Friday, August 06, 2004

 

This Guy is Scum

Joseph Braude pleaded guilty today, on the second day of testimony at his trial, to smuggling artifacts stolen from the Iraq National Museum (we all remember it's being looted) into the United States.
After his plea was changed, the United States attorney's office said: "Through his guilty plea Mr Braude admitted that he knew exactly what he was doing - smuggling precious antiquities looted from the Iraqi people."

[...]

He has also been a federal consultant on "terrorist activities".
It's not suprising, then, to read this description of Braude in a review of his book, The New Iraq, on Salon.com:
Its author, Joseph Braude, works for Pyramid Research, an outfit providing "international market analysis and consulting services to the global communications industry." He has recently appeared on the "Today" show and been quoted in major newspapers, touting his insights into Iraq's future. He represents that breed of civilian who arrives in a newly occupied nation in the wake of the military personnel, aid workers and intelligence operatives, sniffing around after the money to be made amid all the flux and ferment.
What a scumbag. To many in the academic world, the looting of the Iraqi National Museum was one of the greatest outrages and tragedies in the early days of the Iraq War. For Braude, a supposed academic, to essentially partake, hoping to profit, in this crime is pretty disgusting.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

 

This Poor Guy

I don't think Charlie Daniels knows what he's getting himself into. Playing on Saturday in Dearborn, Michigan, with a song that goes a little somethin' like this:
This ain't no rag, it's a flag and we don't wear it on our heads. It's a symbol of the land where the good guys live. Are you listening to what I said?
Dearborn, Michigan? Are you listening to what I said? This guy's gonna get torn apart.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

 

Bush asked to discontinue his blog

This is too funny: The Onion | CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog.

 

Drawing the Lines of Connection

There is a frightening and enlightening article by Robert Fisk in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today exposing the disastrous state of affairs in Iraq. The piece is titled "Iraq on the verge of implosion" and in it Fisk writes:
Indeed, watching any Western television station in Baghdad these days is like tuning in to Planet Mars. Doesn't Blair realize that Iraq is about to implode? Doesn't President Bush realize this? The American-appointed "government" controls only parts of Baghdad -- and even there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority. Ayad Allawi, the "prime minister," is little more than mayor of Baghdad. "Some journalists," Blair announces, "almost want there to be a disaster in Iraq." He doesn't get it. The disaster exists now.
So the disaster is now, but that's not what we are getting here. In fact, we aren't getting much here at all. There are several days a week now, it seems, that there is not a single article about Iraq on the front page of the Washington Post. And that brings us to the second article of the day, an op-ed in the Post by Harold Meyerson, asking the question Where's Rumsfeld? Not too many press conferences these days, are there? Writes Meyerson:
We've gone from Mission Accomplished to Mission Invisible. The fact that we still have men and women in harm's way doesn't play very well if the boss is going to get reelected. The fact that we never had a plan for Iraq after Saddam Hussein -- or, worse, that we had plans from the generals and from State and from the CIA, and that Rummy trashed them all and figured we could run the place with nothing more than Ahmed Chalabi and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo -- is not something the Bush boys want voters thinking about as the election draws near.
So this is where we are - the Bush administration tries to keep the lid on Iraq until after the election, at which point enough time has passed since the Iraq takeover of sovereignty that we can blame everything on the Iraqis, on the foreign Jihadists, on Zarqawi (never forget Zarqawi), or on the Democrats (if they win the election). Let somebody else clean up the problem, we've got other things to worry about. Did somebody say Iran? Who's comin' with me? Whooooo's comin' with me? This is increasingly becoming the Jerry McGuire administration - from "Who's comin' with me?" to "Show me the money!"

Monday, August 02, 2004

 

Dahlan Rips Arafat

Mohammad Dahlan is certainly speaking more openly than one would expect about the chaos and calls for reform in the Gaza Strip.
In an interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Watan he said: "Arafat is sitting on the corpses and destruction of the Palestinians at a time when they're desperately in need of a new mentality."
Dahlan has marked August 10th on the calendar as the deadline for Arafat: either show movement towards reform or face massive demonstrations in Gaza. And given the way things have been going (kidnappings of government officials, burning of government buildings in Gaza and Jenin, general outcry against corruption in the PA), you'd have to think that Arafat would not want to just let things go until August 10th. On the other hand, it is hard to see Arafat actually making any substantive changes. I think that Arafat probably thinks he can get away with another round of statements/appointments/shiftings of advisors and cabinet members, but I think the crowd in Gaza is riled up enough not to let that sort of faux reform and political talk cool them down. We might see a split of Fatah in the near future, at least in Gaza.
Seventy members of Fatah, Mr Arafat's faction, were meeting to discuss reform and growing anarchy in the Palestinian territories when the 20 men burst in and fired into the ceiling.

The meeting was ended, but not before a letter was drafted to Mr Arafat denouncing the lawlessness and corruption in the authority.

"President Arafat, this may be the last chance for reforming our situation before reaching the end. We need a revolution within our Fatah movement," it said.
Also, of total inconsequence, I thought this sentence from the Guardian article was funny: "Like all critics of Mr Arafat, he believes it is vital that he should remain leader of the Palestinians but more efficient managers should handle Palestinian affairs." You'd like to think that even the most naive journalist would question whether all critics of Arafat believe that he should remain leader of the Palestinians. I think a better analysis would be this: Like all critics of Mr Arafat who think that in the future they may need to cozy up to Arafat to get a high ranking government position, Dahlan would not say that Arafat should no longer be the leader of the Palestinians. But maybe I am just a cynic.

 

New Website

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Interview with South Africa's ambassador to Israel

It is not unusual to see the Israel/Palestine situation compared to apartheid South Africa. The language has been coopted by pro-Palestinian voices (apartheid wall, bantustans in the West Bank) as have some of the tactics of pro-Palestinian activists (divestment campaigns). Given these trends, and the complex and changing relationship between Israel and apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, the interview with Major General Fumanekile Gqiba in Ha'aretz today is a fascinating read.
The diminutive, straight-talking former commander in Umkhonto We Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the armed wing of the African National Congress, is not fettered by the carefully constructed utterances of career diplomats cautious not to offend. He has been dispatched by his president to build a new relationship with Israel, but the government of Israel, he emphasizes, should not "question our relationship with the Palestinians" and must remember that Israel was once "part and parcel of the old regime [in South Africa]. They supported them until the last. So they cannot overnight expect us to be kissing their cheeks. We have to build the relationship. And it's a two-way thing. We are serious about building this relationship, which was damaged by them, not by us."
And it goes on from there.

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