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Since 1:30am, September 16, 2001

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{Friday, March 28, 2003}

Leading by example
"The United States says that after Iraq, we are next, but we have our own countermeasures. Pre-emptive attacks are not the exclusive right of the US."
- Ri Pyong-gap, North Korean Foreign Ministry

Oh, now it's cool to emulate the United States.

All those decades we spent building an open, prosperous society? No interest. Liberty? They'll pass.

One measly year insisting on the right to preventive war and it's "We want to be just like you!"

(Link and quote via Ryan McDonough's anti-war flash movie)

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The inherently moral weapon
In a truly fascinating post, Leonard Dickens describes the JDAM and what might be the end of collateral damage.

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The *ahem* blow-by-blow1
The Supreme Court hears a case on the legality of a Texas anti-sodomy law. Absurdity ensues.

The lawyer arguing against the Texas law starts with what he thinks is a safe point:

"It's conceded by the state of Texas that married couples can't be regulated in their private sexual decisions," says Smith.

To which Scalia rejoins, "They may have conceded it, but I haven't."

That's right ladies and gentlemen, if the state of Texas isn't man enough to regulate the sex lives of its citizens, then Justice Taliban will do it for them. And don't think that marriage will be any protection, perverts!

Things go from frightening to ridiculous, and from ridiculous to confusing:

Smith says these laws say "you can't have sexual activity at all" if you are gay and Scalia objects: "They just say you can't have sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex." See? No problem. Homosexuals remain perfectly at liberty to have heterosexual sex in Texas.


In response to a question from Justice Anthony Kennedy as to whether Bowers is still good law, Rosenthal [attorney for the State of Texas] replies that mores have changed and that "physical homosexual intimacy is now more acceptable." Since he suddenly seems to be arguing the wrong side of the case, an astonished Scalia steps in to say, "You think there is public approval of homosexuality?"

Rosenthal catches his pass, then runs the wrong way down the field: "There is approval of homosexuality. But not of homosexual activity." Scalia wonders how there can be such widespread "approval" if Congress still refuses to add homosexuals to classes of citizens protected by the civil rights laws. "You're saying there's no disapproval of homosexual acts. But you can't ... say that," he sputters.


Rosenthal closes by telling the court that Texas is not really homophobic. In fact, they recently passed hate crime legislation making it illegal to commit crimes based on sexual orientation. How sweet. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asks why any homosexual would run for public office in Texas, knowing he'll be charged by his opponents with being a lawbreaker. Rosenthal assures her that he could only be called a lawbreaker if he "commits that act."

So—to sum up—any homosexuals out there who have renounced the actual having-of-sex, and are just gay for the privilege of being stigmatized: Know that you are not only loved in Texas, you may well be its next governor.

The entire article is definitely worth a read, if only for a view into the strange goings on in the looking-glass world of our legal system.

1 Some definitions of sodomy include both oral and anal sex, so don't nitpick my clever pun, dammit.

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Henley calls Rumsfeld a lying coward
Well, not in so many words.

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Copyright notice (attributed to Woodie Guthrie)

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do.

(via PLA)

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Subtext of seduction
In case you were wondering, here's what the ladies are thinking:

So I saw you standing over here, and I checked out the quality of your clothes, your haircut, who you were with, and what you were drinking. You could potentially be dating material. My name is VERY important. If you forget it, you will rue the day. What is your name, and most importantly, what is your last name. I will use this information to see whether your last name is compatible with my first name.

Now that I've introduced myself, you should buy me a mind bending beverage so that I can see that you aren't cheap and that you find me attractive. I will need this mind bending beverage to flirt with you outrageously, thereby procuring your number or vice versa, and to keep you interested for the rest of the night so that you actually want to call it. I'd love to have sex with you as well, but since you are relationship material, I have to make you work for it and buy me a few dinners first.** I might allow you to hug me or do something equally chaste such as kissing my cheek at the end of the night, but don't count on anything overtly sexual for the next 2 dates. If this is not enough encouragement for you, you are simply a pig, a pervert, an asshole, or a man. My friends tell me I can do better.

