War

It has now been two years since our esteemed leaders decided that the best way to ensure market share / get their own back / secure energy supplies / get re-elected / get Osama Bin Laden etc etc. was to go to war.

In order to keep track of some of my musings and some of the writings on the web that I have seen, I started a new blog about it.

Worrying developments

07 Dec 2005

That's two new and worrying improvements on the operational level for the insurgents;

1) The infiltrated suicide bombers in the police training camp

This is more devestating than it might appear. As far as I know noone has done this before. They have blown up plenty of police, at recruitment lines, in buses, on patrol, but striking right into the organisation itself is new.

This was a carefully planned operation involving months of laying low and covering their tracks. When the bombers joined up they knew what they were going to do. They worked with their targets for months before setting off their bombs. This closeness obviously didn't lead to them going soft, so we can assume that this is a microcosm for the chances of bringing the insurgents into the fold. They don't want to be there.

However, the dead and wounded aren't the real triumph here. Now every cop can't trust their class mates at all. Everyone will need to be searched when they enter or leave the base. Suspicion will be the order of the day meaning that the chances of any Sunnis being allowed in the police will become about zero. Previously the cops wore balaclavas on the streets, now they will start to worry about identifying themselves to their colleagues.

So, more ethnic division between the cops and the insurgents. So more hatred builds between them. So poor intel for the cops, good intel for the insurgents. Given that CI war is about intel, not guns, that is a pretty big win.

Also, are there any more of these guys in the pipeline? Are they also planning the same thing for the army? Who knows. Lets run another security check. Now who do we think might be involved? Well, maybe ex-Baathists who used to be army officers. The biggest strategic fear of the insurgents has to be that the US can somehow co-opt their skills base into the Iraqi army. No problem. The re-recruitment of ex-army people will be effectively stopped by this act.

The cherry on top is that this makes the police that little bit less like a police force and a little bit more like just another faction, as they close ranks and get all paranoid.

All for the cost of 2 people and a little explosive. Now that's operationally targeted weaponry. Stuff Tommahawk, begone Apache, you want patient poeple who don't mind dying with a plan.

2) The pre-planted bombs at a known marine site

I'm confused by the reports that the site had been swept for explosives before hand. This would mean one of two very worrying things;

1) Our sweeps aren't actually very good. Even if this is the case then the insurgent's bomb planting skills are very good because even a poor sweep should pick up a pressure plate detonated heap of artillery shells.

2) The insurgents managed to get in between the sweep and the ceremony to set things up. If they managed this then they are very skilled and they have top notch intel.

Beyond that, is the obvious worry that they managed to get in there and plant the bombs in the first place. They snuck in (if you can call it that) with hundred weights of shells hidden under their turbans and rigged up the whole thing in the knowledge that the Marines used the mill. That doesn't sound very easy, certainly not in a country where at least some of the population aren't on your side.

And the timing? Co-incidence or cunning. This happened the day, the very day, of Bush's "total victory" speech.

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So, we have insurgents with excellent tactical intel, strategic planning, a good understanding of their international and national goals, secure units, willing and heartless killers, great skill at bombmaking and infiltration and large numbers of the local population on their side.

All looking rosy then...

My only real question is what the operational advantages of an attack on the US mainland would be. Take one or two Iraqis with no ties to Jihadi groups with clean records. Train them in small arms work. Send them to the US (via Mexico for preference), give them a couple of UZIs and a bag of ammo, tell them to wait for Bush's next big "Victory" speech, provide them with a map to the nearest shopping mall (Pick a nice liberal area where there are few carried guns) and let them go wild for 20 minutes. Make sure that they know that their last act is to walk out at the SWAT team in the open proclaiming that they are acting for Iraq, wrapped in the Iraqi flag. Leave notebooks talking about Iraq, with many pictures of bombed babies, preferably their own babies. One short letter explaining how they were peace loving types until the invasion.

If I could arrange that, I think that I would (If I were an innocent murdering nutcase suicide bomber, which of course I am not). I wonder whether it only hasn't happened because it is difficult to organise.

Tipping points

22 Nov 2005

They always go on about tipping points.

"We got Saddam", "Constitution was supported", "Elections were held", etc, etc. Nothing tipped, but it gave a good opportunity to paint things as rosy for the folks back home.

Well, they are about to be stuffed, because it looks like they just about ran out. Remaining "Tipping points" include "December Elections" and "Zaraqui Dead". It looks like the bolt may be shot on the Zaraqui point, as he might be dead (again) already, but that doesn't matter when the truth is merely a bonus to your claims. The election will be proclaimed as a final boost, but won't stop the violence.

Just to look individually at these.

Zaraqui : The insurgent superman. Capable of being in several place at once, always elusive, cunning, well financed, controlling the insurgency, hating the coalition.

Yeah. Nutjob, murdering nutjob, certainly. World better off without, definitely. Head honcho of the insurgency? Don't make me laugh. get this through your heads, there IS NO HEAD OF THE INSURGENCY! Insurgencies don't work that way. There are just lots and lots of middle ranking men and a couple of showoffs. The middle rankers do the actual work and will continue to do so, the showoffs get the credit because it plays well to everyone's agendas. The Iraqi Government get their enemy that most definitely isn't an internal opponent, the US gets its cops-and-robbers, good-vs-evil storyline, with the promise of an end in sight, Zarqui gets his rocks off and gets to have the ball-ticklingly exciting position of chief-Islamic-Nutjob. Sure to win over all the girls, I'm told.

