nettime's_digestive_system on Sun, 20 Dec 1998 22:03:24 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> iraq

1 - : iraq. war. fuck. three questions
2 - ivo skoric        : thanks mr. president
3 -  : [no subject]
4 -  : nettime are you afraid to post this as well
                        [edward said statement]

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Date: Thu, 17 Dec 1998 02:38:32 +0000
Subject: Iraq. War. Fuck. Three Questions

Regardless of whether this attack is right or wrong in itself (the
answer is obvious to everyone whatever they actually think)..

1 - Doesn't it boost Saddam's support and make life harder for his
opponents? What's the point of that?

2 - Isn't this really good for Netanyahu, since it makes it easy for him
to get a lot of political? Isn't that really bad for peace in the wider
Middle East?

3 - It's hard to make coherent arguments against this without saying
'the ultimatum shouldn't have been given in the first place'. why do
ultimatums not move hovering waverers like me to anger and (inadequate)
response in the way that actual bombs do. if you say 'we'll bomb you
unless x' then you have a big problem when x happens whatever you do.

Sorry if this is completely the wrong forum for this. I could go and
seek out 'moaning about bombing Iraq' specific stuff', but I've (mostly)
lurked on this list for a while now and... hell... wanna know what you
guys think. If your response is straight down the line pacifist I'll
want to know how you justify that post WWII (unless you don't have a
problem with Hitler - but you do...) though if anyone on the list
supports this action I'll be very surprised.. and interested to know how
and why.

cheers etc.,

^- save time. don't go here if you wanna read about Iraq. nothing to

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <>
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 23:36:59 +0000
Subject: Thanks Mr. President

Since the pending impeachment vote in Congress started to become 
annoyingly close, new assertive action was called for. After months 
of non-compliance with UN resolutions, it was suddenly, out of the 
blue, decided that Iraq should be punished. So, Bhagdad was bombed. 
Clinton even used the Harrison Ford movie phrase "the clear and the 
present danger" in his explanation to the nation, perhaps to 
underscore that Iraq bombing is now opening at the theaters 
everywhere, hopefully replacing the tired Impeachment Hearings - 
which, by the way, sound as awfully boring as some of the last 
extraordinary meetings of the late Communist Party of, now former, 
Yugoslavia. Actually, the idea of dropping explosives in the dessert 
sounds very appealing to me. We already screwed up our climate with 
a century of intensive greenhouse gases production, so now El Nino or 
no El Nino, we are having a tad warmer winters already. Colorado 
ski resorts are having some of the worst seasons ever, and here in 
Vermont it is not much better (it was 45 at Killington today). 
Therefore blowing some sand into the athmosphere is a welcome 
corrective, creating a mild nuclear freeze effect. Hmmm, maybe a 
nuclear warhead should be considered? Besides - that would *really* 
take the media of the Impeachment Hearings.


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Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 02:47:47 EST
Subject: [LM notes]

Press Release: immediate


On Thursday 17 December, Mick Hume, editor of LM magazine said:

'Are we supposed to believe that Baghdad is being blitzed because the
Iraqis refused to hand over some pieces of paper? Perhaps they are "memos
of mass destruction". It appears that, while the Americans only have
invisible Stealth bombers, the Iraqis must have an entire invisible nuclear
and chemical weapons industry.

'The new war on Iraq has all the hallmarks of a political stunt, staged
with Cruise missiles to suit the domestic and global agendas of the
American and British governments. If Saddam Hussein did not exist, Tony
Blair and Bill Clinton would need to invent him. After all, Batman and
Robin always need a cartoon villain to make them look the good guys.'

'Degrading' Iraq

Ignore all the hand-wringing about 'weapons of mass 
destruction'; the bombing of Iraq was driven by internal 
American politics, argues Brendan O'Neill

Tony Blair justified Britain and America's missile blitz on Iraq as an
attempt to protect the world from an evil dictator: 'Saddam's threat is now
and it is a threat to his region, to his people and to the security of the
world.' But this image of Iraq holding the world to ransom by developing
'weapons of mass destruction' turns reality on its head. As evidenced by
the Iraqi army's attempts to hold off US Navy cruise missiles with heavy
machine gun fire, it is Britain and America who have the weapons of mass

According to Blair and Clinton, the attack was a response to Iraq's
continual blocking of UN weapons inspectors UNSCOM. Blair describes Saddam
as 'a serial breaker of promises'. Dishonesty, it seems, is now a capital
offence (although not in Washington). The main complaint from UNSCOM is
that Iraq has been 'withholding documents'. Lacking any real evidence that
the Iraqi regime is developing weapons of mass destruction, UNSCOM demanded
that Iraqis submit documents from factories and suspected 'weapon houses',
which might shed light on what the regime is up to. They have even demanded
access to the Baath Party headquarters and the right to dig up the floors
of the presidential palaces. While American F117 Stealth fighters and RAF
Tornado GR1s drop bombs on Baghdad, perhaps the only thing the Iraqis can
be accused of is hiding 'memos of mass destruction'.

