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War that never ended: ten years on, Iraq remains bloodied

In the 10th anniversary analysis of the invasion of Iraq a lot of the focus will be on what we paid. Lives, dollars, influence and squandered reputation will be totted up against the lack of WMDs and the…

The aftermath of a bombing in Kirkuk in March 2013. The Iraq War may be officially over, but the violence continues. EPA/Khalil Al'a Nei

In the 10th anniversary analysis of the invasion of Iraq a lot of the focus will be on what we paid. Lives, dollars, influence and squandered reputation will be totted up against the lack of WMDs and the continuing violence in the rickety state of Iraq.

Naturally enough, our focus is often on our own dead; the Americans and Brits and our two Australians. Even when we do talk about the 100,000 + dead Iraqis, we don’t tend to think much about how they came to be killed. There is a latent assumption that they died in battle as Saddam loyalists or insurgents, or else from mistaken identity or some other direct confrontation with Coalition troops.

This of course is wrong. Of those estimated 100,000 casualties, most have died from Iraqi on Iraqi violence, particularly as the years went on and the tally built. The wave of ethnic and sectarian killing began shortly after the invasion and has continued on till now. It’s likely a wave of bombings will usher in this week’s anniversary.

With four to five thousand civilian deaths occurring every year, Iraq is a manifestly more dangerous place to live than it was under Saddam and even during the invasion. And that doesn’t look like changing any time soon.

It is that continuing violence that is important to recognise as the legacy of the intervention. Whether you agree with the reasons for the 2003 invasion or not, it was the immediate aftermath that was the killing blow to any hope of beneficial change in post-Saddam Iraq.

The post-invasion vacuum

The seeds of disintegration were sown before the first troops had crossed the border. Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary for Defense, wanted a low-carb operation using as few US personnel as reasonably possible, with most of them to be pulled out within weeks of the campaign’s conclusion.

This meant that the Coalition forces were spread thinly to start with. The old maxim that good soldiers don’t make good policemen proved true and the grunts were struggling to cope with the leaderless country they had inherited. Looting, lawlessness and shattered infrastructure were the backdrop to an Iraq that was starting to come apart.

Then along came L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer and ripped off the scab for good.

Taking over the Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2003, Bremer was chosen precisely because he had no specific experience with the Middle East and no ties to either the US military or intelligence communities. The idea here was that this would make him a free-thinker, unrestricted by doctrine or careerist baggage. That’s a lot like choosing a heart surgeon with absolutely no medical qualifications so that he might be able to “think outside the box”.

The fateful turning point of Bremer’s tenure occurred just days after his arrival. The first fiat issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority banned former members of the Ba'ath Party) from holding any public employment. The second decree dissolved the Iraqi army and security services. In true pro-consular style, both of Bremer’s decisions were taken with limited consultation and against the counsel of horrified staff from the State Department and CIA. Only the inner sanctum of neo-cons – Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz – were in the loop.

Out with the Ba’ath water

Bremer’s ignorant assumption was that being a member of the Ba'ath Party in Saddam’s Iraq was akin to being a fundamentalist fedayeen. Undoubtedly there were some rusted-on Saddam cronies in the mix, but for ordinary Iraqi public servants, a party membership card was a necessary part of the job. Teachers, for example, got paid about four times more if they belonged to the party, whilst non-members would find their career paths panned out fairly quickly.

Having Ba'aath membership as part of your job didn’t mean you were likely to fight to the death against American troops any more than an Australian primary school teacher being a member of their union would predispose them to throwing Molotov cocktails at the ruling class.

Iraqi police pray at a Shia shrine in Karbala. Religion and tribal affiliation routinely trump duty to secular institutions in Iraq. EPA/Mohamed Messara

In two quick strokes, Bremer thus ensured that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, particularly Sunnis, were thrown out of work and would harbour a permanent grudge against the occupying forces. Nearly half a million ex-soldiers and police were now on the streets, angry and perhaps armed. These were the same security forces who were supposed to be instrumental in stabilising post-invasion Iraq so that coalition troop numbers could be scaled back within a few months.

This resulted in an utter breakdown of Iraqi society. The old order was smashed and no new one in place. No teachers, no state bureaucracy, no security forces except thinly spread Coalition personnel who needed to make sure they were back inside the wire by nightfall. With the social order erased, the population ruptured into tribalism and shocking, yet predictable, violence.

The politics of identity

For patriotic Westerners, it is quite unfathomable that someone might not give a damn about their own country. But in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, the nationality on your passport or birth certificate might not be your primary identity. That you are Iraqi is not important. You probably don’t feel a great deal of pride in that designation because Iraq is just a vehicle for Saddam and whatever kleptocrat replaces him. It is much more crucial to your fate that you are a Sunni Arab from the Shammar clan in Baghdad, or a Shi'ite Kurd from Kermanshah.

With authority gone, Iraqi society resorted to those sub-national identities. And with security and justice seemingly on sabbatical, those who wanted to take the path of violence had no disincentive. Religion, tribe and ethnicity would now determine whose side you were on, where you lived and who you’d vote for.

A rapidly increasing level of ethnic purging began as neighbourhoods were homogenised. This led to a build-up of militias of all types, with Shi'ite groups being funded and trained by Iran and Sunni squads attracting support from Wahabist organisations like al-Qaeda. In our egocentrism we always assume that radical Islamists are out to kill Westerners, but really, the chance to fight their sectarian foes can be just as important and much easier to achieve.

This is why Iraq became a significantly more dangerous (albeit politically freer) place to live post-invasion. Strategies by the occupying forces and provisional rulers to favour different groups to be their right hand men deepened the divide. Meanwhile the scandal of Abu Ghraib and various unlawful killings turned the whole country into a beacon for jihadists.

There is no final tally

The sectarian genie was never put back into the bottle no matter how many troops were temporarily surged into the place. When the rate of killing began to slow it was largely attributable to the fact that the regional cleansing had already been achieved.

This is what Iraq is still living with 10 years on. There are no longer gunships hovering over Sadr City or howitzers pounding Fallujah. But for most citizens life carries an inherent risk. A walk to your mosque for Friday prayers or a car journey through a neighbouring district can still be fatal. When your family members leave home in the morning, can you be sure they will all come home safe that night?

So whilst a decade later we can look at our profit and loss statements and the “final tally” of the occupation, Iraqis will still be paying the bills for years to come.

Join the conversation

155 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    thanks mat for much food for thought.................

    there's not that much to say - whats the point of slagging the west, they see their (our) actions as a noble fight against oppression. it all falls on deaf ears.

    my guess is that this civil/religious war will go on and on.

    and my opinion is that the same story will unfold in afghanistan......

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    1. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      whats the point?
      The point is that it needs to be said.Over and over again.
      Destroying a single person's life knowingly is not alright. Destroying someone elses country is not alright.
      Killing tens of thousands/millions of "others" because you dont like their looks or their politics is wrong.
      And such crimes will continue to be committed if people dont speak up.
      Again and again if necessary.
      To the article.
      "Our" dead? Americans?
      Doesnt that say it all?
      Dont we australians have an identity…

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    2. Gideon Maxwell Polya

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to lavinia kay moore

      Very well said, Lavinia Kay Moore. Would that there were many more decent, sensible, humane people like you in Australia and the West.

      As for Afghanistan, deaths from violence and war-imposed deprivation totalled 4.6 million in Iraq in 1990-2011 (see "Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/) and have totalled 5.6 million in Afghanistan, 2001-2013 (see "Afghan Holocaust Afghan Genocide": https://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide

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    3. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to lavinia kay moore

      Lavinia

      I admire your passion! And agree with your perspectives! As others of my responses in this Conversation show.