Elections? All well and good I suppose. Considering the massive amount of difference that our elections make I'm not so excited about them that I'd kill thousands of my countrymen to get them, but maybe I'm just a wimp. This isn't the point. These election aren't even really elections. People are voting on strict ethnic and religious lines. What does this mean? It means that you get mob rule. Not to mention the obvious fact that the constitution is a recepie for break up.

The fundamental requirement for democracy is that the losers don't shoot the winners. Anyone think that this applies to Iraq? No, sit down George, the grown ups are talking now. Nobody else? thought not.

As I said before, Iraq burns for another few years, then gets broken up with ethnic cleansing, torture and general death and mayhem for about a decade. After that, who knows.

Oh, and while we're at it, when did we become the monsters? I thought that we were the good guys. When did we start talking about torture as if, while we disagreed with it in general, in our case it was OK, just as long as we really, really wanted to?

Yes, I get that we need to scramble to secure the oil wealth of the world as quickly as we can because we are coming to the end of the glory days, watching the Chinese behemoth coming over the horizon, belching fumes and demanding the black stuff. I'm not stupid. Yes, I also get that this is because of our addiction to the black gold.

I just think that this is stupid behaviour. rather than burning our wealth in securing it, how about we try to get off it?

What a world I am going to be leaving to the kids...

Plus ca change...

27 Jan 2005

Well, that's it for the final stated reason then. Let's take a quick look at our human rights record in Iraq so far;

1) UK soldiers involved in at least 20 incidents of abuse, several killings.

2) Abu-Graib, a whole new word for the language. Generally reckoned to have been the work of a few bad apples at the bottom of the system, but at least encouraged by the very top.

3) Mass internments and torture all over the world. When the British detainees from Gitmo arrived in the UK it was standard for the UK police to think that they would be in poor physical and mental health as they would have been abused while detained. Yay. We now live in a world where torture is not just happening, it is routine and the police can comment on it without any big hulabaloo. Which world do I live in again?

4) Systematic terror bombing of cities across Iraq, including the reprehensible destruction of Falluja (which remains a corpse strewn ghost town 2 1/2 months after the attack. We're using Napalm again, did you know that? Of course they have renamed it and made it a bit more effective, but in what way is napalm not a banned chemical weapon? "But Saddam used Mustard gas!", "Yeah, he should have dealt with his problems the humane way, with thousands of tons of high ex".

5) Routine stories about US troops shooting Iraqis in their cars as they drive towards checkpoints. Yes, I know that the troops are in a difficult position, but killing innocents is worth noting on the 'Making the world better' count I think.

6) Due to collapse of civil law (we did that) massive killings, rape, burglary, kidnappings and all sorts of crime have skyrocketed. So much for the anarchists I suppose. Again, this is a human rights issue because we have responsiblity for these people as an occupying power.

7) There are others, but I'll just put the final nail in the coffin of our 'Humanitarian mission', the new Iraqi police are heading right down the Hussein route.

Human Rights Watch report on Iraqi police brutality

What I am curious about is how the trial of Saddam Hussein is going to go (if it ever happens).

Prosecutor : "Mr. Hussein, you used chemical weapons on your own people, you destroyed whole villages for not submitting to your rule, you tortured the innocent and the guilty alike, you ran a regime of murderers and thieves, you developed weapons of mass destruction, including an attempt to develop nuclear weapons, you took the wealth of your country and left your people in poverty and you waged illegal war on a sovereign nation."

Saddam : "Well, yes, so have you. You see what this country is like? If you do not bomb rebels and enforce the rule of law with an iron grip you will get the chaos that you see before you."

We aren't morally equivalent to Hussein yet, but we are slouching towards that point. Heaven help us.


Violence and democracy

25 Jan 2005

So, after all the other reasons have crumbled to dust we are left with just three, one for public consumption and two for more private moments.

The private ones are;

1) We have to control the oil reserves. Oddly this is a strong reason for going to war, or at least it would have been in the world 50 or a hundred years ago. It requires a Roman attitude towards suppression of the locals and is wholly immoral, though practically useful.

Unfortunately, in the modern world, it has not gone down too well. Large armies have shown themselves to be pretty poor at keeping down guerrilla wars (in fact, have there been any successes on that front recently?) and in this one things are even worse than usual. Normally at least the insurgents would have some sort of central goal or even leadership that you could negotiate with. Who are you meant to negotiate with in Iraq? Placating any one group leads to the next group fighting even harder. Look at the nightmare in Northern Ireland with only 2 (ish) sides. Iraq has lots of sides and none of them are going to sit down and play nicely.

So the insurgents merrily blow up pipelines and generally reduce the ideas of this war paying for itself into requests for additional funds from the occupiers.

Even if we *do* manage to get things sorted out (a big if) then it is just as likely that we will end up with a government that favors us no more than the old regieme would have done, perhaps less so. We certainly won't be able to stomach occupying the country in any meaningful way for more than a couple of years. Even the American's much ignored permanent bases will eventually become ghost towns one way or another.

