Subject : ON DOGMATISM.
12 February 2008
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The intolerance of differences is what all dogmas have in common. Can anyone who was not born yesterday fail to see that capitalism, as a system of belief, has become increasingly dogmatic ? (See the Democracy Now! interview with Progressive Magazine editor, Matthew Rothschild, on "Business Leaders Working with FBI".) Those of us who have the memory, and can remember that it has not always been this way, have a moral obligation to speak out.
Squeezing the proverbial lemon and extracting private profits has become exceedingly difficult, not so much because of resistance to the squeeze (we would all like to be more "useful"), but because the surplus value is simply no longer available in abundance. The private profit motive is increasingly aggressive in times like this, when things are not going as expected, and the harder the squeeze, the more difficult the extraction of profits.
A sentient understanding of our new environment is that ideologues are imposing upon us unnecessary labor that exhausts life itself --our own lives and the life around us. In this desperate capitalist attempt to sustain high production levels of profit, which is the only cause that can justify private investments, the chiens de guard are increasingly visible, positioned to take action when necessary to impose additional discipline during the extraction process.
Before all else, the profits must continue to flow into private bank accounts, and no opposition will be tolerated. "It was like you were driving a car at 100 miles an hour when someone else suddenly grabbed the steering wheel," explained an executive of ITT in 1973, after the coup d'état in Chile. Capitalists had to take action to regain control in order to save their system.
Today, opposition to the private profit motive of corporate capitalism comes from within the process itself, as popular perceptions grow to realize that "the cure is worse than the disease". . . .
The 6 items below were selected for CEIMSA readers because they illustrate how the economic crisis which now engulfs the capitalist system is generating another wave of "cultural revolutions" (hopefully mindful of past errors).
Item A. is an article sent to us by Professor Edward Herman which describes the "free trade fiasco" around the world.
Item B., also from Professor Herman, is a piece of ironic realism by Noam Chomsky, who is still waiting for the expression of the Iraqi voice on self-determination.
Item C., from George Kenney's Electronic Politics, is an audio interview with Stephen Grey, author of Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Rendition and Torture Program, about is recent assignment in Afghanistan.
Item D. is an article from Counter Punch magazine by Allan Nairn on the civilizing influence of a Mayan invasion.
Item E. is from Dr. Jim O'Brien announcing the up-coming national conference of the Historians Against the War association next April in Atlanta, Georgia.
Item F. is an interview with Dahr Jamail by Jeremy Scahill.
Finally, we recommend to CEIMSA readers the following extraordinary 46-minute film from BBC on "When the IMF Creates Misery" :
or, if no longer available at this address, try :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Edward Herman :
Date: 5 February 2008
Subject: Chalmers Johnson on Friedman on free trade.
A new book on disastrous trade policies makes it clear that it's time to dismantle the barriers that keep so much of the world so poor.
from Edward Herman :
Date : 6 February 2008
Subject: Chomsky says . . . .
Where's the Iraqi voice?
by Noam Chomsky
THE US occupying army in Iraq (euphemistically called the Multi-National Force-Iraq) carries out extensive studies of popular attitudes. Its December 2007 report of a study of focus groups was uncharacteristically upbeat.
The report concluded that the survey "provides very strong evidence" to refute the common view that "national reconciliation is neither anticipated nor possible". On the contrary, the survey found that a sense of "optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups ... and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis."
This discovery of "shared beliefs" among Iraqis throughout the country is "good news, according to a military analysis of the results", Karen deYoung reports in The Washington Post.
The "shared beliefs" were identified in the report. To quote deYoung, "Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of 'occupying forces' as the key to national reconciliation."
So, according to Iraqis, there is hope of national reconciliation if the invaders, responsible for the internal violence, withdraw and leave Iraq to Iraqis.
The report did not mention other good news: Iraqis appear to accept the highest values of Americans, as established at the Nuremberg Tribunal -- specifically, that aggression -- "invasion by its armed forces" by one state "of the territory of another state" -- is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". The chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, forcefully insisted that the Tribunal would be mere farce if we do not apply its principles to ourselves.
Unlike Iraqis, the United States, indeed the West generally, rejects the lofty values professed at Nuremberg, an interesting indication of the substance of the famous "clash of civilisations".
More good news was reported by Gen David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker during the extravaganza staged on September 11, 2007. Only a cynic might imagine that the timing was intended to insinuate the Bush-Cheney claims of links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, so that by committing the "supreme international crime" they were defending the world against terror -- which increased sevenfold as a result of the invasion, according to an analysis last year by terrorism specialists Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank.
