Iraq War: To fight or not to fight
Phyllis Gardner writes: "I wonder with whom Randy Black communicates. Certainly in my trips to European countries, there has been widespread animosity to the US approach among the populace. Within the Arab world, there certainly has been anger. Instead of citing perceptions, perhaps we should cite statistics such as those presented regularly in such publications as the Economist showing a decline in favorable opinion of the US since the Iraq invasion around the world. The New York Times also has published some surveys (and those are just a couple of my news sources, as well as the Wall Street Journal and NPR).
With regard to a credible response to a terrorist attack, what does Randy Black call the invasion of Afghanistan, which was widely supported, certainly by anyone with whom I have ever held a dialog and as reported in the press.
I reiterate that there is NO plan for Iraqi transition of power, simply a date. We do not have yet a ruling interim body that is completely acceptable (current council has many returned exiles regarded suspiciously as puppets according to the reports that I have heard); we do not have a plan for division of authority between the Shiite/Sunni/Kurd ethic groups, and most importantly, we have no workable plan that I have seen for transition of security arrangements to anyone but our own forces. We have no plan for sharing of expenses beyond further taxing Americans. Please, Randy Black, tell me what transition plan that you can better articulate. I think the American populace would be most relieved to have it well articulated!
Finally, the concerns are NOT common to every war. They were not common to
WWI, WWII, the first Persian Gulf War, and the Afghanistan conflict, for example.
Those were not preemptive, unilateral strikes for very poorly articulated reasons.
I beg to gravely disagree".
John Heelan writes: "My thanks to David Westbrook for an excellent piece of well-argued, thought-provoking writing, much of which I agree with. However, that feeling is spoilt by my worries about the logical extension of some of David's points and the lacunae, what Pierre Macherey would call the "significant silences", that perhaps might reveal an underlying ideology.
Possibly the most significant silence concerns the unilateral nature of the US military action in Iraq. Most people would agree that it was right to depose the Saddam Hussein regime. Other despotic regimes should suffer the same fate. Few would be complaining if the "Azores Three" (Bush, Blair and Aznar) had acted with the direct and unquestionable authority of the United Nations. If they had truly believed that previous UN Resolutions gave them a residual right to act unilaterally, one must ask why they did not apply the same logic to other nations in long defiance of UN Resolutions, such as Israel? Later in his writing, David implicitly and partially justifies this unilateral action to prove that the "US was not a paper tiger" and to demonstrate it would exact punishment from those who attack the US. (Of course there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was about to attack the US or had plans to do in the future.) Of course, that only works against a weaker opponent.
The Realpolitik David relies on to justify the US action on Iraq implies two other major "significant silences": the role of oil in US geopolitical energy strategy and the need to protect the US vanguard in the Middle East, Israel, from potential attack from Arab countries. [This has been discussed in depth by WAISers before and need not be rehearsed.] Turning to the risks posed by WMDs, real or imaginary, David suggests that it was necessary to invade Iraq just in case they still existed. The logical extension to that argument is that the US should invade Pakistan (nuclear power, unstable politically, quasi-dictatorship, strong Muslim fundamentalism, proven continuing presence of Al-Quaeda forces- and possibly the hiding place of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar). Iran is another potential target, with the victor's benefit of securing oil reserves and protecting the USâ€™ other vanguard in the region, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (despite the draconian rule of the Saud Royal Family and being the birthplace and nurturing ground Al-Quaeda's Wahhabi jihad ideology). Realpolitik encourages strange bedfellows!
David muses on why the US had not acted on a major scale prior to 9/11. I have suggested before, and still hold it to be true, that 9/11 was as great a shock to the American psyche as Pearl Harbor. The fact that an enemy could cause massive damage and loss of life on American territory, and -even worse- that the 9/11 outrage happened on homeland soil, shattered the illusion of "Fortress America". It gave the American public a shock to realise for the first time US citizens were at personal risk- a feeling that Europeans and other have experienced for nearly 100 years. As such, 9/11 was a gift to the neo-cons, allowing them to pursue their Project for a New American Century. Another "significant silence" in Davidâ€™s piece?
Where we agree is on the general nature and reach of "Islamic Terrorism". However, I am concerned that David does not recognise the diffuse nature of the organisation. There is no central body against which military force can be applied- thus the terminology of a "war" is somewhat misplaced and the propose use of mini-nuclear weapons ridiculous.
Further I think David might be a little naive to consider that the conduct of the Iraq War has not acted as a recruiting sergeant for potential Islamic terrorists. There are frequent survey reports in the more responsible UK media of young UK born Muslims (predominantly 16- 30 age group) in which they state they are willing to give their lives in the jihad, especially due to the US conduct of the Iraq War and support of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Much of this will be adolescent bravado, but even a 1% success rate in recruiting potential terrorists increases danger. There are Muslim clerics and recruiting organisations (such as Al-Mujahiroun) blatantly encouraging such feelings among young Muslims- and have been for some years despite UK government restrictions. [Even some years ago, UK born Pakistani students were telling my wife -a sociology academic- about such recruiting actions.]
I was interested in David's comments on the potential use of oligarchy as perhaps being a more stable form of government than democracy. To continue that logic, dictatorship from either wing of politics is perhaps even stable. There are those who remember with some nostalgia the stability imposed by Franco, Castro and Stalin during their long reigns. I doubt that David would take that next logical step in pursuit of "stability".
Similarly, the promise to Iraqis to install a "democracy" -the definition of which requires a debate in its own right. I find it hard to believe that the guardians of US geopolitical energy strategies would welcome a wholly democratically elected Iraqi government controlled by the majority Shia electorate. The dangers are obvious- a link with religious brothers in Iran, cutting off US access to oil reserves and potentially threatening to Saudi Arabia (for schismatic religious reasons) and Israel (for political/Arab unity reasons).
However, all that said, I enjoyed reading David's writing and thank him for
his thought-provoking points.
