Monday, March 25, 2013

Baghdad 10 years after the invasion

I've always enjoyed the Iraq documentaries by Vice Media and their controversial brand of 'gonzo journalism'. I wrote a couple of articles for them back when I first arrived in the US in 2006.

 

 Parts 2,3, and 4 here.

46 comments:

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Watched the first video. Very good. Will continue later...

...and I'm not sure if I should laugh at the black humor article or not. Somehow it doesn't seem appropriate for an American to do so.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.      said...

 
      "Somehow it doesn't seem appropriate for an
      American to do so.
"

A little guilt goes a long way.

Freddie Starr said...

Freddie Starr ate my hamster!

Farid al-Sattar said...

Freddie Starr ate my hamster!

You're wrong. Lynnette ate your hamster.

Marcus said...

If you're gonna watch the video head straight for part 4. That's the complete video in one go.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

A little guilt goes a long way.

Guilt? Hmmm...no, not really. It's more a feeling of I'm not Iraqi and a lot of those are inside jokes. I wouldn't want to laugh at someone else's family.




Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Since I started with Part 1 of the video series I will continue on that way.

In Part 2 they go to Sadr City and interview a cleric there. I find it extremely hypocritical that his concern is on the "corrupting" influence of the West. I think they would be better off at looking at the home grown corruption.

And using death threats, which apparently is still happening, is an abhorent way to oppress people.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Yes, I know there is a link below about the CIA, but no time today...

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Hmmm...no, not really."

I stand corrected.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Part 3 talks about the problems the gay community in Iraq is having with safety. The sad thing is that people don't seem to understand that intolerance begets intolerance and that standing up for others against that type of behavior is also standing up for themselves.

That it is the Islamists who appear to be behind this type of intolerance only reinforces the idea in the West that Islam is a religion of violence. Never mind that you may find violence against gays here as well.

And I have never understood what is so bad about music.

I also think I would pick a differenct signature color than black. It is too reminiscent of Al-Sadr & Co.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Just finished the video.

Blaming America for all the bad things that are continuing to happen in Iraq will not fix anything. That we did not rebuild Iraq within 6 months, as Saddam did after the first Gulf War, is not necessarily a statement of our lack of accomplishment. The situations were entirely different.

Btw, that Iraqis are still using a device that we warned them did not work and has been proven to be a scam is a rather sad statement. Don't be stupid.

Marcus said...

"Btw, that Iraqis are still using a device that we warned them did not work and has been proven to be a scam is a rather sad statement. Don't be stupid."

They are probably told to use them by the ones who took bribes when they bought the damned things. Those folks need to keep up appearances or admit they were corrupt or possibly stupid, and they would rather keep using the useless things than admit to that. And since they are powerful enough to throw people in prison or have them killed the people manning the checkpoints need to get in line, regardless of how they feel about it.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
How not to prove you’re not wearing a tin foil hat."
 
      "The 6 criteria for conspiratorial thinking:
      "1. Nefarious Intent: Assuming that the presumed
      conspirators have nefarious intentions. ***
      "2. Persecuted Victim: Self-identifying as the victim
      of an organised persecution. 
[optional]
      "3. Nihilistic Skepticism: Refusing to believe anything
      that doesn’t fit into the conspiracy theory. ***
      "4. Nothing occurs by Accident: Weaving any small
      random event into the conspiracy narrative.
      "5. Something Must be Wrong: Switching liberally
      between different, even contradictory conspiracy
      theories….  ***
      "6.Self-Sealing reasoning: Interpreting any evidence
      against the conspiracy as evidence for the
      conspiracy.  ***
"

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

They are probably told to use them by the ones who took bribes when they bought the damned things. Those folks need to keep up appearances or admit they were corrupt or possibly stupid, and they would rather keep using the useless things than admit to that.

I don't know, I think that ship has sailed.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

One has to wonder if the North Korean leadership did not watch the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at all. Seriously. Why on earth would they want to start saber rattling now? They know very well we have no intention of invading North Korea. Yet they insist on trying to stir up a hornet's nest. That certainly wasn't healthy for Saddam or Bin Laden.

Petes said...