Petraeus and Crocker provided figures to show that the Iraqi government was greatly accelerating spending on reconstruction, reaching a quarter of the funding set aside for that purpose. Good news indeed, until it was investigated by the Government Accountability Office, which found that the actual figure was one-sixth of what Petraeus and Crocker reported, a 50 per cent decline from the preceding year.
More good news is the decline in sectarian violence, attributable in part to the success of the murderous ethnic cleansing that Iraqis blame on the invasion; there are fewer targets for sectarian killing. But it is also attributable to Washington's decision to support the tribal groups that had organised to drive out Iraqi Al Qaeda, and to an increase in US troops.
It is possible that Petraeus's strategy may approach the success of the Russians in Chechnya, where fighting is now "limited and sporadic, and Grozny is in the midst of a building boom" after having been reduced to rubble by the Russian attack, CJ Chivers reports in the New York Times last September.
Perhaps some day Baghdad and Fallujah too will enjoy "electricity restored in many neighbourhoods, new businesses opening and the city's main streets repaved", as in booming Grozny. Possible, but dubious, considering the likely consequence of creating warlord armies that may be the seeds of even greater sectarian violence, adding to the "accumulated evil" of the aggression. Iraqis are not alone in believing that national reconciliation is possible. A Canadian-run poll found that Afghans are hopeful about the future and favour the presence of Canadian and other foreign troops -- the "good news" that made the headlines.
The small print suggests some qualifications. Only 20 per cent "think the Taleban will prevail once foreign troops leave". Three-quarters support negotiations between the US-backed Karzai government and the Taleban, and over half favour a coalition government. The great majority therefore strongly disagree with the US-Canadian stance, and believe that peace is possible with a turn towards peaceful means. Though the question was not asked in the poll, it seems a reasonable surmise that the foreign presence is favoured for aid and reconstruction.
There are, of course, numerous questions about polls in countries under foreign military occupation, particularly in places like southern Afghanistan. But the results of the Iraq and Afghan studies conform to earlier ones, and should not be dismissed.
Recent polls in Pakistan also provide "good news" for Washington. Fully 5 per cent favour allowing US or other foreign troops to enter Pakistan "to pursue or capture Al Qaeda fighters". Nine per cent favour allowing US forces "to pursue and capture Taleban insurgents who have crossed over from Afghanistan".
Almost half favour allowing Pakistani troops to do so. And only a little more than 80 per cent regard the US military presence in Asia and Afghanistan as a threat to Pakistan, while an overwhelming majority believe that the United States is trying to harm the Islamic world. The good news is that these results are a considerable improvement over October 2001, when a Newsweek poll found that "eighty-three per cent of Pakistanis surveyed say they side with the Taleban, with a mere three per cent expressing support for the United States," and over 80 per cent described Osama bin Laden as a guerrilla and six per cent a terrorist.
Amid the outpouring of good news from across the region, there is now much earnest debate among political candidates, government officials and commentators concerning the options available to the US in Iraq. One voice is consistently missing: that of Iraqis. Their "shared beliefs" are well known, as in the past. But they cannot be permitted to choose their own path any more than young children can. Only the conquerors have that right.
Perhaps here too there are some lessons about the "clash of civilisations".
from George Kenney :
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2008 07:10:03 -0500
Subject: Podcast Conversation with Stephen Grey.
Following last week's show on Pakistan I thought I'd try for some cartographical continuity -- Stephen Grey, author of Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Rendition and Torture Program (St. Martins, 2006), is just back from being embedded with British forces in Afghanistan. We get a regional briefing and then we sort through some of the rendition fiasco. Stephen's smart, has a lot of insight, did a lot of shoe-leather investigating, talked with a lot of insiders, and is generally interesting. I'd note also that his book won the Joe and Laurie Dine award for best reporting on human rights in any medium, from the Overseas Press Club, a very prestigious recognition.
As always, if you find this show worthwhile please feel free to redistribute the link.
by Allan Nairn
As Americans went to the polls, a very brave man from the Mayan highlands remarked in Spain that when he returned to his mother's house once the US-backed Guatemalan army had gotten through with it, he found that his entire family had been "carbonized," i.e. burnt carbon-black and crispy.
