Bush, Blair nominated for Peace Prize

Bush and Blair have been nominated for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. My god. We’re in Bizarro World.

George Bush and Tony Blair have been nominated for the 2004 Nobel Peace prize.

They were nominated by Jan Simonsen, an independent member of Norway’s Parliament who says the pair got rid of a dictator and made the world safer.
“Bush and Blair definitely still deserve it,” he said.
“Even though they haven’t found those weapons they got rid of a dictator and made the world more safe. They got rid of a madman.”

I don’t have a thing to add except… You’ve got to be f—ing kidding me! Simonsen sounds like the madman.
Thankfully, they have almost no chance of winning. Duh.

Progress in Iraq?

An email making the rounds, allegedly from a chaplain in Iraq is full of lies, damn lies and statistics.

Recently, a list of Coalition accomplishments were posted to the comments on B2I. Allegedly from “Karl Nielson LT, CHC, USNR 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Chaplain,” the the poster said the list was circulating on GI mailing lists.
Now, I’ve not been able to make out if the list is genuine or not, but it’s certainly been “picked up by the pro-war Web”:http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=%22Karl+Nielson+LT%2C+CHC%2C+USNR++13th+Marine+Expeditionary+Unit+%28MEU%29+Chaplain%22&sa=N&tab=nw. I’ll reproduce it here, in its entirety, as posted, with a few comments in italics.

