The Ultimate Google Bomb


Insurgents use Google Earth to target attacks

Google are talking to the military about this and we shall see what happens. I wonder what the China Dictatorship Friendly search engine would do if Beijing complained?

Dubya's Diplomatic Efforts With The Iranians


As we know, the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report recommended dialogue between the USA and Iran. George Bush seems to have a strange way of interpreting this call for diplomacy. First US forces in Baghdad arrest five Iranian officials, two of them diplomats, who were in Iraq after being invited by the Kurdish President of Iraq Jalal Talabani. They were accused of "meddling" in Iraq. Then we hear of a similar incident which occurred yesterday when an Iranian consulate in Arbil in northern Iraq was raided and members of staff and diplomats were arrested.

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. forces stormed an Iranian government representative's office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil early on Thursday and arrested five employees, including diplomats and staff, Iranian officials said.

The U.S. military made no direct mention of Iranians but said six "individuals" had been arrested during "routine" operations in the area.

The raid, as President George W. Bush vowed in a speech to disrupt what he called the "flow of support" from Iran and Syria for insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, drew criticism from Iraq's Kurdish regional government, which called it a violation of its sovereignty and of international immunity laws.

BSSC has more. It seems that Dubya has not only torn up the ISG report but is actively going out of his way to provoke a confrontation with Iran. Iran hasn't responded to the provocations of having an armada of American (and British) warships off its coast and the incessant sabre rattling coming from the Bush administration, the latest piece of which he delivered during his recent announcement at the White House where he promised more chaos in the region.

We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.

I'm sure the friends and allies in the region are feeling very reassured. Condoleezza Rice also joined in with her own unique brand of hypocrisy telling Iran and Syria to "end their destabilising behaviour" in the region. So Iran is "meddling" with Iraq and is a "destabilising" force by engaging in diplomatic activity with the government of Iraq which we are constantly told is sovereign, whereas the USA (which isn't meddling in Iraq) is obviously a stabilising force in the region as we have seen over the last three years, so much so that another 20,000 troops are on their way to stabilise it even more. What amazes me is how these people can deliver these lines with a straight face.

Bush's Iraq Policy


When Thieves Fall Out


The neo-cons are trying to explain away their discredited policies in this Vanity Fair article. Arrogant to the end, they see themselves as blameless but let down by Bush's incompetence.

Remember many of these guys are now pushing for an attack on Iran as the only way out of the mess they advocated.

Iraq Strategy: More Yanks, Fewer Brits


Such perfect timing - almost as if Blair is trying to distance himself from Bush. As George announces a surge of 22,000 Troops, Team Tony are quietly leaking that 4,000 Troops will be leaving in May, just in time for his triumphal departure from Downing St.

There are a couple of interesting things about Bush's plan - straight out of the AEI playbook. Firstly, it's the numbers; originally the leaks said he was planning 50,000 extra troops, then it went down to 30,000 and now hits the low at 20,000. Secondly, these troops seem to include a lot of 'specialists', mainly REMF types and not front line soldiers.

Bush still doesn't understand what is happening in Iraq, preferring the Fantasy version. In his speech to the nation we only have to wait for the third sentence to see how far removed he is from reality:

When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation.

Not true, the Iraqis voted for a sectarian government, shia voted for shia, sunni for sunni and kurd for kurd. None of them wanted a unified government. The fifth sentence shows how delusional his planning is:

We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

Most commentators were warning that the government would be highly divisive, indeed it took months to choose a Prime Minister - a sure sign of trouble ahead, a sign that was ignored.

The surge plan itself is frighteningly inept. Here's what he says about his big plan:

When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort - along with local police.

These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations - conducting patrols, setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.

Would you want a visit from the militia-riddled Iraqi forces acting as door-to-door trust salesmen? I think the prospect of the Iraqi forces closing down an area and going door-to-door to be one that is frightening for the majority of Baghdad residents.

How long is this operation going to last?

I have made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended.