Soon after, the US sent more money (and other things) to that very army, perhaps pioneering -- under Reagan -- the first known application of the "carbon
They are here to testify about the US-sponsored Guatemalan officers who, in the '70s and '80s, murdered their families, and came out on top as rich men,
drug dealers, US embassy consultants, and Harvard fellows. It's not as if you can bring back the dead wives, missing kids, or shot-in-the cerebrum husbands, or even sufficiently punish the guilty, who now grin in elegant Zona Cinco pools and in MacLean, Virginia homes with lawns. They still twirl power and walk around, uncuffed, in polite society.
But you can, as one of the mountain corn farmers observed yesterday, "Capture them, imprison them. That's sufficient," which is generous of him,
since they butchered his dear ones, friends, and animals, and burnt his gut till his intestines spilled out -- and it is to the great credit of Spain's judiciary
that they are willing to let him try.
This is a case of torture, state terrorism, and genocide -- and international arrest warrants have been issued -- but the big, tough Generals who once
could answer the question (posed by the conservative Guatemalan daily, El Grafico, [May 17, 1982]) "How is it possible to behead an 8- or 9-year-old
child? How is it possible for a human adult to murder in cold blood a baby of less than a year and a half?" are now afraid to fly to Madrid and face the
parents of the kids they consumed while pocketing cash from Langley. (Grafico referred to the massacre of Semeja II, Chichicastenango, but, in all,
according to army records, 662 villages were destroyed, and perhaps 120,000 civilians were murdered in a place the population of New York City).
They're afraid because there's been something like a tear in the fabric of the political universe and, somehow, as in one of those anomalies of quantum
physics, there has emerged -- in this world -- a stray particle of civilization: a legal forum perhaps willing to enforce the murder laws, even against high officials.
Not yet too high, mind you. There are not yet American names on the defendants list. But as we say in the sports which American guys love, its not over
till its over.
The case is in Spain's Audiencia Nacional (National Court), which, operating on the principle 'We're all people here,' is exercising its right under international law to try atrocity cases involving non-Spaniards.
(Mayan survivors of things like crucifixion by hanging -- from the big log cross at Rio Negro -- will be testifying. I'll be testifying as well, on the army, the massacre policy, and the US. Lawyers and professionals advancing the case come from CJA [US], APDHE [Spain], RMTF [Guatemala], CALDH [Guatemala], Hastings Law School [US], Impunity Watch [The Netherlands], and the National Security Archive [US].)
Imagine if that precedent caught on. Today's US primary might be awkward, as candidates and advisers dodged the cops, were pressed to sign pledges to stop murdering, and were asked by the press to explain their own pasts -- vis a vis killing civilians, not trivia -- and to explain their bipartisan ideological softness on official crime.
In this particular US-killing matter, one of dozens from around the world, the Republicans' patron saint is Ronald Reagan, so beloved by the Guatemalan leaders who slaughtered the Mayans (and others) that they hung ten-foot portraits of him in their homes as he sent them CIA men, surveillance equipment, covert money and -- most importantly -- open political blessings. The US Democrats' dove is Barack Obama, whose chief foreign adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, greenlighted Israel to deliver the actual killing rifles (Galils) to Guatemala, since his President -- Carter -- was a little embarrassed.
Is that the difference between the two big US parties on mass murder --embarrassment versus pride? Maybe.
We shouldn't have to wrestle with such fine -- though, sometimes, bitterly consequential -- distinctions.
We should be able to vote effectively against, and prosecute, murder.
Maybe US politics needs a civilizing Mayan invasion.
Allan Nairn can be reached through his _blog_ ( http://www.newsc.blogspot.com/)
from Jim O'Brien
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008
Subject: Updates on April 11-13 HAW conference.
Here are two updates on the national Historians Against the War conference coming up in Atlanta, co-sponsored by the Peace History Society.
1. Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, has now been confirmed as a keynote speaker. She will speak along with Bill Fletcher, Jr., longtime activist in the labor and freedom movements, in the opening session of the conference at 7:00 Friday evening April 11, at Georgia State University.
2. An exact schedule for the other sessions at the conference has also been worked out. Titles and times are given below; details can be found by clicking on "Sessions" on the conference web site, which is at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/hawconf. More than fifty different colleges and universities are represented among the presenters at the conference.
