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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, May 13, 2005

Accountability

Any chance of this happening in Australia (let alone reported in our press?)

"Eighty-nine Democratic members of the U.S. Congress last week sent President George W. Bush a letter asking for explanation of a secret British memo that said "intelligence and facts were being fixed" to support the Iraq war in mid-2002."

No, didn't think so. The ALP or renegade Liberal MPs actually demanding questions in matters of war and peace? Forget about it. As for the mainstream media ignoring the development, we shouldn't be surprised. They're too busy printing tosh like this on Page 3.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Glenn Condell said...

If you have fetchingly windswept scions of privilege who do photogenic things like surf and g to nightclubs, you'd be a fool of an editor to ignore them wouldn't you? It's what the public wants Antony, doncha know, and that specious Murdochian formula is working it's way into the driving seat at the Herald.

Getting sick of that Gawenda twat trying to wheedle us all back into the pre 911 rosy glow of respect for America, before the fall... his story about how the US has given us more green cards than any other country because of our warm relations, stronger than ever before apparently, makes me puke. It's propaganda, it's being on-side. It's not journalism.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 10:00:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'that Gawenda twat'. spot on.
This is Fairfax self-consciously doing a Murdoch in D.C.
Just think what might have been possible with a person of knowledge, courage and style in that position.
ej

Saturday, May 14, 2005 12:20:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

I know, Packer's little darling surfing is news!
Amazingly, with Fairfax likely to be bought in the coming year, post cross media changes, the increasing positive press of the Packer clan smells fishy to me. We all know that Kerry really wants...

Saturday, May 14, 2005 2:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

Sadly I think it is too late for justice to be done on this one. The Australian people have already cast a de facto vote in support of the war last year. The Iraqi government is now coming together, and hopefully coalition troops will be out of the country before too long, so that Iraq can carry on with picking up the pieces of its nationhood.

The opposition parties in this country would probably do well to focus more on attacking the Howard government's damaging domestic policies over the coming months than dwelling on an admittedly immoral war which like it or not, is slipping away into history.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 1:30:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

"The Iraqi government is now coming together, and hopefully coalition troops will be out of the country before too long, so that Iraq can carry on with picking up the pieces of its nationhood."

Too young to remember Vietnam, Guy?
Or are the old 1960s Pentagon platitudes still echoing around your head and occassionally bouncing out of your mouth?

And where do you get the idea that anything in Iraq is 'coming together' - unless you mean the 14 permanent military bases and the internationalised pillage of the remnants of its economy?
Greg Sheridan perhaps?

Sunday, May 15, 2005 5:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

Michael, that's nonsense. I think you have to consider both sides of the argument.

I vehemently opposed the war on Iraq. But the war is now over, and the people of this country and every other country involved in the war (except perhaps Spain) have already indicated with their votes that they were not willing to throw out the governments responsible.

If you aren't even willing to admit that Iraq is in a somewhat better state now than it was when the war concluded, then I think you are being silly.

The focus should now be on rebuilding Iraq. It has to be, unless you really want chaos to reign in that part of the world forever.

I'd obviously prefer it if the United States was not so heavily involved, but if you think that any opposition politican in this country has a skerrick of influence over the extent to which the United States continues to be involved in Iraq, you are dreaming.

If the broader left continues to dwell on a concluded war in Iraq forever, they will remain in opposition forever.

They will fail the people.

Monday, May 16, 2005 10:43:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

I don't give a rat's about the Australian 'opposition' - whether you see it as the ALP, Greens, Dems or Socialist Alliance. I wouldn't vote for them any more than I would vote for the criminal fools currently in power.

However I do give a damn about the staggering continuing death toll in Iraq and the blatant dishonesty (or is it cognitive dissonance?) of those who claim that the war is over - as if a retarded Texan climbing out of the cockpit of a fighter and declaring 'Mission Accomplished' somehow makes it so.

Even if - like the US press - you pretty much ignore non-US casualties in Iraq there are still as many GIs dying every day there as during what you seem to think was the war. Add the Iraqi paramilitary, insurgent and civilian battle casualties and you've got a real shooting war that is several orders of magnitude worse than the 'official' one which ended with Dubya's short flight to an aircraft carrier.

But whatever you do, don't count the non-battle casualties that are a direct result of the invasion and continued criminal occupation. The mortality rate for Iraqi infants is now twice what it was before Hellfire missiles and Halliburton 'liberated' Iraq and many times higher than it was before Clinton's sanctions killed off over half a million Iraqi babies in little over a decade (but don't worry Guy, Madelaine Allbright says it was 'worth it').

And there is now fewer hours of electricity per day, reduced emergency medical capacity and less people with access to clean water than there was when Saddam's statue fell. Not to mention DU and unexploded cluster munitions scattered across the country.

So exactly what is 'silly' about refusing to concede the outrageously false claim that Iraq is in a somewhat better state now than it was when the war concluded?

If this is the peace, it seems that maybe war is a good option after all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 1:58:00 am  
Anonymous Guy said...

