One million dead civilians, and other costs of the Iraq war

Blair, Bush, and Iraq war, cartoon

From London daily The Morning Star:

Counting the costs

(Sunday 18 March 2007)

IT is no longer possible for Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cronies to argue or, given the subject matter, perhaps plead would be a more appropriate term, that the Iraq war was an unpremeditated act arising out of the intransigence of the government of Saddam Hussein, rather than a premeditated act of international piracy to gain control of Iraq’s natural resources.

Figures which have just emerged prove premeditation conclusively, given that £847 million was spent on the Iraq adventure in the year leading up to the invasion that Mr Blair characterises as a last desperate option the stop Iraq raining (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction on the world.

Despite all the diplomatic wrangling in the UN and the categoric statements that war was not inevitable, the military still spent £34 million on manpower, £218 million on equipment and £170 million on supplies in the year 2002-03.

That figure alone, in any decent system of international law, should ensure that Mr Blair and his fellow criminals eventually face a war crimes tribunal to pay the price – but don’t hold your breath.

And the total cost of the war has continued to grow.

From £1.3 billion in the year immediately following the invasion, the cost has been added to by between £850 million and £1 billion each year.

The total cost is expected to hit £5 billion this month and the coming year will add yet another £1 billion to that shameful total.

Quite what that means in terms of rises in the state pension which have been foregone, in new hospitals and schools, only the Chancellor can really say, but it is sufficient the niggardly increases in the state pension would have been startlingly different had an extra billion pounds a year been applied to supporting the elderly rather than murdering innocent Iraqis.

But the cost of the war has not only been financial.

The breathtaking assessment of Australian academic Dr Gideon Polya that over one million Iraqis have died following the invasion – and that is only deaths directly attributable to the invasion – is an horrific one and one that can only be accepted, given the authority of his sources.

The consciences of the new Labour warmongers, however, appear to be rather more ironclad than the equipment that they supply to British troops fighting abroad, since not one voice of sorrow or apology has been raised at that dire figure.

Indeed, given that the imperialist countries are only now getting round to apologies for slavery, Mr Blair will have been long consigned to his grave by the time anyone in government utters a word about this inconceivable mass murder.

But no apologies in the world will assuage the grief of 60-year-old Eddie Hancock who, following the death of his son Jamie, has just become the latest in a long line of parents to denounce Mr Blair as a liar who has betrayed the armed forces and has called upon him to withdraw the British troops immediately from Iraq.

There can only be one acceptable apology to Mr Hancock and the Labour Party has it in its hands to give it.

That is, if it ever works up the courage to purge itself of the Cabinet-level war criminals in its ranks.

See also here.

US Rep. John Murtha on this: here.

New York Times and Iraq war: here.

Chinese artist against Iraq war: here.

Arianna Huffington on US neo-conservatives about Iraq in 2003 and now: here.

Also on this, by Marty Kaplan: here.

More on the Iraq war, by Gary Hart; Harry Shearer; and Joseph Nye.

17 thoughts on “One million dead civilians, and other costs of the Iraq war

  1. Scandals mean rough waters ahead for Bush
    18/03/2007 21h55
    George W. Bush
    ©AFP – Mannie Garcia

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – President George W. Bush, already hard hit by the unpopular Iraq war, has been hurt by a chain of scandals in recent weeks, and more pain is yet to come as a clash over Iraq in Congress looms.

    A purge of US attorneys and the outing of a covert CIA operative for alleged political gain, revelations of dismal hospital care for Iraq war veterans, and FBI breaches of US privacy laws, have combined to abate the former juggernaut.

    And more pain for the White House is yet to come.

    As anti-war protests crop up to mark the upcoming fourth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, Congress is considering a military spending bill that would call for a US withdrawal from Iraq by September 2008.

    And pressure by lawmakers for US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign over the controversial firing of eight federal prosecutors is increasing.
    Karl Rove
    ©AFP/File – Jim Watson

    “In general terms, Bush has a limited amount of time left to do things until his second term is over. And at this point, he has a lot of holes to plug,” David Corbin, a political expert at the University of New Hampshire, told AFP.

    “Everyone and everything seems to be going against him,” he said, signaling a difficult week ahead for Bush.

    A poll published Saturday on magazine Newsweek’s online edition warning that Americans are becoming increasingly unnerved by the scandals, and want blood.

    Of those surveyed, 55 percent said the White House had done a poor job of dealing with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center debacle in which injured soldiers were treated in squalid conditions.
    Valerie Plame Wilson
    ©AFP/File – Mannie Garcia

    Forty-four percent said more officials should be fired, even though the controversy has already cost the general in charge and secretary of the army Francis Harvey their jobs.

    As well, 45 percent of Americans surveyed said they support the view that the Bush administration has politicized too many areas of government, particularly the US justice system.

    Fueling that perception, Bush’s top political aide Karl Rove was implicated in the government attorney firings by e-mails released Thursday by the Justice Department that show Rove active in discussions about replacing prosecutors.

    Some of the attorneys told Congress they were fired because they resisted pressure from Republican lawmakers over sensitive cases, not for “performance reasons,” as the Justice Department first claimed.
    Alberto Gonzales
    ©AFP/Getty Images/File – Mark Wilson

    Meanwhile, glamorous former CIA spy Valerie Plame on Friday accused the Bush administration of maliciously blowing her cover to avenge her diplomat husband’s criticism of the White House’s drive to war.

    “Karl Rove clearly was involved in the leaking of my name, and he still carries a security clearance to this day,” Plame lamented.

    The incident led to the appointment of a special prosecutor who probed whether administration officials had broken the law by knowingly outing a covert intelligence agent.

    No charges were laid under that statute, but Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby was convicted earlier this month of perjury and obstruction of justice over the affair, and faces up to 25 years in prison. His sentencing is set for June 5.
    A US Army soldier, a double amputee who was injured in Baghdad, Iraq, tries out his prosthetic limbs
    ©AFP/File – Jim Watson

    The mess on the White House doorstep comes amid heightened partisan tensions as the 2008 presidential race gets under way. Bush himself has become a pariah, not seen alongside any Republican candidate on the campaign trail.

