Life in Basra


We have spent 30 months working with the local Iraqi police in Basra. Hundreds of millions of British taxpayers’ money have gone on the rebuilding of the institutions of civic society, of which the police are the key component. We have coached them, drilled them, exhorted them and recruited them. Swarms of MPs and journalists have been flown out to admire the change we are wreaking. And what is the net result?

The war in Iraq was based on a lie – and policing Basra is an illusion

What a shambles. What chaos. And how quickly it all seems to be getting worse. Looking at those pictures of a Basra jail, pulverised by the British Army, it seems hard to believe that it was only six months ago that the very same British Army took me to see a jail in the very same city.

I was there with a couple of Labour MPs, and a leading Welsh Nat, and we inspected the premises in our best Duke-of-Edinburgh way, smiles stitched tightly on, hands behind backs, and we all agreed that it was really rather impressive. I am not suggesting that a Basra jail is exactly a Mark Warner holiday – I remember the terrible fug and the black hole full of 34 juvenile offenders, some of them in for rape and murder, and the way they clutched at my legs and begged for “forgiveness”.


I remember the poor illiterate Iranian women and their children, the terrible sanitation, the gap-toothed grins on the faces of the men who crowded round the bars as we passed.

But on the whole, we MPs were agreed that much good was being done here, and being done by the British. The governor sat on his plastic brown armchair and gave a long speech of thanks to HMG, and I noted that we were instructing the Iraqis in some precious ideas: the concept of habeas corpus, the notion that a suspect was entitled to a lawyer, the complete inadmissibility of torture or beating – that kind of thing. Then we were bundled back into our flak jackets and into the armoured convoy, and I came away with the impression – whether brainwashed or not – that Britain and the fledgling Iraqi government were working together, with the utmost dedication, to rebuild public confidence in a humane and durable criminal justice system.

And now, on Monday, I learn the reality of the relations between the British forces and the Iraqi police.

To understand the extent of the breakdown in trust – the trust that was ostentatiously paraded before the four of us MPs – you have to understand the full sequence of what happened in Basra on Monday.
First, the two SAS soldiers, travelling undercover, refused to produce their documents when challenged by an Iraqi police roadblock. Why? Because they knew that the Iraqi police force in Basra is now completely riddled with extremist Shia elements, and they were in fear of their lives.

Consider the symbolic importance of that. We have spent 30 months working with the local Iraqi police in Basra. Hundreds of millions of British taxpayers’ money have gone on the rebuilding of the institutions of civic society, of which the police are the key component. We have coached them, drilled them, exhorted them and recruited them. Swarms of MPs and journalists have been flown out to admire the change we are wreaking. And what is the net result? It is not that the Basra police suffer from the odd bad apple; no, it’s like the denouement of a nightmare Hollywood cop movie, in which you discover that virtually the entire force has been corrupted.

In May this year, Basra’s police chief admitted that 75 per cent of his coppers were now loyal to one Shia faction or another, and were involved in attacks on coalition forces – for which candour he was sacked. So no wonder the two SAS men shot and killed a man, and no wonder that the Iraqi police wanted to detain them. One of their officers had been killed, and one can imagine that they wanted a judicial process. It seems only reasonable.

But then again it was also reasonable of Brig John Lorimer to decide to spring the SAS men from the clink because, by the evening, there had been a total breakdown in the Iraqis’ own system of authority. The interior ministry in Baghdad had ordered the release of the men, and the local cops had refused, at which point the British Army decided – almost certainly correctly – that the lives of two men were at risk and began a rescue operation. In the course of which British tanks flattened the vehicles of Iraqi police, British soldiers fired on Iraqi law enforcers, and the British Army – the Army that has tried so hard to help rebuild the authority of Iraqi policemen – contrived to smash a hole through the wall of this Basra clink, destroying the very locus and habitation of that nascent authority, and – or so it is said – allowing about 100 prisoners to escape.

Imagine you are a local Shia, and you have tried for months to persuade yourself that these British guys are not so bad. They might not be able to get the electricity going, and they might not be helping with the sewage, you say to yourself, but at least they are on the side of law and order. Then you see them smashing up the local police station. How do you feel? Do you feel moved to sign up to one of the militias? I wouldn’t be surprised.

With the growing insurgency in the Sunni triangle, things now seem so bad in Iraq that we who supported the war can only hope – hope that we Brits are still contriving to do some good in that other prison, and that our MPs’ inspection was not a complete illusion; and hope that we will be able to extricate ourselves, when the Iraqis decide, having begun the work of installing democracy.

Whatever we achieve in Iraq, we will not have made our own world safer, or made the risk of terrorism less likely: quite the reverse. Perhaps it is just my paranoia, but there was something too neat about the way the British authorities released the new pictures of the four suicide bombers this week, not just to take the heat out of the Basra story, but also subliminally to remind the public of the claim with which Blair invaded Iraq – that it was part of the “war on terror”. That claim was a lie, and whatever good may come out of the Iraq war, we should never forget that it was based on that lie.

67 thoughts on “Life in Basra”

  1. Brilliant, Boris! Said every single thing that crossed my mind about this incident/situation. It (what happened in Basra) has got to be one of the greatest pieces of irony I’ve seen in a long time.

  2. What can one add to that account? I have opposed the war right from the beginning. I never believed the information that was put forward by Bush/Blair to justify it, and yet, at every stage of the conflict, the consequences have been consistently worse than I expected.

    Iraq will not become a stable democracy because the various religious and tribal groupings there cannot develop into political parties as we know them in the west.

    Moreover no-one is willing to address the long-term Kurdish problem. The Kurds are the largest national group in the world that do not have their own country. They will remain a de-stabilizing force in Iraq until their aspiration for their own state is met.

  3. The withdrawal of the coalition forces is long overdue . The original euphoria the Iraqis felt at being released from Saddam’s oppression has long since faded into nebulous hate , or, at the very least,strong resentment for the so called saviours of Iraq: things are worse now for the majority, in practical terms , than prior to the war.
    It is stiil regarded by many as illegal iterference in the internal affairs of a Sovereign State ; it is certainly immoral, and each passing day brings losses to all sides which none can afford, either in cash terms or in real human terms of deaths. It is ” Get Out Time”, and NOW. The unquestioning compliance with the Bush Administrations false premise that invasion was inevitable, because of the WMD theoretical threat, is long past any sell by date it may once have half merited. We do not need to lose anothe single soldier to realise the time is ripe, and if Bliar wishes to pull at least a few of his chestnuts out of the fire , he couldn’t do it in a better way . In the words ( nearly) of KG V, Bugger Basra.

  4. I dared not read this article in it’s entirety, lest I was forced to say the words that I could never foresee my saying. (“I agree with you, Boris”).
    Damn, that hurt.

