Monday, August 22, 2005

Fisk, 3rd Tour, Haditha, Scandals, Multiculturalism, Censorship, Gaza, Krugman, Onion

1) Fisk in Iraq I.

The death counts quoted in this article attracted some attention last week:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/081705B.shtml
Secrets of the Morgue: Baghdad's Body Count
By Robert Fisk
The Independent UK
Wednesday 17 August 2005

Bodies of 1,100 civilians brought to mortuary in July. Pre-invasion, July figure was typically less than 200. Last Sunday alone, the mortuary received 36 bodies. Up to 20 per cent of the bodies are never identified. Many of the dead have been tortured or disfigured. The Baghdad morgue is a fearful place of heat and stench and mourning, the cries of relatives echoing down the narrow, foetid laneway behind the pale-yellow brick medical centre where the authorities keep their computerized records. So many corpses are being brought to the mortuary that human remains are stacked on top of each other. Unidentified bodies must be buried within days for lack of space - but the municipality is so overwhelmed by the number of killings that it can no longer provide the vehicles and personnel to take the remains to cemeteries.

July was the bloodiest month in Baghdad's modern history - in all, 1,100 bodies were brought to the city's mortuary; executed for the most part, eviscerated, stabbed, bludgeoned, tortured to death. The figure is secret.

We are not supposed to know that the Iraqi capital's death toll last month was only 700 short of the total American fatalities in Iraq since April of 2003. Of the dead, 963 were men - many with their hands bound, their eyes taped and bullets in their heads - and 137 women. The statistics are as shameful as they are horrifying. For these are the men and women we supposedly came to "liberate" - and about whose fate we do not care.

The figures for this month cannot, of course, yet be calculated. But last Sunday, the mortuary received the bodies of 36 men and women, all killed by violence. By 8am on Monday, nine more human remains had been received. By midday, the figure had reached 25.

"I consider this a quiet day," one of the mortuary officials said to me as we stood close to the dead. So in just 36 hours - from dawn on Sunday to midday on Monday, 62 Baghdad civilians had been killed. No Western official, no Iraqi government minister, no civil servant, no press release from the authorities, no newspaper, mentioned this terrible statistic. The dead of Iraq - as they have from the beginning of our illegal invasion - were simply written out of the script. Officially they do not exist.

Thus there has been no disclosure of the fact that in July 2003 - three months after the invasion - 700 corpses were brought to the mortuary in Baghdad. In July of 2004, this rose to around 800. The mortuary records the violent death toll for June of this year as 879 - 764 of them male, 115 female. Of the men, 480 had been killed by firearms, along with 25 of the women. By comparison, equivalent figures for July 1997, 1998 and 1999 were all below 200.

Between 10 and 20 per cent of all bodies are never identified - the medical authorities have had to bury 500 of them since January of this year, unidentified and unclaimed. In many cases, the remains have been shattered by explosions - possibly by suicide bombers - or by deliberate disfigurement by their killers.

Mortuary officials have been appalled at the sadism visited on the victims. "We have many who have obviously been tortured - mostly men," one said. "They have terrible burn marks on hands and feet and other parts of their bodies. Many have their hands fastened behind their backs with handcuffs and their eyes have been bound with Sellotape. Then they have been shot in the head - in the back of the head, the face, the eyes. These are executions."

While Saddam's regime visited death by official execution upon its opponents, the scale of anarchy now existing in Baghdad, Mosul, Basra and other cities is unprecedented. "The July figures are the largest ever recorded in the history of the Baghdad Medical Institute," a senior member of the management told The Independent.

It is clear that death squads are roaming the streets of a city which is supposed to be under the control of the US military and the American-supported, elected government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Never in recent history has such anarchy been let loose on the civilians of this city - yet the Western and Iraqi authorities show no interest in disclosing the details. The writing of the new constitution - or the failure to complete it - now occupies the time of Western diplomats and journalists. The dead, it seems, do not count.

But they should. Most are between 15 and 44 - the youth of Iraq - and, if extrapolated across the country, Baghdad's 1,100 dead of last month must bring Iraq's minimum monthly casualty toll in July alone to 3,000 - perhaps 4,000. Over a year, this must reach a minimum of 36,000, a figure which puts the supposedly controversial statistic of 100,000 dead since the invasion into a much more realistic perspective.

There is no way of distinguishing the reasons for these thousands of violent deaths. Some men and women were shot at US checkpoints, others murdered, no doubt, by insurgents or thieves. A few listed as killed by "blunt instruments" might have been the dead of traffic accidents. Some of the women were probably the victims of "honour" killings - because male relatives suspected them of having illicit relations with the wrong man. Still others may have been murdered as collaborators. Doctors have been told that bodies brought to the mortuary by US forces should not be given post-mortem examinations (on the odd ground that the Americans will have already performed this function).

So many civilians are dying that the morgue has had to rely on volunteers from the holy city of Najaf to transport unidentified Shia Muslim dead to the central city's large graveyard for burial, their plots donated by religious institutions. "In some of the bodies, we find American bullets," a mortuary attendant told me. "But these could be American bullets fired by Iraqis. We don't know who's killing who - it's not our job to find out, but civilians are killing each other.

"We had a body here the other day and the relatives said he had been murdered because he had been a Baathist in the old regime. Then they said that his brother had been killed three or four weeks back because he was a member of the religious Shia Dawa party which was the enemy of Saddam. But this is the real story - the killing of the people. I don't want to die under a new constitution. I want security."

One of the problems in cataloguing the daily death toll is that the official radio often declines to report explosions. On Monday, the thump of a bomb in the Karada district was never officially explained. Only yesterday was it discovered that a suicide bomber had walked into a popular café, the Emir, and blown himself up, killing two policemen. Another explosion, officially said to be caused by a mortar, turned out to be a mine set off beneath a pile of watermelons as a US patrol was passing. A civilian died.

Again, there was no official account of these deaths. They were not recorded by the government nor by the occupying armies nor, of course, by the Western press. Like the bodies in the Baghdad city mortuary, they did not exist.

Debate Rages over Number of Civilians Killed in Conflict

The number of Iraqis killed since March 2003 has long been a matter of fierce debate, in the absence of any figures from American and British military or civilian officials on the spot.

"We don't do body counts," was the terse comment of General Tommy Franks, commander of the US-led invasion - though it has been claimed that the Pentagon does in fact keep a running total, which it refuses to make public, for fear of increasing public doubts about the war. Undoubtedly however the figure for Iraqi civilians dwarfs the toll of US and British troops, which is meticulously recorded. Some 1,850 American and almost 100 British soldiers have been killed. In addition at least 12,000 US soldiers have been wounded. But according to the Iraq Body Count (IBC), a non-profit project regarded as the most authoritative independent source on Iraqi casualties, the civilian toll as of yesterday was a minimum of 23,589, and a maximum of 26,705. But even IBC admits that its data is incomplete. Nor is it clear how many insurgents are included.

