Was the Iraqi Mukhabarat modelled on the German Reichssicherheitshauptamt, and in what ways?

Was the Iraqi Mukhabarat modelled on the German Reichssicherheitshauptamt, and in what ways?


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In Charles Stross' (urban fantasy-ish) novel "The Atrocity Archives", it is claimed that the Iraqi Intelligence Service Mukhabrat was modelled on the Nazi-German Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA).

The Wikipedia article about the Mukhabarat does not go into it's history that deeply. The german wiki article states that the first Iraqi Intelligence service was modelled on British examples, and was later reformed with the help of the KGB - both facts would make the claim that the RSHA was a signifcant model for the Mukhabarat dubious. Lacking an article going into the history of the Mukhabarat, I can't know.


I don't know about the Iraqi Mukhabarat, but the Egyptian one certainly was reorganized in the early 1950s with the help of former Nazi advisers. Notorious war criminals such as Otto Skorzeny and Alois Brunner were prominent in this effort. Others whose participation is not conclusively proven were Leopold Gleim and Oskar Dirlewanger.

Rather perversely, these men were acting as sort of freelancers but they were selected and recommended by the West-German military intelligence service under Gehlen with the connivance of the CIA. Yes, back then the CIA was Nasser's best friend.

Source: Owen L. Sirrs, The Egyptian Intelligence Service: A History of the Mukhabarat, 1910-2009, see Google Books.

P.S. Dirlewanger's case is rather odd. He was officially proclaimed to have died in Allied custody in 1945 but there were many reports that he actually escaped. The wiki article on him has this to say:

[T]he department of public prosecution in Ravensburg arranged the exhumation of Dirlewanger's corpse to confirm his identity in November 1960. The place of his burial was confirmed, although it was liquidated later.


Why Peace Movements Are Important

Dawley is the author of Changing the World: American Progressives in War and Revolution (Harvard Press, 2003), Professor of History at The College of New Jersey, and a member of the Steering Committee of Historians Against the War. The following article was prepared in connection with a conference sponsored by Historians Against the War in February at the University of Texas, Austin.

On the third anniversary of &ldquoShock and Awe&rdquo on March 19, 2006, bells will ring to commemorate the growing toll of American and Iraqi dead. Peace activists will stage solemn protests against what they believe is an unjust and un-winnable war. The American public will note with regret the continuation of a war which a substantial majority now believes was a mistake.

As the Iraq war enters its fourth year with no end in sight, doubts creep in about the effectiveness of the peace movement. If the largest peace demonstration in world history &ndash perhaps 10 million on February 15, 2003, alone &ndash could not prevent the war and if a vigorous peace movement has been unable to end it, then it is reasonable to ask whether peace movements can stop wars.

A realistic appraisal of American history suggests the answer is no. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Philippines were conquered in the face of a powerful anti-imperialist movement. Widespread opposition did not prevent U.S. entrance into the First World War. Revulsion against that war produced a peace movement of unprecedented scope, but it did not prevent the outbreak of World War II, nor did it stop the Roosevelt administration from participation even prior to Pearl Harbor. Opposition to the Vietnam War produced the largest demonstration in American history up to that point in the 1969 &ldquomoratorium,&rdquo but it could not stop the war. What did stop it was U.S. defeat at the hands of the Vietnamese, who, with Soviet and Chinese backing, were determined to be free of foreign domination. In short, peace movements have protested all of America&rsquos modern wars (except Korea), and they have failed to end any of them.

If peace movements do not end wars, does that mean protest is futile? Definitely not. It means we need to approach the matter from a different angle. We should be asking, &ldquoHow have peace movements shaped history?&rdquo Posing the question this way yields abundant evidence of why peace movements are important.

The list begins with setting limits on war-makers. In raising the cry, &ldquoNever again!&rdquo peace organizations played an important role in bringing about the Geneva conventions against the kind of chemical weapons used in the First World War, just as the campaign for nuclear disarmament helped insure there would be no repeat of the ghastly slaughter at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Peace activists helped create a climate that led to a series of nuclear arms limitation treaties, beginning with the atmospheric test ban of 1963 and running through the Strategic Arms Limitation treaties of the 1970s. Seeking to curry favor with an anti-nuclear public, even President Reagan said in 1982, "To those who protest against nuclear war, I can only say: `I'm with you!'" When Reagan sat down with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik to discuss the &ldquozero option&rdquo of completely eliminating nuclear weapons, it was clear that this bold idea was more popular with the public than with their respective military establishments.

Setting limits requires the creation of a political climate where politicians who take steps toward peace are rewarded at the polls, not punished. Consider the late stage of the Vietnam War. By the end of 1968 a majority of Americans were telling pollsters the Vietnam War was a mistake, largely because the United States was not winning. Although Nixon remained bent on victory, his policy of &ldquoVietnamization&rdquo led to the gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground troops and ended the draft lottery, enabling him to say he sought &ldquopeace with honor.&rdquo It was a cynical ploy that critics said merely &ldquochanged the color of the corpses,&rdquo but it helped him win a landslide victory in 1972. Meanwhile, Congressional opponents took the more direct route in 1973 of cutting off funding for future ground operations, thwarting any lingering impulse to rescue the South Vietnamese puppet regime.

Setting limits also applies to peace settlements. Peace movements are important in laying out demands for a just peace. They were especially powerful at the end of the two world wars, when diplomats were under strong pressure to create a world worthy of wartime sacrifice. Peace movements took seriously the extravagant promises of &ldquoa world safe for democracy,&rdquo &ldquoa land fit for heroes,&rdquo and &ldquoa New Deal for the world,&rdquo and they demanded redemption of these pledges in &ldquoindustrial democracy,&rdquo full employment, and racial equality. They pressured framers of the United Nations to prevent future wars by creating international machinery to resolve disputes and by removing the social and economic grievances believed to be the root cause of war.

Peace movements are also important players in the struggle over the distribution of resources. That is evident in their recurrent opposition to militarism. Every era has its version of &ldquomoney for schools, not for bombs.&rdquo In the First World War, the American Union Against Militarism opposed building a 400,000 man army and a navy equal to the British on the grounds that militarism drained resources from civilian needs. Proposing a &ldquomoral equivalent of war,&rdquo William James called for boot camps for wilderness conservation instead of military training. In the Vietnam era, activists called for a redirection of funds away from the hundreds of overseas military bases toward &ldquomodel cities&rdquo and other Great Society programs at home. In the Reagan years, the nuclear freeze movement called for &ldquoeconomic conversion&rdquo from the military-industrial complex to civilian investment, pointing out that school construction and investment in health care produced far more jobs dollar-for-dollar than building costly B-1 bombers.

The struggle over resources leads peace movements towards social justice. As Martin Luther King observed, &ldquoPeace is not the absence of conflict, it is the presence of justice.&rdquo While many hew to the single issue of war, some leading organizations consciously combine peace and social justice, including the Women&rsquos International League for Peace and Freedom founded in 1919 and today&rsquos largest anti-war organization United for Peace and Justice. From Jane Addams forward, feminists have been particularly prominent in pacifist ranks, while King linked racial and economic justice to ending the Vietnam War. Although the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations were reliably pro-war until recently, many other segments of the labor movement objected to the First World War in class terms as a &ldquorich man&rsquos war, poor man&rsquos fight,&rdquo or what socialists like Eugene Debs called &ldquocapitalist war.&rdquo

Of course, peace and justice movements are no more effective in ending social injustice than in ending wars, but they can be important weights in the social balance of power. For example, advocates of &ldquoPeople&rsquos Peace&rdquo and other anti-warriors of 1917-1918 helped labor win concessions from elites in the form of the War Labor Board to settle disputes and a Women&rsquos Bureau to guard against exploitation of women workers.

Peace and justice movements also play an important role in opposing empire. Early in the twentieth century, anti-imperialists sought to preserve a republic free of the overweening influence of finance capital, seen by many populists and progressives as the malign force behind U.S. intervention in the Philippines, the Caribbean, revolutionary Mexico, and Bolshevik Russia. Although most of the credit for forcing U.S. withdrawal from Mexico in 1916 and Russia in 1920 goes to resistance on the ground, anti-imperial forces in the United States also played a hand.

What are the lessons for today? It seems unlikely that the peace movement will stop the Iraq war any time soon, let alone the permanent &ldquowar on terror&rdquo that started in Afghanistan and Iraq and will expand to who knows where? For the first time in our history, America&rsquos rulers have rested their case for war on fear and fear alone. They make no promise of a better world and ask no sacrifice. To the contrary, they crush civil liberties, slash the social benefits of low income people, and give tax cuts to the rich. The logical outcome is a nightmarish Orwellian world where ordinary people are forced to foot the bill for the corporate-military tyranny that oppresses them.

Fortunately, the current situation suggests other possible outcomes. Opposition to U.S. empire is strong abroad there are signs of disorder in ruling circles at home President Bush&rsquos poll numbers put him in the company of Nixon on the eve of resignation. If ever there was a time for a peace movement to oppose permanent war &ndash another name for empire &ndash this is it. Linkage between peace and economic justice would expand the ranks. At the very least, today&rsquos movement can do what peace movements have always done -- claim the moral high ground by affirming life over death. Finally, for those who think the war does not concern them, there is something to think about on March 19 th: &ldquoAsk not for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee.&rdquo


This special operator was a real life ‘Jason Bourne’

He was a former Delta Force operator who’d taken a career turn into the shadowy world of “non-official cover” intelligence operations for the Army. He lived in the shadows — traveling around the world to build and maintain his cover as a businessman, with members of his former unit wondering where he’d gone.

But on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the East European executed a daring mission on behalf of America’s top commando units, driving into the heart of Saddam Hussein’s power and surveilling his most fearsome tool of the Iraqi dictator’s oppression.

The East European conducted clandestine electronic surveillance deep inside Baghdad with no official cover. (DOD photo)

The stunning story of the East European is detailed in Sean Naylor’s book “Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command.” The operator is said to have been an original member of Delta Force and was on the ill-fated Eagle Claw mission to rescue American hostages in Tehran. Born in Eastern Europe, the elite commando was said to be a “funny, outgoing guy with a heavy accent,” Naylor writes.

The operator left the assaulter side of Delta and worked in the Training, Evaluation and Operational Research office of the unit, which among other things develops high-tech gadgets for Delta commandos to use on covert missions. Later, the East European descended into the shadowy world of a NOC.

These intelligence agents, Naylor writes, were playing a dangerous game. They could infiltrate countries where Americans dared not travel under a realistic cover, but if they were caught, they had no ready support and no diplomatic immunity like CIA officers do. The East European had traveled to Iran in hopes of recruiting military sources there and had even worked inside Iraq in the 1990s as part of the United Nations’ search for WMD. His cover was maintained by a U.S.-allied country in Eastern Europe, and he’d even had access to that country’s embassy in Baghdad, Naylor explained.

Inspectors and other IAEA staff prepare for the resumption of inspections in Iraq 18 Nov, 2002. (Photo Credit: Mark Gwozdecky / IAEA)

But it was after the attacks on 9/11, that the East European was given his most dangerous mission yet.

It was a typical drive from Amman to Baghdad for the American agent, but the vehicle he was driving into Saddam’s capital wasn’t typical at all. The SUV that would carry him into the city was bristling with surveillance equipment implanted by the National Security Agency. The super-secret listening devices were designed to capture cellphone and handheld radio traffic and send the signals back to the U.S. for analysis, Naylor writes.

The East European simply parked the SUV in front of the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in Baghdad and left it there. Military intelligence operatives hoped to get tips on Iraqi military positions just before the invasion and track the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein.

“If you were trying to establish every time that Saddam Hussein’s personal security detail drove around Baghdad, this was a way of doing that,” a Joint Special Operations command officer told Naylor. “The Iraqis were notoriously poor at OPSEC.”

After leaving the vehicle at Iraqi intel HQ, the East European walked the streets of Baghdad with a special GPS device, tagging targets in the Iraqi capital for airstrikes.

The East European pinpointed targets deep inside Baghdad for U.S. bombers during the ‘Shock and Awe’ campaign. (Photo from Democracy Now)

“Such missions entailed enormous risk, not only from the Iraqi security services if the agent was compromised, but from the bombing campaign itself,” Naylor wrote. “Protecting him required careful, up-to-the-minute planning of the airstrikes.”

So if it wasn’t the Mukhabarat that could bring death and destruction to the East European, it was American bombs.

The East European quietly exfiled from Iraq after the invasion and served several more years in military-related intelligence services. But that drive into the heart of Baghdad shows that the feats of Hollywood superstars like Jason Bourne aren’t entirely the stuff of fiction.


May 10,1933- Book burning.

A scary thought crossed my mind this week. What some Social Media outlets are doing nowadays, is basically the digital version of book burning. Regardless how valuable a post might be, or even how inoffensive it is when the moderators don’t like it , it will get banned,or digitally burned so to speak.

On May 10,1933 German university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of perceived “un-German” books, foreshadowing an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in the majority of German university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators.

The books ranged from Bebel, Bernstein, Preuss, and Rathenau through Einstein, Freud, Brecht, Brod, Döblin, Kaiser, the Mann brothers, Zweig, Plievier, Ossietzky, Remarque, Schnitzler, and Tucholsky, to Barlach, Bergengruen, Broch, Hoffmannsthal, Kästner, Kasack, Kesten, Kraus, Lasker-Schüler, Unruh, Werfel, Zuckmayer, and Hesse. The catalogue went back far enough to include literature from Heine and Marx to Kafka. But also books from H.G Wells,Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf.

What amazes me most about this, these weren’t uneducated people doing this but students and lecturers, and other academics willingly participating in the destruction of scientific research and history.

These academics had become the moderators of what could or could not be read.

It is true history does repeat itself.

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Was the Iraqi Mukhabarat modelled on the German Reichssicherheitshauptamt, and in what ways? - History


Yesterday I was doing a night shift at the hospital. After the night tour I went to the residents’ dining hall to have dinner. Many of my colleagues were there already. As I sat down, my eyes fell on an ugly seen. There was a picture just in front of me showing young Sadr, his father and the old Iraqi flag in the background. It has been very common since the end of the war to see pictures of She’at clerics everywhere. These are mainly of the late Sadr, Sistani and the late Mohammed Bakir Al-Hakeem and the youngest most famous idiot in the world, Muqtada Al-Sadr.

Lately the pictures of the fool have been disappearing and getting less and less visible everyday. Our hospital has few supporters of Sadr but these are -as expected- aggressive and fanatics, so no one dared to remove their pictures. My friends were discussing who would be the president in the transitional government and most of them agreed that Al-Pachachi was the best man for the job. The guy sitting next to me was a She’at who hates all clerics except Sadr! He thought that he was the least hypocrite of all. This guy however was funny and not a fanatic. I looked at him and said,

-Now how am I supposed to have my dinner with this person pointing at me!? Do you really think this is a picture that should be put in a cafeteria??

My friend smiled and said,

-Shh, lower your voice! I’m your friend but if some of his followers heard you say that, I really fear for your safety. I told you that they have instructions to kill anyone who talks badly of Sadr.

- I won’t lower my voice. All my life I had to lower my voice whenever I wanted to speak about Saddam. I couldn’t have the joy of at least tearing one of his pictures because of the chaos that followed the liberation. I want to tear this one.

- No, please don’t. This is for your own sake.

- I promise you I won’t touch his fathers face or the old Iraqi flag, although I don’t like it. Besides I have the freedom to say my opinion in anyone.

-Yes, but what about your friends, the Americans, do they allow anyone to curse bush? Didn’t they hit Al-Rasheed hotel because of the picture of Bush the father was painted on the floor of the entrance? Another friend interfered.

-Are you serious!? And for your information many Americans hate Bush, and the Americans -even if they don’t like it- don’t prevent anyone from saying his opinion, and I want to scream in contempt and rejection for any tyrant and this fool is a tyrant project.

-Can you really swear at Bush? I don’t think so. My Shea’at friend said.

-Ok, just to show you that I fear no one and that we are free: S**T ON BUSH, S**T ON SADDAM AND S**T ON YOUR MUQTADA AL-SADR. I screamed as loud as I could.

Some of my friends laughed and others looked around to see if there was anyone of Sadr supporters there. They couldn’t believe what they heard.

-Ok, you say it’s freedom. Give us the freedom to post the pictures of the people we like, and so that you know, I only want it to stay here because they posted those pictures of Sistani and Al-Hakeem.

-Why don’t you like Sistani? I think he’s doing the right thing by staying calm.

-Yes, the right thing for himself.

-Himself and us. Do you really want to fight the Americans!?

-Are you kidding?? You know as I know as all these hypocrites, that no senior cleric will announce Jihad. I personally want to finish my study and offer my kids a good living, travel around the world and enjoy my life. I just support Muqtada because he showed the senior clerics as the hypocrites they are talking about “red lines” and such lies. Red lines my **s.

I laughed and agreed, and then I asked him,

-Will you accept it if I put the pictures of the people I like?

-Ok, I want to post a picture of GWB, Adnan Al-Pachachi, and Colin Powel.

-I’ll tear the picture of Bush if you put it but I promise you I won’t touch those of Powel or Al-Pachachi.

-Why is that? Where’s the freedom here!?

-I’m sorry but I hate GWB. I like Pachachi and Powel though.

-He is an honest man and I respect him a lot for fighting his way to where he is now without any help, and for his help to us, especially in cutting the debts down.

-That wasn’t exactly him, but he had an effort in that. So can I put his picture next to Sadr, although I think it’s an insult to the great man.

-No put it next to that one. My friend pointed towards a picture of Abdul Aziz Al-Hakeem the head of the SCIRI.

-Because he promised the Iranians that he would pay all the money we owe to Iran when he was the president of the GC.

Then my friend came with this idea of adding Saddam’s picture and writing a small line under each one, and here is how he thought it should be:


The man who drowned Iraq in debts.


The man who wants to save Iraq from drowning.


The man who also wants to save. Iran.

I received this mail from one of the readers including a mail from an American soldier posted in his home page sent to his father. He has a story about an Iraqi soldier that I think needed to be read. Here is part of the mail:


I could tell you stories of individual heroics of Iraqi soldiers. One specific example is of an Iraqi SgtMaj who came into our lines during the first days of fighting in Falluja. He made his way through the mujahadeen and risked being killed by us to tell us that he was concerned about the ICDC (Iraqi Civil Defense Corps) armory in town. He knew it was only a matter of time until the muj went for the armory to take the weapons.
Honestly, I would have thought that they had already done it as the police stations and every other good piece of ground seemed to be occupied by the muj by that time. In short, he wanted to let us know that he was going back into the town to get the weapons. The Marines asked him if he wanted us to help. No. He only wanted us to take the weapons from him when he came back through. This guy took a couple young Iraqi soldiers with a truck and drove back through our lines into the hornets nest of Falluja. He went to the armory, emptied the weapons and ammo stored there and brought it back out through the fighting to us. We expected him to want to stay with us or to move on to Baghdad or some other safe area. He refused and stated that he was going back into the city as that was where his duty was.

We had a group that showed up shortly thereafter. You have probably heard about them as they came out of Baghdad and on the way were ambushed a couple of times. By the time they made it here only 200 of 700 were in their ranks. I know that the public story is that they folded after a couple of days of fighting and disintegrated. They actually made it through three days of fighting. Not just taking a few rounds, they held through accurate machine gun fire, mortars and multiple assaults. They also moved forward and occupied positions on the Marines' flanks. After three days, we pulled them out. The Marines will tell you that they did a hell of a job.”

Bravery has a face in every culture, in every land.

(The soldier/author Major David G. Bellon, USMC)

We recieve so many wonderful mails every day from good people everywhere in the world (and some hateful too). Some of these really touches me and I find myself wanting to share them with you. Also I know there are many Iraqis read this site and these are the ones I really want them to read those mails. The following two mails are from soldiers' families. You may disagree with some of what they have to say, but I believe these people have the right, more than anyone else, to say what they want and how they feel. They are the people who are risking and giving the most.
Here are the mails:

I recently found your incredible website. I'm an American citizen with too much invested in the outcome of this war. At least, I truly felt that way nearly 20 minutes ago.

Every night, I rush to the television to watch the Iraq War on the nightly news. And for that half hour, I sob or stare in disbelief. The love of my life is to leave me soon, as he's been mobilized to Iraq. With every news broadcast, I would cringe and think of only the worst - for me.

How truly selfish I am! After reading your website, I feel like I can send him off with a smile always knowing that he's doing right - right for a country and a people who desperately need him more than I. And with so many positive Iraqis (that I never knew existed before now), I can have faith that, should he ever be in need, the genuine people of Iraq will provide.

Also, I recently studied Islam in a college course. I could not understand how such a strong, and peaceful religion had been so misconstrued by its followers. My intolerance was growing how would I soon differ from them? Now, I can say that I understand how a selected few, and bad media coverage can misguide even the peaceful. Everyone who has contributed to your website should be credited with saving MY misguided soul.

