“Freiheit” für Gazellen.

Daß die Befreiung von Saddam Hussein den wenigsten Menschen im Irak wirklich zu Freiheit verholfen hat, ist eine Erkenntnis, der sich angesichts der letztlich noch immer – mit immer unübersichtlicheren Koalitionsstrukturen – eskalierenden Stammesfehden/ethnischen Konflikte/Verteilungskämpfe im Lande selbst und der im Lichte dieser Entwicklung zumindest nicht unproblematischen “get out yesterday”-Haltung der Heimatfront wohl nur noch die Redenschreiber im Weißen Haus entziehen können, oder – müssen.

Ein ganz besonders trauriges Kapitel der Geschichte der vermeintlichen Freiheitsverschaffung hat die FAZ gestern als Titel der Rubrik “Bilder und Zeiten” veröffentlicht. In Syrien, das sich nach dem erneuten Ausfall von Beirut als “Paris des Nahen Ostens” offenbar zum Rotlichtviertel der Region entwickelt, müssen nun Flüchtlingsfamilien aus dem Irak ihre Töchter reichen Arabern andienen, damit die Familien durch den nahenden Winter kommen.

Lesenswert: Der Tanz der traurigen Gazellen.


A slightly late political obituary…

Or possibly a particularly early one. Two weeks after Tony Blair’s demission as Prime Minister, and four years after he opted for political suicide. This is what I wrote on March 18, 2003 , on the day before the Commons vote on a British participation in “operation Iraqi Freedom”.

I doubt Blair will lose his case tomorrow, but chances are, a majority will clearly depend on Conservative votes. I guess no explanation is needed as to why it is a huge problem for a PM to be backed by the opposition instead of his own Parliamentary party.

But even in case the rebellion will be less pronounced than commentators expect, and even if the war will take a favourable course – I doubt Blair’s decision to invest almost all his political capital into supporting the US government’s case for regime change will ever pay off. Even without a possible future leadership challenge, Blair will never again be the political star he used to be. Governing will be a lot harder for him in the future than it has been before.

Isn’t it great that blogs have archives?

compulsory reading, Iraq, Political Theory

Patches of War.

I don’t know how many black sheep there are in the US army in Iraq today. But I suppose there are a lot who never imagined their fur would even feature a single black patch, because, probably, given normal circumstances, they’d likely have remained white all their lives.

Stress, anxiety, guys stewing in their own testosterone for extended periods of time. That’s one of the, sometimes intended, but always terrible consequences of war: it hardly ever creates heroes and almost always creates thugs.

It’s not the war per se, but the violence it inevitably brings wit it – think of the Stanford Prison Experiment, remember Liran Ron Furer’s “Checkpoint Syndrome” for just two chilling accounts of the effects violence on “white sheep”. And if some sheep are already black in disguise, war certainly attracts them, as it, at least partly, legalizes behaviour that is considered criminal in peacetime.

But there are limits, and the above argument can only serve as a reminder to those in power, that it’s not just Patriot Games they play, never as an excuse for the murder of an Iraqi family and the gang-rape of their 14year old daughter – BBC NEWS | Americas | US soldier admits murdering girl.

A couple of years ago, someone left some sick spam comments about amateur pornography featuring raped Iraqi women ( “The most disgusting porn spam ever“). In light of this story I can’t help but wonder if the offer wasn’t just the result of someone’s unfortunate experiments in role playing with a video camera.


Now really?

Downing Street Memo follow up in the IHT –

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Bush, Blair and six of their top aides.”

And in case anyone is surprised why there are conspiracy theories…

“The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Hussein.”

I seriously wonder what it feels like to be in such a meeting… did they, at any point, feel at least a little of the weight of the world on their shoulders? Or was it really just another “Patriot Game”. Whatever you think of Michael Moore, he was right about asking one question – why did Blair go along with this?

I’ve always favoured an explanation invoking the fundamental British post WW2 foreign policy fallacy – Churchill’s three sphere’s of interest. Well, it may not have been a fallay back in Churchill’s days, but the concept of building a global foreign policy strategy based on the idea of the US wanting a special relationship with the UK should have been discredited after the Suez crisis, or, latest, after Kennedy told Macmillan to take Britain into the EEC or the US would have a special relationship with, hey, Germany.

But still, to this day, against more than 50 years of evidence, the British foreign policy establishment seems to believe that linguistic and superficial cultural affiliation will ensure that the US listen to British advice on how to run the world.

Bush was set on path to war, memo by British adviser says – Europe – International Herald Tribune

Iraq, US Politics, USA

I’m having a déjà vu.

reading the NYT’s report about the updated US national security strategy.

An updated version of the Bush administration’s national security strategy, the first since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, includes a vigorous defense of striking pre-emptively against countries seen to threaten the United States.
The document declares for the first time that diplomacy to halt Iran’s nuclear program “must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided.”