FRIDAY 7:00 – 8:45 PM
Keynote Session: Speakers Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Naomi Klein
SATURDAY 9:00 – 9:45
SATURDAY 10:00 – 11:45 AM
"Iraq, the Middle East, and the United States"
"Human Rights as a Justification of US Military Intervention"
"Vietnam-Era Soldiers and the Recrafting of Historical Memory"
"Empire and Opposition: A Workshop on U.S. History for Activists, Students, and Scholars"
Teaching about Empire and War in World History Survey Courses" (roundtable)
SATURDAY 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Lunch (included in registration fee)
SATURDAY 1:00 – 2:45 PM
"Collaboration or Resistance? U.S. Labor, American Empire, and the War in Iraq"
"The Libertarian Antiwar Tradition from the 1930s to the 1950s"
"Outreach to Combat Veterans and Active-Duty GIs: Military Resistance in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the Present Conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan" (roundtable)
"Portrayals of War"
"Sequence of Superpowers in the Middle East: Britain and the U.S."
"Teaching About U.S. Intervention in a Time of War: Lessons from Latin American History" (roundtable)
SATURDAY 3:00 – 4:45 PM
"Making Peace in the War Zones of Empire: A Roundtable on Peace Activisms of the Third World and Global South"
"Beyond David Horowitz: Perspectives on Academic Freedom in the 21st Century" (roundtable)
"Iran and the U.S: The Current Crisis and the Emerging World Order (has to be on Saturday)
"Pedagogical Reflections and Strategies: Teaching about Empire and War in the U.S. History Survey Course" #16 "Perspectives on the U.S. Military"
"Traditions and Turning Points in U.S. Foreign Policy"
SATURDAY, 5:00 - 6:45 PM
Plenary, featuring Middle East historians Zachary Lockman and Dina Rizk Khoury
SUNDAY 10:00 – 11:45
"Learn from History or Repeat It? Challenges of a 21st Century Antiwar Movement" (roundtable)
"Human Rights and War Crimes"
"Howard Zinn and the Politics of History"
"Creeks, Pacifists and Student Activists: Resistance to the American Empire from the Creek War to Vietnam"
SUNDAY 12:00 – 1:30 PM
Closing plenary, focused on what historians can/should be doing in regard to the war
The conference web site ( http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/hawconf) also has information on registering and on the booking a hotel room.
from Dahr Jamail :
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2008
Subject: MidEast Dispatches: Jeremy Scahill interviews Dahr Jamail for The Nation.
Jeremy Scahill Interviews Dahr Jamail for The Nation
by Jeremy Scahill
EDITOR'S NOTE: Dahr Jamail has spent more time reporting from Iraq than almost any other US journalist. His new book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, is a chronicle of his experiences there. He recently sat down with Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill to talk about the supposed "success" of Bush's troop surge, what would happen if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the White House and why he believes an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is the only way to peace. Here's an edited transcript of that interview.
Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have indicated that US troops are not going to be withdrawn in any significant manner in the first term of a presidency.
What do you think would happen if the US did withdraw immediately from Iraq?
We have a specific example of what would likely happen throughout Iraq if the US were to withdraw completely. When the Brits recently pulled out of their last base in Basra City late last year, The Independent reported that according to the British military, violent attacks dropped 90 percent. I think that goes to show that the Brits down in Basra, like the Americans in central and northern Iraq, have been the primary cause of the violence and the instability.
And I think it's easy to see that when the US does pull out completely, we would have a dramatic de-escalation in violence. We would have increased stability and it would be the first logical step for Iraqis to form their own government. This time, it would actually have popular support, unlike the current government, where less than 1 percent of Iraqis polled even support it or even find it legitimate at all.
Now, obviously, we have a situation in Iraq right now that's very different from the era of Saddam Hussein: Many pockets of power, various leaders who have their own armed factions, and a much more significant Iranian influence. How do you see that playing out in the absence of US troops? What do you think would happen among those various groups that are vying for power, and have a significant volume of weapons?
One of the key reasons Iran has the influence it does in Iraq right now is because the US itself appointed Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. We have to remember that he was in no way, shape or form democratically elected. After the January 30, 2005 elections, one of the first tasks of the government was to choose its own prime minister. It chose Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. And then when he wasn't toeing the US-UK line enough, Condoleezza Rice and her UK counterpart, Jack Straw, flew to Baghdad. And right before they left from their trip, Jaafari was out, Maliki was in.
Maliki, head of the Dawa party, was in exile in Tehran for numerous years, and is basically a political figurehead of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), whose armed wing, the Badr Organization, has staunch Iranian support. It was basically formed in Iran and came into Iraq on the heels of the invasion forces. So I think, again, with [Maliki] out, and with other Iranian puppets in the government out, we would have more nationalist Iraqis who would certainly be able to start making moves toward reconciliation.