Thank you, once again. Your site will continue to provide reality when we need it most.

Dear Sir,
I stumbled upon your web page today while trying to find some "good news" on Iraq. I was sure there must be some somewhere. My son, John, is a Sargent with the 3rd ID, he works in a tank. He "invaded" Iraq from Kuwait last year and entered Baghdad through Baghdad International Airport. He was there for 8 months. During that time he called and wrote home often about what wonderful people Iraqis were. He said as they passed throuh southern Iraq, his heart bled becuse he had never known such poverity exisisted before. It made him and his friends more determined to "get the right thing done." When they entered Baghdad and "took" one of the southern palaces, he was filled with anger and hate for Saddam. How could he let his people's children live in mire, hungry and without a future while he lived sitting on a gold toilet? I heard much of this from him. When he came home, he spoke fondly of the Iraqi friends he had made and the children he had come to know and played games with. He said he wanted to bring them all home with him, and was sad he could not.
Now he will be returning to Iraq sometime later this year. He feels that the politicians here in the US have let the Iraqi people down. He is worried that his old friends will now hate him. He is confused and doesn't know what he can do to help. I am worried that all he will find when he gets there is hatered and distrust. He wanted so much to help make this world be a better place for humanity. He is feeling that he and his army buddies are failures in that task. The prison scandal is very heavy on his heart and he is very angry that an American soldier could possibly do thata to another person.
I am sending him your web site and printed out some of your postings for him to share with his friends. I am in hopes this will give him renewed determination to be true to the hope for freedom in your country.
Freedom isn't easy. Freedom is hard and must be worked all the time. We have been working at it for 200 years and we still do not have it right yet. There are still those in this country who are not given the freedoms we are trying to help Iraq achieve. But if everyone keeps working at it and refuses to give up, it can be done.
Mary

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

Many people accepted these words following 9/11. America, and the west in general, were shocked by those terrorist attacks motivated by utter hatred for civilization and humanity. I was one of those who agreed with this new concept and I don’t recall many objections to that phrase at those times, even from the Arab and Muslim governments.

As time passed, many people-including some Americans- seemed to have forgot all about those horrible attacks and started to view that concept as somewhat extreme and over reacting.

I still believe in the truth that lie in that phrase and the reason for this is that I have lived under Saddam. Thus I think I’m more aware of the nature of the enemy as a result of dealing with him day after day for all my life. We were either with Saddam or against him and there was no place in between, simply because the nature of that regime forced us to be either with or against. There was no place for negotiation or dialogue and the proofs for that are millions of dead, more than a million missing, more than 5 million refuge and hundreds of thousands of handicapped and the highest incidence rate of mental and psychological illnesses. Many of those were not against Saddam they were just not with him.

The American administration comprehended the magnitude and the nature of the threat. This is nothing like the cold war because the enemy then was different. There was an ideology that disagreed with the west and claim to have noble goals and the communist project stimulate you to think deeply. Communism found itself forced to communicate with the opponent and even cooperate with him in trying to solve many problems in the world that didn’t serve the interests of either part.

When that enemy recognized that his ideology was on its way to be defeated, he surrendered with honor that makes you really respect him when you put in mind the massive military and political power he had. He gave up all his dreams and didn’t use violence because he didn’t want to destroy himself and the others.

At those times there were parts of the world that refuse to ally, at least not strongly, to either one of the superpowers. Some countries had the luxury of staying rather away from that conflict, and they had the option of approaching either side according to where their interests lied without risking a lot.

The policy of managing the crises was somewhat appropriate for those times and was not what can be considered as a bad policy. It was accompanied by many mistakes but it managed to protect the world from much worse expected disasters.

It seems that many people are still thinking in the same manner that was predominant at the cold war times. The majority of Americans and Iraqis grasp the nature of the threat as a result of their direct contact with the enemy and that needs to be shown to the others.

The new enemy differs from all the previous ones in that he doesn’t have or even claim to have any constructive ideology. He doesn’t bring us anything other than the seeds of death and destruction “either you surrender to me or I kill you”. As for an alternative ideology, it doesn’t exist. Moreover the willingness to initiate a dialogue was never expressed or shown to be a possibility.

This enemy don’t want to indulge himself in a productive talk, he never show himself in public except when he’s loaded with explosives and stern desire to kill as many people as possible regardless of their religion, ethnicity and nationality. His main goal is of course destruction of the western civilization, but he wouldn’t care if it involved taking the lives of even “Muslim brothers” during the course, as it's shown in Iraq. He says it frankly, “you’re either with me or against me” it was his choice in the first place not ours. Those who don’t believe in this will pay dearly, not at the hands of the Americans, for sure but at the hands of the terrorists whom they’re appeasing.

There’s no place in between in this war and that’s because of the nature of the enemy. That’s why I was never intimidated by the American administration’s speech. I see it as the closest thing to reality and I greatly commend the wisdom and courage of the other coalition countries that decide to join the US by benefiting from the experience of the others.

I think that the majority agrees that the international organizations that were founded after WW2 have proved to be too weak than to be trusted in leading humanity to make the right decisions. This is so obvious from their confusion during crises that only lead to further disturbance and add to the obstacles that face the countries that have the will and the means to solve those crises. The whole world should acknowledge the necessity of reviewing the performance of such organizations.

Now to the most important point: Is their any retreat in front of the enemy? Is there any regret and tendency to go back to managing crises instead of solving them? Is there really a will to go back and depend on stale organization like the UN to handle such a crucial issue as the future of Iraq?

I don’t know what exactly is on the mind of the American administration and what exactly their intentions are, but I know that it’s absolutely wrong in this stage and with the existing threats to go back to the old policy, and I know that the coalition has the capabilities and the strength to defeat the enemy.

This war demands great determination, patience and faith on the parts of the governments and the people. For me, an Iraqi citizen, the American administration has never failed me, not yet. I hope that they keep the course, otherwise the loss will be that of the whole humanity and I doubt if it can ever be overcome.

I don't like to repeat myself, but I wanted to share with you some of the opinions of Iraqis about their daily lives that I read on the bbc. arabic.com There were more than many comments and about 70% of them were positive. Here are some examples:

What happens these days in Iraq is a natural process as a result from the transfer from dictatorship to democracy.
Ali Ahmed-Baghdad.

I'm an Iraqi citizen and I want to thank president GWB from all my heart for the great service he's done to the Iraqi people by freeing us from one of the worst tyrants in history. This liberation didn't suit the enemies of humanity and freedom, thus we see them committing terrorist acts claiming to resist occupation by killing their own people, but that will not affect the Iraqis lust for freedom. Thanks again GWB.
Kamal-Adhamya-Baghdad.

I won't forget the day when I saw one of Saddam's tanks crushing the heads of 40 She'at Iraqis who were among others arrested for no obvious reason in 1991. Their hands were tied and put on the street for the tank to pass over their heads. The words" No She'at after today" where written on that tank.

I was one of those people. My hands were tied to the back and a grenade was put between them and the safety pin removed. It was positioned in a way that it should explode if I was to make any move, and I was left a lone in a deserted area that was at least 5 Km. from any life. If it wasn't for the kindness of one of the soldiers who came back and rescued me, I would've certainly died soon.
Ihsan Al-Shimmari-Sweeden.

We lived our worst years under Saddam regime, a regime that many Arabs still believe in!We don't know why don't they leave us in peace, especially the Arab media that turns liberation into occupation and criminals into resistant. We, Iraqis, know the truth very well. The situation is much better now for the vast majority of Iraqis. Most of the people are government employees who used to get paid 4 or 6 thousand Iraqi dinars. Now the lowest salary is 100 thousand Iraqi Dinar. We feel free and we don't fear prisons and torture. The Arab media, as expected, made a huge fuss about the prisoners abuse in Abu-Gharib. Shame on them. Where were they when Saddam put explosives around a bunch of young men and blasted their bodies and they all saw that on TV? Where were they?
Saman-Iraq.

I had to leave Iraq because I didn't want to be one of Saddam's slaves. After so many years, I'm back to my country and I saw that people are not as nervous as they used to be. I saw hope in their eyes despite the security problems. All I have to say to our Arab brothers is,"We are practicing democracy. You keep enjoying dictatorship"
Ilham Hussain-Baghdad.

I'm from an area not so far from Shat Al-Arab, still at Saddam's time we never had clean water supply. Now the situation is better and the British are very gentle and kind. I no longer fear for my life or my family's. The only problems we have are the thieves and some shortage in power supply.
Kadim Jabbar-Al-Zubair-Basra.

The daily life in Basra is not that different from other parts of Iraq It's very hot, the water and power supply are not Continueous, still I prefer to live a year in these conditions than one hour like those we lived under Saddam.
Abbas Mahir Tahir-Basra.

There’s been more reaction than needed in my opinion in response to the Chalabi case even before the accusations of conspiring with the Iranians. Honestly I didn’t understand why the world was and still so much interested in this case.

The way I see it is that Chalabi is just a man who had some chance to play a role in the future of Iraq and blew it away. There are too many allegations on either part of what caused this change in the nature of relation between Chalabi and the CPA. Some people say it's just an American conspiracy to polish Chalabi's face and show him as a real patriot, since a 'real patriot' must show at least some anti-American attitude especially in this critical period that demands full cooperation between Iraqis and Americans!

Others say that Chalabi has actually changed his attitude from being very pro-American into showing more and more disapproval of the USA's policy in Iraq to gain some sympathy from the She'at prior to the handover of sovereignty and the elections that will follow. Anyway this is just insignificant to go on with, as far as I see it, and I’ll try to focus on one issue, that is what does it mean to be pro-American, and I will not talk about my personal feelings here.

Mr. Chalabi has seriously diminished if not ended his political career by opposing the US in public and using a threatening and defying tone when speaking about the American strategy in Iraq. I don’t know who fooled this man and told him that by doing so, he would get more support from Iraqis since-in their minds- Iraqis hate Americans.

The only real support that this man has (or better say had) was the result his pro-American stance. People who believed that the interests of Iraq lied in parallel with those of the US in addition to some opportunistic who want to be in the circle of power supported Chalabi because they thought he was USA's man in Iraq. I personally didn’t like the man, but the fact that I believe my country’s interests lie in strong and long alliance with the USA made me accept him, especially if I had to choose between him and a cleric or an Arab nationalist.

By showing hostility to the US, Chalabi lost most of his supporters and gained almost none in return, as anti-American Iraqis are either Arab nationalists or Islamists in general or fools who believe whatever the media has to say, and since the media showed the man as a thief and a traitor, there’s a very little chance that those people would believe otherwise.

Some would say that Chalabi had a role to do, did that and now the Americans are getting rid of him since he’s not useful anymore. These are the people who used to say that the US had put Saddam in power and supported his regime in the past. What I want to say here is that no one can put anyone to power this simple. Saddam and the Ba'athists made their way to power through a long way that was paved with terror, torture and the blood of millions of Iraqis.

It’s the choice of any man to serve a foreign power to get more power inside his country which makes him disposable when he has nothing to offer, or to serve his country by forming an alliance with a super power- as no small nation can survive and make real progress independently- thus gaining the trust of the people and he, himself becomes a part of the strong relations that would connect his country to that super power.

Should we blame the USA for supporting people like the Shah of Iran and then leaving him to face his destiny alone? Not at all. If I was one of the people in charge of my country’s policy and a foreigner came to me in difficult situations offering help and asking for support in return, I think I would accept that if it served my country, and if that man lost his power or changed to become a danger to my country, should I continue to support him? Or do I have to feel shame from fighting a man I have shacked hands with in the past in order to serve my country. Should the allies apologize for supporting Stalin in WW2 for example?! I guess that in few years from now regimes like Ghadafi's will collapse and this will most likely happen through the help of the USA and the UK in particular, and I can see the major media showing the picture of Tony Blair shaking hands with Ghadafi saying, “you supported this dictator. Why remove him now!?"

There are 2 types of pro-Americans in Iraq, those who support America’s efforts in Iraq and believe in a long term strong and good relations with the USA and those who support America because they want a piece of the cake, and in my opinion America is free and expected to help and get help from both, only she can stop dealing with the latter or even get rid of them if they started to be more harmful than beneficial. On the other hand, America cannot, and will not, ignore the men and women who really represent their people and believe in a strategic friendship between Iraq and America. There are many Iraqi politicians who fall in this category and we are certainly not in desperate need for Chalabi’s services.

Chalabi was not really pro-American because he was not pro-Iraqi in the first place. He was just pro-Chalabi. Of course we knew that from the beginning but as the man showed his will to support democracy in the face of ex-Ba'athists and religious fanatics, there was nor reasonable cause to refuse dealing with him. Now that it seems he had changed his course, there's no reason we should support him anymore.

Being pro-American means for *me* being pro-freedom, anti-terrorists, pro-democracy and above all pro-Iraqi.

I really laughed at a scene that was not supposed to be funny at all. I was watching the news and they showed a report about a huge demonstration organized in Lebanon by Hizbullah. The estimates said that there were about 500 thousands of She’at Muslim protesting against the “violations” of the American army in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerballa.

Hassan Nasr-Allah was making a speech in the traditional screaming manner of most of the Muslim clerics. He was threatening America not to "cross the lines”. He was promising “help to the oppressed Iraqis”.

That scene took me for a while away from the reality where I stand. It took me a moment to ‘glance’ back to where I am, to Iraq. Despite some alleged "Fatwas" and few speeches about “red lines”, most of the political AND religious leaders were calling for withdrawal of *all* armed forces and militias from the holy cities. No one called for jihad, and no one blamed the Americans, except for Sadr followers. There were almost no anti-American demonstrations regarding this issue, at least not any significant ones.

If one is to believe the media and the Arab leaders and Muslim clerics, the only conclusions that can be drawn from such a situation, is that there are no Iraqis in Iraq. The only Iraqis who seem to exist and “care about the Iraqi people” live outside Iraq! I can name in this respect, in addition to the above the western media, the French, German and Russian governments and the “pacifists”. Otherwise why aren’t the Iraqis going out to the streets in hundreds of thousands to protest against their "oppressors"!?

I guess there are only few answers to this question. It’s either that the majority of Iraqis don’t feel there’s such huge violation that needs to be protested against, or that they are more interested in their daily lives their jobs and the future of their children than whining about buildings that as holy as they are to them, can not match their care about their jobs and children’s future.

This may give the impression that Iraqis are apathetic to what’s happening in their country, which could be true for some of them as a result of decades of oppression and hopelessness, but when one remembers that Iraqis did demonstrate a lot in the last year, such presumptions indeed seems to fit only a minority.

The only difference here is that most of the demonstrations the Iraqis made were not demanding ending the occupations. They were about improving life conditions and security in other words things that really matter to them. Still there were political demonstrations, but the largest of these were, one demanding immediate elections and one condemning terrorism!!

There still one possibility that might explain why the rest of the world “care” more about Iraqis than the Iraqis themselves. It’s that we are all traitors who accepted to deal, and sometimes cooperate fully with the occupiers. This was what I heard from most Arabs describing the IP, the new Iraqi army, the GC, the ministers and most of the government employees. It seems that we have a new breed of traitors multiplying in Iraq and these seem to have forgot according to the rest of the world that they are Iraqis (Hey, I don’t belong into this category. I’m a CIA agent, please remember that!). Iraqis indeed need lessons from Hassan Nasr Allah and Al-Jazeerah of how to be…Iraqis. I'm not claiming that most Iraqis love America, although a good percentage certainly do. I'm only suggesting that more Iraqis are becoming day by day, at least, less anti-American and more realistic.

We all know that the goal of the American army in this operation is to arrest Sadr and there’s no need or cause to harm the holy shrines and I’m sure that the highly trained soldiers and bright leaders in the US army will manage to do that with the minimal damage if ever.

Some people might fear the undesirable reactions of the She’at Muslims outside Iraq in response to any attempt to arrest Sadr at this period. Let me say that there are no easy options here, but if we believe in that theme and surrender to our fears, we’ll be falling to the same trap that many European governments fell in. we’ll be appeasing the extremists instead of facing them. Besides what could Hizbullah or the Iranian clerics do?! Send more fighters?? They are already doing this and they need no excuse for that!

The only way we can stop that is by continuing the building of democracy in Iraq. Once those outsiders lose any sympathy inside Iraq, and once the neighboring countries feel that it’s impossible to stop the process, they’ll give up and try to find other alternatives that might help them keep their decayed regimes alive, at least for few more years. It’s not that easy, but it’s that simple. This is a battle of wills above all.

Yesterday I was watching Al-Hurrah TV. They were showing a report about the Iraqi students who were selected in the “Full Bright Program” to finish their higher studies in the USA. This was supposed to be a student exchange program to help Iraqis and Americans get to know each other in a better way and understand each other more, but due to the security problems in Iraq, there were no American students to replace the Iraqi ones.Those students were chosen after competing in 2 seperate exams and those who achieved an average over 85% were selected.

Some of these Iraqi students met with the secretary of state, Mr. Colin Powel and the Iraqi ambassador in the US (Rand Raheem). Al-Hurrah reporter interviewed some of those students (males and females). One of them said, “I knew that America is the most developed and civilized country in the world but when I reached here, I found that life here is far beyond my imaginations. The people are very civilized, smart and yet very polite,simple and warm.”

Another, female student wearing Hijab, said that she was impressed with the life style in the US and that among the things that caught her attention the most, was the way that the officials deal with the people “Simple and transparent” as she put it, then added “That’s, in my opinion, the reason why America is the greatest nation. Now I realize why Arab countries are so far behind.”

I really wish there could be more of those programs and hope that there could be a chance for some American students to come to Iraq too, although I’m aware of the dangers right now. Such programs can open many eyes and help remove so much misunderstanding and distrust that is created by ignorance about the others and facilitated by the pictures that the media convey. I’m sure those Iraqi students, when they come back, will affect at least the way their families and close friends view the American people, and officials as well.

It’s easy for anyone to hate, criticize and complain of the bad situations but it’s difficult to love and work to overcome the hardships. I’ve been accused many times of being over optimistic and unrealistic while my country is passing through a critical period and the future of the region and the world is going to be affected by the result of this war.
I know this well and I feel it everyday when I deal with people I’m in the middle of this and I can see the dangers and the coming difficulties, but is this my duty?!
The point here is that I’m trying to work hard to overcome the difficulties. I’m not going to blame others all the time or put the responsibilities for what happens on others as this will not push the progress forwards, instead, I’m trying to look through the smoke of the battle to see tomorrow’s Iraq.
When an old regime is dying, it will do anything, not to come back but to hinder the birth of the new being and the old regime’s battle is going to be costly and cruel but it’s certainly a defeat and I see this everyday, when someone thinks that terror is proving itself as a power and strikes violently I see that it’s moving backwards despite the loss we endure.
The process of change is moving onwards and it’s going to leave behind lots of minds and powers that failed to catch up with it.
The difficulty of the situation lies in the complexity of anti-change alliances.
Yes, it’s always easy to look for the bad events and show them to the public like most media sources do but this is not my duty and this is not what I believe in.
I find those who try to spread the bad impression unable to do anything but to hate and their main objective is to spread hatred to the public opinion to make it an international policy that will lead us only to doom. They don’t offer alternatives neither they ask you to think deeper to find a solution for the problems you have. They just want you to hate and hate and to stop your brains from reasoning things out.
This reminds me of a friend of mine who’s house was the target for a grenade attack a few days ago (we thank God, no one was hurt) just because he works to build this country with the coalition. He said “Ok, I’m ready to leave this job, but those who attacked my house, what are they going to offer as an alternative? They just want to see everyone paralyzed with fear and hate”.
Love, is another subject, it demands that you think a lot, fight against what you are told about "the others" and to give a lot for others. Building love takes more time and keeping the faith in it requires patience and sacrifices and a vision that exceeds the limits of today or tomorrow and this is what the losers can’t afford, that’s why they chose the easier road of hollow criticism that lacks the spirit and creativity and this would be obvious if you looked closer at the nature of the efforts that counter act the changing process, they provide no alternatives at all or sometimes, with great foolishness, try to compare the current situation with the previous one or to go back to it saying that things were better then.
Some say that the US must withdraw from Iraq right now for the best of Iraqis I say, Ok, the US withdrew from Somalia long time ago and what was the result? What’s Somalia like now?
Humanity, in it’s nature has an inclination to move forwards and those people are acting against this nature and once again I tell you that their job is very easy and it won’t need much to be done while my job is a hard one that needs a lot but I’m not giving it up.
A prosperous and democratic Iraq will be a reality it’s just a matter of time. Everyone should believe in this, more than this, we should start to feel it from this moment and the obstacles we’re facing right now will be a history that we would only discuss in the future to get some lessons from.
Finally, I have a question to the anti-change and to our friends in the biased media wherever they might be if all your stories were true and if we were wrong about everything we did, what suggestions would you offer to make things better? what are your plans?
What?! What did you say? I'm listening.