Making the rounds of GI e-mail traffic in Iraq these days is the following inspiring missive. It is reproduced below in its entirety and exactly as written by Karl Nielson LT, CHC, USNR 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Chaplain:
Since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1:
The first battalion of the new Iraqi Army has graduated and is on active duty (~60,000 Iraqis providing security to citizens). They will receive weapons by June 2004. How are they are on active duty and providing security with no weapons? Stern warnings?
Nearly all of Iraq’s 400 courts are functioning and 24 judges have passed the American bar.
The Coalition approved Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.
Power generation hit 4,518 megawatts for one day in October exceeding prewar output. According to Riverbend, who I trust more than “Karl Nielson,” said electricity was on for 22 hours a day pre-war. Now, they get 10 hours a day — and she considers herself privileged. But don’t take her word for it. The CPA itself estimates that “Iraq needs 7,000MW/day”:http://cpa-iraq.org/essential_services/electricity.html, which is 2,600MW/day more than the pre-war level. The CPA itself doesn’t project meeting that demand until spring 2005. Infact, it will be summer 2004 before they hit 6,000MW/day, a good 3,600MW below estimated demand. While 4,518MW is indeed higher than the 4,4000MW/day prewar, it is still not enough.
All 22 Universities & 43 technical institutes/colleges are open and most of them have teachers.
Nearly all primary and secondary schools are open for at least ninety minutes a day. Ninety minutes! Wow. The pre-war schedule was 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for primary kids and 2 p.m. for secondary students. Maybe if more than 30,000 teachers hadn’t been purged for Ba’ath membership — joined to get a job rather than a for true beliefs — the schools could stay open longer.
Coalition has ‘rehabbed’ 1,500+ schools (500 ahead of schedule) and many of them have roofs and electricity.
Teachers earn from 12-25 times their former salaries.
All 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open and 10% have running water. Ten percent of the hospitals have running water? This is progress?
Hoosiers has opened its first restaurant in Bagdad. I don’t even know what “Hoosiers” is and haven’t been able to find a thing on the Web about it. Does this chaplain mean “Hooters”? If so, I find it hard to believe a chaplain would be talking up a restaurant like Hooters in a Muslim country.
Doctors salaries are at least 8 times what they were under Saddam.
Pharmaceutical distribution has gone from almost zero to 12,000 tons and Prozac has been made available for free. This is news to the Iraqis I know, both in the United States and in Iraq. Prozac for free? Does this guy know what unsupervised Prozac subscriptions can do to someone? Again, no news of this on Google or Nexis.
Five Wallmarts are set to go up in the main cities of Iraq. Leaving aside that it’s Wal-Mart, and not “Wallmart,” a Wal-Mart spokeswoman told me there are no plans to expand to Iraq, as the market just isn’t there for the company.
Coalition has cleared 14,000+km of Iraq’s 27,000km of weed-choked canals which now irrigate tens of thousands of farms. This project has created 100,000+ jobs for Iraqi men & women.
Three golf courses have been built. I actually kinda believe this one.
Coalition has restored over 3/4 of prewar telephone services and 2/3+ of potable water production. This is interesting. According to the CIA world fact book, in 1997, there were “675,000 main telephone lines in use”:http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/iz.html#Comm. Two-thirds of that would be 450,000 lines operational. However, note this next “accomplishment:”
4,900+ full-service telephone connections (~50,000 by year-end). OK. Now you see the sloppy thinking here and which leads me to think this whole list is bogus? One one hand, telephones are at 75 percent capacity. In the very next item, it’s a tiny fraction of that. And even 50,000 lines will still be a tiny fraction. If you believe that 4,900 working lines is an accomplishment, that’s pathetic. UPDATE 1/23/04 This list is bogus and a hoax, but this part about the telephone lines warrants further explanation. See my “other post”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000657.php on this for a full explanation on what the hoax list was based on, but the 4,900 lines refers to Internet connections, not telephones as the hoaxster mentioned.
Commerce is expanding rapidly (bicycles, satellite dishes, cars, RV vehicles, etc) in all major cities and towns. Ah, the favorite “life is coming back!” line that pro-war people seem to like. Well, here’s news for you. Life goes on, even in war time. People don’t curl up into fetal positions and give up on life when they’re occupied. They probably do when bombs are falling near them, but that’s pretty rare. And hint, hint: Iraq was one of the most prosperous states in the Gulf, pre-1991, and there were a lot of bicycles and cars — it’s a petroleum-producing state, after all.
95% of all prewar bank customers have service and first-time customers are opening accounts daily and receiving a free toaster. Free toaster?
Iraqi banks are making loans to finance businesses.
Iraq has one of the world’s most growth-oriented investment and banking laws. The Bagdad Stock Exchange opened stimulating a blossoming business in speculation. Ah, no. The last mention of the Baghdad Stock Exchange was in a Washington Post “article”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A33237-2003Dec26&notFound=true and it says that efforts to get the Exchange open are still ongoing. The article dates from Dec. 27.
Iraq has a single, unified currency for the first time in 15 years. Despite many demands from monetory authorities Vice-President Dick Cheney turned down requests to allow his picture to be used on the currency. You’re kidding, right? Dick Cheney?
Satellite TV dishes are legal. true
Foreign journalists are not on ’10-day visas’ paying mandatory fees to the Ministry of Information for minders. There is no such Ministry. But there is a Ministry of Communication headed by Dr. Haydar al-Abadi. However, this is a welcome change.
There are 170+ newspapers. The first issue of Playboy was published. Yes on the number of papers, nope on Playboy. C’mon guys, this is a conservative society.
Plans have been approved to open 45 McDonalds restaurants. Nope. McDonald’s has no plans, according to spokeswoman Anna Rozenich.
Iraqi Chambers of commerce, businesses, schools and professional organizations are electing their leaders all over the country.
Over 170,000 credit cards have been issued to qualified individuals.
For the first time in 35 years, in Karbala, thousands of Shiites celebrate the pilgrimage of the 12th Imam. Oy. It’s the 3rd Imam — “Imam Husain”:http://www.al-islam.org/short/martyrdom/, the grandson of the prophet. Details, details… (Thanks to Ameer for this catch!)
Bloomingdales has been signed as the anchor store in the new Metro Bagdad Mall. Nope. Kelly Moro, a spokeswoman for Bloomingdale’s, wasn’t even sure there was a Metro Baghdad Mall, much less one with Bloomingdale’s as an anchor store.
The Coalition has completed 13,000+ reconstruction projects, large and small, as part of a strategic plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. Sure, I’d buy this.
American businesses are making tremendous profits from the reconstruction to offset the expense and loss the United States suffered in the war. And I’d really buy this. I’m sure all those “tremendous profits” are consolation for the families of the 500+ American soldiers who have died.
Uday and Queasy are dead, and no longer feeding Iraqis to the zoo lions, raping the young daughters of local leaders to force cooperation, torturing Iraq’s soccer players for losing games, or murdering critics. That’s “Qusay,” buddy. If you’re going to mention horrible crimes, don’t dishonor the victims by making a joke out of their torturer’s name.
Children aren’t imprisoned or murdered when their parents disagree with the government. Excellent.
Sesame Street and Barney, previously forbidden in Iraq, is now aired daily. They weren’t banned before the war.
Political opponents aren’t imprisoned, tortured, executed, maimed, or forced to watch their families die for disagreeing with Saddam. This is true.
Millions of long-suffering Iraqis no longer live in perpetual terror. This is a wash. Perpetual, low-grade terror has been replaced by flashes of manic violence, either at the hands of insurgents, bandits or wildly-shooting U.S. troops. The fact is the Iraqi people are not free from fear, because the security situation is still very bad.
As a side effect, in neighboring countries, (1) Saudis will hold municipal elections, (2) Qatar will allow citizens to use credit cards which were formerly forbidden under Islamic law, (3) Jordan has begun broadcasting American television programming; Friends, Sienfield, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, (4) through Coalition influence the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded (first time) to an Iranian (Muslim woman) who speaks out for human rights/democracy & peace.
(1) Municipal elections have been promised by have not yet happened. (2) According to Financial Times (via Nexis), citizens of Qatar and Lebanon used credit cards for about $500 million in purchases — in 2002. Saudis alone spent $19 billion with credit cards — again in 2002. “The total extent of credit card usage in the entire Arab Middle East came to $40 billion.” Forbidden? Doesn’t sound like it. (3) Jordan has a “free-trade agreement”:http://www.sice.oas.org/Trade/us-jrd/usjrd.asp with the United States, as of “Sept. 28, 2001”:http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010928-11.html. It’s stupid to think that Jordan wouldn’t show some American television shows, since the agreement predates the Iraq war by, oh, 18 months or so. (4) Shirin Ebadi, who won the Peace Prize in 2003, had “some choice words”:http://www.nobel.no/eng_lect_2003b.html for the situation in Iraq:

Moreover, a question which millions of citizens in the international civil society have been asking themselves for the past few years, particularly in recent months, and continue to ask, is this: why is it that some decisions and resolutions of the UN Security Council are binding, while some other resolutions of the council have no binding force? Why is it that in the past 35 years, dozens of UN resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel have not been implemented promptly, yet, in the past 12 years, the state and people of Iraq, once on the recommendation of the Security Council, and the second time, in spite of UN Security Council opposition, were subjected to attack, military assault, economic sanctions, and, ultimately, military occupation??

Saddam is gone. And in a protected POW status so that he can’t spill the beans on the “U.S. involvement in his crimes.”:http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=4168225
Iraq is free. An occupied country is free?
Little or none of this information has been published by the Press Corps that prides itself on bringing you all the news that’s important. Iraq, under US lead control, has come further in six months than Germany did in seven years or Japan did in nine years following WWII. Military deaths from fanatic Nazi’s and Japanese numbered in the thousands and continued for over three years after WWII victory was declared. It took the US over four months to clear away the twin tower debris, let alone attempt to build something else in its place.
OK. First of all, little or none of this information is accurate or even true. And the rest is spin. That’s why you’ve not seen it published. As for military deaths in the thousands after WWII, that’s an “out and out lie”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2087768/. The only military deaths in post-WWII Germany and Japan came from things like auto accidents and illness. Don’t believe me? The post-war German resistance was “mostly a hoax”:http://www.cmonitor.com/stories/front2003/082903iraq_werewolves_2003.shtml.