      Public Broadcasting in the US - is not unlike Radio National here - but so neutered by Federal US governments that it has to spend a sizeable proportion of its energy in raising sponsorship money - and even then would not be listened to by much more than a couple of percent of the population. Image then how much worse the delivery of commercial news - all navel-gazing in any case - international news scarcely exists in the US (don't be fooled because you may watch CNN - most citizens don't watch that channel)!

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    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to lavinia kay moore

      hi lavinia

      george bush, tony blair and john howard (etc) all saw the invasion of iraq as a mission of good faith.
      a crusade against an evil dictator.

      the war in afghanistan is seen in that same light of missionary zeal.

      they see and saw the destruction of life, culture and property as a price to pay for ridding the world of evil and terror.

      like the crusaders of old they rode in and wreaked havoc in the name of god and country.

      its an old story and one that doesnt seem to end unfortunately.

      there are no winners in iraq or afghanistan.

      the fact that there were tragic losses under saddam & the taliban doesnt lessen the fact that invading both countries amounted to a descent into hell.

      saying all this over and over seems to fall on deaf ears. count the wars in the last hundred years - count the dead, the suffering. and still we are at it.

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  2. Edwin Flynn

    I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

    Quote:
    “Naturally enough, our focus is often on our own dead; the Americans and Brits and our two Australians. Even when we do talk about the 100,000 + dead Iraqis, we don’t tend to think much about how they came to be killed. There is a latent assumption that they died in battle as Saddam loyalists or insurgents, or else from mistaken identity or some other direct confrontation with Coalition troops.
    This of course is wrong. Of those estimated 100,000 casualties, most have died from Iraqi on Iraqi…

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    1. Tim Mather

      Veterinarian at Veterinary Advisory Services

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      The tragedy of Iraq and many of the other middle east nation states and their societal problems should be sheeted home to 1919 and the treaty of Versailles. There, the US President Woodrow Wilson, with the compliance of Britain and France, divided the area into nations with no consideration for their ethnicity or tribal affiliations. This was only the first mistake initiated by the US who have continually interfered in national matters in which they have no expertise. They still have not resolved…

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      HI Edwin, I agree that Shrubya, Tony Blah and especially John Howard should be tried as war criminals for:
      1. pursuing the US policies of protecting and supporting Saddam Hussein before and during his reign until the 2003 Desertstorm II Imperialist War;
      2. for previously overthrowing the Shah of Iran and installing the Ayotollahs;
      3. for supplying both sides of the decade long Iraq-Iran War with war materiels;
      4. for instigating the Desertstorm I war over oil rights;
      5. for the lies of…

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    3. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to John Newton

      Oops I meant neo-liberal free market state - forgive the dystypia

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    4. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Edwin Flynn

      I think there was a UK Lancet report in about 2009 referring to approx 800,000 deaths in Iraq up until then.

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    5. The Doctor

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      What Jack Arnold wrote is the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth,and sooner or later the criminals that instigated this disaster and continuing terror should and will be put before a human rights court and be made to pay.Thank you Jack for illustrating so clearly.

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  3. Gideon Maxwell Polya

    logged in via Facebook

    Mat Hardy’s claim of an “estimated 100,000 casualties” in the Iraq War is falsely purveyed by Mainstream media around the world and is utterly incorrect.

    Ten years ago, the US, UK and Australia illegally invaded Iraq on 20 March 2003 on the utterly false and illegitimate excuse that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The invasion occurred after over 12 years of deadly sanctions, war and bombing that had devastated the infrastructure of Iraq, violently killed…

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      Thank you GIdeon for your informed objective response.

      I support your final paragraph recommendation. It is a policy that TC Editorial Board could apply to their political Columnists who pursue personal vendettas against OUR PRIME MINISTER for the benefit of the borne to rule Party you have when you want government for vested interests.

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      Bravo Gideon,...".What is needed in Australia are not free speech-constraining media laws as proposed by the Iraq war-complicit Gillard Labor Government..."
      ....Seems these laws are really about Govt control of Media narative in stages & MOST PARTICULARLY THE INTERNET will be the target to silence dissent.

      We have ridiculously HUGE fines for false & misleading advertising (Like Half a Million I think) & no fines for false & misleading reporting..??.....a big problems is selective investigations & "Lies of Omission"...

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    3. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      RE: "by the Iraq war-complicit Gillard Labor Government"
      Gideon, whilst I appreciate the rest of your post, what on earth is this quote here all about? It makes no rational sense to me because it is patently and provably false.

      Throughout 2002-2003 the then Labour opposition was speaking against and voted in Parliament against any involvement by Australia in the US/UK led coalition of the deluded. That policy position was mainly carried publicly at that time by Kevin Rudd opp. spokesman for Foreign Affairs. When Labour won power in 2007, one of their earliest actions was to extricate Australian military out of the place asap. By the time Gillard took over, we were out of Iraq. And fwiw we should have been out of Afghanistan as well, but that's another story. I fail to cmprehend how you could say "the Iraq war-complicit Gillard Labor Government" .. and I am no Labour ideologue. I prefer the factual truth no matter what peoples politics might be.

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    4. Gideon Maxwell Polya

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Australian forces were involved in Sanctions against Iraq in the period 1990-2003 under Hawke and Keating Labor Governments and under successive Howard Coalition Governments. Australian forces were present in Occupied Iraq under Howard Coalition Governments and the Rudd, post-Rudd Gillard and Gillard Minority Governments (March 2003 – 6 August 2011). No matter the dishonest Labor rhetoric, Australian combat troops left Iraq in mid-2008 under Rudd and the last Australian troops left Iraq on 6 August…

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    5. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      OK then, I hear you. I still think the arguemnt loses focus by bringing the Gillard Govt into the frame here. Like pointing out a candle when there is a house fire to look at. However, it seems quite plausible that a hypothetical argument could be made that had Gillard been PM in early 2003, then it's quite possible she and her Cabinet would have followed what Howard chose to do at that time. I seriously doubt a Rudd or similar ilk Labour Govt would have. Thanks for the links and extra info. Well done. Should be more of it. thx

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  4. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Excellent summary of a dreadful business Mat.

    I've been listening to a string of retired commanders making flailing excuses and absurd justifications for the invasion and its subsequent failure. But as you point out this adventure was doomed before the first shot was fired.

    Cheney, Rumsfeld and particularly Wolfowitz sold the US the lie - the absurd hope - that they could be in and out in a matter of months after installing the Iraqi National Council - a collection of shysters, frauds and…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      hi peter

      call me naive, but i cant fathom why cheney and his cronies have never been held accountable.

      but then again, i suppose there are so many cases of corruption re wars and money, that it could consume america for the next 50 years.

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Partly because they rigged the 911 investigation (& I suspect with Pro-Israel people)...
      The big lie was Bush "911 has been done by ter'ists" & Sadam/Iraq are Ter'sts" so we need to attack them....I think despite being told by CIA & Intelligence NO CONNECTION THERE.

      Note Oz Whistleblower/hero? now MP Andrew Wilkie saying same....sadly Wilkie might be great at intelligence but he's a babe in the woods politically...and has been royally shafted I suspect!

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    3. Martin Hirst

      Associate Professor Journalism & Media at Deakin University

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You are right Peter, I heard Cosgrove this morning saying that despite the false premise of the war it was the right thing to do and that Iraqis are better off today.
      Matt has totally demolished that argument.
      The media was complicit in the lie. I don't remember the free speech champions at The Australian doing anything to uncover the lie, they just repeated it endlessly and rallied around the flag.

      I have just completed a small study of the media coverage of Iraq today. It is still dominated…

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    4. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Martin Hirst

      Ta Martin.

      One of the most serious outcomes from the Iraq adventure has been the development of a network of al Qaeda linked Sunni terrorists being exported from Iraq into various dreadful places in Africa and the Middle East. They have turned up in Somalia, Kenya, Chad, Sudan, Yemen and are very active in the Syrian opposition.