:: It's become a habit for me to carry me digital camera wherever I go, so today I've got some photos for you from my rides in Baghdad's streets. I've passed through some , fancy neighborhoods like Karrada, Zayoona and through old, simple ones. However, the common factor among these streets are the scenes of new buildings some are still under construction while many others have been finished and this includes even the people's houses. You can't walk in any street now without seeing piles of bricks or small hills of building sand or gypsum.
It's also interesting to know that the prices of construction materials have considerably increased since the liberation for example, the price of 4,000 bricks (the default load of a 6-wheel truck which are usually hired to carry bricks) was about 60,000 ID in 2002, compared with about 100,000 ID in May 2003, now, the same number of bricks cost about 400,000 ID. The same thing applies to cement as the price of one ton has increased from 50,000 ID in 2002, to about 200,000 ID in 2004. This is mainly a result of the increased demand of the Iraqi market for these materials and this includes both, private business and the governmental plans for the general reconstruction of the state foundations and it's surprising that despite these high figures, people are still building. In the suburbs, the demand has also relatively increased as people attempt to replace mud huts with real houses (last winter, we used to have causalities in the suburb where I work every time it rained as some of those huts tend to collapse because of the high moisture) so I hope we won't see such sad incidents next winter but I still wish they would keep building their traditional marsh reeds huts which are constructed exclusively from reeds without any other material. I had the chance to get into one of these some time ago when one of the local Sheikhs invited the medical staff in the suburb to have dinner.

Few days ago, I was riding a cap from work to my home. The driver as expected tried to start a chat. I was too tired and not in the mood to join him. There was a traffic jam that obviously annoyed him and the weather was hot as expected in a May noon. He said, "Baghdad has become impossible" this has become a usual phrase to start a conversation. It’s the synonym for the British “looks like a nice weather today”. I was becoming sick of complaints that usually start with this phrase. I said to myself, "Oh my god not another American hater" I didn’t want to reply but I thought it might help to pass time so I answered, “When was Baghdad ‘possible’?” the driver replied, “yes, life was always hard but these days they’ve become intolerable”
-Because of the Americans, you mean?

-No, of course not. Because of the difficulties in work.

-What do you mean? I know that you now charge double or triple the fees while cars and spare parts are cheaper now than ever.

-Yes, but the hours we can work in have decreased considerably because of the bad security conditions.

-What bad security conditions!? You are still afraid that someone might rob your car and get away with it in such a traffic jam??

-Of course not, but I can’t work for a late hour.

-I understand your fears but I always have known this place to be busy until midnight.

-That’s true but not in my neighborhood, so I have to go back much earlier than that

-Oh I see, but what do you think the cause of this insecurity?

-Is that a question?? They are those thugs and thieves.

-I agree, but I don’t understand your people there. Why do they support them!?

-Do you really believe that?? I swear to God they are no more than a couple of thousands terrorizing millions and hiding behind slogans like jihad and resistance. The whole city has got sick and tired of their doings. We just want to work, feed our children and take a break. We are tired of all this bullshit. They can’t deceive us anymore.
This idiot is taking advantage of his father’s name and we know the people who are gathering around him. Most of them are gangsters and ex-convicts with some foolish teenagers. They are anything but Muslims. Every now and then one of these cowards come hiding his face and fire against the American troops and when the Americans respond innocents get hurt.
I was encouraged by his attitude and asked:
-Why don’t you try to do something about it?

-Who says we aren’t? I’m one of the people who reported some members of the Mahdi army to the IP and now they are in prison.

-Really!? God bless you. That was brave of you. These people really belong there.

-Sure they do! Did this idiot forget who killed his father!? And who took his revenge? Could he have ever raised his voice if it wasn’t for the same people whom he’s fighting now? Well let the Iranians help him now! Believe me brother when I say that the majority of Sadr city people are grateful for the Americans. We didn’t fire a bullet at them when they entered our city. We gave them the reception of liberators and they are. Why would we fight them now!?

From my experience, I kind of believed him. I worked as a resident doctor in one of the major hospitals in Sadr city for about 6 months at Saddam’s times, and I can say that there were many lost youths there who didn’t know what to do with their lives out of poverty and oppression, and some of them ended being part of the criminal world. Yet along with this dark picture, there were always good and simple people who worked and toiled day and night for a decent life and these were the majority among those I met. Most of those were old men and women.
I witnessed one of those days a scene that I will never forget. A middle aged man was selling Pepsi on the sidewalk near the hospital where I worked, as many people there selling cigarettes and different stuff taking benefit of the high activity and traffic near the hospital and since obviously they couldn’t afford to buy or rent a store. Suddenly there was a big clamor and people were shouting, collecting all what they can and running away. It appeared that there was a patrol of city hall inspectors to watch for any violation. Everyone was gone with his or her goods except this guy who was selling Pepsi. His goods were too heavy to carry and he stood there with desperation and bewilderment on his face. The police reached to his place and the officer looked at him sternly as he said “don’t you know it’s prohibited to use the sidewalk to sell anything?” the guy was totally helpless. His face turned pale and it was as if he was going to be executed. He pleaded to the officer and said, “May god bless you Sir. I had to borrow money to buy these, and I have a family to feed. This is my first day in this job and I haven’t paid what I owe people yet. Please spare me this time so that I can pay the people their money back and I promise I’ll never do it again” he was literally crying and chocking with tears as he managed to say these words. The officer showed no sign that he even cared to hear and ordered his men to smash all the bottles. The poor guy sat there crying as he watched what seemed to be his last hope in an honest life going down the drain. He couldn’t take it anymore and shouted at them “HOW AM I GOING TO FEED MY KIDS?? Do you want me to become a thief!?” the officer looked at him shocked and said “how dare you?? One more word and you’ll never see the light again, you dog” I don’t know what happened to that man, but I would be surprised if he didn’t become a criminal.
After the war, most of the people of Sadr city were so happy they got rid of their oppressor, they enjoyed freedom of speech and performing their religious ceremonies. Most important is that the raise in the average income opened the door for the private businesses, including the small ones, to prosper. Young men can make a good living by several means without resorting to violence or breaking the law. Things were going just fine and improving when young Sadr started his revolt. Sadr city became insecure again and businesses were damaged seriously as a result. In the early days of that revolt, people sympathized with that idiot because they loved his father, but as his followers’ behavior became intolerable and as the lives of people and their jobs were jeopardized, they lost all sympathy with him and all they want now is peace so that they can go back to their works again.
That taxi driver was not the only one from Sadr city with such opinion. Most of the people I’ve met lately expressed the same view. The only people, who don’t want Muqtada to be arrested, are the senior She’at clerics including Sistani. This may look strange when put in context with the relation they have with Iran’s puppet. He always harassed them and tried to take the lead in the streets. He even tried to force Sistani to leave Iraq. Yet, they don’t want him to be arrested. They wouldn’t care much if he was killed, in fact some of them are fighting him already (Thulfiqar organization, another name to Badr legion) but arresting him would be a serious blow to them.
Those clerics do not sympathies with Sadr out of religious sentiments. They know very well that he’s not a pious guy and they often hate each other as they compete to gain the trust and lead of the common people. This meant huge money in the past and now it means money and power as some of them have entered politics now. Why would they care so much then?
I think the answer lies in one fact. There’s an unwritten law in most of the countries with considerable She’at presence that has always considered the clerics to be immune to the law. This doesn’t apply to all clerics, but only the very senior ones. With time, this law has expanded to protect most popular clerics. Now, Muqtada is certainly not a senior cleric, but his family name and the sacrifices they gave, gave him some holy shape in the eyes of some of the She’at. If this guy was arrested, this law would not be literally broken, but the event will have the same effect. Meaning every cleric will know that he is not above the law. This will be an innovation that will shake all clerics with political ambitions. Hence all this crap about "red lines" winch is no more than a big lie that should fool no one. People will certainly be saddened and some would be outraged if the holy shrines were affected, but their care about their lives and jobs certainly is more. Most She'at Iraqis are sentimental when it comes to religion, but not to that degree. The operation should go on with great care however, and will put all those hypocrites in their right places. No more adventures and no more Mahdi armies. This revolt can actually act as an immunization against more serious ones in the future that is if it was dealt with in the proper way. The patience of the coalition has paid its fruits and Muqtada should be *arrested* but certainly not killed and now, in my opinion, is the right time.

:: I received this e-mail from an American soldier yesterday. After getting his approval, I decided to publish it because I wanted you to share his great words with me. I can't express how I felt when I first read the message but all I can say about it is that I felt grateful beyond words, it gave me hope, courage and more confidence in that we're on the right path.

First of all I want to congradulate you on your web site, Its always good to hear good things coming from Iraq.
I am an American Soldier, I will be going to Iraq in the next few months, so you can understand why the current situation there is a concern of mine.
I am not Happy to leave my wife and 5 year old son for a year, but I'm hopeful in helping the Iraqi people stabalize the security situation so you guys can get on with daily life and a future full of prosperity.
I believe in our mission to restore Iraq, so much, that I am willing to give my life towards its accomplishment,( OF COURSE MY WIFE IN NEVER HAPPY TO HEAR ME SAY THAT).
I want to appoligize for the actions of a few of us in the prison system, I am ashamed because of it, but they dont represent the majority of us, they didnt display the values we live by

Honor
Respect
Duty
Selfless Service
Defense of the opressed
I do recieve e-mails from fellow soldiers in Mosul, they tell me About the good things that are being acomplished, but they also tell me about the mistrust from local residents, why is that?
I know that generally Westerners are viewed with suspiscion and not trusted in the Arab world, Politics aside, I want you to know that WE ( the soldiers ) have good intentions, we want to help people progress towards freedom and prosperity, we dont want to stay there as occupiers, we all have families and lives we want to come back to, is there any advice you can give me? I know that many mis-understandings come from our lack of knowledge about Arab customs and courtesies, we do get classes from CA (civil affairs) teams all the time, but I would rather get advice from someone who knows, we DO really mean well.
If there is any advice you can give me, I would really appreciate it.

So tell me again. This guy is an occupier and wants to kill our children, rape our women..oil..blah blah blah.

What happened this morning was not a surprise. We (Iraqis and coalition) learned from our experiences in the past months that the road towards a free, prosperous and stable Iraq, in which the sovereignty hand-over in June 30 is the key step, will not be an easy one to go through.

I’ve searched the media today, looking for details, analyses and reactions about this crime and again, they didn’t miss the chance to blame America for the deteriorated security situation, stressing that the CPA’s grave mistake was sending Saddam’s army and security systems’ personnel home. Here, we find a great deal of contradiction, because the same experts who appear on the media criticizing the US for that decision, accuse the same security and intelligence personnel of committing today’s and other terrorist attacks in Iraq. I can’t imagine how those people could expect the criminals to protect the law.

I’ve been listening to some perspectives about this incident and in many instances, I found these perspectives echoic of the terrorists' words, especially when someone says “see, the GC and the Iraqis cannot even protect their highest officials. How can we expect them to be able to protect the lives of ordinary Iraqis and manage the affairs of a whole country next July?”
This is a direct call for delaying the political process in this country. And who’s interested in doing so?!
I guess this has become obvious for us a long time ago.

We have a critical security situation, that’s right and we need to deal with the defects quickly. But no matter what precautions we take, we cannot be a 100% sure that we can protect every single person, including our leaders and the higher officials who make favorite targets for the terrorists but we still can make their attempts go in vain by making our leadership *replaceable*. This idea may seem odd or even a little bit cruel but I can give some further explanations the terrorists think in the same way their dictator-masters do. They believe that every nation has “and should have” one strong man to lead her and if it happened one day that the nation “lost” this strong man (the Khalifa, in OBL's followers' minds), she will certainly be doomed. The main point that they fail to capture, is that this idea applies only to totalitarian regimes and does not apply to democracies. This doesn't mean, at all, that we don't respect our leaders or that we do not appreciate their services. We can take a good example from the history of the USA when president JFK was assassinated (America was one of the two super powers in the world at that time), the Americans were deeply saddened by the loss of such a great leader but they did not stop at that point. They moved on and kept their determination to overcome the loss and that’s why America became the only super power in the world in less than 30 years from that tragic incident. That's why we'll keep moving forwards because we're building a model for democracy here, we've sacrificed a lot in the last decades and we're ready to give more if needed but we're not giving up.

Are we sad? Yes of course, but we’re absolutely not discouraged because we know our enemies and we know their ways and we decided to go in this battle to the end. They think they can force us to give up but they’re totally mistaken. I’ve tasted freedom, my friends and I’d rather die fighting to preserve my freedom before I find myself trapped in another nightmare of blood and oppression.

My last trip to Samawa was short but full of events. It’s not easy for someone who used to live in Baghdad to accommodate to life in a village far away in the south. Baghdad is the most civilized place in Iraq and there’s no way one can compare it with the rest of the governorates not to mention the ignored villages in the south.
I set off with a number of passengers heading for Samwa. The road was quiet despite the troubles in Kerbala and Najaf, which are both on the road. We had to use the old road as the new one (the high way) is closed because of the current fights in those two cities.
My arrival day was the day when a rally of support and gratitude to the coalition passed the streets of Samawa. The scene was very delightful for me, I, who believe in the necessity of establishing a strategic partnership with the free world represented by the coalition, because this the only way for Iraq to rise again, prosper and join the modern, free world. Such partnership, the way I see it, is vital for the free world in its war with terrorism, the corner stone of which is to establish peace and stability in the ME. Yes, we should put our hands in each other’s because we have a common destiny. It was a very encouraging thing to see that the simple people there understood the case and this is probably the first time where people go out to the streets to thank and support our allies in the coalition, but strangely it came from ordinary, simple people not from those who claim to be civilized intellectuals.
On the road to the residents’ house we passed near the coalition base in Samawa the striking and ugly feature of this base, like any other one is, the concrete wall that surrounds it. These walls initiate a sensation of fear in the hearts and a feeling that there’s a huge block between the people and the coalition. I understand the security necessity of these walls but they still form an unpleasant sight for everyone, except this particular one. The coalition forces here invited all the kids-and their parents-in the neighborhood for a special festival, the kids were given paints and brushes and a definite area of the wall was assigned for each kid to paint on whatever he likes and to sign his painting with his/her name. I leave it for you to imagine how this hateful wall looked like after this festival. It became a fascinating huge painting that gives a feeling of brotherhood and friendship. These paintings eliminated all the psychological walls between the folks and the coalition here.
At the end of the festival, gifts were given to each kid toys, clothes, candies…
You can’t imagine how happy the kids were when they stood proudly pointing at their paintings flowers, birds, hands shaking and the flags of Iraq and the coalition countries, and then pointing to their names Zahra, Mohammed, Sajjad, Fatima… together with phrases like yes for peace, Saddam has fallen and many others. No one can watch this without having tears filling his eyes and I feel sorry that I couldn’t take pictures for this carnival, as I wasn’t there when it happened, but the people there told me the whole story.
I reached my destination, which is a small town about 35 km away from the center of the governorate. It’s a very simple town that suffered from Saddam’s neglect like many other southern cities but what pleases me in every trip is the appearance of a new foundation in the town. Last time I was surprised to see a new water treatment plant (or the so called RO in the south) near the river distributing clean water for the whole town for free, with four brand-new automobile tanks to deliver water to the remote villages twice a day. Everyone is grateful there as our major health problems are caused by polluted water. Now, this new processing plant will help rid the city of many health problems.
In my very last trip, the special new thing was a campaign to renew the doctors’ residency that we-12 doctors-live in and a decent temporary place is provided for us until the old miserable residency is fully rehabilitated.
The other new foundation that is being constructed now is an Internet Center. Who would dream to see Internet service available in a southern village? This is more than a dream coming true, it makes me feel proud and it makes people believe more and more that the change is in their interest.
I always talk to the people there and the accelerated rate their consciousness and understanding are growing at, often surprises me. In one of the meetings I asked them about their opinion about the government and the president they would like to have in the future, here, a man said “ I’d prefer a Christian president” as a matter of fact I was shocked as I wasn’t expecting to hear such a perspective in an almost exclusively Shei’at village. Here the others agreed and clarified their friends point “we mean that we don’t want an Islamic or Shei’at government” “see, the SCIRI party established a library and a school to give religion classes that no one attends despite it cost the party thousands of dollars and occupied one of the towns’ buildings. Take a look at the water treatment plant that the coalition established, people gather around it every morning”. “We want those who know what we need, not those who tell us to do what they want” another man added”.
I totally agreed with their perspective because at the end, the one who provides more services for the people is the one who wins their trust.
The saddest incident for the citizens during my last visit was the death of a coalition soldier from Netherlands in a grenade attack. The small town was shocked and I could hear everyone say, “who did this crime is a stranger and he’s not of us for sure”.
Many of the town’s known figures, officials and tribal leaders headed to the coalition base to declare their support to the coalition and to condemn the crime, one of those men said-with apparent affection-during the funeral ceremonies “our loss is big and we feel ashamed you’re our guests but we couldn’t protect your men’s live we’re terribly sorry”.
The pictures I see are so many and they bring hope, I remember the last day I spent there before I returned to Baghdad, and I was watching Al-Samawa local TV (now they have their own local station) and it was broadcasting one of the sessions of the district’s council when a woman stood up wearing the traditional costume and behind her was a group of women, she started to yell in the face of the chairman of the council saying “Listen to me! You can’t ignore our voice anymore. These women elected me and put their trust in me and I demand authorities like those of men. My voice will not stay low from now on and I have to give those who elected me what they need”. I don’t think you can realize the meaning of this picture. It simply means that we have moved tens of years forward in a matter of months and we have broken the chains of a long dark past. The cry of this woman was enough to awaken me to the great progress that happened.
I know that the story is long and you probably feel bored but I feel committed to uncover these pictures and the last one was on our way back to Baghdad where we were delayed for a few hours after the coalition forces blocked the road, we didn’t know why but one of the passengers started to complain saying “those Americans always put obstacles in our way and make our lives difficult” the driver couldn’t hold himself from answering this comment in a sharp tone as he said “NO, it’s not the Americans. It’s because of those bastards who plant bombs on the roads. You must thank the Americans for delaying you for a couple of hours to save your live”.
The point behind all these pictures and stories I mentioned is that the people started to speak out and express their feelings and here we’re in great need for support from the free world to back the progress. Moving back is absolutely unacceptable we’ve put our feet on the right way and we need help from the others. Never let the bad pictures lay their heavy shadow on the good, bright ones. The negative media want our eyes to pause on the bad events to win time in this worldwide battle and to make us forget the good pictures that encourage us to keep the momentum. This includes most of the major western media.
They are ‘unconsciously’ supporting the terrorists and the totalitarian regimes in the region to stop this great progress. The media have managed to create some distrust and hate between some Iraqis and some of the coalition and the west in general. Well, not in my city, it seems to be immune to their poison.
The road is long and hard but together, we can do it.

Last Friday my oldest uncle, along with his 16-year-old son, visited us, as he used to do this once every month. My uncle is a high school manager and a history teacher at the same time in the same school. I saw that he was wearing a nice suit that I had not seen him wearing before. I said "Nice suit uncle. Is it new?" He said "Yes, I bought it about a month ago". "It must be expensive" I asked and he replied, "Yes it is, but your uncle now can afford it".

Some of the readers may remember me saying something about my uncle. Before the war he was in the same job and he was paid about 15 thousands Iraqi Dinars that was equal to about 7 US$ a month. His wife, who is also a teacher, was paid a little less than that. He has 5 children one in primary school three in high school and a girl in college. Of course that salary couldn’t help him support his family, yet he didn’t quit it. He always hoped that things would change for the better. In order to meet life's requirements and offer his kids a proper education, he had to work after school. He worked in every kind of business a taxi driver, a grocer and opened a small shop for a while, but things didn’t go quite well.

He had to sell his car first, then his ‘extra’ refrigerator, then the only refrigerator, then the TV and then and then…. The last time we visited him, I had to hold my tears when I entered his house. There was virtually no furniture there, no chairs, no TV no tables, as they had sold them all, but what shocked me more is that there were no inside doors. He had to sell those too. I mean his house was literally bare. His kids were ashamed of showing because they had nothing proper to wear. It was amazing how he kept honest and didn’t accept bribery from his rich students’ families.

Back to where I started, I asked my uncle: "How much do they pay you now? I’ve heard you got a raise" He answered "Yes I did, I get paid 550 thousands Dinars now" (that’s about 400$ a month). "And what about aunt?" I asked, meaning his wife "She gets 450 thousands, as she has less years of service". I said "Good for you! What does it look like now, your life?" He said, "Uncle, (the word serves both sides) it’s unbelievable. I’ve refurnished my house fully and I’m looking for a car, but I’m not in a hurry as I can’t drive now and I want it for Ibrahim (his son) as soon as he can get a driving license". His sons and daughters were always very polite and never asked for anything, they were very understanding of their father’s financial difficulties (the right word here should be EXTREME poverty) they were smart and well educated and never asked for anything their father couldn’t afford.

