Scumbag of the week

May 11, 2008 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Iraq War | Leave a comment
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Having had time to reflect upon suffocating, stamping-on and then stabbing his own daughter, Abdel-Qader Ali is now filled with regret. Does he regret the rage that led to the stabbing, the suffocating and the stamping? Does he regret that he’ll never see her again, or that he’ll never know what kind of woman this bright young 17-year-old would grow into?

No. He regrets that he never committed infanticide when he had the chance:

If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her.

Rand Abdel-Qader was apparently a depraved, Islam-hating slut. We know this because despite being a virgin, a devout Muslim, a student and a volunteer who distributed water to displaced families, she committed the appalling apostasy of having a non-sexual friendship with a British soldier. The extent of the sin was more than enough for her father to commence with the stabbing, the stamping and the suffocating, and for brothers to join in.

The mother, of course, was a little less keen on seeing one of her own children stabbed to death over something so innocent as having a crush on a boy. Where is she now? Well, that’s obvious, right?

He said his daughter’s ‘bad genes were passed on from her mother’. Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going. ‘They cannot accept me leaving him. When I first left I went to a cousin’s home, but every day they were delivering notes to my door saying I was a prostitute and deserved the same death as Rand,’ she said.

Yes, in the New Iraq ™, leaving your husband for stabbing, stamping-on and suffocating your only daughter makes you a prostitute. Oh, what benefits we’ve brought to that country!

‘I have only two boys from now on. That girl was a mistake in my life. I know God is blessing me for what I did,’ he said, his voice swelling with pride. ‘My sons are by my side, and they were men enough to help me finish the life of someone who just brought shame to ours.’

I know my mother brought me up to be ‘better’ than this, but if this vile, woman-hating scumbag and all those who participated in what he did and all those who supported what he did were all torn limb from limb by treading on an IED, I’d raise a glass in the knowledge that the world was populated by a few less bastards.

Mission Accomplished

May 1, 2008 at 11:17 am | Posted in Iraq War, U.S. Politics | Leave a comment
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On the 5th anniversary of a speech that taught the world the meaning of the word hubris, now the White House insists that inconvenient banner wasn’t even referring to Iraq:

After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the “Mission Accomplished” phrase referred to the carrier’s crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the “Mission Accomplished” message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship’s crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

“President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said ‘mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”

Those poor critters; a low-40’s approval rating is a terrible price to pay an unspecific banner…

Iraq inquiry: a case for waiting

March 27, 2008 at 10:47 am | Posted in British Politics, Iraq War | Leave a comment
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Perhaps someone can put in an argument to the contrary, but I’m starting to wonder whether the recent clashes in Basra actually weaken the case for an immediate inquiry into Britain’s handling of the Iraq war. On the one hand, the government’s insistence that an inquiry might be damaging for the troops is pathetic Bush-esque bullshit, and the continuing turmoil, however much it may have been stabilised by Gen. Petraeus, show that it’s necessary to learn all the lessons of our misadventure.

On the other hand, should we really want an immediate inquiry into all aspects of our involvement when it’s not yet possible to determine them? It’s been barely over three months since we handed control of Basra to the Iraqis and the full consequences of our withdrawal are still being felt. Will we really be happy with the results of this proposed post-mortem if we try carry it out before our involvement has ended?

There’s much we already know about the war without needing another inquiry to confirm it. We know that much of the faulty intelligence about WMD was publicised over good intelligence which casted doubts on these claims. We know that Britain had limited influence over plans to ‘win the peace’ and that the Americans put little thought into it. And we know that there were many strategic mistakes made immediately after the fall of Saddam’s regime and that the coalition was too slow to correct or even notice its errors.

What we don’t know much about but is probably most useful to both advocates & opponents of the war is a full account & analysis of the coalition’s military execution of it. It’s from this where we can best draw conclusions about whether it was ever possible to stage a successful liberation or not, and those are the conclusions that will probably have the most lasting consequences on foreign policy debates on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Bush speech hails Iraq ‘victory'”

March 19, 2008 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Iraq War | Leave a comment
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Hasn’t he learnt anything from ‘Mission Accomplished’?


Speaking at the Pentagon, Mr Bush said “removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision”. And he went on to say that the recent “surge” of US troops to Iraq has brought about “a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror”. The speech comes amid criticism in the US of the war, with some critics pointing to its high cost.

In his speech, Mr Bush dismissed what he called the “exaggerated estimates” of the cost. And he added: “The costs are necessary when we consider the cost of a strategic victory for our enemies in Iraq.”