In October 2004, a report in the medical journal The Lancet concluded that at least 100,000 civilians had lost their lives in the first 18 months after the invasion - more than half of them women and children killed in air strikes. The figures were based on a survey of 1,000 households across Iraq.

In November 2004, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, supported an estimate from Iraq's ministry of health that 3,853 civilians were killed and 15,517 injured between April and October. This gives an annual death rate of 7,700, a third of the IBC estimate.


2) Fisk in Iraq II:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article9896.htm

People torn to pieces, relatives scream - another week in the theme park of death

There are now two Baghdads. One is the Green Zone, where US and Iraqi officials live in a protected realm; the other is the danger zone, where everyone else lives.

Robert Fisk reports from beyond the Coalition's concrete walls

08/21/05
"The Independent"
-- --

On Monday, George Bush was praising the greedy sectarian politicians here - who had totally failed to meet the new Iraqi constitution deadline - for their "heroic" efforts for "democracy". At about the same time, I came across a friend at one of Baghdad's best-known hotels. He is the deputy manager and I've known him for more than three years, but he now looked twice his age. He grasped my arm and looked into my face. "Mr Robert," he said, "do you realise I was kidnapped?" Every day now, I come across Iraqi acquaintances - or friends who have cousins or fathers or sons - who have been kidnapped. Often they are released. Sometimes they are murdered and I go to their families to express those condolences which are especially painful for me - because I am a Westerner, arriving to say how sorry I am to relatives who blame the West for the anarchy that killed their loved ones. This time my friend survived, just.

Another good friend, a university professor, visits me for coffee the next day. The absence of identities in this report tells you all you need to know about the terror which embraces Baghdad. "I was invigilating the last exams of term in the linguistics department and I saw a mature student cheating. I walked up to him and said I believed he was cribbing. He said he wasn't. I told him I would take his papers away and he leant towards me and made it clear I would be murdered if I prevented him completing his exams. I went to the head of department. I thought he would discipline this man and take away his papers. But he talked to him and then said that he could continue the exam. My own head of department failed me completely." My professor friend loves English literature, but he has new problems.

"Many of the students are now very Islamically oriented. They want their classes taught through the prism of their religion. But what can I do? I can't teach existentialism any more because it would be seen as anti-Islamic - which means no more Sartre. These same people ask me for the religious message in Eugene O'Neill's plays. What can I say? I can't teach any more. Do you understand this? I can't teach." Since Baghdad's " liberation" in April 2003, 180 professors and schoolteachers have been assassinated in Iraq, and shortly after my professor's visit, I receive a call from one of his colleagues.

"They kidnapped old Amin Yassin and his son two days ago. We don't know where they are." Amin Yassin was not, like some of his colleagues, an ex-Baathist. He was a retired linguist who taught grammar in the English department of Baghdad University. His 30-year-old son is a secondary school teacher. The two were seized in the Khavraha neighbourhood, seven miles west of Baghdad.

On Thursday, in the an-Nahda bus station, two bombs tear 43 people to pieces - almost all of them Shia
Muslims - and at the al-Kindi hospital, which also receives a bomb close by, relatives of the missing are screaming as they try to identify the dead. The problem is that the morticians can't fit the limbs to the right bodies and, in some cases, the right heads to the right torsos. I head off to the Palestine Hotel where one of the largest Western news agencies has its headquarters. I take the lift to an upper floor only to be met by a guard and a vast steel wall which blocks off the hotel corridor. He searches me, sends in my card and after a few minutes an Iraqi guard stares at me through a grille and opens an iron door.

I enter to find another vast steel wall in front of me. Once he has clanged the outer door shut, the inner door is opened and I am in the grotty old hotel corridor.

The reporters are sitting in a fuggy room with a small window from which they can see the Tigris river. One of the American staff admits he has not been outside "for months". An Arab reporter does their street reporting; an American travels around Iraq - but only as an "embed" with US troops. No American journalists from this bureau travel the streets of Baghdad. This is not hotel journalism, as I once described it. This is prison journalism.

One of the Americans, an old and brave friend of mine from Beirut days, walks over. "Have a look at this, Fisky," he says. "This is the kind of crap we get from the Americans these days - this is what they want us to write about." It is a news release from the Coalition press office, the spin doctors of the occupation troops here. "Comics Bring Barrels of Laughs to Task Force Baghdad," it says.

I drive back across Baghdad. There is a massive traffic jam because the Iraqi National Guard - the American-trained Iraqis who are supposed to save Donald Rumsfeld's career and let the US forces reduce their troop strength here - have mounted a checkpoint. Most of them are so frightened that they are wearing ski-masks over their mouths. Like every Iraqi I meet, I do not trust the Iraqi National Guard. They have been infiltrated by both Sunni and Shia insurgents and now have a nasty propensity to carry out house raids on Sunni areas, to arrest the menfolk and then to steal as much money as they can find in the house. "First they arrest my son and then they take all my jewellery," a woman complained on an Arabic satellite channel that was investigating this venal militia.

I go home and switch on my television to find the BBC reporting on an " elite" force of Iraqi troops who are receiving anti-terrorism training in Britain. And there they are, foliage attached to their helmets, leaping over hedges and cooling streams. In the Welsh mountains.

Friday night. In the heart of this vast and oven-like city stands the Green Zone, 10 square kilometres of barricaded, walled, sealed-off palaces, villas and gardens - once the Raj-like centre of Saddam's regime wherein now dwell the Iraqi government, the constitutional committee, the US embassy, the British embassy and many hundreds of Western mercenaries. Many of them never meet Iraqis. Women in shorts jog past the rose beds; armed men and women " contractors" lie by the pool. There were at least three restaurants - until one of them was blown up by suicide bombers. You can buy phone accessories in a local shop, newspapers, pornographic DVDs. For tactical reasons, the Americans were forced to include dozens of middle-class Iraqi homes inside the Green Zone, a decision that has outraged many of the householders. They often have to wait four hours to pass through the security checkpoints. Irony of ironies, the tomb of Michel Aflaq, founder of the Baath party that once included both Iraq and Syria, lies inside the Green Zone.

On Friday night, this crusader castle was bathed in its usual floodlights. I was looking up at the stars over the city when there was a dull sound and a flash of light from within the Green Zone. Somewhere not far from me, someone had launched a mortar at the illuminated fishbowl that has become the symbol of occupation for all Iraqis. Many ask what will become of it when the whole Western edifice here collapses. Some say it will become insurgent headquarters, others the next parliament. My guess is that whoever runs Iraq once the occupation collapses will turn the whole thing into a theme park. Or maybe just a museum.

© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.



4) Third tours in store for US active duty troops?:

http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,SS_081105_Iraq,00.html

August 11, 2005

[Have an opinion about the issues discussed in this article? Sound off in our Discussion Boards.]

By Lisa Burgess
Stars and Stripes European edition

ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. military is “good for several years” if the current troop level in Iraq must be sustained, but third tours for active-duty servicemembers might be needed, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.

And the Defense Department is adhering to the prohibition on placing reservists on active status for longer than 24 months, Myers told Pentagon reporters during a news conference that included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

However, “there's the possibility of people going back for a third term, sure,” Myers said. “That's always out there. We are at war.”

Rumsfeld, meanwhile, scoffed at reports that many are already on their third tour.

“There's always a risk when people grab into the middle of something, take the worst of what might be, and then wave it around as though it's reality,” Rumsfeld said.

In fact, different services have different policies concerning deployment lengths, the secretary said.

“So when you start hearing rumors about people on their third tours or fourth tours, you start checking into it, and looking at what you got, you're going to have people who may be in the Air Force who've gone back in on three-month tours, or you may have people who've volunteered [to return] because that's what they want to do,” Rumsfeld said.

In response to a USA Today story Monday about a Marine Corps colonel in Iraq who said he repeatedly asked for 1,000 more Marines, Rumsfeld said such a request was not an indication that there are too few U.S. troops in Iraq.

“The idea … that because somebody wishes they had more [troops] at a certain moment suggests the total number is wrong is a non sequitur, obviously a non sequitur,” Rumsfeld said.

“There's 137,500 U.S. forces and a good slug of coalition forces, and how they are parceled out and allocated within the country of Iraq is for Gen. [George] Casey and Gen. J.R. Vines to determine,” Rumsfeld said.
Myers, meanwhile, said that “more troops are needed, and they are being provided by the Iraqis. There's 178,000-plus of them.”

Neither Myers nor Rumsfeld replied directly to a question about how many Iraqi security forces are actually able to operate independent of coalition forces, a query the defense secretary dismissed as “not a useful construct.”


4) Who's running the show again? This is not a pretty picture:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1553969,00.html

Under US noses, brutal insurgents rule Sunni citadel

Guardian gains rare access to Iraqi town and finds it fully in control of 'mujahideen'

Omer Mahdi in Haditha and Rory Carroll in Baghdad
Monday August 22, 2005
The Guardian

The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon.

One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying.

With so many alleged American agents dying here Haqlania bridge was renamed Agents' bridge. Then a local wag dubbed it Agents' fridge, evoking a mortuary, and that name has stuck.

A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.

That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town's security, administration and communications.
A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to.

Haditha exposes the limitations of the Iraqi state and US power on the day when the political process is supposed to make a great leap - a draft constitution finalised and approved by midnight tonight.
For politicians and diplomats in Baghdad's fortified green zone the constitution is a means to stabilise Iraq and woo Sunni Arabs away from the rebellion. For Haditha, 140 miles north-west of the capital, whether a draft is agreed is irrelevant. Residents already have a set of laws and rules promulgated by insurgents.

Within minutes of driving into town the Guardian was stopped by a group of men and informed about rule number one: announce yourself. The mujahideen, as they are known locally, must know who comes and goes.
The Guardian reporter did not say he worked for a British newspaper. For their own protection interviewees cannot be named.

There is no fighting here because there is no one to challenge the Islamists. The police station and municipal offices were destroyed last year and US marines make only fleeting visits every few months.

Two groups share power. Ansar al-Sunna is a largely homegrown organisation, though its leader in Haditha is said to be foreign. Al-Qaida in Iraq, known locally by its old name Tawhid al-Jihad, is led by the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. There was a rumour that Zarqawi, Washington's most wanted militant after Osama bin Laden, visited early last week. True or not, residents wanted to believe they had hosted such a celebrity.

A year ago Haditha was just another sleepy town in western Anbar province, deep in the Sunni triangle and suspicious of the Shia-led government in Baghdad but no insurgent hotbed.

Then, say residents, arrived mostly Shia police with heavyhanded behaviour. "That's how it began," said one man. Attacks against the police escalated until they fled, creating a vacuum filled by insurgents.

Alcohol and music deemed unIslamic were banned, women were told to wear headscarves and relations between the sexes were closely monitored. The mobile phone network was shut down but insurgents retained their walkie-talkies and satellite phones. Right-hand lanes are reserved for their vehicles.

From attacks on US and Iraqi forces it is clear that other Anbar towns, such as Qaim, Rawa, Anna and Ramadi, are to varying degrees under the sway of rebels.

In Haditha hospital staff and teachers are allowed to collect government salaries in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, but other civil servants have had to quit.

Last year the US trumpeted its rehabilitation of a nearby power plant: "The incredible progress at Haditha is just one example of the huge strides made by the US army corps of engineers."

Now insurgents earn praise from residents for allegedly pressuring managers to supply electricity almost 24 hours a day, a luxury denied the rest of Iraq.

The court caters solely for divorces and marriages. Alleged criminals are punished in the market. The Guardian witnessed a headmaster accused of adultery whipped 190 times with cables. Children laughed as he sobbed and his robe turned crimson.

Two men who robbed a foreign exchange shop were splayed on the ground. Masked men stood on their hands while others broke their arms with rocks. The shopkeeper offered the insurgents a reward but they declined.
DVDs of beheadings on the bridge are distributed free in the souk. Children prefer them to cartoons. "They should not watch such things," said one grandfather, but parents appeared not to object.

One DVD features a young, blond muscular man who had been disembowelled. He was said to have been a member of a six-strong US sniper team ambushed and killed on August 1. Residents said he had been paraded in town before being executed.

The US military denied that, saying six bodies were recovered and that all appeared to have died in combat. Shortly after the ambush three landmines killed 14 marines in a convoy which ventured from their base outside the town.

Twice in recent months marines backed by aircraft and armour swept into Haditha to flush out the rebels. In a pattern repeated across Anbar there were skirmishes, a few suspects killed or detained, and success was declared.

In reality, said residents, the insurgents withdrew for a few days and returned when the Americans left. They have learned from last November's battle in Falluja, when hundreds died fighting the marines and still lost the city.

Now their strategy appears to be to wait out the Americans, calculating they will leave within a few years, and then escalate what some consider the real war against a government led by Shias, a rival sect which Sunni extremists consider apostasy.

The US military declined to respond to questions detailing the extent of insurgent control in the town.

