Category:bloghdad.com

It's Wednesday. I clearly wasn't set on posting this, but then I read James Norton's The X2 Guide to US Foreign Policy and figured, what the heck. All that purely Revelations-based analysis of the latest End of The World was leaving me unsatisfied.

Goodbye Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker! Hello Nephi and Mormon and Moroni!Not listening too closely to the sermon Sunday morning, I cracked open the ole Book of Mormon for a diverting read. (Just letting the Bible fall open's far more unpredictable, what with those vast stretches of Old Testament, and that giant concordance and dictionary tacked on.)

[Background: Joseph Smith translated the BOM from golden plates unearthed by an angel in upstate New York. It's the religious history of pre- and post-Christ-era believers in the western hemisphere. I'm sure there's a more overtly persuasive description at Mormon.org.]

Anyway, the book fell open to Alma, ch. 51, smack in the middle of the long account of the wars between the Good (believing) tribe and the Evil (fallen) tribe (the Nephites and Lamanites, respectively, although < SPOILER ALERT > they switch places later on), a section I'd always imagined was there to encourage teenage boys to keep reading and make more enthusiastic missionaries.

It's 67 BC, and there's political turmoil afoot among the Nephites, which is filtered here through the all-knowing perspective of the AD 400 editor/abridger (Mormon) and the stiff 19th century prose of the translator (Smith). Still, it seemed annoyingly topical.

5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.

6 And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen; and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government.

7 And it came to pass that this matter of their contention was settled by the voice of the people. And it came to pass that the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty, who also put the king-men to silence, that they durst not oppose but were obliged to maintain the cause of freedom.

8 Now those who were in favor of kings were those of ahigh birth, and they sought to be kings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.

9 But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites, and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of his land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence; for he had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni.


In a NY Times editorial, President Jimmy Carter warned that "the aftermath of a military invasion [of Iraq] will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home."

But that was way back in March, ancient history. Just go ahead and ignore it...And anyway, he was so wrong, because it's the terrorists who are destabilizing the region. The military invasion's got its hands full destabilizing Iraq.


On his ever-interesting Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has some good book recommendations for people trying to figure out what just happened--and what's still to come--war-wise. Of note: The Iraq War Reader: History, Documents, Opinions, compiled and edited by Micah Sifry and Christopher Cerf. (Click through and give Josh, not me, the Amazon fees for these.)

Also, lest you were distracted by the man in the plane over there, grave things are still happening in Iraq. Josh excerpts a Newsweek article about missing radioactive material, due to the US's utter failure to secure Iraq's known-to-Hans-Blix-at-least nuclear sites. Fortunately, the uranium and other material can't be used to create a nuclear bomb, it's only useful for making "plenty" of some totally far-fetched, obscure, never-happen device called a "dirty bomb." Why are people wasting time on such implausible terrorist scenarios??

Skoal. For the third time, Norway merits an entry in Bloghdad.com. First, it was for an examination of non-violent resistance to the Nazi occupation. A few days later, it was for an underground WWII protest song. Now, keeping the Orwell thread alive, it's a Norwegian parliamentarian's nomination of Bush and Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pity the deadline's passed for 2003 nominations. If they'd been eligible for this year, and won, they could've showed up Carter, who won last year "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts" blah blah blah. Fast wars, fast peace prizes, eh, Jimmy?

April 30, 2003

Bloghdad.com/The_Police

[Boston Globe, via Travelers Diagram, et al]

''The President looks in the mirror and speaks
His shirts are clean but his country reeks
Unpaid bills
Afghanistan hills.''

These pointedly political lyrics to ''Bombs Away,'' a song on The Police's 1980 album ''Zenyatta Mondatta,'' were penned by the New Wave band's drummer Stewart Copeland, who knew exactly what he was talking about. Born in 1952 and raised in the Middle East, Stewart is the son of Miles Copeland, a notorious American CIA agent. According to a report on the Saddam Hussein-CIA connection issued earlier this month by United Press International, in the early 1960s Miles Copeland was frequently in contact with the future Iraqi president, who'd been smuggled into Cairo with CIA assistance after his failed assassination attempt on Iraq's prime minister.

Read Richard Sale's UPI story.
Read Miles Copeland's 1974 "humintel classic," Without Cloak or Dagger: The Truth About the New Espionage.
Decipher another line from "Bombs Away," courtesy the Sting, etc. lyrics archive: "The general only wants to teach France to dance"
Buy the CD (In the off chance this wasn't the first CD you bought when you started replacing your tape collection)

Club Iguana is the Westin Puerto Rico's program for kids, age 4-12, image:westinriomar.com A new kid in town is competing with Club Iguana at The Westin Rio Mar Beach's Club, image:westinriomar.com
"At Club Iguana kids get to have all the fun! Every day, we welcome Westin's young guests age 4 to 12 with activities planned especially for them."

Sensing that Westin missed a lucrative opportunity, Brown & Root, the operators of the 16-and over Camp Delta on Guantanamo, Cuba (just a short military flight from Rio Mar, PR!), have created Camp Iguana, specially designed for kids ages 13-15. While it's admittedly no Westin, if the extreme loyalty of Camp Delta's clientele is any gauge (read my October review), Camp Iguana's operators, Brown and Root, are sure to have a sensation on their hands. When Camp Iguana's normally tight-lipped staff talk about their program, they do so in metaphors that pay homage to Cuba's two national sports, baseball and repression:

[Camp Counselor] Richard Myers: "They may be juveniles, but they're not on a little-league team anywhere, they're on a major league team, and it's a terrorist team. And they're in Guantanamo for a very good reason -- for our safety, for your safety."

