Friday, October 28, 2005

When body-counts kill
Our obsession with numbers of casualties in Iraq encourages the insurgents to make even more,Brendan O'Neill, Spiked Magazine

God save the heretic
23 October 2005

I would like to more widely apply the principles of this parochial debate

Note the quote from Swift:

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark
New York Times, October 26, 2005


Perhaps it might be easier to say: the number of deaths can be placed in a simple equation which shows how much war and how many American deaths (and any other significant factors such as the cost to tax payers and through-put onto the economy, positive and negative) a country as a whole is prepared to accept to have cheap gas (petrol). Anti-war protest is one thing: having the ability to make decisions about when or if it is wise to stop, quite another.

Petrol prices does apply to Britianm, but continued guaranteed supply does. We British already pay through the nose (roughly 2 1/2 times as much as U.S. users at $7 as compared to $2) by dint of the high national tax levied on fuel. Our dead (and how many we are going to tolerate) could also be tied in with the benefits British companies get from us remaining in Iraq.


Although no one take away the saddness and devastation of the parents of soldiers who died in Iraq, and Iraqis orf Iraqis, it is these factors which have to be placed in the the scales.


Part III of BBC TV's Israel and the Arabs was, for me, as riveting as the previous programmes, een if for seeing the personalities close up.

A Meeting with the President

goes into how the programme was made.

Arab-Israeli Conflict: Basic Facts
May be Kosher it may be not, guess it is o.k.

Had a discussion about Israel and the Arabs with someone who had seen most of it but who had fallen asleep through the last part - can't be because it was boring. Luckily we had thrashed this one through for years, so it was easy to fill in the gaps.

If it was only to ask that question everyone has been asking for years: Was Arafat playing a dual (triple, quadruple?) game or was he, in later years, really trying for peace and a state? Although a mistake to see the conflict only in terms of him. The Arab states have stoked it up since 1948.

Going simply by Arfat's face (and those around him)I think there was this element of Palestine and the Palestinian cause being used by Arafat to further his own politial and personal aims and objectives more than those of his people. He was always in fear of loosing his life, but why did he need so many intelligence and security organs all controlled directly by him, which he would not relinquish to his Prime Minister? Becuse he had no intention of stopping the attacks against Israel. And who could blame him? He needed to keep the attention on the Palestinian cause, which if for nothing else he will be remembered for successfully achieving.


It was fascinating to see the Palestinian interior minister and Israelis Mnister of Defence at the Aqaba conference which was meant to be the start of the road map to peace.

Also head-scratchingly puzzling: the willingness of the Israelis to talk openly, both to the cameras and in the footage from the time, about their decision to kill the Hamas leadership was also quite striking. Is it just me or does this not seem as much like the Godfather as anything Saddam or other gangster-like leaders, even Putin for than matter (I distinctly remember one of his brazen t.v. talks with a general about bumping off the Chechen leader - which they actaully achieved quite soon after).

Crooked Timber mentions the BBC prog, and there is a bit of a discussion.


Whe you look at a map of the two enclaves which hold the Palestinian population and the surrounding countries {2} it all seems hardly worth fighting for. The Jews will die rather than leave now. Demographics has been a big issue for both sides. It might be easier, (barring the thorny problem of Jerusalem - which could be an international city since it is the home of three religions, not two - for the Palestinians to have a homeland which took in part of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and even Egypt, with ports on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Apart from the pink city, I have no idea what else there is in the lower half of Jordan the Jordanians would not want to lose. A nice chunk of real esate for a state, if you add an equal amount from the top end of Saudi Arabia. Though whether there is water there is vital.

Perhaps this sort of thinking might be put to the Jordanians and Saudis. Do you really want these people to be left in peace? Why not give them some land?


Background on Lebanon-Syria:

Lebanon's Tenuous Transformation

by Michael Rubin, Aspenia, October 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005

UN office doctored report on murder of Hariri

Best story of the week.

The Word document which shows the deletions :

People are out in the streets of Damascus in orchestrated outrage against the report with the conspirators names removed. The idea seems to be to rubbish it "on the Arab street" as a work of fiction or a politcal tract.

What do they think of the original one which mentions Assad's brother by name? Now everyone including Syrian dissidents have seen the writing on the wall. The arguemt seems to be: Don't make the Syrian people suffer by imposing sanctions. And that if the Ba'thists think they are in a corner they might do something desperate. What exactly?


I remember staying in a hotel in Aleppo as a kid (196-7?). In the evening we went on the roof to enjoy the sunsetting.

At breakfast, I said to my mother, noticing the red fez's the waiters were wearing: "Monkeys wear those!" Mother shushed me. Father was driving us from London back to Baghdad during a biannual leave.


Greg Palast , Monday, October 24, 2005
According to insiders and to documents obtained from the State Department, the neocons, once in command, are now in full retreat. Iraq's system of oil production, after a year of failed free-market experimentation, is being re-created almost entirely on the lines originally laid out by Saddam Hussein.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Iraq and the Democratization of the Middle East

Michael Rubin, October 14, 2005

memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East

Location: United Kingdom

expatriot in Middle East as child, retired teacher.

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