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Astrophysicist
 
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Quote Astrophysicist Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2005 at 7:35am
Originally posted by Whisper

Did you just forget (quite conveniently) to talk about the missing Iraqi Billions? Or, shall we say that that is exactly the "charity" to keep the American habit of overconsumption going?

It is hard to remain civil when you constantly hurl insult and venom. I have not "conveniently" forgotten anything. Unlike you, I have to work for a living and don't have time to just fly around airports doing whatever you do or sit at my computer inciting murder and violence.

In addition, I resent that you always assume that I must always be on the defensive when you can not account for your own point of view. You obviously have not read or understood any of my previous posts, which address and in most cases nullify your other arguments. You have failed to answer any of my questions or counter any of my points. You continue in the same familiar vein, and thought you won't answer mine, you expect me to answer your questions on your timetable, like some obedient puppy, as if you were some sort of magistrate or ruler. We are not in your grandfather's court. You are just a citizen of the world, like me. I owe you nothing. But there are people in my life to whom I owe a great deal, and I must attend to my responsibilites.

Right now, you remind me of the cigarette-smoking, cafe dwelling communists that my Muslim father-in-law used to tell me about. They seemed to think that the world owed them obedience and a source of income, though they did no real work, because they were "intellectuals."

I have not had time to look into the Iraqi billions issue. There is someone I hope to ask about it, but I have not talked to him for a while. He and I have booth had some days off and have been away. In the summer months, lots of Americans go away for maybe a few days or a week. We visited with my sister. I don't know where he has been.

Originally posted by whisper

What do you think of this?

Our troops are part of the problem

The think that the author of this piece has it more or less right.

First, as much as the U.S. and allies try to avoid civilian caualties, the tactics of the terrorists are designed to cause civilian caualties. (Their frequent, deliberate  attacks on civilian targets prove that they don't care about civilian lives -- which brings up the obvious question: why do we hear no criticism of them from the likes of you?) By wearing no uniforms and attacking from civilian quarters and vehicles, the terrorists make it impossible for U.S. soldiers to take action that does not put civilian lives in danger. So, perhaps it will be better if the Americans begin to leave, even though the task is not complete. While this is the aim of the terrorists, it is also the aim of the American Democratic Party, who care only about winning the next election cycle. But the new Iraqi government might perhaps be able to step up and fill the role of the Americans and so defeat the terrorists and their Democrat allies, after all.

It is inevitable that politics will play a significant role. It is unfortunate, but the rhetoric of the American Democratic Party and their allies in the Jihadist media, both of whom hope to defeat Bush, have succeeded to a great degree in undermining Bush's policy and encouraging the terrorists.

As I said in an earlier post, quoting Churchill, " War is a strange sea, and there is no telling where it may take you."

I still believe as much as I did twelve years ago, however, that Saddam had to be removed. At least now there is hope and wide open possibility. Let us see what Arab Muslims can do with this opportunity to start anew.

Peace.

Astro

 



Edited by Astrophysicist
1. We each bring the Universe into being in the act of perceiving it, but perception is not reality.

2. The medium IS the message, so a true religion of peace cannot be spread by threat of war.
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Whisper
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2005 at 10:29pm

Whisper wrote:

Did you just forget (quite conveniently) to talk about the missing Iraqi Billions? Or, shall we say that that is exactly the "charity" to keep the American habit of overconsumption going?

> It is hard to remain civil when you constantly hurl insult and venom.

Astro, I must apologise. I should have addressed my post properly to the person I am responding to.

 

I respect you. You are a straight man. You have a certain political leaning, which you openly declare. You have do not attempt to mask your approach in some fake misplaced global concern of one kind or the other. We can have not just a thorough argument, but also a doughnut and a coffee someplace if we ever get the chance.

 

We can both hold some wrong facts at times. We are human. You have not once tried to slip away from my questions or points. My friend I consider it an honour to fight with you!!

 

But some classless slippery character had entered our conversation. My post was directed at him.

 

Brother, I also work for my living. I direct 9 companies (2 in the US) and, this keeps me at the airports.

 

I have read your post.

I am a fair man. I admit when a point makes sense. You have changed my view on an important issue like nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But for me the rest of your post stood as a weak excuse for the US global behaviour - exactly in your party line.

 

So, I had honestly posted my opinion for you.

 

> You have failed to answer any of my questions or counter any of my points. 

