A place of politics, culture (!!) & random subjects from Airstrip One. Noel hopes it will be of interest and/or use to all sorts of voyagers in cyberspace!

My Photo
Location: London, England, United Kingdom

The Voice Of 40-Something Cynical Optimism!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Iraq, Iraq, Iraq...

"I am in blood/Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o'er."- Macbeth, 'The Scottish Play', Act III, Scene IV.

That's Shakespearean for "Hey, look, guys, I mean, why can't we just move on?"

I'm so bloody angry about the whole Iraq debacle. Thousands of people have died, with even more injured, for a pack of lies promoted by a bunch of huckster politicians and their chickenhawk armchair general cheerleaders in the media. On top of that, full scale civil war in Iraq hasn't even started yet. Let's hope its not a sideshow to the Big One in Iran...

I could spend the rest of this post just effing and blinding, so I will just post some stuff I've seen recently, which makes me think "what the f...?"

The first one makes me think of HL Mencken's comment in 1919 that "To die for an idea is undeniably honourable. How much more honourable it is to die for ideas that are true."

Mr Blair, you sent my son to die in a war based on lies: Occupation has achieved nothing positive. It is time to bring our troops home and let the Iraqi people decide their own future
Pauline Hickey, The Guardian, Thursday March 2, 2006

Dear Prime Minister,
Ref: Sgt Christian Ian Hickey of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, who became 97th fatality of the Iraq conflict

As a parent yourself, you will be aware that the most precious thing we have in our lives is our children. Until four months ago, I had been blessed with two grown-up sons. I still cannot get used to speaking about one of my sons in the past tense. My youngest son Christian, 30, was a member of the armed forces; he was an exceptional character, full of fun, with great sense of humour and was a generous, caring person who brought the best in people. He was an excellent soldier, who had progressed rapidly through the ranks, and became full sergeant at the age of 29. I enclose summary from the Coldstreams' website ( to show I am not biased as his mother.

Since the death of my son on October 2005, three days before his tour was to end, I have started to question why the invasion of Iraq occurred. My son's remit in Iraq was as a "peacekeeper", helping with the rebuilding of schools and the infrastructure, and training the Iraqi police to enable them to maintain stability in the future. At the time of his death, Chris was the platoon commander and was responsible for clearing a safe route for a large convoy.

The Iraqi police have been implicated in the death of my son, from a roadside bomb. There will be no further investigation as they were spoken to, photographed and searched, then allowed to go as an Iraqi police service lieutenant colonel arrived and confirmed their identities. It makes nonsense of our involvement with them, as their own chief of police says that he can only trust 25% of his own men. This suggests that the remainder is made up of insurgents who would think nothing of killing coalition troops.

My son was on foot patrol when the bomb exploded. This was to minimise casualties should they come in contact with an improvised explosive device. The only vehicles available to them were fibreglass Jeeps; there were no armoured Land Rovers. The British government had sent a consignment of armoured Land Rovers for the Iraqi police prior to my son's death. His commanding officer spoke out about this following my son's death, as he had requested the essential Land Rovers but was turned down on the basis that they were not suitable for the roads. Would the Iraqi police not have been using the same roads as the troops? I understand that your wife, Cherie Blair, has a government bulletproof vehicle. I would question who is at most risk: British troops in a war zone or your wife driving around London?

Does the British government not have a duty of care to the troops in Iraq? My son had to purchase his own boots before going out to Iraq as the standard army-issued boots were unsuitable and melted in the intense heat. The British troops were known to the American troops as "the borrowers" due to their lack of equipment and short supplies. When the death of the 100th soldier was announced on television, I was appalled to hear that instruction had come from you not to hype up the significance of the number. If this is correct, you have little humanity and do not deserve an army who are not able to question the politics and decisions made, but have to go where they are told. I was interested to hear about Maya Anne Evans, who was arrested for peacefully reading out the names of the dead soldiers, including my son, at the Cenotaph. She was arrested by 14 police officers, received a criminal record, and was fined £100.