    Bush’s approval rating remains unchanged since his Republicans lost control of Congress in November elections, at a dismal 30 percent, according to the Newsweek poll.

    His handling of the war in Iraq has earned Bush the support of only 27 percent of Americans surveyed, with a majority supporting a Democrat proposal to withdraw US troops from Iraq by September 2008.

    Democratic contender Senator Hilary Clinton, who venomously criticized Bush for his handling of the Iraq war, even won unexpected praise Friday from real estate mogul Donald Trump, a friend of Republican frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani.

    “Bush is probably the worst president in the history of the United States,” Trump told broadcaster CNN.

    Still, Bush has managed win a small victory amid the carnage, with the Senate narrowly rejecting a Democratic bill which set a goal of a US troop withdrawal from Iraq by March 2008.

    Pundits quipped also that the avalanche of bad news for Bush was becoming confusing, with one scandal distracting attention from another.

    “Hurray! The US attorney purge scandal’s eclipsing the Scooter Libby debacle that’s totally clouding the Walter Reed disgrace…,” Bush’s aide Carl Rove tells the president in a Washington Post editorial cartoon.


  2. **The Ides of March 2003**

    by Frank Rich
    The New York Times
    March 18, 2007

    Tomorrow night is the fourth anniversary of President Bush’s
    prime-time address declaring the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In
    the broad sweep of history, four years is a nanosecond, but in America,
    where memories are congenitally short, it’s an eternity. That’s why a
    revisionist history of the White House’s rush to war, much of it written
    by its initial cheerleaders, has already taken hold. In this exonerating
    fictionalization of the story, nearly every politician and pundit in
    Washington was duped by the same “bad intelligence” before the war, and
    few imagined that the administration would so botch the invasion’s
    aftermath or that the occupation would go on so long. “If only I had
    known then what I know now …” has been the persistent refrain of the
    war supporters who subsequently disowned the fiasco. But the
    embarrassing reality is that much of the damning truth about the
    administration’s case for war and its hubristic expectations for a
    cakewalk were publicly available before the war, hiding in plain sight,
    to be seen by anyone who wanted to look.

    By the time the ides of March arrived in March 2003, these warning signs
    were visible on a nearly daily basis. So were the signs that Americans
    were completely ill prepared for the costs ahead. Iraq was largely
    anticipated as a distant, mildly disruptive geopolitical video game that
    would be over in a flash.

    Now many of the same leaders who sold the war argue that escalation
    should be given a chance. This time they’re peddling the new doomsday
    scenario that any withdrawal timetable will lead to the next 9/11. The
    question we must ask is: Has history taught us anything in four years?

    Here is a chronology of some of the high and low points in the days
    leading up to the national train wreck whose anniversary we mourn this
    week [with occasional “where are they now” updates].

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 5, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    “I took the Grey Poupon out of my cupboard.”
    — Representative Duke Cunningham, Republican of California, on the
    floor of the House denouncing French opposition to the Iraq war.

    [In November 2005, he resigned from Congress and pleaded guilty to
    accepting bribes from defense contractors. In January 2007, the United
    States attorney who prosecuted him — Carol Lam, a Bush appointee — was
    forced to step down for “performance-related” issues by Alberto
    Gonzales’s Justice Department.]

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 6, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    President Bush holds his last prewar news conference. The New York
    Observer writes that he interchanged Iraq with the attacks of 9/11 eight
    times, “and eight times he was unchallenged.” The ABC News White House
    correspondent, Terry Moran, says the Washington press corps was left
    “looking like zombies.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 7, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Appearing before the United Nations Security Council on the same day
    that the United States and three allies (Britain, Spain and Bulgaria)
    put forth their resolution demanding that Iraq disarm by March 17, the
    director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed
    ElBaradei, reports there is “no evidence or plausible indication of the
    revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.”. He adds that documents
    “which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transaction
    between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic.” None of the three
    broadcast networks’ evening newscasts mention his findings.

    [In 2005 ElBaradei was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.]

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 10, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks tells an audience in England, “We do
    not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president
    of the United States is from Texas.” Boycotts, death threats and
    anti-Dixie Chicks demonstrations follow.

    [In 2007, the Dixie Chicks won five Grammy Awards, including best song
    for “Not Ready to Make Nice.”]

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 12, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    A senior military planner tells The Daily News “an attack on Iraq could
    last as few as seven days.”

    “Isn’t it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the
    Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis
    celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness?”
    — John McCain, writing for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times.

    “The Pentagon still has not given a name to the Iraqi war. Somehow
    ‘Operation Re-elect Bush’ doesn’t seem to be popular.”
    — Jay Leno, “The Tonight Show.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 14, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Senator John D. Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, asks the F.B.I.
    to investigate the forged documents cited a week earlier by ElBaradei
    and alleging an Iraq-Niger uranium transaction: “There is a possibility
    that the fabrication of these documents may be part of a larger
    deception campaign aimed at manipulating public opinion and foreign
    policy regarding Iraq.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 16, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    On “Meet the Press,” Dick Cheney says that American troops will be
    “greeted as liberators,” that Saddam “has a longstanding relationship
    with various terrorist groups, including the Al Qaeda organization,” and
    that it is an “overstatement” to suggest that several hundred thousand
    troops will be needed in Iraq after it is liberated. Asked by Tim
    Russert about ElBaradei’s statement that Iraq does not have a nuclear
    program, the vice president says, “I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.”

    “There will be new recruits, new recruits probably because of the war
    that’s about to happen. So we haven’t seen the last of Al Qaeda.”
    — Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism czar, on
    ABC’s “This Week.”