If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people - and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people....

... So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November.

So, if it all goes wrong, he's already got a plan to blame Iraq for messing up Iraq.

Now, here's a problem; The US and Iraqi forces have recently fought a day long battle in Haifa Street, Baghdad, claiming it to be a success.

Haifa Street, a sunni stronghold where 100 shia were kidnapped and hung from lamposts as revenge for Saddam's execution. Once again the Iraqi forces are doing the shia militias work for them. not a good sign for the forthcoming operations...

Nuri al-Maliki Has A Snit Fit


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has threatened to review diplomatic relations with any country thet criticises the way they carried out Saddam's execution.

"The execution of the dictator is a domestic affair. It is related to the Iraqi people alone and we reject and condemn all official and unofficial statements made by some governments...

"The Iraqi government may have to reconsider its relations with any country that does not respect the will of the Iraqi people"

Of course what the Iraq government needs right now is fewer friends. Remember it took months to agree on a Prime Minister and they're stuck with one who desperately wants to quit.

Baghdad only has three embassies, the US, UK and Australia. If Maliki carries out his threat, he may be left with just Australia, whose Premier described the lynching as something quite heroic.

The Coming Middle East War - Updated


The war in Iraq is just a sideshow. The larger conflict is a regional one and people are taking sides. On one side you have Israel, the US, UK, the GCC and Saudi Arabia; On the other is Iran, Stria and Shia movements in Iraq and Lebanon.

These are not monolithic blocks and there are tensions between different factions within nations - and the semi-nations of Iraq and Lebanon.

The crunch will come soon, probably in the next few months and Tony Blair will be involved - maybe to the extent of not leaving office for a while yet. The crunch is Iran.

The battle is the same one started by the Bush/Blair axis. The Iraq invasion wasn't about WMD, it wasn't about oil, it was about who controls the region and it's resources. Indeed laws are about to be enacted that will hand over control of Iraq's oilfields to Western companies for wholescale exploitation, initially taking 70% of revenue out of the country... So much for the plan to reconstruct Iraq with oil revenues.

Dick Cheney and the neo-cons still hold sway and it is no coincidence that the reincarnation of PNAC, the deeply batshit American Enterprise Institute is advocating the 'surge' of troops in Iraq - Choosing Victory a plan for success in Iraq - are the same ones arguing for a military strike on Iran and the Israelis are thinking of a tactical nuclear strike, no doubt hoping that the radiation isn't going to blow too westerly...

Tony's been silent on Saddam until Bush gives him the go-ahead and he's been silent on the response to the Iraq Study Group - a report Bush privately refers to as 'a flaming turd' left on his doorstep and he's been helping out on the Iran line. The reason there is so much animosity to the report is simple; it advocates a regional solution, bringing in neighbouring countries for dialogue. The White House don't want that. They want the US to decide (Hey I'm the decider!) and run the region.

As the timeline for an assault on Iran - air strikes only this time is in the next six months, could there be something else for Tony? Could he use this as an excuse to stay in power? Will Gordon want the job if it all goes wrong, as everyone who is not a neo-con is predicting?

Does Tony think that he has to play double or quits with the Middle East to achieve his messianic dreams of being the deliver of peace to all nations? Is he insane enough to try to go along with the neo-con war plan?

Yes he is, the question to ask is this; 'Are there enough voices of sanity in the Labour party and military to stop him?' Maybe.

Many thanks to the excellent comments in this thread. I would like to add that the coming war is about a lot more than oil; the Saudi's want Wahabiism to be the dominant form of Islam and to protect their powerbase, something the Shia and fundamentalists challenge, Israel wants security and can live with the Saudi's, who don't threaten them. The Kurds want their own country and have good relations with Israel and the West.

Secondly, I have it on good authority that the UK military will not agree to an attack. All three branches of the US military oppose it also. However, if one goes ahead there will be serious consequences and the real risk of turning the Iraq quagmire into a regional war. Blair will forever be associated with this and, in statements on Iraq is supporting the Cheney/neo-con agenda.