It's the same story as it was for Saddam, Lynnette. The sabre rattling isn't for the West's benefit. It is to send the right signals internally -- to show that the erstwhile leader is capable of stamping his authority on the military, and quell the factions that have been vying for power.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "The sabre rattling isn't for the West's benefit.
      It is to send the right signals internally.
"

Almost certainly true.
Very little danger here to us, and not much chance that Obama will over-react.  The biggest danger I can see just now is that they spook a reaction from the South Koreans, who have good reason to be afraid.  That could get away from us; we'd have to come to South Korea's defense.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

The sabre rattling isn't for the West's benefit. It is to send the right signals internally --

I can see where an assassination attempt would worry Kim Jong-Un. But starting a fight with the West, or particularly South Korea, seems a little foolish for exactly the reason Lee mentioned. The United States would come to South Korea's defense. And more than likely that would mean targeting the North Korean military, or the civilian leadership. Seems to me they run the risk of stepping out of the pot and into the fire.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I am trying to avoid falling into conspiracy land by starting to think that is what someone in North Korea may want.

Marcus said...

Lee: "Very little danger here to us, and not much chance that Obama will over-react. The biggest danger I can see just now is that they spook a reaction from the South Koreans, who have good reason to be afraid. That could get away from us; we'd have to come to South Korea's defense."

I'd agree with that. But maybe add that they might not spook a reaction from SK but instead provoke one through some idiotic display of force, like shelling those uninhabited contested islands again if SK troops get near them.

I very much doubt any side actually wants a real military confrontation here. But things being as tense as they are, and the NK leadership so hellbent on showing "strength" any small incident could perhaps spiral out of control.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Speculation is already starting on how a war could be tripped into. Personally I don't think the water divide is an advantage for NK because if we were to respond to an attack it would be via air I should think.

Anyway, what this is doing right now is giving more ammunition to those who believe we can't draw down forces from SK or Japan. North Korea is in effect encouraging us to stay, and in fact we seem to be adding a few things. One would think China, as a major power in the region, would be trying to reign in the North Koreans.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "…some idiotic display of force, like shelling those
      uninhabited contested islands again if SK troops get
      near them.
"

If I may offer a not so minor correction…  The island the North shelled last go-round was the quite clearly inhabited island of Yeongpeong, population around a thousand or so.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

*sigh*

"reign" should be "rein"

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
English lesson for the day, you wanted ‘rein(reins of a horse), not the homonym ‘reign’ (reign of a king or emperor or pope or somebody of that sort)

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Opps.  I thought I spotted that near the end of Marcus’ post.  Wasn't paying close enough attention I guess.

Marcus said...

Biology lesson of the day: it's a reindeer (a deer you can put reins on) and not a reigndeer (a deer a king keeps during his reign) or a raindeer (a sorry looking wet sort of a deer).

Marcus said...

Lee: "The island the North shelled last go-round was the quite clearly inhabited island of Yeongpeong, population around a thousand or so."

You're correct, those islands were the ones I was thinking of. There's a small SK population there but NK officially considers that an occupation since they claim soverignty over those islands. That's one af a number of "small" issues that could actually lead to a confrontation. And a confrontation right now might lead to an all out war.

Still, I think it's unlikely that will happen. The NK regime, like all dictatorships, has one concern above all others and that's staying in power. All bluster aside they must be very well aware that if it comes to an actual war they'll be out of business pretty quickly. Sure, they could wreak some serious havoc in the neighborhood (I am of the belief that their claims to being able to reach the US with missiles is false) but they'd be stomped hard and fast themselves, never to get a chance to make any comeback.

I see this as theatrics mainly for a domestic audience.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

So, it's not only dark matter but dark energy that is a puzzle. 71% worth. Kind of scary in a way, that we don't know that much about the world we live in.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "Sure, they could wreak some serious havoc in
      the neighborhood…
"

The conventional wisdom is that the South Koreans would probably win a war between the two, absent outside interference, but not without great cost.  They'd probably lose the city of Seoul in the opening artillery salvos. 
But we wouldn't leave it to the South Koreans to save themselves (although we'd be unlikely to be able to save the city of Seoul).

For now, the South Koreans aren't exactly freakin’ out, and neither are we.
I'm mostly curious ‘bout how they figure to declare victory and back off.  I can't see their end game.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Post Script:

Kerry's visit to the area, and our current public posture is mostly intended to reassure our allies, the Japanese and especially the South Koreans, that we're still in the game there, budget sequester notwithstanding.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "So, it's not only dark matter but dark energy that
      is a puzzle.
"

‘Dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ aren't exactly related beyond the fact that both contain the modifier ‘dark’.   ‘Dark energy’ may not be real, even if ‘dark matter’ turns out to be real.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
Meanwhile, closer to home: 

      "Egypt has not received a crude oil cargo from
      open market suppliers since January and, with
      money tight, the state grain buyer has not purchased
      wheat since February.
"
      Spengler

Petes said...