There was evidence of growing cooperation between rebels. A group in Falluja, where the resistance is said to be regrouping, wrote to Haditha requesting background checks on two volunteers from the town.

One local man in his 40s told the Guardian he wanted to be a suicide bomber to atone for sins and secure a place in heaven. "But the mujahideen will not let me. They said I had eight children and it was my duty to look after them."

Tribal elders said they feared but respected insurgents for keeping order and not turning the town into a battleground.

They appear to have been radicalised, and condemned Sunni groups, such as the Iraqi Islamic party and the Muslim Scholars' Association, for engaging in the political process.

The constitution talks, the referendum due in October, the election due in December: all are deemed collaboration punishable by death. The task now is to bleed the Americans and destabilise the government. Some call that nihilism. Haditha calls it the future.

· Omer Mahdi was in Haditha for a Guardian Films project before security precautions forced it to be suspended.



5) On the Iraqi Jewish Cache, found in Baghdad in 2003. My summary posting is a cut and paste from the Iraq Crisis List:

Earlier this week an interesting article appeared in the Jerusalem Post entitled "Back to Babylon":

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1124072332887

It included the following section:

"A new wing of the museum is nearing completion, which will expand the educational and archival space. In the new library, a display panel explains how US troops discovered a treasure trove of Jewish artifacts when they overran Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. Much of the material was damaged by fire and water during the battle for the Mukhbarat building, but the Americans salvaged what they could, dried it onsite, and sent everything to Washington, DC, for professional restoration. The museum would like to house and display the recovered books and community records, but so far American authorities have given no indication of their intentions regarding the legacy of the last Jews of Iraq..."

Lamia al-Ghailani Werr:
"If these objects are not returned in due course, it will have many adverse consequences to the archaeological community. The Iraqis already are weary of lending any antiquities, for fear they will not be returned..."

The illustrated report "The Iraqi Jewish Archive Preservation Report, October 2, 2003, was published in January 2004:

http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/IRAQ/mela/IraqiJewishArchiveReport.htm

In May 2005 National Public Radio reported that efforts to restore these documents remained stalled by a
shortage of funds:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.phpstoryId=4645146



6) As I have argued in a couple of academic conferences, the US and UK owe Iraq not only for the illegal invasion of the country in 2003, but also for the forceful maintaining of UN sanctions since at least 1995, when Iraq's WMD program was absolutely finished:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1552187,00.html

This was the most glaring scandal of all

UN sanctions destroyed Iraq but no one will be triedfor the crime
Alain Gresh
Friday August 19, 2005
The Guardian

The US Congress is incensed about a scandal. From 1996to 2003 the UN's oil-for-food programme allegedlyenabled Saddam Hussein to misappropriate hundreds ofmillions of dollars. Certain UN officials -particularly Benon Sevan, the man in charge of theprogramme - are alleged to have pocketed largekickbacks. It is also claimed that foreign politicianstook similar advantage of the system. These areserious accusations that warrant detailedinvestigation.

But one thing needs to be said at the outset: there isa wealth of documentation on the oil-for-foodprogramme since 1996. It contains all the relevantinformation, including lists of all items supplied toIraq. Those lists, like all details of Iraqitransactions, were drawn up meticulously by the UNsecurity council's sanctions committee, whichconsisted of security council representatives andoperated by consensus.

No decision could be taken without endorsement by theUS, which, with the UK, vetoed contracts worthmillions of dollars on the grounds that certainproducts might be used to manufacture weapons of massdestruction - weapons we now know were a figment of USstrategists' imagination. The programme was subject tostrict monitoring; if there were breaches, the USbears at least as much responsibility for them as theUN.Nor should we forget the tens of millions of dollarsmisappropriated by the international community via theUN compensation committee in Geneva, which was largelymanipulated by Washington. On the pretext ofcompensating those who suffered as a result of theIraqi invasion, the committee creamed off up to 30% ofIraq's oil revenue to "reimburse" impoverishedvictims, such as the Kuwaiti Oil Company. A payment of$200m was made as late as April this year, two yearsafter the fall of Saddam, when Iraq was begging forloans.

But no committee of inquiry has been set up toinvestigate the most glaring scandal of all: theimposition of sanctions on Iraq in August 1990 andabove all their maintenance after the liberation ofKuwait in 1991. These have had devastatingconsequences on the country and will be a burden on itfor a very long time to come. While the mediafrequently drew attention to Iraq's difficulties inobtaining food and medical supplies - even after thestart of the oil-for-food programme in 1996 - theyneglected the effect sanctions had on Iraqi society.

Despite the inventiveness of Iraqi engineers, thestate's infrastructure crumbled. Basic services,ministries, power stations and drinking water allbecame precarious. Corruption spread throughoutsociety. Crime exploded. The inhabitants of Baghdad,who had never bothered to lock their doors, nowbarricaded their homes. When the US invaded, Iraqneeded only a little push for the worm-eaten state tocollapse.
Sanctions also affected the structure of thepopulation. Middle-class emigration, which had begunbefore 1991 as people fled the dictatorship,accelerated. Iraq was emptied of its managers andadministrators. The education system, which hadcatered for all the country's young, was abandoned.Children left school to work and help their families,resulting in a generation of quasi-illiterates.Academic links with other countries were severed. Iraqfell 15 years behind and is not about to catch up.

And for what? Everyone realises sanctions did notpenalise the regime's leaders. Nor did they weaken itsgrip on the population: the introduction of rationingenabled the Ba'ath party to keep tabs on everybody,and the regime could have survived for years. Butsanctions do explain the problems now encountered inrebuilding the country. Those problems are due notonly to a rise in armed resistance, but also to thedilapidated state of infrastructure.

Another factor, which should not be underestimated, isthe determination of the US to monopolisereconstruction contracts. Getting the electricitysupply working again would have meant involvingSiemens and ABB, the German and Swedish firms thatbuilt Iraq's modern electricity grid. In the case ofthe telephone system, help was needed from Alcatel(France), which had installed the network and knew theterrain. But Washington was out to punish Old Europe -and secure juicy contracts for a number of companiesthat fund the Republican party.

Sanctions caused the deaths of hundreds of thousandsof civilians. What is more, they destabilised one ofthe key states in the region. Who will be tried forthese crimes? What committee will report on theseerrors? And who will guarantee that the US and the UNwill not again choose to impose sanctions on a countryand punish all of its people for the crimes of itsleaders?