**If you were not relationship material, and were simply hot, I might take you up on your offer of having sex in the bar.

Advantage: Jim, because I have no last name. Though you might want to try Mrs. Content on for size (I think it has a nice ring).

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{Wednesday, March 26, 2003}

You know there are times
When this blog bores the stuffing out of me.

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Basra 'uprising' evaporates
If you've been following war news, you might've heard reports about an anti-Saddam uprising in the city of Basra. According to London's FT, the reports of its birth were greatly exaggerated.

Hawks have argued that Iraqi forces would be quick to surrender, and that civilians would welcome our troops. So far the surrenders have not materialized, and while it may be too early to say what civilian reactions will be, Basra is to be watched as an indicator.

Right now it's hard to say what is happening there -- breaking news from a battlefield is certainly subject to updating, revision, and even contradiction, but here is the FT's take (subscription required):

US and British hopes of a big popular uprising against President Saddam Hussein in Basra, Iraq's second city, were fading on Wednesday as coalition aircraft bombed local offices of the ruling Ba'ath party and skirmishes continued in southern Iraq.

The British 7th armoured brigade, known as the Desert Rats, is deployed on the outskirts of Basra but remains reluctant to commit troops to a dangerous round of house-to-house fighting.

The apparent lack of rebellion in Basra is a disappointment for the coalition, which had hoped to take the predominantly Shia Muslim city without a fight and - with the help of humanitarian aid - make it an example of the benefits of occupation.

Tony Blair, UK prime minister, spoke only of "some limited form of uprising" when he addressed the British parliament on Wednesday. Geoff Hoon, UK defence secretary, mentioned "disturbances", saying that "regime militia" had tried to attack rebels with mortars and machine guns.

Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, spokesman for the US Central Command, said: "What we saw in Basra last night [Tuesday] was a very confusing situation, to say the least."

Coalition commanders believe ordinary soldiers in Basra are keen to surrender, but are being prevented from doing so by at least 1,000 irregular troops loyal to the regime, including the so-called Fedayeen Saddam.

The main exiled Iraqi Shia organisation on Wednesday said the Shia community had been instructed to remain neutral in the US-led invasion. The Tehran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) said there did appear to have been trouble in the city, but played down the scale of the unrest.

"Some people are saying there were demonstrations that were put down, but others say parts of Basra are now controlled by the people," said Hamed al-Bayati, Sciri's London representative. "We're not sure who is behind it."

Pan-Arab television stations on Wednesday showed footage from a quiet city. But Shia opposition officials said journalists were not free to roam the streets of Basra and might have been shown areas that had indeed remained calm. (more)

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Rest in Peace
Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who warned us all not to define deviancy down, died today. He was seventy-six.

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Ooh, baby baby it's a wild world
Bitter rivals India and Pakistan both test fire nuclear-capable missiles.

Russia decides to delay approval of a Russo-American nuclear disarmament pact.

North Korea threatens to end 50 years of armistice with the South.

[ Thanks to the Agonist for links two and three. ]

Song of the day: "Wild World," by Cat Stevens.

It's hard to get by, just upon a smile

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Arab Standard Time Repealed!
Despite my self-satisfied assertions below, Al-Jazeera has indeed launched their English language web site on schedule before the end of the month.

Unfortunately, the site remains down after a denial of service hack.

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{Tuesday, March 25, 2003}

Wacky Iraqi
This satire site comes via Salam Pax. The piece that got me hooked?

United States Changes its Name to "Coalition"
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (WI) — In a move to convince the world that they are not going it alone, the United States Congress has quickly amended the U.S. Constitution and changed the superpower's name to "Coalition". Almost immediately after the emergency congressional name-changing session, "Coalition" forces began bombing targets in Southern Iraq and outside Baghdad.