A Ministry of Defence poll found that up to 65% of Iraqi citizens supported attacks on British troops, less than 1% thought allied military involvement was helping their situation, and 82% were strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops in their country. For nearly two years, the British public has been inundated with US and British "exit strategies". You should not need such a strategy when the above statistics speak for themselves, and the Iraqi people want us out.

It is time to bring the troops home and let the people of Iraq decide their own future. The west cannot enforce a democratic government upon them. The occupation of Iraq has not achieved anything positive; the people are in a worse situation now than under Saddam Hussein. We have lost 103 dedicated soldiers. They died in a war based on lies, for nothing, and it has robbed them of a future.

Going to war is one of the most important decisions this country could have taken. It has resulted in many deaths, and has far-reaching implications for the country's future in the international community. From the information I have collated, the legality of the invasion is questionable - and questions must be asked and answers given. I feel it is important that, as the prime minister and the person who made the ultimate decision to invade Iraq, sending some of our troops to their death, you should have a moral duty to answer the soldiers' families' questions.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet you for such discussion. I personally find all forms of violence and aggression abhorrent. Conflict is rarely resolved though wars of aggression - negotiation is a much better tool to try to resolve issues. I am employed as a child protection social worker, and would be held accountable if a child was injured or died because I failed do my job adequately. There would be an inquiry. I accept this as part of my employment. However, if what I am reading about your involvement and the accusations in Philippe Sands' book are correct - and I note you are not in the process suing him - surely you too should be accountable for your actions, and there should be redress in the form of an inquiry at the very least.

As far as I am aware, neither you nor any government representative has attended any of the soldiers' funerals or visited the many injured. (This was recently reported as 230, while in January 2005 the figure stood at 790. I am sure who does the figures, but perhaps they should be redeployed.) The true cost of this war in terms of wasted lives of both Iraqis and of coalition troops, and the true, undisclosed financial cost, far outweigh any gains. We cannot police the whole world because they do not agree with us or will not cooperate with us. I await your response with interest.

This is an edited version of a letter delivered by Pauline Hickey to 10 Downing Street yesterday

The article below made me think that in a few years time people will be demonstrating en masse (if the "morality police" et al haven't driven them away) on the streets of Baghdad holding pictures of Saddam Hussein in the same way they have in Moscow in recent years with pictures of Joe Stalin.

They ask, we ask: was it worse under Saddam?
Zaki Chehab, New Statesman, Monday 20th March 2006
Kidnappings, power cuts, sectarian hatred, medical shortages, petrol queues, intimidation of women and a mass exodus of talent: all part of life in the new Iraq.

In June last year, in al-Jadriyah, a wealthy suburb of Baghdad, the wife of a veterinary surgeon received a call that people in the city have come to dread. It was from an unknown group claiming respon-sibility for kidnapping her husband a few hours earlier and demanding a ransom of $100,000. Her response was not what they expected. She thanked them and urged them to pay her $200 in return for killing her husband, describing him as useless, unemployed and penniless. She desperately needed the money, she said, to buy essential medicine for her youngest son. The gang, assuming they had nabbed the wrong person and were not after all in possession of a professional man of means, released the vet unharmed. His wife's unorthodox reaction had saved him.

The vet was one of the lucky few; thousands more Iraqis have been killed by their kidnappers, many of them after large ransoms have been paid. Even school- children are not spared: at a press briefing this month, Abdul Falah al-Sudani, the minister for education, said that 76 schools around the country have been attacked since April 2003, resulting in the deaths of 64 students and 310 teachers or other school employees. This was threatening to paralyse the entire school system, putting in jeopardy the educational rehabilitation of the country, he said.

The story is the same at the universities. Isam al-Rawi, head of the Teachers' Association of Iraqi Universities, says that more than 200 lecturers have been murdered since the fall of Saddam Hussein, in what he describes as "organised killings". Just last week, four lecturers were kidnapped from al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and to date no trace of them has been found. Samir, a sports teacher from Fallujah, told me resignedly: "Threats to teachers like myself, and their assassination, have become something normal in Iraq and we have to live with that."