· Alain Gresh is the editor of Le Monde diplomatique.This article will appear in full in the Septemberissue of Le Monde diplomatique's English edition,available on subscription at www.mondediplo.com


7) On American Multiculturalism:

What's in A Name? Ask This Traveler
By Diana Abu-Jaber
Saturday, August 20, 2005; A17

My heart plummeted when the man at the immigration counter gestured to the back room. I'm an American born and raised, and this was Miami, where I live, but they weren't quite ready to let me in yet.
"Please wait in here, Ms. Abu-Jaber," the immigration officer said. My husband, with his very American last name, accompanied me. He was getting used to this. The same thing had happened recently in Canada when I'd flown to Montreal to speak at a book event. That time they held me for 45 minutes. Today we were returning from a literary festival in Jamaica, and I was startled that I was being sent "in back" once again.

The officer behind the counter called me up and said, "Miss, your name looks like the name of someone who's on our wanted list. We're going to have to check you out with Washington."

"How long will it take?"

"Hard to say . . . a few minutes," he said. "We'll call you when we're ready for you."

After an hour, Washington still hadn't decided anything about me. "Isn't this computerized?" I asked at the counter. "Can't you just look me up?"

Just a few more minutes, they assured me.

After an hour and a half, I pulled my cell phone out to call the friends I was supposed to meet that evening. An officer rushed over. "No phones!" he said. "For all we know you could be calling a terrorist cell and giving them information."

"I'm just a university professor," I said. My voice came out in a squeak.

"Of course you are. And we take people like you out of here in leg irons every day."
I put my phone away.

My husband and I were getting hungry and tired. Whole families had been brought into the waiting room, and the place was packed with hyper children, exhausted parents, even a flight attendant. Scanning the room, I realized that the place resembled a modern Ellis Island. But when my father immigrated to this country from Jordan more than 45 years ago, he didn't have any trouble. "They let me right in," he said. "One of them wanted me to change my name, but I stuck to Ghassan Abu-Jaber!"

Forty-five years later, I was stuck on the border. Something in me snapped. "There isn't any legitimate reason that you've sent me here -- it's just because of my name! You just grab anyone named Abu-Jaber or Abdul-Rahman or Al-Hussain! Isn't that right?" The man smiled blankly. "I'm not at liberty to discuss this case," he said.

I wanted to scream, to jump on a chair and shout: "I'm an American citizen; a novelist; I probably teach English literature to your children." Or would that all be counted against me?

After two hours in detention, I was approached by one of the officers. "You're free to go," he said. No explanations or apologies. For a moment, neither of us moved, we were still in shock. Then we leaped to our feet.

"Oh, one more thing." He handed me a tattered photocopy with an address on it. "If you weren't happy with your treatment, you can write to this agency."

"Will they respond?" I asked.

"I don't know -- I don't know of anyone who's ever written to them before." Then he added, "By the way, this will probably keep happening each time you travel internationally."

"What can I do to keep it from happening again?"

He smiled the empty smile we'd seen all day. "Absolutely nothing."

After telling several friends about our ordeal, probably the most frequent advice I've heard in response is to change my name. Twenty years ago, my own graduate school writing professor advised me to write under a nom de plume so that publishers wouldn't stick me in what he called "the ethnic ghetto" -- a separate, secondary shelf in the bookstore. But a name is an integral part of anyone's personal and professional identity -- just like the town you're born in and the place you're raised.

Like my father, I'll keep the name, but my airport experience has given me a whole new perspective on what diversity and tolerance are supposed to mean. We're told that these heightened security measures are intended to keep us safe. Instead, what seems to be happening is that we're kept in a state of heightened anxiety, trying desperately to separate "us" from "them," when in fact, there can be no separation. The world is a place of nuance, flux, hardship and complexity: We all live together in it. The real safety will come from learning how to live together better, not from trying to push others out.

I had no idea that being an American would ever be this hard.

Diana Abu-Jaber is a novelist.



8) On British Multiculturalism:

We pass the Tebbit test

Britain is my home and so I have responsibilities. But I don't have to sign up to a particular 'way of life'

Sarfraz Manzoor
Sunday August 21, 2005
Observer

For a child of immigrants, the most hurtful insult that could be hurled was the one which challenged the right to call this country home. The challenge usually took the form of three words: 'Go back home.' The words stung because they implied that the immigrant did not truly belong in Britain; he had lucked out to be living here but home, the insult suggested, was somewhere else.

The taunt haunted my family. In the week that Margaret Thatcher was elected, I remember my father warning the rest of us to be packed and ready to return to Pakistan; the fear of repatriation hung heavy over my childhood. It was a fear clouded with confusion because I only knew Britain to be home.

Pakistan, the motherland, was somewhere described by parents in stories, frozen in time and place in the instant that it was left. The visits made to relatives were the only holidays that most British Pakistanis knew; going to Pakistan and going on holiday was the same thing. When I went to Pakistan for the first time 20 years ago, I imagined and perhaps feared that the trip would ignite some deep realisation that it was truly where I belonged. It only confirmed that home was some 5,000 miles to the west.

Pakistan was where I was from, but it was not what I was about. There was a reason why my parents had left. They came here because they wanted this country to be their new home.

The arc of the immigrant story has traditionally been that the first generation arrives, settles and has children who integrate into the mainstream. Eventually, the old country retreats to a place of myth and memory. With today's young British Muslims, that arc has twisted into a loop. Thanks to intercontinentally arranged marriages, cheap flights and telephone calls, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with Lahore and Karachi.
Children send their elderly parents to Pakistan to protect them from the British winter; parents dispatch their children there for the summer so that they know something of where the family originally came from.
Far from forgetting Pakistan, some of the descendants of that first generation now identify more with it than they do with Britain. An extreme example is Hassan Butt, a 25-year-old British Pakistani from Manchester who helped recruit Muslims to fight in Afghanistan and who, in this month's Prospect magazine, speaks of his desire for martyrdom.

'I feel absolutely nothing for this country,' he declares. 'I have no problem with the British people ... but if someone attacks them, I have no problem with that either.' He is an extreme case but there are many more British Pakistanis of his generation who share his ambivalence.

For those individuals who exploit the rights that come with being British but deny that there are any responsibilities, I have no problem suggesting that they relocate to somewhere they find less offensive. Living in Britain ought not to require a blind willingness to sign up to everything - we should be free to criticise - but there is a difference between an honest disagreement and an utter disdain for everything that this country is said to represent.

It is one thing to disagree on British foreign policy or even to support Pakistan in a cricket match, quite another to feel complete indifference or contempt. When Norman Tebbit proposed his infamous cricket test, it was seen as an attack on multiculturalism; from today's perspective, it seems not only uncontroversial but rather benign.

In the aftermath of the bomb attacks, even moderate British Muslims who denounced the perpetrators were forced to rethink where they considered home. In the days after the 7 July bombings, I spoke to my friend Fahim, who confessed that he had even considered, albeit briefly, leaving Britain. He was not alone; a recent survey suggested two- thirds of British Muslims had also considered whether they ought to remain in Britain. There is an irony here that the people who are prompting such thoughts are not white racists but jihad-waging Muslims.