Additionally, two stars have been added to the new United States of Coalition flag, representing Britain and Spain. The two new stars are smaller and less prominent than the other 50, as these new states have no autonomy and must rely completely on the President for decision making.

Following the bombing, one of the Saddam Husseins spoke before the Iraqi people denouncing the Coalition attack. CIA video analysts believe that the speech was probably given by Saddam #4, though one source told reporters that it could have been Saddam #12 with a cold.

At a late morning press conference, Donald Rumsfeld pretended to answer questions about the attack and the impending invasion in his usual, warm manner.

"I'm not telling you fucking reporters a thing--just who do you think you are?" the Defense Secretary barked. "You'll get the news when I damn well feel like it, and not a minute before. If you don't like it you can move back to Old Europe or whatever pussy country your parents came from. Thank you and good morning."

But there's more. Your One-Stop Shop for Sandnigger Information showcases the literate erudtion found in Wacky Iraqi's own referrer logs, while their Just Another Day on the Internet section collects a random sample of anti-Arab hate available here on the web. Of course Wacky Iraqi does it with style:

Just Another Day on the Internet
Ah, the beauty of anonymity. When you don't have the pesky PC police breathing down your neck, you can let down your hair and say what's really on your mind.

For me, it's racial jokes. I love racial humor as much as (or probably quite a bit more than) anyone around. Black people love watermelon, Chinese folks can't drive, the Irish like their booze, Jews are stingy, Mexicans eat beans. It never gets old...hell, I'm chuckling right now just typing this.

Still, there's ultimately nothing funnier to me than a good Arab joke. Being of Arab decent myself, I find great humor in playful mocking of my own race's idiosyncrasies.

For example, here's a great side-splitter I found today:
Ha! Now that's rich.

Anyhoo, enjoy this fine collection of lighthearted ribbing I've collected around the web. I hope you find it as lively and whimsical as I do. (more)

Ah, those crazy foreigners.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Wacky Iraqi (make sure you read Just Another Day on the Internet to the very end. Trust me).

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How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth
In the vein of the post below, here is a story broken by Arab press that U.S.-based outlets have so far refused to touch: Is Vice President Cheney's Daughter a Human Shield in Baghdad?

The London based Arabic daily Al Quds Al Arabi reported on Tuesday, March 25 that the American vice president, Dick Cheney, would soon head to the Jordanian capital, Amman.

The newspaper claimed that the visit would be an attempt by Cheney to convince his daughter, who was in the Jordanian capital, to back down her decision to go to Baghdad within a group of volunteers who want to form human shields against the US led attacks on Iraq.

Al Quds Al Arabi cited news reports it claimed circulating in Amman as saying that Cheney would arrive in the Jordanian capital soon on a special visit it described as having a "social mission." “News agencies cited sources as saying that Cheney will arrive in Amman next Friday. He will try to convince his daughter who is currently staying at a hotel in Amman not to go to Baghdad along with a group of volunteers who want to go to Iraq and form human shields against the Anglo American attacks,” said the report. (more)

Whether the report turns out to be true or false, it was sourced by an Arab paper in London and is so far only being mentioned on an Arab web site, Al Bawaba. Thanks to globalization, we here in the U.S. don't have to be out of the loop.

Update: UPI reports that the U.S. embassy in Jordan and a member of Vice President Cheney's staff both deny the Al Quds Al Arabi story.

Update 2: WorldNet Daily also publishes a categorical denial, by Cheney spokesperson Jennifer Millerwise.

[ This post mirrored at Stand Down ]

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News from the Front
The first few days of this war have made it clear that journalism is alive and well in the Arab world. Middle Eastern media outlets, particularly Qatar's Al-Jazeera, are breaking some of the biggest stories, and the Western press is publishing news it might otherwise suppress because the Arab media has let the cat out of the bag.

