Skip to main content


Showing posts from March 30, 2003
Bollettino Was LI harsh about the intertwining of colonial and financial interests in Iraq in our last post? We have an irrepressible lowness of mind, which gets a sick kick out of reading such items as this, from a column by Hussein Ibish in today's LA Times: "The management of the port of Umm al Qasr, one of the few places in Iraq under complete Western control, has produced a split between British and American authorities. The British view is that the Iraqi manager, who has been in his position for years, is capable of doing the job. Our government insisted, however, in providing a lucrative contract to run the port to Stevedoring Services of Seattle." So, of course, we wondered, who is Stevedoring Services? Phillip Mattera, of the Corporate Research Project, tracks down the ideology of this company: "Stevedoring Services of America (SSA), the contractor chosen for this task, has never worked in a war zone, but it has been in the middle of another kin
Bollettino As the H.G. Wells aspect of the War deepens -- is this the War between the Worlds, or is it the end of the Island of Doctor Moreau? -- it seems to be the case that all of Saddam's horses and all of his men can't put the guy's moustache together again. If, in fact, the war was directed by a double, with the Old Man conveniently buried under the ruins of some bunker, Smilin' Jay Garner should definitely hire that guy in one of the Gunga Din posts the Americans are preparing for a grateful, liberated Iraqi people. In fact, if he has any contacts in the double biz for a Bush look-alike... Speaking of Smilin' Jay, since Democracy is being determined by American military forces, you would think that we would seek to win hearts and minds with a reality tv show in which four or five ex Ceos of various military hardware companies vied to be proconsul of Iraq. It could be like Survivor. A comic bit could involve all of them trying to speak arabic -- laughter
Bollettino My friend H. writes in to tell us to knock off "Saddam the H." -- too much H. ambiguity going on. Well, soon we will be able to draw a line through Saddam's name. In our humble opinion, if he isn't dead, he might as well be. As we've said, monotonously, the war's second phase -- Iraqi liberation by Iraqis -- succeeded its first phase -- Saddam the letter-after-G's mother of all battles --so quickly that they were one and the same. H. also wondered about the oil, and the fires that didn't consume the oilfields. We don't know why the fires weren't started. But we are interested in the fate of the oil, too. Anatole Kaletsky, the financial editor of the London Times, has a sanguine view of the economic consequences of the War. But it seems to us it is not only sanguine -- it seems improbable. In the Times, he lays out, justly, the present state of play on the battlefield Iraq. The oil fields of Iraq are securely under American cont
Bollettino MSNBC�s Michael Morin makes the LI case that the War, if it isn�t being seen as a Liberation, will be seen as an invasion. Of course, a piece like this should have been run in February � it was all entirely predictable then. That is, we knew that the D.C. ultra-hawks didn�t know a thing about Iraq. They showed no knowledge of the place, beyond their conviction that Saddam the H. was a bloody tyrant. So they made up an alternative Iraq. In this Iraq, America and American ways were much loved. They were so loved that the people would beam with joy as Smilin� Jay Garner assumed the proconsul�s role. They were so loved that the two years of occupation the Rumsfeldian plan calls for would be, itself, a love fest � imagine the scene! Starving and semi-starving Iraqis would look upon the act of divvying up oilfields to private American companies as the least they could do to say, well, thanks old buddy! And as for using the territory as a staging ground for future American liber
Bollettino In all the American media attention given to the suicide bomber, little has been made of the fact that the guy was a Shi'ite. Hmm. The Guardian carries a thumbsucker by the usually reliable Dilip Hiro that reports on the theologico-politico complexities into which Americans, whistling like Donnie Rumsfeld soaping himself up in the shower, have wandered "Earlier, any prospects of an uprising in the predominantly Shi'ite city of Basra disappeared on Tuesday when Grand Ayatollah Mirza Ali Sistani issued a fatwa, calling on "Muslims all over the world" to help Iraqis in "a fierce battle against infidel followers who have invaded our homeland". Sistani is based in Najaf, the third holiest place of Shi'ite Muslims, and it is likely that Nomani, a Shi'ite, was following his fatwa. As the only grand ayatollah of Iraq, Sistani is the most senior cleric for Iraqi Shi'ites, who form 70% of ethnic Arabs in Iraq. Any Anglo-American atte
Bollettino As liberation nears, and the irrepressible Iraqi will turns to the man whose picture is, secretly, in every Iraqi home (we mean smilin' Jay Garner, the American proconsul in waiting, who, if he could speak Arabic, would give a big shout out to all his Shi'ia buddies) we should contemplate how gracefully America is monetizing that gratitude. There's a nice piece by Frida Berrigan in In These Times (for which yours truly has written) concerning the Cheney-Halliburton connection. Dick Cheney chose to take his compensation from Halliburton (for moving down to a post as a Halliburton lobbyist - oops, I mean as Vice President of the United States), which comes out to between $100,000 and $1,000,000 per annum. And Brown and Root, everybody's favorite engineering squad, and a Halliburton subsidiary, seems on schedule for cleaning up in the great post-liberation afterwards: "Critics argue that the U.S. Agency for International Development ignored the exper
Bollettino Men have no right to what is not reasonable and to what is not for their benefit; for though a pleasant writer said, Licet perire poetis, when one of them, in cold blood, is said to have lept into the flame of a volcanic revolution, Ardentum figidus Aenam insulit, I consider such a frolic rather as an unjustifiable poetic licence, than as one of the franchises of Parnassus; and whether he were a poet, or divine, or politician, that chose to exercise this kind of right, I think that wise, because more charitable thoughts would urge me rather to save the man, than to preserve his brazen slippers as the monuments of his folly. � Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France. We received an email from an old friend, C. a couple of days ago. Among other remarks, C. said that he wasn�t as far to the left, of course, as LI. Moi , was our startled response. So we asked our friend S. When she said that of course, we were as left as they come, we explained that at leas
Bollettino We have come to expect the worst from the Bush administration. For months, the British papers have claimed that the hawks around Rumsfeld take seriously the various scenarios of world domination and Middle Eastern conquest promulgated by the likes of Wolfowitz and Donald Feith. These are Kraus's Likudniks -- a group who feels that Israel is America's 51st state. Or 50th -- this group doesn't include liberal Massachussetts in the USA. The claims are proving all too accurate. This weekends salvos with Syria are evidence of more madness. Here's today's report in the NYT: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. had started the war of words on Friday, when he accused Damascus of shipping sensitive military technology to the Iraqi Army, specifically night-vision goggles. These shipments, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "pose a direct threat to coalition forces." He added, "We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian govern
Post When this War began, Mr. Limited Inc and Mr. Gadfly had a little discussion about the nature of forecasts . Mr. Limited Inc took exception to Mr. Gadfly's idea that nothing could be known about what the future held. Au contraire mon frere, we said. We know that one thing will happen and then another thing will happen. This might seem like a whole lotta null set, but it is really a whole lotta structure. We reject radical skepticism about the structure of the future. However, to be honest, we are making a point that is besides the point for Mr. Gadfly, who was pointing out something about knowledge. . Nobody in the U.S. knows enough about Iraq, and nobody in Iraq knows enough about the U.S., to make any wise prediction as to the outcome, on a realtime basis, of their encounter. This is actually a very strong point. We even think it is one of the strongest points that can be made. But we think our point is also strong. Structure is important because, while it doesn't