My friend changed his mind soon enough; he knew that there was nowhere else to go. This country was his home and he was not going to allow anyone, be they white racists or Muslim extremists, to take that away from him. When I asked him about his feelings about the attacks, he replied: 'Those people bombed my home; why would I approve of anyone doing that?'

The question of the motives of the bombers and those who support them has focused mostly on religion and politics but for me, the most important question is: why did these people and other young Muslims not feel that this country is their home?

I would suggest an answer in two parts. First, we are too reticent in this country to celebrate what is good about it. Unlike the United States, we shirk from outward displays of patriotism because of concerns that they might offend. We are reluctant to champion what makes Britain special, the sorts of things that attract immigrants. Added to his reluctance is a confusion about what we are celebrating.

Tony Blair recently admitted that he did not know what he meant when he used the term 'multiculturalism'; I do not know what he meant when he said that when people come to this country, they must 'play by our rules and our way of life'. What 'way of life' is being referred to? When a judge recently referred to people who, thanks to binge drinking, were 'simply savages, angry, blind and brutal ... they are so ill-educated or made crude by inadequately civilising influences in their homes', was this also part of 'our way of life'?

This idea that there is a singular way of life which all immigrants need to sign up to assumes that Britishness is something frozen and fixed, whereas it is and always has been a work in progress, a continuing historical narrative in which we all play our part. Fifty years ago, 'our way of life' would not have included Bengali restaurants, Pakistani doctors and Indian shop owners; each has contributed to and changed Britain. When politicians speak about 'our way of life', they play into the hands of those who would like to use the tragedy of the London attacks to pursue an agenda that is not simply about debating the value of multiculturalism as it is about retreating to outdated notions of Britishness.

The recent attacks on multiculturalism make me feel uncomfortable, not because I do not agree that Muslims need to make more efforts to integrate but because the criticisms feel like coded attacks on the idea of Britishness being a diverse and multicoloured story. What is reassuring is that the country seems more at ease with the impact of multiculturalism than do some politicians and commentators.

A BBC poll last week found that 62 per cent of respondents agreed that multiculturalism had made Britain a better place to live. The survey also found that Muslim respondents were more enthusiastic than others in agreeing that new immigrants ought to learn English and pledge primary loyalty to Britain.

Speaking a few days after the 7 July attacks, the Prime Minister declared: 'In the end, it is by the power of argument, debate, true religious faith and true legitimate politics that we will defeat this threat.' Given those words, some of the proposals which have emerged seem curious or pointless. Banning a group such as Hizb ut-Tahrir will not stop young British Muslims from flirting with radicalism; the best strategy for ensuring that is to encourage these young Muslims to feel that Britain is their home.

Like any home, it sometimes needs a makeover, it demands maintenance and to be treated with respect. Whether they are called British Muslims or Muslim British, the most effective means to help them feel wholeheartedly British is to convince them that they have a part to play in the story of modern Britain, that their voice is part of the choir. British Muslims have a role to play in that but so does everyone else. In addition, they need to remember, and the government ought to encourage and remind them, that this country is our home: we are not tenants.

Saf_manzoor@hotmail.com


9) On Corporate Censorship:

Someone forwarded this to me, regarding the Finkelstein book "Beyond Chutzpah," which is apparently about the growing tendency of pro-Israel commentators to use spurious charges of anti-Semitism to deflect and discredit legitimate criticism of Israel, and also to debunk the Dershowitz book, The Case for Israel
Maybe a boycott of bookshops that honour Dershowitz (defender of torture) would be a good idea? Circulate to all book-buying friends, especially on campuses.
-------------------------------------------

These bookstores have rescinded invitations to host an event for Beyond Chutzpah:

1) Harvard Bookstore, 1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge MA 02138

Harvard Bookstore contacted University of California Press and scheduled an event for September 29, 2005.
The bookstore rescinded the invitation on the grounds that it feared "economic retaliation." You might want to express your opinion of this courageous defense of free speech and the marketplace of ideas. Email: info@harvard.com; Telephone: 1-800-542-READ, 1-617-661-1515.

2) Barnes and Noble, 122 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
The new Barnes and Noble superstore at DePaul University in Chicago contacted University of California Press and scheduled an event forSeptember 2005.

It rescinded the invitation on the orders of the corporate headquarters because the book was "too controversial." However, B&N will host an event for Alan Dershowitz's new book on Israel. You might want to express your opinion of this intellectual consistency. Email: customerservice@bn.com;Telephone: 1-800-422-7717.

Fight the blacklist!
Register your outrage!
Urge your local bookstore to host an event for Beyond Chutzpah!



10) Gaza Editorial I:

http://counterpunch.com/

Watching the Gazan Fiasco
The Shame of It All
By JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN
[Jennifer Loewenstein will be a viisiting Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University beginning this fall. She can be reached: amadea311@earthlink.net]

A great charade is taking place in front of the world media in the Gaza Strip. It is the staged evacuation of 8000 Jewish settlers from their illegal settlement homes, and it has been carefully designed to create imagery to support Israel's US-backed takeover of the West Bank and cantonization of the Palestinians.

There was never the slightest reason for Israel to send in the army to remove these settlers. The entire operation could have been managed, without the melodrama necessary for a media frenzy, by providing them with a fixed date on which the IDF would withdraw from inside the Gaza Strip. A week before, all the settlers will quietly have left ­with no TV cameras, no weeping girls, no anguished soldiers, no commentators asking cloying questions of how Jews could remove other Jews from their homes, and no more trauma about their terrible suffering, the world's victims, who therefore have to be helped to kick the Palestinians out of the West Bank.

The settlers will relocate to other parts of Israel ­ and in some cases to other illegal settlements in the West Bank ­handsomely compensated for their inconvenience. Indeed, each Jewish family leaving the Gaza Strip will receive between $140,000 and $400,000 just for the cost of the home they leave behind. But these details are rarely mentioned in the tempest of reporting on the "great confrontation" and "historical moment" brought to us by Sharon and the thieving, murderous settler-culture he helped create.

On ABC's Nightline Monday night, a reporter interviewed a young, sympathetic Israeli woman from the largest Gaza settlement, Neve Dekalim - a girl with sincerity in her voice, holding back tears. She doesn't view the soldiers as her enemy, she says, and doesn't want violence. She will leave even though to do so is causing her great pain. She talked about the tree she planted in front of her home with her brother when she was three; about growing up in the house they were now leaving, the memories, and knowing she could never return; that even if she did, everything she knew would be gone from the scene. The camera then panned to her elderly parents sitting somberly amid boxed-up goods, surveying the scene, looking forlorn and resigned. Her mother was a kindergarten teacher, we are told. She knew just about all of the children who grew up here near the sea.