I don't give a rat's about the Australian 'opposition' - whether you see it as the ALP, Greens, Dems or Socialist Alliance. I wouldn't vote for them any more than I would vote for the criminal fools currently in power.

Who would you vote for then Michael? One Nation? If you would not support (even begrudgingly) any of the stances of the parties you mention above I'm afraid I don't understand where you are coming from.

So exactly what is 'silly' about refusing to concede the outrageously false claim that Iraq is in a somewhat better state now than it was when the war concluded?

So are you saying that the country is in more of a state of war now than it was when the war was happening? I don't see how that could possibly be the case.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:34:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

One Nation? Not sure if you're taking the piss or a natural blonde, Guy.

Nope, I'm a member of the fastest growing bloc in the Australian electorate - those eligible to vote who refuse to be listed on the electoral roll. Over 13% and growing fast at the most recent estimates. That makes us bigger than any of the minors. Won't be long before we knock off the LibLabs I reckon.

Representative democracy is cactus Guy. If you want to make a difference, do what I do. Get off your arse, join a few activist groups and tell those in power directly what you think they're doing wrong. All that scribbling numbers in little boxes does is let them pretend that you have given them a mandate for any criminal enterprise they care to dream up and pretend to be carrying out in your name.

Of course you'll have to do some pretty distasteful things if you want to make a difference. Write submissions, testify before committees, attend demonstrations, provide legal and/or social assistance to the abused and disempowered - even hold your nose and give media interviews from time to time. But even though it seems to be a Sisyphean task you can go to bed knowing that no-one can pretend to have your consent for illegal wars or racist immigration policies.

I'm not surprised that you can't see that Iraq is in a worse state than it was during the initial invasion. Apparently you can't even see that tons of dropped munitions, millions of fired bullets and thousands of deaths and injuries is a war, so you clearly have a severe perceptual impairment.

But maybe I'm just too thick to understand that the ongoing war in Iraq is actually peace. Maybe George Orwell could explain it to me if he was still around.

Or maybe you're just wasting your time trying to get through to someone as slow as I am, Guy. You should try talking to my brother in law instead.

Don't be put off by his 6'3" stature, his brick s***house build or his many years of combat training. He really has a very sweet disposition. Though I must admit, he has been a little less sweet since his LAV was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad last December, with three of his mates hurt - one seriously. But I'm sure he would be pleased to know that he wasn't fighting a war over there at all. Doubtless when he gets rotated back there he will fill his Aus Steyr clip with rose petals to spray loving kindness all over those cute little insurgents. I'm sure he will be greatly relieved when you explain to him that his mate must have had half his face blown away by one of those enthusiastic Iraqi kisses that all the 'liberators' were told to expect.

Nope, no war there. Move along. Nothing to see.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:13:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

"Nope, I'm a member of the fastest growing bloc in the Australian electorate - those eligible to vote who refuse to be listed on the electoral roll."

I don't think disengaging from the system will prove a particularly productive way of changing it. What do you hope to prove by silencing your voice in the only legitimate forum that decides who runs this country?

"I'm not surprised that you can't see that Iraq is in a worse state than it was during the initial invasion"

I never contended that Iraq was in a worse state "during the initial invasion" to that it is now. I am contending that things are better now than they were when full-scale conflict was in progress.

Bombs are not being dropped now, and there is even talk that troops will be withdrawn in the not-too-distant future.

"But maybe I'm just too thick to understand that the ongoing war in Iraq is actually peace."

I'm not saying it Iraq is in a state of "peace" Michael, so stop trying to put words in my mouth. There is still quite a lot of civil unrest in Iraq - there's no doubting that. But whether or not you can claim that the unrest is part of the war or not is a just a question of semantics.

Being needlessly condescending won't convince anyone of your point of view.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:30:00 pm  
Anonymous michael said...

Umm, maybe you should try remedial reading Guy. I explained how I am not disengaged from the system at all - unlike those who scribble in a box once every few years then leave it to whichever mob of liars get the most scribbles.

Tomorrow I will be on air at 8:30am explaining to ABC Riverina listeners why Bob Carr's plan to build 1000 new prison beds will make the NSW law and order situation worse. On Thursday I'll be personally challenging Nick Cowdery at a public forum over the way NSW prosecutors abuse forensic evidence to obtain unsafe convictions. Friday I will be writing up a report on efforts by sex worker outreach activists to overturn DIMIA procedures that prevent the victims of people traffickers from seeking official help.

What will you be doing to demonstrate your 'engagement' this week, Guy?

Speaking of 'questions of semantics' (which must seem very esoteric to the dead and wounded of Iraq) exactly how do you distinguish 'the initial invasion' from what you call 'full scale conflict'. Was the destruction of Fallejah a 'full scale conflict' or is it only full scale when cruise missiles are landing in suburban Baghdad?

You tell us Guy. When exactly did the Iraq war 'end'? And what made it over?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

That's all good and well Michael, but if you are going to do all of that, not voting for the sake of some contrived point achieves nothing.

"Was the destruction of Fallejah a 'full scale conflict' or is it only full scale when cruise missiles are landing in suburban Baghdad?"

