Sumerian is the first language for which we have written evidence and its literature the earliest known. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, a project of the University of Oxford, comprises a selection of nearly 400 translated literary compositions recorded on sources which come from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and date to the late third and early second millennia BCE. Not enough for you? Why not impress your friends (and confuse your enemies) by translating some english words into Sumerian?
TED presentation: "Filmmaker Deborah Scranton talks about and shows clips from her documentary The War Tapes, which put cameras in the hands of Charlie Company, a unit of the National Guard, for one year in Iraq. The soldiers' raw footage and diary excerpts tell a powerful, unsettling story of modern war.
...These findings come from a poll released today by ORB, the British polling agency that has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005. In conjunction with their Iraqi fieldwork agency a representative sample of 1,499 adults aged 18+ answered the following question: How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (ie as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)?Answer: 1,220,580
See also Poll: Civilian toll in Iraq may top 1M
See also None Dare Call It Genocide
"That's not what we meant by the 'improving the security of the Iraqi people' benchmark." At least the Wonkette comments are humorous.
shock doctrine at work
Fisk documents the dismantling of Iraqi culture - Klein exposes the history behind the destruction.
Fisk documents the dismantling of Iraqi culture - Klein exposes the history behind the destruction.
The New York Times has published its first video "letter to the editor", a 10-minute mini-documentary by Charles Ferguson on the decision by L. Paul Bremer to disband the Iraqi army shortly after the US occupation began. The video is posted as a rebuttal to a recent op-ed by Bremer that tried to redistribute some of the blame for that catastrophic blunder that in large part gave birth to the Sunni insurgency.
Scott Ritter on Book TV: "Opposing this war is the easiest thing in the world to do, because it's the right thing to do. And yet, the anti-war movement can't get it's act together. That's why I wrote this book. The anti-war movement thinks that a strategy is holding a demonstration on a street corner, holding hands, lighting candles and singing Kumbia... No, that's not a strategy. That may qualify as a tactic. But a tactic divorced from strategy is just the 'noise before defeat.' ...That's why when I say, 'Waging Peace: The Art of War for the anti-war movement,' I use that terminology. I know there are some people in the anti-war movement that are against it. They say, 'There's no way we can support something like that.' Well then you will continue to get your butts kicked." [Previously]
Planning for Defeat -- How should we withdraw from Iraq ?
by George Packer
by George Packer
Riverbend resurfaces in Syria
The Long War Journal. Regardless of your politics, the aggregation of info is useful, and the chief blogger doesn't seem to have been mentioned on MeFi before.
The killing of Jamie Dean. "Police in rural Maryland staged a military stakeout and shot a troubled Army vet. As his family plans to sue, they are asking how a soldier being treated for PTSD could be shipped to Iraq."
"Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East" (PDF). A new study by two British scholars claims that the United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch a massive assault on Iran. This comes just in time for the post Labor Day product rollout. [Via Informed Comment.]
Ian Brown, the former lead singer with The Stone Roses has a new single out. Illegal Attacks is an anti-war song featuring Sinead O'Connor urging the US and UK governments to "bring the soldiers back home". The striking thing about the song, to my mind, is its scarcity value. The War in Vietnam brought us anti-war songs by Glen Campbell (Galveston); Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Ohio); Edwin Star (War!); Donovan (The Universal Soldier); Steppenwolf (Draft Resister); Billy Joel (Goodnight Saigon); Bruce Springstien (Born in the USA); Jimmy Cliff (Vietnam) Nina Simone (Backlash Blues) and many, many more . Why have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are as deeply unpopular, not generated a similar body of work?
Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East. A speech by Juan Cole at the New America Foundation in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic.
The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury
Kerr Magee had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to call their waste an "experimental fertilizer" and just spread it over the top of the land.
Depleted uranium is now understood to have many medical consequences unique to its modern application as munitions, due to its incendiary, aerosolizing behavior when pulverized. (Rosalie Bertell explains, youtube) It has become a leading candidate for the cause of Gulf War syndrome, and was associated with massive increases in cancer and birth defects in Basra. The EU has called for a moratorium on its use four times, and WHO is deeply concerned with its consequences, but the USA (with Canadian complicity) and Russia continue to use it in Iraq and elsewhere. (prev: 1 2 3 4 5)
The War as We Saw It. A powerful op-ed about Iraq written by seven infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division who will soon be heading home, it has received surprisingly little attention.
Clinton White House Spokesman Joe Lockhart does stand-up. Text, or if you prefer there is some audio at the 51min mark from This American Life.
19 year old Pfc. LaVena Johnson's dead body was found in her tent, near Balad, Iraq. Her face was beaten, nose broken, teeth loosened, and she'd been shot through the left side of her head. A trail of blood was found nearby, and the tent appeared to be partly burned. The Army ruled it a suicide. Bloggers were doubtful. The Johnson family asked that the remains be disinterred and a better investigation launched. Meanwhile, the internet pushes back.
Brookings Institution analysts Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack last week called for another "six months or so" in Iraq. The month before, "This is a decisive phase," a member of Petraeus' staff told [Joe Klein] and began to laugh. "...It's always a decisive phase. But this time, I guess you'd have to say, it actually is." "Pinky swear?" Klein held out a soft, pink, gullible digit expectantly. "Pinky swear!" the aide responded, shrugging. You people will believe anything.
Iraq wins! When everything that could go wrong goes wrong, it is awesome to see that something like this happened.
George Galloway suspended from parliament after uk parliamentary inquiry- gives speech prior to being ejected - (nsfw?). "It has come to something," he continued, "When the leading anti-war MP could get a fairer hearing in the Republican Senate than in the British House of Commons."