So, onto reason two;

2) The spread of a Pax Americana, a global hegemony of peace and democracy, securing the West for all time.

Well, yeah. That's working really well, isn't it? Yes, there have been no more terrorist attacks since the Madrid bombings, but in what way did knocking down the Iraqi state lead to less raging terrorism? Small groups of highly motivated trans-national idealogical killers are not going to be much inconvenienced by the replacement of a relatively stable police state by an unstable stateless region. In some ways the installation of a vicious dictatorship which could provide security at the cost of human rights would be a win in the "War on Terror"(tm).

I think that I can say with little fear of being proved wrong that you can't expect to kill all of the terrorists, then declare victory and go home. These groups exist, at their core, as an ideology, not a force. I doubt that there is a grand leadership planning atrocities in a bond-villain-hideout somewhere. More likely is a general mission statement being pursued by semi-autonomous groups. No blow will knock that group out apart from the failure of their beliefs.

Now, one could argue that their beliefs have failed time and time again. They fought in Afghanistan for a global Islamic revolution and they got the penny-ante Taliban. They blew up the twin towers, provoking a massive overreaction causing mass resentment and still the people didn't cry "What we need is a new Muslim world order". Generally speaking they said "Go away with your guns and bombs you mad Americans and you lot in the turbans can get out of it too." That doesn't seem to have deterred them though. Bastards. I really don't like people with 'causes' that are more important than the people affected by those causes. So what if Muslim countries are being infected by Western values, corruption and immoral depravity. If their God doesn't like it then He can come down, make a general announcement and settle the matter for once and all.

Anyway, our war in Iraq hasn't exactly hurt their cause, since before the invasion Iraq was a closed door to them anyway. The Bush administration has tried to talk about a relationship between Saddam and Al-Quaeda but their own evidence shows that this relationship goes along the lines of;

AL-Q : Can we talk to you?

IRAQ : Yes, alright, we'll meet up.

AL-Q : Can we set up some training bases on your soil?

IRAQ : Nope.

AL-Q : Oh, alright then. Filthy infidel.

IRAQ : Nutcase.

In terms of relationships, somewhat cold, don't you think? Certainly a lot colder than the CIA's relationship with them, where arms and advice was not just offered but actively pushed on them.

So, point 2 has been a bit of a failure as well. When your covert reasons for doing something (well, not exactly covert, but unstated perhaps) are failing you know that you are in trouble. You are going to have to start believing in your stated, public reason;

"We were liberating the Iraqis from a brutal dictator."

Well, quite apart from asking exactly why we were going around the world liberating people (yes, all very humanitarian, but imagine the humanitarian good that could have been done with the same lump of cash if it had been pumped into AIDS treatments, poverty, disease, just creating clean water for the world, imagine the relative good;

Case 1 ) At cost of 100,000 lives (or thereabouts) we replaced a vicious dictator with a vicious insurgency and a weak democracy. And that's the optimistic view. One could replace 'Weak democracy' with 'civil war' and it is possible that they will do in time.

Case 2 ) Clean water for every human being around the globe. This saves 6000 people a day.

Honestly, did SH kill 6000 a day? If we compare the deaths by dissentry to the death by torture in a purely utilitarian calculation, which side makes sense?

So, having dispensed with our misplaced sense of being the white knight, and skimming quickly over the 500,000 that we killed with sanctions (nasty when you do the maths isn't it?) we liberated them.

And what is going to happen? Weak democracy followed by, probably, some sort of coup or strongman taking power. Why is this inevitable? Because countries where violence is still a strong political option don't turn into representative democracies. A fundamental requirement for democracy is that when you lose the election you grumble, whine about unfair treatment and then plan for the next election. What you don't do, and this is very important, is shoot your opponents.

In Iraq you have the Sadrists who would shoot Sunnis if they win, the Baathists who will shoot the Shias when they win, the Kurds who will shoot everyone if they don't get their autonomy (and Kirkuk) and the Jihadis who will just shoot everybody if they don't start playing the 'Good Muslim' according to their rules. If you can see a way to keep these four groups placated then I applaud you and admit that the violence will end.

Don't be deceived by the current quiet (yes, quiet). The Kurds are being quiet so that they can get Kirkuk, the Sadrists are being quiet because they think that elections will get rid of the Americans and the Shia are being quiet by dint of monumental tolerance for being one half of a civil war and not shooting back in the hope that the election will put an army in their control rather than a rag bag.

Fun for all the family and, as usual normal people just scoot about trying to make a living while the grand theorists bang about on top of them.

Like I said, weak democracy for a couple of years followed by a repressive dictatorship. Enjoy the coming vote because that is about all that this war has bought anyone.

So you support the war do you?

10 Dec 2004

Then look at the link below and try to imagine that the children in the photos are your children, try to imagine that the old man is your grandfather, try to imagine that the bloodstains are from people that you know.

Photos from Falluja

Then tell me that war is glorious, that we kill no civilians, that our intentions are pure, that we are 'winning'.

And try to do it without gagging.

So, we won then?