I would have if they made any sense to me. For me it’s no use countering anything that’s in direct contravention of the Almighty’s commandments – which now seems to have been Upgraded to read: “thou shalt kill but only from 52,000 feet in the sky and after fabricating all the excuses for your voters

 

> You are just a citizen of the world, like me.

Exactly, that’s my point. I believe in absolute equality. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I find “Americanism” a bit offensive. They seem to go about the world as if they are more equal than the rest of the world. 

 

whisper wrote:

What do you think of this?

Our troops are part of the problem

I agree with your analysis on the whole.

Just by the way, “What task did the world assign the US?” Or, is it just another example of being more equal than the mortal lot?

 

I agree with you Saddam should have been removed.

But I would have washed better with the world if Americans thought of it while he had not gone past his use by date. At that time, Rumsfeld was running so often to Baghdad with Golden Spur pairs?

 

Plus, the US evaded two internal revolts to oust him?

One of my quite “senior” a pro-western sources has confided that it was for the only reason that a local success won’t leave the US with much control of the country!!

 

I will reserve my comments on the opportunity you have provided the Arabs and Muslims. The Muslims would think it to be an opportunity only when your troops leave their lands and IF the Palestinians are dealt a fair hand by the only tskers of our world.

 

It’s in fact an opportunity for the US to prove that she can regain her lost place in that area and in quite a few other corners of the world. It's an equal chance for both, the U S and the Muslims.

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Quote b95000 Replybullet Posted: 01 August 2005 at 5:44pm
"I still believe as much as I did twelve years ago, however, that Saddam had to be removed."

How can anyone contend that this is not a good thing.  Or that the Taliban's evil hands being replaced is not good for Afghanistan?
Bruce
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
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Goerge the Jew
 
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Quote Goerge the Jew Replybullet Posted: 04 August 2005 at 7:17am
yeah lets blame the talibans, they are easy to take out

besides i never liked the way Reagan gave sadam much money to solve the
hostage crisis in iran for us when i was in school, and what where you doing
when this happened?

"I hope you leave here and walk out and say, 'What did he say?'" —George W. Bush, Beaverton, Oregon, Aug. 13, 2004
Rabbi Yaacov Perrin said, "One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish
fingernail." (NY Daily News, Feb. 28, 1994, p.6). , if you have a problem with this then your been anti-Semitic cuz i aint .
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Quote Astrophysicist Replybullet Posted: 12 August 2005 at 6:01am

Greetings to all, and especially my friend Whisper:

It is not an easy matter finding answers to all the accusations in the "Mr. Bremmer, where did all the money go" article. I think it is an important matter indeed, and I believe that I have some answers, and I am trying to find the others. It is going to take some time, as there is a lot there, and I am not a journalist and so don't have all the resources (or time) required to thoroughly investigate.

First, I have some other points to make that are responses to points that you and others have raised.

You and others often refer to refer to a "party line" to which you believe I am adhereing. Not true. I have never been a member of either the Democratic or Republican Party. I have always registered as an Independent and consider myself a moderate -- not moderate in the strength of my convictions, but moderate in these senses: (1) I think that all sides of political dialogue can represent legitimate interests and so I like to try to to remain independent and remain attentive to points made by all sides as one who moderATES the debate from a rational center; (2) I think that dialogue is most productive when participants try to keep their passions in check and moderATE their tone; (3) I think that the best remedies or new policies are usually not radical changes but moderate steps in the new direction. There can be exceptions, of course. And sometimes I find that reason favors this or that side of a debate and so I align myself with it and so, not always by sheer coincidence, my will arguments sound a lot like theirs.

So, those among you who have this tendency, please stop assuming or implying that I am some sort of robot or parrot merely repeating Heritage Foundation or Bush Administration arguments. Please deal directly with the substance and logic of the arguments themselves.

Thank you very much.

I reserve the right, however, to parrot the words of anyone or organization when doing so expresses a point of view I find interesting and/or helpful, or if it makes me look cool and savvy!

Also, in the moderate spirit, I prefer to think of what transpires here as a dialogue and not a fight.

As for America acting "more equal," I repeat that it was the U.S. to whom the other Arab Muslim nations in the region turned when Saddam overran Kuwait. It was the U.S. that the Arab Muslim world then blamed for all the 1.2 million Iraqis who died during the next twelve years of sanctions and brutal suppression by Saddam, who flouted the terms of his surrender, abused the "oil for food" program along with U.N. officials and French, German, and Russian politicans and oil and arms merchants whom he bribed and for whom acted as a quai-colonialist puppet. None of this was the fault of the U.S. But we got all the blame. Why? Is there not an implication that we were believed to have the power to change the way Saddam and his cronies, the U.N. officials, the French, Germans, Russians, etc., were behaving? If we were believed to be responsible for this tragedy and able to end it, does that not imply that were believed to be "more equal"? Does it not seem then, especially in light of bin Laden's aforementioned [and dead wrong] accusations, that we were being called upon to respond in ways "more equal"? 