Blair and Clinton have the gall to depict Saddam as a threat, when in
reality the United Nations security council has spent the past seven years
forcing Iraq back to the stone age. Much of Iraq's industry was destroyed
in the Gulf War of 1991, when 250 000 bombs were dropped and, according to
the respected British Medical Journal, up to 180 000 Iraqis were killed;
there were only about 150 fatalities among the Allied forces. Since then, a
UN blockade on Iraqi oil sales - its principal export - has further
crippled the country's economy, leaving it desperately short of money to
buy food and medicine.

There is no evidence to support Britain and America's claim that Iraq is a
threat which must be crushed. So what is behind this latest attack? 

It clearly has nothing to do with the Middle East, where earlier this week
Clinton claimed he wanted to unite Arabs and Israelis as part of the
stalling 'peace process'; how could dropping bombs in the region be part of
this same policy? Rather the air strikes are driven by internal US
problems. The American government is seeking to assert its authority abroad
to help alleviate its problems at home. The transparent and self-serving
nature of the attack is illustrated by America's isolation in taking this
action. The UN secretary-general Kofi Annan registered his opposition to
the air strikes by saying that his thoughts are with the men and women of
Iraq. Other members of the UN security council are either openly hostile,
like China and Russia, or quietly hostile, like France. Such differing
views among the leaders of the 'international community' expose the
artificiality of the US campaign. 

But America's decision is not just about 'timing', as the 'wag the dog'
theorists argue, with Clinton supposedly bombing Iraq simply because he is
about to face impeachment procedures. Military intervention abroad points
to more deep-seated problems in countries like America and Britain. At a
time when hardly anything at home goes right for Clinton he needs the
international stage on which to assert his authority. He has clearly
decided that Iraqi lives are expendable in the attempt to bolster his
position as the world's moral policeman and to counter the American view of
the president as 'Sick Willie'.

What of Blair's role in all of this? Far from being America's poodle, Blair
has been the most aggressive advocate of attacking Iraq. He has assumed the
moral high-ground, looking down on Iraq as an inferior country that needs
to be taught a lesson or two. As politics' Mr Clean, Blair can get away
with anything; including demanding that Saddam follows orders and
threatening to 'degrade' him if he doesn't. Welcome to New Labour's
'humanitarian' foreign policy.

Groups opposing the bombing of Iraq are protesting outside Downing Street
on Thursday 17 December and Friday 18 December at 6.00pm GMT, and on
Saturday 19 December at 1.00pm GMT

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Date: Sun, 20 Dec 1998 05:44:42 EST
Subject: Nettime: are you afraid to post this as well

