Friday, December 16, 2005

An Iraq roundup from Norman Geras

These items add up to a useful counterpoint to the current conventional wisdom ... for people willing to consider an alternative point of view. --Jeff Weintraub
From the weblog of Norman Geras (Normblog)
December 10, 2005

Iraq heptagon

> Michael Ignatieff: [who is being transformed from an independent intellectual into a Canadian Parliamentary candidate, in a country that overwhelmingly opposed the 2003 Iraq war]

"On Iraq, I have no regrets... I'd seen people tortured, gassed and murdered in Iraq," he said, of a month-long journalistic trip for the BBC/CBC. "Most Canadians don't have that experience. I did and I felt I had to stand with Saddam's victims..."
[He's right, of course. --JW]

> Another view (than Jonathan Steele's) of Saddam Hussein on trial

The man I see looks completely different from that man who used to appear on TV in his army uniform, holding a pistol and shooting in the air as if he were aiming at creatures on another planet because he had got bored of killing Iraqis.

This man in the courtroom has to wait for his turn to talk, otherwise his mike will be turned off. Saddam never had to wait for his turn because it was his turn for decades, and there was no time for anyone else to say anything.

It may look to outsiders as if he has taken control, shouting at the judge. But up close you can see desperation in his eyes.

> The 'militants' who get a more or less free pass from so many progressive tongue-cluckers and head-shakers continued their mighty work this week of fighting the imperialist invader:

A suicide bomber boarded a packed bus as it was pulling out of a Baghdad station and detonated an explosive belt, killing at least 30 Iraqis, mostly women and children.

The bus was departing from the central Nahda bus station to Nasiriyah, a Shia city 200 miles southeast of the Iraqi capital. Police said the death toll was especially high because the blast triggered secondary explosions in gas cylinders stored at a nearby food stall. At least 25 people were wounded in the attack.

The attacker parked his car nearby and avoided security checks by climbing onto the bus just as it pulled out of the station.

Eyewitnesses described how the charred corpses of passengers, thought to have been mainly Shia Muslims travelling south for the weekend, remained in their seats. Rescue workers dragged bodies out of the wreckage into waiting ambulances. Blood and shrapnel littered the ground.

> Anne Applebaum on the possibility of an ambiguous conclusion.

> Mick Hartley has the link to a piece by Amir Taheri challenging the prevailing consensus about Iraq.

> Good football news from Afghanistan and Iraq.

> From a report in the Washington Post:

As Iraqis nationwide prepare to go to the polls for the third time this year on Dec. 15 - this time for a new parliament - candidates and political parties of all stripes are embracing politics, Iraqi style, as never before and showing increasing sophistication about the electoral process, according to campaign specialists, party officials and candidates here.

"It is like night and day from 10 months ago in terms of level of participation and political awareness," said a Canadian election specialist with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a group affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party that is working to ease Iraq's transition to democracy. The institute, which has provided free campaign training to more than 100 Iraqi parties and describes its programs as nonpartisan, granted a reporter access to its employees and training sessions on the condition that no one on its staff be named.

Evidence of political evolution is plastered all over Baghdad's normally drab concrete blast walls and hung on lampposts at nearly every major intersection: large, colorful, graphically appealing posters conveying a wide variety of punchy messages.

Nothing good to be seen in this - move along.