    [From the recently declassified “key judgments” of the National
    Intelligence Estimate of April 2006: “The Iraq conflict has become the
    cause célèbre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S.
    involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the
    global jihadist movement.”]

    “Despite the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass
    destruction, U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to give
    Congress or the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of
    banned weapons or where they are hidden, according to administration
    officials and members of Congress. Senior intelligence analysts say they
    feel caught between the demands from White House, Pentagon and other
    government policy makers for intelligence that would make the
    administration’s case ‘and what they say is a lack of hard facts,’ one
    official said.”
    — “U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms,” by Walter Pincus (with
    additional reporting by Bob Woodward), The Washington Post, Page A17.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 17, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, who voted for the
    Iraq war resolution, writes the president to ask why the administration
    has repeatedly used W.M.D. evidence that has turned out to be “a hoax”
    — “correspondence that indicates that Iraq sought to obtain nuclear
    weapons from an African country, Niger.”

    [Still waiting for “an adequate explanation” of the bogus Niger claim
    four years later, Waxman, now chairman of the chief oversight committee
    in the House, wrote Condoleezza Rice on March 12, 2007, seeking a
    response “to multiple letters I sent you about this matter.”]

    In a prime-time address, President Bush tells Saddam to leave Iraq
    within 48 hours: “Every measure has been made to avoid war, and every
    measure will be taken to win it.” After the speech, NBC rushes through
    its analysis to join a hit show in progress, “Fear Factor,” where men
    and women walk with bare feet over broken glass to win $50,000.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 18, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Barbara Bush tells Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she
    will not watch televised coverage of the war: “Why should we hear about
    body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it’s going to happen, and
    how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not
    relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

    [Visiting the homeless victims of another cataclysm, Hurricane
    Katrina, at the Houston Astrodome in 2005, Mrs. Bush said, “And so
    many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged
    anyway, so this — this is working very well for them.”]

    In one of its editorials strongly endorsing the war, The Wall Street
    Journal writes, “There is plenty of evidence that Iraq has harbored Al
    Qaeda members.”

    [In a Feb. 12, 2007, editorial defending the White House’s use of
    prewar intelligence, The Journal wrote, “Any links between Al Qaeda
    and Iraq is a separate issue that was barely mentioned in the run-up
    to war.”]

    In an article headlined “Post-war ‘Occupation’ of Iraq Could Result in
    Chaos,” Mark McDonald of Knight Ridder Newspapers quotes a “senior
    leader of one of Iraq’s closest Arab neighbors,” who says, “We’re
    worried that the outcome will be civil war.”

    A questioner at a White House news briefing asserts that “every other
    war has been accompanied by fiscal austerity of some sort, often
    including tax increases” and asks, “What’s different about this war?”
    Ari Fleischer responds, “The most important thing, war or no war, is for
    the economy to grow,” adding that in the president’s judgment, “the best
    way to help the economy to grow is to stimulate the economy by providing
    tax relief.”

    After consulting with the homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, the
    N.C.A.A. announces that the men’s basketball tournament will tip off
    this week as scheduled. The N.C.A.A. president, Myles Brand, says, “We
    were not going to let a tyrant determine how we were going to lead our

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 19, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    “I’d guess that if it goes beyond three weeks, Bush will be in real
    — Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel teaching at Boston
    University, quoted in The Washington Post.

    [The March 2007 installment of the Congressionally mandated Pentagon
    assessment “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” reported that from
    Jan. 1 to Feb. 9, 2007, there were more than 1,000 weekly attacks, up
    from about 400 in spring 2004.]

    Robert McIlvaine, whose 26-year-old son was killed at the World Trade
    Center 18 months earlier, is arrested at a peace demonstration at the
    Capitol in Washington. He tells The Washington Post: “It’s very
    insulting to hear President Bush say this is for Sept. 11.”

    “I don’t think it is reasonable to close the door on inspections after
    three and a half months,” when Iraq’s government is providing more
    cooperation than it has in more than a decade.
    — Hans Blix, chief weapons inspector for the United Nations.

    The Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that 71 percent of Americans
    support going to war in Iraq, up from 59 percent before the president’s
    March 17 speech.

    “When the president talks about sacrifice, I think the American people
    clearly understand what the president is talking about.”
    — Ari Fleischer

    [Asked in January 2007 how Americans have sacrificed, President Bush
    answered: “I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they
    sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of
    violence on TV every night.”]

    Pentagon units will “locate and survey at least 130 and as many as 1,400
    possible weapons sites.”
    — “Disarming Saddam Hussein; Teams of Experts to Hunt Iraq Arms” by
    Judith Miller, The Times, Page A1.

    President Bush declares war from the Oval Office in a national address:
    “Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure.”

    Price of a share of Halliburton stock: $20.50

    [Value of that Halliburton share on March 16, 2007, adjusted for a
    split in 2006: $64.12.]

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 20, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    “The pictures you’re seeing are absolutely phenomenal. These are live
    pictures of the Seventh Cavalry racing across the deserts in southern
    Iraq. They will — it will be days before they get to Baghdad, but
    you’ve never seen battlefield pictures like these before.”
    — Walter Rodgers, an embedded CNN correspondent.

    “It seems quite odd to me that while we are commenced upon a war, we
    have no funding for that war in this budget.”
    –Hillary Clinton.

    “Coalition forces suffered their first casualties in a helicopter crash
    that left 12 Britons and 4 Americans dead.”
    — The Associated Press.

    Though the March 23 Oscar ceremony will dispense with the red carpet in
    deference to the war, an E! channel executive announces there will be no
    cutback on pre-Oscar programming, but “the tone will be much more somber.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    *March 21, 2003*
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    “I don’t mean to be glib about this, or make it sound trite, but it
    really is a symphony that has to be orchestrated by a conductor.”
    — Retired Maj. Gen. Donald Shepperd, CNN military analyst, speaking
    to Wolf Blitzer of the bombardment of Baghdad during Shock and Awe.