Unfortunately, the best of the best, Al-Jazeera, isn't available in English either on television or on-line. The station has promised an English-language web site by the end of this month. As of March 25th, it isn't available. Converting from Arab Standard Time to our own dating system, the web site should be up sometime in late April or early May. Until then, here are some alternative ways to get an Arab perspective on the war:
  • Al Bawaba ("The Gateway") — A web site rivaling the BBC's in looks, but definitely not in speed, Al Bawaba is produced out of Jordan and the UK. Yesterday's front page had some interesting items:

    1. US missile hits Syrian passenger bus near Iraqi border, five people killed

    2. Al Bawaba sources: U.S. ensures personal safety of Iraqi FM en route to Cairo

    3. Two British soldiers missing; Pentagon downplays reports of Iraqi ''chemical'' weapons factory discovery
      Elsewhere, coalition forces have found a "huge chemical" weapons factory at An Najaf, some 360 kilometers south of Baghdad, Fox News Channel and ABC News reported Sunday, citing a senior defense official.

      Coalition troops are said to be holding the general in charge of the facility, the networks said. But a Pentagon spokesman called the reports "premature," saying: "We are looking into sites of interest."

      Pentagon officials so far have said that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq since the US-led war was launched on Baghdad early Thursday.
    4. Iraqi FM: Israel participates in U.S.-led attack on Iraq
      Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Sunday an Israeli missile had been found in Baghdad and accused Israel of taking part in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

      "You know that Israel is taking part in this aggression against Iraq. It's sending missiles. We found a missile, an Israeli missile, in Baghdad," he told reporters in Cairo, where he was to attend a meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled for Monday.

    5. British embargo grounds Israel's nuclear capability
      The unofficial but rapidly growing British and European embargo on supply of military equipment to Israel is causing grave concern to Israeli military planners. Following the refusal of Germany to provide critical parts for the local production of the Israeli Army's Merkava battle tanks, a British embargo on ejector seat parts is threatening to seriously damage Israel's much feared nuclear capability.


      Rachel Niedak-Ashkenazi, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, told Israel's Haaretz daily that she didn't know how soon the planes would have to be grounded, but indicated it was a matter of weeks or months. "We are desperately searching for other sources but haven't located any yet," she said.

      The ejection seat parts are now at the center of a major diplomatic row between Israel and Britain. The British Daily Times has recently reported that Victor Harel, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, called the embargo “a major cloud in our bilateral relations with Britain”.

    Al Bawaba's social coverage is also worth a read if you want the scoop on T.A.T.U.'s arrival in the Middle East and the rise of feminism in Iran.

  • Arab News — A Saudi outlet, which printed this revealing tidbit about the embed program that I hadn't seen elsewhere: "In an effort to placate disgruntled journalists — seven left the embed program here yesterday claiming lack of access... the Marine Air Command has started up regular evening media briefings." [emphasis mine]

    Arab News also has a daily political cartoon, with archives going back one month. The one below is from March 15th.

  • Middle East Online — The incredibly slow site out of London was not the first to report that Iraq claimed to have downed a U.S. Apache helicopter, but they did break the story about Iraq's decision to air footage of two men it claimed to be the pilots of the vehicle.
Other sites worth a look are Arabic News, the Lebanese Daily Star, and the Jordan Times. If you've got other suggestions that ought to be on the list, drop a note in the comments.

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{Monday, March 24, 2003}

Ha'aretz reports that the founder of LAW, a Palestinian NGO focused on monitoring human rights abuses, has defrauded the organization and its donors out of $4 million over the past five years.

An interim report from auditors Earnst & Young suggests that LAW's founder, Khader Shkirat, diverted aid money and used it "for purposes unrelated to the organization's declared mission." It looks like much of the money went into Shkirat's pockets, but E&Y claims that there was widespread knowledge within LAW of these activities.

As a result, LAW's Europoean donors have frozen funding, and an organization that has done vital work in Palestine for 13 years may have to cease operations in a few weeks.

No more legal defense of Palestinian rights, no more reports against the Palestinian Authority's use of the death penalty, no more weekly tracking of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers, no report on Israel's attacks on journalists, no report on home demolitions or torture or Israel's apartheid wall, no critical studies on the Israeli media and the intifada. Nothing.