  5. Andrew Denny: It is a pity that you do not appear to understand the greater picture: horses can be led to water, but not made to drink, and I think that to draw the analogy : horses are to water , what Iraqis are to peaceful coexistence, we might better understand the problem. I have great sorrow for what has happened in Iraq, and even more precisely, for the recent happenings in Basra; however, if the best efforts of the British military are rewarded by Iraqi Ministerial claims that Britain lied when stating that our troops had been handed over to the tender mercies of a subversive group,when pour intelligence had been received to confirm the allegation ,I repeat that it is time we came out. We are no longer welcome.

    If our presence is not appreciated, despite the sacrifices our troops have made,we should exit , and quickly.

    I am sure that when King George the fifth said what he did about Bognor, (he was on his death bed at the time), he meant it.

  6. Andrew Denny: ” I happen to think more of Iraq than [Macarnie].”

    Can you possibly explain? Why do you think “more of Iraq”? Should British troops remain there? If so, what is the objective? How can staying on be justified if the local authorities no longer want our troops to be there?

  7. Why were undercover British special forces agents, dressed as Iraqi civilians, driving a car laden with explosives and rigged in exactly the same fashion as a suicide bomber’s vehicle, through the streets of Basra?

    And why no detail as to how, when they were challenged by police, they shot and killed one, got temporarily away and were then caught again and (nearly lynched) arrested and thrown into jail before being “rescued” by their “regular” BA comrades who crashed two tanks through the wall of Basra jail, releasing in the process 150 other criminals upon the Iraqi public?
    This was quite clearly a “false flag” operation, with coalition troops, these ones British, planning on detonating a “suicide bomb” and blaming it on the Iraqi insurgency. Has it ever been any different? Does anyone now seriously doubt that the British apparatus was wholly complicit in the Dublin/Monaghan bombings for exactly the same reason?
    To try to fan the flames of an all-out religious war?

    http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=7366

  8. I’m quite dubious as to how we know these facts… I’m willing to accept Boris’ suggestion that the police in Iraq are riddles with extremists, especially if his story of the police chief is true, and I trust the British Army to follow their orders well and reliably. But other than that I’m not sure which sources can be trusted.

    The fact is that there are only two ways to successfully run states like Iraq, which are unused to democracy. Either you rule them with strength and oppression of minorities (like Saddam), or you partition it to get the majority of each faction on other sides of the border governing themselves (like we did when we left nearly all of our colonies).

    Neither of them work very well, as we all know, but there are only two ways I can think of to create a successful democracy. The first is a revolution from the people, in which they’re determined to create a democracy themselves. Or else a democracy has to invade them and rule it dictatorially for about 5-10 years, but with a strong rule of law and the normal extras of a free state (habeas corpus, no torture, etc.); after which you create the democracy. That way the institutions (courts, prisons, etc. with appropriate staff) are already firmly in place when the transfer to democracy takes place.

    What we attempted, of trying to do everything at once was clearly doomed to failure from the start.

  9. I had reservations about the Iraq war from the beginning and plenty of things have been bungled. However, I say this just to be fair:

    1. We don’t know, and never will know, whether it was right to use force to ovethrow Saddam Hussain or not, since we don’t know what would have happened had he been left in power.

    If Saddam were in power, would he have invaded Kuwait again as soon as the Americans were distracted elsewhere in the world? and/or decided that the time had come for a Final Solution to the Kurdish problem? Or resumed work on missiles to fire at Israel, provoking retaliation or pre-emptive strikes?

    We can see the ill effects of the intervention, but we don’t knoiw what it has averted and whether it would have been better or worse.

    2. Those most indignant that the USA and UK intervened militarily in Iraq are usually the same people loudest in blaming them for NOT intervening in Rwanda, Darfur, Tibet etc.

    E.g. compare the way that the Independent newspaper for a time alternated front page stories condemning the US intervention that at least overthrew a murderous government in Iraq with equally forthright condemnations of the Americans for NOT intervening to stop the violence in Darfur in the Sudan, although on legal and humanitarian grounds the situations were not that different.

    Blaming the Americans for everything is the easy and fashionable option, until you consider what the world would be like if American power was not there, and we had nothing to restrain the more dangerous dictators in the world but paper laws and resolutions.

    3. Since our forces are in Iraq now, and the Iraqis may be on the point of approving a constitution about as close to democratically as one can reasonably expect in the circumstances, at least give them the chance to do that, and to leave them with some sort of government before we abandon the country completely.

  10. Hector( aptly named for a war zone),asks:-

    Why were British army personnel driving a civilian car complete with an arsenal of weapons , and sufficient tools to enable them to break into , and presumably out of, almost anywhere: tools of the trade in such circles , I would have thought.

    He skirts the problem by referring, only in passing, that they were ” special forces”, it was in fact reported that it was an SAS unit .The remit of the SAS is to act covertly when necessary, and it would ,I presume, not have been apposite if they had been flying a banner, proclaiming “Who dares wins”. Rather defeats the object; don’t you think.?

    What exactly they were doing at that precise location and time? In such circumstances it is usually a matter for “Eyes only”; and no amount of probing by outside agencies would bear fruit, if that were, in fact, the case.

    In view of the diplomatic situation now arisen from the incident, where Iraqi officials are demanding an apology; I suggest we send them the final invoice for services rendered, and withdraw. I hear today that Michael Howard has said that now is NOT the time to leave. Is one allowed to ask, “When will that time be”, with a chance of an answer?

    As for the lack of action in the other places Hector mentions: – the quick & easy answer as to why no action was taken there, is presumably because oil is not present in these countries, a cynical answer; but one which seems to make sense.

    The result of our leaving former Colonies , as Jack Target said, was in many of the countries concerned, the opening of the sluice gates for general mayhem , and even today there is much corruption and general disarray in the upper echelons of government: extending at times even as far as the Executive Branch. Poverty is rife amongst the common people, whilst extreme wealth and privilege is enjoyed by the few.

    The Americans, having taken over the mantel of global policeman, for better or worse, are used to taking kicks when kisses should perhaps, be expected. Britain got used to it, and the brickbats were not too hard to take.

    A blueprint for a democratic Constitution in Iraq must pass muster by referendum first , before one can safely say that approval of such were close. The differences between the factions are not insignificant. We must just hope that good sense prevails.

  11. “But on the whole, we MPs were agreed that much good was being done here, and being done by the British.”

    That was rather naive of you Boris – according to several impeccable journalistic sources the British reign in the South of the country has been rather brutal since its inception. I would have expected more of you than to simply join the float of cheerleaders… even 6 months ago.

  12. An informed observer writes:
    “What could be done? I think the British may as well leave the south, because the local Shiite militias, however problematic, are preventing large-scale guerrilla violence and don’t need the British. The Basra police don’t even want the British there, after the British were preceived to have violated Iraqi sovereignty by freeing two captured British intelligence operatives.

