View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Not the Palestinians

Today in the Gaza Strip, a remote-detonated roadside bomb was set off beneath a clearly marked American convoy, killing at least three American diplomats.

These diplomats, whatever their exact mission, were international observers. The Palestinians always want such observers around to document Israeli aggression. I find it hard to believe that after restraining themselves from suicide bombings (despite intense Israeli provocation) because they don't want to give Israel an excuse for further attacks on Syria, would then turn around and make a blunder like this. It's clear that the Israelis benefit from this bombing, and that it's a disaster for the Palestinians. Who knows how Bush will beat the Israeli war drums now?

I find it a lot easier to believe that the Mossad (the Israeli CIA) did this. On the spectrum of Mossad conspiracy theorists, I'm actually on the skeptical side. But a roadside bombing in Gaza is trivial to pull off and a bit too perfect for the Israelis. As far as I'm concerned, the Mossad just murdered three Americans.

Monday, October 13, 2003

The race to Damascus: A Rant.

I now believe that the Israelis are trying to go to war with Syria -- and maybe Iran, too -- before Bushco gets kicked out of the White House. I don't see any other way to explain their frenetic attempts to escalate the situation. First they bomb Syria for the first time in 30 years, and right outside of Damascus; then they announce they have a "target list" which includes 10 sites within Damascus and that they intend to "defend" themselves by any means and at any location; then they announce that they have nuclear submarines. Now they say the Mossad has drawn up plans for bombing 6 sites in Iran, to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons.

This is all because the American Likudniks currently in power (Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle) have been arguing for years that Syria must be invaded, and Iran must be at least destabilized if not invaded. Israel can read the writing on the wall, and knows the neocon powers in Washington now have a political life expectancy of 15 months. Israel is starting to panic -- this is their last best hope to implement the insane neocon vision for the Middle East. Israel needs war in the Middle East and it needs it now.

Of course, to bomb Syria again Israel needs another suicide bombing, so they're doing their best, attacking the refugee camp at Rafah, killing 8 and leaving as many as 1500 homeless. The UN says it looks like a severe earthquake hit. They've put whole towns under house arrest. Yesterday they shot two Palestinian boys to death. They want a bombing. They need some dead Israelis and they need them fast. A few more dead Israelis, a few more bombs, and they can provoke a Syrian retaliation. That'll really get the ball rolling.

Hard to see who's more evil than Ariel Sharon.

A bit of good news

As part of Bushco's attempts to win the PR war over Iraq, they apparently hired a firm to plant fake letters-to-the-editor from US soldiers in Iraq, and got caught. Although they used real soldiers' names and sent the letters to those soldiers' home town newspapers, the letters were identical. Some soldiers had read the letter and signed their names, but at least one had never seen the thing. As you'd expect, the letter painted quite a rosy picture:
"The fruits of all our soldiers' efforts are clearly visible in the streets of Kirkuk today. There is very little trash in the streets, many more people in the markets and shops, and children have returned to school," the letter reads. "I am proud of the work we are doing here in Iraq and I hope all of your readers are as well."
It was Josh Marshall, over at his excellent blog Talking Points Memo, who described how fake letter campaigns -- also known as astroturf organizing -- happen. Josh Marshall will be talking about this new trend on the Aaron Brown show on CNN tonight. Looks like the Bushies have shot themselves in the foot, by making much of the positive news out of Iraq suddenly suspect.

What are we thinking?

In order to punish farmers who we say are withholding information about terrorists, the US army used bulldozers to destroy whole groves of palm and citrus trees in the Sunni area of Iraq.

Riverbend wrote about this, and describes what those trees meant to the Iraqis, beyond being the livelihood of the farmers. She also mentions that while the farmers involved are Sunni, they belong to a tribe which includes many Iraqi Shi'a. That way we kill two birds with one stone: incite rage in the Sunnis, and in the Shi'a. Bravo.

We're so much like the Israelis it's scary.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Losing the Kurds

The Turkish newspaper Zaman ran a recent article titled "Turkey's First Priority in Iraq: Eliminate the PKK-KADEK." Turkey, Britain, and the US consider the PKK/KADEK (a Kurdish separatist group based in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey) to be a terrorist organization. The PKK/KADEK fought a guerrilla war inside Turkey for nearly two decades, before their leader was captured and a cease-fire was called. The cease-fire seems to be crumbling, though. Amid verbal threats on both sides, the PKK/KADEK clashed with Turkish troops earlier today.

Turkey claims that the US agreed to assist in destroying the PKK/KADEK inside Iraq, as a precondition for Turkey agreeing to send troops. They say Ankara and the Pentagon are in discussions about exactly how the US will lend its military assistance. For the past month there have been articles in the Turkish press about "concrete assurances" received from the US, showing our commitment to "a PKK-KADEK solution."

The PKK/KADEK is said to have an army of 5,000 in northern Iraq. This is an organization trained by 17 years of guerrilla warfare which ended recently, in 1999. They have promised to attack Turkish troops as they pass south, and to lay siege to Turkish supply lines. Turkish retaliation is likely to harm civilians in the Kurdish north, since that's what happens when you try to battle guerrillas. It's not as if the Sunnis like the Turks, either. To them the Ottoman empire is recent history; they believe the Turks want to take back Iraq. The entire governing council is against Turkish troops in Iraq, as is the Arab League. If we get involved in supporting the Turks against the PKK-KADEK, we will have taken a position against all Iraqis.

According to the Bush administration, PKK-KADEK is a terrorist group, so I have no doubt we'll go after them or allow the Turks to do so. That will be the end of Kurdish complacency and the end of all oil production in the north. Another successful chapter in the War on Terrorism....

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