19 Nov 2004

Well, there we are then, Fallujah has been 'pacified' and all is well with the world. Or rather, it is not. Car bombs continue to go off, previously pacified cities (Samarra) are popping back up as 'insurgent hotspots', police continue to be kidnapped and killed, security is almost non-existant for most Iraqis, multinational forces continue to be targets of attacks on a regular basis (far more often than gets reported if you don't bother to go looking for the reports). What is more, Sunnis (20% of the population) are on the verge of pulling out of the electoral process, Kurds are getting their licks in on their past oppressers and everyone else is taking note and the Shiites are biding their time waiting for their inevitable electoral victory. Now that things are falling apart Allawi's government is starting to suggest that they should hold off on elections for a bit (Well, he would wouldn't he? A long enough emergency will leave him as defacto dictator of Iraq.), the Shiites are saying “No way, elections ASAP or there will be trouble” and such a decision would, of course, validate the insurgent's tactics. Still, such is life. Nice to see sectarian violence starting to come over the horizon as well, between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites aplenty. In years to come this stage will probably form the section of post Saddam Iraq where the civil war is marked as starting.

One can wonder why 'we' are not winning but the answer is not simple, much the same as the reasons for the start of this war were not simple. Anyone saying that “This war is all about oil”, or “It is because we are freeing the Iraqis” or any one of a hundred pat answers misses the complexity of human interaction. This war was about oil, it was about security, it was about porfiteering, it was about democratization, it was about liberation, it was about creating a pax Americana, it was about hubris, hero worship, revenge, fear, etc,etc. The reasons for this war are about as many as there are advocates for it.

The reasons for the failure of the war are going to be equally hard to tie down, but I'm going to make a stab at a few (Note 'We' below refers to whoever is in charge of whatever);

1)We never really knew what we were doing. The strategic goal was never very clear. Armies are extremely effective at achieving specific goals, “Kill everyone”, “Take that hill”, “Destroy the opposing army and reduce their capital city to rubble”. They are pretty bad at unspecified goals, “Ensure that the land is prepared for democracy”, “Defeat terrorism”. The first requires a degree in geopolitics with advance Middle eastern studies to understand and would require a thesis paper to expound. The second is so vague (what is a terrorist?) that it gives too much lattitude to some and too little to others. Thus we end up with a hierarchy which can't decide which way to jump and grunts on the ground shooting people for looking at them funny, or we get grunts trying to hand out candy to children while their leaders chant “Bring it on!” and talk about “Crusades”. Was winning installing a pro-western liberal democracy, or an anti-western islamic theocracy chosen by democratic means, or a strongman dictator who would be compliant, or to turn Iraq into a giant bring-and-buy sale in the theme of global capitalim? Who knows, it changed from day to day.

2)We never really knew who we were doing it to. Let's face it, Iraq's natural state is in three bits, Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. The Kurdish bit would want to take in most of the northern oil fields and some of Turkey, the Shiites and Sunnis would divide up the rest in proportion and would probably endure border disputes for all time. However, in our wisdom, we think that we can recreate states. Now, we could do it in the late 19th century becaue we just shot anyone who disagreed with us. You can't do that these days, though we would like to. So we wade in there, pretending that the whole thing is going to be a doddle and learn Middle East history as we go.

3)Force protection. This is the big thing in the American army. To keep body count down amongst American troops, the idea is that you do everything that you can to protect them. Fair enough, if you are talking about winning a war against a conventional enemy (you can't afford to lose troops to the enemy or you run out of troops before he does). This doesn't really apply so much in a war such as this one. Protecting your troops may sound like a good idea, but it gets you into a cycle that ultimately loses you the war. RPG attacks a convoy ---- > Reply with overwhelming force and level three houses and four cars, killing an insurgent and 4 civilians --- > Civilian deaths lead to outrage and some civilians join insurgents --- > Co-ordinated attacks on a convoy --- > More deaths in retaliation --- > insurgents taking over whole towns because of the revulsion at the civilaian deaths --- > Fallujah --- > Whole thing falls apart in slow motion.

4)We could never win. Wishful thinking got us into this war. Wishful thinking such as “It will be a cakewalk” and “Mission Accomplished”. People such as myself who were anti-war were screaming “Of course you're going to win the invasion, but what about afterwards?”. We were trying to remind people that wars are not fun, glorious or good, they are horrible and rarely serve the interests of the population at large. What is worst is watching war do what war does to people. It takes normal people and manufactures monsters. This does not just apply to out side, but to the insurgents as well. Their atrocities against civilians will become more and more desperate as will the various militaries. More evil will become acceptable because “That's just war, war is hell”. Well, if it is Hell then it is a Hell of our choosing because we didn't have to start this war. We chose to.

In summary, a few guesses. The situation will continue to get more and more insecure. Towns will be pacified in an Iraq wide game of whack-a-mole where the insurgents pop up again and again. More atrocities will occur (Anyone remember Abu Graib?), will be played down in the West and played up in the Middle East. The population of Iraq will become more and more disenchanted with the occupation. No real money will be spent in reconstruction. Halliburton will make record profits. Elections will be held in January and , if the occupation forces are lucky, they will provide a cover sufficient to pull out as quickly as possible before the whole thing goes up in the flames of a civil war, if not then it will be leaving the Green Zone on a helicopter within 5 years. Estimates of civilian casualties in the war/peace/war/civil war from the fall of Saddam will be in excess of 1 million. Iraq will burn for a few years until an anti-western dictatorship rises out of the ashes.

And people like me will be blamed for it for not supporting the effort and constantly trying to undercut it.