[Camp Director] Donald Rumsfeld: "And this constant refrain of 'the juveniles,' as though there's a hundred children in there -- these are not children ... There are plenty of people who have been killed by people who were still in their teens."

Like so many other Caribbean hideaways, Camp Iguana is almost unknown in the US, but Europeans are sure excited about it. So how can your juvenile get a spot? Well, it may sound unfair, but like so much in life, scoring a spot in Camp Iguana depends on attending the right madrassas. Call for reservations.

April 24, 2003

Bloghdad.com/When_In_Rome

It depends on how you count. If you group desks+chairs together with vases+cuneiform+manuscripts, we are now seeing the second wave of looting in Iraq. Still to come: US-imposed mass privatization of the Iraqi infrastructure/patrimony opening the Iraqi economy to foreign investment, but I digress. [And just sounded alarmingly like a lobster-puppet-wielding globalization protester for a minute, there. Just one of those fluctuations in The Matrix.]

Anyway, the second wave: journalists and soldiers, or Our Troops, as they're known on TV.

  • There's the guy from Fox who had 12 undeclared paintings from Saddam's palaces "embedded in his luggage." He's being charged with felonies, even though he planned to give "one to his employer." Oh, and he got fired. See a tiny picture, or the Getty press conference photos. TSG has the complaint and a photo.
  • And Jules Crittenden declared (and had confiscated by Customs) another palace painting, but didn't get charged with anything. A Customs official said the painting wasn't worth enough to trigger any penalty. (The Fox dude should've flown back through Boston.)
  • And remember how the LA Times reported that 3rd Infantry found $656 million in a bunch of sheds last week? Well, at least six soldiers are under investigation for lifting/hiding either $12.3m, $13.1m, or $900k from the stash. FWIW, the LAT guy, David Zucchino, is owning this story, with a detailed tally of how and where the sealed aluminum boxes--each with $4mm in sealed $100k bricks of $100's--and bricks went missing.

    US soldiers liberating the Benjamins in Baghdad.  Rick Loomis for the LAT, image: latimes.com
    For the benefit of those whose last shock-and-awe came from applying buy-and-hold to dot-com-stocks, this US soldier is holding up a $100K brick. image: Rick Loomis, latimes.com

    [Rule #1 of Three Kings: There should only be three of you. Rule #2 of Three Kings: You can say "don't tell anyone about Three Kings," but, hell-o, every one of you and your bosses has seen it. WTF]

  • "Our armies," [British Lt General Stanley Maude] declared [on 9 March, 1916], "do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors, but as liberators." Within three years, 10,000 had died in a national Iraqi uprising against the British rulers, who gassed and bombed the insurgents.
    -- Seumas Milne in the Guardian

    Harper's published The Proclamation of Baghdad (circa 1916) in the May 2003 issue, but, remarkably, I can't find the complete text anywhere online. So I transcribed it and put it alongside GW Bush's unsettlingly similar televised address to the Iraqi people from 10 April 2003. [Thanks, Roger & Harper's for bibliographic information]

    Read the Proclamations of Baghdad here.

    And I hereby proclaim these proclamations to be the launch of greg.org Features.

    April 22, 2003

    Bloghdad.com/Shalom

    Through "interviews with US intelligence officials and nuclear experts," MSNBC has created an info-packed, interactive map of Israel's WMD programs and locations, only according to Common Dreams, it's not actually reachable through the MSNBC site. [via robotwisdom]

    Danny O'Brien quotes Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle: "What happens to libraries? they burn," a pretty nihilistic-sounding comment if it's taken to be a comment on Iraqi libraries burning.

    And Cory Doctorow points to a librarian's-eye critique of blithe, "oh, just reprint it all" dismissals of burning by people who "should know better."

    But so far, all I can actually find about this "quote" from Brewster Kahle, is this ancient (1996!) Slate article on the looming, Borges-ian threat of a web archive, i.e., never being able to forget anything, ever. According to the oh-so-long-ago peace, love and cyber-utopian understanding paradise that was 1996, this kind of (admittedly traumatic) institutional slate-wiping is necessary "to rid yourself of the past so you can go forward.''

    Perhaps the rhetoric's just a bit, er, overheated. It was 1996, after all. But now that we've actually had a good, old-fashioned library-burnin' or two, are we prepared to entertain the possibility that an ahistoricist, culture-be-damned imperialism may actually be boldly revolutionary and forward-thinking? Just playin' Rumsfeld's advocate here...

    4/22 Update/Clarification/Retraction: If your main goal is just email *volume*, you probably can't do better than to unintentionally sound like you're slamming/questioning netgods Brewster Kahle and Danny O'Brien. If, however, you actually *care* what people think, and you also happen to be a longtime worshipper/groupie of said gods, you should quickly add context when it's provided.

    More later, (gotta drop the car off for service) but start by checking Danny's original interview with Kahle, and the original quote, which is much better than the abbreviated version (and not just because it calls a spade a spade on the Bush library burning issue).
    http://www.oblomovka.com/entries/2002/12/05#1039148760

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    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

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