The primary conflict in Iraq ended when the United States and its coalition gained control over a predominant portion of the country and democratic elections saw a new government installed.

A secondary conflict continues and I am aware of that, but to say that this conflict is of exactly the same nature as the previous conflict would be incorrect. This conflict will hopefully within the next year fall into the sphere of control of the elected civil authorities within Iraq.

Or would you prefer more chaos and turmoil for the country?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 11:54:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

"That's all good and well Michael, but if you are going to do all of that, not voting for the sake of some contrived point achieves nothing".

Where do you get the idea that its contrived? Its all part of a consistent personal political philosophy I have been working on since I quit the Democrats in 1979.

And then there's the ethical side of it. Participating in what you know to be a fraud makes you an accessory to the fraud.

Plus the purely practical side - (i.e. the abuse of the once functional privacy provisions of the electoral roll by both major political parties and corporate Australia).

If you are a consistent outspoked critic of government policies - especially regarding policing - its not such a good idea to have your home address on a list accessible by everyone from John Hatzistergos to David Oldfield.

I value my commitment to participatory democracy and I'm not prepared to sacrifice it to protect the privacy and security of myself and those I share a home with just for the chance to take part in the fraud of representative democracy.

"The primary conflict in Iraq ended when the United States and its coalition gained control over a predominant portion of the country and democratic elections saw a new government installed."

Umm, hello? Is there anyone home, Guy?

The Coalition of Killing don't even control the road from the Green Zone to Baghdad airport. While my brother in law was there they were forced to relocate the Aus Embassy into the Green Zone because he and his very well armed and trained colleagues couldn't even control the streets outside their front door.

And if the recent installation of a US puppet regime is what you consider to be 'democratic elections' I can now see why you are so impressed with our own farcical ritual of the ballot box.

I look forward to the end of the chaos and turmoil in Iraq - which will eventually happen when US helicopters evacuate the last of their staff from the roof of the US embassy.

But I do not prefer the ongoing death and suffering that will continue to be a feature of the futile Vietnamisation - oops, Iraqification - of the casualties of this decade's US neo-colonialist adventure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Guy said...

"And if the recent installation of a US puppet regime is what you consider to be 'democratic elections' I can now see why you are so impressed with our own farcical ritual of the ballot box."

Like it or not, the new Iraqi government was democratically elected by the people of Iraq.

How was the election "farcical?" From all reports, voter turnout was actually quite high, and numerous folk critical of the U.S. were in fact elected.

Thursday, May 19, 2005 10:09:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

Umm, last I heard it was not an elected government at all. Rather it was an elected transitional council which has only recently finishing the task of selecting a government - which includes some people who never stood for election at all. It has also only recently completed the task of selecting a committee to draft an Iraqi constitution - which is not expected to be put to the people before October at the earliest.

In the absence of either a written, approved constitution or an elected executive it is a very big stretch indeed to suggest that there is an "Iraqi government ... democratically elected by the people".

But that seems a minor point next to the facts of who was excluded from the voting, the conditions under which the elections were carried out and the lack of sovereignity of the resulting 'government'.

Edward Herman has well and truly debunked the simplistic myth that high voter turnout somehow equates to a valid democratic exercise - which is just as well if you apply the corollary argument to most US elections.

But even if turnout equalled support, would you consider an Australian election to be 'democratic' if it had, say, a 90% turnout, but the missing 10% included nearly all of Australia's Aborigines, Muslims and/or Jews?

What about an Iraqi election which disenfrachised the overwhelming majority of Sunnis?

As George Bush points out, you can't have free and fair elections under a foreign military occupation or without monitoring by independent international observers. Of course Dubya was speaking of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, but I'm not sure why his logic loses relevance at the Iraq border.

But the main reason the Iraq election could never be democratic is because the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want an end to the occupation as one of the highest priorities of restoration of their sovreignity. How the heck are they supposed to achieve that by voting. Any candidate silly enough to make that policy into a credible platform plank would find it pretty hard to survive an election, much less get elected.

That policy won't be achieved with a ballot box. It will be achieved with Kalashnikovs and IEDs with the help - hopefully - of peace movements in the invading countries. And the success the insurgents have in operating within and among mainstream Iraqis seems to demonstrate pretty widespread popular support for their policies.

Yep, the bravery and determination of the Iraqis who voted was inspiring. And the cannyness of Sistani in forcing the US to permit elections when they didn't intend to allow them was also a good portend for a future Iraq free of US colonialist domination.

But no matter how much I approve of these two events, I am not naive enough to mistake them for democracy - even of the corrupted representative variety we have in Australia.

Friday, May 20, 2005 1:05:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

Hmm, seems I should have finished reading my open browser windows before responding to your last post Guy.

Dahr Jamail has a recent post which gives his perspective of "Democracy" in Iraq, while Chris Shumway seems to feel that the UN has put the lie to your earlier suggestion that "Iraq is in a somewhat better state now than it was when the war concluded".

But just stick to the mainstream Australian media, Guy. Wouldn't want to challenge any comfortable middle-class preconceptions, would we?

Friday, May 20, 2005 1:53:00 am  

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