I said "You must’ve saved quite a good sum of money by now" He answered "Not that much, I’m trying to give my sons all that they were deprived of for all those years. Still they don’t ask much and I still end up every month with extra money even though I don’t touch my wife’s salary". I must say here that life in Iraq is very cheap compared to most of the world, but that has become a common knowledge I suppose.

My young cousin is a religious Sunni who goes to the mosque and listens to the cleric there every Friday and believes whatever he says, as he’s still young. My uncle always teased his son about this but never prohibited him from doing that. We were talking about different stuff the kids’ needs, clerics, Americans and the increase in the average income of most Iraqis. My uncle has a somewhat unusual sense of humor that doesn't fit quite well in his somewhat religious family. He winked at me and turned to his son and asked him "What do you think of the Americans?" His son answered, "They are occupiers". "So you think we should fight them?" his father asked. Ibrahim said "No, but I don’t like them". My uncle said, pretending to change the subject "Do you like your new computer that no one shares with you?" "Yes of course dad". "Ok, are you satisfied with the satellite dish receiver we have or do you need a better one?" "This one is fine but I heard there’s a better one that gets more channels" "ok I’ll get you that next week". Then he said, "Is there anything else you’d like to have son?" "No dad I have all that I need". "Ok but how about a car?" Ibrahim was astounded and said "Really? a..a CAR.. for me!?". "Of course for you! I’m too old to drive now and my eyes are not that well and you are the older son. So whom else would it be for!?" "Oh, dad that will be great! When will that happen?" "Just finish your exams and you’ll have it". "I will dad". "Are you happy now son?" "Yes dad, sure I am!" "Then why do you hate the Americans you son of a b***h!? I couldn’t get you a bicycle a year ago, I could hardly feed you and your brothers and sisters. You didn’t know what an apple or a banana tasted like, I couldn’t buy you a damned Pepsi bottle except in occasions, and now you can have all that you wish, and a car of your own! Who do you think made that possible!?" My cousin’s face turned red and didn’t answer as we laughed and I said "What do you think Ibrahim?" He said, "Well it’s true but it’s our money. They are not giving us a charity" and I said "Of course it’s our money, so let’s forget the Billions of dollars they are giving to rebuild Iraq and the efforts they are making to cut down our debts and lets talk about our money. Why didn’t your father, I, my brothers and all the Iraqis have anything worth mentioning before the Americans came?" He said, "Because Saddam used it to buy weapons and build palaces". "There you have it Ibrahim, but Americans are not touching our money. Can you tell me who’s better the ‘occupiers’ who are helping us or the ‘patriot’ who did all that you know to us?" He said in a faint voice "They are better than Saddam but still they are not Muslims". "So do you want them to be Muslims?" "I wish they were." "Will you fight them to that?" he said, "No, of course not. I don’t like fighting." We didn’t want to pressure and embarrass him further and didn’t go further, as he’s still young but he’s smart and good-natured and will get it soon.

But this is not what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about a strange phenomenon that is related to this conversation I shared with you it’s the Iraqi Dinar.

Before the war, the Iraqi Dinar was a pathetic piece of paper that could be easily counterfeited , and during Saddam’s times its exchange value dropped from 1 Dinar for 3.33 US$ before the Iraq-Iran war to about 2000 Iraqi Dinar for each single US$ at 2003 with variable changes in between. We never trusted that Dinar, and the tiniest political change or even rumor, used to cause a huge swing in the exchange price of the Iraqi Dinar that sometimes reached 20% of its value in a single day up or down. On one occasion it dropped from 3000 Dinar for each US$ to about 600 Dinar for each US$ in few weeks and then back into 2000 after 2 months, and part of that was sometimes planned. Saddam’s regime used to sell dollars at half the market price, for about one week or so, in small amounts and spread rumors that the sanctions were going to be lifted as part of a secret agreement, and when the price goes below even that of the bank, as many people change their dollars into dinars in the hope that it will rise more, the Mukhabarat, through their men in the market, would buy back more than what the banks had sold, striking two birds in one stone giving Iraqis a false hope to keep them busy and stimulate the greed of rapid fortune that occurs at such circumstances, and getting extra profit to keep his regime alive (this was not just a guess, I knew this from many Mukhabarat’s men with big mouths). The results were as expected disastrous few people get rich and thousands get bankrupt, which led in many times to furious disputes between people about unsettled businesses or debts in Iraqi Dinars that mounted to murder in some cases. Those were the peaceful and stable times.

Let’s take a look at the chaos we are living now. Iraq is certainly not what one can call a stable country compared to the rest of the world but is it really as messy and desperate as the media want us to believe?

There are violent attacks that happen on a daily basis and most of the major media are trying to show that these will last forever and that there are street fights going all over Iraq, there’s the Sadr revolt and the unstable so-called Sunni triangle that the media shows as a place that refuses American presence totally, there was the alleged unity between Sunni and She'at against Americans that never happened and there is the somewhat mysterious political future that most of the world try to show as a dark one, and finally the polls that show that most Iraqis want Americans out and added to that the Abu Gharib scandal which seems to be the only violation to human rights on this planet!! I’m not going to argue any of these because each one approaches these in a subjective way and it’s hard to remain objective while discussing them. I’m going to agree with this dark picture and will not, for this time, show my opinion on them. Instead I’m going to focus on this one tiny detail that do not fit in this picture that is the Iraqi economy.

I think that most people agree that the exchange price of a country’s currency is one of the indicators of the state of that country’s economy and one that when combined with the average income would help in giving a prediction of the future of this economy and the political future of that country as well, as economy and politics are so connected to each other. Now the Iraqi Dinar was never trusted before the war, and my family was one of the hundreds of thousands of families that changed all the Iraqi currency they had into US Dollars just before the war which caused the exchange price for the Iraqi Dinar against the US Dollar and other foreign currencies to drop uncontrollably from 2000 for each dollar to about 4000 in a period of a month that proceeded the war. After the war the Iraqi Dinar returned to the previous figure and with the introduction of the new Iraqi Dinar, the exchange price improved to around 1500 by the beginning of 2004 with few wobbles during the early period. Since January 2004 and till now and despite all the given factors of instability, the exchange price remained almost constant with a marginal variation from 1430 to 1460 and never dropped below 1400 nor did it ever rise above 1500!! What should that tell us?

Is it possible that Iraqis are that dumb enough to believe in their currency and that their economy is stable and rising!? Are they really stupid enough to buy all this crap about a prosperous Iraq in the future? Or are there solid economic changes that make it so hard to shake despite all the efforts the friends and brothers of the Iraqi people are putting? Don’t they ever think of revolting against the Americans? Note that I’m talking about the majority here.

Back to the average income issue. Some readers may remember that I said my salary was about 17 US$ before the war. Shortly after the war it was raised to 120 US$. Three months after that, they made it 150 US$. Two months later it became 200$(although the truth should be said that they promised that it was going to be 250$) and when I went with one of my colloquies (who gets an exact payment) to receive his salary this month (I still haven’t been paid for 6 months due to some bureaucratic problems that have just been solved), the accountant said to my friend "congratulations! You are getting a new raise starting from the next month and your salary will be around 300 US$!"
Now I know this is still a very low figure compared to what doctors get in other countries, but look at the pace of the raises 120, 150, 200, 300 all in one year! I mean it’s spooky. What will it be the next year, 500$? And what about 3 or 4 years from now? A thousand or can I dare say a few thousand dollars? Will we get more than what the Syrian, Egyptian Iranian and even Saudi doctors!? What a disaster will it be to the mullahs of Iran, Bashar Al-Assad and the king of Saudi Arabia?

Some people, including some Iraqis, are fooled by the media as they tells them that the prices are higher than before. This is not true, as the prices of ALL the imported goods have lowered especially with only 5% import tax and with no Uday or Qusay to take their share of the merchants’ profits. The only prices that have risen are those the of the local goods and the wages of laborers and services provided by private businesses, but that was only by 2 to 3 folds increase at maximum compared to the unbelievably high rise in the income of the government employees who represent most of the working Iraqis which should explain the former fact as a healthy sign of economical growth, not the opposite.

Others are fooled by what the media keeps screaming about the unemployment. And this is the most stupid lie I’ve ever heard to which I have only one question: Who are those unemployed people?? I dare anyone to answer this!

Everyone who knows enough about Iraq should know that millions of Iraqis were employed by the government, but most of them had second jobs (I used to run a small shop with my brothers beside my job as a doctor, and of course I gave it up soon after the war) except for those who took illegal advantages from their original jobs. The rest were involved in private businesses that paid more but were very risky with all the shakes in economy and all the restrictions from the old regime. After the war some of those who were employed by the government were expelled, but most of them are back now. For God’s sake even most of the Ba’athists and the security agents are back to their jobs now! The only people who are out of job now are Saddam’s special security agents and higher ranked Ba’athists who sucked the Iraqi people’s blood for decades. May I ask how many are those, and should we really sympathieze with them this much? Besides, most of them made fortunes and fled out of the country or are using it to start their own businesses and no one is preventing them from doin that. But wait a minute! Maybe they are talking about the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the old army who were paid no more than 10 thousand Iraqi Dinars (5 US$)! Now that is something really bad, to deprive a soldier of a job that paid him 5 $ and cost him 10 times that in transport and bribing the officers besides his DIGNITY!

The bottom line, and to talk more seriously, is that the picture the media are giving us about Iraq is almost convincing, even to me, if it wasn’t for this insignificant detail, and something must be done to make it right before most Iraqis start to realize that! But to be fair our Arab and Muslim brothers, supported by the legitimate Arab leaders and cheered by most of the major media are aware of that, and of the dangers of the vicious cycle of (prosperity-stability-more prosperity-more stability) that the Americans and the Iraqi traitors (like myself) are trying to establish. They (our brothers) are doing all that they can bombing oil pipelines and ports, beheading foreigners in the name of Iraqis and Allah, attacking electricity stations, creating chaos that allows thieves to loot everything they can, yet it’s still not working!! The Iraqi Dinar stands stable despite the fact that some Arab governments formally warned their citizens from dealing with it, the oil production is increasing, the markets are full of goods, most Iraqis are busy working, studying selling and buying and the average income is rising!
Please, all those who care about the poor Iraqis and want to save them from the brutality of the American invaders and who want to prevent the Americans from stealing our fortune meaning Bin laden, Zagrawi and their followers, Arab and Muslim tyrants, our good friend monsieur Dominique de Villepin, all the pacifists of the world, the major media, and in short, all those who hate America and obviously love Iraq: Get your s**t together and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT or else one or two years from now Iraq will be…a prosperous country, and then we will never forgive you for letting us down when we needed you!
Besides, how would you face us if my cousin got a car and had an accident?!

A relative of mine was forced as the millions of Iraqis to serve in Saddam’s army. He was poor and peaceful and couldn’t stand the humiliation and the torture that service meant. He lived in Baghdad and served in Basrah. He was paid about 10 thousand Iraqi Dinars a month, which equaled about 5 US $ at that time, while the ride from his place to his unit cost about 2 or 3 thousand Dinars. Above all he had to bribe the sergeants and the officers only to avoid the hell they could make his life there, as they could’ve made it a lot worse. Others more fortunate paid money to the officer in charge to stay at home and the officer would arrange it to look like they are serving. This may amount to 250-300 thousand Iraqi Dinars a month, and it was a very common practice at that time. And as tens of thousands of Iraqis, he decided to run away. He remained a fugitive for years, hiding from the eyes of the military police. He couldn’t see his family more than 2 or 3 times in the year. We helped him find a job and a place to hide where they couldn’t find him.
Few days ago I was visiting his family to pay our respect in the 1st annual anniversary of his father’s death.
When I saw my relative, and despite the nature of the occasion, I felt happy. Here’s a free man. I smiled as I said, “you must be very happy to be free again, and not fear the MP”. He said, "you can’t imagine! It’s like being born again. I’ve never felt so free before”. “But what are you doing for a living now? I hope you’ve found a job”. I asked. He smiled as he said, "I volunteered in the new army". “Really! I thought you’d never wear a uniform after that terrible experience” he replied "Oh no, this is entirely different". I said, “ I'm sure it is, but who convinced you to do so!? And when did that happen?” "A friend of mine who volunteered before I did told me some nice stuff that encouraged me to do the same, so I volunteered about a couple of months ago". He replied. “So tell me about it, are you happy with this job?” I asked. "You can’t imagine! It’s nothing that we’ve learned or knew about the military life". He answered. “I expected it to be so, but can you tell me about it” I asked and I didn’t have to ask anymore, as my relative started talking excitedly without a stop. He said:

The most important thing is that this army has no retards or illiterate in it like the old one. Now education is an essential requirement when applying to serve in the new army and anyone who hasn’t finished high school at least has no place there. In fact most of the volunteers are college and technical institutes graduates.
Everything is new, no more worn out dirty uniforms that only God knows how many people used before you, and they never minded about the size. This time they took our sizes and handed each one of us a new elegant uniform that’s worthy of an officer! It was a common scene, you know, that soldiers wander near their halls in their underwear after training hours. Some of them did that because they didn’t have much to wear when they wash their uniforms, but the majority did it out of custom. Now this is unacceptable, and everyone received a nice comfortable suit to wear after the training hours.
One of the officers said to us “you know what? One of the reasons you lose your wars is the boots you were wearing” He then handed each one of us a pair of those brand new boots that we could only dream of buying them in the old times, and said “Put these on and you’ll feel like you can fly” and it did feel almost like that!

I knew exactly what my relative meant, as I had to wear those boots at Sadam’s times when they forced us to do a month of military training during our summer vacation in college, and they warned us that anyone who refused to do so would be expelled from his college. Wearing those inflexible rigid boots in that heat was more like a torture. They were my worst memory of that camp and caused me multiple painful sores that needed weeks to heal.
My relative’s face was glowing as he continued, "you can’t imagine how much valued we are and how much our religion and traditions are respected. When we pass by a mosque, the officer in charge shouts “no talk” until we pass the mosque by a considerable distance, and when one of the officers enters our hall, if he sees that one of us is praying he remains silent and order us to keep quite until our comrade finishes his prayer.

For the first time in my life, I feel I’m somebody. I’m not a trash as Saddam and his gang tried to make me believe” as he finished his last words his voice went faint as if he was chocking. I felt his pain and tried to change the course of our talk, “how much do you get paid” I asked, “Oh, pretty much, more than enough, thank God” “and what about your meals” I added and he said with a smile, “Oh you won’t believe it. Everything that we couldn’t get in our own homes before and that we only saw when the officers in the old army made a feast to honor a guest! I mean we have everything meat is essential in every meal, vegetables, fruits apples and bananas. It’s still unbelievable to many of us!” he went on,
“One of the most important things that the Americans concentrate on in our training is physical fitness. A month ago I could hardly jog for one kilometer before falling to the ground exhausted and out of breath, and now I can run 4-5 kilometers without being exhausted.”
A frown crossed his face as he said “ I remember when they used to train us at the most hot hours of the day for hours without allowing us to rest for a while under a shade or drink any water, and when we get almost killed by thirst, we would be forced to drink from the dirty contaminated ditch water. Now we don’t even drink tap water! Each one of us gets more than enough an amount of that healthy bottled water everyday”
To some people this may mean little if anything, but my relative looked at it as something huge, and indeed, before the war, drinking bottled water was really a luxury that a very small percentage of Iraqis could afford. In my house we used to boil the tap water and cool it before drinking it, because we knew it was not safe and we couldn’t afford buying bottled water everyday.
“I feel I’m somebody now. I’m respected and get all what most people get. Do you believe that they threw one of the Iraqi officers out of the army because he used us to do him personal services, like carrying his bags, and when we complained about his behavior, they told him “ Do you see any of us, American officers use our soldiers? You can go home. You still have the mentality of the old regime and you can’t fit in this new army!” imagine that! They listen to our complains, we the soldiers, and bring us justice even if it involved the higher ranked officers. This had never happened in the old army.”
“But what about the dangers you are going to face when you graduate? You’ll face it everyday, and you’ll probably have to fight Iraqis. Have you thought about that? And how do you feel about it!?” I felt some regret as I asked this question, but it was too important to ignore. My relative said, “Of course I thought about it!” He sighed as he continued, “Dangers were there since I was born wars, MP chasing me for years, chaos…etc. These will not stop me from going on with my life, and I have a feeling that those thugs are the same people who oppressed me along with all the poor Iraqi soldiers. No, I’m not afraid of them and I’ll do my job. At least this time I know I’m doing the right thing and that my services will be appreciated” I looked at him admiringly as I said, “They are appreciated already! Congratulations, brother, for the new job and for being the free and new man you are”
When I left, I felt real hope in the new Iraqi army. Despite its terrible performance till now, one cannot be pessimistic after hearing the way this army is being formed and the way the soldiers look at it. I’m sure it’ll take time, but I’m also sure that we’ll definitely have an exceptionally efficient, small army with great morals and respect for the law and the institution they represent. An army that can preserve peace and order, and protect the constitution once the Iraqi people agree on one.

Yesterday a friend of mine, who’s also a doctor, visited us. After chatting about old memories, I asked him about his opinions on the current situations in Iraq. I’ve always known this friend to be apathetic when it comes to politics, even if it means what’s happening in Iraq. It was obvious that he hadn’t change and didn’t show any interest in going deep into this conversation. However when I asked him about his opinion on GWB response to the prisoners’ abuse issue, I was surprised to see him show anger and disgust as he said:

- This whole thing makes me sick.

- These thugs are treated much better than what they really deserve!

- What are you saying!? You can’t possibly think that this didn’t happen! And they’re still human beings, and there could be some innocents among them.

- Of course it happened, and I’m not talking about all the prisoners nor do I support these actions, and there could be some innocents among them, but I doubt it.

- Then why do you say such a thing?

- Because these events have taken more attention than they should.

- I agree but there should be an investigation on this. There are other pictures that were shown lately, and there are talks about others that will be shown in the near future.

- Yes, but what happened cannot represent more than 1% of the truth.

- Oh I really hope there would be no more than that.

- No, that’s not what I meant. What I’m saying is that these events are the exception and not the rule.
- How do you know that!? I must say I agree with your presumption, but I don’t have a proof, and I never thought you’d be interested in such issue!

- I was there for a whole month!

- In Abu-Gharib!? What were you doing there!?

- It was part of my training! Did you forget that!? I know you skipped that at Saddam’s time, but how could you forget that?

- Yes, but I thought that with the American troops there, the system must have been changed.

-No it’s still the same. We still have to do a month there.

-So tell me what did you see there? How’s the situation of the prisoners? Did you see any abuse? Do they get proper medical care? (I was excited to see someone who was actually there, and he was a friend!)

- Hey, slow down! I’ll tell you what I know. First of all, the prisoners are divided into two groups the ordinary criminals and the political ones. I used to visit the ordinary criminals during every shift, and after that, the guards would bring anyone who has a complaint to me at the prison’s hospital.
- What about the 'political' ones?

- I’m not allowed to go to their camps, but when one of them feels ill, the guards bring him to me.

- Are the guards all Americans?

- No, the American soldiers with the IP watch over and take care of the ordinary criminals, but no one except the Americans is allowed to get near the political ones

- How are the medical supplies in the prison?

- Not very great, but certainly better from what it was on Saddam’s times. However my work is mainly at night, but in the morning the supplies are usually better.

- How many doctors, beside you, were there?

- There was an American doctor, who’s always their (His name is Eric, a very nice guy, he and I became friends very fast), and other Iraqi doctors with whom I shared the work, and in the morning, there are always some Iraqi senior doctors surgeons, physicians…etc.

-Why do you say they are very well treated?

- They are fed much better than they get at their homes. I mean they eat the same stuff we eat, and it’s pretty good eggs, cheese, milk and tea, meat, bread and vegetables, everything! And that happened every day, and a good quality too.

-Are they allowed to smoke? (I asked this because at Saddam’s times, it was a crime to smoke in prison and anyone caught while doing this would be punished severely).

- Yes, but they are given only two cigarettes every day.

- What else? How often are they allowed to take a bath? (This may sound strange to some people, but my friend understood my question. We knew from those who spent sometime in Saddam’s prisons, and survived, that they were allowed to take a shower only once every 2-3 weeks.)

- Anytime they want! There are bathrooms next to each hall.

- Is it the same with the 'political' prisoners?

- I never went there, but I suppose it’s the same because they were always clean when they came to the hospital, and their clothes were always clean too.