30 Articles of War

09 Nov 2004

30 Articles of War for the German People

by Joseph Goebbels

These are the articles of war for the German people, who are now engaged in the most fateful battle of their history. Countless of Germany's best have sacrificed their lives in their spirit both at the front and at home for the life and freedom of their nation. Millions of brave German soldiers fight for them on every front, and millions of industrious men and woman work untiringly for them at home, in the factories, workshops, offices, laboratories, and in agriculture.

These war articles are a reminder to our people of those who have fallen. They are a testimony to the willingness of those who fight and work to sacrifice, and a harsh rebuke to the lazy and undecided.


Article 1

Everything is possible in this war, save that we capitulate and bow to the power of the enemy. Anyone who speaks of even thinks in such a way is a cowardly traitor, and must be expelled in disgrace and shame from the fighting and working German community.


Article 2

We are fighting for our lives. If we win, we will be able to repair the damage and the pain this war has caused in a relatively short time by applying our full strength. If we lose, it will mean the end of our nation and our history.


Article 3

This war is a defensive war. It was forced upon us by our enemies, who wish to destroy the possibility of life and growth for our nation. If they succeed, our present generation will have lost everything that countless German generations have won over millennia of struggle by hard work and sacrifice. Our nation's history will end in shame and disgrace.


Article 4

This war brings countless dangers and risks, as does any war. Each must remember that every danger and risk can be overcome if a great nation like Germany with a capable and determined leadership uses all its strength and every resource to deal with it.


Article 5

We will certainly win this war if all Germans think of the community and act as do the best sons of our people. But if all ignored the community, as do the lazy, the cowardly and the hesitant, we would have long since lost it. The war will be won or lost according to the strength of our community.


Article 6

Each German proves his community sense by conscientiously fulfilling his duties to the nation, just as he makes a claim on the community. Even in times of peace, each is dependent on the help and support of the community, and must therefore also be willing to share its burdens and duties. How much more is that true during war!


Article 7

Any advice from the enemy is an attack on our war morale. The enemy wants to win as much as we do. Everything he says and does is intended to lead us astray and deceive us. He who listens to the enemy, no matter how sanctimonious the reasons he may give, puts his people in the gravest danger. Ignorance may not protect him from the penalty he deserves.


Article 8

Silence is an important command from the war leadership. Few know the war's secrets. These are weapons in our nation's struggle for existence, and may not be revealed to the enemy. It would be unfair and destructive of the general welfare to spread rumors that force the government to speak about matters important or even decisive in the war. This can only help the enemy and harm our nation.


Article 9

The war leadership is doing the best it can. Often it cannot reveal the reasons for its actions without giving valuable information to the enemy. That means even those of good will often do not understand its actions. That is why it must have the confidence of the people, confidence it has earned by its courage, cleverness, farsightedness, as well as its past successes. The know-it-alls can criticize only because the government is condemned to silence; if it could speak, they would be refuted instantly.


Article 10

The only thing we cannot afford to lose in this war is our freedom, the foundation of our life and our future. Everything else can be replaced, even if only through years of hard work. But a loss of our freedom would mean the loss of all our other material and cultural possessions, both for the nation as a whole and for each individual. If the war requires it, we must therefore be willing to use all we have to defend that freedom. Without it, neither the nation nor the individual can live.


Article 11

An old trick of warfare is to split a people from its government, leaving it leaderless and therefore defenseless. This is the only trick with which the enemy could defeat us. Anyone who falls prey to the enemy's trick is either stupid or a traitor. He endangers the victory for which our soldiers risk their lives, and for which our heroes have died. He stabs the fighting front in the back. No penalty is too severe for him.


Article 12

Beware of those seemingly intelligent people who seek to win your confidence with clever words, then undermine your confidence with a flood of phrases and rumors. Listen carefully to what they say, and you will soon see that they are cowardly, not intelligent. They may know better, but they cannot do better. Were they the latter, instead of criticizing they would be filling an important position at home or at the front, contributing by their actions to speeding our victory.


Article 13

He who speaks about the war and its prospects should always speak as if the enemy were listening. In many cases, he actually is. Each thoughtless word from our side gives him new hope and courage, and therefore prolongs the war. Annoyance or anger about this or that inconvenience of the war sometimes has justification, but in view of the great battle we stand in the midst of, most problems are of minor significance,


Article 14

We are helping those who need it as much as possible. If real help is impossible during the war, those affected should know that it will come after victory. Victory is the prerequisite for a national reconstruction that will repair all the damage of the war. The more one sacrifices for the war, the more fanatically one believes in victory. Therefore we must work and fight. That alone gives sacrifices, even the hardest ones, their meaning.


Article 15

Each must therefore follow to the letter all the laws and regulations related to the war. Who violates them from neglect or forgetfulness does just as much damage as if he did so intentionally. Each must take the war with the seriousness it deserves.


Article 16

Anything grows dull with time, even the impact of the war. We must therefore constantly guard against becoming lackadaisical in fulfilling our war duties. Our behavior today will be admired in a few decades by our children and grandchildren. They will not experience the spiritual pain that this long war has brought us. Rather, they will see the war only as the greatest heroic event in the history of our nation. Do not forget that in the midst of the everyday problems of the war.