Tom Grey writes from Bratislava: "David Westbrook's analysis was truly fantastic, in a tone I expect Phyllis to be able to accept. However, while it may not apply to Ms. Gardner, the Schadenfreude (joy in the misfortune of others)
problem is very alive among the Angry Left - Bush haters. A popular Left blogger, Daily Kos (www.dailykos.com ) expressed scorn for the 4 murdered Americans. This caused a blogosphere outcry, so Senator Kerry took off the BlogAds that had been running on the site. There really do seem too many times when some Bush haters want Iraq to go bad, so that President. Bush looks bad.
But I want to remind WAIS that nation building is slow, long term, hard work -- look at Kosovo 4 years after a semi-stable UN peace. It's destructive to create some ideal, but quite unrealistic standards for Bush progress, and then to complain bitterly that they weren't met. It's juvenile; the same kind of spoiled impatience I'm trying NOT to let my daughter desplay when she wants chocolate bunnies before breakfast.
I also strongly feel the frustrated urge to "do something" -- so I blog! (tomgrey.motime.com) It's 3:25 am in Slovakia now, I have to get up in 3 hours to get the kids ready for school, but ... Iraq is so important. I see, clearly in my mind, a race. One side -- America, forcing the Middle East Arab dictatorships to start modernizing and respecting human rights. The other side, Islamofascism, including state sponsors, religious clerics, and terrorist fanatics -- trying to get nuclear bombs before democracy. If America loses this race, it means Tel Aviv disappears in a mushroom cloud. And prolly Tehran, Damascus, and likely Riyad, in retaliation. OR...the Iranian nuke facilities get attacked, before, by Israel and/or the US pre-emptively. Or Iraq democracy works. And Iran follows Libya's lead and disarms. (*** I pray for this one.)
Phyllis, please remember Vietnam 1968 - 1974 ... and the 1976 Killing Fields after America left. To me, calling for the US to run away before an Iraq democracy stablizes, is like supporting Pol Pot now, even in hindsight (though I think most Leftists actually do, without admitting it.) The reason that War is Hell, is the set of available choices. Stay, in force, and lose some 100-500 more American soldiers & contracters (less than the weekly auto death toll); or run. Run and let Iran get nukes; and Iraq split into 3 warring countries, and Turkey war with its own Kurds, and soon terrorists will have nukes. Run??? no no no! Cutting out now would be terrible -- even Kerry is admitting that.
What else to do? Read Iraqi bloggers, like at http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/ Or go to http://www.buzzmachine.com/ and see the list of ME blogs.
Finally, my suggestion for General Sullivan. Support using ration cards as imperfect voter registration, and get more Iraq towns and cities to have elections for City Councils, and then Mayors. Get imperfect elections going, so there are democratically mandated Iraqis to whom the US can give authority, and responsibility. And then the US should also add cash. Give cash & watch & record, not veto, how the Iraqi authorities spend it. Let the mayors and police chiefs have authority, and responsibility, for local reconstruction, and the lead on security -- with US Army backup, when needed".
Phyllis Gardner says: "Just for the record, I was not for the war, but I am also not for "cutting and running". We cannot leave anarchy and chaos in our wake. I was happy that Bush and Blair agreed with the UN envoy proposal for an interim government. Now if we can just overcome the cynicism our rejected allies feel, not to mention security concerns (very large if), we can possibly construct a UN-oriented, multilateral reconstruction project and stabilize the country. (I felt that if Tom Grey could write at 3:25am, I could at least respond at 5:00 pm on a Friday!).
Regarding European opinion of the US, Phyllis Gardner (PG) asked : "I wonder with whom Randy Black communicates.?" Randy (RB) replies: "My friends in Europe are English, French and Germans, many of whom I have had friendships dating to the 70s, some made more recently, to answer PGs question. They are nurses, doctors, a lawyer, a truck driver, a telecommunications installer, a grandmother, a teacher, and all are parents. Age range is 40-88, more or less. One really rich guy and the rest, just working stiffs like me and probably you. A couple of decorated veterans, but most never served in the military. While a couple disagree with our invasion of Iraq, none hate America or Americans".
PG: "I reiterate that there is NO plan for Iraqi transition of power,
simply a date. We do not have yet a ruling interim body that is completely acceptable
(current council has many returned exiles regarded suspiciously as puppets according
to the reports that I have heard); we do not have a plan for division of authority
between the Shiite/Sunni/Kurd ethic groups, and most importantly, we have no
workable plan that I have seen for transition of security arrangements to anyone
but our own forces. We have no plan for sharing of expenses beyond further taxing
RB_"The above is your personal opinion, probably developed by reading newspapers or listening to Peter Jennings on ABC. Just how do you know that we don't have plans for the various issues that you bring up? You complain that there is no ruling body in Iraq that is completely acceptable. We don't have a ruling body in the United States that is completely acceptable. You complain that we do not have a workable plan that you have seen.... etc. Perhaps that's because the United States does not share all of its military secrets with you and me. A good thing too. Revealing too much to too many too soon very obviously offers the enemy too much time and information with which to set up a plan to defeat our efforts. This is not some local city council in Tulsa or Bakersfield where you can demand to know everything that's going on. This is the Middle East, and we are up against a bunch of people who have been at war with us for years, if not decades.
You complain that we have no plan for sharing expenses beyond taxing Americans. Obviously you are unaware that the Iraqis have earned more than $7.5 BILLION in oil revenues, safely in a UN monitored bank account in the past twelve months. Money that will and is helping their reconstruction. Perhaps you missed the plan wherein the major nations are restructuring or forgiving huge portions of Iraq's foreign debt. Money that will help with their reconstruction.
We are all victims of our own media to a great degree. The media do not do stories about the millions of homes in Iraq that did NOT burn down in Iraq. They do stories about those that do.
( I enjoy these discussions more than I can express herein)".