-How often do they shave? (I remember a friend who spent 45 days in prison at Saddam’s times had told me that the guards would inspect their beards every day to see if they were shaved properly, and those who were not, would be punished according to the guards’ mood. He also told me that they were of course not allowed to have any shaving razors or machines and would face an even worse punishment in case they found some of these on one of the prisoners. So basically all the prisoners had to smuggle razors, which cost a lot, shave in secrecy and then get rid of the razor immediately! That friend wasn’t even a political prisoner he was arrested for having a satellite receiver dish in his house!)

- I’m not sure, from what I saw, it seemed that there was a barber visiting them frequently, because they had different hair cuts, some of them shaved their beards others kept them or left what was on their chins only. I mean it seemed that they had the haircut they desired!

-Yes but what about the way they are treated? And how did you find American soldiers in general?

- I’ll tell you about that first let me tell you that I was surprised with their politeness. Whenever they come to the hospital, they would take of their helmets and show great respect and they either call me Sir or doctor. As for the way they treat the prisoners, they never handcuff anyone of those, political or else, when they bring them for examination and treatment unless I ask them to do so if I know that a particular prisoner is aggressive, and I never saw them beat a prisoner and rarely did one of them use an offensive language with a prisoner.

One of those times, a member of the American MP brought one of the prisoners, who was complaining from a headache, but when I tried to take history from him he said to me “doctor, I had a problem with my partner (he was a homosexual) I’m not Ok and I need a morphine or at least a valium injection” when I told him I can’t do that, he was outraged, swore at me and at the Americans and threatened me. I told the soldier about that, and he said “Ok Sir, just please translate to him what I’m going to say”. I agreed and he said to him “I want you to apologize to the doctor and I want your word as a man that you’ll behave and will never say such things again” and the convict told him he has his word!!

Another incidence I remember was when one of the soldiers brought a young prisoner to the hospital. The boy needed admission but the soldier said he’s not comfortable with leaving the young boy (he was about 18) with those old criminals and wanted to keep him in the isolation room to protect him. I told him that this is not allowed according to the Red Cross regulations. He turned around and saw the paramedics’ room and asked me if he can keep him there, and I told him I couldn’t. The soldier turned to a locked door and asked me about it. I said to him “It’s an extra ward that is almost deserted but I don’t have the keys, as the director of the hospital keeps them with him”. The soldier grew restless, and then he brought some tools, broke that door, fixed it, put a new lock, put the boy inside and then locked the door and gave me the key!

- Did you witness any aggressiveness from American soldiers?

- Only once. There was a guy who is a troublemaker. He was abnormally aggressive and hated Americans so much. One of those days the soldiers were delivering lunch and he took the soup pot that was still hot and threw it at one of the guards. The guard avoided it and the other guards caught the convict and one of them used an irritant spray that causes sever itching, and then they brought the prisoner to me to treat him.

- So you think that these events are isolated?

-As far as I know and from what I’ve seen, I’m sure that they are isolated.

-But couldn’t it be true that there were abusive actions at those times that the prisoners were afraid to tell you about?

-Are you serious!? These criminals, and I mean both types tell me all about there 'adventures and bravery'. Some of them told me how they killed an American soldier or burned a humvee, and in their circumstances this equals a confession! Do you think they would’ve been abused and remained silent and not tell me at least!? No, I don’t think any of this happened during the time I was there. It seemed that this happened to a very small group of whom I met no one during that month.

- Can you tell me anything about those 'political' prisoners? Are they Islamists, Ba’athists or what?

- Islamists?? I don't care what they call themselves, but they are thugs, they swear all the time, and most of them are addicts or homosexuals or both. Still very few of them looked educated.

- Ah, that makes them close to Ba’athists. Do you think there are innocents among them?

- There could be. Some of them say they are and others boast in front of me, as I said, telling the crimes they committed in details. Of course I’m not naive enough to blindly believe either.

- Are they allowed to get outside, and how often? Do they have fans or air coolers inside their halls?

- Of course they are! Even you still compare this to what it used to be at Saddam’s times and there’s absolutely no comparison. They play volleyball or basketball everyday, and they have fans in their halls.

- No, it’s much better than Saddam’s days but it’s still a prison and not the Sheraton. They use the same clothes but I’ve seen them wearing train shoes when they play.

- Yes, I’ve seen the ordinary criminals read, and I believe the political are allowed too, because I remember one of them asking me to tell one of the American soldiers that he wanted his book that one of the soldiers had borrowed from him.

- So, you believe there’s a lot of clamor here?

-As you said these things are unaccepted but I’m sure that they are isolated and they are just very few exceptions that need to be dealt with, but definitely not the rule. The rule is kindness, care and respect that most of these thugs don’t deserve, and that I have seen by my own eyes. However I still don't understand why did this happen.

-I agree with you, only it’s not about the criminals, it’s about the few innocents who could suffer without any guilt and it’s about us those who try to build a new Iraq. We can’t allow ourselves to be like them and we can’t go back to those dark times.
As for "why" I must say that these few exceptions happen everywhere, only in good society they can be exposed and dealt with fast, while in corrupted regimes, it may take decades for such atrocities to be exposed which encourage the evil people to go on, and exceptions become the rule.

What happened in Abu-Gharib should be a lesson for us, Iraqis, above all. It showed how justice functions in a democratic society. We should study this lesson carefully, since sooner or later we'll be left alone and it will be our responsibility to deal with such atrocities, as these will never cease to happen.

:: Some of the readers asked about my opinion about the interviews that GWB gave to Al-Hurra and Al-Arabeya TV channels and since I'm a CIA agent (I'm thinking of leaving them to work for the Mossad. I've heard they pay better), I guess my opinion would be biased, so I decided to offer you some of the responses I saw on the BBC Arabic which offers a comment section for Arab readers to post their opinions about the hot topics. There were about 30 comments today, since it's still fresh on the site. As usual, the comments from Iraqis-in general-contradicted those from other Arab countries, especially Palestine, Syria and Saudi Arabia. I also found that many of the commentators considered President Bush's speech an apology despite the fact that he didn't frankly apologize.
I've selected some of the comments for translation and it's worth mentioning that about 40% of the total number of comments was positive (sorry, I mean they were supportive of the CIA propaganda).
Here are the translated comments:

-"Thank you Sir for apologizing on the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Here you opened an important file I think that those criminals who were responsible for the mass graves in my country (who are now in your jails' cells) should apologize for their massacres against the Iraqi people".
Imad Al-Sa'ad - Netherlands.

-"Who reads the reactions of Iraqis will see how surprised they're by the way the Americans can prove that years of Saddam's rule and of his anti-American propaganda can be washed out by time here we have the president of the greatest nation on earth apologizes for what a small group of pervert soldiers did. And here, the American press proves that it's free to show the truth. We lived with similar pictures for years until they became the basics of every prison's daily life and we never heard an Arabic paper point them out. These are lessons from the western culture entering the hearts of Arabs, whether the Arab leaders liked or not".
Sa'eed - Diwaniyah/Iraq.

-"I think that President Bush should talk to us to fill the gap between us and I wish I could see the Arab leaders talk to us like GWB did"
Jihad Abu Shabab - Germany.

-"I'm very happy to see Iraqis condemning the abuse and defending the rights of the prisoners and this is the first time they do something like this, which was impossible for them to do under the dictator's regime. I think that our Arab brothers should mind their own business and take a look at their own prisons".
N - Jordan.

-"I think that president Bush was honest in what he said. Those abuses do not represent the American people. As a matter of fact, we can find cruel men with no morals in any country that's why we should not judge a whole nation for the violations of a small group of people and I'm sure that these will get the punishment they deserve. Here I'd like to direct my question to the Arabic media "where were you when Saddam mass-executed my people and used all kinds of torture against us?".
Reemon A'adel Sami -Iraq

-"I think that President Bush's statement will find acceptance from some of the Arabs, while the majority will not be satisfied with his words whatever apologies they included just because he is BUSH and he is AMERICAN. I'm sure that the American officials are more upset by the event than the Iraqis themselves because this doesn't belong to their culture or their ethics as a civilized nation.
I think that the event took more space than it actually deserves and the media are creating a mountain from a grain. It's enough for us to remember Saddam's doings to comment on what recently happened".
Sameer-Jordan.

And here's one comment from the other side (not a CIA agent).
-"No speeches and no apologies can correct what happened. I can’t describe how I felt when I saw the pictures on the Washington Post is that why they came from far away? Killed thousands and destroyed a whole country claiming that they came to spread democracy and freedom.
Their media campaign will not make us forget what happened. Shame on their foreheads to the end of time".
Ayman-Damascus/Syria.

:: Last Monday, the graduation festival of the 5th grade students of the college of dentistry/Baghdad University was held.
I missed the opportunity to attend this celebration-that usually attracts huge audience from other colleges-but I couldn’t let myself miss watching the fantastic decorations and paintings that every group of students makes. So I went to the college this morning with two of my friends and started to take photos for these paintings which usually contain mocking portraits and funny notes about each member in the group. The students usually spend months and a lot of money to prepare for the celebration the preparations usually include the (group tent) which is placed in a corner in the college yard and the students gather in this tent (after taking the graduation photo that all the students appear in) with their families and their friends to sing, dance and take more and more photos. And this is an old tradition in my college and many other colleges in Baghdad.

I think I told you in a previous post that there’s an internet café now in my college but I want to add that this café was installed in the hall that used to be the office of the NUIS (national union of Iraqi students) in Saddam’s days. This union was the spying eye of the Baáth party in every college or high school as the union members were strictly, opportunistic Baáthists trying to get higher ranks by writing reports about the ‘suspicious’ students or even professors.

The college cafeteria is one of my favorite places because I can always see activity, normal and somewhat cheerful life there regardless of how bad the situation might sometimes be just outside the walls of this place as if it has magical immunity to politics or security problems. That's why I never miss the chance to visit my college when I'm in Baghdad and especially when I feel down.

I was surprised when I saw that the reaction of Iraqis to the subject of prisoners abuse by some American soldiers was not huge as we all expected to see, even it was milder than the one in other Arab countries and especially than that in the Arab media.
I mean about a month ago, we had considerable reactions and somewhat large demonstrations in response to the killing of Hamas leader, and in the mid of maniac reactions from Arab media and people, the absence of large demonstrations and outrage on the streets of Iraq becomes really strange and give rise to questions. Why the Iraqi people are not really upset with this issue?

Is it because of the firm and rapid response from the American officials to these terrible actions?

Or is it because the Iraqi people lack compassion with the majority of these prisoners?
Could it be that the Iraqi people and as a result of decades of torture, humiliation and executions, took these crimes less seriously than the rest of the world?

Or have the majority of Iraqis finally developed some trust in the coalition authorities and in the American army, to sense that these actions must be isolated and will be punished?

I can’t say I have the full answer but I guess it’s a combination of a little bit of all the above.
I can say that at least some Iraqis seemed to have understood the situation and were satisfied with the reaction of the American officials and their promises that the offenders will be punished. While a wide segment of Iraqis seemed indifferent with the issue and only showed their disapproval when they are asked about it, but rarely with what one can call an angry tone, and I’m talking about my personal experience here, as I tried to ask the largest number of people about their feelings before I write about it.
Here I would like to provide a conversation I had with some friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time and met just yesterday. After a few words of greetings that friends usually exchange after not seeing each other for a long time, the conversation turned towards the current situation in Iraq, and as the prisoners abuse issue is the hottest topic nowadays, I started my attempts to discover their points of view about it. They were all upset but they showed satisfaction with the fast and firm reaction of the coalition higher officials and were also impressed by the honesty of the American soldier who reported the abuse and uncovered tha awful behavior of those criminals but at the same time they said that they’re looking forward to “see the offenders get some real punishment, not just directing few harsh words. A sentence for 3 or 4 years in prison will be convenient”. Others showed more understanding to the American law system.
I also noticed that the abuse pictures brought a flashback from the days of Saddam and the way Iraqi prisoners were treated in a tone of fear was in the voice of my friend “this could happen to me or anyone else. If someone gets randomly arrested (for being near the site of some clashes or violent demonstrations in the wrong time), he might be tortured or humiliated by the prison guards before they recognize that he’s got nothing to do with the insurgency or the terrorists" That I must say will have a very bad effect on encouraging Iraqis to participate in the political process in Iraq.
Later on, we jumped to another topic, which is the GC and the awaited authority hand-over. Two of my friends condemned the reaction of Jalal Talbani to the prisoners issue when he relatively ignored the questions about it and considered the matter to be “secondary”. One of them added “how comes that the highest ranking officers in the coalition, Tony Blair and GWB gave much attention to this matter and severely condemned the abusive behavior of those soldiers in their latest speeches while Mr. Talbani thinks it’s not worth talking about!?
I asked my friend “when did he say that?” and he replied “yesterday. Didn’t you see that? It was shown on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabyea” I told him that I don’t watch these two channels and that he shouldn’t do that too. “But where can I get the news then?” my friend asked. “I personally watch the less evil, BBC and sometimes the new and moderate, Al-Hurra” I answered, and my friend said “ but Al-Hurra doesn’t follow the news as fast as Al-Jazeera does, and their performance in general is still below what’s needed, and I can’t follow the reporters on the BBC, especially when they put a Scottish or an Irish guy to tell the news” I agreed with him that it’s difficult sometime and that we need more options.
Another one started cursing the head of the SCIRI because he promised Iran-in a previous occasion-that Iraq would be responsible for compensating Iran for the damages of the Iraqi-Iran war in the 1980's.

Then came the big question “who do you think is going to lead Iraq in the transitional phase? And will that leader be one of the current members of the GC”? This question was directed to me. I said that I don’t think that the future president will be chosen from inside the GC and I asked my friends back "if you were to choose your president from the GC, whom would you elect”? They all agreed that Adnan Pachachi would be the best available choice in such circumstances. As a matter of fact, I share the same opinion because this man is acceptable to many Iraqis due to his moderate attitudes and clean background and he has no militia or the kind of followers that can abuse their man's power to harm others, break the law or have illegal advantages.
When I said goodbye to my friends I sensed some optimism inside me when I realized they are paying more attention to the future and were not fooled by the Arab media to act only in response to emotions.

Every time I see these pictures that show some American soldiers and officers abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners I feel very upset and disgusted. Many of you wanted to know how we feel about those crimes and the people responsible for them and my opinion is simply this: those soldiers must be brought to justice and punished.

There are tens of thousands of coalition soldiers in Iraq, and of course not all of them are pure angels they’re tough warriors among whom we can find the good and the evil, and the evil are always less but unfortunately, they draw more attention just like a small black point on a white paper and this applies to any group of human beings anywhere on this planet. That’s why we should not generalize this to the whole coalition soldiers. I’m not trying to defend the coalition here I just want to show my point of view in an objective way.

The way the Arabic media handled this incident reminds me of the way they handled the barbaric crime in Fallujah a month ago, they tried to show that all the people in Fallujah supported that crime which they called “resistance” and now they’re trying to make Iraqis believe that all the soldiers of the “occupation forces” are involved in this atrocity and that every single soldier in the coalition can’t wait to seize the chance to humiliate Iraqis.

The media seems to be always trying to exaggerate things and to describe any violent action from Iraqis (or Arabs) as “resistance” and any violent action from the coalition as “crimes of the occupiers” to make a good story that sells or that serves their masters' objectives. Anyway, this is not the subject I want to talk about today.
I want to tell you that I felt great relief when I saw and heard the highest-ranking officials in the coalition apologize to the Iraqi people for what a small group of their soldiers did and assuring us that there will be serious investigations to expose those who committed the atrocities and to punish them the way they deserve.

What happened was awful, that’s true but I feel comfortable with the good intentions of the coalition leaders and people who rejected the crimes against the detainees.
Let me tell you this, under the past regime Iraqis were the victims of worse atrocities (by the hands of Iraqis) everyday but no one could say a word about that, now, nothing can be hidden from the people and no one can get away with his crimes. For the first time, law is starting to govern our country and this will force anyone to think twice before he plans to harm someone or break the law in any way.

The crime was a step backwards but the way it’s being dealt with is-in my opinion-a step forwards on the way to strengthen the trust between the coalition and the Iraqis because this will help putting an end to many of the conspiracy theories that many Iraqis still belive in and this will tell Iraqis that the Americans are not hiding facts about their soldiers behavior here and once they feel that something wrong is happening they will move to correct it.

I didn’t want to comment on the issue of the new Iraqi flag because I thought it wasn’t really something worth the debate when we face other much more serious challenges and problems. However, the big clamor that this insignificant issue created, and the fact that many readers asked me about my opinion, convinced me to change my mind.

Seriously, I think this should’ve been done a long time ago, when things were more quite to avoid any undesirable side effects. The old flag was not an Iraqi flag. It was the flag of the Arab nationalist and didn’t represent the various components of the complex Iraqi society, and after Saddam had put the holy words on it, it became Saddam’s flag. That fool was obsessed with making his name an immortal one. He did everything he could, spent billions of dollars on his statues, palaces and elsewhere to force people to remember him wherever they turn their heads. He didn’t think that the anger of the Iraqi people would topple all his statues and burn all his pictures in such a short time. Still his flag is there reminding us of him and all his atrocities, therefore it had to go. This is, of course, mainly a psychological issue to declare formally the end of an era with all that represented it.

Most Iraqis had hated that flag a long time ago. The Kurd refused to use it, and many Iraqis were bold enough to take away the holy words from the old flag, but that couldn’t have been generalized and adapted by the authorities, since it would’ve caused unnecessary clashes with the religious groups.

Now to talk more seriously, I would like to discuss the design of the new flag, try to see why it did upset some Iraqis and Arabs, and also I would like to offer my suggestion to solve this critical problem, as I have something I think may help us here.

Yesterday I was discussing with some of my friends the reaction that some 'smart' people signaled among common Iraqi saying that the new flag looked like the Israeli flag and that it was meant to be so! Now honestly I don’t understand those Israeli guys they give the Gaza strip and the west bank back to the Palestinians, and then they come to buy lands in Iraq (from Al-Jazeera)! And now they are trying to take over our flag, the symbol of our sovereignty!? Hmm..I don’t get it but there should be some huge conspiracy here! I mean come on we have all the elements of conspiracy here America and changing an Arab country flag and using blue color!!

One of my friends said that our people care about formalities a lot and that no matter what we think we should put that in consideration. I agreed with him, and as a good and loyal citizen, I tried to work hard on this imagining what flag would represent the Iraqi people and not offend any party.

At first, I thought of the date palm, but this might upset the Kurds, since they don't have it in Kurdistan. Then I thought of one of the symbols of the ancient civilizations in Iraq like the "winged bull", but this will be hard for the children to draw. Then there is the issue of colors I mean we hated black, red and we were not allowed to use blue!

Enough to say that it was an extremely difficult challenge, and I had to come up with a design that not only should be acceptable to all Iraqis, but should also help in solving our problems and ensure our peace and prosperity, I mean that’s what a real flag should serve.
I spent long hours searching and thinking, facing dead ends all the time, but you know me, I’m resourceful! And all of a sudden came this design that I recall seeing it in a cartoon when I was a kid, and it looked just perfect. It has all what is needed it’s easy to draw, it’s peaceful, it has no religious or ethnic symbol and it has no blue color on it! Is it just luck or is it creativity!? I don’t know but here it is for you to judge.


Was the Iraqi Mukhabarat modelled on the German Reichssicherheitshauptamt, and in what ways? - History


The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other non­military measures – applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population. All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character.

I see them here, I see them there, I see them always everywhere.
I hear their footsteps on the stair. I listen, hope, and then despair.

Developments in Ukraine and the South China Sea signal an emerging gap in asymmetric warfare capabilities, according to a nearly year-old warning from Admiral James A. Winnefeld:

“Not only are our potential adversaries beginning to pace us in the things at which we have become adept, they’re doing so in asymmetric ways as well, whether it’s little green men in Ukraine or precious habitat being destroyed in the South China Sea to put new facts in the water, hybrid warfare is here to stay.”[1]

The claimed emergent advantage in asymmetric warfighting — nonlinear war[2] as conceptualized by Russian strategists, sometimes called hybrid warfare — concerns such Western military commanders as General Philip M. Breedlove. “NATO must be prepared for little green men,” those “armed soldiers without insignia that create unrest, occupy government buildings, incite the population,” he said. “Once the green men are there,” General Breedlove warned, “a revolution happens quickly.”[3] A year later he added, “What we see in Russia now in this hybrid approach to war, is the use of all the tools that they have to reach into a nation and cause instability.”[4]

In late January, Naval Special Warfare Command commander Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey asked a defense industry audience to imagine the possibility of American “little green men” for use in low-intensity operations.[5] The hypothesized force begs several questions, a primary one being this: are American values too incongruent with the demands of nonlinear/hybrid warfare to allow United States forces to execute such a strategy effectively? Restated, is American political culture simply uncongenial to ideas of nonlinear/hybrid warfare? A related — and equally important— question is whether the conditions required to prosecute nonlinear/hybrid warfare successfully are congruent with American geopolitical interests?