    [“Many parts of Iraq are stable. But of course what we see on
    television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.”
    — Laura Bush, “Larry King Live,” Feb. 26, 2007.]

    “The president may occasionally turn on the TV, but that’s not how he
    gets his news or his information. … He is the president, he’s made his
    decisions and the American people are watching him.”
    — Ari Fleischer.

    [The former press secretary received immunity from prosecution in the
    Valerie Wilson leak case and testified in the perjury trial of Scooter
    Libby in 2007.]

    “Peter, I may be going out on a limb, but I’m not sure that the first
    stage of this Shock and Awe campaign is really going to frighten the
    Iraqi people. In fact, it may have just the opposite effect. If they
    feel that they’ve survived the most that the United States can throw at
    them and they’re still standing, and they’re still able to go about
    their lives, well, then they might be rather emboldened. They might feel
    that, well, look, we can stand a lot more than this.”
    — Richard Engel, a Baghdad correspondent speaking to Peter Jennings
    on ABC’s “World News Tonight.”


  3. 17-03-2007

    (from: CounterPunch)

    War, Neoliberalism and Empire in the 21st Century

    Noam Chomsky and Sameer Dossani talking about the recently passed Iraqi oil law, the privatization of Iraqi oil and the U.S. economic agenda in Iraq

    Noam Chomsky Connects the Dots

    Sameer Dossani: Let’s talk about the recently passed Iraqi oil law. It’s well known that the law was drafted in the U.S. and then consulted on by very few Iraqis all loyal to Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki, then finally pushed through the Iraqi parliament. This law paves the way for regionalization and privatization of Iraqi oil. What’s the U.S. economic agenda in Iraq and will it be able to carry that agenda out, given the disastrous nature of the occupation so far?

    Noam Chomsky: It’s not very clear. What you said is correct. The law was not even seen by the Iraqi Parliament until it was finished, so it’s an inside job. Exactly what this entails is still kind of open. It allows for Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) which have traditionally been a way of gouging the producer and ensuring that foreign corporations have control and make huge profits. It’s quite different from other contractual arrangements in the region–it’s what they used to have but they’ve since nationalized their oil production and countries set terms more in their own interest with the corporations that are moving in. This law is vague on that so it leaves it open.

    As far as the U.S. economic interests I think we have to make a distinction. The primary interest, and that’s true throughout the Middle East, even in Saudi Arabia, the major energy producer, has always been control, not access, and not profit. Profit is a secondary interest and access is a tertiary interest.

    So in the years when the U.S. was not using Middle East oil at all, [the U.S.] was the largest producer and the largest exporter, it still had the same policies. It wanted to control the sources of oil and the reasons are understood. In the mid-1940s, the State Department made it clear that the oil resources of the region, primarily then Saudi Arabia, were a stupendous source of strategic power which made the Middle East the most strategically important area of the world. They also added that its one of the greatest material prizes in world history. But the basic point is that it’s a source of strategic power, meaning that if you control the energy resources, then you can control the world, because the world needs the energy resources.

    This was made explicit by George Kennan when he was one of the Middle East planners [in the U.S. State Department]. [He said that] control over Middle East oil will give us veto power over our rivals. He was specifically talking about Japan, in case Japan industrialized, it was devastated by the war still, we’ll have veto power as long we control the oil. And that’s been understood through the years. So in the early stages of the Iraq war [former U.S. National Security Advisor] Zbigniew Brzezinski, who’s one of the more astute of the planners–he was not terribly enthusiastic about the war–said that if the U.S. wins the war, which means that it succeeds in imposing a client regime in Iraq, then the U.S. will have critical leverage over its industrial rivals in Europe and Asia because it will have its hand on the spigot.

    And that is also understood very well at the highest level of the administration. So a few months ago, Dick Cheney said that control over [oil] pipelines can be “tools for intimidation and [blackmail]”. He was talking about control over pipelines in the hands of others, so if our enemies have it, it’s a tool of intimidation and coercion. But of course the same is true if it is in our hands. We’re not supposed to think that because we’re supposed to be noble, but the rest of the world certainly understands it. Yes, it’s a tool of intimidation and coercion, whether it’s the direction of pipelines or whether its control over the production or over the regimes in question, and control can take many forms.

    So that’s the primary concern–control. A secondary concern is undoubtedly profit for U.S.-based corporations and British based corporations and several others of course. And yes [in the case of the Iraqi oil law] that’s a possibility. The Production Sharing Agreements and the other arrangements for long-term contracts at ridiculous rates, those are expected to be sources of immense profit as they have been in the past, so for example a couple of weeks ago Exxon-Mobil posted its profits for 2006 which are the highest for any corporation in U.S. history. That broke the record of the preceding year, which also happened to be Exxon-Mobil and the other energy corporations are doing just great–they have money pouring out of their ears. And the same with the corporations that link to them, like Haliburton, Bechtel and so on.

    The material prize of oil production is not just from energy. It’s also from many other things. Take Saudi Arabia or the [United Arab] Emirates. They have huge constriction projects paid for by petro-dollars which recycle back to Bechtel and other major construction companies. A lot of it goes right back to U.S. military industry. So these are huge markets for U.S. military exports and the military industry in the United States is very closely linked to the high-tech economy generally. So it’s a sort of a cycle–high prices for oil, the petro-dollars pour back to the U.S. for major construction projects for high-tech industry, for development, for purchasing treasury securities which helps bolster the economy–it’s a major part of the economy and of course it’s not just the United States. Britain, France and others are trying very hard to sell them the same things and sometimes succeeding. There was a big bribery scandal in Britain recently because of efforts to bribe Saudi officials into buying jet aircraft and so on. So the basic idea of the energy system is that it should be under the control of loyal clients of the United States, and they’re allowed to enrich themselves, become super rich in fact, but the petro-dollars are basically to cycle back to the West, primarily the United States in various forms. So that’s a secondary concern.