Subject: Edward Said on Iran/iraq Crisis

> [Source:]
> Apocalypse Now
> by Edward Said
> It would be a mistake, I think, to reduce what is happening between Iraq
> and the United States simply to an assertion of Arab will and sovereignty
> on the one hand versus American imperialism, which undoubtedly plays a
> central role in all this. However misguided, Saddam Hussein's cleverness is
> not that he is splitting America from its allies (which he has not really
> succeeded in doing for any practical purpose) but that he is exploiting the
> astonishing clumsiness and failures of US foreign policy. Very few people,
> least of all Saddam himself, can be fooled into believing him to be the
> innocent victim of American bullying; most of what is happening to his
> unfortunate people who are undergoing the most dreadful and unacknowledged
> suffering is due in considerable degree to his callous cynicism -- first of
> all, his indefensible and ruinous invasion of Kuwait, his persecution of
> the Kurds, his cruel egoism and pompous self-regard which persists in
> aggrandizing himself and his regime at exorbitant and, in my opinion,
> totally unwarranted cost. It is impossible for him to plead the case for
> national security and sovereignty now given his abysmal disregard of it in
> the case of Kuwait and Iran.
> Be that as it may, US vindictiveness, whose sources I shall look at in a
> moment, has exacerbated the situation by imposing a regime of sanctions
> which, as Sandy Berger, the American National Security adviser has just
> said proudly, is unprecedented for its severity in the whole of world
> history. 567,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the Gulf War, mostly as a
> result of disease, malnutrition and deplorably poor medical care.
> Agriculture and industry are at a total standstill. This is unconscionable
> of course, and for this the brazen inhumanity of American policy-makers is
> also very largely to blame. But we must not forget that Saddam is feeding
> that inhumanity quite deliberately in order to dramatize the opposition
> between the US and the rest of the Arab world; having provoked a crisis
> with the US (or the UN dominated by the US) he at first dramatised the
> unfairness of the sanctions. But by continuing it as he is now doing, the
> issue has changed and has become his non-compliance, and the terrible
> effects of the sanctions have been marginalised. Still the underlying
> causes of an Arab/US crisis remain.
> A careful analysis of that crisis is imperative. The US has always opposed
> any sign of Arab nationalism or independence, partly for its own imperial
> reasons and partly because its unconditional support for Israel requires it
> to do so. Since the l973 war, and despite the brief oil embargo, Arab
> policy up to and including the peace process has tried to circumvent or
> mitigate that hostility by appealing to the US for help, by "good"
> behavior, by willingness to make peace with Israel. Yet mere compliance
> with the US's wishes can produce nothing except occasional words of
> American approbation for leaders who appear "moderate": Arab policy was
> never backed up with coordination, or collective pressure, or fully agreed
> upon goals. Instead each leader tried to make separate arrangements both
> with the US and with Israel, none of which produced very much except
> escalating demands and a constant refusal by the US to exert any meaningful
> pressure on Israel. The more extreme Israeli policy becomes the more likely
> the US has been to support it. And the less respect it has for the large
> mass of Arab peoples whose future and well-being are mortgaged to illusory
> hopes embodied, for instance, in the Oslo accords.
> Moreover, a deep gulf separates Arab culture and civilization on the one
> hand, from the United States on the other, and in the absence of any
> collective Arab information and cultural policy, the notion of an Arab
> people with traditions, cultures and identities of their own is simply
> inadmissible in the US. Arabs are dehumanized, they are seen as violent
> irrational terrorists always on the lookout for murder and bombing
> outrages. The only Arabs worth doing business with for the US are compliant
> leaders, businessmen, military people whose arms purchases (the highest per
> capita in the world) are helping the American economy keep afloat. Beyond
> that there is no feeling at all, for instance, for the dreadful suffering
> of the Iraqi people whose identity and existence have simply been lost
> sight of in the present situation.
> This morbid, obsessional fear and hatred of the Arabs has been a constant
> theme in US foreign policy since World War Two. In some way also, anything
> positive about the Arabs is seen in the US as a threat to Israel. In this
> respect pro-Israeli American Jews, traditional Orientalists, and military
> hawks have played a devastating role. Moral opprobrium is heaped on Arab
> states as it is on no others. Turkey, for example, has been conducting a
> campaign against the Kurds for several years, yet nothing is heard about
> this in the US. Israel occupies territory illegally for thirty years, it
> violates the Geneva conventions at will, conducts invasions, terrorist
> attacks and assassinations against Arabs, and still, the US vetoes every
> sanction against it in the UN. Syria, Sudan, Libya, Iraq are classified as
> "rogue" states. Sanctions against them are far harsher than against any
> other countries in the history of US foreign policy. And still the US
> expects that its own foreign policy agenda ought to prevail (eg., the
> woefully misguided Doha economic summit) despite its hostility to the
> collective Arab agenda.
> In the case of Iraq a number of further extenuations make the US even more
> repressive. Burning in the collective American unconscious is a puritanical
> zeal decreeing the sternest possible attitude towards anyone deemed to be
> an unregenerate sinner. This clearly guided American policy towards the
> native American Indians, who were first demonized, then portrayed as
> wasteful savages, then exterminated, their tiny remnant confined to
> reservations and concentration camps. This almost religious anger fuels a