With kidnap gangs singling out the children of professional parents, it is little wonder that families are fleeing the country in what amounts to a severe brain drain. University professors, doctors, engineers and businessmen and their next of kin seek refuge abroad, many in Amman, the Jordanian capital, where tens of thousands of Iraqis have already settled over the past three years. (There are so many of them, in fact, that property prices in Amman are soaring.) The shrinking of the intellectual heart of Iraq has all but extinguished private investment and the consequences are being felt by the entire country at the most basic levels. Unemployment is running at 60 per cent and life for the Iraqi people is more difficult than at any time in living memory.

The frequent bombs, of course, are terrifying, but their effect is all the greater and all the more depressing because a lack of decent hospital facilities has led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of civilians admitted to the emergency wards. Late last year, Basma, a young medical student I know, returned home in tears one evening from her work at what used to be Iraq's finest hospital, the Medical City in Baab al-Mouaadem, central Baghdad. That afternoon, she explained to her family, two car bombs had exploded in separate neighbourhoods and ambulances had ferried the victims to her hospital. Doctors were standing by in the emergency operating theatre, but they had to make snap decisions about treatment not on the basis of what was medically possible, but to fit the limited equipment and medicines at their disposal.

A 23-year-old man, who had lost an eye, also had both legs and an arm amputated, even though Basma believes these could have been saved in earlier times. A 14-year-old boy had to have his leg amputated to avoid gangrene poisoning, but the hospital had no prosthetic limbs for his rehabilitation.

There is a scarcity of basic equipment that most hospitals store in ample quantities as a matter of course. Many injuries caused by car bombs require silk stitching thread for wounds to delicate parts of the body such as the face. Iraqi surgeons, however, have to use nylon thread, leaving the victims of shootings and bombings with more prominent physical scars to compound their psychological trauma. The situation today, the professionals insist, is even worse than in the last years of the old regime, when essential materials were in short supply because of UN economic sanctions.

Iraqis genuinely hoped that the quality of life in their country would soon rise to meet international standards once Saddam was no longer in power and sanctions had ended. Calculations based on the value of the country's oil reserves suggested that there would be plenty of money to spend on improving public services and strengthening the infrastructure. That optimism has vanished, and reconstruction has proved to be an illusion.

There has been no visible improvement to any of the services that are basic to civil society: drinking water, electricity supply, functioning sewage systems, schools and hospitals. Drinking water used to be available from household taps, but that is no longer safe to drink. Potholes in the roads, which were a com-mon cause of complaint in Saddam's time, not only still exist but are even bigger. There were occasional power cuts in the old days but generally the citizens of Baghdad enjoyed a regular supply. Now they are reduced to electricity for just one hour in every six each day.

Nazha al-Said, an elderly lady in her seventies from the Dora neighbourhood in south-eastern Baghdad, didn't mince her words when she spoke to me. She accused the new rulers of being more corrupt than the previous regime, and pointed to the lack of progress in helping people survive summer temperatures that can reach an overwhelming 55 C between June and August. Although some people can sleep on rooftops at night, there is a high risk of suffocation, particularly in neighbour-hoods such as al-Sadr City, where more than three million people are squashed into 25 square kilometres of slums, with several families living together in every house. Most people can't afford electricity generators to power air-conditioners, even if they could find them on sale.

It is bizarre, travelling through a country that has one of the largest oil reserves on earth, to observe the long queues of cars at petrol stations. Drivers have become so resigned to this that they often bring their entire families along to keep them company. It is not unusual to see picnics being laid out along the roadside to pass away the time, while someone guards the car for fear of losing that precious place in the queue. People even risk their lives to fill their tanks - bombs can explode at the rate of five or more per day. The black market is thriving, with gangs selling petrol at hiked-up prices to those willing and able to pay to avoid the dangerous queues. One driver I encountered in Kirkuk was disgusted at the length of a queue we joined. "This city sleeps on a sea of oil and just look at us," he lamented.