    A tertiary concern is access. That’s much less of a concern. One of the reasons is that the distribution systems are pretty much in the hands of big energy corporations anyway and once oil is on the high seas, it can go anywhere. So access is not considered a major problem. Political scientists, when they make fun of the idea that the U.S. invaded Iraq to gain its oil, they point out is that the U.S. can get Middle East oil in other ways so therefore that can’t be the reason. That’s true, but it’s irrelevant because the true issues are and always have been control and secondarily profit and in fact U.S. intelligence projections for the coming years have emphasized that while the U.S. should control Middle East energy for the traditional reasons, it should rely primarily on more stable Atlantic basin resources, namely West Africa and the Western hemisphere. They’re more secure, presumably and therefore we can use those, but we should control the Middle East oil because it is a stupendous source of strategic power.

    SD: The difficulties surround the occupation Iraq has deflected the U.S.’s attention away from other parts of the world, including Latin America. Recently, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and others such as Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, have been talking about regional trade agreements such as ALBA and, in the case of Venezuela, aid packages that are supposedly designed to actually benefit local populations as opposed to transnational companies. Critics claim that these policies are a) unsustainable, because they depend on revenues from Venezuela’s oil wealth, and b) self serving for the government of Hugo Chavez. What is your response to these criticisms?

    NC: It’s very odd criticism in the first place. Are U.S. aid programs sustainable? No, not if there’s a depression or even a recession. Furthermore, U.S. aid happens to be about the lowest relative to the economy of any advanced society so there isn’t much of it in the first place and it also can be withdrawn at any time and often is.

    As for doing it for self interest, what do you think other countries provide aid for? They’re perfectly open about it. Sometimes, there’s something done for altruistic reasons maybe by Norway, but overwhelmingly, aid is openly presented as “in our interest”, not just by the U.S. but by Britain and France and others. It is part of general strategic policies of controlling whatever part of the world you can. So, if in fact Venezuela’s doing it for that reason, that just says, “yeah, they’re just like us”. So whatever that is, it’s not a criticism.

    What are the reasons? Well, they’re complicated. First of all, there’s a background. For the first time in 500 years since the Spanish conquest Latin America–especially South America–is beginning to move towards some sort of integration. Actually it’s a dual type of integration. Part of it is international integration meaning the countries are becoming more integrated with one another. The traditional structure in LA has been that each of the countries is primarily oriented towards Western imperial powers. So [economies are oriented toward trade with] Spain, and in recent years mostly the United States, not with one another. That’s even true of the transportation systems. They’re designed for export of resources abroad and import of luxury goods for the rich within.

    There’s a very clear contrast with East Asia. East Asia is resource poor, Latin America is resource rich. You would have expected Latin America to have rapid growth, not East Asia, but it didn’t. One of the reasons is that Latin America adhered very rigorously to the neo-liberal policies of the last 25 years, the IMF World Bank policies, and those are basically offshoots of the U.S. Treasury department. They adhered to the rules and they suffered severely–most of the population that is. The rich sectors did ok. East Asia just disregarded the rules and followed the same kinds of programs that the rich countries themselves, including the U.S., had followed to gain their wealth and power. So East Asia grew, but in addition to that, if you look at say imports and exports, Latin America exported raw materials, which is low income basically, and imported luxury goods for the wealthy. East Asia imported capital goods and moved up the ladder of industrial progress and ended up exporting high technology goods.

    SD: What do you mean by “capital goods”?

    NC: Machine tools, things that you can use for producing commodities, electronics, bio-technology and so on. I mean those are the high-value exports, not rice. I mean for the U.S., rice is such a low value export that agribusiness has to get about 40% of its profit from U.S. government subsidies, provided primarily since the Reagan administration, as part of their efforts to undermine markets–they love rhetoric about markets, but they greatly dislike the concept applied to us. And the terms of trade tend to decline for commodities, you know there’s variation, but they tend to decline for primary commodities as compared with high value goods like industrial exports. So [economists like to talk about] this notion called “comparative advantage”, you should produce what you’re good at, but the way countries develop is by rejecting that principle and acting in order to shift their comparative advantage.

    So let’s take the United States. 200 years ago the comparative advantage of the United States was exporting fish and fur, and maybe cotton, thanks to slavery. If the U.S. had followed the principles that are dictated to the poor countries, we’d be a sparsely populated, pretty poor country, exporting primary resources. Instead, the United States violated all of the rules–the rules of the economists and the neo-liberal principles. It imposed extremely high tariffs on imports from Britain, textiles at first, later steel and others, and it had the highest tariffs in the world, the highest protection in the world in the 19th century. As a result, it was able to shift its comparative advantage from primary resource exports to manufacturing, finally high-tech technology and so on, and that goes on right until today. Only the poor countries are supposed to follow the principles that economists dictate. In the United States there’s a state sector of the economy, which is the core of high-technology advanced production. That’s where computers come from, and the Internet, and lasers, and containers for trade; civilian aircraft are mostly an offshoot of the military industry, right now moving on to genetic engineering, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, and so on. Research and development–which are the risky, costly parts of development–those costs are imposed on the public by funding through the state sector and development in the state sector. When there are profits to be made it’s handed over to private corporations and that’s the basic structure of the advanced economy.

    That’s one reason why the U.S. simply can’t enter into the free trade agreement–it just doesn’t accept market systems internally. So going back to East Asia and Latin America, Latin America followed the rules and became impoverished; East Asia ignored the rules, and was able to grow and develop pretty much the way the rich countries had themselves. So one form of integration in Latin America is integration of the societies with one another, although the alternative is the more far-reaching version of this, but there are others. And the second form of integration is internal. Latin America at last is beginning to do something, not much, but something about the internal fracturing of the societies, which is extreme. Each of those societies is characterized by a very wealthy small elite, and a huge impoverished mass. There’s also a pretty close correlation to race. The wealthy elite tends to be the white, Europeanized part of the society; the huge impoverished mass tends to be the Mestizo, Indian, Black part of the society. Not a perfect correlation, but it’s very noticeable. And that’s beginning to be addressed, in large part as a result of the pressure of mass popular movements, which are very significant in Latin America now more than any other part of the world.