      Prior to the "liberation" of Iraq and despite the vague claims by Bush et al, there were no al Qaeda type groups operating within or from Iraq. Saddam ruthlessly suppressed them. Any links between Iraq and the World Trade Centre and bin Laden were utter fabrications.

      Not any more. It is not just Iraq that is suffering the consequences of this arrogant stupidity.

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      G'day Yuri...

      I'm not saying that there were not radical "islamist" groups within Iraq - but they were far from enjoying any support or assistance from Saddam, even though in the case of the Ansar al Islam outfit (some 300 fighters based largely in Iran) they were engaged in a very nasty campaign of terror against the Kurds - a group Saddam was also busily butchering. They were not turning up as exports and had no links with 9/11. There's an interesting piece at the Font of All Human Knowledge…

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Martin Hirst

      "The media was complicit in the lie."

      Cosgrove made the argument that it's a lie only if you say something (there are WMDs in Iraq) and you KNOW that what you say is not true. People might like to play with definitions but to me at least, it is plainly dishonest if you say something is true when you simply don't know if it is true or not.

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    7. Lynne Newington
      Lynne Newington is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I agree entirely with you Chris, it sickened me to hear his interview early this morning.
      Sound a lot like the well used "mental reservation" to me, look it up if unfamiliar with the teminology, in case I'm accused of "church bashing".
      Roman that is and apples never fall far from the tree.

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    8. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I think you are referring to matters like this: "Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disinformation

      I can't recall the time or place, but John Howard…

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    9. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Lies of omissions or deceit....whats the difference?
      "The media was complicit in the lie...." TOTALLY!!....Like politicians they are smart & cry EXCUSES of "Mistakes"...Crap!!

      Anyone following all this with 1/2 a brain knew...Oz Intelligence & CIA told the Politicians NO Iraq & 911 Link...Politicians (&/or their OWNERS) wanted to fabricate one.....Enter "Office Of Special Plans" Read Wolfowitz....
      Andrew Wilkie spoke out & also US Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson et al...media ignored this.
      It ought be called "The Fraud War"......whilst I imagine Bush et al play Golf & sip Champagne...

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    10. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      The 9/11 Report agrees with you I think -- from past reading. Even so, there was clear evidence of meetings between Saddam's men and al Qaeda types, if not the Atta meeting in Prague. From my reading, the fear was that a limited collaboration targeting the USA would or had taken place.

      You (or Mat) may be able to help me out here. This piece below is quoted on a few conservative US sites - (not that I read them regularly) and it relates to a putative article in a newspaper run by Qusay…

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    11. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Sally Smith

      And remember how Howard's ministers accused Andrew Wilkie of being "mentally stressed" when he publicly and authoritatively criticised the so-called "knowledge" about weapons of mass detsruction.?Remember how they denigrated retired general Gration and others with hard experience of Vietnam as "yesterday's men". ? Don't know what exactly they said about Rod barton the WMD slecialist who worked in Iraq with the UN team, and who is one of the group of eminent Australians urging the judicial inquiry to be set up in this 10th anniversary year.

      For mine the article by Matt tends too much to the Tony Blair thesis - all would have been well if the occupying forces had been better advised re sacking the Iraqi army and all Baathists - otherwise they "did good" according to Blair.

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    12. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Martin Hirst

      He was a asshole, killing of villages, women, child's and men, just to make a point. Don't ever try to justify that guy.

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    13. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      So, Mat, Martin Hirst, was there a newspaper in Iraq run by Qusay Hussein that predicted the 9/11 attacks?

      You media guys should be able to debunk that one shouldn't you?
      Also, how about this one:

      "On July 21, 2001, less than two months before 9/11, the state-controlled Iraqi newspaper Al-Nasiriya carried a column headlined "America, An Obsession Called Osama Bin Ladin." In the piece, Baath Party writer Naeem Abd Muhalhal predicted that bin Laden would attack the U.S. "with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House."

      That one should be easy to check out. Just askin'.

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    14. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I always wonder why it was that the Americans swallowed the lies. Are they all brain dead?
      Then, if one listens to the "news" programme on ABC "News" Radio
      -the segment presented "Morning Edition" I think it is called from American 'NPR Broadcasting'(I think).The standard of so-called news coverage expolains it all. Idf that is the best of public radio in the USA no wonder they dont know anything about the world outside their own burbs.
      I agree a very dark chapter.
      And we australians have unfortunately been tainted by it.

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  5. William Bruce

    Artist

    If one does some research, seems "Global Team Israel" was pushing USA to attack Iraq for years prior to 911. ....also seems they are HEAVILY entrenched in all areas of power & policy in USA.
    Wake up there is no "real debate" in public life....only the illusion of it....the rest is phoney academics & Jornos et al covering for their jobs.

    Seems clear "Think Tank" and almost certainly Zionist front "Project For A New American Century" issued a report containing the notion that the only way USA…

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to William Bruce

      William, whilst the art would would lose out, I think you'd make an excellent Lecturer at Deakin University teaching Middle Eastern Studies. Please send them a resume, because the students there are in dire need of people who actually know what they are talking about and are willing to say it straight based upon the facts which will tell them what is true and what is false, and only then how to draw a well reasoned opinion about it all. Cheers to you! You'd think that after 10 years someoine somewhere…

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Come now Sean,
      The art does not need to miss out at all and I'm sure a magnificent portraying mural could wind its way throughout corridor and lecture theatre walls with great imagination.

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    3. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Thanks very much Sean, a trouble shared is a burden lightened!
      My current hypothesis is "follow the money back to Bilderberg Group" organisers.... However, perhaps they have kept US safe 4 a long while...was it NECESSARY? Was it really about Banking/Oil/MIE profits??.....it's a huge dilemma perhaps...

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    4. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Sally Smith

      How about the fact, which seems true, that at LEAST World Trade Centre Building 7 was pre-wired with EXPLOSIVES for a controlled demolition PRIOR to the time of 911 attack?
      Possibly the other buildings too?
      Interesting also, that perhaps Loewy & Silberstein (perhaps also whom are Israel supporters) got options on a 99 yr lease on WTC buildings & then insuring it for billions for "Terrorist attack" a few weeks prior to 911 event....
      AND also I think got the multi-billions payout??
      Can anyone else consider team Israel Govt. might have had a role in 911 & in all that followed?

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    5. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Sally Smith

      "Not to mention the other Mossad Agents in NYC observing the planes hitting the towers who were then temporarily arrested and evicted from the USA within days with no charge, and no comment. This information is public domain and was reported in the press at the time"

      First of all, you need links Sally, the worse the accusation the more important becomes the links.

      And no Sally. No intelligence agency, except a lunatic. would prefer the option to observe at location, and keep quiet, if they…

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  6. Chris O'Neill

    Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

    This is an informative article about Iraq itself but I'd just like to make the point that Australia has not had a government inquiry into the mistakes that caused our country to help start this war. I'm ashamed that there is a bipartisan willingness for this to continue.

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    1. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Yeah it's a dilemma...so "people of conscience" re this can only vote Green...BAD NEWS!!

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    2. David Stephens

      Writer and activist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris

      A distinguished group headed by Malcolm Fraser, Paul Barratt (ex head of Defence) and Peter Gration (ex Chief of the Defence Force) has called for just such an inquiry: www.iraqwarinquiry.org.au. Predictably, it has been rejected by both sides of politics. See also an article in today's Canberra Times by Sue Wareham.