Instead we have the disgusting spectacle of a Palestinian abusing his own people, literally stealing the money needed to help them.

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War on Iraq: Questions and Answers from the Muslim American Society


Our views are the same as those of the United Nations Security Council, the vast majority of religious leaders in the United States, and numerous experts in international law: namely, that a pre-emptive strike on a country that has not directly threatened the United States is a violation of international law.

We also fear that this war is not in the interest of US national security or world peace and stability. Whatever benefits might be achieved will be outweighed by the rise in anti-Americanism and an increase in terrorist recruitment.

We believe that our government should have attempted to resolve its differences with Iraq using competent, sound diplomacy in the forum of the United Nations. We believe that it is never too late for diplomacy to work, and we hold out the hope that this opinion—shared by many in our government and around the world—might prevail.

Nor are Muslims unique in opposing this war. As we mentioned, most of the religious denominations in America oppose this war, including the Catholic Church (the Pope has said that participation in this war is a sin), the Methodists (President Bush’s own denomination), and the National Council of Churches, America’s largest umbrella organization of Protestant denominations.


Our opposition to the war neither implies any sympathy for Saddam Hussein, nor does it diminish our love for this country and our commitment to its security and prosperity. We will continue to serve the best interests of our country by standing firmly for justice at home and abroad.

We believe that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator, completely lacking in legitimacy and hated by his people. We would not be sorry to see him go, but we maintain that “regime change” should be carried out in a manner consistent with the rule of law. (more)

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Live From Baghdad
Salam Pax, over at Where is Raed? must be getting a lot of traffic from the war-curious. Mine has quadrupled today, all of it from his site. For those few Objectionable Content readers who are not coming here by way of Salam, please let me introduce you to the world's first Iraqi blogger.

Salam (his pseudonym translates literally into "Peace Peace") is not a strictly political writer, and I doubt he's a typical Arab. But I'm not typical, and neither are you if you're any good. What Salam shares with most Iraqis is a helplessness with regards to his own fate -- whether at the hands of Saddam Hussein or the United States. In this, he is a stand-in for nearly everyone in Iraq, which I'm sure is why so many people have discovered his site recently.

His thoughts in expectation of war are emotional and, to my ears, true:

No one inside Iraq is for war (note I said war not a change of regime), no human being in his right mind will ask you to give him the beating of his life, unless you are a member of fight club that is, and if you do hear Iraqi (in Iraq, not expat) saying “come on bomb us” it is the exasperation and 10 years of sanctions and hardship talking. There is no person inside Iraq (and this is a bold, blinking and underlined inside) who will be jumping up and down asking for the bombs to drop. We are not suicidal you know, not all of us in any case.

I think that the coming war is not justified (and it is very near now, we hear the war drums loud and clear if you don’t then take those earplugs off!). The excuses for it have been stretched to their limits they will almost snap. A decision has been made sometime ago that “regime change” in Baghdad is needed and excuses for the forceful change have to be made. I do think war could have been avoided, not by running back and forth the last two months, that’s silly. But the whole issue of Iraq should have been dealt with differently since the first day after GW I.

The entities that call themselves “the international community” should have assumed their responsibilities a long time ago, should have thought about what the sanctions they have imposed really meant, should have looked at reports about weapons and human rights abuses a long time before having them thrown in their faces as excuses for war five minutes before midnight. (more)

This is him too, talking about the Ba'athist revolution(s) that put Saddam Hussein in power:

17th July 1968
the second Ba'athist led coup, Arif is ousted, General Ahmad Hassan Al-bakir becomes president, Saddam Hussein is vice president.

16th July 1979
Al-Bakir "resigns", Saddam Hussein becomes president of the Republic of Iraq.

We get a public holiday to contemplate how could there have ever been people who were fooled by Ba'athist ideology.