    It’s in this context that the Venezuelan phenomenon surfaces. Venezuela is indeed now, under Chavez, using its oil wealth to accelerate these processes–both the international integration and the internal integration. It’s helped countries of the region free themselves from U.S. controls, exercised in part through the traditional threat of violence, which has been much weakened, and in part through economic controls. That’s why country after country is kicking out the IMF, restructuring their debts, or refusing to pay them, often with the specific help of Venezuela. In Argentina particularly, Venezuela bought about a third of the debt and enabled Argentina to “rid herself of the IMF” as the President [Nestor Kirchner] put it. The international integration is also proceeding, not just through Venezuela. It doesn’t get reported here because it’s sort of not the right story, but a lot of things are happening. So in early December for example, there was a meeting of all South American leaders in Cochabamba, Bolivia–which is right at the heart of Morales territory, Indian territory–and they proposed, they had constructive ideas and suggestions which could lead towards sort of a European Union type structure for South America.

    The more extreme version of this, advanced version of it is ALBA, which you mentioned, the Venezuelan initiative, but there are others. MERCOSUR, which is a regional trade alliance is stumbling, but it exists. There are great barriers to integration, it’s not an easy matter to dismantle 500 years of history, either internally or regionally, but there are steps towards it, and Venezuela is playing a significant role in them. In the U.S. there’s kind of a new party line on this matter. The party line is that, OK, we admit the subcontinent is drifting to the Left, but there are good Leftists and bad Leftists, and we have to distinguish between them. The bad Leftists are Chavez, of course, Morales, and probably Correa, not certain yet, and Kirschner’s also one of the bad ones. The good Leftists are Lula in Brazil, García in Peru, they don’t know about Bachelet in Chile, and so on.

    In order to maintain this propaganda line, it’s necessary to suppress quite a lot of facts. For example, the Cochabamba conference that I mentioned, or the fact that when Lula was reelected in last October, his first foreign trip and one of his first acts was to visit Caracas to support Chávez and his electoral campaign, and to dedicate a joint Venezuelan-Brazilian project, a major bridge over the Orinoco river, and to discuss some other projects. Well that doesn’t fit the story so, as far as I can tell, I don’t think it was reported anywhere in the United States–I didn’t check everything, but I couldn’t find it–and many other things like that. I mean with any kind of propaganda, there’s at least some thread of truth to it, but it’s much more complex than that. There’s a real will towards integration and popular pressure towards internal integration, which are very significant. It’s worth remembering that these are steps toward reversing a 500-year-old pattern, and among other things, it’s weakening the traditional measures of U.S. control over South America. So the kind of governments the U.S. is supporting now, including Lula, are the kinds of governments they might well have been overthrowing not many years ago.

    SD: In Latin America, Venezuela is only one part of the general discontent that is driving governments away from the IMF. But in other parts of the world, notably Africa, the IMF and its neoliberal diktaats are as strong as ever, and the predictable result is that extreme poverty is still on the rise. Other countries — for example India — are not under this pressure but still are wildly pursuing neoliberal economic policies. What hope do you see for citizens and movements in these places? Are there lessons to be learned from the case of Latin America? How can we in the U.S. be supportive of struggles for economic justice in these places?

    A lot depends on what we do. After all [the U.S. is] the most powerful country in the world and the richest country in the world and has enormous influence. These policies that you describe are not without reason called the Washington Consensus; that’s where they emanate from.

    Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are the two areas of the world that most rigorously followed the neo-liberal principles, the orthodox principles of the Washington Consensus, and those are the two parts of the world that suffered most severely. And you’re right, in Sub-Saharan Africa it largely continues. They simply do not have the resources, the capacities, the countries are torn to shreds as a result of history of imperial conquest and devastation, and they’ve not been able to put themselves back together again. Their hopes for revival after the the formal end of colonialism were pretty much shattered by Western intervention. So for example, the murder of [Patrice]Lumumba in the Congo, which is the richest, and potentially the most powerful country of the region, and the installation of the corrupt and brutal murderer Mobuto [Sese Seko] not long after, I mean that set off a chain of catastrophes which is still devastating the area and no sign of resolution.

    The French in their regions of Africa did the same. One gangster after another, the French backed state terrorism, and did all sorts of things. And pretty much the British, too, in their regions. So [many African countries] have a hideous legacy to overcome, and it’s very difficult, and they’re not getting much support from the outside. But we should be doing what we can to support authentic liberation struggles within the countries.

    It’s too complicated to go into the history here, but it’s worth remembering many of the things that happened. So for example, when the Portuguese empire collapsed in the mid-70’s, the former Portuguese colonies had a chance, Angola, Mozambique, a couple other Portuguese colonies, might have moved towards some sort of independent development. But South Africa, with U.S. backing, would not allow it–remember that’s apartheid South Africa. So for example in Angola, South African troops backed by the United States just invaded to try to throw out the elected government, and again, with U.S. support, supported terrorist movements, the Savimbi movement, to try to undermine the government, and they would have succeeded had it not been for the fact that Cuba sent forces to support the government.

    That led to hysteria in the United States. You had [the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations] Daniel Moynihan saying ‘the Russians are trying to cut our lifeline, our oil supplies to the Middle East’, [Henry] Kissinger raving and so on, and it was all, believed to be or presented to be a Russian operation. In fact, we now know from excellent contemporary U.S. scholarship that it was a Cuban initiative–it was mainly Piero Gleijeses at Johns Hopkins University who’s going through the archival material and has done outstanding scholarship. What happened is that Cuba entered on its own initiative and very selflessly–they never took any credit for what they were doing, it’s still mostly unknown–but Cuban troops beat back the South African offensive, and not only did that prevent the re-conquest of Angola, but it also had extraordinary symbolic significance. Those Cuban troops were black, and that broke the kind of mythology of white conquest; it was the first time that black soldiers had defeated advanced white armies, South African with U.S. backing. And that was a very important, had a very important effect on all of Africa. For the South African whites it was a sign that their conquest was not permanent. And for blacks in South Africa and elsewhere in the region, it showed that you don’t have to subordinate yourself to white power.

