each and everyone of them was against the administration decisions that led up to the war with Iraq. Why? They were able to express their views and thoughts freely, without the pressure of being ‘patriotic’. So the observation that a majority of Americans appeared to have supported the US administration’s action over Iraq which led to the war is thoughtless and a flawed one.

Outside the US, you really need to recognize the rest of the world didn’t support military action either. Only a small majority in the UK did, most of continental Europe didn’t. Spain was dragged kicking and scream and their PM nearly lost a vote of confidence. I don’t know about the whole situation in Australia, but the majority there was skeptical at best. Nor did the Indians, Chinese, Russians, the majority of Arab/Muslim states, Turkey, etc… So your statement that ‘so did much of the world’ supported the war is an inaccurate one and I hope you recognize your gross assumption was in fact wrong.

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September 8, 2003

I find it rather amusing that now that the Hutton Inquiry is well under way (moving on to the 2nd phase), nobody is coming back to this thread to inform us how 'serious' and 'immediate' the threat of Saddam's 'weapons of mass deception' were to the United Kingdom.

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September 11, 2003

So the genie is finally out of the bottle... Our very own Prime Minister has over-ruled intelligence assessment of the increased terrorist threat to the United Kingdom as the result of arms conflict with Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein. Instead, he made a 'judgement call' on the future security of our country and went ahead to play gun-slingers with Bush Jr.

This is what it boils down to: It doesn't really matter what the intelligence community said about the Iraqis' capabilities and the potential increased threats to this country's security, we'll got a dossier which suit the government's (or more accurately, the PM's) needs and we'd ignore intelligence assessments - as long as TB can 'stand shoulder to shoulder' to the 'Lone Ranger' (in the words of the Swedish Foreign Minister, who was murdered yesterday, may she rest in peace).

So much for a democratically elected government.

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October 3, 2003

I know...

But was the decision representative of the country? TB said on a TV interview to the effect of: "I made a judgment call, I think it was a good call and I still think it's a good call." Err... Tony, did you notice that half the country was telling you it's not a good idea?

As things drags on longer and longer, there are increasing amount of material coming out that suggested that the 'evidence' presented in the US/UK case for war is getting thinner and less convincing:

- There's no WDM on the ground: The Pentagon has admitted that they may never find any; the Iraq Survey Group has spent months going around and have found nothing but plans. (So I guess it's ok to throw someone in jail if he thinks, or has the thought, that someone should be killed?) Iraq, under Saddam's regime, sent a dossier of its weapons systems to the UN last December and it claimed no current WDM systems, but nobody (ie. the US and UK) was prepare to believe them.

- Iraq did not try to acquire material for nuclear bomb making: Colin Powell and other US and UK officials repeated said that Saddam was trying to acquire nuclear material from Gabon to build a bomb... Well, I guess someone got that one wrong also.

- Post-Saddam terrorist threat: the PM was specifically warned of the potential increase in terrorist threats after the collapse of the regime, prior to the war. The PM chose to go with his gut instinct.

- Intelligence: Not only did the world's most sophisticated and well funded intelligence service (CIA) had no clue of what the regime was up to, the less well funded and less extensive one (the MI6, SIS, etc of the UK) chose to deliberately fudge the line between battle-field ballistics and strategic long-range weapons, when there was no signs of either forms existed to heighten the perceived threat.

- Regime change: While ‘regime change’ was part of the US’s agenda, it was never supposed to one for the UK. The PM took this country to war on the basis that Iraq, under Saddam, had WDM which posted an immediate threat to the security of this country. (See previous points.) If ‘regime change’ was an agenda, I suppose there are plenty of other worthwhile targets to pick other than Iraq - e.g. Zimbabwe, North Korea, Azerbaijan, etc... Anyway, ‘regime change’ is like taking a gun to someone’s house and shoot the husband dead because you hear the wife is crying. This is kind of one country behaving as ‘judge, jury and executioner’ is not acceptable in this day and age.

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October 5, 2003

Please explain to me what this has got to do with an illegal invasion of another sovereign country?