The British Library is posting the Diary of Dr. Saad Eskander, the courageous director of the Iraq National Library and Archive. His entries "detail the daily hurdles of keeping Iraq’s central library open, preserving the surviving archives and, oh yes, staying alive."
...The U.S. has probably not yet fully woken up to the appalling fact that, after a long period in which the first motto of its military was "no more Vietnams," it faces another Vietnam. There are many important differences, but the basic result is similar: The mightiest military in the world fails to achieve its strategic goals and is, in the end, politically defeated by an economically and technologically inferior adversary. Even if there are no scenes of helicopters evacuating Americans from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, there will surely be some totemic photographic image of national humiliation as the U.S. struggles to extract its troops. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have done terrible damage to the U.S. reputation for being humane; this defeat will convince more people around the world that it is not even that powerful. And Bin Laden, still alive, will claim another victory over the death-fearing weaklings of the West.Iraq hasn't even begun (more within)
The Iraq war is lost. Of course, neither the president nor the war's intellectual architects are prepared to admit this. Nonetheless, the specter of defeat shapes their thinking in telling ways. The case for the war is no longer defined by the benefits of winning -- a stable Iraq, democracy on the march in the Middle East, the collapse of the evil Iranian and Syrian regimes -- but by the consequences of defeat. As President Bush put it, "The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America." Tellingly, the Iraq war's intellectual boosters, while insisting the surge is working, are moving to assign the blame for defeat. And they have already picked their target: the American people...The Iraq War Is Lost by Peter Galbraith July 18, 2007
See also Imperial Overreach: Washington’s Dubious Strategy to Overthrow Saddam Hussein by David Isenberg November 17, 1999 (PDF)
The "same people who attacked us on 9/11"? It may be the very latest talking point from the Administration, but it's actually true--altho it's not Al Qaeda in Iraq, but Saudis. Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia ... A historical note: 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.
Sean Smith spent two months embedded with US troops in Baghdad and Anbar province. His harrowing documentary exposes the exhaustion and disillusionment of the soldiers.
Dateline Basra: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."
The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness. "Investigating the impact of the war on Iraqi civilians, Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by US troops in Iraq--brutal acts that often go unreported and almost always go unpunished." [Via No Quarter.]
Iraq's Horror Movie Posters. According to Sky News, insurgent forces are taking up Worth1000 style criticism to hold up a mirror to citizens of the US and their Military-Entertainment complex.
It's been said before that the US Army is broken: in April, last December by Colin Powell and Pat Buchanan, by the head of the Army Reserve in 2005, by several generals as far back as 2004. But now, even as another Republican senator, Domenici, joins Warner, Voinovich, and Lugar in abandoning support for Bush's War, Joe Klein in Time Magazine says the end is inevitable, regardless of what politicians want:
According to the Broken Army clock, troop levels will begin to wane in March 2008, no matter what Congress decides in September; the current 20 brigade combat teams will be reduced to 15 by August 2008. There is growing speculation in the military that Bush will try to pre-empt the Petraeus testimony by announcing a gradual drawdown from 20 to 15 combat brigades later this summer.
Following the script from A Crude Awakening, Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson announced today that new reasons for staying the course in helping Iraqi forces stand up as we stand down is not regime change nor ridding the country of weapons of mass destruction, but… ensuring Australia's “energy security”.
TED does it again. See you in Monterey. What happens when the war machine goes improv?
The Failed States Index 2007. Iraq is now ranked as the world's second most unstable country, behind Sudan. [Via Newshoggers.]
More nightmares in Iraq: Abuse in an orphanage, Baghdad has turned a “war zone”, photographers don’t want to go back, 4MM displaced
How General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties. Whether the President was told about Abu Ghraib in January (when e-mails informed the Pentagon of the seriousness of the abuses and of the existence of photographs) or in March (when Taguba filed his report), Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment of prisoners before the scandal became public, or to reëvaluate the training of military police and interrogators, or the practices of the task forces that he had authorized. Instead, Bush acquiesced in the prosecution of a few lower-level soldiers. The President’s failure to act decisively resonated through the military chain of command: aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive to a successful career. In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General Richard Cody, the Army’s Vice-Chief of Staff. “This is your Vice,” he told Taguba. “I need you to retire by January of 2007.” No pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each other for years, and, Taguba said, “He offered no reason.” (A spokesperson for Cody said, “Conversations regarding general officer management are considered private personnel discussions. General Cody has great respect for Major General Taguba as an officer, leader, and American patriot.”) “They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”
"The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization."
The UK media is like a "Feral Beast", and is undermining Britain, says Tony Blair. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, responds. Some reasons why Blair might not be too keen on the press.
Forty years on. After a quick buildup, the Six Day War started 40 years ago today and reshaped the Middle East. At the time, Israel's quick win looked like a triumph, but after 40 years the war is still being fought and it looks like it may have been a pyrrhic victory.
Famed Arabic calligrapher Khalil al-Zahawi murdered. (Arabic: خليل الزهاوي; 1946 - 25 May 2007) Khalil al-Zahawi was the most famous practitioner in Iraq of the art of writing classical Arabic script. He was shot to death Friday as he left his home.
Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.
Drowned out by boos, former White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, receives an Honorary degree from UMass Amherst. (youtube)
Court martialed for PTSD? "But I'm very concerned that, in a time when the Army is going out there and saying, we're trying to make sure that we provide good counseling for the troops, that, when someone has asked for help, they're potentially facing a court-martial. "