Naturally, the biggest concern for Iraqis is security. The civilian death rate is higher than ever, and not a day passes without reports of dozens killed, whether it be from car bombs or sectarian murder. It has become second nature to brief your loved ones as they leave for work, school or the market, reeling off the list of streets and neighbourhoods that have become recent targets for suicide bombers or kidnap gangs, and reminding them to steer well clear.

Identifying particular districts with particular groups is easier than ever. Sectarian cleansing began in Baghdad and elsewhere immediately after the fall of the old regime, with Shias or Kurds going to Sunnis living in predominantly Shia or Kurdish areas, accusing them of being part of Saddam's regime and warning them to move out. Sectarian killings often followed. Sunnis fled in terror, leaving clearly defined Shia and Kurdish areas. Soon Sunnis adopted the same tactics, forcing Shias out of heavily populated Sunni areas such as al-Adhamiyah, Dora and Saidiya.

This is something new in Iraq, a break with history that many Sunnis and Shias are reluctant to acknowledge. I have heard people pour scorn on television news broadcasts warning of a sectarian war and point instead to the large number of mixed marriages in Iraq, said to account for almost 50 per cent of the popula- tion. In addition, they say, the religious leadership of both the Sunnis and Shias are working to calm their supporters and create harmony. Certainly many cross-community bonds survive. A prominent Shia woman, who served as a minister in the interim government of Iyad Alawi, told me she has five sisters and that four of them are married to Sunnis, as is she. She impressed on me how impossible it would be for her sisters to turn against their husbands and children, just because they came from a different branch of Islam. She felt this was the case for the many others across the country who have married into a different sect.

The general sense of insecurity is aggravated by the lack of organised and trustworthy policing. It is widely accepted that many crimes take place right under the noses of the police force, and that the police often fail to intervene and protect people targeted by gangs. The police themselves have been involved in kidnapping and murder. Many blame the increasingly powerful Shia militias that have infiltrated the police. Militia leaders also encouraged their troops to join the payroll of the interior ministry, and Sunni leaders complain that death squads attached to the ministry have killed large numbers of Sunnis.

The scale of death among Iraq's male population may even have unbalanced the country's demographics, with disastrous consequences for women. The number of widows is growing rapidly and the rate at which women are being kidnapped or forced into prostitution is increasing. On 8 March, International Women's Day, Yanar Mohammed, leader of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq, announced that more than 2,000 women have been kidnapped since the fall of the regime.

Many women live isolated lives, their social contact limited to conversations over the telephone. Those who continue going to work, particularly in the Shia south, can find themselves harassed by Islamic militias. "Morality police" in Basra are likely to stop them as they enter schools and government buildings, checking they are wearing the hijab. This Taliban-style enforcement continues despite guarantees under the new constitution that women should be free to choose how they dress.

Concepts of justice and law have little meaning for ordinary Iraqis. They watch the televised trial of Saddam Hussein, but it seems surreal - a kind of reality-TV show, but one far removed from their own reality. When Saddam is found guilty, as inevitably he will be, it will do little to change the grim and ever-worsening situation on the ground.

Zaki Chehab works for al-Hayat newspaper and for Lebanese broadcasting, and is the author of Iraq Ablaze (I B Tauris)

How can such an oil rich country as Iraq be in such in a mess. Wasn't it going to be subject to a new "Marshall Plan"?