RH: Randy should be wary of what his friends tell him. Once on a bus in Argentina I engaged in conversation with an Argentine, who asked me where I was from. I said the US. He praised the US effusively, but went on to say that he could not stand the English. With malice aforethought, I said "Well, I'm from England". He then told me how much he loved England. He just hated Americans. Only scientific polls give us a good idea of what people really think about other countries. As for the US plan for Iraq, it should not be a military secret, but rather promoted in a publicity campaign; only time will tell us if it is viable. Incidentally, WAISers are not stiffs. They bend to every good argument supported by good date. They bend but do not break.
Miles Seeley says: "I admire General Sullivan's stance. He supports his
fellow Marines and other troops, and generally supports their mission, but he
realizes what has gone awry and how hard it will be to make things right. Bush's
declarations of support for Sharon's Gaza and settlements plans, and the expansion
of Israel's permanent borders, will make whatever we try to do in the Middle
East even more difficult. It was a startling statement by Bush, overturning
US and UN policy dating from at least 1967. I simply cannot understand why he
said these things".
Carmen Negrin writes: "Randy Black omits the main point and that is that Iraq was a laic country with no Al Qaida members. This is unfortunately no more the case. The same error was committed in Afghanistan when fighting against the communist regime and supporting the Talibans (who are still quite vigorous) and in Iran when going against Baktiar's government. In the meantime, communism has disappeared from almost everywhere and hardly thanks to the US, while Al Qaida has expanded and reinforced itself. I totally agree with Clyde McMorrow".
War in Iraq
Dick Hancock writes: "In all the arguments about whether we should or
should not have gone into Iraq, the fact is now we are there and now the question
is: are we willing to do what is necessary stay and help the Iraquis from a
viable nation? I doubt that any one of us hopes that we will fail in Iraq. I
would say that the future of the entire Middle East hangs on developments in
Iraq; is that country going to develop into some version of a modern nation
or is it going to fall into a chaos of fanaticism and ultimately again into
a dictatorship of the style of Saddam Hussein or of the Clerics of Iran?
I think that the U.S. can be successful in Iraq if we have the political will to make essentially the same level of effort that we are making now for perhaps the next two to five years. Is it worth that effort? I think it is. By all accounts Turkey, Jordan and Egypt are on the way to becoming what we would call modern, well-administered states; why not Iraq? Nancy and I visited Jordan in 2000 and we were impressed with the political and social environment in that country; we felt no sense of insecurity or hostility. This of course is owed to the great leadership of the Kings Hussein, father and son.
I had much greater reservations about the Gulf War I than I had about Gulf War II. In Gulf War I, we really didn't know how strong the Iraqi Army really was; in Gulf War II, we knew that the Iraqi Army was pretty much a paper tiger, which it proved to be. I would hope that we could as a nation stop obsessing so much over the past and now concentrate on the present and future of Iraq".
Clyde McMorrow says: "I am getting the impression that, while many dispute whether or not we should have unilaterally invaded Iraq, now that we are there we should stay until we have finished the task. My question is, can we do that? We don't have any idea what the task is. Therefore, we have no idea what we have to do to finish it. We have no way of knowing when we are done. Some say our task is to bring democracy to the Arab world. I think they have too much democracy already. Some say that we will establish a secular state in Iraq. I see us negotiating with Shia, Sunni, Kurd and, Allah knows who else, and drifting away from the secular Iraq under Hussein and moving toward a multi-party Islamic state.
I don't see our allies Pakistan and Kuwait making the slightest moves toward democracy and expect that in a few years we will be invading there also, much as we did against our former puppets in Panama and Iraq.
Randy Black argues that the government knows more than they are telling us and that is good since we, the nominal decision makers in a democracy, are too dumb to understand the grand strategy. Well that is not how a democracy works. If that is the form of government we are trying to foist onto the Iraqis, I can understand their lack of enthusiasm. There is also little evidences to support Randy's hypothesis.
My suggestion is to define an executable task. Do it. Declare the mission a success and leave. Following the current Israeli plan, maybe we could just steal the oil and give the rest back to Saddam".
From the UK, John Heelan says "Dick Hancock is right, of course. Having caused such a mess of the Middle East over the last 100 years, and the last five years in particular, the "West" cannot in all conscience walk away from the problem. The seemingly intractable problem is "how"? I suggest that any solution, especially in Iraq, requires some fundamental changes not only in the Middle East but also in the "West".
Among the most prominent of those changes is to promote the executive role of the UN and not to continuing rewarding those who have benefited from the mess. Thus, in a perfect world, perhaps the UN should take over full control of the situation, political, military and economic. Bush's and Blair's men (the Iraqi National Council, Paul Bremer, the US military command)- should be replaced by UN appointees. A genuine democracy, not one manipulated to ensure continuing US hegemony and control of strategic energy reserves, should be installed as soon as possible, even at the risk that the future actions of that democratically elected government would lessen Western influence in the region. All reconstruction contracts in Iraq should be reviewed as to the fairness (perhaps even the existence) of the bidding process by which they were acquired, the funding process and the levels of profitability being achieved and an international "windfall tax" placed on profits gained to date.
On a broader scale, the US should publicly insist that Israel adhere to UN Resolutions regarding illegal settlements, repatriation of exiles and land barriers. The UN should insist, by force if necessary, that Palestine desist from terrorist tactics. However I will not hold my breath waiting for these things to happen as they are not within the strategies of the Project for the New American Century or those of Zionist lobby that influences US foreign policy in the Middle East".
RH: Much of the above is correct. It was a mistake to put a Jew, Paul Bremer,
Henry Kissinger's man, in charge of Iraq. However, the US would not agree simply
to turn Iraq over to the UN.
Randy Black calls our attention to this Reuters dispatch (4/13/04): Baghdad has exported more than $7.5 billion in crude oil since last year's invasion of Iraq, the U.S.-led authority governing Iraq said. The Coalition Provisional Authority had deposited a total of $7.54 billion in its Development Fund for Iraq as of last Thursday, it said in an Internet posting. Of the total, $276 million was put in the fund, compared to $342 million the previous week, according to the provisional authority's Web site (http://www.iraqcoalition.org/budget/DFI_intro1.html), which is updated weekly. The provisional authority provides no other public data on sales of Iraqi oil, such as volume or price information or the reasons for weekly fluctuations in deposits into the fund. Under a May 2003 U.N. Security Council resolution, the Coalition Provisional Authority is required to deposit all the proceeds of Iraqi oil exports into the fund. The resolution was intended to ensure Iraq's secretive U.S.-led civil administration was not engaged in any dubious practices in marketing Iraq's oil and using the money for reconstruction".
