April war news Blitz

I am supposed to write a proposal for my final paper in International Security class tonight. But given what's been happening the last few weeks, what can I address that isn't tearing apart like wet toilet paper? Where can I stand when the sands are shifting so? Is it possible to research and write on security in this snake pit? I'm hoping you guys might have suggestions!

This deserves to go first: a report from Haaretz that America plans to make 'implied' recognition of the illegal Israeli settlements. Holy land, gotta gotta get it!

U.S. assures Israel no retreat to 1967 line
The U.S. will assure Israel that it will not have to withdraw to the Green Line in a future permanent settlement with the Palestinians.

The promise appears in a letter of guarantees drafted by the American administration in exchange for Sharon's disengagement plan.

The U.S. rejected Israel's request to recognize the future annexation of the large settlement blocs in Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel and Etzion. Instead of referring explicitly to the settlements, the Americans propose a vaguely worded letter, which Israel would be able to present as implied recognition of the settlement blocs.

Below is my round-up on the Iraq and the Fallujah-mercenary issue, Pakistan, military-industrial corruption, the Uzbekistan aftermath, Clarkestorm 2004 and further Israel-Palestine tidbits. (crossposted on DKOS diary)

My special thanks go to those following the best of mainstream and alternative media every day at WarInContext. The Agonist is a news blitz all day long--they are making a full-time go at it. New frontiers of journalism or just obsessed people?


Our hands were numb, recording all this, so swiftly did General Kimmitt take us through the little uptick [in violence].
A marine vehicle blown off the road near Fallujah, a marine killed, a second attack with small-arms fire on the same troops, an attack on an Iraqi paramilitary recruiting station on the 14th July Road, a soldier killed near Ramadi, two Britons hurt in Basra violence, a suicide bombing against the home of the Hillah police chief, an Iraqi shot at a checkpoint, US soldiers wounded in Mosul ... All this was just 17 hours before Fallujah civilians dragged the cremated remains of a Westerner through the streets of their city.
But there was an interesting twist - horribly ironic in the face of yesterday's butchery - in General Kimmitt's narrative. Why, I asked him, did he refer sometimes to "terrorists" and at other times to "insurgents"? Surely if you could leap from being a terrorist to being an insurgent, then with the next little hop, skip and jump, you become a "freedom-fighter". Mr Senor gave the general one of his fearful looks. He needn't have bothered. General Kimmitt is a much smoother operator than his civilian counterpart. There were, the general explained, the Fallujah version who were insurgents, and then the al-Qa'ida version who attack mosques, hotels, religious festivals and who were terrorists.
So, it seems, there are now in Iraq good terrorists and bad terrorists, there are common-or-garden insurgents and supremely awful terrorists, the kind against which President George Bush took us to war in Iraq when there weren't any terrorists actually here, though there are now. And therein lies the problem. From inside the Green Zone on the banks of the Tigris, you can believe anything. How far can the occupying powers take war-spin before the world stops believing anything they say?

That's Robert Fisk reporting "Things are getting much worse in Iraq" today, a brutally honest British reporter who has given a totally different slant to the war, but then again he said it would be a quagmire from the very beginning. Juan Cole is an expert who just plain gets it:

What would drive the crowd to this barbaric behavior? It is not that they are pro-Saddam any more, or that they hate "freedom." They are using a theater of the macabre to protest their occupation and humiliation by foreign armies. They were engaging in a role reversal, with the American cadavers in the position of the "helpless" and the "humiliated," and with themselves playing the role of the powerful monster that inscribes its will on these bodies.

This degree of hatred for the new order among ordinary people is very bad news. It helps explain why so few of the Sunni Arab guerrillas have been caught, since the locals hide and help them. It also seems a little unlikely that further US military action can do anything practical to put down this insurgency; most actions it could take would simply inflame the public against them all the more.