> judgemental attitude that has no place at all in international politics,
> but for the United States it is a central tenet of its worldwide behavior.
> Second, punishment is conceived in apocalyptic terms. During the Vietnam
> war a leading general advocated -- and almost achieved -- the goal of
> bombing the enemy into the stone age. The same view prevailed during the
> Gulf War in l99l. Sinners are meant to be condemned terminally, with the
> utmost cruelty regardless of whether or not they suffer the cruelest
> agonies. The notion of "justified" punishment for Iraq is now uppermost in
> the minds of most American consumers of news, and with that goes an almost
> orgiastic delight in the gathering power being summoned to confront Iraq in
> the Gulf.
> Pictures of four (or is now five?) immense aircraft carriers steaming
> virtuously away punctuate breathless news bulletins about Saddam's
> defiance, and the impending crisis. The President announces that he is
> thinking not about the Gulf but about the 21st century: how can we tolerate
> Iraq's threat to use biological warfare even though (this is unmentioned)
> it is clear from the UNSCOM reports that he neither has the missile
> capacity, nor the chemical arms, nor the nuclear arsenal, nor in fact the
> anthrax bombs that he is alleged to be brandishing? Forgotten in all this
> is that the US has all the terror weapons known to humankind, is the only
> country to have used a nuclear bomb on civilians, and as recently as seven
> years ago dropped 66,000 tons of bombs on Iraq. As the only country
> involved in this crisis that has never had to fight a war on its own soil,
> it is easy for the US and its mostly brain-washed citizens to speak in
> apocalyptic terms. A report out of Australia on Sunday, November l6
> suggests that Israel and the US are thinking about a neutron bomb on
> Baghdad.
> Unfortunately the dictates of raw power are very severe and, for a weak
> state like Iraq, overwhelming. Certainly US misuse of the sanctions to
> strip Iraq of everything, including any possibility for security is
> monstrously sadistic. The so-called UN 661 Committee created to oversee the
> sanctions is composed of fifteen member states (including the US) each of
> which has a veto. Every time Iraq passes this committee a request to sell
> oil for medicines, trucks, meat, etc., any member of the committee can
> block these requests by saying that a given item may have military purposes
> (tires, for example, or ambulances). In addition the US and its clients --
> eg., the unpleasant and racist Richard Butler, who says openly that Arabs
> have a different notion of truth than the rest of the world -- have made it
> clear that even if Iraq is completely reduced militarily to the point where
> it is no longer a threat to its neighbors (which is now the case) the real
> goal of the sanctions is to topple Saddam Hussein's government. In other
> words according to the Americans, very little that Iraq can do short of
> Saddam's resignation or death will produce a lifting of sanctions. Finally,
> we should not for a moment forget that quite apart from its foreign policy
> interest, Iraq has now become a domestic American issue whose repercussions
> on issues unrelated to oil or the Gulf are very important. Bill Clinton's
> personal crises -- the campaign-funding scandals, an impending trial for
> sexual harassment, his various legislative and domestic failures -- require
> him to look strong, determined and "presidential" somewhere else, and where
> but in the Gulf against Iraq has he so ready-made a foreign devil to set
> off his blue-eyed strength to full advantage. Moreover, the increase in
> military expenditure for new investments in electronic "smart" weaponry,
> more sophisticated aircraft, mobile forces for the world-wide projection of
> American power are perfectly suited for display and use in the Gulf, where
> the likelihood of visible casualties (actually suffering Iraqi civilians)
> is extremely small, and where the new military technology can be put
> through its paces most attractively. For reasons that need restating here,
> the media is particularly happy to go along with the government in bringing
> home to domestic customers the wonderful excitement of American
> self-righteousness, the proud flag-waving, the "feel-good" sense that "we"
> are facing down a monstrous dictator. Far from analysis and calm reflection
> the media exists mainly to derive its mission from the government, not to
> produce a corrective or any dissent. The media, in short, is an extension
> of the war against Iraq.

> The saddest aspect of the whole thing is that Iraqi civilians seem
> condemned to additional suffering and protracted agony. Neither their
> government nor that of the US is inclined to ease the daily pressure on
> them, and the probability that only they will pay for the crisis is
> extremely high. At least -- and it isn't very much -- there seems to be no
> enthusiasm among Arab governments for American military action, but beyond
> that there is no coordinated Arab position, not even on the extremely grave
> humanitarian question. It is unfortunate that, according to the news, there
> is rising popular support for Saddam in the Arab world, as if the old
> lessons of defiance without real power have still not been learned.
> Undoubtedly the US has manipulated the UN to its own ends, a rather
> shameful exercise given at the same time that the Congress once again
> struck down a motion to pay a billion dollars in arrears to the world
> organization. The major priority for Arabs, Europeans, Muslims and
> Americans is to push to the fore the issue of sanctions and the terrible
> suffering imposed on innocent Iraqi civilians. Taking the case to the
> International Court in the Hague strikes me as a perfectly viable
> possibility, but what is needed is a concerted will on behalf of Arabs who
> have suffered the US's egregious blows for too long without an adequate
> response.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This article was first published in Arabic in Al-Hayat, London, and in
> English in Al Ahram Weekly, Cairo.

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