    “If the British leave, the militias will be strengthened. But it is going to happen one day, anyway, so it might as well be now. The nine southern, largely Shiite provinces are not a likely site of a civil war, so why garrison them with foreigners? The US troops have now left Najaf, and the British should leave Basra.”
    http://www.juancole.com/

  13. The current situation in Iraq is exactly what was prophesised by everyone with a glint of intelligence.

    It is why I was opposed to the war.

    Saddam HAD to go, he was an evil leader with no regard for human life or rights. That being said, war should never have been the option. We can’t afford it, and its impact on our economy has now resulted in an expression of concern about our economic stability from the IMF.

    Let’s face it…the war wasn’t about removing an evil dictator, it was about securing the worlds second largest oil deposits. And we failed at this (mainly due to being involved with the septics).

    I have the deepest sympathy for all our armed forces in the region. The poor sods are just following the orders of another of the worlds evil dictators…well, two of them actually (Bush and Blair). They (our forces) are exceptional men and women, willing to risk their lives for this country. How dare Blair needlessly put them at risk.

    We have possibly the best army in the world. I talked, recently, with a US soldier that had served in the gulf. He said that he thought the American army was the best trained army in the world. Then he worked with the British, and they showed him he was wrong. We should not waste them in this pointless “police” action. It is unfortunate that Blair’s desire to suck up to Dubya has led to this situation, for I now can’t see how we CAN leave Iraq.

    As far as I’m concerned, Blair is a war criminal. He should be removed from office and face prosecution. I would love to give my full opinion of him, but my language would not be deemed acceptable for this site!!

    There have been photos of the equipment seized from the SAS boys who were caught. None of it is “suicide bomber” stuff. Laser designator, GPS, Arms and Ammo, etc. Just the kind of stuff for setting up a “surgical strike”, but not exactly suitable for the allegations of false flag operations that the disinformants are currently howling about.

    And thereby lies the problem. How are we supposed to filter out the information from the misinformation and the disinformation? Especially as the majority of our media is owned by a single person, who recently claimed Blair was all-but-in his pocket?

    Answers on a postcard….

    :o(

    Psi

  14. To be honest, while the language is a little heavy-handed for me, I partly agree with Psimon on this.

    I’m hoping to become an army officer when I finish at university, and as such I’ve been on a few familiarisation visits and so on, the aim being for us (the potential officers) to learn what life is like for both soldiers and officers in the army. There are some things which I would criticise the army for, but they do have one amazing thing going for them which is their ability to improvise. The funding to the army is continually cut, and instead of complaining about it and striking (imagine what might happen in an equivalent situation in france), they create new ways of doing things. There are countless examples of this, but one of the most relevant perhaps is how they’ve responded to being grossly overstretched by the government.

    The British Army is intended to have about 1/3 of it’s force on operations at any one time. With another 1/3 having just come back, and the last 1/3 training and preparing to be deployed. Of course, the army can be entirely mobilised in extreme situations, but it can’t function like that for extended periods. Unfortunately, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with all the other deployments in places like Kosovo, Cyprus, and of course Northern Ireland, they are currently operating with around 45% of their troops abroad, with soldiers currently spending only about half of any year at home. It can’t function like this, and it’s beginning to show in the troops morale and the lack of working equipment. However, rather than telling the government that they can’t operate without more money for more soldiers and equipment, they’re attempting to change the 1/3-1/3-1/3 system to something which allows the army to operate under the new stresses.

    This is what the army has done for years, and it is what has made ours one of the best in the world, despite also being one of the smallest. In fact I once heard an officer joking that we really needed to lose a war, because we keep winning them, and so the government assumes that they don’t need as much money and so cut the military budget, then they adapt and win again and again, so the government does the same. Perhaps the war in Iraq will show the government that the army really don’t have what they need to do their job.

    It is astonishing that the politicians have managed to run such a bad war that an army like this is pushed past its limits. I think that Psi’s view of Blair has quite a bit of merit, the war in Iraq was a disaster for nearly everyone involved, on either side, and there are only 2 people who are responsible for letting that happen.

  15. Psimon: all but missed the rhyming slang in the opening couple of paragraphs. Dead right as per the two “leaders” for whose actions ( or lack of them),we shall be paying for years to come.

    The hate, engendered amongst the Iraqis,against the once hailed saviours, frustrated at not having an end to the enormous changes to their lives is perhaps ,understandable. Saddam is gone , but there are only foreigners in his place; not even of the same or similar faith; who are apparently unable to deal effectively; once and for all, with the increasingly murderous acts of insurgency.

    We are no longer welcome, and if what was today reported in the press is true ,not only is the UK being told to apologise for looking after its own troops, but we are having to pay Iraqi witnesses attest to the truth of the allegations against against our own soldiers.

    Is this Alice Through the Looking Glass country ? It’s a war, not the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

    Britain,as a country is approaching a huge hole, into which , if this Government does not act quickly,is going to fall .We are overspending, in every department, and yet , despite the fiscal cock up which is apparently being unsuccessfully suppressed , we are still pouring money into an unwinnable war,( remember Vietnam?). which we , the majority of the electorate did not, and do not, want or support.
    If I might paraphrase what a German general once so famously said, ” The British have an army of lions, led by a supreme leader who is a donkey” . He is I would suggest , to George Dubbya ; what Schroeder is to Chirac; a lickspittle and a ditherer:a poodle, anxious to please his master.

  16. Boris – you’re showing admirable and slightly disorientating signs of being that rare thing in British politics: a politician who’s capable of re-examining previous positions and then, finding them wanting, of coming up with constructive comments based on new knowledge.

    Which is a rather pompous way of saying you know how to change your mind. The lady may not have been for turning, but Boris just might be. I say hurrah.

  17. Latest Bliarism:
    “All those who are anti Iraq war are not worth thinking about as potential Labour supporters. We must concentrate more on the hard core Labour voter”, was then the follow up.
    The wording is not exact , it was less well put, and condescendingly insulting to anyone capable of independent thought: however, the sentiment is the same. ( I’m sure someone will make the quote accurately).

    If we are to take these words at their nominal value, the Labour voter is actually seen as someone who will agree, right or wrong, with what Tony wants: seems to me that they are being vastly underestimated. I don’t think that they will agree to this devaluation. I do not know anyone who wishes this war to continue. Does anybody ???

  18. I supported the Coalition intervention in Iraq, with reservations, and still do, with more and different reservations. My reservations are both those of ignorance ‘ I don’t know the full story ‘ and of belief – my limited knowledge leads me to believe that some things could have been done differently with a better outcome.

    Saddam had been in power for decades during which he established a fascist state. Various governments, including democratic governments in the West, had supported him at times against other dictatorships in the area, particularly during the cold war. As I have said elsewhere it is the case that a democracy cannot always pick its allies for their democratic credentials. Alliance with the Stalinist Soviet Union was seen as a lesser evil than accommodation with Nazi Germany.