Guess he won’t be buying into that $3 trillion cost estimate any time soon, but then his administration first tried to predict that this resounding triumph would only cost $1.7 billion, so they’ve never been great with numbers.

Navel-gazing punditry: Iraq 5 years on

March 18, 2008 at 9:11 am | Posted in Christopher Hitchens, Iraq War, U.S. Politics | 1 Comment
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To ‘commemorate’ the fifth anniversary of the invasion/liberation of Iraq, Slate asks three of its once-vocal advocates how they got it wrong. Fred Kaplan confesses to being too trusting of the evidence offered by Colin Powell. Kanan Makiya admits to underestimating the ‘self-centeredness and sectarianism of the ruling elite and the social impact of 30 years of extreme dictatorship’. And, somewhat predictably, Christopher Hitchens assures us he didn’t get anything wrong.

This is all overshadowed by the unarguable hash that was made of the intervention itself. But I would nonetheless maintain that this incompetence doesn’t condemn the enterprise wholesale. A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya’s (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region’s keystone dictatorship.

None of these positive developments took place without a good deal of bungling and cruelty and unintended consequences of their own. I don’t know of a satisfactory way of evaluating one against the other any more than I quite know how to balance the disgrace of Abu Ghraib, say, against the digging up of Saddam’s immense network of mass graves. There is, however, one position that nobody can honestly hold but that many people try their best to hold. And that is what I call the Bishop Berkeley theory of Iraq, whereby if a country collapses and succumbs to trauma, and it’s not our immediate fault or direct responsibility, then it doesn’t count, and we are not involved. Nonetheless, the very thing that most repels people when they contemplate Iraq, which is the chaos and misery and fragmentation (and the deliberate intensification and augmentation of all this by the jihadists), invites the inescapable question: What would post-Saddam Iraq have looked like without a coalition presence?

The past years have seen us both shamed and threatened by the implications of the Berkeleyan attitude, from Burma to Rwanda to Darfur. Had we decided to attempt the right thing in those cases (you will notice that I say “attempt” rather than “do,” which cannot be known in advance), we could as glibly have been accused of embarking on “a war of choice.” But the thing to remember about Iraq is that all or most choice had already been forfeited. We were already deeply involved in the life-and-death struggle of that country, and March 2003 happens to mark the only time that we ever decided to intervene, after a protracted and open public debate, on the right side and for the right reasons. This must, and still does, count for something.

Matt Zeitlin has a pretty good riposte:

As far as Hitchens sees it, it’s not our responsibility to look at the consequences of advocating for an invasion.  Instead, all that matters is that we intervened on the “right side for the right reasons.”  The problem with looking at a decision this way is that it discourages the exact type of analysis that everyone admits needed to happen before Iraq.  Namely, what would the consequences of the invasion be besides removing Hussein from power?


Questions of whether of Hussein’s Iraq was “a concentration camp” or whether we were on the “right side” necessarily bracket off the types of considerations that even Hitchens and Makiya think that we ought to have made.  Hitchens is also being incredibly glib when he says that we intervened after an “open and public debate.”  Last time I checked, when advocates for a policy are presenting skewed intelligence in support of their war, no debate will be “open and public.”

Being against the war from the start, I suppose I’m entitled to indulge in some rather petty triumphalism this time of year, but the truth is I would’ve probably lived a little easier if everything I’d said against the war had been proved wrong. It’s much easier to live with being a know-nothing fool than it is knowing your government was complicit in an atrociously mismanaged war.

But these handwringing rounds of ‘who was right/who was wrong?’ make me pretty nauseous. This ‘credibility olympics’ of pundits revising their past positions in order to remain relevant shows that for all the information they might have at their disposal, these people don’t really know much more than the rest of us about either the long or short-term consequences of something as violently unpredictable as war.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who was right; what matters is what is left. Has the apparent progress made by the Americans under General Patraeus strengthened the case for continued military involvement? Or has the failure of the Iraqis to resolve their political differences and develop a fully-functioning government highlighted the limits of achieving stability through military means alone? How much longer should coalition forces stay there, and at what cost, and isn’t there a great strategic disadvantage to having the bulk of a country’s armed forces tied up in one country and unable to respond to threats from elsewhere?

Of course, I don’t have satisfactory answers to any of these questions. Nor, I suspect, do many of the self-proclaimed pundits who’ll try to answer them regardless

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