One Arab nation with an eternal message.
Unity (wahda)
Freedom (huria)
Socialism (ishtirakia)

Sometimes when talking to someone who was there during all this, the generation which had a chance to go out in the streets and affect change, it just slips out:
- Salam Pax: "you were tricked and used, you realize this."
- Parental-Unit: "yes, now what? do you want an official apology?"
- Salam Pax: "no just wanted to make sure you acknowledge it"
only my commie uncle starts shouting abuse at me :-) (more)

Salam's last post was made today. Here's hoping that he'll still be lobbing in a post or two five years from now to tell us how the reconstruction of Iraq is going, when he has a minute to spare from the hectic life of an internationally famous documentary filmmaker.

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{Wednesday, March 12, 2003}

Song of the day: "Buddy Holly," by Weezer

(Oooh Oooh)
But ya know I'm yours,
(Oooh Oooh)
And I know you're mine.
(Oooh Oooh)
Thats why I love you
Oooh-wheee-ooh I look just like Buddy Holly,
Oh, oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore.
I don't care what they say about us anyway.
I don't care 'bout that.

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{Monday, March 03, 2003}

On Being Dealt the Anti-Semitic Card
(Poetry via Nitricboy)

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{Saturday, March 01, 2003}

Regime Change: The Record So Far
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace took a look at the history of US-led attempts at forcible regime change, judging them by a single criteria: Is there democracy after ten years? Our performance on this simple test was dismal.

Since the past century, [the United States] has deployed its military to impose democratic rule in foreign lands on 18 occasions. Yet this impressive record of international activism has left an uninspiring legacy. Of all the regimes the US has replaced with force, democratic rule has been sustained in only five places - Germany, Japan, Italy, Panama, and Grenada. This suggests a success rate of less than 30 percent. Outside the developed world and Latin America, there hasn't been a single success (more).

Despite the vast differences in their situations, Japan and Germany are often trotted out by hawks as examples of succesful regime change that are applicable to Iraq. What hawks do not mention are Haiti in 1994, Cambodia in 1970, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Honduras in 1924 or any of the others in the list of US failures at regime change.

Further, CEIP's list only includes military interventions, leaving out covert actions such as the CIA's backing of the coup in Iran in 1953 -- another failure, one that led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini and perhaps the most violent form of Muslim fundamentalism the world had seen before al-Qaeda. Nor does CEIP consider attempts by others at forcible regime change in the Middle East. Israel's disastrous 1982 invasion of Lebanon -- led by the same Ariel Sharon now ruining running Israel -- comes to mind. The failure of that occupation, with Israel retreating from Lebanon after 18 years of terrorism, should be a warning to us.

The chances that Iraq will be more like our five successes than our thirteen failures are slim. Compared to Iraq, both Germany and Japan are stunningly homogenous in both ethnicity and religion. Iraq is much less like Japan or Germany than it is like Lebanon: a country so fractured that nearly anything might happen once those in charge are toppled, as the New York Times noted recently:

There are other projections for what might take place -- ones that follow the law of unintended consequences. The Turkish Army occupies northern Iraq to prevent an independent Kurdistan on its border, prompting Turkish and Iraqi Kurds to join forces against the Turks and Iraqi Turkomans. The Kurds refuse to rejoin the country that once tried to exterminate them unless federalism gives them control over the oil reserves of Kirkuk. The two Kurdish parties resume the fighting that broke out between them in 1996. The Iranian hard-liners, realizing that Iraq's territorial integrity has become a theoretical matter, take the opportunity to finish off the opposition mujahedeen across the border. Shiite mullahs, finding themselves locked out of power again, resist American authority and form antioccupation militias. A Sunni officer in the Iraqi Army pulls off an 11th-hour coup, declares himself friendly to the United States and stops the process cold.

Hawks in favor of regime change for humanitarian reasons seem to believe that democracy can be achieved at the point of a gun. But even with our two most notable successes there were democratic institutions in place prior to our arrival. Germany had the Weimar (for what it was worth), and Japan had had an elected parliament ever since the Meiji Constitution established the Diet in 1890, not to mention universal manhood sufferage by 1925.