In the 5 years of Israel's brutal suppression of the Palestinian uprising against the occupation, I never once saw or heard a segment as long and with as much sentimental, human detail as I did here; never once remember a reporter allowing a sympathetic young Palestinian woman, whose home was just bulldozed and who lost everything she owned, tell of her pain and sorrow, of her memories and her family's memories; never got to listen to her reflect on where she would go now and how she would live. And yet in Gaza alone more than 23,000 people have lost their homes to Israeli bulldozers and bombs since September 2000 -- often at a moment's notice ­ on the grounds that they "threatened Israel's security." The vast majority of the destroyed homes were located too close to an IDF military outpost or illegal settlement to be allowed to continue standing. The victims received no compensation for their losses and had no place waiting for them to relocate. Most ended up in temporary UNRWA tent-cities until they could find shelter elsewhere in the densely overcrowded Strip, a quarter of whose best land was inhabited by the 1% of the population that was Jewish and occupying the land at their expense.

Where were the cameramen in May 2004 in Rafah when refugees twice over lost their homes again in a single night's raid, able to retrieve nothing of what they owned? Where were they when bulldozers and tanks tore up paved streets with steel blades, wrecked the sewage and water pipes, cut electricity lines, and demolished a park and a zoo; when snipers shot two children, a brother and sister, feeding their pigeons on the roof of their home? When the occupying army fired a tank shell into a group of peaceful demonstrators killing 14 of them including two children? Where have they been for the past five years when the summer heat of Rafah makes life so unbearable it is all one can do to sit quietly in the shade of one's corrugated tin roof -- because s/he is forbidden to go to the sea, ten minutes' walking distance from the city center? Or because if they ventured to the more open spaces they became walking human targets? And when their citizens resisted, where were the accolades and the admiring media to comment on the "pluck," the "will" and "audacity" of these "young people"?

On Tuesday, 16 August, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than 900 journalists from Israel and around the world are covering the events in Gaza, and that hundreds of others are in cities and towns in Israel to cover local reactions. Were there ever that many journalists in one place during the past 5 years to cover the Palestinian Intifada?

Where were the 900 international journalists in April 2002 after the Jenin refugee camp was laid to waste in the matter of a week in a show of pure Israeli hubris and sadism? Where were the 900 international journalists last fall when the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza lay under an Israeli siege and more than 100 civilians were killed? Where were they for five years while the entire physical infrastructure of the Gaza Strip was being destroyed? Which one of them reported that every crime of the Israeli occupation ­ from home demolitions, targeted assassinations and total closures to the murder of civilians and the wanton destruction of commercial and public property - increased significantly in Gaza after Sharon's "Disengagement" Plan - that great step toward peace - was announced?

Where are the hundreds of journalists who should be covering the many non-violent protests by Palestinians and Israelis against the Apartheid Wall? ­Non-violent protesters met with violence and humiliation by Israeli armed forces? Where are the hundreds of journalists who should be reporting on the economic and geographic encirclement of Palestinian East Jerusalem and of the bisection of the West Bank and the subdivision of each region into dozens of isolated mini-prisons? Why aren't we being barraged by outraged
reports about the Jewish-only bypass roads? About the hundreds of pointless internal checkpoints? About the countless untried executions and maimings? About the torture and abuse of Palestinians in Israeli prisons?

Where were these hundreds of journalists when each of the 680 Palestinian children shot to death by Israeli soldiers over the last 5 years was laid to rest by grief-stricken family members? The shame of it all defies words.

Now instead report after report announces the "end to the 38 year old occupation" of the Gaza Strip, a "turning point for peace" and the news that "it is now illegal for Israelis to live in Gaza." Is this some kind of joke?

Yes, it is "illegal for Israelis to live in the Gaza Strip" as colonizers from another land. It has been illegal for 38 years. (If they wish to move there and live as equals with the Palestinians and not as Israeli citizens they may do so.)

Sharon's unilateral "Disengagement" plan is not ending the occupation of Gaza. The Israelis are not relinquishing control over the Strip. They are retaining control of all land, air and sea borders including the Philadelphi corridor along the Gaza/Egypt border where the Egyptians may be allowed to patrol under Israel's watchful eye and according to Israel's strictest terms. The 1.4 million inhabitants of Gaza remain prisoners in a giant penal colony, despite what their partisan leaders are attempting to claim. The IDF is merely redeploying outside the Gaza Strip, which is surrounded by electrical and concrete fences, barbed wire, watchtowers, armed guards and motion censors, and it will retain the authority to invade Gaza on a whim. Eight thousand Palestinian workers working in Israel for slave wages will soon be banned from returning to work. Another 3,200 Palestinians who worked in the settlements for a sub-minimum-wage have been summarily dismissed without recourse to severance pay or other forms of compensation. Still others will lose their livelihoods when the Israelis move the Gaza Industrial Zone from Erez to somewhere in the Negev desert.

The World Bank reported in December 2004 that both poverty and unemployment will rise following the "Disengagement" even under the best of circumstances because Israel will retain full control over the movement of goods in and out of Gaza, will maintain an enforced separation of the West Bank and Gaza preventing the residents of each from visiting one another, and will draw up separate customs agreements with each zone severing their already shattered economies-- and yet we are forced to listen day in and day out to news about this historic peace initiative, this great turning point in the career of Ariel Sharon, this story of national trauma for the brothers and sisters who have had to carry out the painful orders of their wise and besieged leader.

What will it take to get the truth across to people? To the young woman of Neve Dekalim who can speak her words without batting an eyelash of embarrassment or shame? As the cameras zoom in on angry settlers poignantly clashing with their "brothers and sisters" in the Israeli army, who will be concerned about their other brothers and sisters in Gaza? When will the Palestinian history of 1948 and 1967, and of each passing day under the violence of dispossession and dehumanization, get a headline in our papers?

I am reminded of an interview I had this summer in Beirut with Hussein Nabulsi of Hizbullah ­ an organization that has had nothing to do with the movement for Palestinian national liberation whatsoever, but one that has become allied with those it sees as the real victims of US and Israeli policies and lies. I remember his tightly shut eyes and his clenched fists as he asked how long Arabs and Muslims were supposed to accept the accusations that they are the victimizers and the terrorists. "It hurts," he said in a whispered ardor. "It hurts so much to watch this injustice every day." And he went on to explain to me why the Americans and the Israelis ­with their monstrous military arsenals ­ will never be victorious.