Russia’s “Green Men”

Russian special operations forces engaged in nonlinear/hybrid warfare are known euphemistically as zelonyye chelovechki or “green men”. TASS correspondent Vladimir Zinin explains the term:

“The notorious ‘green men’ who appeared in Crimea — they’re like the toy soldiers children play with, without a name or a face. Their past and their future is a cardboard box, which can be opened when it’s time to begin playing a new game.[6]

When Russian special operations forces began appearing on Sevastopol streets, some Crimeans adopted a slight semantical shift, from zelonyye chelovechki — green men — to zelonyye lyudishki — little green men — an Americanism purposefully appropriated for its association with fantastic stories of alien encounters and flying saucers. It conveys “an ironic sense, something which in any case cannot be trusted, a knowingly false report.”[7] Ilya Varlamov elaborates:

“Intuition tells us if something looks like a Russian soldier, rides on Russian military equipment, and says it’s a Russian soldier, then it’s probably a Russian soldier. But Russian propaganda tells us it’s a ‘local defense force’. Locals sardonically call them ‘polite people’ or simply ‘green men’.”[8]

Varlamov drives home his commentary with this photograph from the first days of Russia’s 2014 incursion into Ukrainian Crimea:

Opting for another euphemism popular among Crimeans — vezhlivyye lyudi or “polite people” — another commentator wrote, “With regard to who these polite people are who took Crimean airfields, the Council of Ministers, and the Supreme Council, it’s not difficult to guess, it’s special army units.”[10] In February 2014, the 3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade of Russia’s Main Intelligence Director (aka GRU) deployed “for the protection of strategic facilities in Crimea…until the full stabilization of the situation in Ukraine” according to the Regnum news service.[11]

In May 2015, a life-sized monument was unveiled in the Russia Far East city of Belogorsk during celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The monument honors Russian special operations forces that occupied Crimea ahead of its annexation from Ukraine.

It is based on this photograph by TASS photojournalist Aleksandr Ryumin, minus the mask concealing the green man’s face.

It is worth pausing for a moment to clarify the concept of nonlinearity, a term more often used than understood well. It is rooted in the Soviet-era doctrine of Deep Battle, usually attributed to the Russian strategist Mikhail Tukhachevskiy.[14] Drawing on Tsarist-era strategist Genrikh Antonovich Leyer’s principle of simultaneity of action, Tukhachevskiy’s influential contemporary Georgii Isserson argued that the contact area with the opposing forces must be increased:

“[T]he reasons for failure lay…with the fact that neutralization and attack of the defense were conducted only along the front line of direct combat contact. The defensive depths remained untouched.”[15]

Increasing the contact area in depth is, of course, unnecessary when two opposing forces array linearly across a front, but this condition rarely if ever exists in modern warfare. Depth is always present. Thus simultaneity requires a degree of nonlinearity. Under Isserson’s concept of “future war” (budushchaya voyna) “the ‘front-against-front’ situation should not appear as something unexpected…[F]or us a future operation…will be a continuous chain of merged combat efforts throughout the entire depths.”[16]

The concepts of linearity and nonlinearity are borrowed from mathematics, the latter (nonlinearity) introducing the quality of unpredictability. Linearity and nonlinearity can be systemic or geometric. Systemic nonlinearity is perhaps most easily understood as the “fog of war,” a concept attributed (erroneously) to the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz.[17] He emphasized unpredictability — in effect, systemic nonlinearity — that arises as a function of the interaction of two opposing forces. He called the first of these “friction” (i.e., when military action is impeded by incidents and physical objects encountered on the battlefield), and the second he called chance. By the latter, he meant something different than probability — Clausewitz several times juxtaposed the terms “laws of probability” [Wahrscheinlichkeitsgesetze] and chance. For Clausewitz, chance was the unpredictable and the incalculable.

“Circumstances vary so enormously in war, and are so indefinable, that a vast array of factors has to be appreciated — mostly in the light of probabilities alone. The man responsible for evaluating the whole must bring to his task the quality of intuition that perceives the truth at every point. Otherwise a chaos of opinions and considerations would arise, and fatally entangle judgment.”[18]

Geometric linearity is the context for such terms as rear and close, both of which are defined by their position relative to the line of contact. Depth, too, is linear though not in a one-dimensional sense.[19] Thus geometric nonlinearity involves the introduction of deviations to destabilize a geometrically linear setting. Unlike systemic linearity (which is as old as organized warfare), geometric nonlinearity did not truly emerge until the development of modern command and control (aka “C2”) systems. One characteristic of nonlinear battlefields is large spatial gaps between tactical units. Destabilizing a geometrically linear battlespace is achieved through nonlinear tactics as swarming to create deviations or find weaknesses in the deployment of enemy units.[20] During the 1990s wars with Russia, for example, Chechen insurgents used so-called “vapor swarms” to converge on a target from all directions and coalesce into a ring. The insurgents took advantage of their superior knowledge of terrain, preplanned subterranean passages, and dispersion across the battlespace to evade and flank Russian units as they moved into insurgent-held territory. Though greatly outnumbered — the disparity ranged from 2:1 during the First Chechen War to as high as 47:1 during the Second Chechen War — teams of insurgents swarmed Russian tanks and armored vehicles in Grozny’s narrow streets and overwhelmed them volley rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire.

Anton Shekhovtsov suggests three conditions are necessary for Russian nonlinear/hybrid operations. The first condition is that hybrid forces can only be deployed in Russian-speaking regions, where they are ethnically and culturally transparent, and cannot be easily detected. The second is that hybrid forces must arrive covertly, a condition that favors Russia’s near abroad (though successful deployments are possible elsewhere). The third condition is that covert deployment presumes border controls are poor and state power is weak in the target country.[21]

Ambiguity is often the friend of Russian nonlinear/hybrid operations. Take for example the Russia government’s diavowal of claims by Ramzan Kadyrov (later reversed) that so-called “Chechen special forces” are deployed in Syria.[22] The day after Mr. Kadyrov, who is Head of the Chechen Republic,[23] made his widely publicized claim, his press secretary, Alvi Karimov, walked the statement back. Mr. Karimov said “self-organized Chechen young people intent on confronting a terrorist organization…are in Syria exclusively on their own initiative.”[24]

Fomenting internal suspicion, too, is a friend of nonlinear/hybrid operations. Chechen jihadists are perhaps the most experienced combatants within the Syrian-Iraqi battlespace, and have been effective despite internal rivalries and disputes. Amidst rumors that Chechen agents have penetrated its ranks, the Islamic State Defense, Security & Intelligence Council (aka Security & Sharia Committee) embarked on a mole hunt. Former Mukhabarat[25] officers are leading the investigation and targeting Chechen jihadists under the direct order of the Council’s head, Abu Ali Anbari.[26]

It hopefully is clear by this point that the conventional Western understanding of modern Russian nonlinear/hybrid warfare suffers from important conceptual weaknesses, as Alexander Lanoszka observes. Three of these bear immediate correction. First, hybrid warfare is a strategy, not a form of war.[27] The Russian understanding of war strays little from its century-old Leninist definition. War is “a continuation of policy by other means,”[28] a variation on Clausewitz’s dictum that “War is a continuation of politics by other means.” It cannot be understood, Lenin continued, “without considering its bearing on the preceding policy of the given state.”[29] The contemporary (official) definition elaborates the more cryptic Leninist one:

“War is a socio-political phenomenon associated with a radical change in the nature of relations between states and nations, and the transition of opposing sides from the use of non-military, non-violent forms and methods to a struggle involving the direct use of weapons and other violent means of armed struggle in order to achieve certain political and economic goals. At its core, war is a continuation of the policies of states and their ruling elites through violent means.”[30]

Those “other violent means” include hybrid ones. This leads to the second correction, viz., that nonlinear/hybrid warfare is born out of strength, not weakness.[31] The third correction is that war is “hybrid” in the sense it combines aspects of insurgency-type irregular warfare and conventional force, where the threat to escalate to higher gradations deters forceful retaliation. This exposes a vulnerability of hybrid warfare — it requires local escalation-dominance, a condition Russia established against the odds in places like Crimea and Syria by exploiting Western fears of direct military confrontation. Against Lanoszka’s observation that hybrid warfare target-states (e.g., Ukraine) self-deter out of a fear of escalating the conflict, the author adds, so, too, it seems, does NATO and the United States.

Much attention has been directed toward the Baltic countries — Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, all NATO member-states — as likely targets for Russian hybrid warfare. The author’s view is this attention is somewhat misplaced, notwithstanding near-habitual Russian probing in the region, for the simple reason that Baltic countries are unlikely to engage in self-deterrence in the face of a hybrid threat. Estonia’s senior military officer, Lieutenant General Riho Terras certainly sounds unlikely to do so. Regarding Russian green men, “You should shoot the first one to appear,” General Terras said. “If somebody without any military insignia commits terrorist attacks in your country, you should shoot him…you should not allow him to enter.”[32] Latvia’s Raimonds Vējonis, then-Defense Minister (and now President), issued a similar warning: “If necessary, we will shoot these ‘green men’. But if they behave peacefully, the Security Police and the State Police will deal with them.”[33] The leaders of Lithuania and neighboring Poland say much the same.[34]

Hic Sunt Leones[35]

We turn then to the central question of a United States nonlinear/hybrid warfare force. Some three years ago, General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, used a widely followed Russian defense weekly to publish what Jane’s Intelligence Review later called “an article that went unregistered at the time but proved to be a crucial statement of emergent Russian thinking on non-linear warfare.”[36] In the light of recent military actions in Libya (which he cites), Syria, and elsewhere, few Americans would likely dispute General Gerasimov’s thesis statement:

“The 21st century saw a diminution of earlier distinctions between a state of war and a state of peace. War is no longer declared, but having begun, unfolds along often unfamiliar patterns. […] So, too, the rules of war have changed. Non-military means to political and strategic ends have become more important, often exceeding in effectiveness the force of arms.”[37]

A recent Finnish Defense Agency report noted these means are most effective against “collapsed or nearly-collapsed states in which the populations are divided into conflicting factions due to ethnic, economic or religious grounds.”[38] These conditions are associated with many contemporary conflicts. They are not as a rule, however, descriptive of conflicts in which the United States has intervened with notable success.[39] The conditions better describe the former Soviet space, with its ethnic heterogeneity, latent historic grievances, weak civil society, and regional complexity.[40] It is terrain more congenial to the assertion of Russian geopolitical interests than American ones:

“Russia has a tactical advantage by virtue of being in [the former Soviet political landscape] it has historical familiarity with the plethora of conflicts in it and it is well positioned to frame local events and conflicts in a manner helpful to its interests, thereby forestalling unfavorable responses from outside actors. Yet these factors would be irrelevant if Russia did not have escalation dominance over its neighbors and an interest in expanding its zone of influence and revising the status quo.”[41]

The same can be said of Chinese interests in the maritime domain of the South China Sea. China exerts nonlinear/hybrid force in the South China Sea through its maritime militias — the so-called “little blue men”. These militias use the Hainan Province commercial fishing fleet — under the command of Luo Baoming, the provincial party chief — to prosecute the PLA’s “People’s War at Sea.”[42] The maritime militias are an irregular force, the members of which are recruited from local Hainan fishing communities or other maritime industries who remain employed in these positions while they are trained and made available for government tasking. The PLA’s official newspaper puts it succinctly:

“Putting on camouflage they qualify as soldiers, taking off the camouflage they become law abiding fishermen.”[43]

A prime example is the Fugang Fisheries Co., Ltd. Established in 2001 and based in Sanya, on Hainan’s southern coast. Fugang Fisheries has dispatched vessels and crews multiple times to act as maritime militia, principally to advance and defend China’s island and maritime claims in the area of the disputed Spratley Islands.[44] Other significant maritime militias include:

  • The Danzhou Militia of Baimajing Harbor aka the Hainan Provincial Marine Fishing Industry Group. Based in Danzhou Bay on Hainan’s west coast, it played a significant role in China’s operation to seize the Paracel Islands’ Crescent group from Vietnam during the January 1974 Battle of the Paracel Islands.
  • The Tanmen Village Maritime Militia Company of Qionghai County. Established in 1985 and based on Hainan’s southeast coast, it was directly involved in the April 2012 Scarborough Shoal Standoff with Philippine naval forces.
  • The Sansha City Maritime Militia, which was established in 2013 on Woody Island, one of the Paracel Islands claimed by both China and Vietnam. In future it is expected to play an important role in Paracel affairs.[45]

China’s maritime militias are grounded in the concept of the “people’s war,” in which civilian and military sectors are integrated. The maritime militias function as a hybrid civilian-naval force that is integrated into the PLAN as unofficial constabulary and military auxiliaries. Their peacetime role is to support coercive maritime diplomacy against Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines to enforce China’s unilateral seasonal fishing ban in the South China Sea and to provide support services for the Chinese Coast Guard, such as resupply of Chinese artificial installations in the region. The maritime militias are designed to augment Chinese military power during any conflict at sea.[46]

During any conflict, China is almost certain to exploit the maritime militias as a force multiplier by deploying its thousands of fishing vessels to engage in paramilitary activities, and to augment PLAN operations and intelligence activities.[47] The PLAN has developed elite units within the maritime militias that are the most likely to be deployed on more operations that involve monitoring, displaying presence in front of, or opposing foreign actors. All such actions involving “hiding in plain sight” are intended to support Chinese naval and coast guard forces.[48] It is likely that any maritime militia vessels destroyed in naval combat will be the centerpiece of political and public diplomacy efforts by China to undermine enemy resolve.[49]

Is Nonlinear/Hybrid Warfare “Un-American”?

The question whether nonlinear/hybrid warfare is un-American raises cultural and geopolitical concerns. A starting point to discussing those concerns is to acknowledge frankly that the United States possesses a robust capacity for waging certain elements of nonlinear/hybrid warfare — for example, in the cyber and special operations realms. Another is to clearly distinguish nonlinear/hybrid warfare prosecuted by states from operations prosecuted by (or against) hybrid organizations such as the proto-states ISIS and Hezbollah. It also is worth disposing of the suggestion that nonlinear/hybrid war is a uniquely modern concept: the Soviet Union employed hybrid tactics during circa 1920s attempts to overthrow sovereign governments in Bulgaria (September 1923) and Estonia (December 1924).[50]

Perhaps the single characteristic that best defines nonlinear/hybrid warfare is the systematic use of varied means that, in the aggregate, have the capacity to undermine and seriously weaken an adversary without crossing established thresholds that would trigger a military response.[51] As has been argued, however, nonlinear/hybrid operations (on the Russian mode at least) are limited to situations that meet a set of conditions, including geographical proximity. That condition alone challenges whether the United States is likely in the foreseeable future to engage in nonlinear/hybrid warfare operations, as it did in Central America in the 1980s.

Then there is the question of temperament. The Estonian sociologist Juhan Kivirähk writes that Russia works assiduously to erode social cohesion in his country. Under the guise of protecting Russian culture and language, Russia promotes the narrative that “diaspora” Russian-speakers are excluded from Estonian society.[52] A campaign of low-intensity subversion on this scale and duration — just one element of a state-centered hybrid war strategy — requires deep social knowledge and an enduring commitment, neither of which favor the United States. Aside perhaps from Central America, is there a regional theatre in which such an approach is well suited to the United States’ capabilities and interests? America has demonstrated its capacity to destabilize countries and turn them into failed states, to be sure — witness Libya— but that is neither new, nor in any meaningful sense, nonlinear or hybrid.

Moreover, nonlinear/hybrid war (at least Russian-style) is intended principally as a means of perimeter defense. The objective is to subvert neighboring countries, destabilizing them and where necessary, creating a ring of failed states and frozen conflicts that serve Russian defense-in-depth objectives. Here again, fundamental differences between Russian and American regional geography challenges whether a nonlinear/hybrid approach — as distinct from basic counterinsurgency — is well suited to American geopolitical interests.

The suggestion of an American “green men” (or for that matter, blue men) force also raises legal questions regarding its combatant status. It is true that while wearing a uniform is not an absolute requirement to comply with the principle of distinction.[53] Combatant status is conditioned on combatants distinguishing themselves from both the civilian population and the opposing armed forces, but does not necessarily require them to identify their nationality. The singular act of using unmarked uniforms does not constitute a violation of the principle of distinction, assuming, however, that the combatants in question are clearly not impersonating opposing military personnel nor are attempting to blend into the civilian population.

While an American “green men” force might meet the legal test of combatant status, it is questionable today whether it would meet the domestic political test. There are certainly good historic analogues for a modern American “green men” force — one that immediately comes to mind is the Vietnam-era 5 th Special Forces Group trained and led Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG)[54] — there is little basis for believing that the American public would long tolerate nonlinear conflicts actions on the model of the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) or the early 20 th century interventions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua.

As to the notion of a “green on green” (or in the maritime realm, “blue on blue”) conflict, this, too, has an overlay of unreality. Take this suggestion that NATO forward deploy (here, in the Baltics) to deter Russian nonlinear/hybrid operations:

“The clearest way to undermine Putin’s strategy of ambiguity and to deny him the advantage of time and space is to station NATO (especially U.S.) forces in the Baltic countries. […]With this simple stroke, Putin’s advantage in time, geography as well as his advantage with rapid decision making is muted.”[55]

Further to the point, “Cultivate increased NATO commitment and resolve” is the first of “ten key objectives U.S. and NATO leaders should pursue to counter the Russia advantages that drive its hybrid operational approach” according an influential 2015 United States Army War College paper.[56] Again, really? Russian leaders are inveterate practitioners of what Thomas Schelling termed “competition in risk taking.” They achieve geopolitical objectives “not so much by tests of force as by tests of nerve.” It means, as Schelling wrote nearly 50 years ago, “not by who can bring the most force to bear in a locality, or on particular issue, but by who is eventually willing to bring more force to bear or able to make it appear that more is forthcoming.”[57] [Emphasis added] It hardly bolsters the deterrent effect of the so-called “Article 5 trigger” if NATO must first cultivate increased commitment and resolve. As a July 2015 study by the Polish Institute of International Affairs noted, “Russia’s comparative advantage is its unpredictability as a factor of deception, and a desire to introduce or enhance instability in the international system as a revisionist power,”[58] something the authors of the Army War College paper called a “strategy of ambiguity.”

Days of Goblins

These are days of demons, goblins. I see them here,
I see them there, I see them everywhere.
-Dickson M. Mwansa, The Headmaster and Other Rascals

By this point the author’s frustration should be evident with efforts to advance a sanitized Russian nonlinear/hybrid war doctrine as justification for an American green (or blue) men force. The case for an openly acknowledged force within the armed services — here the author includes the end-around method of sheep dipping uniformed personnel — is at best uncertain. As Sam C. Sarkesian cautioned in his 1984 book America’s Forgotten Wars:

“There is a need to learn from history, analyze American involvement and the nature of low-intensity conflict, and translate these into strategy and operational doctrines. Without some sense of historical continuity, Americans are likely to relearn the lessons of history each time they are faced with a low-intensity conflict.”[59]

One lesson is that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is best suited to conduct operations intended to be wholly covert or disavowable. The author acknowledges this is contrary to Recommendation 32 of the 9/11 Commission report, which states:

“Lead responsibility for directing and executing paramilitary operations, whether clandestine or covert, should shift to the Defense Department. There it should be consolidated with the capabilities for training, direction, and execution of such operations already being developed in the Special Operations Command.”[60]

It can be persuasively argued that planning and executing nonlinear/hybrid operations is directly related to CIA’s intelligence-gathering responsibilities. The habitual sheep dipping of uniformed personnel prior to nonlinear/hybrid missions both negates their combatant status, and makes the larger point that these missions properly belong within CIA. It also begs the question whether the United States should (re)establish a bright line between military and intelligence operations, rather than slide up and down the conflict scale ad hoc in a state of perpetual quasi-war. These and other questions each bear further consideration in their own right.

Stepping back, perhaps the best summary of the emerging argument for nonlinear/hybrid operations is found in the proceedings of a June 2015 workshop held by the Scottish Centre for War Studies:

“Russia’s operations in Ukraine have roots in the Soviet system yet are ‘new’ in the context in which they are applied. […] Epochal warfare analysis projects that a shift from a Westphalian to post-Westphalian global system is underway. In such a period of transition, the dominant state form undergoes a deinstitutionalization process and war is less about issues of state sovereignty and, instead, increasingly over what the new form of social and political organization will be. During this era of change, non-state soldiers and mercenaries become dominant actors on the new battlefield that is emerging — in the present instance, one derived from the 5 th dimensional battlespace attributes of humanspace and cyberspace.”[61]

The translation of all source material is by the author unless otherwise noted. The quoted verse by an anonymous author was published in the 19 November 1898 edition of Punch magazine.