    That breaking of the hold of the mythology of [white] power is extremely significant, not just in this case. The same is true with many other cases, slavery, the women’s movement, all sorts of things. Just breaking the idea that you must subject yourself to overwhelming power, when that’s broken, a lot collapses with it. So that was a very important step towards the liberation of Africa, and Cuba deserves enormous respect for this, also for never taking credit for it, because they wanted the credit to be taken by the African countries themselves. It’s only now beginning to be known, and mostly only known in scholarly circles because you don’t get front page stories in the New York Times about topics like this. And then Angola fell into total catastrophe, mainly because of the depredations of the U.S.-backed terrorist forces, which were horrendous, and now it’s a horror story. Similar things were happening elsewhere. The United Nations commission on Africa estimated that in the former Portuguese colonies alone–Mozambique and Angola–about a million and a half people were killed by South African aggression backed by the Reagan administration, just during the Reagan years. That’s a pretty serious catastrophe. They also estimated about 60 billion dollars of damage, and the French and Algeria and their regions elsewhere were doing pretty much the same. It’s a hideous, ugly story, and sub-Saharan Africa has a long way to go to extricate itself from these centuries of destruction still continuing.

    India is a complicated story; it has been independent since 1947. Before the British conquest back in the 18th century, India and China had been the commercial and industrial centers of the world. British conquest turned India into a poor, peasant society. [The British] built roads and infrastructure, but they were mostly for the benefit of the invaders, the export of goods and so on. There were hideous famines–Mike Davis has a wonderful book on this Victorian famines, huge famines that could have easily been prevented, right thru the British rule up to the very end in the 1940s. Since Indian independence, they resumed their growth and there were no more famines; it became a more or less governable society and was beginning to develop. In the 1980s, there was a significant increase in the rate of growth. In the 1990s, they instituted the so-called neo-liberal reforms on their own, I mean, that was not under IMF control, as you said, and since then there have been changes.

    They’re very highly praised in the West–you know, the Thomas Friedman-style adulation of the new India–and in fact growth has increased, and a sector of the society has become much better off, has been raised from poverty. But remember that means a sector of the society; the large majority of the society is deeply impoverished, maybe even harmed by the neo-liberal policies, the same policies that are responsible for the marvelous labs in Hyderabad and Bangalore – which are indeed marvelous, I’ve seen them and they’re just like MIT – and there is increase in the wealth of that sector of society. Those same policies are undermining the large majority of the population, which is peasant-based. Also the government has withdrawn support for peasant agriculture, meaning cheap credits, irrigation, rural aid, assistance programs, and so on, and they’ve also kind of pressured the poor farmers to turn from subsistence crops to export crops–that’s the advice of economists generally.

    Mexico, for example, under NAFTA was supposed to turn away from producing rice for the population and corn, turned away from that to, say, producing flowers for export to the United States with “more valued added”. In some seminar somewhere that might look good, but in the real world it happens not to work for very simple reasons. Commodity prices tend to vary quite a lot, and if there’s like a natural disaster, say a hurricane or whatever, and you’re producing flowers, they might be wiped out that year, just like the citrus crop has been pretty much wiped out in California this year because of the cold spell. Well if you’re agribusiness, you can handle that. So wiping out the citrus crop in California may raise the price of oranges in the United States, but U.S. agribusiness is going to survive it just fine. However, poor farmers cannot, I mean a farmer can’t tell his children ‘don’t bother eating this year’ because cotton prices went down, or because a storm wiped out our flowers, and ‘maybe you’ll be able to eat the next year’, you can’t do that. So what you have to do is to try to get credit. Well with the government having withdrawn support for the vast majority of the population, you go to usurers, who charge you huge levels of interest, which you’re not going to be able to pay, so then you have to sell off the little plot of land you have, and pretty soon you can’t support your family at all, so you commit suicide.

    And in fact the rate of peasant suicides has been rising [in India] about as fast as the adulation by Thomas Friedman for the marvels of the economy. The per capita grain intake for people in India has declined, the average has declined considerably, since the onset of the reforms. Manufacturing productivity has gone way up, manufacturing wages have gone way down. At the beginning of the so-called reforms, India was ranked around 124th or so in the UN development rankings, which measure infant mortality and so on. Since the reforms have been undertaken, it’s actually declined–the last time I looked I think it was 127th, it certainly hasn’t advanced.

    Well, these are parts, I can go on, but these are the several aspects of the Indian development story. For some it’s been very good, and for others it’s been, at best, stagnation, at worst, a disaster. And remember, for huge parts of India, like say for women, life is kind of like under the Taliban. Careful studies of say [the Indian state of] Uttar Pradesh, which maybe has 160 million people, has found that they have about the lowest female to male ratio in the world and it’s not because of female infanticide, it’s because of the way women are treated, which would make the Taliban look pretty decent. And these are huge areas, and they’re not getting better, many are getting worse. The same is true in China, it’s harder to say about China, it’s a closed society, I don’t know the details, but it’s probably quite similar. India’s a more open society so there’s a lot of evidence.