    He had demonstrated both his vicious ruthlessness towards the people of Iraq – they were not ‘his people’ and it really annoys me when people on either side of this argument talk of how he ‘oppressed his own people’ as if he were a slightly eccentric and cranky family elder – and his readiness to invade others as with Kuwait.

    His unwillingness to comply with the UN and his game playing about inspections and so on led to sanctions. Even when the UN tried the humanitarian path of oil for food, this was undermined, by Saddam and the less noble servants of the UN and others.

    Saddamist Iraq had form both as a totalitarian state that massacred people under its immediate control and showed willingness to invade others for territorial gain. It was unwilling to let weapons inspectors carry out their work. This marks it out as a dangerous state.

    Sometimes the arguments against intervention are based on the idea that states are like individuals and just because we don’t like what they do we shouldn’t stop them doing it if they do not directly affect us. This is wrong. It didn’t apply to apartheid South Africa where sanctions were supported even though South Africa showed no sign of wishing to invade elsewhere. If a state oppresses the people under its control then it is not immune from justified intervention. When and how that intervention takes place is a question of political realities. Once again democracies often sup with the devil, we must pray that their spoons are long. It would be politically and militarily unwise to intervene directly in China because (a) it’s very big and (b) the process of liberalization seems to have started with the advent of the free market and travel to the West. There is no reason to restrict criticism of the Chinese state and its actions. The Soviet Union was constantly criticized and people from the West supported clandestine democratic groups but we did not go to war because the result would have been far worse than the disease.

    The terrorist attacks on America demonstrated that the problems of the Middle East could spill over into the West. Once again I speak from partial ignorance but I have met and got on well with quite a number of people from the various countries of the Middle East. I suspect that the picture is neither one of a mass of people yearning for parliamentary democracy and a constitution written by John Locke, nor a mass of people hell bent on doing down the Great Satan and his appendages. Rather I feel that most people would like to see their families grow up, perhaps in a more traditional way than most of us in GB do, but not having any initial special animosity towards us. With that there is despair that this is often very difficult. The electronic media can work both ways. You can see that there are both material and non-material goods to aspire too yet easily become understandably resentful that you have no access. There is a high degree of anti-Jewish feeling, exacerbated by radical and non-radical Imans, that gives a cause and a ideology for the young disaffected. And there are those such as Osama bin Laden who exploit this. He was reported as laughing when he watched the video of the planes hitting the towers not least because many of the hijackers apparently believed that they were on a hostage taking mission not a suicide mission.

    It is often said that Saddam was not a threat because his was a secular state, albeit dominated by a minority Islamic sect. However it has been explicitly stated by Al-Quaieda (excuse spelling) that they are willing to work with even atheists to destroy the Jewish-US devils. Certainly the UK Antiwar Coalition is a broad church with Islamicists, Marxists and other atheists on its council.

    If Saddam has stayed on in power then what might have been the likely consequences? As Yoga Berri said ‘it is difficult to make predictions especially about the future’ or in this case an alternative present. There is probably a reasonable utilitarian argument that more people would have died, based on Saddam’s previous record. What would have happened on his death or fall from power? Possibly his two ghastly sons would have run the show for a while. More likely it would have been an immediate civil war with the minority Sunnis desperate to retain their position. We see the shadow of this in Iraq today. And, whatever the truth of his weapons capability at the time, there seems no doubt that he would seek to acquire biological and other weapons.

    However the first two do not constitute a full justification. Democracy is making a painful and erratic progress in the world. Where countries are still based on closed societies and forms of tribalism, this is more difficult. Where countries are locked into this, as is most of the Arab world, then this leads to hostility to the idea of democracy. Islamicists often say that Islam does not need democracy and point to the decadence of our own society. (At least we don’t have reality stoning on TV). Of course many Muslims and in particular Arab Muslims want a more liberal society. They may not like Jews that much but they don’t necessarily want to see them driven into the sea and feel that maybe the Arabs themselves could do more for the Palestinians.

    So what should the West do? One route is the accommodation of the Islamacists, which won’t be satisfied by a two state solution to the problems of the Palestinians, or even by the complete destruction of Israel and daily apologies from the CofE. True the Islamacists have a great swathe of the masses behind them, based on the ideology of hate for the Jews and the West. The results of the Iranian, though non-Arab, election show this is a powerful force, though there are many in Iran who do look to liberal democracy rather than mass demagoguery.

    Saddam may have been secular – certainly one of his heroes was that other great secularist J. Stalin. However his views of Jews and the US were probably as robust as any Islamacist.

    Couple the determination to acquire weapons with the Saddamist state and its oppression on the one hand and its potential weakness on the death of Saddam on the other, together with the implications for the whole area, and I think there is a pretty good argument for intervention with the aim of planting the seeds of democracy. Remember that there were millions of exiled Iraqis, many of whom were various sorts of democrats, (liberal, conservative or socialist) who could play a part.

    Now I recall George Bush saying that things were going take some time. The media got up the idea that the Coalition believed Eden would be restored overnight as in a Hollywood movie. They, the media, spoke of a Stalingrad like resistance in Baghdad. The situation seems to more that a majority of the population resents the presence of foreign troops but doesn’t want them to go yet. It can’t be good to think that foreigners are needed to help run your country. However, despite intimidation millions participated in the election. The process of getting a stable government together lurches from crisis to crisis. That doesn’t mean it has failed. I certainly don’t have any clear picture of the balance of forces as far as those wanting some sort of liberal, perhaps Islamically tinged, democracy and those wanting to retain tribal Islamacism are concerned.

    During the course of the intervention many mistakes have been made. Some were avoidable. I hold to the view that maintaining some of the Baathist state machinery for a transitional period may have been useful. The mistreatment of prisoners could well have been avoided by a better training regime. However, for the reasons I have attempted to sketch above, I believe it was right to intervene and it is right to stay on since there is still a good deal that potentially can be achieved for the West and the people of Iraq.

    Incidentally I note that the version of this article in the Spectator ends somewhat differently though not contradicting. It calls for the troops to stay in Iraq as long as the Iraqi governement wants them there.

    Sorry for the length of this comment but I can’t see how to say it in a shorter space.

    If you are still reading thank you!

  19. No. Disagreed with it in the first place and what I can’t understand is…if the war is based on a lie and Blair clearly lied to parliament – why is he still there? Why has he not been impeached? Why is he STILL getting away with it? As Ian (real man) Hislop once pointed out – because an ineffectual opposition is letting him!

  20. Well said, Jaq.

    That nail has just been struck firmly on the head by your good self.

    However, providing we draw a line underneath it it’s all all right anyway. Tony said so!