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  7. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    I am waiting for John Dubya HOWARD and George Dubya BUSH and Tony Dubya BLAIR - and their supportive cronies - all - to be indicted and gaoled for their crimes against the people of Iraq and any other of the lands in which these people have unilaterally involved us - against our collective national wishes! We live in a land where those with power and money seem able to do anything - and get away with it! It's not enough for me that their reward/punishment awaits them beyond this life - if there were truth and justice it would be meted out in this existence - surely. Then maybe the pain of those who have suffered the destruction of their land, family, property - in Iraq and other places - could begin some healing - knowing that we in our complicit lands recognise the evil intent and actions of our former leaders in bringing such sadness and loss to them. No?

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Jim, yes, and good points. RE: "We live in a land where those with power and money seem able to do anything - and get away with it!" -- And it is getting worse. There is no difference today than the distant past when Royal Families and the Church landowners (ie powers) of the day ruled over all as serfs with no rights. Now the fourth estate has been knee-capped and the Titles have changed, but the game remains the same. There's simply more of them now than ever before, and all too many modern serfs…

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    2. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Thanks, Sean. Joining the dots, indeed. And Chris O'NEILL for your clear-sightedness, too! I was in Japan at the time George Dubya was gearing up for his Iraq "crusade" - and made a visit while on a summer journey to the UK to Anne SERRAILLIER - the book editor and widow of Ian SERRAILLIER who wrote the classic children's anti-war novel "The Silver Sword" first published in 1956. The visit convinced me that I would read that novel the following April with my university prep class back in Japan. Before…

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  8. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    There is one school of thought Mat that the Shock and Awe for Iraq has only succeeded in putting the country back a long way as far as its development goes.
    Tim Mather has referred to the Versailles treaty in 1919 and certainly there is a lot that could be asked about the reasoning for structure of the middle east post WW1 and prime amongst the reasons may be seeking stability for oil production and then we also have the agreement re formation of Israel.

    If a study is made of Iraq post WW1 and…

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    1. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Greg North

      have you read Tariq Ali's book on Iraq "Bush in Babylon"? Its worth the time.

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  9. DMK

    logged in via Twitter

    I'm amazed that you could write as though the sectarian warfare was all the West's fault. There is no doubt that the dissolution of the Iraqi security forces backfired, but surely Saddam himself should shoulder some blame for fostering the ethnic tensions that exploded in his absence.

    Remember that he very actively promoted his minority Sunni sect to all of the positions of power while brutally repressing other sects, including a campaign against the Kurds that some have described as "genocidal".

    This article almost sounds like Iraq was a happy, multicultural society before we invaded. That is entirely untrue instead of the brutal sectarian autocracy being held together by a thread -- a particularly vicious thread.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to DMK

      hi dmk

      in one sense this is not about SH and his role in iraq's history, but the role of the western allies in invading the country for whatever reasons - mostly spurious.

      and it is the issue of the aftermath of that invasion.

      does the west have the right to invade a country based on its perception of right and wrong - and from memory i think the us went against the UN in attacking iraq.

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    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to DMK

      Iraq may not have been the best place to be living with Saddam as a leader for many but I'd have a bet you could probably find heaps of people, that's if they are still alive who would rather life then than during the past decade.
      " There is no doubt that the dissolution of the Iraqi security forces backfired, but surely Saddam himself should shoulder some blame for fostering the ethnic tensions that exploded in his absence. "
      It is one of those things that will never be known and would have been…

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  10. Sally Smith

    .

    To Mat Hardy,

    What exactly is your purpose of this article you have written? What are you really trying to say here? For your artcile tells me nothing of value. How does it inform anyone to a higher level of understanding or true knowledge about anything? I fail to see the point of writing it, let alone publishing such light-weight commentary on this venue. Why? because 'The Conversation' states on it's home page the following: "The enemy of trusted journalism is spin and PR. Make a donation…

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    1. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Sally Smith

      So for those keeping score at home: Mat is clearly not an expert because his views, which are grounded in actual research and scholarship, conflict with what someone read on the internet, which is therefore obviously true.

      This is why we can't have nice things.

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    2. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Nice try Patrick. " Mat is clearly not an expert because his views, which are grounded in actual research and scholarship" .. show me the actual research and scholarship involved in this artcile. I see none. Not one reference given, is but one example of the opinions not being supported by research and scholarship. Undergraduate 101 Patrick.

      Second: RE "conflict with what someone read on the internet, which is therefore obviously true." pure hyperbole and presumption not based in fact. Mere belief on your part not even enough to rate as a formal opinion. Patrick, if you are after an intellectual philsophical debate, you had best come armed. As a Lecturer in Philosphy, you should be be embarrased by you irrational utterances. Try again if you really think you are up to it. Knee jerk reactive and emotional defensiveness and poor reading comrpehension might be your own forte. I stand by my comments about the article. I expect better from Deakin University. Pity you do not.

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    3. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Sally Smith

      It's a Conversation piece (i.e. written for a generalist audience) in which an expert on Middle East Studies - you know, someone who has actually done the hard yards of higher studies and peer-reviewed publication - reflects on the current state of Iraq, and you want full scholarly apparatus? And where exactly are *your* references, then? You apparently want some sort of empirical basis for general observations like "we don’t tend to think much about how they came to be killed" and "There is a latent…

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    4. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Wow. A Generalist Audience is as worthy of accurate, nuanced, insightful, realistic "reflections" as any other audience. How big of you and Mat to take the time out from your important work as "experts" to slum it with the hoi polloi. Your comments reek of arrogance and grandiosity Patrick.
      I asked for some referenes to support the framing of the artcile and the assumptions made. I am not writing FOR The Conversation as an expert, every other artcile I see here has them and when I see others ask…

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    5. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      PS .. Patrick Stokes said: "Mat is clearly not an expert because his views, which are grounded in actual research and scholarship, conflict with what someone read on the internet, which is therefore obviously true."

      Patrick, for your information I read Mat's article on the internet. Read his qualifications and summary resume on the Internet. I read your comments here on the internet. Read the whole IPCC Report 4 on the Internet. Often read scholarly History, Philosophy and Science based books…

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    6. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Thank you Sean for your considered response. There appears to be many TC readers who have correctly got on with their private local lives without considering the world scene where our politicians play. It is refreshing to find somebody with an informed view based on research rather than MSM 'reports'.

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    7. Sally Totman

      Associate Professor, Middle East Studies

      In reply to Sally Smith

      "For I am only too happy to make one click and walk away if this is the new standard for The Conversation and will happily stop sharing the better articles with others I know".

      Please. Do us all a favour and make that click right now....

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    8. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Thus far, you haven’t actually raised any factual inaccuracies and you haven’t registered any strong disagreement with any aspects of Mat’s analysis. Your complaint basically seems to be that Mat didn’t write the article you wanted him to write. You want him to SPELL IT OUT and EDUCATE people with REAL FACTS (your capitals), but the facts you want him to mention are either highly contested at best (the Mossad thing, Bremer being Jewish – see below) or not entirely relevant to the scope of the article…

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    9. Sally Totman

      Associate Professor, Middle East Studies

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      I was quoting from Sean Arundell. I am not against anything other than abusive ill-informed speculation by people who think that because they have access to a keyboard and an internet connection they should share their random thoughts on articles with all and sundry.

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    10. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      RE Could you point me to a legitimate profile, biography etc. that establishes this point?

      Yes I could, and no I won't. You do not deserve it.

      RE " simply attacking the professional competence of the writer"

      How on earth did you ever become a Professor of Philosphy if all you can do is make stuff up when your emotions get bent out of shape by anothers comments?

      I made my own JUDGEMENTS about Mats articile, and then I questioned HIM about that. Not YOU. Are you lovers or something…

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    11. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Ok Peter, given you raised it, I felt obliged to be accountable. I had some time to cross check, and I appear to wrong about Bremer. As I came to that view a decade ago, I can't recall how that happened now. This is still conjecture however based on summary evidence so it is not guaranteed 100% true, yet appears to be that he is a Roman Catholic.