    Going back to Mexico and producing corn and beans, I mean, why is there a vast increase in illegal immigration from Mexico in recent years? It’s partly the predicted effects of NAFTA. If you flood, the worst is yet to happen but even the beginning of it, if you flood Mexico with U.S. agribusiness exports, which are highly subsidized–that’s how they get their profits–then Mexican farmers aren’t going to be able to compete. Then comes the economists’ theory, you know, turn from producing corn and beans and rice to producing flowers and [other] export crops, and you have the mode I described, and people can’t survive. So there’s a flight of people from the countryside to the cities where there are no jobs because Mexican businesses can’t compete with U.S. multinationals, which are given enormous advantages under the mislabeled trade agreements. And yes, you get a flight of population [across the border]. The price of tortillas, you know, the basic food for the poor, it’s gone out of sight, people can’t pay for it. If you’re growing your own food, you can manage, or if there’s a subsistence agriculture, yeah, you can kind of manage, but not when you abandon it.

    Again, for parts of the population it’s been a benefit, so the number of billionaires has gone way up, just like in India. India now ranks very high internationally among the number of billionaires, but also for peasant suicides, and for severe malnutrition and so on. These countries, which are pretty rich, [are in some respects doing worse than] the poorest countries. GDP per capita in India is below Bolivia. That’s nothing to rave about, Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. These are several sides of the same policies.

    Remember that when NAFTA was enacted in 1994, another policy was enacted. In 1994, Clinton militarized the border in Operation Gatekeeper. Now previously, that had been a pretty open border. The border, of course, was established by conquest, like most borders. And there were similar people on both sides, people who would cross the border to visit their friends and relatives and that sort of thing. Now the border was militarized in 1994. OK, maybe it’s a coincidence, more likely I think it’s because the Clinton administration understood that their glowing predictions [about the benefits of NAFTA] were for propaganda, and that the likelihood was that there would be effects in Mexico which would lead to substantial flight, immigration, joined by people fleeing the wreckage of Central America after Reagan’s terrorist wars there. And yes, now you have what they call an immigration crisis. These things are connected, you can’t look at them in isolation.


    Sameer Dossani is the Director of 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice.

    Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent books are Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Interventions, forthcoming from City Lights


  4. Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello
    Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:58 am (PST)

    The Impeachment Chronicles: Latest Reported Iraq Death Toll, 1 Million

    By Bill Hare


    While progressives focus on Attorney General Gonzales and hatch strategies for subpoenas to get him on the record, along with other Administration figures, including Karl Rove, it is time to look at the broader picture.

    Alberto Gonzales represents a pattern. Before him there was John Ashcroft just as, after Donald Rumsfeld finally stepped down as Defense Secretary, Thomas Gates, who is carrying out the same policies in a less confrontational way, replaced him. The list of grievances never end.

    The focus is the same. Contact progressives and rally them around the cause of the moment targeting that specific individual. The questions that remain are: Who is in charge? Does anything change if targeted individuals leave?

    The forces of Cheney and Bush continue unleashing a tenacious, full court press. A reactionary neocon agenda adhering to the Project for the New American Century guidelines will remain in place. The foot soldiers might change but the game plan remains the same.

    Here is something that the mainstream media has not been discussing. On Wednesday an Alan Jones article at Information Clearing House quoted the results of the latest survey into the subject of Iraq War deaths.

    On the fourth anniversary of the invasion begun with a Donald Rumsfeld “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad, Australian scientist Dr. Gideon Polya has stated that the combined death toll since the Iraq disaster is significantly higher than the biggest previous estimate of 655,000 by a Johns Hopkins University research team.

    According to Dr. Polya’s study the death toll in Iraq since the American invasion to “democratize” the Middle East nation could be as high as 1 million.

    A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition called the figure “astonishing”, adding, “Four years after the start of the conflict in Iraq we can now see what a disaster the war has been. Everything we predicted would happen has taken place, but this is far worse than we feared.”

    Barry M. Lando, a former investigative producer for 60 Minutes, has written Web of Deceit, a book detailing major power misadventure in Iraq from Britain and Winston Churchill following World War One to the present. The focus has been and remains on Iraq’s lucrative oil resources. Bush claims of an idealistic pursuit to implement democracy there are ludicrous.

    Lando cogently traces the rush to war on the part of the Cheney-Bush team in which the facts were contorted to realize the Administration’s objective.

    During that period, when anyone asserting the real dangers of such an invasion along with the fact that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction and was not the danger being posed was denounced as unpatriotic by ranting right talking heads, General Amer al-Saadi, Saddam Hussein’s scientific advisor, was given an opportunity on CNN to answer Administration charges.

    Remember CNN? That’s the network that right wing propagandists proclaim to be “too liberal” with Fox being a “more objective” alternative.

    After that interview CNN anchor Paula Zahn introduced her next guest, James Rubin, a former State Department spokesman, with the words, “You’ve got to understand that most Americans watching this were either probably laughing out loud or got sick to their stomachs. Which was it for you?”

    “Well, really, both,” Rubin responded.

    One quote from Lando’s book demonstrated the tragic significance of the Administration’s rush to war:

    “With no real resistance from CIA leadership, the process of massaging intelligence continued. In January 2003, according to an analyst in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division, their unit chief gave marching orders to his staff. `He said, “You know what – if Bush wants to go to war, it’s your job to give him a reason to do so.”`

    An analysis of the Nuremberg trials following World War Two in which operatives of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime were tried for crimes against humanity revealed a standard that, if currently applied, could not help but convict Cheney and Bush, along with other major figures such as Rumsfeld, of crimes against humanity. Lesser lights of that power hungry regime were tried, convicted, and sent to the gallows.

    From experts such as Lando, Seymour Hersh, and even an establishment journalist such as Robert Woodward, an unmistakable pattern emerges of manufacturing and massaging intelligence to fit pro-invasion circumstances. Among the on the scene Administration figures who have also attested to the burning desire to invade Iraq from the time Bush took office are Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill.

    The circumstances are clear. It is time to cease diversionist strategy to confront the Administration ogre of the moment and begin impeachment proceedings immediately against Cheney and Bush. Remember that the neocon objective of Middle East hegemony remains paramount and that currently Iran is next on the list.

    Should we not do all in our power to prevent a calamitous invasion of Iran by aggressive forces with an insatiable lust for power?


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