'Iraq was awash in cash. We played football with bricks of $100 bills'
At the beginning of the Iraq war, the UN entrusted $23bn of Iraqi money to the US-led coalition to redevelop the country. With the infrastructure of the country still in ruins, where has all that money gone? Callum Macrae and Ali Fadhil on one of the greatest financial scandals of all time
The Guardian, Monday March 20, 2006

In a dilapidated maternity and paediatric hospital in Diwaniyah, 100 miles south of Baghdad, Zahara and Abbas, premature twins just two days old, lie desperately ill. The hospital has neither the equipment nor the drugs that could save their lives. On the other side of the world, in a federal courthouse in Virginia, US, two men - one a former CIA agent and Republican candidate for Congress, the other a former army ranger - are found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $3m (£1.7m) intended for the reconstruction of Iraq. These two events have no direct link, but they are none the less products of the same thing: a financial scandal that in terms of sheer scale must rank as one of the greatest in history.

At the start of the Iraq war, around $23bn-worth of Iraqi money was placed in the trusteeship of the US-led coalition by the UN. The money, known as the Development Fund for Iraq and consisting of the proceeds of oil sales, frozen Iraqi bank accounts and seized Iraqi assets, was to be used in a "transparent manner", specified the UN, for "purposes benefiting the people of Iraq".

For the past few months we have been working on a Guardian Films investigation into what happened to that money. What we discovered was that a great deal of it has been wasted, stolen or frittered away. For the coalition, it has been a catastrophe of its own making. For the Iraqi people, it has been a tragedy. But it is also a financial and political scandal that runs right to the heart of the nightmare that is engulfing Iraq today.

Diwaniyah is a sprawling and neglected city with just one small state paediatric and maternity hospital to serve its one million people. Years of war, corruption under Saddam and western sanctions have reduced the hospital to penury, so when last year the Americans promised total refurbishment, the staff were elated. But the renovation has been partial and the work often shoddy, and where it really matters - funding frontline health care - there appears to have been little change at all.

In the corridor, an anxious father who has been told his son may have meningitis is berating the staff. "I want a good hospital, not a terrible hospital that makes my child worse," he says. But then he calms down. "I'm not blaming you, we are the same class. I'm talking about important people. Those controlling all those millions and the oil. They didn't come here to save us from Saddam, they came here for the oil, and so now the oil is stolen and we got nothing from it." Beside him another parent, a woman, agrees: "If the people who run the country are stealing the money, what can we do?" For these ordinary Iraqis, it is clear that the country's wealth is being managed in much the same way as it ever was. How did it all go so wrong?

When the coalition troops arrived in Iraq, they were received with remarkable goodwill by significant sections of the population. The coalition had control up to a point and, perhaps more importantly, it had the money to consolidate that goodwill by rebuilding Iraq, or at least make a significant start. Best of all for the US and its allies, the money came from the Iraqis themselves.

Because the Iraqi banking system was in tatters, the funds were placed in an account with the Federal Reserve in New York. From there, most of the money was flown in cash to Baghdad. Over the first 14 months of the occupation, 363 tonnes of new $100 bills were shipped in - $12bn, in cash. And that is where it all began to go wrong.

"Iraq was awash in cash - in dollar bills. Piles and piles of money," says Frank Willis, a former senior official with the governing Coalition Provisional Authority. "We played football with some of the bricks of $100 bills before delivery. It was a wild-west crazy atmosphere, the likes of which none of us had ever experienced."

The environment created by the coalition positively encouraged corruption. "American law was suspended, Iraqi law was suspended, and Iraq basically became a free fraud zone," says Alan Grayson, a Florida-based attorney who represents whistleblowers now trying to expose the corruption. "In a free fire zone you can shoot at anybody you want. In a free fraud zone you can steal anything you like. And that was what they did."

A good example was the the Iraqi currency exchange programme (Ice). An early priority was to devote enormous resources to replacing every single Iraqi dinar showing Saddam's face with new ones that didn't. The contract to help distribute the new currency was won by Custer Battles, a small American security company set up by Scott Custer and former Republican Congressional candidate Mike Battles. Under the terms of the contract, they would invoice the coalition for their costs and charge 25% on top as profit. But Custer Battles also set up fake companies to produce inflated invoices, which were then passed on to the Americans. They might have got away with it, had they not left a copy of an internal spreadsheet behind after a meeting with coalition officials.