      L Paul Bremer appeared in a artcile " Faith Gives Him Strength, June 19, 2003 " from www.cathstan.org - the artcile no loner exists, that ref comes…

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    12. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Sally Totman

      RE Sally Totman dug deep into her own opinion cupboard hidden deep inside the ivory towers of Academia to drag out this comment for all and sundry to be enlightened by her own personal version of genius and good taste quoting ---- "I am not against anything other than abusive ill-informed speculation by people who think that because they have access to a keyboard and an internet connection they should share their random thoughts on articles with all and sundry."

      First of all I say to Sally "Pot…

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    13. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Syria and the minoritarian regimes of the Levant states - Friday 15 March 2013 By: Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma
      http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/syria-whats-next/4556858
      This is the first time in two years I heard anyone via the "media" speaking the real Truth about Syria (and similarities to the Iraq War et al) since that civil war began. I know it is the real truth because I have done my own research and used…

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  11. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    As others have noted, the author's repetition of the "100,000+ Iraqis killed since the invasion" is a gross distortion of the reality. The Lancet (12 October 2006) reported that by that year 655,000 Iraqis had lost their lives as a result of the invasion. The UK M of D in an internal memo said that the Lancet study was "robust" and followed "best practice".

    There are other peer reviewed reputable studies such as the Johns Hopkins study that confirm the likely total is now in excess of 1 million…

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to James O'Neill

      The Lance article was, and is, manifestly discredited.

      Deaths from the sanctions were entirely under Saddam's control, and one wonders why people like yourself continue to repeat this waffle.

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    2. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to James O'Neill

      RE "Frankly, the article is a disgrace." That is one way of putting it that has some merit.

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      "The Lance article was, and is, manifestly discredited."

      Sure, and Iraq Body Count did not miss a single death.

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    4. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      "Deaths from the sanctions were entirely under Saddam's control"

      Wasn't the USA bombing Iraq for years prior to 911 and sanctions causing huge deprivations?

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    5. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      HI Yuri ... and Saddam was directly under the control of the CIA ... see CIA approved evidence to the 1994 Reigle Commission into the 1990 Export Administration Act (US) that stated the CIA provided "everything" to the Saddam government.

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    6. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Well, Jack, the last time we met you accused me of being a Mossad agent. That's how much you know . . . but as they used to say about Chicken Man . . . "He's everywhere, he's everywhere!"

      Saddam being under direct control of the CIA is, of course, bunkum, and the Reigle Commission did not say that the CIA provided everything to the Saddam government.

      US industrial firms did provide organophosphate precursors of chemical weapons like VX and Sarin, but these chemicals are also used to manufacture…

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    7. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to William Bruce

      William, only patrolling north and south to prevent Saddam attacking Kurds and Shia. No doubt they did take out a few Iraqi patrols or infiltrations when they breached the zones, but no generalised bombing as far as I know.

      Saddam had sufficient resources to feed his people, especially after 1996, and he was smuggling oil out anyway, but he did see an opportunity to put pressure on UN sanctions by allowing his own people to starve and suffer.

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    8. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to James O'Neill

      Rudd made his name attacking both the illegal Iraq waar of 2003 +as well as the AWB bribery scandal. One of the first moves of the Labor govt was to withdraw troops in Iraq.

      People who attacked gillard over her speech to Congress were also apparently under the imp[ression that the ALP had supported Howard's Iraq commitment.

      I also deplore the timidity that allowed labor to support the Afghan exercise ,but at least it had a vote from the UN in support.

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    9. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to William Bruce

      Both the USA and UK continuously bombed Iraq, in some cases,they said, for breaching the unilaterally declared "no fly zones"- which were declared no fly by, guess who, and applied to everyone except, guess who?- for years prior to 2003.
      And they increased the bomb loads significantly immediately prior to the invasion.
      And in case anyone else may be interested I noted this week an item in the Guardian Weekly speaking about a documentary film produced by the BBC/Guardian about the use of torture…

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    10. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Yiri ...As I understand Sadam was sectarian..he might have had all sorts of sensible reasons for his actions eg foreign meddling intended to cause big problems for his nation...(meddling al la Syria perhaps??)....
      WHY didn't US force a Palestine settlement? Wasn't that in the SADAM mix?....Isn't there a Kurd Israel link?
      "smuggling out oil"..."put pressure on UN??..seems a joke to me...
      The UN & USA is a farce if they SELECTIVELY don't act on the Israel resolutions....
      YURI....why not leave others alone in their own lands?...let them get rid of their own bad leaders IF they are REALLY bad?

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    11. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to William Bruce

      William said:

      "YURI....why not leave others alone in their own lands?...let them get rid of their own bad leaders IF they are REALLY bad?"

      William, many of the contributors here will no doubt agree with you, as do many US conservatives like Ron Paul. Interesting meeting of minds - Ron Paul and Noam Chomsky!

      It does not work if the regime is sufficiently brutal and determined. The main reason is that people without power mostly cannot rid themselves of brutal dictators if overwhelming power…

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  12. Yuri Pannikin

    Director

    I think that's quite a good summary, Mat.

    Bremer was pretty much a disaster, but I wouldn't lay all the blame on his shoulders; he did have superiors. Not sure I agree with this below, though:

    "With four to five thousand civilian deaths occurring every year, Iraq is a manifestly more dangerous place to live than it was under Saddam and even during the invasion. And that doesn’t look like changing any time soon."

    Various estimates of Saddam's intentional killing of his own people (excluding…

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      RE - "If Saddam and his cronies were still in power, the consequences for the region would be immense." IF? The consequences were already immense at the time Suddam's CIA handlers in Egypt depositied him back into Iraq after his failed coup of a few years beforehand. The consequences were already immense when the USA used Saddam as a proxy to go against Iran in war that killed a million plus because the revolution toppled the corrupt undemocratic Shah likewise installed by the US/UK et al. Check…

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      hi yuri

      its not hard to imagine all sorts of scenarios of skullduggery and shenanigans going on in the secret world of politics and war.

      probably if the truth be known it would be far more outrageous than fiction.

      whilst sometimes fertile minds see conspiracies that are not there, there are those who can be forgiven for questioning all that goes on in the world behind closed doors.

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  13. William Hughes-Games

    Garden weed puller

    While everything the Author says is true, it is only true as far as it goes and totally misses the reality of the multitude of American wars. Once you realize that one out of every 10 American dollars is earned servicing the military in some way or other, it begins to make sense. If you are making bullets, bombs or even military vehicles, the only way you will be asked to make more is if the existing ones are expended. Vietnam was tremendous success with a huge expenditure of materiel. They even…

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to William Hughes-Games

      And then after making all that oodles of money on War, the very same culprits subsequently blew up their own and the entire worlds financial system in 2008. How could Saddam remaining in power had more immense consequences than what has tranispired? Impossible. Why anyone would want mindless idiots like this as friends and allies is beyond me, and how anyone could imagine that the US holds to the very same intrinsic values as Australians is beyond my comprehension. Why? Because it simply is not…

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to William Hughes-Games

      Thanks William, Interesting....it's called "Stir up water to catch fish"....if there is no trouble, perhaps it is really the need to provoke violence to sell weaponary etc?

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    3. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Sean, it's not that the US "people" are "mindless idiots" in my view ..in fact I think they are fantastic & technically the world's leaders ...for now at least...
      However, seems their problem is... the politicians, media, academia & Judiciary etc have ALL been "bought" ...SO there is nowhere for them to turn......perhaps they all "cover" for each other with the "acceptable narrative or are targeted for removal?

      My current theory is follow the money to those who control the "issuance of currency" (The small elite few who control the US Federal Reserve Bank (& how they create VAST amounts of capital with book entries)...and also, perhaps research the Bilderberg group/CFR....I think these FEW are the key & this is what academics ought consider more closely...talking religious divides is bullish*t ..it's MONEY....when people have their land & assets stolen they THEN run into tribes to defend their wealth.