RH: This is just the tip of a very big iceberg. The competent UN official has
proposed a new governing council to replace the US-backed Coalition Provisional
Authority. I suspect France, Germany, and possibly Russia and China are behind
this, At the same time there are charges of misuse of Iraqi oil funds by UN
officials, which may be an attempt to discredit the UN. Not only the Arab world
but the UN generally was flabbergasted by the statement by President Bush during
the Washington visit of Sharon that Israel's boundaries should be modified to
Israel's benefit. Possibly he was simply trying to get the Jewish vote in the
upcoming elections, but it looked like a slap at the world community. Notice
the provisional authority's website.
Randy Black quoted the Iraq provisional authority's Web site (http://www.iraqcoalition.org/budget/DFI_intro1.html), to prove that US personnel were not involved in the scandal about the sale of Iraqi oil: "Under a May 2003 U.N. Security Council resolution, the Coalition Provisional Authority is required to deposit all the proceeds of Iraqi oil exports into the fund. The resolution was intended to ensure Iraq's secretive U.S.-led civil administration was not engaged in any dubious practices in marketing Iraq's oil and using the money for reconstruction".
John Heelan counters: "Strange that! The same website states: "Disbursements. To date, disbursements from the DFI have been in support of the wheat purchase program, the currency exchange program, the electricity and oil infrastructure programs, equipment for Iraqis security forces, and for Iraqi civil service salaries and ministry budget operations". The CPA is aided in that disbursement by USAID, whose role- the same website claims is to carry out programs in education, health care, food security, infrastructure reconstruction, airport and seaport management, economic growth, community development, local governance, and transition initiatives. The USAID Mission in Iraq implements programs in four strategic areas:
Restoring Essential Infrastructure
Supporting Essential Health and Education
Expanding Economic Opportunity
Improving Efficiency and Accountability of Government"
If then we look at which country and companies benefit most from those disbursements,
it seems that it is the US itself and especially companies with strong links
to the Bush Administration (like Halliburton). As "Deep Throat" advised
in the Watergate investigation: "Follow the money"! Given the proven
financial criminal record of one of Bush's placemen in the INC, it is not surprising
that the State Department raised questions about the INC's accounting practices"
Iraq in Israel's grand strategy
Stephen Sniegoski sends an article from Al-Ahram Iraq on "Israels Grand
Strategy", with an introduction from which here is an excerpt_"As
this article points out, the US attack on Iraq fits into a Zionist grand strategy
of weakening Arab neighbors, which was conceived long before the independence
of Israel in 1948. To me this appears like a very logical foreign policy for
the Jewish state to hold, though it doesnt help the US to advance this goal.The
neocon aim for attacking Iraq is now revealed quite openly in the major media--that
Bush neocons were targeting Iraq for an attack prior to September 11 and that
the terrorist attacks provided the pretext to implement their plans. What is
still taboo is the neocon connection with Israel. But the neocons have been
closely tied to the Israeli right. The original flagship of the neoconservative
movement was Commentary Magazine, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee,
which has as its stated purpose the protection of Jews and Israel. Neocons Richard
Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser even advised then Prime Minister Netanyahu
to attack Iraq in 1996 in their "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing
the Realm" policy paper. [http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm ] In
Israel, a military attack on Iraq had been discussed by Oded Yinon in a 1982
policy paper entitled, "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s," which
proposed a plan for the destabilization and fragmentation of Israels Middle
East enemies. See [http://www.theunjustmedia.com/the%20zionist_plan_for_the_middle_east.htm]_
Al-Ahram Weekly Online : 17 - 23 April 2003 (Issue No. 634)
Located at: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/634/op2.htm
Stephen Sniegoski sent an article from Al-Ahram Iraq on "Israel’s Grand Strategy". Christopher Jones comments:
"Well, I hate to say "I told you so," but I told you so. It is very obvious that the invasion and occupation of Iraq which has entailed so much bloodshed was the brainchild of the Zionists. Sharon and Bush are guilty of waging a war of aggression just like their spiritual Godfather Adolf Hitler. Somewhere in Nazi Valhalla, the Führer must be laughing his head off!! It is now perfectly clear that the US rushed to war to please its Jewish masters and that US policy independent of Israel is impossible. In the light of this article, the questions about Jewish collusion in 9/11 will surge forth again. This is a very dark moment indeed".
Iraq and Jacques Verges
This extremely informative piece is written by Michael Radu, co-chairman of FPRI's Center on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, and Homeland Security (www.fpri.org).. This essay originally appeared in frontpagemagazine.com. I look forward to comments from WAISers, especially those in France, such as David Pike and Christopher Jones. I saw Verges on French television, and found him pretty repugnant. The reference to George Soros makes one wonder about him.
SADDAM CIRCUS IS COMING TO TOWN: THE STRANGE STORY OF JACQUES VERGES
French celebrity lawyer Jacques Verges has announced that "at the request of the family" he has agreed to serve as defense counsel for Saddam Hussein at his upcoming trial for genocide and similar charges. The trial, which is to begin sometime this year, has been greatly anticipated ever since Saddam was captured in December, and now Verges' involvement ensures that it has all the potential of becoming an international ideological and political three-ring circus. Issues such as officials' personal responsibility for their government's acts, genocide, terrorism, and the right to a fair trial will all come under scrutiny, as seen from Verges' trademark Stalinist "anti-imperialism" viewpoint.