The U.N. mandate and coalition mission in 1990-91 did not include the ouster of Saddam. Indeed, most governments in the region would not have signed on were his ouster a part of the plan. To some, he served as a buffer with the radical government of Iran. Turkey, meanwhile, feared that the absence of a strongman in Baghdad would free the Kurds to fight for a united Kurdish state.

As for the two rebellions, would you have supported U.S. intervention then? I imagine that the U.S. administration (especialy that of the feckless, gutless posturer, Clinton) was concerned that such a move might bring the very sort of vicious rhetorical attacks and terrorist responses that this intervention has brought on. The difference is that by 2003, Saddam had been given every opportunity to do right and had demonstrated -- to a degree that should be obvious to all in this world who have any ability to perceive truth -- his depravity and total lack of honor.

So, who would be called upon to deal with Saddam or Uday or Cusay fifteen years hence when this emboldened Ba'athist regime rolled over the entire Arabian peninsula and brandished its missles and a stock of atomic, biological, and chemical weapons and agents and saboteurs deployed major Western and Eastern cities? The U.S. perhaps? Again? If we are the ones who have to send our kids (and dollars) into these miserable back-stabbing Islamic world situations, shouldn't we have some right to decide when and how and take preventative measures, especially when doing so is in the best long-term interests of people like the Iraqis?

Incidentally, you have said that Iraqis died of unnatural causes at a rate of about 100,000 per year during the years of the sanctions and Saddam-ization. If the rate is now 10,000 per year -- and that only because of the terrorist (some say "insurgent") activity -- that means that this U.S. policy has reduced the Iraqi death rate by 90%. Eliminate the terrorists, and it will be down to zero. What is so bad about that?

The Bremmer stuff will have to wait for a later post (today, I hope). I have to be somehwere right now!

Peace.

Astro

 



Edited by Astrophysicist
1. We each bring the Universe into being in the act of perceiving it, but perception is not reality.

2. The medium IS the message, so a true religion of peace cannot be spread by threat of war.
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Quote Astrophysicist Replybullet Posted: 12 August 2005 at 9:41am

I will respond to the Bremer article in the Guardian in stages.

First, the phrasing of some statements in the Harriman piece raises suspicions about the objectivity of the author and the publication. Looking through other Guardian articles, I detect a significant leftward tilt. Without corroboration from a trusted and impartial source, I therefore cannot accept the accuracy of all Harriman's "facts," assertions, or conclusions. I also find much potential for deceit in enthememes, equivocations, and other ambiguous and potentially misleading phrasings. I still need to find out more about Harriman's source material.

Perhaps you think all this is pure dodging, but please bear in mind that, in Western courts, both sides of a disagreement are allowed to present their facts and arguments, and usually either can make a case that sounds compelling -- until you hear the counter-arguments from the opposition. This is especially the true in complex and confusing matters like this tangle of financing, out of which one can probably support any sort of story line one wishes.

So, while Harriman might seem to you to have a lock on the argument (and primacy effect might predispose you to acknowledge only his "facts" and arguments), there is apparently an opposing point of view that has already prevailed in a sort of a court: an independent U.N. commission has looked into these accusations and found that, while some of the usual corruption persists here and there, the overall allocation and disbursement of Iraqi and other monies is proceding as it should 

All that having been said, there are some specific points to which I can respond at this time.

Harriman writes: "Both Saddam and the US profited handsomely during his reign. He controlled Iraq's wealth while most of Iraq's oil went to Californian refineries to provide cheap petrol for American voters. US corporations, like those who enjoyed Saddam's favour, grew rich. Today, the system is much the same: the oil goes to California, and the new Iraqi government spends the national wealth with impunity."