Tom Schlesinger, a retired Army major and professor at Plymouth State University who served in Army intelligence in occupied Germany, described the werewolves as “almost a deliberate urban myth.”
“I was in Germany all through the surrender and, although at lower rank, had access to all classified intelligence distribution as part of the occupation security force,” Schlesinger said. “The werewolf story turned out to be mostly a hoax, perhaps some wishful thinking of a few SS officers, though it caused us a few inconveniences due to the phony alerts.”
It’s possible, Biddiscombe said, that some isolated werewolf cells or officers may have continued to operate for a few months after the war. Guerrilla-style attacks did take place against U.S. soldiers – stringing wires across roads to decapitate soldiers or pouring sand in gas tanks were two examples – and there were several suspicious deaths of U.S.-appointed mayors. In some towns, leaflets and posters threatened Germans who cooperated with the U.S. occupiers. But none of that activity can be directly attributed to the werewolves, historians say.
“The Army put bars on jeeps to prevent decapitation by wires, but that was the only action taken by the Army,” said Farrell of Fort Leavenworth. “There’s very little evidence of the werewolves offering effective resistance.”
Moreover, historians say, the comparison between postwar Germany and postwar Iraq is questionable because of the scale of events taking place now in Iraq. In particular, the rate of attacks against U.S. occupation forces in Germany was lower than is the case in Iraq.
There were about 1 million U.S. troops in occupied Germany – a territory slightly smaller than Iraq – compared with nearly 150,000 U.S. troops in occupied Iraq. For the first month or two after the Nazis’ surrender, there were about the same number of sabotage and sniper attacks in Germany as have taken place in postwar Iraq. But in Germany, such attacks dropped off after June 1945, a month after the surrender, and for the rest of that year deaths of U.S. troops subsided to “tens.”
“Certainly, there weren’t American troops dying at the rate that they are in Iraq,” Biddiscombe said.

In Japan, it was the same. In fact, the RAND Corporation showed that the post-World War II combat deaths in occupied Germany and Japan were “zero.”:http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1753/MR1753.ch9.pdf Car bombs were not being “exploded at the gates of the occupation’s HQ”:http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000652.php nine months after “major combat operations are over.”
Now, take into account that many people in our government and media continue to claim on a daily basis on national TV that this conflict has been a failure. Taking everything into consideration, even the unfortunate loss of our sons and daughters in this conflict, do you think any other country in the world could have accomplished as much as the United States and its coalition partners have in so short a period of time?
Go team. When you take into account that you have to resort to clumsy propaganda to buck up morale, yeah, things aren’t going well. But honestly, this thing is probably a hoax and has never been sent out.

The reason I spent so much time on this is that the right-wing sites like NewsMax and FreeRepublic have been trumpeting it and it will eventually make its way into the mainstream media, once Fox picks it up. Think of this post as a pre-buttal. Want to get some truth out of Iraq? Send me back. I’ll report whatever I see as best I can.

Revenge Killings in Najaf

Two Ba’athists killed in Najaf in revenge killings. This must stop.

Two former Ba’athists have been killed in the Shi’ite city of Najaf, in what appear to be revenge killings for their role in Saddam Hussein’s old regime.

On Friday, gunmen killed Ali Qassem al-Tamimi, the district mayor of Najaf’s al-Furat neighborhood, as he was shopping with a friend in downtown Najaf, according to Lt. Raed Jawad Abdel Saada.
Early Saturday, two assailants riding by on a bicycle opened fire on former provincial party official Damiyah Abbas and her son as they were leaving their home.
The 5-year-old boy was killed instantly, and Abbas was hospitalized in critical condition, according to another police officer, Lt. Raed Abbas.
Damiyah Abbas was believed to have participated in putting down a 1991 Shi’ite uprising against the government of Saddam.
Al-Tamimi’s position would have involved him acting as an informer, reporting to Baath Party officials in Baghdad on the political activities and jobs of residents.

Now, some readers consider these killings no bad thing. But I say this: Revenge killings, while part of the culture, are a recipe for disaster.
To those who look on with satisfaction at the vigilante justice meted out to these people, I say this: You are encouraging the destruction of Iraq as a country. You are encouraging its collapse into warring factions that will make the current chaos appear like a pre-game warmup. There can be no justice at the hands of a mob, for such “justice” breeds fear, suspicion and hatred. And God knows there’s enough of that in Iraq right now. Many Sunnis already feel scared and insecure about their role in the new Iraq. These murders will drive already frightened Sunnis into the arms of the insurgents and will lead to civil war.
No, it’s better to let the courts — whatever form they may take — deal out justice. A mob is the basest form of human organization, and anyone who’s been one knows how terrifying they can be. Even a happy mob is a frightening thing. A society’s judiciary, however, can represent its best angels. A well-functioning bench represents the ultimate triumph of the forces of civilizations over the rule of nature, red in tooth and claw. It represents the faith citizens place in the power of the state to be fair and impartial, allowing them to forgo the freelance pursuit of justice.
If you who cheer the deaths of Ba’athists at the hands of a mob truly want a democratic Iraq, one that respects the human rights of _all_ the peoples of that country, you’ll work for and encourage an Iraqi justice system that is fair, transparent and independent, for such an institution would mean in Iraq the United States will have done its job well. It would mean America will have left behind faith in the rule of law, something Iraqis have never had. An independent and fair judiciary would lead Iraq’s citizens to genuinely respect the Iraqi state, instead of living in a republic of fear.
These acts of violence should be condemned, regardless of whether they’re perpetrated by Shi’ite, Sunni or Kurd. To do otherwise is to dishonor the birthplace of civilization.