Article 17

Everything comes to an end eventually, even war. We must be sure that its end is a happy one. We can best ensure that by remaining calm and steadfast. The nation with the most of these virtues will win.


Article 18

Nothing is more stupid than to believe that the leadership has it better than the people. The individual may have a heavy material burden to carry. But the heaviest burden is that of responsibility, with its never-ending cares. One should not be unfair and should not make unreasonable judgments about matters he does not understand.


Article 19

Nothing is more contemptible than to think that one part of the nation wages the war, and another only watches. This is no war of governments or armies, it is a war of peoples. He who stands aside only proves that he does not understand the situation. He is a war parasite who lives from the pain and contributions of others. Were they to think as he, we would lose the war. In the interests of decent citizens, the lazy must be reminded of their war duties. The war effort demands that, as does public morale.


Article 20

Just as in war there are medals and decorations for those who fulfill their duties with distinction, so too there must be warnings and if necessary harsh penalties for those who neglect their war duties. A war duty left undone is far worse than a neglected duty in time of peace. Each German today lives under the laws of war. They lay out harsh penalties, even for behaviors that are not all that serious in peace. They are shameful crimes during war, since they endanger victory. They deserve the harshest penalties.


Article 21

The soldier dies at the front while fulfilling his duty. He has the right to demand that those at home who sabotage or harm the war effort receive the death penalty. The front has the right to be supported by high morale at home. Anyone whose actions at home rob the front of this assurance deserves a harsh penalty. The soldier at the front demands it.


Article 22

Whether at home or at the front, discipline is the most important virtue. We can master the war's enormous problems only through iron resolve. A weakness in discipline weakens morale and violates all the laws of war. Any loosening of our people's unity in war is a crime against the community. Our people's greatest chance of victory is in firm resolve and hard determination.


Article 23

No one has the right to complain about limitations on his personal freedom caused by the war. What significance do these have in view of the fact that countless men, even woman and children, have died!


Article 24

The war demands our full devotion for itself and its duties. All that still remains from can only be viewed as a gift subject to recall. We must always realize that sooner or later we may have to give it up. We are fighting this war not to maintain, but to restore peace. In war more than ever, one must use what what is defending.


Article 25

Nothing is too valuable to be sacrificed for freedom. All we possess we won as a free people. Without our freedom, it would have no purpose, meaning or endurance. It is better for a nation to be impoverished but free rather than to seem prosperous, but end a war as slaves. A free people can rebuild everything it lost in defending its freedom. An enslaved people will lose that which survived the war, and also the ability to gain it back again.


Article 26

The duty of the individual during war extends to sacrificing his life for the life of his nation. In view of such great and final sacrifice, surely one must demand that each be ready to give up his goods and property if that is necessary for victory and the security of his nation! Only such willingness to sacrifice transforms a collection of individuals into a people, and in a higher sense, a nation.


Article 27

The goal of our government and military leadership is a German nation that can live freely in all important areas. Our generation must secure this through battle and hard work. It cannot be postponed until later. Either we do it, or it will never be done.


Article 28

Our generation has not only particular burdens, but also particular honor. If we win, and we can and must win, we will be the most famous generation in the history of Germany. If we lose, our names will be cursed through the centuries by the generations that must bear the frightful cost of our failure.


Article 29

There are people who have little interest in such matters. They are materialists, who think only of comfort and pleasure, and who have no sense of their historic responsibilities. One can only hold them in contempt. They are ready to give up our nation's future for the pleasures of the moment. Wherever they speak, they must be dealt with firmly. They do not understand reason, only self-interest. They act under the principle: After us the deluge! Our reply to these unprincipled people is this: Even if we have to give up our dreams for many years, at least our children and grandchildren will have things better!


Article 30

Remember in all that you do and do not do, in all that you say and do not say, that you are a German! Believe loyally and unshakably in the Führer and in victory. Remember always that you are a child of the bravest and most industrious people on earth. We must suffer much to reach our goal, but the goal will be reached despite everything if only we hold true to all our virtues and are ready, if necessary to sacrifice everything in this war to guarantee the nation's freedom and its future.

Destroying the village to save it

29 Oct 2004

Several things have come to light over the last few days but I'll just mention a couple of them.

The loss of hundreds of tons of super-explosive. Of course, these few hundred of tons of explosive only represent a tiny fraction of the munitions looted/liberated/insurgentified while the initial invasion was going on. It is worth noting that these explosives are a somewhat more significant loss in that they were sealed by the International Atomic Energy Agency because they are the sorts of explosives that you need to use as the conventional part of nuclear weapons. Also, the removal of these explosives would require about 40 truck loads to go, so one wonders how organised the removal was.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, it only seems to be important because it is being used as an October surprise for the Kerry camp.

Now, onto the more serious point. The title of this entry comes from the infamous remark from an unidentified American Soldier in Vietnam, "We had to destroy the village to save it". Well, today the Lancet released a report on the increase in death rates in Iraq after the invasion. I provide a link to an interview with the author of the report.

This article counts the deaths in Iraq since the occupation and compares them with those from a similar period before.

It finds a gobsmacking total of nearly 100,000 deaths caused by the occupation. The vast majority of these are caused by aerial bombardment and these sorts of deaths are mainly women and children.