For those who believe that communism, and even more so Stalinism, are long
dead, Verges is a living fossil, his ideology a Jurassic Park of twentieth-century
criminal thought. Verges' life
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Verges) is as fascinating in its contradictions as it is revealing of a trend in the European--especially French--intellectual environment, whereby "justice" becomes a matter of ideology,
fashion, and politics rather than of morality and law. It is only in such an environment that a lawyer who lost most of
his cases (before France abolished capital punishment in 1984, Verges was nicknamed "Monsieur guillotine," given the fate of many of his clients) became famous. His books, such as On Judicial Strategy (1981), The Beauty of Crime (1988), I Defend Barbie (1988) and I Have More Memories than If I Were One Thousand Years Old (1999), have been published by the most prestigious editors, and he has been taken seriously in his relentless assaults against the concepts of law, justice, and Western democracy.
Jacques Verges and his twin brother, Paul, were born in 1925 in Thailand, where
their father, Raymond, was serving as a French diplomat. Raymond was a native
of the French island department of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, whose inhabitants
are mostly of mixed race (Asian, European, African); Jacques' mother was Vietnamese.
Based on his lineage, Jacques has perennially claimed to be a victim of racism,
notwithstanding that the careers of his father and brother contradict that claim.
In 1937, Raymond Verges founded the Reunion Communist Party (PCR), the local
branch of the metropolitan organization. Paul, jailed as a young man for the
murder of one of his father's political opponents, became a deputy and, in 1996,
senator in the French parliament, to which he was reelected in 2001. He remains
president of the Regional Council of Reunion and
head of the PCR, the island's second largest party.
Jacques himself joined the Communist Party as a teenager, supported Charles
de Gaulle during World War II (but only once Stalin had entered the war), and
afterwards studied law at the Sorbonne. By 1949 he was president of the AEC
(Association of Colonial Students), a communist front. There he met a fellow
colonial student from then French Indochina, Saloth Sar, who became a friend
for life. Saloth Sar went on to become better known as Pol Pot. Verges' connection
with the Khmer Rouge continued: his disappearance from the public eye between
1970 and 1978 has been attributed by some to his joining the Khmer Rouge, and
in February 2004 Verges offered to defend Pol Pot's associate and Sorbonne classmate
Khieu Samphan in his upcoming trial for genocide before a UN-aided
tribunal in Cambodia.
Between 1950 and 1954 Verges was in Prague, then the center of Soviet global
propaganda and ideological training, as leader of one of Moscow's youth front
organizations. During that period he had the privilege of meeting Joseph Stalin
himself. Upon return to France, radicalized by the Algerian war, Verges left
the Communist Party and began his road to fame as a defense lawyer for Algerian
terrorists. The most famous of those, and the case that won him plaudits from
cultural icons of the Left such as Jean-Paul Sartre, was that of Djamila Bouhired,
implicated in an Algiers cafe bombing that resulted in numerous fatalities.
Ms. Bouhired was sentenced
to death, but the combination of a leftist media campaign and a weak socialist government led to her release. She subsequently married Verges.
At a time when France was at war, Verges openly supported and defended terrorists and their French accomplices--that is, traitors. He was jailed for this for two months in 1960 and temporarily disbarred. Verges effortlessly shifted his loyalty from to Stalin to political evil in general--he once admitted a "passionate interest in evil." Commingled in his brilliant mind were the worst of Nazism, Stalinist communism and, lately, Muslim totalitarianism. One of his French critics theorizes that his mixed-race background led to an extreme need for recognition, megalomania, and personal adventure, so that "behind an image of international lawyer of the first rank is hidden a mercenary of law" (Bernard Violet, Le Parisien, 3/27/04)
That, and an obsessive hatred for Israel, best explain his personal and professional
associations and his choice of
clients. The latter have included Nazi criminal Klaus Barbie, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987; Marxist turned Islamist terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1994; Algerian terrorists linked to petty thief and Islamist terrorist Khaled Kelkal, who was killed by the police in 1995; former Marxist philosopher (and another convert to Islam) Roger Garaudy, who was convicted of Holocaust denial and fined in 1996; Slobodan Milosevic, in 2002; and now, logically enough, Saddam.
What do these clients have in common, both among themselves and with their lawyer? The same characteristics as former Nazi and now Islamist sympathizer Francois Genoud, another Verges associate. As owner of the Arab Commercial Bank in Switzerland, Genoud was the apparent financier of the Barbie case, as well as some of Genoud's Palestinian terrorism cases. These men are the ideologues and defenders, practitioners, or would-be practitioners of mass murder or genocide. Their ideology is totalitarian at its core, thus explaining the effortless movement from Marxism or Nazism to Islamism or support for it. They also share a common trait of twentieth-century European totalitarianists and present-day Islamists: hatred of Jews and Israel.
It is this background that gives away Verges' likely tactics at Saddam's trial
and explain his taking up the case. This
is no humanitarian response to a desperate "family request "--indeed, Verges had volunteered to represent Saddam within days of Saddam's capture. The celebrated lawyer is on a lifelong campaign against Western values and freedoms, and the fate of his clients is not a major concern to him. They are merely cannon-fodder for him to use toward his greater goal.
As a defender of Palestinian terrorist hijackers of El Al planes in 1969, Verges
claimed that the terrorists' acts
were political, not criminal, and the fault of Israeli aggression. Representing Milosevic, Verges claimed that the
International Court trying the Serb leader was inherently illegitimate and biased because it received outside
donations from individuals such as George Soros (whom he called "not exactly a Mother Theresa") and nations such as the United States and Saudi Arabia. He threatened to call for testimony from Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schroeder, and Jacques Chirac, "because in Dayton they recognized Mr. Milosevic as a respectable and valid interlocutor." Expect the same in a Baghdad court--after all, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld did talk to Saddam in the 1980s, and the West helped him against Iran at the time.