I was disturbed by the 'frenzy of violence' in Iraq, as the Star Tribune headline put it, although perhaps I see the frenzy occurring over a longer timeframe. The images they printed had a distinct Mogadishu overtone, it's hard to deny.
It's raising a lot of questions about American dependence on armed ex-Mil mercenaries. Mother Jones has the background you need and Alternet also has more about Blackwater.
Britain's secret army in Iraq: thousands of armed security men who answer to nobody.
Even Tacitus is upset about US dependence on mercenaries!!! Hooray!
Billmon points out racism past and present in this country, citing this horror as an example. But damn, Billmon, did you have to cite DULUTH MINNESOTA as an example of American mob violence? (its a very apt example, so it makes sad either way, given my Up North heritage)
The company which lost the security personnel is called Blackwater. Many people in the town they're based in are furious with Bush. FortunatelyBLACKWATER IS HIRING!! YES! (and look at that graphic!) I want a glitzy feature STARRING Lead Sniper Steve Babylon and Susan McFarlin. Can you see the dramatic movie potential here? Jerry Bruckheimer would be the man to shoot this one.
Special Forces are quitting the regular armed service to become mercenaries. Hey Rummy, thanks for underpaying the Special Forces so your private friends could grow stronger!
(today's Alternet log on the Fallujah incident)

Military Industrial Corruption: What? Never!

Air Force allowed Boeing to rewrite terms of tanker contract, documents show. What would the Frankfurt School tell us about this?

Campaign 2004

DLC advises soundbites for Kerry. Hurrrah!

Political book reviews

NY Times book Review looks at a book exploring Bush's weird father-son relationship, and guess what, he turns out to be crazy! Father, Son, Freud and Oedipus. Must read!!! Also a piece on Chalmers Johnson and his new book, the Sorrows of Empire. Am I a disquieted American?

Clarkestorm 2004

I like the fact that WaPo's editorialists are finally pouncing over the way Bush is evading Clarke. They are the ones who really bear a lot of responsibility for the whole damn mess. Bush's Secret Storm by By E. J. Dionne (Mar 29). David Sanger in NYT ruminates on how nasty it is for them to flip-flop on Condi's testimony (Mar 31).
Clarke outsourced terror intel collection to someone else when he was in the White House? How interesting!

As recounted by Clarke in his book, and confirmed by documents provided to NEWSWEEK, Emerson and his former associate Rita Katz regularly provided the White House with a stream of information about possible Al Qaeda activity inside the United States that appears to have been largely unknown to the FBI prior to the September 11 terror attacks.

In confidential memos and briefings that were sometimes conducted on a near weekly basis, Emerson and Katz furnished Clarke and his staff with the names of Islamic radical Web sites, the identities of possible terrorist front groups and the phone numbers and addresses of possible terror suspects—data they were unable to get from elsewhere in the government.

More War On Terror

Terrorists Don't Need States by Fareed Zakaria from Newsweek, the April 5 issue.
The Guardian: What exactly does al-Qaeda want?

Uzbekistan: the Tashkent mystery

The Uzbekistan bombings led me to some new Internet sources, but their credibility is unknown. I know that Uzbekistan is a horrible, repressive sort of Soviet holdover state, but killing people won't exactly cure that. Since they attacked the police, rather than civilians, people are seeing this as directed against the state apparatus, but to what end? Some sources:
"Uzbek unrest shows Islamist rise" from Christian Science Monitor today. Too alarmist?

Experts say the bloodshed could signal the resurgence of the regional Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has revitalized itself in the lawless Pakistan-Afghan border area, under the leadership of Tohir Yuldashev. Or it could point to a violent offshoot of the local, moderate Hizb-ut-Tahrir, fed up with years of brutal crackdowns by Uzbek President Islam Karimov on Islamic believers of all types.

This Yuldashev character is being called the new "Al Qaeda leader" of the moment. Is he really internationally evil??
The Argus did a good job following news as it developed. A textbook example of blogging as a new form of reporting breaking news.
Ferghana.Ru is an extremely interesting news site on Central Asia. Check this letter against the Uzbek government.
Older updates on the fighting. (March 30). Many reports turned out not to be true. (March 29)
Rubber Hose. Who is this guy?

What's happening with Pakistan?

They claim Al Qaeda on the run?
Pakistan to play a pivotal role from Today's Asia Times Online. This is probably the best article to read about it today. There is more about Yuldashev here: apparently he is a big star on videos circulating in Pakistan, in which he speaks out against US policies, citing Chechnya and Palestine as examples.


Palestinian children: Middle East: 'A child who lives in hell will die for a chance of paradise'
Christians Must Challenge American Messianic Nationalism: A Call to the Churches. Must check out what good Christians do!
The DLC weighs in on Anti-Semitism.
Palestine is now part of an arc of Muslim resistance: Across the Middle East, western-backed occupations are fuelling terror.

Well, that's about the most comprehensive war mosaic I can put together today.

So what the hell do I do about my final paper?

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