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  14. Arthur James Egleton Robey

    Industrial Electrician

    I did a search for the word "oil" in this article. Nothing. Nada.
    So tell me, when are we going to inva, sorry, liberate Zimbabwe?

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    1. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Arthur James Egleton Robey

      Hi Arthur, good point. It is common knowledge that the US multinational oil corporations have a God given right to be the sole exploiters of the world's oil reserves ... and will prove it by using the US government military to enforce their right ... paid for by US taxpayers, of course.

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  15. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    OK you lot, how abouit signing the petition for a judicial inquiry into the factors influencing the government's decision to back Bush's invasion? read the booklet on the website iraqinquiry.org.au and sign up.

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  16. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    Actually Wilma, the legal position is not quite so clear cut. The US and its allies attacked Afghanistan in October 2001 in clear breach of international law, including but not limited to the UN Charter. The attack was purportedly motivated by the events of 11 September 2001. Even if the US government's version of events on that day was correct (and it isn't) that would still not be justification for the attack. We now know of course that the decision to attack Afghanistan was finalized in July…

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to James O'Neill

      "We now know of course that the decision to attack Afghanistan was finalized in July 2001, well before the 11/9/01."

      I'm absolutely amazed at how you guys like to spin these things. More nonsense. Do you ever read anything other than your own propaganda?

      I'm sure the US had some contingency plans for OBL and the Taliban -- they'd been attacked enough -- but it's absolute bunkum that plans for a certain attack were finalised prior to 9/11.

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    2. William Bruce

      Artist

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Why aren't we talking which individuals are running the Afghan Narcotics global trade routes NOW & BEFORE?

      Talking about all this stuff without looking at who are the profiteers seems mad to me.

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  17. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    Yuri Pannikin,

    It is impossible to have an intelligent conversation with someone so obviously blinded by their own narrow view of the world. If you are not willing to actually look at the evidence, of which there is now an abundance, then you would be better served by not saying anything at all.

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to James O'Neill

      James, evidence that the US had already planned to invade Afghanistan by July 2001, please.

      A little of the 'abundance', please.

      And are you subscribing to conspiracy theories about 9/11?

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  18. Michael Ekin Smyth

    Investor

    Mat's analysis of the growing sectarian divides is spot on but the argument that the 2003 Iraq war was the critical pivot is a bit dicey. Saddam consistently oppressed Shia and fought a far bloodier war against Shia Iran in the 1980s. Sectarian, tribal and racial divides have been alive and well in the Middle East since time immemorial. The FT said the US won the war, Iran the peace and Turkey the contracts. Iraq is now effectively three states - Kurdish, Sunni and Shia.
    Kurds, if they are smart…

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  19. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    I hate war, but I believe in soldiers. It leads to self destruction to assume countries around me to become lambs, just because I don't want arms. But those soldiers need to have a proper training, they need to understand the concept of democracy, and believe in it. It's not enough with them becoming 'brothers in arms' any longer. Everything will get down to 'education' in the end (in my book). That's what makes us better persons, able to reason a little further, before it all ends in prejudice…

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  20. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    @ Yuri. There is a whole library of evidence, but if you want to start somewhere you might like to read two books by Peter Dale Scott: The Road to 9/11 and American War Machine. Both are scholarly studies and importantly for your purposes they are both heavily footnoted providing chapter and verse for the arguments that Scott develops.

    When someone asks if someone is a "conspiracy theorist" one knows right away that the questioner stopped thinking and reading sometime in the past. Let me spell…

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to James O'Neill

      Truly, James, I've seen more spinning from the loony left than in the industrial revolution. You need to offer up some more contemporary and even-handed evidence than that.

      So, now we're getting to the heart of it. You don't believe that al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11, do you? Admit it, you subcribe to a CIA/Jewish conspiracy on 9/11 don't you? If not, deny it please.

      And I only need a femtosecond to know that's hogwash.

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    2. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to James O'Neill

      Actually, he asked for specific evidence that the US had already committed to invading Afghanistan in July 2001 - a pretty serious accusation that would require very credible documentation to back it up - meeting notes, statements from high-level government figures who were in a position to be privy to the relevant discussions, that sort of thing. And of course saying they'd already committed to an invasion is different to saying they'd already drawn up plans to invade Afghanistan - it'd be pretty…

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    3. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Patrick

      An uncle was a teacher at the Embury Riddle School of Aeronautics Prescott Arizona Campus through the latter 20th century into the early 2000s. I recall exchanges with one of his daughters - my cousin - at the time of the WTC/Pentagon/aftermath as investigations showed that one/some of those involved had studied at my uncle's campus. Disbelief - degrees of separation! All that!

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  21. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    Yuri, you rather make my original point that it is pointless trying to engage with you on an intelligent level because you are so obviously wedded to your own bizarre view of the world.

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  22. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    @ Patrick Stokes. It is not disingenuous. I was using the accepted legal definition of conspiracy. You appeared to overlook my following point. It is not a question of whether or not it is a "conspiracy theory". The point is to look at the evidence and see where that points. Obviously if one is using an evidential basis for analysis, and I don't see the point of any other basis, then that rapidly disposes of all wild theories because manifestly they lack any credible basis.

    It is not my…

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    1. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to James O'Neill

      Oh dear, we have a "truther". I'm not even going to waste my time on this, although I could, with peer-reviewed papers.

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    2. Gideon Maxwell Polya

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to James O'Neill

      Well said, James O'Neill. As a 5-decade-career scientist I simply cannot accept the lying Bush "official 9-11 conspiracy theory" for some key reasons based in part on basic high school chemistry lab and Newtonian physics:

      1. Collapse of 3 WTC buildings at near free-fall rates implies explosive demolition to remove resistance (especially that of WTC Building 7 which was not hit by planes, had minimal fire damage and whose destruction was reported over 5 minutes before it happened by the BBC reporter…

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    3. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      Re the thermite paper and its authors, is this true:

      "Jones, Harrit, and Roberts have not submitted their paper, with samples, to independent labs for verification. They have not completed the discovery process by scheduling a presentation of their findings to a group of qualified scientists and allowing for educated debate and evaluation of their findings in the public sphere. Their paper was published in a journal that has questionable academic credentials, and was even cited as offering publication…

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    4. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Gideon Maxwell Polya

      All of this stuff has been debunked so many times already, but here goes anyway:

      1. Leaving aside the lack of evidence *for* controlled demolition, the sheer implausibility of the logistics involve tell against it. Are we to believe that for weeks if not months, workcrews were sneaking into WTC 1, 2 and 7 at night, hiding explosives in the walls and completely evading notice from cleaners and security (or were they in on it too?) who somehow never noticed any of this, while leaving no trace of…

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Patrick Stokes

      Facts huh? What a wonderfully philosophical notion - that facts win arguments. Bloody wishful thinking Patrick.

      It's a curious coalion that backs the Osama Didn't Do Nuffink! campaign - from mad mullahs who see the US as the only agent capable of making history to ratbag rednecks who just cannot entertain the proposition that the USA could prove so vulnerable to a bunch of towelheads. Jess carn be troo goldarnit!

      So they look everywhere and anywhere for the real culprits ... the usual suspects - jews, mossad, the banks, the CIA, the Bilderberg Group ... an endless list really ... anything is more believable, more acceptable than the bleeding obvious.

      And you think a few puny facts will stand up to their passionate inquiries and suspicions. Not when folks just know Patrick... not when they truly believe.

      Try exorcism.