Who do you see emerging in a post-occupation Iraq if the US did leave? What are the major political forces in the country that could unify Iraq under one national flag?
It's difficult to say at this point, but there are some political figures who do have popular support. There's a Shia cleric, Sheikh Jawad al-Khalasi, who has mass popular support. He's renowned for being able to bridge differences between Sunni and Shia political groups right now. There's Dr. Wamid Omar Nadhmi, a Sunni, who also has that same effect. He's relatively nonsectarian, compared to everyone else on the scene right now. They have started to form a shadow--I wouldn't say government, but certainly political organization--that is a coalition of many different groups. There's Al-Khalasi, there's Dr. Wamid Omar Nadhmi, there's Kurds, there's Christians, there's Turkomen, there's numerous groups represented in this political structure that they have right now. It's based primarily out of Syria, and sometimes they have meetings in Jordan, but this type of political structure would be able to come in and, I think, begin to fill what vacuum would be created.
You've spent a lot of time in Al-Anbar province and in Sunni areas of Iraq. And we've seen the United States and the commanders declare Anbar province a "victory." We've also seen some Sunni puppet figures who have allied themselves with the United States assassinated in recent months, most prominently Abu Risha. What happened in Al-Anbar province?
What's happening in Al-Anbar province today is akin to what the US did in Fallujah, when they were repelled out of the city during the April 04 siege. They essentially saved face by ceasing patrols and buying off the militants in the city. They put them on the payroll--mujahedeen basically started donning Iraqi police uniforms and Iraqi civil defense corps uniforms--and took over control of security of the city. When I interviewed them in May, they said this was the most peace they'd had in the city since before the invasion had ever taken place. They were quite happy with it, most people in the city were quite happy with that situation.
But essentially, the US plan ended up backfiring. Because they had to go back in the city in November, they didn't want it to remain the only liberated city in the country. That fighting was far more violent and took so many more deaths, on both sides of the conflict, than even the April siege did. And so we have now a macro version of that same policy in Al-Anbar, where various tribal sheikhs who are willing to collaborate have stepped up. They're taking millions and millions of dollars of US taxpayer money. They're basically being bought off to not fight against the Americans, while simultaneously the Americans, for the moment in Al-Anbar, are sticking closer to their bases, and relying more on airpower than ground troops if any fighting breaks out.
And so right now, that's why Al-Anbar is notably more quiet. But it's a ticking time bomb. Because this is a policy where even US soldiers on the ground right now in Al-Anbar are expressing concerns. They know all too well that they're now working with these people who, three days ago or three weeks ago, they were actually fighting. And some of these people are still lobbing mortars into their bases at night.
So we have tensions. We have the US military trying to ID all these people, so that when things become violent again, they'll know who these people are and where to go get them, while simultaneously, these same fighters are, of course, gathering very, very valuable intelligence by being able to work with the Americans and go around with them.
You've spent about eight months in Iraq unembedded. A lot of your time was spent with ordinary Iraqis, documenting the suffering, the deaths, the civilian injuries. You've also spent time in other countries talking to Iraqi refugees. One of the things that's lost in the mainstream coverage is the extent of the death that's happened in Iraq. In fact, there was an AP-Ipsos poll not too long ago that found that a majority of Americans believed that fewer than 10,000 Iraqis had died since the start of the invasion. Give a sense of the scope of the death that has taken place in Iraq.
This is a good example of why the media coverage is still so horribly skewed. Even though a lot of people tend to think, "Well, the media is coming around a little bit, that it is showing that the occupation is not going well, and that there's suffering." But really, contrast what you may see in some of the larger media outlets with some of these figures from the ground in Iraq.
We look at, for example, how many people have died, based on figures primarily produced by The Lancet report in October '06, which showed 655,000 Iraqis had been killed, or 2.5 percent of the total population of the country.
Another group, called Just Foreign Policy, has taken those figures and extrapolated from them based on more recent media reports, because that first survey, that Lancet survey, the legwork was carried out in July 2005. And so from that time until this time, with new data, it's now estimated by the group Just Foreign Policy that over 1,100,000 Iraqis have been killed. In addition to that, we can estimate that, very conservatively, another 3 million are wounded. According to the UN these figures are too low as well; I've been told this by a UN spokesperson myself when I was in Syria last summer.