[1] He spoke in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. See: “Adm. Winnefeld’s Remarks at the 142nd U.S. Naval Institute Annual Meeting.” Transcript of a 22 April 2015 speech published by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. https://www.jcs.mil/Media/Speeches/tabid/3890/Article/586582/adm-winnefelds-remarks-at-the-142nd-us-naval-institute-annual-meeting.aspx. Last accessed 21 February 2016.

[3] “Die Nato muss auf grüne Männchen vorbereitet sein.” Die Welt [published online in German 17 August 2014]. https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article131296429/Die-Nato-muss-auf-gruene-Maennchen-vorbereitet-sein.html. Last accessed 21 February 2016. General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF, spoke in his capacity as Commander, U.S. European Command, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

[4] Munich Security Conference (2015). Munich Security Report 2015, 34. https://www.eventanizer.com/MSC2015/MunichSecurityReport2015.pdf. Last accessed 23 February 2016.

[5] Such a force would raise a host of issues for the United States. A significant one outside the scope of this essay is the operational demand for low visibility platforms capable of penetrating a conflict zone. At the same symposium by General Joseph Votel, commander of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), noted such special purpose-designed platforms for discreet special operations forces missions must either be special-purpose military platforms that appear to be civilian platforms, e.g., the USSOCOM’s modified commercial vehicle aka “Non-Standard Commercial Vehicle” and similar non-standard rotary wing aircraft, or modified commercial vessels.

[6] Vladimir Zinin (2015). ” Igra v soldatikov: Pochemu reputatsiya armii okazalas’ pod ugrozoy” (“Playing Soldiers: Why the Army’s reputation is threatened”). Gazeta.ru [published online in Russian 22 July 2015]. https://www.gazeta.ru/comments/2015/07/22_e_7652977.shtml. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[7] Alexander Anichkin (2014). “Zelenyye Chelovechki” (“Little Green Men”). Tetradki (“Notebooks”) blog [published online in Russian 13 March 2014]. https://european-book-review.blogspot.com/2014/03/little-green-men.html. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[8] Ilya Varlamov (2014) “Situatsiya v Krymu. Sevastopol’.” (“The Situration in Sevastopol, Crimea.”). Varlamov.ru [published online 5 March 2014]. https://varlamov.ru/1017991.html. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[9] Ibid. The photograph’s caption reads: “Utrom vyyezzhayem iz Simferopolya. Na ulitsakh stoyat «zelenyye chelovechki».” (“We leave in the morning from Simferopol. ‘Little green men’ are in the streets.”)

[11] https://regnum.ru/news/1771548.html. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[12] https://news.pn/ru/RussiaInvadedUkraine/132682. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[13] See: https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2015/03/11_a_6503589.shtml. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[14] His transliterated last name sometimes is spelled “Tukhachevsky”. It is worth noting that while Deep Battle doctrine is customarily attributed to Tukhachevsky, some of his contemporaries wrote more specifically about it, for example, Georgii Samoilovich Isserson’s 1936 treatise The Evolution of Operational Art, and Vladimir Kiriakovitch Triandafillov’s 1929 The Nature of the Operations of Contemporary Armies.

[15] Georgii Samoilovich Isserson (1936). The Evolution of Operational Art, Bruce W. Menning, trans. (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combat Studies Institute Press), 98.

[17] Clausewitz never actually used the term “fog of war” in his seminal On War though he did use fog four times. For an exhaustive discussion of the question, see the military historian Eugenia C. Kiesling’s 2001 article “On War Without Fog” Military Review (September-October 2001), 85-87. https://www.clausewitz.com/bibl/Kiesling-OnFog.pdf. Last accessed 23 February 2016.

[18] Carl von Clausewitz (1832 1976). On War, Michael Howard and Peter Paret, eds. and transls. (Princeton: Princeton University Press), 112.

[19] This has been described as “longitudinal linearity” since it is measured from front to rear rather than along the front. See: MAJ A. Dwight Raymond, USA (1992). “Firepower, Maneuver, and the Operational Level of War.” DTIC AD-A254-156. (Fort Leavenworth, KS: School of Advanced Military Studies), 26.

[20] For example, Chechen insurgent light infantry organized into small anti-armor teams used tactical swarming against Russian T-72 tanks during the First Chechen War’s battle for Grozny (1994-96) and did so again against Russian mechanized infantry and armor in the battle for Grozny (1999) during the Second Chechen War.

[21] Anton Shekhovtsov (2015). “Who is afraid of the ‘little green men’?” The Intersection Project: Russia/Europe/World [published online 21 September 2015]. https://intersectionproject.eu/article/security/who-afraid-little-green-men. Last accessed 21 February 2016.

[22] Both President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu forcefully disclaimed any Russian involvement in grounds operations inside Syria. However, Presidential spokesperson Dmitri Peskov was less categorical, deferring questions about Chechen special forces “to the relevant authorities.” See: “Peskov otvetil na vopros o chechenskom spetsnaze v Sirii” (“Peskov responds to questions about Chechen special forces in Syria”). Vesti.ru [published online in Russian 8 February 2016]. https://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=2717910. Last accessed 22 February 2016. Mr. Kadyrov earlier claimed on Russian television that Chechen special forces members infiltrated Islamic State training camps. See: “Kadyrov soobshchil o rabote chechenskogo spetsnaza v Sirii” (“Kadyrov reported on the work of Chechen special forces in Syria”). Kavkazskiy Uzel [published online in Russian 8 February 2016]. https://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/277274/. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[23] Mr. Kadyrov stated in a 27 February interview on Russia’s NTV television channel (which is owned by Gazprom) that he will step down from his post when his current term expires in April 2016.

[24] “Vlasti ob”yavili chechenskikh boytsov v Sirii dobrovol’tsami” (“Authorities declare Chechen fighters in Syria are volunteers”). Kavkazskiy Uzel [published online in Russian 9 February 2016]. https://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/277345/. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[25] Jihaz Al-Mukhabarat Al-Amma aka the Mukhabarat, was the Iraqi state intelligence service under Saddam Hussein.

[26] Anbari is the caliphate’s deputy leader in Syria, reporting directly to Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This council is the most important in the organization’s structure. The Council is partly responsible for Baghdadi’s security, and has overall responsibility for the execution of security plans and for intelligence gathering and assessment.

[27] Specifically, hybrid warfare is an offensive strategy to localize a conflict while undermining the target’s territorial integrity, subverting its internal political cohesion, and disrupting its economy. Alexander Lanoszka (2016). “Russian hybrid warfare and extended deterrence in eastern Europe.” International Affairs 92: 1. https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/publications/ia/INTA92_1_09_Lanoszka.pdf

[28] V.I. Lenin (1917). “War and Revolution.” Lenin Collected Works, v.24. (Moscow: Progress Publishers).

[30] Dmitry O. Rogozin, Andrian A. Danilevich & Dmitry V. Loskutov (2011).Voyna i mir v terminakh i opredeleniiakh [War and Peace: Terms and Definitions]. Electronic source. https://www.voina-i-mir.ru/article/47. Last accessed 24 February 2016.

[31] Adapted from Lanoszka (2016), op cit.

[32] “Estonia ready to deal with Russia’s ‘little green men’.” Financial Times [published online 13 May 2015]. https://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/03c5ebde-f95a-11e4-ae65-00144feab7de.html#axzz40q8DNutl. Last accessed 21 February 2016.

[33] “Ja vajadzēs, nošausim tos «zaļos cilvēciņus».” (“If necessary, we will shoot the ‘green men’.” Ir [published online in Latvian 10 Sepotember 2014]. https://www.irlv.lv/2014/9/10/ja-vajadzes-nosausim-tos-zalos-cilvecinus. Last accessed 22 February 2016. The Latvian Security Police (Drošības policija or “DP”) has primary responsibility for the nation’s counter-terrorism and counter-subversion efforts, and includes the State Border Guards (Valsts Robežsardze). The Latvian State Police (Valsts policijas or “VP”) is tasked with crime prevention. Vējonis was widely quoted in regional news portals, including Ukrayinska Pravda. See: “Ministr oborony Latviyi poobitsyav strilyaty v ‘zelenykh cholovichkiv’.” (“Latvian Defense minister promises to shoot ‘green men’.”). Ukrayinska Pravda [published online in Ukrainian 11 September 2014]. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/09/11/7037505/. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

Estonia’s Russian language Postimees (“The Postman”) wrote Vējonis’ use of “the term ‘green men’ apparently meant armed formations, similar to those in Ukraine’s self-proclaimed separatist DPR and LPR” (the reference is to the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic, respectively). Postimees disputed Vējonis’ key contention, arguing “the appearance of ‘green men’ on Latvian territory is legally ambiguous, because technically it does not constitute a direct invasion. Therefore, Article 5 of the NATO charter regarding collective defense is not applicable.” See: “Ministr oborony Latvii: yesli nado — pristrelim «zelenykh chelovechkov»” (“Latvian Defense Minister says to ‘green men,’ if necessary, we will shoot you”). Postimees [published online in Russian 11 September 2014]. https://rus.postimees.ee/2917323/ministr-oborony-latvii-esli-nado-pristrelim-zelenyh-chelovechkov. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[34] “Glavkom VS Pol’shi v Vil’nyuse: my gotovy k ‘zelenym chelovechkam’.” RU.Delfi.lt [published online in Russian 5 March 2015]. https://ru.delfi.lt/news/politics/glavkom-vs-polshi-v-vilnyuse-my-gotovy-k-zelenym-chelovechkam.d?id=67353542. Last accessed 22 February 2016. RU.Delfi.lt is the Russian language version of the Delfi Lithuanian news portal. Delfi operates additional portals in Estonian and Latvian (each with paired with a Russian language version) and is an important Baltic news portal. See also: “Pol’sha zayavila o gotovnosti k vtorzheniyu «zelenykh chelovechkov».” (“Poland declares its readiness to repel ‘little green men’.”). Gazeta.ru [published online in Russian 5 March 2015]. https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/news/2015/03/05/n_6986593.shtml. Last accessed 22 February 2016.

[35] Hic sunt leones or “Here, there be lions” is a phrase utilized in classical Roman cartography (one which survived into the Medieval period) to label unknown territories on maps, denoting them as unexplored, and potentially dangerous.

[36] Jane’s Intelligence Review (2014). “The rising influence of Russian special forces.” https://www.janes360.com/images/assets/299/46299/The_rising_influence_of_Russian_special_forces.pdf. Last accessed 29 February 2016.

[37] General Valery Gerasimov (2013). “Tsennost’ Nauki v Predvidenii”(“The Predictive Value of Science”). Voenno-promyshlennyi kur’er (“The Military-Industrial Courier”). [published online in Russian 27 February 2013]. https://vpk-news.ru/sites/default/files/pdf/VPK_08_476.pdf. Lasty accessed 29 February 2016.

[38] Finish Defense Research Agency (2015). “On the concept of hybrid warfare.” Research Bulletin 01-2015. https://www.puolustusvoimat.fi/wcm/a7115c0047a97c30802699a0e97874b0/150316+_DOS_J_hybridwarfare.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. Last accessed 29 February 2016.

[39] Here, the exception may prove the rule. The Nicaraguan Resistance of the 1980s and early 1990s succeeded (by some measures at least) as a nonlinear/hybrid campaign to destabilize the Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government in Nicaragua, and to check the expansion of Soviet (and their Cuban proxy) regionally. However, it provoked a domestic political backlash within the United States of such force and duration as to evince the incompatibility of nonlinear/hybrid warfare with American values, even within a longstanding sphere of American influence.

[40] These factors are developed in greater detail in Lanoszka (2016), op cit., 180-186.

[42] Professor Andrew S. Erickson of the United States Naval War College has written extensively on this subject. See for example: Andrew S. Erickson & Conor M. Kennedy (2015). “Tanmen Militia: China’s ‘Maritime Rights Protection’ Vanguard.” The National Interest [published online 6 May 2015]. https://www.nationalinterest.org/feature/tanmen-militia-china’s-maritime-rights-protection-vanguard-12816?page=3. Last accessed 1 March 2016. See also: Andrew S. Erickson (2015). ” Directing China’s “Little Blue Men”: Uncovering the Maritime Militia Command Structure.” Andrewerickson.com [published online 11 September 2015]. https://www.andrewerickson.com/2015/09/directing-chinas-little-blue-men-uncovering-the-maritime-militia-command-structure/. Last accessed 1 March 2016.

[43] Cited in Andrew S. Erickson & Conor M. Kennedy (2015). “Irregular Forces At Sea: “Not Merely Fishermen — Shedding Light On China’s Maritime Militia.” Center for International Maritime Security [published online 2 November 2015]. https://cimsec.org/new-cimsec-series-on-irregular-forces-at-sea-not-merely-fishermen-shedding-light-on-chinas-maritime-militia/19624. Last accessed 2 March 2016.

[44] Andrew S. Erickson & Conor M. Kennedy (2015). “China’s Daring Vanguard” Introducing Sanya City’s Maritime Militia.” Center for International Maritime Security [published online 5 November 2015]. https://cimsec.org/chinas-daring-vanguard-introducing-sanya-citys-maritime-militia/19753. Last accessed 2 March 2016.

[45] Erickson & Kennedy (2015). “Irregular Forces At Sea: “Not Merely Fishermen — Shedding Light On China’s Maritime Militia,” op cit.

[46] James Kraska & Michael Monti (2015). “The Law of Naval Warfare and China’s Maritime Militia.” International Law Studies. 91: 452, 455. https://stockton.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1406&context=ils. Last accessed 2 Mar h 2016.

[48] See: “Directing China’s ‘Little Blue Men’: Uncovering the Maritime Militia Command Structure.” Andrewerickson.com [published online 11 September 2015]. https://www.andrewerickson.com/2015/09/directing-chinas-little-blue-men-uncovering-the-maritime-militia-command-structure/. Last accessed 2 March 2016.

[49] Kraska & Monti (2015), op cit., 466.

[50] Merle Maigre (2015). “Nothing New in Hybrid Warfare: The Estonian Experience and Recommendations for NATO.” The German Marshall Fund of the United States Policy Brief (February 2015), 2.

[51] Adapted from Ralph D. Thiele (2015). “The New Colour of War — Hybrid Warfare and Partnerships.” World Politics of Security.. International Relations and Security Network Center for Security Studies, 383, 54. https://www.kas.de/wf/doc/17294-1442-5-30.pdf. Last accessed 2 March 2016.

[52] Juhan Kivirähk (2009). “Kuidas suhtuda Venemaa välispoliitika ‘humanitaarsesse dimensiooni’?” (“How to address the ‘humanitarian dimension’ of Russian foreign policy?’” Diplomaatia, nr. 74/75 [published online in Estonian November 2009]. https://www.diplomaatia.ee/artikkel/kuidas-suhtuda-venemaa-valispoliitika-humanitaarsesse-dimensiooni-1/. Last accessed 2 March 2016.

[53] The International Court of Justice in 1996 advised that must never make civilians the object of attack, and must consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets. See: Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, 1996 I.C.J. 226, ¶ 78 (July 8).

[54] The CIDG mobile strike forces and reconnaissance companies were trained and led by the 5 th Special Forces Group. They were comprised of Nung and ethnic minority tribes and groups from the mountain and border regions.

[55] United States Army War College (2015). A U.S. Army War College Analysis of Russian Strategy in Eastern Europe, an Appropriate U.S. Response, and the Implications for U.S. Landpower. (Carlisle, PA: US Army War College), 9-10. https://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1274.pdf. Last accessed 3 March 2016.

[57] Thomas C. Schelling (1967). Arms and Influence. (New Haven: Yale University Press), 94. https://www.pism.pl/files/?id_plik=20165. Last accesed 3 March 2016.

[58] Polish Institute of International Affairs (2015). “Nuclear-Backed ‘Little Green Men’: Nuclear Messaging in the Ukraine Crisis,” 16.

[59] Sam C. Sarkesian (1984). America’s Forgotten Wars: The Counterrevolutionary Past and Lessons for the Future. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press), 245.

[60] See: The 9/11 Commission Report. (Washington: Government Printing Office), 415-416.

[61] Robert Bunker & Pamela Ligouri Bunker (2015). “Proxy Actors, Psyops & Irregular Forces: The Future of Modern Warfare?” workshop held by the Scottish Centre for War Studies, University of Glasgow, 22-23 June 2015. https://smallwarsjournal.com/print/25189. Last accessed 3 March 2016.

John R. Haines is the co-chair of the Eurasia Program, Executive Director of the Princeton Committee, and a member of the Board of Trustees at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.


Was the Iraqi Mukhabarat modelled on the German Reichssicherheitshauptamt, and in what ways? - History

Before we get into the meat of this post, I’d like to offer special thanks to our Danish friend Kepiblanc, who has been doing such magnificent journeywork in the last few months translating for Gates of Vienna. He not only translates from his native Danish, but also from Swedish, Norwegian, German, and French when the occasion warrants and/or the mood strikes him. He’s like a babelfish translation automaton, except that the resulting English is fluent and makes complete sense!

So let’s hear a round of Gates of Vienna applause for Kepiblanc.

This article (translated by Kepiblanc) is from the Swedish blog kulturrevolution.se, and concerns the growing Iraqi criminal networks in Sweden.

The Iraq war prompted an exodus of thugs and criminals from Iraq, particularly those who had previously been employed by Saddam’s Mukhabarat. According to Brynte Cronsköld — who is a Crime Inspector with the Swedish Customs Service — the shrewd Baathist refugees have learned to game Sweden’s asylum system, as so many questionable Third World “refugees” have done before them.

Counterfeit Passports and Crime
by Brynte Cronsköld
February 15, 2007

On February 14th Carl-Robert Lindgren wrote about the extensive forgery of passports practiced by the Iraqi embassy during recent years, and the indifference of Swedish authorities towards it. In and of itself it is serious enough, though hardly surprising, given the present state of affairs in Iraq and Sweden.

Hiding behind this is something that is very disturbing from the perspective of law enforcement. Given the enormous influx into Sweden of Iraqis carrying fake ID documents, all indications point to a repetition of the disastrous mistakes made during the early nineties. When Yugoslavia fell apart, a lot of people came to Sweden and were given residence permits. Within this stream of refugees we received a substantial portion of Tito’s Security Service with all the attendant consequences. Without any doubt they arrived with faked papers and — just as happens today — there were no obstacles to getting a permanent residence permit, even though Swedish Security, the military, the Customs Service, and police were very well aware of those people’s true identity. Some of them should rightfully face a War Crimes Tribunal — which explains some of the brutality we’ve seen in the criminal underground during the latest fifteen years.

With their experience, know-how, and contacts, they very quickly established themselves within organized crime. What this means became evident when Customs noticed their expert trafficking in drug, weapons, liquor, and cigarettes. More than a decade later the problems remain unresolved. To the contrary, Yugoslav criminals are now so deeply embedded in Swedish society that the problem is impossible to cure. Some agencies (police, customs etc.) actually tried to stop them, while others (immigration, courts, lawyers) helped and protected them by handing out citizenships like RFSU [Swedish Birth and Prevention Council — translator.] hands out condoms. If some of those key criminal actors disappeared from time to time it was solely due to mutual intramural killings, rather than Swedish law enforcement.

Now, with Iraq falling apart, history repeats itself. Parts of the old regime’s security apparatus — and not a very nice part at that, even compared with other dictatorships — have already arrived. Nobody should maintain the illusion that new criminal networks are not under construction and that Swedish authorities don’t know about it. All this could have been avoided had we demanded valid passports and revoked the Iraqi embassy’s permission to issue them, at least for the time being. In reality the distribution of passports has been an incubator for serious crime and terrorism throughout the Western world, and it’s a disgrace that Sweden has let it happen.

Within this organized crime there are other forces besides pure greed. Ethnic, cultural and — not least — religious factors contribute dynamics that are incomprehensible to Swedes, and unmanageable by law enforcement authorities. We will have to live with the consequences of this for decades.


More Comments:

Joe Edward Caraveo - 7/20/2007

The Orwellian Empire that has been forecast by some, has been in existence for many years now. The Evil all-watching government is the police of thought that is displayed by the current US administration, which wars in the name of our freedom by removing the freedoms of others. Remember Big Brother and the election year 2000 Florida Debacle. President Goege W Bush won his election through his little brother's state. The Democratic party is referred to being Big Brother for calling for Big Government, but the Bush dreams of a Democratic World of Freedom has no place for the faithful's expecting of Jesus Christ, which calls for a worldwide theocratic state. In 1991 when the American enemy, Iraq, lit hundreds of oilwells in the name of their victory. George Orwell would have given the world a heck of a Burning Bush if Father Bush could have been placed on fire. The Book 1984 was written in 1948, the same year Israel became a nation. Everyone knows that the Jewish race believes in the Burning Bush. This all goes without saying, that Jesus said he was the beginning and the end, and if the US was to lose its current wars in the name of God's love, the beginning would be Washington and the end would be Bush, by George.