Iraq has never really had a democracy, and while there will hopefully be a first time for them, what are the odds that it will come as a result of our war? The Carnegie Endowment's work suggests that they are somewhere around 5 in 18.

The only thing in favor of success in this case is that the stakes are so high. We cannot afford to lose, or to let Iraq descend into chaos. This means we'll be willing to pay a high price to succeed -- and that willingness may ultimately make this work. But it isn't a guarantee. We might find in the end that we've paid a high price and failed anyway.

[ This post mirrored at Stand Down ]

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Humanitarians for war
One of the most compelling arguments for a continued war against Iraq is the humanitarian one. When good and decent Americans make this argument, they often refer to Iraq's treatment of the Kurds, sometimes with statistics like those in the Human Rights Watch report quoted here:

Since 1984, the government of Iraq has waged an increasingly bitter war with insurgents of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). To date, the toll is estimated at over 19,000 deaths, including some 2,000 death-squad killings of suspected PKK sympathizers, two million internally displaced, and more than 2,200 villages destroyed mostly by Iraqi security forces. In an effort to root out PKK fighters and sympathizers from northeast Iraq, the government has adopted increasingly brutal counterinsurgency measures, in clear violation of international law.

It's a powerful indictment. Reading it makes one want to take action. There's just one thing: The above quote is not about Iraq, it's about our reluctant ally Turkey.

I doubt that most humanitarian hawks did what I did: found old documents of Turkish crimes and ran a "find/replace" on them to make their case against Iraq. There's no need to. Iraq's crimes against the Kurds are real.

But our relationship to Turkey raises a question that has serious implications for the outcome of this war: can we be trusted to keep our promises? According to Human Rights Watch, the United States was happy to ignore Turkey's brutal oppression of its own Kurds:

Both before and during this period, Turkey's NATO partners have extended generous political and military support, helping Turkey to develop a formidable arms industry and supplying it with a steady stream of weapons, often for free or at greatly reduced cost. The United States government in particular has been deeply involved in arming Turkey and supporting its arms production capacities. Although several NATO governments have occasionally protested Turkish policies, most have continued to supply Turkey with arms.

If this sounds familiar, it's because we did the same thing when Iraq was gassing Kurdish rebels and Iranian soldiers at Halabja.

In the case of both Iraq and Turkey, there were geopolitical concerns that trumped humanitarian ideals. Iraq had to be defended lest it fall to Iran and fundamentalism sweep across the Middle East to our other allies. Turkey was also a bulwark against Muslim fundamentalism, not to mention the Soviet Union.

The situation isn't much different today. The United States has a number of geopolitical goals that could conflict with securing the liberty of the Kurds. If they do, which way is the wind going to blow?

Given our actions in the 80s and 90s, as well as more recent events, I'm betting it will blow against the Kurds, and the humanitarian argument for war.

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Turkey Vote Confusion
After initial reports that the Turkish Parliament had voted in favor of basing U.S. troops in the country for the war against Iraq, it now appears that the process has hit yet another snag.
The vote, carried out behind closed doors, ended with 264 votes for and 251 votes against with 19 abstentions -- an apparent slim victory for the government.

But the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) challenged the result on the grounds that the government had not won the 267 votes needed to represent a majority of the 534 lawmakers present in the assembly.

The government must now decide whether to try to present a similar resolution to the assembly again and gather the few votes it needs.
Despite US offers of anywhere from $15 to $30 billion in grants and aid, polls show that more than 85 percent of Turks oppose a war against Iraq (scroll down).

Why is it that support for war among the Turkish people is less than 15 percent while among their politicians it is nearly 50 percent? Perhaps because neither group has any illusions about exactly where the US bribe money would go.

Update: The New York Times is reporting it this way: Turkish Parliament Refuses to Accept G.I.s in Blow to Bush.

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Taken from here.

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