[Marcus]: "They are probably told to use them by the ones who took bribes when they bought the damned things. Those folks need to keep up appearances or admit they were corrupt or possibly stupid, and they would rather keep using the useless things than admit to that."

I'd say that's a reasonable suspicion. The English crook who exported those bomb detectors is on trial at the moment. I'd heard the shocking amount that the Iraqi government paid for them before -- 85 million US dollars. What I hadn't heard was that the English guy "only" netted a little under $40 million, the rest going to "middle men". So, $45 million in backhanders ... that's a LOT of bribes.

Petes said...

[Lynnette]: "So, it's not only dark matter but dark energy that is a puzzle. 71% worth. Kind of scary in a way, that we don't know that much about the world we live in."

It's sort of paradoxical -- with all these new high resolution surveys of the sky going on, we seem to be going backwards in terms of our understanding of some basic parameters of the cosmos. It's fairly universally accepted that dark matter is real, and is needed to explain the rotation rates of galaxies and the clustering behaviour of matter on a cosmic scale.

Dark energy is even weirder -- it is possibly a basic property of space ... the so-called vacuum energy. That means there's more and more of it as the universe expands. So the universe is starting to look like it began expanding with a big push from "inflation" (which could have been a different kind of vacuum energy), coasted along under that initial impetus for some billions of years, and now is taking off again with a second big push from vacuum energy.

I dunno. It's all starting to sound a but makey uppy :-)

Marcus said...

Pete: "What I hadn't heard was that the English guy "only" netted a little under $40 million, the rest going to "middle men". So, $45 million in backhanders ... that's a LOT of bribes."

I hadn't heard that either. But I'm not surprised. If you're going to peddle something so completely ridiculous and criminally irresponsible with any success you need to pay nice sized bribes, would have been my guess.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "It's fairly universally accepted that dark matter is
      real…
"

Dark matter may yet join the list that includes caloric, phlogiston, and luminiferous æther; all of which were once fairly universally accepted as real.  (To say nothing of the fabled philosophers' stone.)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Dark matter, dark energy, just another way of saying we are not really sure of what is co-existing with us. It appears that the more we find out the less we know.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I'm mostly curious ‘bout how they figure to declare victory and back off. I can't see their end game.

Right now they seem to be playing with their missiles. I'm not sure what that is going to get them either. Because if they launch anything I doubt they'll like the response they get. Idiots.

Marcus said...

"I'm mostly curious ‘bout how they figure to declare victory and back off. I can't see their end game."

The only plausible scenario I've heard of is if they use the ending of the present US/SK military exercise to back down. To an international audience they can say they stood firm against foreign threats and were vigilant but restrained. To a domestic audience they can say Kim Jong Un scared the imperialists off with his unparallelled military skills.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "…if they use the ending of the present US/SK
      military exercise…
"

Bit of a reach, but I suppose it could play among the North Korean population, and that's where he needs it to play.  Maybe that's it; I got nothin’ else to suggest.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

To a domestic audience they can say Kim Jong Un scared the imperialists off with his unparallelled military skills.

Well, he definately needs something to impress his domestic audience with, because he certainly isn't much in the economic department. He apparently shutdown the operations of a lucrative (for the North) factory at Kaesong. Private businesses hate that sort of thing. With all this hysteria he has risked not only ticking off China, but ticking off people who have been actually putting money in his pockets.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Speaking of poor economic decisions, apparently some people weren't too happy with the closing of various small airport control towers here in the states due to the infamous sequestration cuts. They have put a hold on some of them to see if some funding could be found elsewhere. Hmmm...good luck with that...

And so the "stupid" cuts start and we will slowly start rolling downhill. Unless, of course, someone in Washington actually has the guts to really negotiate a sound budget agreement. I wouldn't hold my breath.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

 
      "I wouldn't hold my breath."

Probably wise.  I see no indication that either side has any serious intention to revisit the sequester cuts.  The only coordinated moves I've noticed are among the right-wing, teabagger types who're trying to amp up another threat to force a default come the ‘debt-ceiling’ deadline.  So far they've not quite got a critical mass behind them on the Republican side, but, significantly, Boehner has made some casual noises that make it sound like he's sympathetic to the idea of holding the ‘debt-ceiling’ hostage to more spending cuts.  (As is their custom, the Republicans aren't telling what they want cut.  They're positioning themselves to demand that the Democrats unilaterally offer them cuts to in domestic spending.  Preferably, they would like Obama himself to make the offer.  They'll be willing to say how much they want cut, but they're not going to be willing to actually propose any cuts themselves.)
This is a potential minefield, and it's not clear they can get a critical mass of right-wingers to walk out in that one again, but they're seriously considering it.

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