Current figures: 2.5 million internally displaced Iraqis in their own country, another 2.5 million refugees outside of the country. In addition to that, another 4 million Iraqis are in dire need of emergency assistance, according to an Oxfam International report released last July. When we take into account the fact that Iraq's total population has fallen from 27 million, when the invasion was launched, to now roughly 23 million, when we add all those figures up, that means over half the total population of the entire country are either refugees--in or out of their country--wounded, in dire need of emergency aid, or dead.
In addition to that, we have the infrastructure, where on every measurable level, it's worse now than it was after nearly thirty years of Saddam Hussein's reign, and twelve years of genocidal sanctions. Even oil exports have not for one day been at or above pre-war levels--and this is where Iraq gets 90 percent of its income. Electricity: the average home has anywhere from zero hours of electricity per day to maybe six or seven hours on a really good day. Unemployment: It's between 60 or 70 percent, vacillating right now. During the sanctions, it was roughly 33 percent, which is about what it was here during the Great Depression. So 60 to 70 percent unemployment, on top of that, 70 percent inflation. We have 45 percent of Iraqis living in abject poverty on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of Iraqis don't even have access to safe drinking water. So that gives you an idea of the magnitude of how horrific the suffering really has become. According to Refugees International, it's the fastest-growing refugee crisis on the planet.
You haven't been to Iraq for a number of months, but you are regularly in touch with Iraqis on the ground. In fact, a lot of the articles that you do you co-author with Iraqi colleagues still on the ground. Many of the journalists who do go to Iraq are trapped in the Green Zone-- or what an Iraqi friend of mine calls the Green Zoo. And so, in a way, you may be in a better position to analyze what's happening there, because of your regular contact with unembedded Iraqi journalists. Give us a couple of examples of news that's not making it out of Iraq.
I was recently working on a story about Fallujah because one of my Iraqi colleagues lives there. And again, contrast this with what maybe you've been hearing about Fallujah. In fact, it's even been held up by various Bush Administration officials over the last several months as a model city. Look, it's calmer, things are better now, the plan is working, the surge is working. Well in Fallujah, according to my friend who lives there, the security measures that were imposed around the city by the US military during the November '04 siege--the biometric data, the retina scans, the fingerprinting, the mandatory, bar-coded IDs for everyone trying to go in and out of the city. That remains, that has not changed at all. In addition to that, businesspeople estimate that there's approximately 80 percent unemployment in the city. There are entire neighborhoods that still do not have electricity or running water since the November '04 siege. There's still tens of thousands of refugees from the city from the April '04 siege, not even talking about November.
There's been a vehicle ban, to one degree or another, imposed on the city since May. So how do you live in a city of 350,000 people, when the majority of the time, you can't even drive a vehicle. Most people are either walking or literally using horse-drawn or donkey-drawn carts. And he quoted a man as saying, relatively recently, that yes, it is quieter in Fallujah today, but it's the same quiet as a dead body is quiet. That there's no normal life, that the hospital there doesn't get medicines and things that it needs, because of the corruption of the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, and the bias that's there. And just to give you an idea. That's life in Fallujah today, where there's literally no normal life.
And that's in a city that the US is holding up as a victory?
I know your expertise is not necessarily US domestic politics, but like all of us, you're following the presidential campaign. Do you see any marked difference for Iraqis in the event of a Hillary Clinton presidency or a Barack Obama presidency?
I don't. They've both already officially taken the idea of total unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces out of Iraq off the table, until after their first term, if one of them is elected. So it's off the table already until 2013, even before one of them would come into power, if that is going to happen. In reality, they in no way are reflecting the will of the troops on the ground in Iraq, or the majority of Americans now who are opposed to the occupation. And certainly not respecting the will of the Iraqi people, where the most conservative polls I've found have shown that 85 percent, at a minimum now, of the total population of Iraq are completely opposed to the occupation and want it to end, right now.
Iraqis are willing to take the risk of what might happen if that much-discussed "power vacuum" is created. And the reality is that the only real first step to a solution in Iraq is full, immediate, unconditional withdrawal, while simultaneously re-funding all the reconstruction projects and turning them over to Iraqi concerns. So this idea of, "You break it, you buy it." Well, there's no buying happening. There's nothing being done by Western contractors on the ground to improve the basic life necessities of any Iraqi in that country right now.
And the other factor is, which candidate is talking about compensation for the Iraqi people? Every Iraqi person who's suffered from this situation deserves full compensation from this government. Because this is the government that perpetrated the war and continues on in this illegal occupation. So, I don't see any of these mainstream candidates talking about any of these things, which are really essential if we're going to talk about a solution to this catastrophe in Iraq.