The spreadsheet showed the company's actual costs in one column and their invoiced costs in another; it revealed, in one instance, that it had charged $176,000 to build a helipad that actually cost $96,000. In fact, there was no end to Custer Battles' ingenuity. For example, when the firm found abandoned Iraqi Airways fork-lifts sitting in Baghdad airport, it resprayed them and rented them to the coalition for thousands of dollars. In total, in return for $3m of actual expenditure, Custer Battles invoiced for $10m. Perhaps more remarkable is that the US government, once it knew about the scam, took no legal action to recover the money. It has been left to private individuals to pursue the case, the first stage of which concluded two weeks ago when Custer Battles was ordered to pay more than $10m in damages and penalties.

But this is just one story among many. From one US controlled vault in a former Saddam palace, $750,000 was stolen. In another, a safe was left open. In one case, two American agents left Iraq without accounting for nearly $1.5m.

Perhaps most puzzling of all is what happened as the day approached for the handover of power (and the remaining funds) to the incoming Iraqi interim government. Instead of carefully conserving the Iraqi money for the new government, the Coalition Provisional Authority went on an extraordinary spending spree. Some $5bn was committed or spent in the last month alone, very little of it adequately accounted for.

One CPA official was given nearly $7m and told to spend it in seven days. "He told our auditors that he felt that there was more emphasis on the speed of spending the money than on the accountability for that money," says Ginger Cruz, the deputy inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction. Not all coalition officials were so honest. Last month Robert Stein Jr, employed as a CPA comptroller in south central Iraq, despite a previous conviction for fraud, pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal more than $2m and taking kickbacks in the form of cars, jewellery, cash and sexual favours. It seems certain he is only the tip of the iceberg. There are a further 50 criminal investigations under way.

Back in Diwaniyah it is a story about failure and incompetence, rather than fraud and corruption. Zahara and Abbas, born one and a half months premature, are suffering from respiratory distress syndrome and are desperately ill. The hospital has just 14 ancient incubators, held together by tape and wire.

Zahara is in a particularly bad way. She needs a ventilator and drugs to help her breathe, but the hospital has virtually nothing. Her father has gone into town to buy vitamin K on the black market, which he has been told his children will need. Zahara starts to deteriorate and in desperation the doctor holds a tube pumping unregulated oxygen against the child's nostrils. "This treatment is worse than primitive," he says. "It's not even medicine." Despite his efforts, the little girl dies; the next day her brother also dies. Yet with the right equipment and the right drugs, they could have survived.

How is it possible that after three years of occupation and billions of dollars of spending, hospitals are still short of basic supplies? Part of the cause is ideological tunnel-vision. For months before the war the US state department had been drawing up plans for the postwar reconstruction, but those plans were junked when the Pentagon took over.

To supervise the reconstruction of the Iraqi health service, the Pentagon appointed James Haveman, a former health administrator from Michigan. He was also a loyal Bush supporter, who had campaigned for Jeb Bush, and a committed evangelical Christian. But he had virtually no experience in international health work.

The coalition's health programme was by any standards a failure. Basic equipment and drugs should have been distributed within months - the coalition wouldn't even have had to pay for it. But they missed that chance, not just in health, but in every other area of life in Iraq. As disgruntled Iraqis will often point out, despite far greater devastation and crushing sanctions, Saddam did more to rebuild Iraq in six months after the first Gulf war than the coalition has managed in three years.

Kees Reitfield, a health professional with 20 years' experience in post-conflict health care from Kosovo to Somalia, was in Iraq from the very beginning of the war and looked on in astonishment at the US management in its aftermath. "Everybody in Iraq was ready for three months' chaos," he says. "They had water for three months, they had food for three months, they were ready to wait for three months. I said, we've got until early August to show an improvement, some drugs in the health centres, some improvement of electricity in the grid, some fuel prices going down. Failure to deliver will mean civil unrest." He was right.

