American Hajji, the Sumer state of Iraq, GoreTV and messianic militarism

A few sites to look at: American Hajji is apparently the blog of a soldier who just got dumped into Mosul, fresh from the U.S. He also has posted a lot under "nameless soldier" on DailyKos.com.

Always look at the Agonist, a sort of open-source-model news aggregator that I've been looking to since the war started. They posted my submission of the AIPAC story a few days ago. A statement about Chinese currency manipulation from a Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), direct to their site. Also a rather overwrought bit about dirty money in the global economy by UK journalist Nick Kochan.

When to start a bombing? Congressman John Conyers has a sweet blog entry @ DailyKos (pretty good user range, ya?) about how the recent British memo that got released about the intelligence being "fixed around the policy" is helpful, but Conyers adds that the Americans were bombing Iraq in 2002 with the specific intention of antagonizing Saddam Hussein into retaliating. This early bombing, preparing the "battle space" as they called, was a particularly illegal action intended to provide a legal pretext, which ultimately failed to work. So they had to dream up the niger-uranium type stuff instead....

GoreTV: Al Gore's rumored cable news station has finally resurfaced as... drum roll... Current (not to be confused with our new MPR operation). As Business2.0 reported:

Gore took the wraps off his long-awaited foray into media moguldom, Current, a cross between video blogging and the early days of MSNBC. Starting Aug. 1, hipster hosts will introduce streams of blip-length clips, created by the viewers themselves, focused on music and other suitably hip subjects. The channel's first call for entries offered a tempting $3,000, three-segment "studio development deal" as a prize for the best submissions. The East Coast liberal elite expecting DNC-TV or endless reruns of Charlie Rose and Topic A With Tina Brown were left scratching their heads.

Meanwhile, Google's Larry Page sent reporters scurrying when he offhandedly mentioned during a panel that the company would begin accepting amateur video search submissions "in the next few days." Sure enough, Google's video service is now accepting files for upload and review, although the company is offering few details on when and how someone might ultimately be able to watch them, not to mention how much Google might someday charge viewers for the privilege. Ignoring the stated restrictions on what could be uploaded, the wits at Slashdot immediately saw right through what Page described as an "experiment in video blogging": This was Google's back door into the porn business. Amateur video indeed.

Then Google and Gore announced a deal with each other. Google's "Zeitgeist" feature, which compiles the top 10 most searched terms at any moment, will become the organizing principle of Current's news programming.

They have jobs available.

BagNewsNotes digests news imagery and the various methods of political spin contained therein. For example, the recent cover of Mother Jones, a crappy Schwartzenegger ad, a disturbing photo of a soldier writing on an Iraqi's head, or Queer Eye for the Pregnant Guy. NewsCorpse.com has an amusing name altho it seems pretentious.

Censorship: A batshit Poli Sci professor in Hawaii thinks that censoring the media is a fabulous idea. I don't feel like dragging myself through the details of the recent Amnesty report about our shiny new gulag system, but good ol' Sidney Blumenthal has something about the great international secret torture conspiracy®©.

Ukraine's New Boss is about the same as the Old Boss. They are going right back to old-school socialism under the new patronage of the United States, in Raimondo's view.

Fahd hospitalized? When this duffer of the desert finally goes, it'll be a mess fo sho.

The Avian Flu is coming!!! AUGH!! This horrible post from the DailyKos construes a future America laden with refugee camps and pandemic. Awful. More about it.

Libertarians: Check out LewRockwell.com, libertarian blogging and so forth. With interesting stuff from (non-libertarian) reporter Jim Lobe about the messy state of the US military, and another article about that disturbing Housing Bubble we've heard about.

I always say read Juan Cole (not to be confused with John Cole) and these days it's no different. In this case, thoughts about a recent suicide bombing against Iraqi Sufis. Also, uhm, some southern Iraqis want to reorganize the provinces into a super-province of Sumer, in reference to the very ancient civilization once sited there:

Al-Hayat says that its sources in Iraq describe an ongoing dispute between the Kurds, who want an Iraqi federalism that gives "states' rights" only to Kurdistan but not to other provinces, and the Shiites, who want a federalism that would apply geographically throughout the country. The Shiites want to create a southern super-province to serve as a counter weight to Kurdistan. Shiite leaders are planning a congress that can establish the instrumentalities for creating the region of "Sumer" in the south, which will consist of 3 consolidated provinces.

[....]

The plan is opposed by Iyad al-Samarra'i of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, who said that the IIP is willing to recognize a Kurdistan but that otherwise the present provincial boundaries should be kept. He said that if the Kurds and Shiites did go ahead with their schemes for large federal regions, the Sunni Arabs would be forces to consider creating one for themselves, as well.

The Shiites' use of "Sumer" as the name of the southern confederation is a reference to the earliest civilization in Mesopotamia, based in the south near the Gulf, who had writing as early as 3500. It is always a bad sign when people revive ancient place names, since it points to a romantic nationalism, the most virulent, false and ugly kind. (The people of southern Iraq didn't even know about Sumer two centuries ago-- modern archeologists recovered that part of history. It was perhaps the one success of Saddam's educational system that he instilled a craze for ancient Iraqi civilization in the students, as part of his nationalist agenda).

Apparently the Brits want to hand over security in their sector within a few months — de facto security control has mostly been in the hands of various Sadrists, the Dawa Party militia and other Shiite characters for quite a while.

A subject I always find alarming: the idea that God is acting to drive the gears of miscellaneous things that happen in the war, an essential element in the messianic narrative of our days. Good old Oliver North put together a book about "A Greater Freedom: Stories of Faith from Operation Iraqi Freedom." Another book, "The Faith of the American Soldier" by Stephen Mansfield, has a seemingly more rational description of itself on Amazon:

Since men and women in battle not only face the prospect of their own deaths but also must fashion a moral rationale for killing, the battlefield is often a place of tremendous religious transformation.

Do men and women at war revert to the faith of their youth or do they gravitate to the spirituality around them? Do they lose all faith in the face of horror, or do they piece together an informal faith that simply gets them through the fight? Are they better warriors and do they experience less post-traumatic stress if they believe their war is righteous and that they are agents of good?

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