Jennifer Loewenstein will be a viisiting Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University beginning this fall. She can be reached:amadea311@earthlink.net


11) Gaza Editorial II:

By Ziad Asali
Commentary
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

As Israel begins its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, it is clear that this presents, for all those committed to an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a moment of truth. If we are to eventually have two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, it is imperative that all parties play their part to ensure that the disengagement is marked by a successful transition to orderly and effective Palestinian rule.

Palestinians will still be surrounded on all sides by the Israeli military, but they will have to administer significant areas of territory with a population of over a million people. The degree to which the Palestinian leadership succeeds is likely to play a key role in determining how far other parties are willing to go to help Palestinians realize their goal of creating a viable, fully independent state in the Occupied Territories, which is also the key to peace in the region.

Whatever their varying agendas, motivations and visions of the future might be, all those committed to peace have a huge stake in ensuring that this transition is as smooth as possible. This will not be a simple task.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) will have to perform state-like functions, without many of the institutions, powers and means available to truly sovereign entities. Although important reforms are under way, the PA's agencies, including the security services, have been systematically weakened from within and without, and undermined by mismanagement and corruption. These nascent Palestinian national institutions began to take shape during the 1990s, but many were seriously damaged or degraded during the conflict that raged after September 2000.

The PA, therefore, will require serious and substantial foreign assistance to enable it to perform the functions it is about to inherit. American support is vital, not just in the form of financial aid but also technical, social and governmental assistance. Arab and European states as well as Japan must do their part to empower and support Palestinian institutions that begin to govern effectively.

Coordination on the part of the Israeli government with the PA is crucial. The disengagement was originally conceived as a unilateral measure, but the fact that it is, at last, being implemented in a coordinated manner demonstrates that Palestinians and Israelis have no choice but to deal with one another. Israel surely understands how important it is that Gaza avoid sinking into chaos or falling under the control of extremists. It can ill afford to be perceived as playing an obstructionist role and hindering efforts by moderates like PA President Mahmoud Abbas to take control.

There will be opposition, probably some of it violent, from Israeli extremists who wish to see the process fail. The parallel internal struggles within both Israeli and Palestinian societies against extremism may be painful, but are unavoidable.

For the transition to succeed, it will be necessary to give Palestinians grounds to feel that the Gaza disengagement is the beginning of a process that will lead to independence and statehood. Ordinary Palestinians must feel they have a stake in making the transition work, otherwise the siren song of violent resistance may prove irresistible, especially as radicals credit armed struggle with producing the withdrawal.
Many Palestinians fear, given Israel's continued settlement activity, especially in and around Arab East Jerusalem, and the now-openly acknowledged "political" considerations informing the route of the Israeli "security barrier" snaking through the West Bank, that time is running out for the potential creation of a viable Palestinian state.

To address these serious concerns, and to make sure that further progress will be possible after the withdrawal is completed, the United States and the international community should reinvigorate the "road map" to peace. Amending the language of the road map is necessary since some requirements and lapsed deadlines are now moot. The revisions would show that the world remains committed to the plan as the outline for an end to the conflict. The road map remains indispensable because it is the only document outlining a path to peace that has been agreed to by all the parties. It provides a substantive basis to measure what has been accomplished, and what is yet to be done, by all sides.

If the disengagement goes relatively smoothly, the PA proves able to effectively govern the areas transferred to its control, and the international community recommits itself to the road map, Israeli and Palestinian elections should be able to bring to power people committed to a serious peace deal.

A coordinated Gaza disengagement and successful transition to Palestinian rule, which are collective responsibilities, can set the stage for serious negotiations to create a Palestinian state and finally end the conflict. While collective failure may entrench a volatile and untenable status quo, success should help to finally lead the Middle East out of its perilous course.

Ziad Asali is president of the American Task Force on Palestine. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY
STAR.




12) Paul Krugman on US Elections:

Paul Krugman: Al Gore Was Elected President in 2004

http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/14433.html



13) The Onion weighs in on the "intelligent falling" debate:

www.theonion.com

Date:
Thu, 18 Aug 2005 16:15:09 -0700
KANSAS CITY, KS—

As the debate over the teaching ofevolution in public schools continues, a newcontroversy over the science curriculum arose Mondayin this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists fromthe Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning arenow asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity"is flawed, and they have responded to it with a newtheory of Intelligent Falling.

Above: Rev. Gabriel Burdett (left) explainsIntelligent Falling. "Things fall not because they are acted upon by somegravitational force, but because a higherintelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing themdown," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees ineducation, applied Scripture, and physics from OralRoberts University.
Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to ourchildren as a law—is founded on great gaps inunderstanding. The laws predict the mutual forcebetween all bodies of mass, but they cannot explainthat force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect thatmy theories may all depend upon a force for whichphilosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Ofcourse, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leadinginstitution of evangelical physics, a branch ofphysics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneouslythis week in the International Journal Of Science andthe adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, thereare many phenomena that cannot be explained by seculargravity alone, including such mysteries as how angelsfly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satanfell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalitionand other Christian conservative action groups, iscalling for public-school curriculums to give equaltime to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insistthey are not asking that the theory of gravity bebanned from schools, but only that students be offeredboth sides of the issue "so they can make an informeddecision."

"We just want the best possible education for Kansas'kids," Burdett said.

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that thedifferent theories used by secular physicists toexplain gravity are not internally consistent. Evencritics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein'sideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilablewith quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Fallingproponents say, proves that gravity is a theory incrisis.

"Let's take a look at the evidence," said ECFR seniorfellow Gregory Lunsden."In Matthew 15:14, Jesus says,'And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall intothe ditch.' He says nothing about some gravity makingthem fall—just that they will fall. Then, in Job 5:7,we read, 'But mankind is born to trouble, as surely assparks fly upwards.' If gravity is pulling everythingdown, why do the sparks fly upwards with great surety?This clearly indicates that a conscious intelligencegoverns all falling."

Critics of Intelligent Falling point out that gravityis a provable law based on empirical observations ofnatural phenomena. Evangelical physicists, however,insist that there is no conflict between Newton'smathematics and Holy Scripture.

"Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to makeEinstein's general relativity match up with thesubatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, aleading Intelligent Falling expert known for her workwith the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been tryingto do it for the better part of a century now, anddespite all their empirical observation and carefullycompiled data, they still don't know how."

"Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explainhow gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said."What
the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize isthat 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secularwords for 'God can do whatever He wants.'"

Some evangelical physicists propose that IntelligentFalling provides an elegant solution to the centralproblem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing fordecades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weaknuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' andso-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And theytilt their findings toward trying to unite them intoone force. But readers of the Bible have already knownfor millennia what this one, unified force is: Hisname is Jesus."

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