This may sound shocking to people who are used to the 10,000 to 30,000 estimates, but it should be remembered that the most accurate count up till now was based on counting up casualties reported in the western media. There hasn't been either the media or the interest in reporting these deaths for a while so they have been racheting up without causing a ripple over here.

Contrast this with the estimates of civilians killed by Saddam Hussein in his reign, something like 300,000. Now that estimate isn't based on very hard evidence, but we'll run with it for lack of anything better.

Saddam : 300,000 deaths / 24 years = 12,500 deaths per year.

Coalition : 100,000 deaths / 1.5 years = 66,700 deaths per year.

Go coalition! Yeah! We knew that we could do better than Saddam! Even if the death rate drops back down to pre-war levels it will still be 6 and a half years before we come down to the death rate per year of the villain of the decade.

My point in this is not to say that Saddam wasn't so bad, it is to point out that, for all of our high-minded ideologies we are worse.

This is what we anti-war people were talking about when we opposed it. We weren't saying that we liked Saddam, we were saying that doing what is being done at the moment would be far, far worse.

So, are there any justifications for the war left? Let's just check.

1) WMD. Hah! Hardly.

2) Terrorist ties. Once again, it is to laugh. There weren't any.

3) He is a gathering threat that will, eventually, attack us. Well, apart from there being no evidence for that, why on earth would he? Even the most deranged nutcase (and it seems that Saddam was pretty rational in his policy making, within the world of the paranoid dictator) would know that if your state attacks the US, you get bombed out of existence, and he hasn't shown the UK even the slightest bit of interest.

4) We got rid of the despised dictator, promoting freedom. And (a) Installed a new one, (b) Killed vast number of civilains and (c) Destroyed the infrastructure and littered the country with depleted uranium. Oh, and while we're there, reopened the torture chambers, reinstituted warrantless arrests, imprisoned people with torture for years, etc, etc.

So, what's left?

*tumbleweed blows past*

Anyone?...


So, Mr.Kerry, what do you think about torture?

26 Oct 2004

A couple of weeks ago the Americans had their Presidential 'debates'. I put the scare quotes up because there was about as much debating going on as in a press conference. Each answer was carefully scripted, repeating the stump points over and over and over and....

Not to mention the possibility that one of the candidates was wearing a wire, presumably so that his handlers could remind him not to drool.

If you are interested, the entire debates are captured for your delictation.

Now, as a minor point, it seems that as a result of some of Bush's more appauling fluffs (Claiming that he had never said that he wasn't concerned where Bin Laden was when he did indeed say exactly that in a press conference a while ago) his team (or should that be 'His' I know that His Toniness likes the capital) have decided to scour the record of his sayings from the Whitehouse website. Nice. Honesty for all to see. At least *try* to be subtle guys!

Anyway this gratuitous Bush bashing (and that is *always* in good taste) brings me to the point. In the second debate they were asked questions (screened) by members of the audience. I'd have liked them to have answered something like "You are holding upwards of 200 people in Guantanamo Bay for over 3 years now, without access to legal counsel, charges or even the basic human right not to be tortured. When 4 British men were released from there they were promptly released without charge by the UK government. It seems fair to assume that some of them are innocent. How long will you continue to hold these innocent men in these conditions?"

Obviously we would have seen some nonsense rhetoric from Bush, but I'd have liked to have seen Kerry answer that one. People are giving him a free ride now because they just want anyone but Bush. That is a capital mistake. You have to get politicians to promise stuff when they need your vote because you then have 4 years in the cold waving a placard before they can be bothered to listen to you.

Unless they are Blair of course. In those circumstances you can just ignore campaign pledges at will.



"Why don't we hear about..."

25 Oct 2004

In a conversation with Kate, late last night, we were wondering exactly why it was that more people didn't see through the deceptions on our screens and newspapers.

Our conclusion was that we really didn't know. She doesn't regard herself as particularly well informed, politically, by design. She recognises that she has enough on her plate without trying to work out the world's problems. So, she was astounded when I informed her that large percentages of the American population believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 911 attacks, or that similar percentages believed that WMD, or advanced WMD programmes, have now been found in Iraq. Is this something about English media sources (not with the BBCs frankly pro-war coverage. Sure, afterwards they have been critical of some aspects of the war, but journalists make their difference before unwise acts, not after them.) or is it something to do with mindsets of the people.

Well, I'm not sure. I have a feeling that it is a bit of both. Independance, while perhaps not achieved in many cases, is regarded as an important goal in the UK TV press. The printed press certainly act in partisan manners, but even there you will see papers striving for balance, even if that balance is poor. The same seemingly cannot be said of many US sources, some of which are quite proud of their political position and hold strongly to it.

Now, that bias may not be much stronger than that seen in the UK press, but TV is such a powerful medium that I think that the cases shouldn't be conflated. Papers are things that are consciously bought and read. There is room in a paper for significant amount of context and diversity of opinion. In a TV show, this is not true. Everything is turned into soundbytes, with gratuitous shots of reporters on rooftops and the excitement of bombing. What is more disturbing, perhaps, is the way that certain aspects of a story are visually represented and others aren't. For example, if in a newspaper you see "5 wounded" you are left to your own. If on TV you see the same story, the text may be similar, but the pictures will be carefully sanitised, and will feature just the right shots to minimise the impact.