This statement struck me as odd because it was my understanding that the U.S. did not import oil from Iraq (especially under the sanctions) but that Iraqi oil went to mostly to China, Japan, France and some other European countries. I had to wonder if this was not evidence that Harriman was inventing facts to support his conclusions, that is, his prejudices. I still have not found specific statements saying that the U.S. did import Iraqi oil under the sanctions, but I did find some somewhat relevant information at

http://www.gravmag.com/oil.html

In 2001, Canada was the leading source of U.S. oil  imports at 15.4%, followed by Saudi Arabia, 14%, Venezuela, 13%, and Mexico, 12.1%. In 2002, Canada was at 17%, with Saudi Arabia, 13.7%, Mexico, 13.5%, and Venezuela, 12%, in a virtual three-way tie for second. If Iraqi oil was indeed brought to America by oil companies of any nationality, it was not in sufficient quantity to merit mention in this article.

Imports percentages seem hover in the same general range year to year. In 2003, the year of the ouster of Saddam, U.S. imports from Iraq were well below the levels of import from other countries -- about 4%, roughly the same percentage as the U.S. imported from Great Britain or Angola or Algeria, and significantly less than the 7% imported from Nigeria that year.

So Harriman is certainly wrong when he claims that "Iraq's oil went to Californian refineries to provide cheap petrol for American voters. US corporations, like those who enjoyed Saddam's favour, grew rich." Even in 2003, after sanctions were lifted, Iraqi oil did not not comprise a significant portion of American oil imports. And recall that a domestic American oil production accounts for a higher percentage of American oil use than any single foreign source.

As for the anecdotal "evidence" of wrongdoing by American officers or officials, I can say little. The U.N. apparently did not feel that there was sufficient evidence to indict anyone. I am sure that corruption occurs everywhere. It seems to me, however, that Harriman has been unfairly selective in his anecdotes, only recounting tales that will support his anti-conservative politics and thesis.

More money than was anticipated, I must add, has been spent on security -- something like 40%. This is the fault of the terrorists -- you can't expect contractors not to defend themselves.

Please read the following, taken from the source posted here:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/iraq.html

GENERAL BACKGROUND
Iraq now finds itself in a period of uncertainty and transition after more than three decades of Ba'ath party rule. Following the end of Saddam Hussein's rule in the spring of 2003, Iraq was governed for a year by the "Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)" led by the United States and the United Kingdom. On June 28, 2004, the CPA transferred power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government, with national elections held on January 30, 2005. A permanent constitution is to be written by October 2005, with elections for a permanent government scheduled for December 2005. On May 3, 2005, the new transitional government was sworn in, with Ibrahim Jaafari as Prime Minister.

Although Iraq's unemployment rate remains high (perhaps 30 percent or more), the overall Iraqi economy appears to be recovering rapidly from its condition just after the war, fueled in large part by U.S. and international reconstruction aid. For 2004, Iraqi real GDP growth was estimated by Global Insight at 54 percent, with 34 percent growth forecast for 2005. This follows a 21.2 percent decline in 2003, on top of more than a decade of economic stagnation and decline. On October 15, 2003, a new Iraqi currency -- the "New Iraqi Dinar" (NID) -- was introduced, replacing the "old dinar" and the "Swiss dinar" used in the north of the country. Since then, the NID has appreciated sharply, from around 1,950 NID per $U.S. in October 2003 to around 1,538 NID per $U.S. by mid-May 2005. In early February 2004, Iraq was granted observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In late September 2004, Iraq sent the WTO a formal request for membership.

Total, long-term Iraqi reconstruction costs could run to $100 billion or higher, with an October 2003 donors conference in Madrid resulting in pledges of $33 billion for the International Reconstruction Facility Fund for Iraq (IRFFI). In mid-October 2004, donor countries meeting in Tokyo agreed on the need to speed up the disbursement or promised assistance to Iraq. To date, only a small fraction of the money pledged in Madrid has been disbursed.

On May 22, 2003, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1483, lifting sanctions on Iraq, phasing out the 6-year-old U.N. oil-for-food program over six months (the program ended on November 21, 2003), and designating a U.N. "special representative" to assist Iraq in its reconstruction efforts. On May 27, 2003, the U.S. Treasury Department lifted most U.S. sanctions on Iraq, thereby implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483. In November 2003, the U.S. Congress authorized $18.4 billion for Iraq in a "supplemental allocation" aimed at boosting Iraqi reconstruction and economic development. As of early 2005, however, much of this money - perhaps 40 percent or more -- reportedly was being spent on providing security, not on actual reconstruction.

Iraq assumed a heavy debt burden during the Saddam Hussein years, around $100 billion if debts to Gulf states and Russia are counted, and even more if $250 billion in reparations payment claims stemming from Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait are included. Under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483, Iraq's oil export earnings are immune from legal proceedings, such as debt collection, until the end of 2007. In November 2004, the Paris Club group of 19 creditor nations agreed to forgive, in stages, up to 80 percent on $42 billion worth of loans. The relief is contingent upon Iraq reaching an economic stabilization program with the IMF.