Of course, no one can say that if the Americans had got the reconstruction right it would have been enough. There were too many other mistakes as well, such as a policy of crude "deBa'athification" that saw Iraqi expertise marginalised, the creation of a sectarian government and the Americans attempting to foster friendship with Iraqis who themselves had no friends among other Iraqis.

Another experienced health worker, Mary Patterson - who was eventually asked to leave Iraq by James Haveman - characterises the Coalition's approach thus: "I believe it had a lot to do with showing that the US was in control," she says. "I believe that it had to do with rewarding people that were politically loyal. So rather than being a technical agenda, I believe it was largely a politically motivated reward-and-punishment kind of agenda."

Which sounds like the way Saddam used to run the country. "If you were to interview Iraqis today about what they see day to day," she says, "I think they will tell you that they don't see a lot of difference".

You say you shouldn't gloat, and it is bad manners, but more and more of the cheerleaders for this imperial adventure are giving us their mea culpas. However, the Grinning Chimp and his cohorts in the White House are sticking to their guns (and not afraid to use them, are you, Dick?!).

As Greg Palast argues, the Bushies are quite happy with what they have acheived thus far.

Bush Didn't Bungle Iraq, You Fools
Greg Palast, The Guardian, Monday, March 20, 2006

Get off it. All the carping, belly-aching and complaining about George Bush's incompetence in Iraq, from both the Left and now the Right, is just dead wrong.

On the third anniversary of the tanks rolling over Iraq's border, most of the 59 million Homer Simpsons who voted for Bush are beginning to doubt if his mission was accomplished.

But don't kid yourself -- Bush and his co-conspirator, Dick Cheney, accomplished exactly what they set out to do. In case you've forgotten what their real mission was, let me remind you of White House spokesman Ari Fleisher's original announcement, three years ago, launching of what he called,




O.I.L. How droll of them, how cute. Then, Karl Rove made the giggling boys in the White House change it to "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the 101st Airborne wasn't sent to Basra to get its hands on Iraq's OIF.

"It's about oil," Robert Ebel told me. Who is Ebel? Formerly the CIA's top oil analyst, he was sent by the Pentagon, about a month before the invasion, to a secret confab in London with Saddam's former oil minister to finalize the plans for "liberating" Iraq's oil industry. In London, Bush's emissary Ebel also instructed Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum, the man the Pentagon would choose as post-OIF oil minister for Iraq, on the correct method of disposing Iraq's crude.

And what did the USA want Iraq to do with Iraq's oil? The answer will surprise many of you: and it is uglier, more twisted, devilish and devious than anything imagined by the most conspiracy-addicted blogger. The answer can be found in a 323-page plan for Iraq's oil secretly drafted by the State Department. Our team got a hold of a copy; how, doesn't matter. The key thing is what's inside this thick Bush diktat: a directive to Iraqis to maintain a state oil company that will "enhance its relationship with OPEC."

Enhance its relationship with OPEC??? How strange: the government of the United States ordering Iraq to support the very OPEC oil cartel which is strangling our nation with outrageously high prices for crude.

Specifically, the system ordered up by the Bush cabal would keep a lid on Iraq's oil production -- limiting Iraq's oil pumping to the tight quota set by Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel.

There you have it. Yes, Bush went in for the oil -- not to get more of Iraq's oil, but to prevent Iraq producing too much of it.

You must keep in mind who paid for George's ranch and Dick's bunker: Big Oil. And Big Oil -- and their buck-buddies, the Saudis -- don't make money from pumping more oil, but from pumping less of it. The lower the supply, the higher the price.

It's Economics 101. The oil industry is run by a cartel, OPEC, and what economists call an "oligopoly" -- a tiny handful of operators who make more money when there's less oil, not more of it. So, every time the "insurgents" blow up a pipeline in Basra, every time Mad Mahmoud in Tehran threatens to cut supply, the price of oil leaps. And Dick and George just love it.