Now She Tells Us

Condi Rice admits to being having no head for long-term planning, the guys in the Baghdad are all ideologues and my best friend has been mobilized. Yeah, no good news today.

Well, this kind of explains a lot, no? In an upcoming interview with _Reader’s Digest_, National Security Advisor “Condoleezza Rice”:http://www.warstories.cc/person/?personId=17 admits that, “There’s nothing I am worse at than long-term planning. I have never run my life that way. I believe that _serendipity or fate or divine intervention_ has led me to a series of wholly implausible steps in my life. And I’ve been open to those twists and turns because I didn’t have a long-term plan.” (Emphasis added.)
Oy. And this woman is in charge of the United States’ Iraq policy? Granted, the question was about her running for office some day, but as we’ve seen, traits in one’s personal life often have a way of manifesting themselves in one’s professional life.
Oh, and don’t miss a great _Washington Monthly_ piece by “Joshua Micah Marshall”:http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com, Laura Rozen, and Colin Soloway on the “ideologues in Baghdad”:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0312.whoswho.html running the Coalition Provisional Authority. To wit:

When the history of the occupation of Iraq is written, there will be many factors to point to when explaining the post-conquest descent into chaos and disorder, from the melting away of Saddam’s army to the Pentagon’s failure to make adequate plans for the occupation. But historians will also consider the lack of experience and abundant political connections of the hundreds of American bureaucrats sent to Baghdad to run Iraq through the Coalition Provisional Authority.

In their place, the architects of the war chose card-carrying Republicans — operatives, flacks, policy-wonks and lobbyists — for almost every key assignment in the country. Some marquee examples include U.S. civil administrator Paul Bremer’s senior advisor and liaison to Capitol Hill, Tom Korologos, one of the most powerful GOP lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Then there’s the man in charge of privatizing Iraq’s 200-odd state owned companies, Tom Foley, a venture capitalist and high-flying GOP fundraiser. Foley was one of the Bob Dole’s top-ten career donors, Connecticut finance chair for Bush 2000 and a classmate of the president’s from Harvard Business School.

CPA officials say that the older GOP functionaries do a reasonable job keeping their partisanship publicly under wraps. But the younger Republicans in Iraq spend much of their time plotting against the Democrats. “Everything is seen in the context of the election, and how they will screw the Democrats,” said one CPA official. “It was really pretty shocking to hear them talk.”
“They are all on the campaign trail,” said another official. “They see this as a stepping stone to a better job in the next Bush administration.”

And on a personal note, I found out today that my best friend, a lieutenant in the Army Reserve, has been mobilized. He has a wife and two small children to leave behind. When he signed up a few years ago, he said he wanted to serve his country. I have tried to convince him that there’s no dishonor in disobeying orders and fleeing an unjust war waged by an unelected commander-in-chief. To his credit, while he has been as critical of this war as I have, he still says he has to serve out his commitment. (He’s a lifelong Democrat, by the way.) I wish he would reconsider, consider a flight to a neutral country, but I know he won’t. He has a sense of honor and duty that should shame his “commander in chief”:http://www.warstories.cc/person/?personId=1, who went AWOL in Vietnam after he got airlifted by his father’s influence into a cushy Texas Air National Guard spot.
I admire my friend a lot for his sense of patriotism and duty, even though he knows he will be missing 18 months of his daughters’ lives, even though he believes Iraq is a colossal screw-up and a mistake of mammoth proportions. He would never say a disrespectful thing about George Bush while mobilized, but I can: To hell with Bush and to hell with this war.
Anyway, this has made it all the more imperative that I go back and, as I joke with him, make sure nothing happens to him.