Verges' personal and views of the justice system in general and of morality are similarly peculiar. Thus, in The Beauty of Crime he writes: "The judges are like chefs - they do not like to be observed when they cook," and "The world of justice is a closed, cruel world. . . . Its doors are quilted to stifle the cries, its cathedral windows to block the view"; "between the dogs [prosecution] and the wolf [defendants] I'll always be on the side of the wolf--especially when it is wounded." * More relevant, and revealing, accusations in the name of society are uses of the banality of the time, while the defense must escape "the trapped terrain of consensus" to set itself "beyond good and evil, to give crime a new sense and the criminal a face. What sets them apart is the beauty." (See Denis Touret, Un mercenaire du droit, Me Verges defend Saddam Hussein, 2004).
In Legal Apartheid, Verges writes that the old notions of honor demonstrated at Thermopiles, Waterloo, and Stalingrad, were ended with Hitler, whose adversaries could only be subhuman. Referring to Kosovo, he says that NATO follows on Hitler's steps in its contempt, charged with fear and hatred, for those [i.e. Milosevic's Serbs] who would contest its hegemony. More radical still, for Verges "racism is simply replaced by the ideology of human rights in the exclusive version of Generals Powell and Clark, butchers of the peoples of Vietnam, Iraq, and Serbia. . . . 'Human rights' is the pretext for the murder of civilians in the Balkans, the starving of Iraqi children, and poppy cultivation in Afghanistan" (Touret, Un Mercenaire du droit). In many ways Verges has been a path breaker for radical lawyers everywhere. His approach to the defense of terrorists has been followed by lawyers in the United States and Germany, especially. He blurred the lines between defense, representation, and ideological comradeship with the accused, and sought to transform legal cases against individuals into global tribunals against "the system"--to put the court, the judges, and democracy on the stand. He has already made clear that he will try to bring world leaders to testify in Baghdad and found enablers in the media speculating that such tactics "could be a huge embarrassment for the United States, France, and other countries." "World leaders should take stand in Saddam trial: lawyer", AFP, 12/ 20/ 03)
That would, of course, depend on the Iraqi judges and the rules to be decided in Baghdad. If Western human rights groups and defense lawyers succeed in making the Saddam trial an international affair, they will offer Verges another platform for his anti-Western psychopathic obsessions and Saddam the opportunity for revenge against Washington and London and, perhaps, a chance to save his skin. If, however, common sense and morality set the rules, Verges will not only lose the case--that is to be expected--but, given his age, also lose his last chance to promote the counter-values of totalitarianism of which he is the premier living representative.
* The reference to the wolf and the dog, which would puzzle American readers,
is an allusion to Alfred de Vigny's poem, "La Mort du Loup", in which
the wolf is a symbol of freedom defending itself against man and his dogs, i.e.
injustice. Unfortunately for Verges, in the end the wolf is killed.·
Christopher Jones comments on "Who Is Jacques Verges?" by Michael Radu: "Jacques Vergès is a "media" lawyer whose courtroom theatrics should not come as any surprise to American WAISers. After all, if France has Jacques Vergès, the USA can boast, F. Lee Bailey, Johnny Cochran, Richard Ben Veniste and a host of others. The US has gone even farther by introducing TV into the courts, so by comparison Monsieur Vergès is still rather puny.
Regarding his "seasoned" past, this all seems quite true. Apart from Klement Gottwald, I had never heard about the meeting with Stalin. Vergès did indeed meet Saloth Sar, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary and a host of others at the AEC in the early fifties. It should be pointed out that the Khmer Rouge benefited from the general support of Europe's left until it became apparent that Pol Pot and his merry men had mistaken Mein Kampf for Das Kapital. There was a famous episode just after the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975 when a planeload of Paris-based KR arrived back home to help reconstruct the country. After years of listening to left bank chatter, Pol Pot had no time for these people. The Angkar (organization) had braved the merciless US secret bombing, not they. They were all liquidated -- it was year zero. But already here, the article description of Vergès descends into a weird language that seems construed and contorted to please radical Israeli Zionists.
The writer of this article seems to believe that Klaus Barbie, like Milosevic or Carlos Ramírez, shouldn't have legal representation. He tries to equate Vergès' defence of Carlos or Barbie with a psychopathic hatred of Israel. Frankly, Vergès is practicing what Howard Dean said on the campaign trail -- that a fair trial is part of what we stand for. The writer could have pointed out that many French "Leftists" who supported the Communist party before WWII passed over to Fascism during the early days of the conflict. Jacques Doriot was one. (In the early days of his political life, even Hitler himself wore a red armband.) These French communists belonged to the so called "Munich appeaser" wing of the PCF that obediently followed Uncle Joe Stalin's orders not to oppose his newfound friend Adolf Hitler. They turned against the occupation only after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The most famous was Paul Rassinier, a communist and résistant who wrote a book, The Lie of Ulysses -- the bible of Holocaust denial. As I mentioned Rassinier was interned in Buchenwald after his capture by the Waffen SS and said that there was no extermination of Jews. According to him, the masses died of typhus.
Mr Radu loves to paint things black and white. They are not. There is a very good case for the "wolf" that Vergès wants to represent. If we wish to preserve objectivity, we are obliged to listen to his arguments. If not we are just as totalitarian as the totalitarians he defends. Saddam was a creature of the Western powers and the Soviets. He was "addicted" if you will to Western weapons, "pushed" by those powers who wanted to see him contain Khomeini's Islamic revolution. This is a very major point. To what extent were French, British, German and US politicians and industrialists encouraging Saddam? We know that his poison gas was obtained in part from the Germans. Didn't Chirac and Rumsfeld know when they sat down with him that Saddam was a Ba'athist? That the Ba'athists murdered the regent of Iraq and dragged his body through the streets? Are our politicians so stupid?
This is where there could be something really positive to come out of the Iraq war: real accountability for "democratic" governments for their weapons' sales to unstable, crazy dictators like Saddam, but also like Castro (the old SU) Mugabe, Kabila, the Saudi "royal" house, Pakistan and above all Sharon's Israel.