    I thought Boris was one of the MPs trying to get Blair impeached for his lies? What’s happened there, then?

    ;o)

    Psi

  21. I get the impression that there is more interest in potting the prime minister than a discussion of what sort of foreign policy the UK should have. I would be interested in hearing

    (1)what sort of general policy for the middle east others might suggest
    (2) whether others are in favour of immediate troops out, exit strategy now or staying on for as long as the Iraqi government wants coalition troops there

    By all means impeach the PM – it sounds very exciting – but I am genuinely interested in what people are in favour of. Is it possible to have a two state solution for Israel and Palestine given the ancient hatred towards the Jews? Should the West ignore the middle east as not being their patch? Perhaps we should not consider Turkey for EU membership because (a) there are too many Muslims in Europe already or (b) it is patronising or (c) why should the Turks have Brussels inflicted on them?

    I have heard many things that force me to reconsider my position again and again but so far I have not heard a convincing (for me)alternative to intervention. (Doing nothing is an alternative but it doesn’t convince me.)

    Tony Blair may or may not have lied. Clearly if he did then he should be brought to account. But this is a separate issue that says little about whether it was right to intervene at the time and whether or not the Coalition should stay on.

    Incidentally I would be interested to know why David Kelly was in favour of the intervention in Iraq.

  22. The intervention in Iraq was unjustified. Therefore it was wrong. Whether Blair lied or not is important for the country, but not important in terms of the validity of the war in Iraq.

    To the best of my knowledge, Saddam had done nothing wrong in the few years before the war, certainly far less than many other extremist leaders of other states.

    Fair enough, he was not democratically elected, but then how many world leaders are? and especially how many are elected fairly?

    He killed many kurds and invaded Kuwait, but all a long time ago, and there is far worse persecution going on in other parts of the world (check N.Korea, China, various parts of africa).

    I’m sure he was torturing people occasionally in custody, but given the trouble we have had getting the alleged terrorists back to their own countries it’s obviously not a rare thing in the world. And look at Guantanamo Bay and the Iraqi Prisons.

    The fact that nobody seems to feel is that we’re no better than he is.
    – Democratic elections? of course, but the war on iraq is a good example of when something the population did not want took place without their consent.
    – Invasion of Kuwait???? This coming from the two nations who just illegally (indeed not just without, but against, the recomendations of the UN) invaded Iraq.
    – Illegal weapons? Are you kidding me? even if the allegations were true, then we have far far more than he could have done.
    – He was more likely to use them? The only country that has ever used these kind of weapons (at least, against another nation), is the USA! And look up the MLRS when you get a chance, both the USA, and to a lesser extent the UK used it in Iraq, and it is a disgusting weapon, causing massive and relatively indiscriminant damage.
    – Torture? ok, perhaps we do have one here, but the conditions in Guantanamo bay are not good (I assume, not that we could really know since the inmates are refused legal counsel), the prisons in Iraq played host to many incidents of torture, and we violate basic human rights on a regular basis too.

    We (as a nation, perhaps not individually) are a bunch of hypocrites if we use the morality argument against Saddam.

    The only reason I would have supported an attack on Iraq would be if the UN requested it for good reason, and they clearly didn’t, even despite the efforts of two security council members.

  23. Goodonya, Jack Target.

    Regarding gassing the Kurds:

    Stephen C. Pelletiere (the Central Intelligence Agency’s senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war) has consistently asserted since 1992, the evidence was that Iran, not Iraq, was responsible.

    Please see:

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2098.htm

    Regarding torture of Iraqi detainees, please see:

    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20050923/ts_alt_afp/usiraqprisonersrights_050923214520

    The Americans admit to doing it “for sport”. To the people they’re “liberating” from Saddam.

    And no government in the world has stores of WMDs like Bush’s government, whether nukes, gas, biological weapons, whatever. Like they’re the guys in white hats??

    Makes me sick.

  24. Found it myself.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1032773,00.html

    ‘Only regime change will avert the threat’
    Here we reprint Dr David Kelly’s article, written days before the Iraq war, in which he assessed the threat from Saddam
    David Kelly
    Sunday August 31, 2003
    Observer
    In the past week, Iraq has begun destroying its stock of al-Samoud II missiles, missiles that have a range greater than the UN-mandated limit of 150 kilometres. This is presented to the international community as evidence of President Saddam Hussein’s compliance with United Nations weapons inspectors.
    But Iraq always gave up materials once it was in its interest to do so. Iraq has spent the past 30 years building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although the current threat presented by Iraq militarily is modest, both in terms of conventional and unconventional weapons, it has never given up its intent to develop and stockpile such weapons for both military and terrorist use.
    Today Iraq shows superficial co-operation with the inspectorates. Weapons such as 122mm rockets specific for chemical and biological use have been discovered and the destruction of proscribed missiles and associated engines, components and gyroscopes has begun.
    Iraq has established two commissions to search for documents and weapons under the direction of Rashid Amer, a former head of Iraq’s concealment activities, and a commission has started to recover weapons from Iraq’s unilateral destruction sites. (These sites, dating back to 1991, were destroyed by Iraq, illegally, without UN supervision and as part of Iraq’s concealment of programmes.) Amer al-Saadi – formerly responsible for conserving Iraq’s WMD, now its principal spokesman on its weapons – continues to mislead the international community.
    It is difficult to imagine co-operation being properly established unless credible Iraqi officials are put into place by a changed Saddam.
    Yet some argue that inspections are working and that more time is required; that increasing the numbers of inspectors would enhance their effectiveness. Others argue that the process is inherently flawed and that disarmament by regime change is the only realistic way forward.
    The UN has been attempting to disarm Iraq ever since 1991 and has failed to do so. It is an abject failure of diplomacy with the split between France, China and Russia on the one hand, and Britain and the United States on the other, creating a lack of ‘permanent five’ unity and resolve. More recently Germany, a temporary yet powerful member of the Security Council, has exacerbated the diplomatic split. The threat of credible military force has forced Saddam Hussein to admit, but not co-operate with, the UN inspectorate. So-called concessions – U2 overflights, the right to interview – were all routine between 1991 and 1998. After 12 unsuccessful years of UN supervision of disarmament, military force regrettably appears to be the only way of finally and conclusively disarming Iraq.
    In the years since 1991, during which Unscom and the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) destroyed or rendered harmless all known weapons and capability under UN Security Council Resolution 687, Iraq established an effective concealment and deception organisation which protected many undisclosed assets. In October 2002, Resolution 1441 gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to disclose his arsenal within 30 days. He admitted inspectors and, with characteristic guile, provided some concessions, but still refuses to acknowledge the extent of his chemical and biological weapons and associated military and industrial support organisations – 8,500 litres of anthrax VX, 2,160 kilograms of bacterial growth media, 360 tonnes of bulk chemical warfare agent, 6,500 chemical bombs and 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents remained unaccounted for from activities up to 1991. (Even these figures, it should be noted, are based in no small part on data fabricated by Iraq.)
    Less easy to determine is the extent of activity undertaken since 1991. In its 12,000-page ‘disclosure’ submitted to the inspectors in December 2002, Iraq failed to declare any proscribed activities. Today the truly important issues are declaring the extent and scope of the programmes in 1991 and the personalities, ‘committees’ and organisations involved.
    There are indications that the programmes continue.
    Iraq continues to develop missile technology, especially fuel propellents and guidance systems for long-range missiles. Iraq has recovered chemical reactors destroyed prior to 1998 for allegedly civilian activity, built biological fermenters and agent dryers, and created transportable production units for biological and chemical agents and the filling of weapons. Key nuclear research and design teams remain in place, even though it is assessed that Iraq is unable to manufacture nuclear weapons unless fissile material is available.
    War may now be inevitable. The proportionality and intensity of the conflict will depend on whether regime change or disarmament is the true objective. The US, and whoever willingly assists it, should ensure that the force, strength and strategy used is appropriate to the modest threat that Iraq now poses.
    Since some WMD sites have not been unambiguously identified, and may not be neutralised until war is over, a substantial hazard may be encountered. Sites with manufacturing or storage capabilities for chemical or biological weapons may present a danger and much will depend on the way that those facilities are militarily cancelled and subsequently treated.
    Some of the chemical and biological weapons deployed in 1991 are still available, albeit on a reduced scale. Aerial bombs and rockets are readily available to be filled with sarin, VX and mustard or botulinum toxin, anthrax spores and smallpox. More sophisticated weaponry, such as spray devices associated with drones or missiles with separating warheads, may be limited in numbers, but would be far more devastating if used.
    The threat from Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons is, however, unlikely to substantially affect the operational capabilities of US and British troops. Nor is it likely to create massive casualties in adjacent countries. Perhaps the real threat from Iraq today comes from covert use of such weapons against troops or by terrorists against civilian targets worldwide. The link with al-Qaeda is disputed, but is, in any case, not the principal terrorist link of concern. Iraq has long trained and supported terrorist activities and is quite capable of initiating such activity using its security services.
    The long-term threat, however, remains Iraq’s development to military maturity of weapons of mass destruction – something that only regime change will avert.