Oscar Chamberlain - 3/20/2006

Probably I wold prefer state department, though there are actually a few UN departments that function well.

However, one of the great sadnesses of my life is that I have tried to learn foreign languages but have never gotten beyond basic tourist level.

Oscar Chamberlain - 3/19/2006

First of all thanks for the kind words. You, likewise, have often posed difficult questions for me. And this is one.

On hindering the war effort. At one level the answer is simple. If one concludes after careful examination that the majority is wrong, then that person, as a citizen has the right to protest. And, for the most part, I doubt if you are concerned with indvidual actions, particularly less public ones like writing one's congressman.

At the other extreme there is group action clearly and literally intended subvert the effort, for example, attempting to block induction. That is illegal.

In between there is a broad middle of public group action intended to persuade the majroity to change course. There is no question of the right of people to do this. That is guaranteed in the US Constitution and in state constitutions.

So the question you raise is a moral question. Once a war has been declared, is it morally wrong to oppose it with such vigor that it gives hope to the enemy?

My answer is no, it is not necessarily morally wrong. But I think it should only be done with great care.
1.. The opposition should be carefully considered, and , in particular, not decided on personal animosity toward the president or the party in power.

2. The opposition must go beyond "this was a bad idea." Wars change things, and despite the occasional treaty to the contrary, one cannot go back to the status quo ante bellum. One must argue why the war is bad now, either in its execution or its current war aims.

3. The oposition cannot center on trivial issues. It must be based on profound concerns such the war threatening our secuity as opposed to enhancing it or the war violating seriously our precepts and morality.

In short, one must have strong reasons to oppose an ongoing war, precisely because of the problems you raise. But there is a level of problem that rises above that threshhold.

If I may, a comment or two about defenders of an ongoing war
1. Don't assume the concerns are wrong simply because of personal animosity toward the person, group, or party.

2. A good cause alone is not sufficient defense. Wars are destructive things and the destruction can subvert the cause if the war is not waged carefully.

And finally, for both sides: There can be a middle ground, sometimes, when the concerns and opposition focus more on the means being used and not the ends. We should always look for that, though we will not always find it.

Bill Heuisler - 3/17/2006

Oscar,
Tell me where to mail the letter. I've never engaged a more agreeable opponent, or a more knowledgable one.

Jason, phrased his words as history - Wilson and FDR were sadly accused of duplicity, as was Churchill - and I prefer to remain charitable as to the motives and altruism of those we elevate to the Highest Office. Consider their pasts. All wealthy, no apparent motive beyond steamy conspiracy that fades to conjecture when examined closely. Why assign the worst rationale imaginable to the men we vote at last into office? I don't agree it's duplicity.

Oscar, what's your opinion when an unelected minority demands influence and hurts the war effort. Does their free speech end at the theoretical nose of a Marine fighting in Iraq? Or must we suffer longer wars and higher casualties so these sunshine patriots can exercise their voices?

Oscar Chamberlain - 3/17/2006


I'm going to take this point by point.

You're good at this. Have you ever been employed at Froggy Bottom? They need your talents badly. The UN?

No, but as an adjunct I am always looking for better employment. May I count on you for a letter of recommendation?

We are talking about peace/anti-war protests against the 2003 resumption of the 1991 Gulf War, so your not mentioning Iraq is as significant as Ishmael not bothering to mention Moby was a whale. Of course we're talking about Iraq.

Alan's original post covered the entire 20th century though it was certainly centered on the current war. My first comment focused on that longer history, and that was my primary (though not sole) focus in my last comment.

And you are accusative. Duplicity twice, tricking, dishonest and let's find any reason that works are all words that accuse other Presidents - and by extension, Bush - of getting the US into wars through deceit.

Jason's posting emphasized trickery and deception and you applauded it. Given that you consider all of this about the Bush and Iraq, why did you applaud it?

But we were attacked on 9/11 by Muslim terrorists - some of whom were aided and trained by Saddam, Zarqawi and the Iraqi Mukhabarat, just as much as OBL was shielded by the Taliban in Afganistan. Whether you think this is true or not, most intel we had, have and will have backs it up.
Doesn't matter, Bush believes it.

For what its worth I think the greatest duplicity was in stating that we were going in to establish a secular democracy and then never sending in enough troops to even begin to accomplish that.

We were attacked in '41 and '50. Viet Nam grew like Topsy under three Presidents who each had laudable goals and reasons for their actions. We were attacked again on 9/11.

Laudable goals alone do not a good policy make. See my last point in my previous post

Dispute all the reasons you like and argue whether the responses were correct, but they were the actions of elected Commanders in Chief. Recall even Nixon had the support of a huge majority in the '72 election.
He was a victim of Watergate, not the war in Vietnam. President Bush is low in the polls because his base questions his judgement over Miers, Dubai and the border. They love him on the war and will turn on any candidate who says our military casualties were for nothing.

The Miers mistake was trumped by Alito (a truly shrewd nomination). And yes a vast majority of the country supports Bush in fighting terrorism. But a majority--including a growing percentage of his base support--are questioning whether continuing efforts in Iraq are a logical strategy.

Peace Parties? There's no Peace Party in any election I've heard of.
No Peace Party gets American votes. Our peace party is the Democrat Party, not some rag-tag bunch of unelected malcontents who oppose any war fought by the US. To try and sell the idea they have any place in our democratic process is ridiculous.

I was using party in an older sense of the term, synonymous with faction. My apologies for my research vocabulary slopping into the present, where it might cause confusion.

However, whether one considers our nation a republic or a democracy--you clearly lean toward reupblic--strenuous debate over the great issues of the day is never out of season.

And our "sense of cause" is that most Americans know down deep that we must win this war everywhere - Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, Syria and Iran - because our survival depends on our victory over Islamofascism.

If we try to win everywhere there is hatred for our system from Muslims, we will win nowhere. You define the war too broadly, and war based upon that broad a definition of our enemy will harm our country.

Here I realize, we disagree profoundly.

Bill Heuisler - 3/16/2006

Oscar,
You're good at this. Have you ever been employed at Froggy Bottom? They need your talents badly. The UN?

We are talking about peace/anti-war protests against the 2003 resumption of the 1991 Gulf War, so your not mentioning Iraq is as significant as Ishmael not bothering to mention Moby was a whale. Of course we're talking about Iraq.

And you are accusative. Duplicity twice, tricking, dishonest and let's find any reason that works are all words that accuse other Presidents - and by extension, Bush - of getting the US into wars through deceit. But we were attacked on 9/11 by Muslim terrorists - some of whom were aided and trained by Saddam, Zarqawi and the Iraqi Mukhabarat, just as much as OBL was shielded by the Taliban in Afganistan. Whether you think this is true or not, most intel we had, have and will have backs it up.
Doesn't matter, Bush believes it.

We were attacked in '41 and '50. Viet Nam grew like Topsy under three Presidents who each had laudable goals and reasons for their actions. We were attacked again on 9/11.

Dispute all the reasons you like and argue whether the responses were correct, but they were the actions of elected Commanders in Chief. Recall even Nixon had the support of a huge majority in the '72 election.
He was a victim of Watergate, not the war in Vietnam. President Bush is low in the polls because his base questions his judgement over Miers, Dubai and the border. They love him on the war and will turn on any candidate who says our military casualties were for nothing.

Peace Parties? There's no Peace Party in any election I've heard of.
No Peace Party gets American votes. Our peace party is the Democrat Party, not some rag-tag bunch of unelected malcontents who oppose any war fought by the US. To try and sell the idea they have any place in our democratic process is ridiculous.

And our "sense of cause" is that most Americans know down deep that we must win this war everywhere - Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, Syria and Iran - because our survival depends on our victory over Islamofascism.
Bill

Oscar Chamberlain - 3/16/2006

You are blurring together my thoughts in Alan Dawley's in ways that I did not intend. In particular, I avoided any direct reference to Iraq in my last post because I wanted to make a more general point--that the acceptance of duplicity as an unfortunate necessity has--at least potentially--unfortunate consequences.

One is that the successful use of duplicity by presidents tends to inspire future presidents. Although I consider FDR correct in wanting us to enter WWII, some of his actions, in particular the undeclared naval war with Germany, were dishonest and perhaps unnecessary. Worse, they became a model of presidential strength and action that future presidents have embraced in circumstances less dire.

Another problem of tricking Americans into war is the potential of ending up in a war that Americans might not be willing to support if victory is not quick and if the cause does not seem clear. Particularly in such times, peace parties are an outlet for legitimate concerns. As such they do have a role in our democracy just as independently organized supporters of the conflict have a role.


Concerning our current war, you are correct that Bush had clear authority from Congress to attack, and in 2004 a small but clear majority of American voters preferred that he continue leading. That support seems to be fading, and quite honestly I think that the more militant antiwar groups have almost nothing to do with that fade. I think instead it is a combination of concern with casualties, a sense of stalemate, and questions concerning the competence of our military strategy.

Still, the administration's let's-find-any-reason-that-works arguments in favor of invasion in early 2003 is at least part of their problem precisely because it diluted the development of a sense of cause.

Bill Heuisler - 3/16/2006

Oscar,
You assume too much, and give too little credit to President Bush or to our represemtative Democracy.

We live under a system of Government that elects representatives for the people. We elected President Bush and reelected him during the war in Iraq. Our representatives have voted overwhelmingly to give the President war powers and to use force against Iraq. That is democracy in action.

But now you want us to believe that an unelected band of pacifists and their hangers-on serve an equal and credible role in our government by aiding the enemy in order to force their minority opinions on the US.

Wrong. In our form of government you do not take to the streets to extort policy, you exert your will through a representative and you vote your will every two and four years. These peace mongers are trying to achieve through mob action what they cannot achieve at the ballot box.

Undemocratic, I'd say. Think how you'd feel if street mobs were demanding more attacks on other countries for imagined reasons.

Lastly, Oscar, I'm getting a little tired of otherwise intelligent and affable people stating as fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and that the President misled us into war. Both are easily rebutted and, at worst are arguable. Please don't insult friends who disagree by using each claim as a premise to further postulates - like your, "preserve republican government" nonsense.

If anything, the anti-war movement is as destructive to republican democracy as it is to our soldiers' morale and our war effort.
Bill

Oscar Chamberlain - 3/16/2006

To some extent you make the same mistake that Alan makes. He assumes that all peace movements are created equal. You seem to assume that all potential wars are created equal or, more precisely, you both assume that if a president is willing to deceive the populace into war, he must have a good reason for it.

If the reasons are good, then maybe you have an argument against opposition to that war. But if the reasons are bad, and Americans were tricked into fighting a war that should have been avoided, then a peace movement really is necessary to help preserve republican government.

PS I have not addressed the most complex situation: which is what happens if the cause is good but the execution is so bad that it risks discrediting the cause.

Jason KEuter - 3/16/2006

Thanks for your comments too.

Bill Heuisler - 3/15/2006

Mr. Jason KEuter,
Your logic is indisputable.

Carry it farther and realize, as Orwell did, in Democracies anti-war movements - or pacifists in general - have the very real (intended or unintended) consequence of aiding the enemies of that Democracy.

Ask a pacifist how his success would manifest and he will say the end of war. Ask a pacifist to define "end" and he will decline specifics. Ask how ending particular wars through retreat or surrender would result. He will not mention the hundreds of thousands dead/enslaved through the lack of will in Democracies against aggressive and evil despots.

The questions all boil down to two:
Do moral men resist evil?
Is anything worth dying for?

Pacifists recognize no evil worse than war and will apparently die only for their own conceit.

Your comments are excellent.
Thanks for the thought and effort.
Bill Heuisler

Jason KEuter - 3/15/2006

Peace movements do shape consciousness but not in desirable ways and only in democratic socieities which are naturally adverse to going to war.

Notice in the post that there is a dearth of discussion of peace activists in North Korea, Communist Russia, Nazi German, China, etc. That can be explained by the fact that peace activists in those societies really would be putting themselves on the line..along with everyone else that would be shot that day.

What we are left with then is tyrannical nondemocratic societies that can go to war and democratic societies that can only go to war when there is an absolute certainty that not only is there a threat against that democractic society (i.e.. a shadow on everyone's front door) but that the threat is not some kind of justifiable payback for that democratic society's past sins (which can always be invented if contorting the facts becomes too difficult).

In addition, because democratic societies are open they are also open to foreign influcences, including the influence of those who wish to one day be the shadow on your door. When democratic societies attempt to provide their view to tyrannies, there are the inevitable Nation articles denouncing "covert action".

There have been many posts lately denouncing the perfidious and dishonest manner in which past progressive Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt and Johnson dragged America into war. True enough, but that is how democracies must go to war. Because democracies provide us with the choice to fight, we are predisposed not to see threats when they exist and we are (in order to save our skin) ready consumers of propaganda from those threats that says all Hitler wants to do is provide belegaured Germans in Czechoslovakia with a Teutonic Home.

Following the war, there is the inevitable Nye commission to point out that the people were duped by some minority of ignoble and self-serving elites to go to war, which sets the stage for not being able to wage the next war until the threat has actually been realized. This was the lesson of World War II.

So, we are left with a populace resistant to going to war, but no government can allow that populace nott to defend itself. The solution?

1. Technological superiority. Nuclear weapons are, contrary to leftists rants, cheaper than conventional armies. They thus entail less sacrifice (and of course infinitely greater threat. )

2. A volunteer army. This means that the society at large can be more dispassionate about questions of war and peace. It also means that the chances for success in war are minimal at best, which, in turn, raises the risks of the indiscriminate use of technology. The leftists ranters surely wouldn't be willing to put down their copies of the Nation and go fight in Iraq as part of a truly massive army. Thus, the volunteer army can depose disctators but it can't really vanquish enemies in the grips of delusional ideologies.

3. Covert Action. Had Hitler been assasinated in 1934, would we be reading of how the covert intelligence agency that commmitted this dastardly deed subverts democracy at home and abroad? If democracies could wage war (meaning if the people would vote to risk their own lives), then covert actions would be infinitely less necessary.

So, democracies must go to war under false pretenses, and when they do, they are acting like democracies!

Oscar Chamberlain - 3/14/2006

Gerald, that's an excellent point. I do agree with the main point "failed movements" sometimes matter a lot and are hisotrically significant. However, I think implicit in Alan's article is the questionable assumption that peace movements are equally moral (and thus all wars are equally immoral.)

To be fair, this article focuses primarily on groups that seem pretty pacifist Pacifists can be expected to oppose all wars equally. However, US antiwar movements tend to be coalitions in which pacifists are only a part.

The movement against the Vietnam War included in part prominent pacfists, a lot of Americans who became increasingly disillusioned with the way the war was waged, and new leftists who did nto want peace but a communist victory.

Likewise the anti-Philippine war movement was motivated by racism as well as by humanitarian concerns.

In these cases and others a "peace activitsts are good, warmakers are bad" analysis is just too simplistic.

Gerald Sorin - 3/13/2006

Alan Dawley has done a service with his fine, concise essay on why peace movements are important even though they have over time mostly "failed." And from the beginning three years ago, I have shared his anger and his anti-war activism in the face of the horror of US actions against Iraq. But I wish he would have some distinctions between "just" and "unjust" wars. There was lots of opposition in the US to the Civil War and, as Dawley shows, to WW II. But does Dawley really think that slavery and fascist totalitarian aggression would have ended without major violence?


Chinese military rips scenes from ‘Transformers’ and other Hollywood blockbusters for this propaganda video touting its bombers

Posted On September 22, 2020 05:49:03

Screenshot from Chinese PLAAF video. ( PLAAF)

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force posted a new video to an official social media page over the weekend touting its bomber force. The propaganda video includes several scenes from big Hollywood films.

The short video — “God of War H-6K, attack!,” a reference to its H-6 bomber — is set to dramatic music and shows an attack on an airbase.

Screenshot of the PLAAF Weibo post. ( Weibo)

The scenes of Chinese bomber aircraft in flight appear to be real PLAAF footage, but the combat scenes look like they were taken from the films “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “The Hurt Locker,” and “The Rock.” (The links go to the relevant scenes from the movies)

Here’s the “attack” footage from the new PLAAF video showing scenes from the three movies.

A source close to the Chinese military told the South China Morning Post that it is not uncommon for the Chinese military to “borrow” scenes from Hollywood films.

“Almost all of the officers in the department grew up watching Hollywood movies, so in their minds, American war films have the coolest images,” SCMP’s source said.

SCMP reported that back in 2011, Chinese state-run broadcaster CCTV presented footage of a training exercise that included scenes from “Top Gun.”

The scenes from Hollywood films are not the only notable inclusions in the PLAAF video though.

Included in the airbase attack scene is satellite footage of an airfield that Reuters reports “looks exactly like the layout of” the US military’s Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, an important strategic location for US operations in the Pacific and a likely target in a US-China conflict.

The Chinese PLAAF bomber force currently consists of variations of the H-6 bomber, a Chinese version of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 bomber, though newer aircraft are being developed.

“In recent years, China has fielded greater numbers of the H-6K, a modernized H-6 variant that integrates standoff weapons and features more-efficient turbofan engines for extended-range,” the Department of Defense wrote in its latest China Military Power report.

“The H-6K,” the report further explained, “can carry six [Land Attack Cruise Missiles], giving the PLA a long-range standoff precision strike capability that can range Guam from home airfields in mainland China.”

Among the Chinese military assets available for strikes on Guam are also DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

Lately, China’s air force has been focused on Taiwan.

In just two days last week, the Chinese military conducted 37 sorties involving fighter jets, bombers, and other aircraft that saw planes crossing the midline of the Taiwan Strait and crossing into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman Ren Guoqiang said at a press briefing last Friday that the exercises were “legitimate and necessary action taken to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the current situation in the Taiwan Strait.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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MIGHTY CULTURE

2 Václav Havel, ‘Vyroci okupace Ceskoslovenska vojsky Varsavskeho paktu’ (Anniversary of the Occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact Armies), speech, 21 August 1990, available at http://old.hrad.cz/president/Havel/speeches/.Google Scholar

3 Slovakia had officially abandoned the Czechoslovak lustration law by the end of 1996. However, the law had not been enforced in Slovakia since the split of the Federation in 1992.Google Scholar

4 For the literature on lustrations published in the last decade, see, e.g. N. J. Kritz (ed.), Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes, Washington, USIP, 1995 Los , M. , ‘ Lustration and Truth Claims: Unfinished Revolutions in Central Europe ’, Law and Social Inquiry , 20 : 1 ( 1995 ), pp. 117 –62CrossRefGoogle Scholar M. Los and A. Zybertowicz, Privatizing the Police State: The Case of Poland, New York, St Martin's Press, 2000 R. G. Teitel, Transitional Justice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000 N. Letki, ‘Lustration and Democratisation in East-Central Europe’, Europe-Asia Studies, 54: 4 (2002), pp. 529–52 Szczerbiak , A. , ‘ Dealing with the Communist Past or the Politics of the Present? Lustration in Post-Communist Poland ’, Europe-Asia Studies , 54 : 4 ( 2002 ), pp. 553 –72CrossRefGoogle Scholar Stan , L. , ‘ Moral Cleansing Romanian Style ’, Problems of Post-Communism , 49 : 4 (July/August 2002 ), pp. 52 –62CrossRefGoogle Scholar David , R. , ‘ Lustration Laws in Action: The Motives and Evaluation of Lustration Policies in the Czech Republic and Poland ’, Law and Social Inquiry , 28 : 2 ( 2003 ), pp. 387 – 439 Google Scholar David , R. , ‘ Transitional Injustice? Lustration and the Right to Expression ’, Europe-Asia Studies , 56 : 6 ( 2004 ), pp. 789 – 812 CrossRefGoogle Scholar Williams , K. , Szczerbiak , A. and Fowler , B. , ‘ Explaining Lustration in Eastern Europe: a “Post-Communist Politics” Approach ’, Democratization , 12 : 1 ( 2005 ), pp. 22 – 43 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . See also the literature quoted below.

5 See, e.g. Helsinki Watch, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and Project on Justice in Times of Transition, ‘Memorandum on the Applicability of International Agreements to the Screening Law’ (1992), reprinted in Kritz, Transitional Justice, Vol. 3, p. 335 ‘Report of the Committee Set up to Examine the Representations Made by the Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia and by the Czech and Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions under Article 24 of the ILO Constitution alleging Non-Observance by CSFR of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111), LXXV ILO’, Official Bulletin, Supp. 1, Ser. B (1992) Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Europe, Resolution on measures to dismantle the heritage of former Communist totalitarian systems, Doc. No. 1096 (1996).Google Scholar

6 See generally Letki, ‘Lustration and Democratisation in East Central Europe’.Google Scholar


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