Remind us

There's been a hella lotta news over the past couple days. However, Saturday is Springfest, and I fully intend to immerse myself in the music, because I haven't been keeping tabs on pop culture as well as I should be. I don't want to think about all the damn news for a little while. So let this summary suffice for Saturday; there's plenty of interesting things to look at, radical and more conservative.

Remind us why the war happened. This animation has some rather jarring imagery but nonetheless it's worth looking at. A tacky style or propaganda of the 21st century?

UN Iraq man Lakhdar Brahimi condemns Israel's policies, generating conflict with the Israelis and surely making the Pentagon a happy bunch of fellas, reports BBC.

The United Nations envoy to Iraq has sparked a row after describing Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as "the big poison in the region". Lakhdar Brahimi told French radio there was a link between Israeli actions and the recent upsurge of violence in Iraq. He said that the handover of power in Iraq was being complicated by Israel's policies in the West Bank and Gaza.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's spokesman has reportedly described the comments as "unacceptable".
....
Mr Brahimi said his job was made more difficult by Israel's "violent and repressive security policy" and its "determination to occupy more and more Palestinian territory". He added that people's perception in the region was of the "injustice" of Israeli policy compounded by the "thoughtless support" of the US.

The UN secretary general's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, told Israeli radio it was not acceptable for senior UN officials to make such comments about a member nation.

CS Monitor reporter on the deterioration in Iraq and how it has made journalists increasingly unable to wander about the country:

In essence, I feel we've become boiled frogs. Toss the frog into boiling water, and he jumps right out again, or at least tries. But put him in lukewarm water and slowly turns up the heat and he barely notices until he's cooked. Rather than overestimate the problems (a common journalistic temptation), I've begun to wonder if we're not understating them, notwithstanding the letters from readers who accuse our paper, and many others, of being Chicken Littles.

To be sure, in a wartime environment like Iraq's there is rarely a constant arc of progress, or descent into chaos. Violence ebbs and flows, incidents flare and then almost inexplicably, vanish. This froggy is leaving on a reporting trip outside Baghdad today - the first trip out of the city in more than a week. It feels safer again.

Phil Carter of Intel Dump has an insightful article on Slate about how the Iraq invasion has basically paralyzed the ability of the US military to respond to things elsewhere, crunching logistics and all that. He's a more conservative guy but he knows his stuff really well.

I wanted to throw in some things from CounterPunch: this April 10 piece by Robert Fisk describing how the Bush administration attacks its critics on Iraq, this jolly rambling report on 'Pseudoconservatives' by an anonymous defense analyst. Rahul Mahajan is a very intrepid journalist that I've mentioned recently, having written this piece on a visit to Fallujah and also writing the very interesting Empire Notes from Baghdad. Also Tariq Ali weighs in with his New Leftist sort of thing on "The Iraqi Resistance: a new phase." What seems to be his key point:

Its no use for Westerners to shed hypocritical tears for Iraq or to complain that the Iraqi resistance does not meet the high stands of Western liberalism. Which resistance ever does?

When an Occupation is ugly, the resistance cannot be beautiful, except in a Hollywood movie or an Italian comedy.

Then there is Fisk again on the Bush-Sharon plan, "Bush Legitimizes Terrorism." The piece is a tad overwrought, but I can only imagine how bitter someone like him would be having seen the middle east burn itself to bits for decades, never even thinking that it would come to this today. On the front page today is a humorous "Glossary of the Iraqi Occupation" by Paul de Rooij.

Here are the now-famous photos of deceased American soldiers returning to Dover Air Force Base (on a fast mirror). These pictures are the rather explicit negation of a finely tuned, decade long Cheney policy to remove critical images of the reality of American warfare from the array of visual images that the public can actually see. In other words, their strategy was to prevent you from seeing these pictures. Now you can and should look at them to understand more fully the situation.

Mr Marshall is following a couple interesting developments. Firstly he says that plans to invade the southern Iraqi oilfields were ordered at the same time in the same document as the plans to invade Afghanistan in late 2001. Hot damn, cause and effect! He is also following the upcoming changes in the Iraqi government, and the apparent distancing of Ahmed Chalabi from the reins of power, both within Iraq and the ludicrous perks accorded to him by the U.S., such as his enormous personal stash of incriminating Baathist documents that by all rights should belong to the Iraqi people, not a lying, intel spoofing embezzler.

The topic is the new Iraqi government now being planned and organized jointly by the US and the UN and the fact that the decision has been made to toss overboard most if not all of the folks we put on the Interim Governing Council. At the top of the list of those to get the heave-ho is Ahmed Chalabi.

According to the article, the administration is seriously considering cutting off the amazingly ill-conceived $340,000 a month subsidy we still give Chalabi. Meanwhile, his role as head of the de-Baathification committee has just been publicly criticized by Paul Bremer.

David Corn has some reactions on the administration shifting Afghanistan money getting to possibly illegal Iraq war preparations.

The Hawkington Times says that "US sees Syria 'facilitating' insurgents." Oh well.

One conservative columnist in the Chicago Tribune flames Bush to a crisp over the war. I strongly think this is worth checking out, as it is not the new leftist claptrap of Counterpunch! :) Since no one wants to register for the Tribune, why not read it on the Agonist message boards?

They repeatedly tell us, in only slightly different ways, that this leadership group--or, better said, "court"--is one of "irregulars." At every opportunity, they went around our official government, around our institutions, and likely enough around the law. Across their history from the 1970s until today, this Bush neo-conservative group, backed by elements of the radical right and American supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, created alternate power centers to bypass traditional American ones. In short, they are true radicals. Think "Robespierre."

Bob Woodward writes in "Plan of Attack," for instance, how Douglas Feith, one of the most radical of the Bush-Rumsfeld courtiers, lobbied for the special intelligence planning board within the Pentagon to bypass traditional intelligence that warned against going to war in Iraq. This fact is widely known, but Woodward importantly explains: "It was a different way of doing things, first because the planners would be the implementers"--they would become the "expeditionary force" within Iraq after the war. Definitely not kosher!

There is a huge feature on the public radio series Marketplace about the Spoils of War, the reconstruction cash money millionaires and all that. You can listen online, and it will certainly go in the Mercenary File as well. Speaking of mercenaries here is a feature on them from earlier in the month.

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