Spot The Difference - Updated


Two quotes from Iraq's National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie:

Dec 31st: “He was respected throughout before and after the execution. We followed rigorously international and Islamic standards.”

Today: The video was Deplorable

Notice how people are criticising the film, not what was being filmed. Even John Prescott didn't specifically call the execution 'deplorable', just the filming.

Neither has Bush or Blair condemned the lynch mob atmosphere or the sectarian taunts.


I've just seen al-Rubaie being interviewed on CNN where he claimed that:
He didn't see anyone with mobile phones because he was busy supervising the execution
He did see people with mobile phones but he couldn't ask for the phones to be confiscated because he didn't know who was in charge of the execution

Iraq - A Way Forward


I see the Iraqi Prime Minister is crying for his Mummy, asking if he can please go home now and saying he doesn't want to be Prime Minister any more and never really wanted to - some bigger boys made him do it.

Then I saw a solution to several problems: Make Tony Blair the new Iraqi Prime Minister.


The Deafening Silence


It's easy to tell when something has gone tits up in politics; Tony disappears. We haven't been blessed with such peace and quiet since the Great Heathrow Terror Scare of this Summer. Come to think of it, Reid's terror warning about a Christmas attack hasn't happened, perhaps he should read this.

But back to the Saddam lynching. The article I wrote earlier was before the release of the mobile phone footage - the ultimate happy slapping video. That only emphasised my points. Interesting to see Prescott was more interested in condemning the filming of the execution rather than the way it was done - and remember the Iraqi PM's adviser said that the execution matched 'international and islamic standards'.

This lynching has shown the world that the Iraqi government is venal, corrupt and incapable of running anything. And that's a problem for us all. Tony and George took us to war to install democracy in Iraq and look at what we've got. Look at the cost, in dead, in wounded and in staggering amounts of cash it cost. Remember, that this war was meant to be self-financing as oil revenues were going to pay for it.

The plan has utterly failed and the gang of crooks and sectarian killers will never be able to hold the nation together. Iraq's future was also on the gallows.

We've been in the odd position of not having any strategy at all over Iraq for several weeks now, though we are assured that one will appear, like magic, very soon. The plan will be to send over as many extra soldiers as they can find in the hope that they won't have to stay to long. It's being referred to as the 'surge' strategy, but I think of it as Vietnam II.

The most dangerous word in politics toady is legacy. As George and Tony wander off into the dustbin of history, they know that their legacy is in the hands of a bunch of incompetent shysters huddled down in the Green Zone, whose main activities seem to be either forming their own militia or shovelling away as much loot as they can in Swiss banks accounts.

British politics is not in much better shape. With the cancelling of the BAE investigation, Britain officially became a corrupt government. There's always Yates of the Yard, quietly going about his business. Will Tony spend his retirement touring courtrooms like his pal Bersculoni, or will he hot foot it to the States, beyond the reach of the law?

The final part of Blair's legacy is the bunch of freaks and malcontents at the highest levels of the Labour party. One only has to look at the cabinet, and past holders to realise that the notoriously 'psychologically flawed' Chancellor is one of the more balanced members of the team.

In the meantime, Tony's sunning himself in Florida and issuing instructions to his party on how to continue without him... Without me you are nothing... The cry of Saddam on the gallows and Tony in his delusions...

CIA Man Lynched by Pro-Iranian Shiite Faction


Just another way of looking at the death of Saddam, there. It's odd the way the Bush Administration, Moqtada al-Sadr and the Iranian Government are all celebrating together today.

George Gets His Snuff video


The execution of Saddam Hussain is a missed opportunity for justice and history. We could have had a trial that examined all his crimes and placed them on the historical record, as Nuremberg did.

Such a trial would have served the interests of justice and be a foundation for the future of Iraq. Instead we got a deeply flawed process that produced the required result: a death sentence, for only one of his many crimes.