  25. As you can see from what I have said here and elsewhere I don’t subscribe to white and black hat theory. There are societies that do confront evils within themselves and, gradually or in fits and starts, improve themselves. The USA and Britain were both brought round to seeing that salvery was wrong by the agitation of people within those societies. The USA had a civil war, not wholly on that issue. Later the Civil Rights movement took up the cause of further emancipation. Within both societies are powerful movements for justice.

    It seems to me that there is no such movement of any great strength in the middle east. For example the supporters of the intifada are more fuelled by hatred of the Jews than a desire to see Palestinians better off. Maybe we should wait for the Islamic enlightenment after all. Or perhaps something can be done by supporting the admittedly very fragile developments of democracy particualrly in Iraq.

  26. Maybe you don’t subscribe to white and black hat theory, but Bush preaches about it to the world at large. It does NOT help. And “admittedly very fragile” is an over-statement. I don’t believe they see outside interference as “support”.
    Why should they? Would you?

  27. I have no doubt that I shall be soundly thrashed for my contribution here.

    The much debated WMD: if my memory is not completely fogged ; was mooted in the run up to the first instalment of the present conflict. There is, I think, one small, but not insignificant component, missing from the equation, Saddam + WMD = Middle East War.

    The missing ingredient is the supposed original source of the intelligence, claiming that Saddam had such weapons. It was known (although recently dismissed as untrue), that Saddam used nerve gas, and possibly Cyanide shells for medium range attacks: so called tactical weapons. There had been recurring reports that Saddam had been attempting to purchase the necessary ingredients for the possible future manufacture of a nuclear arsenal. Although there were enough scientists qualified, and presumably ready and able to produce such an arsenal, given time and materials; proof of any further progress in this area this was never verified, at least to my knowledge.

    As for reported destruction of these ghostly WMD: has there ever been proof of this destruction?

    The intelligence concerning the possibility of the existence of WMD, had been bandied about at the time of the Super Gun episode. This project was near completion, and, quite understandably , Israel had expressed fears, that, since the said

  28. Psimon comments above:

    “Saddam HAD to go, he was an evil leader with no regard for human life or rights. That being said, war should never have been the option.”

    I think that translates as:

    “I want to have my cake and eat it”

  29. In view of the recent natural catastrophes , it seems trite to comment from the comparative comfort of a, up till now at least, temperate and peaceful island, about the aftermath of the war that should not have been.It seems that we , the bloggers , all belong to one of those non-elected think tanks who could; rather like Pickwick; rule the world better than those now charged with doing it.;-)

    In view of the events leading up to the Iraqi war, I think that war was inevitable, sooner or later. Whenever a spoilt child loses its favourite toy, tantrums result. Saddam, in the role of spoilt child , had had his own way for so long, that , upon having to make an uneasy peace with Iran; he, saddled with soaring debts, turned his anger on the next weakest neighbour, as bullies often do. Thus the beginning of chapter 2 in this saga of rising temperatures , culmonating in the war fires being lit,again, both figuratively and in reality.
    ——————————————

    In case anyone is still in doubt about the main underlying reason for the war,an indication of the importance of oil in any conflict in the Middle East, if one were needed, is to be found in the whole history in that part of the World in the late 20th Century.

    After a long drawn out war between Iran and Iraq, which was both hard fought and expensive in terms of manpower as well as financially, the foreign ministers of the two states met in Geneva in July 1990, highly optimistic about the prospects for peace.

    The unasked question as to why Saddam Hussein now, of a sudden, seemed willing forget his decade-long conflict with Iran, (even to agree to give back the remaining land occupied at such cost by his armies), began to become clear two weeks later, when he stunned not only the Arab world; but everyone, with a vitriolic speech in which he accused his small neighbour Kuwait of siphoning off crude oil from the Ar-Rumaylah oil fields straddling their border. He also accused the Persian Gulf states of conspiring to hold down oil prices, thereby damaging the interests of war-torn Iraq and catering to the wishes of the Western powers.

    The Iraqi foreign minister demanded that Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Emirates make partial compensation for these alleged “crimes”against Iraq, by cancelling $30billion of Iraq’s foreign debt; meanwhile, a huge army of Iraq’s best troops concentrated on the Kuwaiti border. In short, Hussein had turned his sights from giant Iran to the wealthy but vulnerable Arab kingdoms to the south.