OIL
According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Iraq contains 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the third largest in the world (behind Saudi Arabia and Canada), concentrated overwhelmingly (65 percent or more) in southern Iraq. Estimates of Iraq's oil reserves and resources vary widely, however, given that only about 10 percent of the country has been explored. Some analysts (the Baker Institute, Center for Global Energy Studies, the Federation of American Scientists, etc.) believe, for instance, that deep oil-bearing formations located mainly in the vast Western Desert region could yield large additional oil resources (possibly another 100 billion barrels or more), but have not been explored. Other analysts, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, are not as optimistic, with median estimates for additional oil reserves closer to 45 billion barrels. In August 2004, Iraqi Oil Minister Ghadban stated that Iraq had "unconfirmed or potential reserves" of 214 billion barrels. In early May 2005, Ibraihim Bahr al-Uloum was named to replace Ghadban, stating that his main goals were to reduce corruption in the oil sector, to improve fuel availability, to reduce attacks on oil infrastructure (Ghadban had cited 642 such attacks in 2004 at a cost of $10 billion), and to re-establish an Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) by the end of 2005.

I know that I need to find more information and specific responses to Harriman's accusations, so please do not assume that I am done. I take these concerns of yours seriously.

But again, I have to go do lots of things to keep bread on the table, and I see that I have some other responses to write, too.

Be well.

Astro

1. We each bring the Universe into being in the act of perceiving it, but perception is not reality.

2. The medium IS the message, so a true religion of peace cannot be spread by threat of war.
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Quote Hayfa Replybullet Posted: 12 August 2005 at 11:00am

I personally do not think the US govt cares if anyone else lives under tyranny as long as we are friends with that tyrant and can get its cheap raw materials. That is true through our (US) history. We participated and turned a blind eye towards colonization. I was recently reading about WWII and prisoners of war in Pacific.  We did not support the Philippines independence from Spain, so when Spain left we took over. We supported terrible regimes such as Pinochet in Chile. This has proven time and again. Typically we will operate what is on our self-interest. Other leaders of governments and countries do that as well. We-the US- just, as the current economic power, just have more influence and possibly more greed and more to lose.

 

What truly has disturbed me is that the US government changed its reasons for invading Iraq based upon the current situation and people sat back and did not respond. It made some general vague connection to 9/11 that galvenized the country. Being a dictator and tyrant did not make Saddam a threat to the US. Then it was about WMD. Then it was ‘democracy’. When things were exposed it changed. People in the US often do not appreciate the ramifications and horror of war. (Maybe it’s the lack of invasion on this soil.) Not everyone in the US government wanted this war. There were people in the State Department who did not think it was a good idea. They were ignored. As some in the administration have said ‘let’s bring the ‘war on terrorism’ over there.. War is horrible. Tyrants are horrible but chaos is too.  There are other effective ways to force change then invading if we really wanted to (as happened in The Czech Republic and South Africa)

 

There is a shade of paternalism in the US towards other peoples. That is how we can justify our actions. That is how we justified colonialism, slavery etc.  We don’t like countries like Iran or Cuba who tell us to stuff it. When other countries want what we want we say they cannot. And it shows that we tell other countries they cannot have nuclear weapons and we are the only country to have used them. (Like we somehow are better at making these decisions to destroy people then others are.)

 

I do not think this is about the average person in the US or anywhere else. Most people are actually decent. Many people help out in a time of crisis and do that with the best of intention.  That is the generosity of the average person not necessarily the governments.  When the Tsunami hit, the US government had to be pushed to give aid (the amount was far lower then other countries) but thousands of people gave to aid organizations with the best of intentions.  The US invasion of Iraq has helped only those in the US government with ties to the military institutions and friends of theirs. The Iraqi after years of living under sanctions and other wars could not afford this to have this happen. The average child in the US will be paying for it through the US debt for years to come.

 

People often talk about ‘loving their country’. For me part of the problem is this nationalism. Unfortunately we separate ourselves and somehow we are not truly all connected. Instead of truly worshiping the Devine and treating with love and care all that we have been given, we think we own things and we really own nothing.

 

Peace

 

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy. Rumi
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Posted: 12 August 2005 at 12:26pm

Hayfa, after going through your post, I have gone into silence. Unlike some other posters here, you touch not just the mind but also the soul.

That's where truth resides.

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