There ware a couple of vested interests that brought about this squalid execution; the Iraqi puppet government wanted vengeance and to hell with due process ( the trial judge is on record as saying Saddam should have been executed without a trial) and the Americans, along with other Gulf states, who wanted him silenced before he could spill the beans on their support for him and his murderous activities.

The video shows the sordid nature of the Iraqi regime, and although it may be cheered in the White House, most others feel revulsion on watching it.

The scene is a small grubby room as a group of men in badly fitting balaclava masks, looking like third rate bank robbers hustle around Saddam, clumsily hold a scarf around his neck and fumble their way to attaching the noose. The camera work is shaky and all over the place, indeed it must be said that it is far more amateurish than the al Zarqawi videos.

This is how the new Iraqi regime deals with the highest profile case it will ever have. This video tells us nothing about Saddam, who is the most dignified person in the scene, but it tells us a lot about how squalid, amateurish and shoddy the Iraqi government is, and in it's repulsiveness tells us a lot about ourselves, about how our morals, ethics and standards have been buried in the sands of Iraq.

For an Iraqi view on this, please read this by Riverbend

Honours Without Peace, Kettle Calls Pot Black


For some reason I just *know* there's some bad news to be buried today, as Saddam having his neck stretched is for some unfathomable reason all over everywhere (my opinion - how much worse can it possibly make it? I foresee no mass revenge attacks in the next few days. This will be presented as a victory). Now, where's that bad news? Ah, yes:

John Scarlett, who took responsibility for the error-ridden dossier that justified the war in Iraq, is knighted in today's New Year's Honours list.


Never mind that it's not even New Year yet. What a shower of shits.

Talking of shits, Martin Kettle is back with one of his hilarious attempts to blame us, the informed public, for having the temerity to conclude that Blair's lies and incompetence means we can't trust him.

They show that we had low trust in our politicians long before Blair. I suspect that, unless things change, we will have low trust in them long after he has gone too. I'm not pretending Blair's Iraq policy has not been a factor. Of course it has. But we will get nowhere with this trust issue unless we more humbly confront the fact that we in this country have got a special problem.

Humbly. Yes, like 'humble' is a word we can legitimately use in discussing why no one likes Tony Blair. Actually, the torpedo I'd like to put into Kettle's argument is that until the advent of Blair, participation in elections had remained remarkably constant - it's the decline since 1997 that has lead to the absurdity of a government ruling with an absolute mandate on behalf of 22% of the electorate.

I personally trace this back to Blair's betrayal of those of us who naively thought that voting Labour might mean a roll-back of the worst excesses of Thatcherism. That the opposite happened may just have something to do with the mistrust we have of all politicians now, Martin. We wanted a Labour government, not the Tories in new ties and a foreign policy imported from the mad side of the Republican Party. With Labour destroyed, the Tories stealing Tony's clothes and the Lib Dems lacking the leadership to exploit this, what is there to do except shout 'to hell with the lot of them' and start doing it our way? PR for a start, Lords reform, a constitution that's a beacon for the world, controls on foreign media ownership, more localism, yada, yada. Perhaps a government that's actually radical and competent, rather than merely pretending it is, would engender some more trust.


Saddam Hussein hanged at dawn. What now?


So Saddam Hussein was hanged at dawn today. Luckily for US and UK he was killed before any details of Western complicity emerged at a fair trial for his crimes against humanity, mass murder and use of chemical weapons against his own people in Halabja. Although that is what his death is being touted as in some of the media.

George Bush said:

"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself," the US president said in a statement.

UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said:
"I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account," she said in a statement. As per usual, nobody from the government has been available for comment or interview in person...

Juan Cole is on the case, and his post Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein is worth a read as is Riverbend's take on the state of Iraq and the (then) imminient execution of Saddam. Dahr Jamail' talks of how destabalisng Saddam's execution will be to Iraq.

Is there anyone left who believes Saddam's death will have a positive effect for Iraq, if even the deluded fool Bush realises it wont stop the violence?