I mentioned once the ominous news that Israel had obtained dolphin-class subs from Germany that could be easily armed with nuclear missiles. For me, the behavior of Israel over the Sharon years (but even before going back to 1967) is the real culprit behind the terrorism and war that Mr. Radu describes. Vergès is right. The Palestinians had no other option. They are the Résistance. If Israel provokes a nuclear holocaust, there will be allot of explaining to do.
Why we must never abandon the struggle with Iraq
Mike Sullivan sends this "excellent article by Tony Blair"
Iraq and the UN
Tim Brown answers John Heelan: "From alleged US failure to making the
UN Iraq's real government requires an truly extraordinary leap of faith. I would
like to know on what this touching and absolutely uncritical faith in the UN
is based. Certainly not on the historical record, since thus far the UN has
never successfully led any nation anywhere out of this sort of a wilderness
into prosperous democracy. Cooperated with others to try to do so, perhaps.
But led? Never. There appears here to be a deep and unshakable, as well as unsubstantiated
by evidence, belief that, unlike any other institution in the modern world,
the UN is uniquely democratic, uniquely independent, and uniquely able to "appoint"
from among its stable of supporters cadres of exemplary "above-all-mere-politics"
and "uniquely exempt from all temptations of money or power" bureaucrats
capable of cleaning up the "messes" other less competent, honest and
democratic bureaucrats from mere elected democracies have made.
May I assume that, before reaching this conclusion, those who are prepared to place their "full faith and allegiance" in the UN have successfully and rightly prejudged the results of the UN's own new investigation into allegedly massive corruption and collusion between and among its own "appointed" bureaucrats and third parties related to the multi-billion dollar Iraqi oil for food sale process (luxurious palaces for a dictator apparently being the UN's definition of food for the masses). It hardly needs to be said that in order to agrue that the UN is uniquely immune to misconduct and uniquely qualified to build a democracy in Iraq one must believe that, unlike any other institution in the history of the world - including the Vatican - in this humanly flawed world of ours, the UN can and should be the unique and the sole judge its own without outside audit or investigation. Having worked with UN programs in developing countries, at least on those occasions it was merely made up of human beings, and its officials were as venal as the local officials were. No more, but also no less.
My problem is that the only time the UN has been involved in Iraq in an even less demanding role that the one Mr. Heelan proposes, far from promoting "genuine democracy" it aided and abetted the totalitarian and extremely bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and apparently successfully did so while manipulating the sales of Iraq's "strategic energy reserves." So now it's the wolf that should guard the sheep? Can anyone can give me an honest and fair example when the UN did what Mr. Heelan wants it to do in a country like Iraq? Or are we just to hand the keys to the shop to the UN, close our eyes, ignore recent history, and hope for the best? And, if that goes sour for the UN, then what do we do?"
RH: I am sure the US will be very careful as to how it shares its responsibilities
with the UN. However, on European TV this morning, there were people calling
for the UN simply to take over in Iraq, which was really an expression of their
distrust of the US. We must be fair in judging the UN.
Mismanagement in Iraq
Phyllis Gardner writes: "I thought these comments by a prominent Republican and a prominent General, as well as another strategist at the Army War College (thereby taking wind out of the sails for those charging partisanship) were interesting. Phyllis
MISMANAGEMENT AND MISTAKES: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) leveled a blistering critique (http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/04/15/mccain.troops) for the Pentagon's mismanagement of the war in Iraq, saying "it's not an accident that this was the bloodiest month of the war since combat ended, and we need to adjust." McCain said he knew months ago that the U.S. military would "pay a heavy price" for being understaffed, and he called the secretary's planning "inadequate." Rumsfeld has tried to pass the buck on the insufficient troop levels, saying he only sent as many troops as he was told to by his advisers. But as McCain said, "The decisions have to be made at the highest level." His comments mirrored criticisms made earlier this week by a top military strategist at the Army War College, who said the White House was seeking to win " quickly and on the cheap (http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/04/15/mccain.troops) " while ignoring the goal of creating a stable, democratic nation.
"HEADS SHOULD ROLL": Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander,
questioned how the escalating war in Iraq could have caught Rumsfeld off guard.
" I'm surprised that he is surprised (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20040416-9999-7m16zinni.html)
because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus,"
said Zinni. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How
could they not?" Zinni said "he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq
without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than
one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed."
And there should be consequences for this lack of preparation: "I think
that some heads should roll over Iraq," Zinni said. "I think the president
got some bad advice." The bottom line? "In the end, the Iraqis themselves
have to want to rebuild their country more than we do...But I don't see that
right now. I see us doing everything."
Bombing of a mosque
Tim Brown answers Edgar Knowlton's denunciation of the US bombing of a mosque
as a violation of the Islamic code: "I understand it is also a severe violation
of the tenets of the Muslim religion to exploit a mosque as a safe haven from
which to launch violent military attacks. While Christian churches were sanctuaries,
they were inviolable only as long as they remained non-partisan and neutral
and did not harbor, aide, abet or act as safe havens for anyone who wanted to
use them as military bases. During many wars, including World War II, in full
accord with the Geneva Convention, any church being used by enemy soldiers for
the purpose of launching military actions from them lost its right to protection.
For example, if the Nazi's put snipers in the bell tower of a church and began
trying to kill allied soldiers, the allies had the right to shoot back and did
so without violating the laws of land warfare. And no one considered it un-Christian
to do so. But then, of course, that was before "human rights", wasn't
Is Edgar Knowlton saying that he finds it dishonorable, shocking and depressing for Coalition forces to take out mortars and snipers firing on them from minarets and mosques during prayers when those firing were knowingly using innocent civilians as human shields in hopes the Coalition would not shoot back because some innocents just might be killed and thus spark "human rights" outrage? But it is entirely honorable and fully justified for those same armed Muslims to knowingly and deliberately to violate the tenets of their own religion and endanger those same civilians themselves? Now I really am seeing shades of Vietnam - the massive Pavlovian wringing of hands whenever the anti-Communists killed so much as one innocent civilian, even if by accident, but total silence if not applause from the ranks of anti-war activists when the Viet Cong raped, pillaged, tortured or burned villages because, after all, they were fighting for their country against evil American aggressors.