Additionally, please don't jump to conclusion - that's what happened to the intelligence services and politicians in the US and the UK... The weapons could easily have been sold to places like Syria or Jordan and subsequently sold on to Iraq. Do you have any understanding of Middle East politics apart from the Anglo-centric view presented by the US and the UK? And then represented in bite-size format by the tabloids

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October 6, 2003

Very few countries can claim a "moral high ground" on this war, least of all the lies and deceptions played by the governments of the US and the UK. At the same time, IMHO, aggressors of wars, on the whole, are immoral or have little or no morals.

With regards to your comment about the UN is about to support future pre-emptive strikes, I'd like to draw your attention to the following:

quote:
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But UN Secretary General Kofi Annan - and French President Jacques Chirac - implicitly rebuked the US for taking unilateral, pre-emptive action and called for the body to play a "full part" in rebuilding Iraq.

Pre-emptive attacks "could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification", Mr Annan said.
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Source BBC News

On your point about French missiles found in Iraq, let's deal with what we know and let the situation play out. I like to draw your attention to the following:

quote:
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A French foreign ministry spokesman said the missile system had not been manufactured since 1988, in the case of the Roland 2 system, and 1993 in the case of Roland 3.
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Additionally, since the US administration has taken a hard line over the French government's attitude towards the Iraq war, the US based news media has taken its own steps in 'dressing down' the French, so I guess if anything is found to have implicated the French government in support Iraq, the US news media will swamp all over the news like flies on muck, but I've been to all the reputable US news sites and none has even a quote on this story.

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October 6, 2003

That is an interesting train of thought: "we can't believe everything the French ministry will say." So since when can we believe everything the governments of the US and the UK? You are suggesting that the rest of the world should listen to the 'hawks' like it's the gospel and yet dismiss the 'doves'. Isn't that a little bias? Do you use your objectivity in assessing the situation? Are you trying to suggest that you, and the rest of the people you preach to, simply listen and believe what some people tell you while dismiss others without thinking? All this without a touch of your own thought process? This is like reading a movie review suggesting a movie is 'excellent' but when you read five others suggesting that it's not 'excellent' and you kept on the believe it's an 'excellent' movie based on one review? This is lethally naive and I trust you don't apply this to all matters...

I've expressed my doubt with regards to 'improvements' in the lives of the average Iraq in this post. Additionally, Saddam's secret police may have gone, but they've instead been replaced by troops from the US and the UK. Have you had the chance to watch some TV? Some of the documentaries on BBC and Channel 4 have shown how life for the average Iraqi is like. Instead of the fear for Saddam's police, the Iraqis are now living under the fear of being raided by US or UK troops, hunting down Saddam sympathizers or terrorists. These troops simply shout English at them, somehow I don't think there are many interpreters willing to go on a raid with them. How many ordinary Iraqis speak and understand English? At least Saddam's police spoke the same language as the people they were taking away...

Additionally, have you ever lived in a society where gun crime is a regular daily occurrence? The so-call gun culture in the UK is nothing compared with what's happening in Iraq where gangs of people have guns and they're willing to use them to meet their objectives. In such a society, ordinary citizens are being put under a great deal of stress - every other loud gang can mean another gun battle or someone has been shot at, wounded or killed. That is not what we call a good quality of life - that is called life under siege. I guess you're sitting comfortably when you're reading this thread, and yet you are claiming that life is better now that Saddam has gone... Open your eyes, see the reality! You may think that camera crews attached to US or UK army units must have been seeing an accurate reflection of life after Saddam. But don't forget, those are only a portion of their lives - that's what happens with the troops are around. The moment they turn around, revenge killings, gang warfare, looting, murders, etc are just happening all over the place.

Riots and demonstrations are not the actual problems, they're symptoms of deeper problems - widespread dissatisfaction of the post-Saddam administration. Sabotage and ambushes are not the actual problems, they're again symptoms of deeper problems - the complete lack of security in the 'liberate' country.

No matter how 'just' the 'end' of this invasion is claim to be ('liberating of a people'), the 'means' that used to achieve it is not just. While it is claim that the Iraqis are now 'liberated' and now 'free', there's no evidence that will support this lofty claim.


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