    Hussein had risen to the position of leader of the Ba’ath socialist party and military dictator of Iraq in a postcolonial environment of paranoia,intrigue, and genuine political threats. Iraq, situated in the Fertile Crescent of the ancient Babylonian emperors, was a country ,populous and wealthy, but torn by ethnic and religious divisions. Iraq’s boundaries, like those of all other states in the region, had been drawn up by British and French colonialists and either were arbitrary or conformed to their own interests rather than to the ethnic and economic needs of the region.

    Saddam hated the monarchical regime of Kuwait, even though he accepted its more than generous financial aid in support of his own military establishment and war with Iran. He made clear his hatred for the gulf monarchies, the Iranian Shiites, and the Israelis, in Arab nationalist terms, ao they became the scapegoat .

    After his illegal invasion of Kuwait,in my opinion, had he continued directly South, he would have been virtually unopposed, despite the better equipped state of the Saudi armed forces, if only because of the surprise factor.

    However, what actually happened is now history, and no amount of asking , even if rhetorically, What would have happened ,IF”, will alter one iota, what actually happened. He chose the path; he trod that path; he lost his footing. His eventual fall is no less to have been expected then the eventual fall of so many despots. As was proved by his discovery in a miserable hole in the ground: (you can run, but you can’t hide).

  30. What is Boris’s point here? That Saddam was never a terrorist threat? Or that he was never a threat to his neighbours? Or is it simply that the war has turned out too costly in terms of blood and treasure?

    Had the war not happened, does anyone seriously maintain that the UN could have continued with its resolve to pursue sanctions and inspections? Only the threat of war galvanised the ‘United No-actions’.

    With the threat of sanctions and inspections removed, does anyone consider that Saddam would not have pursued a policy of revenge against the Kurds, the Kuwaitis, the Saudis, and even the Iranians.

    The evidence of Saddam’s involvement with terrorist organisations including Al Queda is huge.

    As for the cost in terms of blood and treasure, we lost hundreds of thousands of lives in wars to maintain liberty in the twentieth century. A little local difficulty in Basra, with not one British soldier killed, does not warrant abandoning a war (you voted for it didn’t you, Boris). Does anyone doubt that people who slay innocents by the thousands, target crowded markets, places of worship, charities and so on, once they get their hands on state power represent a serious danger to world peace?

    The clock is ticking. Unless we get to a state of global peace and democracy one of these crazy regimes (North Korea, Sudan, Iran, Syria or some other madhouse) is going to work with a terrorist outfit like Al Queda and bring utter devastation to the heart of the West. As every year passes, the technological barriers to such action are diminished as these technologies come within the grasp of the smaller countries. One only has to think of what happened when a few small bombs were exploded on the tube to know how vulnerable we are. Better we take on these regimes now while we still have the chance.

  31. “The evidence of Saddam?s involvement with terrorist organisations including Al Queda is huge”

    Could you source that please? The Americans themselves found otherwise.

    “people who slay innocents by the thousands”

    describes the invasion by coalition forces, of Iraq.

    Your admitted Islamphobia is showing, field.

  32. Nora

    As I’ve said before Islamophobia is an irrational fear of Islam. In Field’s contribution I couldn’t see any fear of Islam, irrational or otherwise.

    Maybe Field could give some references – Saddam did finance the families of suicide bombers in Israel but I’ve no doubt there is more.

    I suggest there is a difference between the accidental killing of civilians when an army is doing its best to not do so and the deliberate targetting of civilians with a view to causing terror. I know it’s a good piece of quipology to josh about the term ‘collateral damage’. However I think that it is only in recent years and in the West that it has been seen as wrong to deliberately go out to kill civilians as part of your war effort. This isn’t to say that this principle is always observed but in many other places it’s not even a principle to be disregarded.

  33. Jack, I know what Islamophobia is.
    Unless I’m very much mistaken — or there are two “fields” posting here — he said himself that he is Islamophobic. On another thread.

    Melissa may correct me if I’m wrong.

  34. “when an army is doing its best to not do so”

    Jack, does that include using napalm in Falluja? Or dropping cluster bombs that are picked up afterwards by children?

  35. Field has posted the *same statement* about Saddam and al Queda here before. And I posted this (in that previous thread):

    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, June 17, 2004; Page A01:

    “The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq …

    … the report of the commission’s staff, based on its access to all relevant classified information, said that there had been contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda but no cooperation. In yesterday’s hearing of the panel, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a senior FBI official and a senior CIA analyst concurred with the finding.

    The staff report said that bin Laden “explored possible cooperation with Iraq” while in Sudan through 1996, but that “Iraq apparently never responded” to a bin Laden request for help in 1994. The commission cited reports of contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda after bin Laden went to Afghanistan in 1996, adding, “but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship”.”

    Now Field comes back and says the evidence is “huge”. (?) Are my eyes deceiving me?

  36. The current documented death toll of 26000 civilians in Iraq as a direct result of military intervention comes from iraqbodycount.net. It’s not the most reliable source, but is not bad, and considering that this figure is nearly 9 times the number of civilians killed in 9/11, who are the bigger criminals, us or Al Qu’eda?

    Al-Qu’eda use terror, sure, but so do we, and can you really say that that factor makes it worth 9 times more deaths? We have caused more damage, more deaths, more suffering, more ill-will, and more fear than Al Qu’eda or any other terrorist network in recent history. The fact that in theory it’s backed by so many people makes it worse, not better.

    We routinely use weapons such as cluster bombs, MLRS, and napalm. In the past we’ve used nuclear weapons, and we firebombed Dresden and Berlin. We certainly can’t talk about slaying “innocents by the thousands”. In fact I’m having trouble recalling any two nations which have killed as many civilians as America and Britain have in the past century, with the possible exceptions of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

    The UN recomendation before the war was for us to wait until the inpectors had finished their job. Had we done so, if there was still a question of the existence of WMD (in Iraq I mean of course, there are plenty closer to home!) then we could have gone to war with the whole international community, not just the four of us and some other minor nations. That way we would have more moral justification, more resources at our disposal, and we would not be the sole targets of ill-feeling. If we had followed their advice, we would be in a far better position now. You can of course say that these comments about the past aren’t helpful to our situation now, but politicians are accountable, and Bush and Blair in particular are responsible. It’s not as if the population and international community didn’t express their doubts or even oppose it at the time, it was forced through despite them.

  37. Nora

    >Unless I’m very much mistaken — or there are two “fields” posting here — he said himself that he is Islamophobic. On another thread.

    Melissa may correct me if I’m wrong.

    Only one Field Nora: I think you are right. Or are you confused with the Jacks..? (Jack T is the young one)

  38. Evil Tim Lawyer:

    Your translator needs updating…i can think of several options that do not entail war, but would have stood a better chance of success.

    As to having my cake AND eating it…

    Cake is for the peasants!!