What am I rabbiting on about? Well, just think that many, many people, here and abroad, have allowed themselves to become woefully underinformed. The solution? I don't know. Maybe read something and pay attention?

Anyway, Enought waffle. Below is an article from the Guardian (yes, not exactly unbiased) that should give some idea about what we don't have reportedly thrust into our consciousnesses.

Chaos, murder and mayhem

A Failed Transition

22 Oct 2004

I have just read this report;

A Failed Transition

and would recommend it (or at least the key findings) as a good introduction to how much this war has cost. Admittedly it is from an American point of view, but I am considering this from a global perspective. British forces may be a small part of this tragedy but the trends are the same.

The most telling phrase from the report, for me, was this "The $151.1 billion spent by the U.S. government on the war could have cut world hunger in half and covered HIV/AIDS medicine, childhood immunization and clean water and sanitation needs of the developing world for over two years.". That money, if spent that way, would, in my opinion, be the most effective way of combatting terror imaginable. Rather than an oppressor to be feared, the US would be regarded as a benefactor to be revered. Global anti-Americanism would be much harder to maintain if it were obvious that they weren't conquering the world, they were trying to fix it. After all, if they could afford to throw it away in this war then they could afford to throw it away on the greatest humanitarian mission ever.

But no. That would have been too radical. If you want to fix the world, go to war. Shoot some people. Change governments, topple regimes, knock over statues to provide nice PR for the boys and girls back home who just love the fact that the bad guys are getting theirs. For many people it must be like watching a film, with all the excitement of knowing that you are on both the side of Good and the side of the winners. This is becoming so much the case that the military is even creating photo-op gun battles as in the Jessica Lynch story.

Will the madness ever end?

My only hope is that this incident of appauling intervention will permanently mark our leaders with a brand that says "Just remember, stay out of wars of choice". Of course, it won't. The Vietnam experience only stopped the Americans for 30 years. But that is at least 30 years and if this time it could be learned with 30,000 deaths rather than 3 million, that would be an improvement of sorts.

The slaughter of Falluja

21 Oct 2004

We all look forward with bated breath to the imminent mass killing in Falluja. Oh, the march of 5000 'coalition' troops into that town is going to be a glorious day. The liberation, the freedom, the democratic wonder. The blood, the deaths, the maiming, the sniping of medical staff the fathers looking for remains of sons, the mothers looking for the scraps of their daughters, the children walking dazed and orphaned through the rubble.

The absurdity of liberating a town for the third time doesn't seem to have sunk in with the politicians in charge. The further absurdity of imagining that all of the insurgents will stand and fight in a 19th century manner is almost too much to take. We still, it seems have failed to grasp the fact that the 'insurgents' just have to drop their weapons and they are, once more, ordinary Iraqi citizens. I wonder how many would have picked up the gun in the first place if the 'coalition' forces had just left them to their own devices in the first place. The occupation is 18 months in and hotting up even more.

Ultimately it looks like we are going to end up bombing Iraq flat, installing a puppet regime (oh no wait, we've done that) and then declaring victory, walking out to the accompanying sound of torment, car bombs and civil war.

Hooray for us.

I wonder if Tony Blair can imagine Leo being one of the maimed civilians in that town or Cherie wandering blind as a result of another 'precision' strike. 'Precision strike'! Hah! We hit the window of the house that we were aiming at. What did you hit it with? 400lb of high explosive of course. What did that do? Well it took out the target, and the surrounding houses and most of the street, etc, etc.

Let's be honest, they (I can't bring myself to sday 'We') have been bombing Falluja in order to soften up the civilian population to try to get them to turn against the 'insurgents'.

Yeah, that's how the world works. When *you* bomb people randomly they rise up against *your* enemies. They never, say, have a pop at you.

Idiots.

This article says it all, I think.

Falluja in their sights

War on Iraq

21 Oct 2004

Over the past 2 years, since the attacks on the twin towers in America, the Western world seems to have undergone a severe shift in a direction that I find very uncomfortable. While the risks of being killed by a terrorist attack seems to be significantly lower than, say, dying in a swimming pool or in an accident crossing the road, the mania for safety-at-all costs has co-incided with our elected representatives desire to remake the world in our own image. What this means is that we are engaged in what can only be regarded as a post-colonial war for oil. Unfortunately for us, and for about 13,000 arabs (www.iraqbodycount.net/) as well as over 1100 'multi-national' forces (icasualties.org/oif/), not to mention the vast number of wounded, dispossesed and otherwise affected people, our esteemed leaders seem to have an uncanny ability to always pick the wrong response to any given situation.

I'll pick out the recent events in Najaf, with the second attempt to get 'Radical Cleric' (and I am rather fed up with that phrase) Muqtada Al'Sadr. US military forces don't seem to have worked out that in this sort of war it is almost universally the more powerful military that loses in the end, and that using overwhelming military force rarely fixes the problem. So they go in heavy handed and, in the process, turn an unliked, little respected Mullah into the Iraqi version of Robin Hood. Nice work team.

Now, Mr Hussein, with his gratuitous murders and comedy-barman mustache was clearly a very bad man and ridding the world of him is no crime, but was it really worth the thousands of dead (some estimates take it up to 30,000 dead) to get rid of him?


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