I, too, am saddened by our having to fire back at armed enemy combatants launching attacks from inside a mosque. But I blame them, not us. Still, I recognize the tactics excessively well, since I was involved in several wars during which one side deliberately provoked such actions because, given the onesidedness of American and European "outrage", it gave them a chance to make both military and political hay".
RH: The most notorious use of a church as a military bastion was that of the
Benedictine monastery on Monte Cassini in central Italy by the Nazis in World
War II. Restoration if the monastery was completed in 1964, but its artistic
treasures had been destroyed.
Chaplain's letter on the fighting in Iraq
I have often wondered what goes the mind of a chaplain in a war zone. An answer
is found in this letter written on Good Friday by a chaplain serving with the
Marines in Iraq. It was forwarded by General Sullivan:
"Hot and sunny on Good Friday...quiet in Fallujah and Ar Ramadi. The Coalition has announced a pause in offensive operations. Humanitarian aid is being searched and then allowed into the city of fallujah. Defensive operations continue 24/7.it is all war, all the time. The bad guys are regrouping. So are the Marines. The brawl will begin again...probably tonight. All intel points to the bad guys redistributing ammo, enlisting kids in the fight and moving for new cover. Convoys are limited..danger of ambush is high. Life in Blue Diamond continues, with an edge. Imagine a place the size of Lakeland Shores with 5 times the population. One asphalt street, two dirt roads. Due to the siege..no sanitation service for three day..that includes pumping satellites...We are on the edge of the town..we see the minirets of the city and we hear the immams sermons as they rail against us....good thing few here understand ARabic cause I can tell you the preachers weren't teaching the golden rule today. Morale, sky high...extra intensity..friends are on the line. the senior nco's and officers here, feel the pull the most. They have served with or trained everyone on the line..The Corps is a small community. This is very personal. If a person can do something to help the outcome of the fight..he'll find a way..it's that kind of day..all for one, one for all.
I divide the day; Holy Week service planning, convoy prayers, and COC intercessory
prayers. First, I go to the
DIV Chaplain office to meet with the command Chaplain, Chaplain Divine..the fighting Irishman. What a man. RC Christians...be proud..you've got a great priest here. He spares nothing to get to his Marines. He loves Marines and
he loves God. He waded into Ar Ramadi during the fire fight, three days ago...to provide ministry at the aid station...came back weary but satisfied; he was where he was needed. He's on the road, to all the FOB's ministering
to Marines. I had the privilege of praying for him, this morning. If he goes down, the morale in this Division would take a huge hit. They love him.
Second, I work to coordinate Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Protestant Easter Service. Having services in a war zone is a little different. A) We have to worry about getting large numbers of people in one place. One mortar round into the right place, and you could kill a lot of Marines. B) Organists are in short supply and we don't have an organ. Music? C) We are going to worship and it will be well attended...we need Easter..because we live in the valley of the shadow of death..we need the Resurrection.
Third, twice a day I go to the 'Cave'..the combat operations enter..which is housed in a former palace..poorly lit and the hub of fighting the battle...I stand in the corner and pray for each person/position and those they represent. I don't know many of them, but God does. I pray for wisdom, strength, mercy, endurance and God's presence for each warrior all those they serve or represent. I cover the Cave and the battle field as I look at live imagery projected on the wall. I don't know how the marines do it..but the COC is loaded with strack (?) looking Marines. The senior NCO's all look like NFL lineman. The junior officers look like marathon runners and the mid-grade officers look like NFL halfbacks...the senior officers are lean, tanned and serious..deadly serious. The place exudes the warrior spirit. If you are a civilian I can't explain it and won't apologize for it. If you are a veteran you don't need to have it explained..the warrior spirit. These marines are in a street fight. They don't have the word 'lose' in their vocabulary. They've been bloodied and their anger is up. The intensity in the COC is contagious. This is a tribe of warriors. They exist to close with and destroy the enemy. They have their tribal mores, rituals and rites. Their enemy has desecrated members of the tribe and taunted the Marines. They've asked for a fight. The Marines are in full pursuit and absolutely determined to annihilate their foe. I'm sure that sounds harsh to politically correct ears and those for whom this type of violence is anachronistic. It does not sound foreign here...it is status quo. We are in a violent land, with an evil element and they are having violence visited upon them. There is no room here for half measures. This is a test of wills...one side will prevail. That is clearly understood and never discussed..it is obvious. We aren't playing paintball..we are at war.
Fourth, Convoy prayers...convoys go out of here regularly. I hunt them down..pass out a small card with a convoy prayer on it and then gather whoever wants to pray, and we pray. The number of prayers is going up, hourly, as the ambushes continue. Here's how intense it has become..today's standard preconvoy brief now includes the following: "If you drive into the kill zone..two options..drive through and on, or reverse and drive out. Do not stop. If you are blocked into the kill zone..displace from the vehicle, find cover, fix the target, engage, maneuver and destroy the hostile forces. Target selection..rules have changed...avoid civilians, if possible. Hostile forces are now using civilians as shields. We are not interested in losing more Marines. If you can avoid putting civilians in your line of fire, avoid it. If not, fire to take out the hostile forces." Implication? Chilling...we've entered a new dimension. We are fighting an enemy who respects no laws of humanity, knows no rules of land warfare and gives no quarter. How do we fight, without become barbarians ourselves?
Fifth, ministry of presence..in a place this small..I walk from shop to shop and just say, 'hi'..can't tell you the number of times someone says..."Hey, chappy..it's great to have you here." Something about seeing a chaplain is calming to folks this close to the fight. Good Friday in Ar Ramadi..while you're having lunch I'll lead the evening Good Friday service. We will remember our Savior who willingly laid down His life that we might live..and we'll be thinking about young marines and soldiers who are willingly putting their lives on the line so Iraqis can be free...no great love hath a man than to lay down his life for his brother...
Good Friday to you, John
Ronald Hilton -