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    6. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      There's actually something strangely comforting about conspiracy theorising. Apart from the ego boost of believing you know how things *really* are unlike all those ignorant sheeple, a world controlled by vast, all-powerful secret cabals is arguably a more ordered and comforting place than the world we do in fact live in. It's better to think the bad guys are in control than to think that no-one's in control, better to believe in malevolent puppet masters than to think there are no strings to pull. And it's somehow more comforting to think of Bush as a supervillian playing a masterful game of nine-dimensional chess than to think that the 'leader of the free world' was exactly as inadequate, ideologically blinded and cynically opportunistic as he seemed to be.

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  23. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    Gee Yuri, another phrase from your grab bag of substitutes for rational discussion. "Truther": who would have thought it? What is the next thought substitute: "tin foil hatter", "anti-semite" ? That game could go on to infinity.

    Why not come back to the original posting by Mat. Are you going to argue that there wasn't a conspiracy to lead us into an illegal war? Paul Pillar's article in The National Interest 14 March 2013 "Still Peddling Iraq War Myths, Ten Years Later" I suggest you don't read. Exposure to the real world is obviously dangerous to your health. The reference is given for those readers who prefer to know some of what is really going on.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to James O'Neill

      hi james

      i dont think it was a conspiracy. america didnt care very much that it was out in the open.

      it was all a love fest between bush, blair and howard.

      if it was a conspiracy, it was one in plain sight. i just wonder if they really believed they would find womd, or just hoped they'd stumble across them to justify their folly.

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    2. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to James O'Neill

      One of the great delights of life in the Middle East ...no shortage of evidence ... more than enough to justify whatever particular plot or conspiracy one chooses to fancy. Invent your own. It's a truly international passtime. Every viewpoint - every ethnic group, religious sect or subsect, every region every nationality will have its own story - its own villains and heroes, its own facts, rumours and accusations.

      Things are never resolved, never settled. History never decides. Perhaps because…

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      " i just wonder if they really believed they would find womd"

      They might have but finding wmd wasn't important to them.

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    4. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, that's not up to your usual standard of analysis -- or perhaps it is. In the south and the north, the people of Iraq are doing much better without the monstrous hand of Saddam and his two psychopathic sons to torment them.

      In the middle, mixed Sunni and Shia regions, including Baghdad, that's where the main trouble lies.

      I have asked you several times if you believed Iraq would be better off under Saddam and you would never answer, but I see you have in the post above.

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      You are a strange fellow Yuri. This curious hobby of yours of putting words into peoples' mouths, chasing them up a tree or into a corner and then throwing rocks and denunciations. Not really very rational or conversational is it - this need to be accusing and insinuating ...

      The short answer to your question is this: It is not my answer to give. Or yours. And it is absurd that you think it is up to you or me sitting here in bucolic Australia to make such pronouncements about the lives of…

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    6. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Bravo, Peter. Well articulated! "You're a panicking!" has surely been well answered - one hopes for a rest from his goading!

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    7. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Jim, Jim, Jim, the goad only works if the goadee feels inadequate. All I'm trying to do is get you lot to consider all possibilities, which, to be fair to Peter, he shows signs of doing.

      Peeing in each other's pockets is never productive -- unless you like wet undies.

      You need to consider what Iraq would be like with Saddam and his sons and other Ba'athist butchers still in power, no sanctions, removal of no-fly zones, and unlimited access to oil money and power. It's not a pretty sight, and…

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    8. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      So you'd be all for invading Saudi Arabia Yuri with the news this week that they will be crucifying a young offender for doing a smash and grab on a jewellery store, prior to his execution, or that women cannot drive etc...

      The outcome and the handling of this Iraq adventure has been a monumental failure from every direction. Looks a lot better the further away (and the safer) one is.

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    9. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      'Mass atrocities', genocide is the key; the Balkans, Iraq, good examples. And I noticed Obama using one of my favourite catch phrases the other day: "Just because we can't do everything, does not mean we should not do some things." He was talking about weapons control from memory, but it applies internationally as well.

      You can wring your hands as you do in your previous post, but that doesn't achieve anything does it? It is a balance, and some things will be worth it and others . . . not so much. Or you can do nothing and watch the pleas and hear the cries for help from ordinary citizens being monstered by psychopaths.

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Yuri,

      You are shifting ground like a crab ... scuttling off sideways.

      Are you trying to suggest that the Coalition of the Willing was responding to cries for help from inside Iraq? No it was about WMDs, the alleged danger to "world peace" (what???) and some alleged links to 9/11 and global terror.

      Find me some facts Yuri ... some evidence anywhere in the public comments and debate prior to the 2003 invasion that there was any concern whatsoever for the people of Iraq. We didn't care then. We don't care now. You in particular. And you are inventing history here.

      Go and tell those ungrateful Iraqis how lucky they are Yuri.

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    11. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      hi yuri

      obama in israel.......i hate to seem dogmatic and intransigent, but why oh why this relentless sucking up to that country.

      is it because every second person in power in washington has a jewish surname, or are they just politicking to have an ally in the ME, irrespective of the hypocrisy of backing israel when that country has such a bellicose and pugnacious reputation.

      ok so i'm biased against the country, i admit it.

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    12. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      You forgot step 4, Yuri:

      4.If the international community "fails to assist the state to fulfil its primary responsibility" i.e. if there is no UN-sanctioned invasion, then the coalition of the willing (bless their hearts) can feel free to mount an invasion as they wish.

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    13. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Aye, and therein lies the problem it seems Stephen. Inbuilt biases detract from a logical analysis of affairs and events.

      Not me of course; I'm the perfectly rational, logical utilitarian.

      BTW, is your pocket wet?

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    14. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I did mention 'the spreadsheet' (with weightings) in an earlier Conversation article.

      Not one thing. Get it? WMD was a good sales pitch, I admit, and there was a 50/50 chance they existed.

      How about this conversation in the war room:

      "Okay, we're not sure if he has WMD, but he just killed 400,000 of his own people and ten thousand with chemcial weapons, so we'll weight WMD and genocide as 10X each. Then there's what happens when sanctions are removed and he has oil money - 8X. How about when mad, mad Qusay takes over - 6X. Now how about if he tries to build up his nuke program again - 8X. Geez, he threatened to invade the Saudis at one time - 10X. But it will give Iran more power -10X."

      Just a very simple example of course. But don't simplify it, Peter.

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    15. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      You old sabre rattlers amaze me ... you learn nothing, forget nothing...

      So when you say 50/50 chance on WMD ... are you actually saying its its either true or false - thus 50/50? Doesn't quite work like that ... there was no reliable or verifiiable evidence of WMDs ... possibly was exporing them at one stage - as are others incidentally.

      Here... read something from someone who knows: Hans Blix - former head UN weapons inspector http://www.npr.org/2013/03/19/174708587/u-n-weapons-inspector-looks-back-on-iraq-war

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    16. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      hi chris

      my point exactly.......it was a furphy.

      a convenient excuse...but when they didnt find them, did they call it all off - oh no.

      the moral crusaders were up and at it.

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    17. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      War monger? You don't know me, Peter . . . at all.

      But I can understand why you are upset. Safe on your little farm, no suicide bombers, or brutes wanting to take away your family and kill them - just to punish or spite you.

      Hope the roses grow well this year.

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  24. Edwin Flynn

    I am a early retired executive at Worked in Local Government, Education and Financial Services Industries

    Do you remember Mr Andrew WILKIE now the MHR for the Federal seat of DENISON in Tasmania?

