Jay Bahadur - The last of the Ethiopian soldiers left Mogadishu yesterday, concluding their long-awaited evacuation of the capital city. Their departure was feted in the streets by euphoric throngs of cheering residents, and with Islamist militias sweeping in to fill the vacuum, the political complexion of the city appears much the same as it did when the Ethiopians found it, leaving observers to wonder why exactly they were sent in the first place. The 29-month US-backed Ethiopian mission to southern Somalia must be judged as an unmitigated foreign policy, not to mention humanitarian, disaster, and the departing troops will have ample opportunity to consider their failure (and the senseless deaths of the unreported hundreds of their colleagues) during the 500km trek back to their nation’s border. But the deeper contemplation should occur in Addis Ababa and Washington, where the ill-conceived Ethiopian intervention was first envisaged.
Peter Symonds - If one deleted the names and dates from a description of the Dujail massacre, it could just as easily be the description of an untold number of US military operations in Iraq. A convoy comes under attack, helicopter gunships strafe the neighbouring village or suburb, squads of heavily armed troops kill or detain hundreds of suspected “terrorists”, and the arrested are held in detention centres without trial and tortured. The scale of atrocities in Dujail pales in comparison to the US military’s levelling of Fallujah, but the last thing that the Bush administration wants is to have to defend all of the lies that it used to justify its act of aggression. By insisting that the trial take place in Baghdad, the White House has ensured that the US invasion will never become a courtroom issue.
Iman Al-Saadun - I am sending this letter to the British people and, in particular, to the residents of London. For a period of hours, you lived through moments of anxiety and horror. In those hours you lost a member of your family or a friend, and we wish to tell you, in total honesty, that we, too, grieve when human lives are lost. You don’t know our martyrs, but we know them. You don’t remember them or cry over them, but we do. Have you heard the name of the little girl Hannan Salih Matrud? Or of the boy Ahmad Jabir Karim? Or Sa`id Shabram? Yes, our dead have names too. They have faces and stories and memories. There was a time when they were among us, laughing and playing. They had dreams, just as you have. They had a tomorrow awaiting them. But today they sleep among us with no tomorrow on which to wake.
Guest Editorial - What is the difference between a bombing campaign launched by America or Britain and a terrorist attack? The answer to this question is very pertinent in the wake of the recent London bombings and is also very simple. Whenever America and Britain attack and bomb, killing tens of thousands of civilians around the world, it is a justified “war” in “self-defence” against often exaggerated or phantom enemies. Whenever others in response give them a taste of what they readily dish out to many others, it is a different story. The most horrific aspect of the London bombings from the West’s point of view is not so much the carnage itself. It is the fact that Britain, the great imperialistic warmonger, has been attacked at all, despite being immune for centuries from the hatred they have generated among the people they have attacked and oppressed.
Immanuel Wallerstein - We know now that George W. Bush confided to one of his friends before he was president that he wanted a war with Iraq and that, unlike his father, he would get rid of Saddam Hussein. And so he has. But as the U.S. polls turn seriously against him and a majority of Americans today say that the war wasn’t worth the loss of lives, it is time to take a reckoning of what Mr. Bush has accomplished. He wanted a quick war, and he didn’t get that. Mr. Bush also wanted a regime in power that would be a strong, long-term ally, capable of running the country. So far he hasn’t got that either. And finally, like the narrow-minded provincial that he is, George W. Bush expected that the U.S. would flourish at home. Instead, the United States is living through a national culture war that is massive and threatens to turn violent in the next decade.
Dahr Jamail - The United States of America had the support of every country on the globe after the events of September 11, 2001. Today, anti-American sentiment around the world is higher than it has ever been. In April, I spoke with a man there who was managing a small clinic inside besieged Fallujah. He hadn’t slept in days because of the incessant influx of casualties from US aggression. “For 48 years I believed in democracy and the good spirit of the American government,” he said while bombs from US warplanes blasted into yet another part of the city, “but now I know it took me 48 years to wake up to the fact that they are a brutal, heartless empire. A government-led empire which cares nothing about the Iraqi people. It has taken my entire life, but I am not asleep to this fact any longer.”
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times - Whether it was poetic justice or yet one more instance of hubris, in the end there was indeed an “October surprise”. Call it the WMD-lite scandal: the disappearance of 380 tons of dual-use explosives in Iraq. Certainly Republican Machiavelli-in-charge Karl Rove didn’t see this surprise coming - hitting the Bush administration like a jet converted into a missile. Now the neo-cons and Pentagon civilians are scrambling like mad trying to cover US President George W Bush’s back and defuse yet another spectacular blunder. Even the best spin from the Bush administration will leave it looking incompetent, but the crucial facts about the whole affair are that the Pentagon knew that 380 tons of high explosives were stored at al-Qaqaa, but securing them were less of a priority than securing the country’s oil industry.
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times - Everything imaginable, in Iraq and elsewhere, has been attributed to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But not a single source, anywhere, claims to have actually seen “Zarqawi” since late 2001 in Afghanistan. “Zarqawi” is much like a movie. Fake leg or not, return of the living dead or not, he is everywhere. American corporate media do not even bother to examine all the holes in the story. Who cares? Without Zarqawi, the Bush administration would have to painfully admit that the Iraqi resistance is a national liberation struggle. With Zarqawi, the administration can parrot to oblivion the line that Iraq is in the frontline of the “war on terror”. If multi-purpose “Zarqawi” did not exist, he would have to be invented.
Charles Kennedy - Yesterday, at Prime Minister’s Questions, I challenged the Prime Minister to admit that he “led us into an illegal war”. I said that we now know that the 45-minute claim was unfounded; that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and that regime change - which is contrary to international law - was the only remaining argument. The Prime Minister blustered and was angry. But so was I. This war was wrong and it’s time he faced up to it. For those of us who care about the way this country is run, and have a duty to hold the government to account, it’s necessary to keep pursuing the truth about how we got involved in the worst foreign policy disaster since Suez.
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