Christmas Roundup


Happy Christmas to all.

Hopefully we're all too stupified with drink/relatives by now, and looking to return to the comfortable, familiar world of lies, death, war and hypocrisy that we feast on in preference to virtually anything else, except perhaps mince pies. I love mince pies.

Firstly, there are two polls on the BBC website that are worth a look, courtesy of Lenin's Tomb. First off, there's the 'Christmas Repeal', where you can vote on one of six crappy Acts of Parliament that should be bleached from the Statute Book. There's only really one candidate, and that's not just because Shami Chakrabarti championed it, and she's lovely. So I strongly recommend voting for the repeal of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, particularly the bit that bans unauthorised protests near Parliament and allows the police to put conditions on approval.

The other polls is for the Political Hero, and it's between Tony Benn and Margaret Thatcher, each with about a third of the vote. Given that Tony Blair, apart from being annoyed that he wasn't already top of the list, would be more upset if Benn won, the old tea addict got my vote.

Right. Religion time. Let's put the 'Oh Christ' back into Christmas.

There are three recent stories regarding the top Bishops in the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbeardy, Rowan Williams has been saying some remarkably sensible things about Israel, Palestine and Iraq. This latter provoked the New Labour spin machine into action:

"It is the intolerant extremists that are inflicting the pain and suffering in Iraq and other parts in the Middle East," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

"We are doing all we can to support the Iraqi people."

Of which more later.

The other stories concern two crook-wielding bozos going under the stage names of the Bishop of Rochester and the Archbishop of York. These guys seem to be trying to make a name for themselves and the way you make a name for yourself in the current climate is attacking people - secularists, multiculturalism and (if you can get away with it) your fellow People of the Book, the Muslims. This does, of course, add up to an attack on the majority of the United Kingdom, since we're really rather a secular place these days, and speaking as a member of the majority I'd like to send my own Christmas message to these particular ecclesiastical twerps.

Sod Off And I Hope Your Stuffing Overcooks

Besides, we've already gone into why there isn't really a War on Christmas. So why are they doing it? Keen readers will be aware of the 'Pope Idol' episode of Absolute Power, where a New Labour-esque spin doctor attempts to rig the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury in favour of their man. Dr. Sentamu and Dr. Nazir-Ali are both already being talked about as a replacement for the frankly rather embarrassing Dr. Williams and we can't have an important political appointee going around the Middle East suggesting it's all gone to shit when Tony Blair's just cleared it up, can we? Perhaps a few quid on a new Archbish in 2007 would be a worthwhile investment.

Right. Iraq. Oh dear. It appears that Our Boys have blown up a police station. This is, of course, the sort of thing the IRA engaged in and we called them 'terrorists'. It's a bit of a giveaway that instead of helping the Iraqi people stand on their own feet we're now reduced to taking sides in the sectarian civil war that's going to happen anyway. Mind you it's not the first time we've had trouble with this particular police station - it seems to have been a well-enough-known fact that it was basically a militia HQ going back a couple of years now, and definitely in the Iran-fancying Shia camp. Presumably we've not actually gone into the place with extreme prejudice before in the hope that their activities wouldn't impinge too much on our activities, so this is a change of tune. Whether it's a desperate 'surge' tactic to attempt to create a non-sectarian police force capable of taking over when we get out or the start of a more sinister overt campaign against pro-Iranian sections isn't clear to me. What is clear is that trying to keep down the militias using the British Army is like trying to take the salt out of the sea with a teaspoon.

Even Major Burbridge, the smooth-talking spin doctor the Army always obligingly puts up for interview admits the political situation is 'complicated', which means basically that the politicians we talk to have large numbers of men with guns and itchy triggers backing them. What it isn't is stable, democratic, free, secular or anything remotely resembling the beacon for the Middle East that Tony Blair thought his iron will could call into being. So nuts to you, too, Tony Blair, and I hope you choke on your Free Trade sprouts.