Monday, February 24, 2003

Prime Minister of garbage cans

The US keeps encouraging Iraq to resist the UN inspectors. For example, here’s Ari Fleischer today: “If Saddam Hussein destroys the missiles that he said he never had ... you've got to wonder what other weapons does he have?” No, Ari, you really don’t. They must be chortling over Iraq’s current Catch-22: give up missiles it needs to fight an inevitable war, or give the US the excuse it needs to start the war immediately. Although, as I said last week, the US keeps bombing sites in Iraq, with less and less justification (a story in the Independent since then makes the same point), so really the war is now in its, what, 13th year.

Hussein wants to debate GeeDubya. Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

The Farc rebels in Colombia say they will treat the 3 CIA employees as prisoners of war. Hey, that’s more than we’d do for them. In fact, if they are CIA employees, or indeed civilian contractors like the gov says, the Geneva Conventions do not apply to them. A story on NPR today I only heard the headline for comments on this aspect of the increasing employment by the Pentagon of (armed) outside contractors, which is a way to avoid Congress or the press noticing just how many of them there are spread out over Colombia, the Philippines and god knows where else.

A Kentucky grand jury refuses to indict a white cop who shot a black prisoner, who was in handcuffs, 11 times. Since June 2000 Louisville cops have shot 6 men to death. Five were black, no charges have been brought.

Sharon will exclude Shas from government. Its “spiritual leader,” a rabbi, calls Sharon “Prime Minister of garbage cans,” whatever that might mean.

Which reminds me. The next Austrian coalition gov, which is taking even longer to put together than Israel’s, will include the party of the gay neo-fascist Jorg Haider.

Jonathan Steele in the Guardian says that the risk that Blair et al are taking in going to war in defiance of public opinion requires that there be tv images of Iraqis dancing in the streets, just as the invasion of Afghanistan was retroactively justified by women throwing off their burquas. Never mind what happened after that, it’s those first images that matter. This is why the US’s seesawing plans for post-invasion governance matter so much. The British, who have some experience of this, seem to think that Viceroy Tommy Franks is not going to be good PR. And what after that? If the UN gives permission for this war, it gives up the right to send peacekeepers in later, as it could in Kosovo (4 years after the Yugoslavs were kicked out, the UN special representative rules by decree as absolute dictator, the Albanians having no more self-determination than they did under Milosevic). Anyway, why should the UN discredit itself by picking up the wreckage left by the US, because the US “only does war”? The Afghan model won’t work, because there are no warlords to bribe. Fortunately for the US, it won’t matter, because we will have forgotten about Iraq by the end of this year, just like Afghanistan.

Saw Gephardt on McNeil-Lehrer. He drones on worse than Gore.

The parents of the 9-year old pregnant rape victim in Nicaragua say fuck it and get her an abortion illegally. The medical board that is required to approve an abortion had said that she faced the same risks from either abortion or pregnancy (a 9-year old? bullshit!).

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