    In 2003 Wilkie resigned from his position in the Office of National Assessments, an Australian intelligence agency, over concerns that intelligence was being misrepresented for political purposes in making the case for Australia's contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the Howard government. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wilkie)

    He blew the whistle at the time because he was concerned about…

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  25. James O'Neill

    Barrister

    @Patrick Stokes. This may come as a surprise to you, but all of the rhetorical questions and straw men raised in your latest foray have been systematically addressed and answered. Can I respectfully suggest that you acquaint yourself with the literature before you bloviate again on this topic. You might start with www.911debunkers.blogspot where all of the questions you raise have been answered. There is an online journal called Journal of 9/11 Studies where a large number of articles (all peer reviewed) have examined the issues you raise. Then there is a substantial library. Some of the best summaries can be found in the books by David Ray Griffin, in particular Debunking 9/11 Debunking; The New Pearl Harbor Revisited; 9/11 Ten Years Later; and The Mysterious Collapse of Building 7.

    Those sources are all examples of calm, dispassionate, logical and evidence based analysis. I appreciate that that might pose a challenge for you, but try anyway.

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    1. Patrick Stokes

      Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University

      In reply to James O'Neill

      And all those responses have been debunked in turn, and on and on it goes. And outside of a journal set up by truthers and reviewed by other truthers, the net effect of all this research has been three articles in marginal journals, at least one of which was so bad the editor actually resigned over it. If the case is so watertight and the research so outstanding, where are the papers in leading engineering, chemistry and aviation journals?

      I'm not an engineer, and unlike David Ray Griffin I don't…

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  26. Jim KABLE

    teacher

    Sean ARUNDELL's latest posting I find really admirable! True scholarship!

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  27. Sally Smith

    .

    Regarding the 10th Anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War there is a newly released documentary called " The World According to Dick Cheney " http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvY9yfYUeNU
    This Youtube vid in full has been deleted - see below - Quoting Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfeld @ 1:15:30 to 1:16:10
    " All I know is that the fact that the stockpiles were not found, and
    the fact that the Administration had I think unwisely placed so much
    stock in the idea that there were existing stocks it probably…

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    1. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Sally Smith

      What led to Australia invading Iraq in 2003? The newly established Iraq War Inquiry Group is calling for an independent inquiry into the reasons behind Australia’s participation in the invasion and a review of the war powers of the government, to draw out what lessons can be learned for the future.

      The case for an inquiry is set out in detail in the new booklet, Why Did We Go to War in Iraq? A call for an Australian inquiry. The group consists of Australians from diverse backgrounds who are concerned…

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    2. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Sally Smith

      From ABC Four Corners - Afghanistan - Mission Accomplished
      http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/03/25/3720567.htm

      DAVID KILCULLEN: Yeah, I actually testified in front of the US Senate about five years ago and said that we have to be very careful to ensure that President Karzai doesn't turn into President Diem. Diem was the first president of independent South Vietnam, who remained in power the first period of the international intervention in Vietnam.

      And in fact, the Kennedy administration…

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Kilcullen is one of our great exports actually Sean. But he is hard up against the belligerence and reflexive military thinking of the US government and political culture. They really like this shoot-'em-up stuff... makes 'em feel like they're doing something - even "winning".

      Still, Kilcullen now has a leading role in counter insurgency policy and advice to the Marine Corps directly - his 11 points ( from memory) is an excellent read ... good to see that some one learned something from Vietnam. His little pamphlet is at the core of their West Point strategic studies course.

      But it will take generations - if at all.

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    4. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Sally Smith

      David Kilcullen's counter-insurgency (COIN) premise is largely discounted by both right and left, if I can use those crude terms.

      See a history and analysis here:

      "COIN – Now we see that it failed. But that was obvious before we started (when will we learn?)"
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2011/12/06/31616/

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    5. Jim KABLE

      teacher

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Now why did I think that your comment might take this kind of negative perspective even before I read further than the first words?

      I've been doing some reading about DK - he certainly has impressive experience/scholarship in this area!

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    6. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Jim KABLE

      Look, Kilcullen's theoretical work and scholarship was impressive to say the least, it's just that it doesn't work.

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    7. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Yuri said: "Kilcullen's theoretical work and scholarship was impressive to say the least, it's just that it doesn't work."

      Response: That's an opinion Yuri. You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Quoting other people's opinions you personally believe in does not make it a fact.

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    8. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Yuri Pannikin

      Response to Yuri: Thank you for that link. I am impressed by the effort and the presentation by the site author. So much so I am going to steal one of his methods there to solve a problem I have been grppling with in presenting thousands of files containing accurate factual evidence in a much better, methodical, and clearer way for the reader.

      Regarding the content of the site, I have only skimmed it because that's about all I have the time to do. I seriously question your own premise regarding…

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    9. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Response to Peter: Yes indeed! It's interesting you say that for that is exactly the conclusion everyone would best take away from the Four Corners program. By way of analogy: If I was made King of Australia for a day I would insist that every Voter in September was required to first sit through and listen to the Whitlam Oratory by Malcolm Fraser in 2012 which was really about our current crop of Politicians today. I suspect that the Primary Vote across Australia would be won conclusively by the Donkey Vote.

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    10. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Sally Smith

      Sean,

      Here is Kilcullen in a nutshell ... 28 points regarding counter insurgency - drawing on the lessons of US failures in such matters since Korea.

      Judge for yourself how many of these concepts were applied or even tried in Afghanistan. Common sense and delightfully Australian in its lack of reverence for the military monolith of US strategic habits.

      smallwarsjournal.com/documents/kilcullen1.pdf

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    11. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Thanks Peter, what a great find! Fits perfectly and reinforces the points I made to Yuri earlier and comments on the COIN website he referenced that I saw as mis-representing David Kullen actual views and opinions. eg by DK "In the light of this evidence, classical counterinsurgency seems curiously divorced from contemporary reality. This paper asks why." along with several other things that show up early on page 2. Oh the devil is always in the details. Never let the details or the facts get in the way of an ideological opinion though, for they are as precious as Gollum's Precious. <smile>

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    12. Sally Smith

      .

      In reply to Sally Smith

      New counterinsurgency paradigms page 9 "What follows is a series of preliminary judgments to be refined as events disprove them. They are presented in a spirit of open inquiry, not as firm conclusions." This kind of attitude is what sets people like David Kilcullen apart from the usual crowd and in the very best of ways. Self-importance, ideologically driven ego motivation, and self-referenced certainty are not issues that afflict DKs thinking nor his genuine good intentions. I'd suggest the same goes for Julian Assange, but he has been so thoroughly verballed from all sides now, and misrepresented to the public it's impossible for any fair reading of what drives him to do and say what he does, no matter how his *rash* actions may be fairly and reasonably criticised objectively in some quarters. Only my personal opinion, not worth a tiny hill of 6 small beans. :-)

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  28. Stephen Ralph

    carer

    the four corner's story tonight was on the taking over of military duties by afghans as coalition forces withdraw.
    in this story american soldiers are acting as advisors only to the afghans, with no authority to act other than offering advice.

    i would advise everyone to watch this episode as it highlights the absolute disaster that is unfolding in afghanistan.

    the farce that is being acted out will ultimately become tragedy as 2014 is set as the date for complete withdrawal.

    without any…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Not for nought Stephen ... it will be worse. There will be no hope, no help and no future.

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      unfortunately it is so peter.

      the look of absolute despair on the amercian soldier who is in charge of the "advice brigade" said it all.

      as afghan soldier were firing round after automatic round into a treed area on the edge of a village, the american was trying to restrain them and shouting that there was young boy and villagers in the firing line.

      the response was - "they are all taliban" and they kept on firing.

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      The folks I feel saddest for are the fools who believed us to be honest Stephen ... the men and women who actually thought this was about them and that we cared.

      In reality the more weapons and money we sink into the ANA and the "police" will ensure that the people suffer more once Karzai runs away and the scraps we've left behind capitulate.

      There was an interesting discussion of Afghanistan and its future in a piece on TC coinciding with International Women's Day.

      Or if you want a real sense of life in "modern day" Afghanistan watch the excellent film Osama on SBS on demand.

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