Dick and George didn't want more oil from Iraq, they wanted less. I know some of you, no matter what I write, insist that our President and his Veep are on the hunt for more crude so you can cheaply fill your family Hummer; that somehow, these two oil-patch babies are concerned that the price of gas in the USA is bumping up to $3 a gallon.

Not so, gentle souls. Three bucks a gallon in the States (and a quid a litre in Britain) means colossal profits for Big Oil, and that makes Dick's ticker go pitty-pat with joy. The top oily-gopolists, the five largest oil companies, pulled in $113 billion in profit in 2005 -- compared to a piddly $34 billion in 2002 before Operation Iraqi Liberation. In other words, it's been a good war for Big Oil.

As per Plan Bush, Bahr Al-Ulum became Iraq's occupation oil minister; the conquered nation "enhanced its relationship with OPEC;" and the price of oil, from Clinton peace-time to Bush war-time, shot up 317%.

In other words, on the third anniversary of invasion, we can say the attack and occupation is, indeed, a Mission Accomplished. However, it wasn't America's mission, nor the Iraqis'. It was a Mission Accomplished for OPEC and Big Oil.

Of course, when Bush opens his mouth, another quote from 'The Scottish Play' comes to mind...

"...a poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing." (Act V, Scene V).


Blogger sevenpointman said...

The plan I am sending you has been approved by many prominent thinkers and
activists in the field. Which includes: Benjamin Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor
at the Nuremburg Trials, Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Anthony Arnove, Danny Schecter,
Tony Benn- Former Member of the British parliament ,Reggie Rivers,
Robert Jenkins, Andrew Bard Schmookler and others.
I formulated this plan in September 2004, based on a comprehensive
study of the issues. For my plan to be successful it must be implemented
with all seven points beginning to happen within a very short period of
I have run up against a wall of doubt about my plan due to it's
rational nature ,and due to it's adherence to placing the blame on the
invaders, and then trying to formulate a process of extrication which would
put all entities in this conflict face to face, to begin to finally solve
the dilemmas that exist.
If you read my plan you will see that it is guided by a reasonable
and practical compromise that could end this war and alleviate the
internecine civil violence that is confronting Iraq at this juncture in it's
I am making a plea for my plan to be put into action on a wide-scale.
I need you to circulate it and use all the persuasion you have to bring it
to the attention of those in power.
Just reading my plan and sending off an e-mail to me that you received
it will not be enough.

This war must end-we who oppose it can do this by using my plan.
We must fight the power and end the killing.

If you would like to view some comments and criticism about my plan
I direct you to my blog: sevenpointman

Thank you my dear friend,

Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces
must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be
applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to
representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These
representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The
individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire,
witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually
signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the
foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within
sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the
effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will
protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military
and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in
the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in
increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar
and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary
land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops
will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated
in the theater, if the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly
formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international
ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a
majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they
arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six
month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the
designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above
mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to
the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with
the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making
null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul
Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries
will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both
Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity
and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board
together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that
Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18
autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international
experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the
creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a
voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the
names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives.
When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be
allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five
individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a
National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international
observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up
of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US
and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the
temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative
duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the
representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months
from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose
their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the
principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is
able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace
period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any
structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for
its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty
years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as
investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who
are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National
representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this
Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to
choose freely their own lawyers.

5:22 am  
Blogger Anglonoel said...

Or we could just pull out unconditionally & let the Iraqis sort their own problems out.

8:02 am  
Blogger sevenpointman said...


Unfortunatly we created all those problems-so we should be responsible in trying to alleviate them, without continuing to impose our own standards.

4:44 pm  
Blogger Anglonoel said...

Surely if we created these problems why should the Iraqis believe that we can alleviate them? It seems your plan is based on the questionable assumption that there's trust on all sides.

Furthermore, what's with the use of "we"? I had nothing to do with the decision to invade and occupy Iraq. I take it that Bush and Blair have been presented with your plan.

11:34 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home