The Tehran government is given new prominence in the latest document, which declares that “we may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”

Administration officials cautioned that the reference to confrontation with Iran did not necessarily mean military attack, though both the United States and Israel have extensively examined what kind of surgical strikes could be aimed at Iranian facilities should diplomatic efforts fail to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The warning to Iran also stands in stark contrast to the wording about North Korea, a nation that, as the strategy document notes, now boasts that it already possesses nuclear weapons. The North Korean regime “needs to change these policies, open up its political system and afford freedom to its people,” it says.

“In the interim, we will continue to take all necessary measures to protect our national and economic security against the adverse effects of their bad conduct.”

Missing, however, is the threat of any military action, perhaps because, in the words of a senior administration official, North Korea is “already considered a lost cause” that already has weapons, while Iran is still considered 5 to 10 years away from having them. “

Somehow, this makes me think of Bob Dylan… “…when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.”

Iraq, oddly enough, US Politics

Recycled News.

So I’m checking my mail, browse quickly through a newsletter by n-tv, the German news-channel, and I’m suddenly two years younger.

Seriously, tonight I’m being told it’s news that George W. Bush allegedly told Palestinian PM Abbas that God told him to go nation-building in countries he did not even know about before.

Hmm, didn’t I write about this in June 2003? Strange, don’t you think?

Well, maybe not so much – The BBC is just doing such a good PR job for an upcoming documentary that the White House felt the need to once again deny these alligations, which appeared in Haaretz two years ago

Actually, I’m not quite sure why Bush has his spokesperson publicly deny this again. Acknowledging the debate is a lose-lose proposition from a PR standpoint. I mean, everyone who’s hoping he doesn’t literally talk to God about strategic decisions will not be deterred from believing that he actually does by a White House denial. On the other hand, those – currently rather unhappy – parts of his/the Republican constituency which would like it if their President spoke with God as literally as possible, might chose to believe…

Iraq, oddly enough, US Politics


ironyLast Wednesday, at the anti-Bush demonstration during the President’s visit to Mainz, Germany: This demonstrator’s “subtle” statement about murderous, and militaristic foreign policy allegedly exhibited by a well known remaining superpower that “everyone, except ‘us'” (whoever us may be) allegedly participated in, is, ironically, just as subtly contradicted by a portrait of a certain Mr. Kruger printed on his jacket…

almost a diary, Iraq

A little disappointment.

Did you know that, on average, it takes ten new year’s resolutions until there is even a small effect in the direction of one of them? That could be a good excuse for not posting my song tonight, but, gentle readers, I will be honest with you: I was not yet able to get it into streaming format. So you will have to bear with me and my computer for a day or so.

Not being able to present you with my musical commentary on the current American Commander in Chief is particularly unfortunate as there are new readers who have been told by a web special of the PBS foreign affairs news programme Frontline World that my blog is focusing on the US and the American elections from a German point of view.

The latter is certainly correct, I am always presenting a German point of view, which is inevitable given that I am German. I would, however, like to emphasize that it is highly unlikely that my view will actually be reflected or even taken into account by those who determine “the” German point of view, aka the German government’s foreign policy – after all, both of us, Germany and me, are entitled to our proper opinion.

With respect to the “American” focus, well, I certainly tried to put in prespective some of the political rethoric that created the alleged rift through “the West”. The rift in through the West is, in essence, a rift through the US, actually one that goes right through the Republican party along the authoritarian/libertarian axis. However, given the particularities of the American electoral math and political system the rift tends to be pronounced rather than bridged. America is a big country, some of whose regions are (for the better or worse) at the leading edge of human/technological development while others still seem to be premodern. A country where it is illegal to sell “neck-massagers” in Alabama while thousands of people gather annully for a masturbate-athon in San Francisco.

It is these differences that usually fall between the cracks of news coverage that tends to focus on labels and statements rather than fundamentals and processes. However, I wrote most of my “corrections” in 2003. So feel free to browse the archives until I present you with GW’s Blues.

And while you’re waiting, gentle new readers, why don’t you head over to afoe – a group blog focusing on European affairs, of which I am a proud (though currently rather silent) contributor.

Iraq, US Politics

Colin Powell. The Sad Truth.

Colin Powell seems to be a man whose pride apparently gets in the way of seeing the world as it is. Recently, he contested a statement by the likely democratic nominee for President, J.F. Kerry, that he had been marginalised in the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

Yet as a list compiled by Brad DeLong amply demonstrates, this is exactly what happened.

But there is an item missing on the list that I find particularly telling about the way in which Mr Powell has been treated by his colleagues, and, in particular, by the President. Last May, when the White House tried to slowly improve relations with the allies it had seriously alienated with its pre-war behavior, Colin Powell was sent to Berlin for the first meeting with the German administration after the heydey of conflict in the UN security council in February 2003.

But while Colin Powell met with the Chancellor, the President had nothing better to do than embarrass the German government, but even more so his own Secretary of State, by “accidentally” running into a meeting of VP Cheney with Roland Koch, the truly conservative Primeminister of the German state of Hessen. Here is what I wrote about their meeting last May.

Of course, everybody got the message… as did Colin Powell.