    ;o)

    Psi

  39. Nora –

    Yes, I did admit to being an Islamophobe. Just as I am a Naziphobe. It was a deliberately rash statement because I wanted to bring home to people that this is a serious issue. Anyone who is interested in preserving our liberties ought to. DO you not fear a religion which wishes to replace our democratically elected parliament with the rule of religious clerics? Do you not fear the fact that in order to placate Islam our freedom of speech about religion is to be brought to a close. In a few months’ time by law I won;t be able to make any of these statements.

    Islamic activists have deliberately introduced the term to try and frighten people out of telling the truth about Islam. It is ironic since many perhaps most Muslims are highly Judeophobic, believing that Jews control the world through a malevolent conspiracy.

    As for teh evidence about co-operation between Al Queda I have read extracts from the Senate inquiry which show this. The Committee found there was no direct link with 9-11. That may be true but it does not mean there was no link and it is not the same as saying there is not a huge amount of evidence showing Iraq/Al Queda complicity. And don’t tell me that they are ideological enemies. So were Hitler and Stalin when they made their pact in 1939.

    If you want chapter and verse I will get it in the next few days, but I’ve tended to think of this site as somewhere you give opinion without having to supply footnotes as well.

  40. Nora

    I menat ‘only’ as somehow denigrating we Jacks. The other one is the younger and smarter Jack but he’s probably not as good looking as me.

    I’m going to regret this but what does LOL mean?

  41. NOra – Here is one example of evidence:

    This from the News Max site:

    “Congressional hearings coming this fall into revelations by the military intelligence group Able Danger could spotlight other evidence overlooked by the 9/11 Commission: including a March 2001 report suggesting that Osama bin Laden was working with Iraqi intelligence operatives in Germany at a time when Mohamed Atta and two other 9/11 hijack team leaders were living in Hamburg.

    On March 16, 2001, the Paris-based newspaper Al Watan al Arabi reported:

    Story Continues Below

    “Two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.”
    Al Watan said that German intelligence was investigating “serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin.* The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.”

    The pre-9/11 Al Watan report continued:

    “German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin.”

    A timeline established by U.S. intelligence shows that three out of four 9/11 hijack team leaders, Mr. Atta, Marwan al Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, lived in Hamburg from Nov. 1998 thru Feb. 2001.

    The Weekly Standard, which covered the Al Watan report this week in a story by Captain’s Quarter’s blogger Ed Morrissey noted:

    “Despite this contemporaneous report about the nature of the German arrests and the involvement of American counterintelligence officials in the investigation, not a word of the affair appears in the 9/11 Commission’s final report.”

    This fall’s hearings will undoubtedly begin with questions about why both the 9/11 Commission and the Clinton administration dismissed Able Danger’s stunning identification of Mohamed Atta inside the U.S.

    But any congressional investigation that doesn’t explore other overlooked bombshells – including indications of possible Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks – will leave even more important questions unanswered.

    * Al Watan spelling”

    Not saying the above is conclusive but it is one indication. I’ll take a look at teh Senate documents again.

  42. In case there are those still labouring under a misapprehension about the word ‘phobia’ ; and in this context, Islam in particular:.
    The official meaning of the word ‘phobia’ and its component parts :-
    1) Phobia: An extreme, irrational fear of a specific object or situation.
    2) A phobia is classified as a type of anxiety disorder, since anxiety is the chief symptom experienced by the sufferer.
    3) Anxiety has been defined as a feeling of fear; dread, or apprehension that arises without an apparently clear or appropriate real-life justification.

    I am of the opinion that the use of the word ‘Islamophobia’ as a pejorative is not apposite, since the description ‘irrational’ is not correct. It is indeed rational, and praiseworthy, for one to wish to preserve one’s way of life against real, as well as perceived, threats to destroy it. There have been many verbal attacks on our way of life, not least by fanatic Moslem clerics, threatening the downfall of British democracy, (with all its faults at least our own), by any means available, followed by the setting up of the undemocratic rule of foreign religious leaders
    The most recent of these is the debarred Moslem cleric, now living in Lebanon , spewing gall on the British Nation, whilst his brood are being housed ,watered and fed here by the very hands he wishes to cut off. .

    At last the Government, till now ignoring the electorate, has started to redress the imbalance, by doing something concrete to rid us of these troublesome preachers.( At least there is a start)

    The fear that the above vision of Hell might come to pass is not irrational. Islamic extremism finds many willing ears in which to pour its poison, witness the British born suicide bombers.

    Moderate Muslims will wish to join in the rejection of the threat of civil unrest: they have started to build a past here , and have much to contribute to the future

  43. “I’m going to regret this but what does LOL mean?”

    Jack,

    Generally taken to mean “laughing out loud” and often overly used in emails to indicate amusement. G — which I use as well — means a big grin. (g being a little one).

    “I meant ‘only’ as somehow denigrating we Jacks. The other one is the younger and smarter Jack but he’s probably not as good looking as me”

    Goody! May we have a link to a pic?
    VBG (very big grin)

  44. Nora –

    Further to previous posts, here is an excerpt from an article by Andrew McCarthy at nationalreview.com which summarises the main evidence for Saddam-Al Queda co-operation. The first I think is the most important item.
    I would also add something not mentioned – the fact that Iraqi TV responded extremely quickly to the Twin Towers massacre – within half an hour they were broadcasting celebratory songs.
    This is highly unusual in the Middle East. IN order not to find yourself on the wrong side, with an event of this magnitude, editors would play safe and not come out with something so blatant. But the fact that it happened so quickly suggests to me that teh Iraqi regime had prior knowledge and were acting on that basis.

    “Ahmed Hikmat Shakir

  45. Field,

    You’re quoting me *nationalreview.com*???

    And George Tenet in October 2002???

    I’m sorry but I can’t take your “evidence” remotely seriously. Let’s leave it at that.

  46. Nora,

    Dearie me – using an ad hominem argument isn’t much help. People don’t use that in rational debate. It is simply not good enough to say because George Tenet got something wrong that he is wrong all the time or because you don’t like the National Review, it can’t tbe right.

    If we are going down the ad hominem track, I would point out that Melanie Phillips – for whom I suspect a lot of people here have a great deal of respect – is also convinced of the Saddam/Al Queda link. I hope the new Congressional hearings will begin to clarify some of the evidence.
    For me the involvement in the Al Queda planning meeting in Malaysia is a key piece of evidence and I haven;t heard that queried anywhere.

  47. To have used ad hominem, Field, I would have had to attack you personally and insult you personally — something I didn’t do. I simply have no confidence in the sources you quote. Which is a different thing entirely.

  48. Actually I was presenting evidence which consisted of others presenting an argument. You attacked both National Review and George Tenet rather than the arguments presented, so I think that is ad hominem.

    Are you saying that no representative of Iraqi intelligence was ever involved with Al Queda representatives in Malaysia in planning terrorist actions? That’s what I would like to know.

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