T Nation

Any Doubt What We're Up Against?

[quote]ILOVEGWBUSH3 wrote:

You are a bit naive. While you are right, of course millions of Arabs haven’t died at the hands of America or the West- that’s a fantastic exageration- the West, and the US in particular, has meddled in that part of the world to it’s detriment.
Some examples: [/quote]

The west has meddled, but make sure what countries you are including.

Britain was more involved in this. They had a very large number of colonies in the world, including America at one time, and had a lot of influence in the Mid-East. But if you are dealing with tribal and ethnic boundaries, then you would have to have thousands of countries over there. And you forget the Ottoman Empire, which also cut way beyond ethnic, racial, and tribal lines.

Get information from here with a quick overview of their history.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/questions/nations/

[quote]The US (with Britain) overthrew the popularly elected Prime Minister of Iran and replaced him with The Shah (puppet), to control the oil of Iran.
The US backed the Shah’s secret police in silencing resistance. [/quote]

Ah, the “popularly elected” Prime Minister. It is annoying to keep seeing people think this was a democratic election, where anybody could become Prime Minister. Each candidate was hand selected, and pre-approved before any election.

And the Shah was already in power there, so we didn’t need to put him in power.

But yes the Iran stuff was not America’s brightest hour, nor Britton’s.

At this time the cold war was going on, and fear of communism was very strong, Briton was losing control of those oil fields, and was pressuring America to help overthrow the Prime Minister. At first America didn’t go along. The following quote explains how that changed.

"In March 1953, an unexpected development pushed the plot forward: the C.I.A.'s Tehran station reported that an Iranian general had approached the American Embassy about supporting an army-led coup.

“The newly inaugurated Eisenhower administration was intrigued. The coalition that elected Dr. Mossadegh was splintering, and the Iranian Communist Party, the Tudeh, had become active.”

So an Iranian General came to us. The government was already having troubles, and probably would not have stood for long anyway. America just didn’t want it to go to the USSR. This was a war about oil, and communism.

Now again as far as there being proper elections, this quote does bring it into doubt.

"Dr. Mossadegh had by now figured out that there was a plot against him. He moved to consolidate power by calling for a national referendum to dissolve Parliament.

“The results of the Aug. 4 referendum were clearly rigged in his favor; The New York Times reported the same day that the prime minister had won 99.9 percent of the vote. This only helped the plotters, providing ‘an issue on which Mossadegh could be relentlessly attacked’ by the agency-backed opposition press.”

Also you seem to act as though we just went in and took over, all by our little selves. But this was a matter of us supporting, though strongly influencing, one power over the other. The Shah was already powerful, and had the power to install a new Prime Minister, but needed a reason. America and Britton engineered that reason.

Just don’t forget that the Prime Minister at that time just came to power because the previous one was assassinated.

It is best to look at the whole history, and not put out some sound bite that twists things to make it seem worse then it was.

http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-intro.html

I don?t think anyone has the full truth about this. Nobody has proven Reagan actually knew what was going on. But this does show that we should never deal with terrorists, and was a bad idea.

And this is a complete myth, based on a misunderstanding of events. There were actually two factions fighting, and we supported one financially, but the other hated America, and wanted nothing to do with it. They received no financing from the United States.

People mistakenly assumed that when we supported one group, Osama was with that group. At the time if Osama even heard anyone speaking English, they would be put to death.

[quote]The US’s support for Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, even though the US knew Saddam was using chemical weapons.
Most of Iraq’s pre^Gulf war weapons programs and rockets were built by American companies. [/quote]

Again saying that most programs were built by American countries is wrong. We were a bit player in all of this. And are you sure we dealt with him after we found out about his used of Chemical weapons?

How exactly?

Off the top of your head? No wonder it is wrong. You fell for all the propaganda and lies. There is real history, not just the MTV version, and it is more complex then your myopic view seems to indicate.

For example after the “overthrow” in Iran, we had peace with them, until the Ayatollah Khomeini took American Hostages, which must have been how he thanked us for treating his cancer.

Also history is not a simple as anyone makes it out to be. Even the most detailed history leaves out 90% of the details. And these events are not so black and white. The biggest Anti-American sentiment is created by those who wish to use it to build their power. And with our support of Israel, they have an excuse.

[quote]Squeak wrote:
It has nothing to do with them being afraid of dying professor x but it could lead to a genocide and an annihilation of their way of life. By this I mean it won’t help them bring down the US so much as bring down the Islamic ruled nations, which is probably more important to them.[/quote]

I think you, as well as many others, underestimate what we are up against. If these people are not afraid to die, what makes you think they are concerned about total destruction? They will clearly fight until they die with no opposing thoughts to it. That is the one main area where they have us beat and why this isn’t as easy as everyone thought it would be. Our soldiers, as brave as many are, are afraid to die. What 19 year old from LA or New York wants to die at that age for this war? We may have all of the fire power in the world, but human will can sometimes overcome that if it is strong enough and there are enough numbers for resistance. That means the logical approach is to spend significant resources on propoganda campaigns. I know, this goes against the “yee haw, grab yer gun and start shootin’!” mentality, but this isn’t about who can shoot a rifle with the clearest aim. It is about the mental state of an entire group of people. We entered a war on foreign territory. It is past time that we start playing this game using more than gun fire and the lame belief that they all want democracy.

Mage,
Even in your attempt to refute my post you mention that America was involved in some way in basically every event I mentioned, which does prove my point, which is that America has meddled in the Middle East, has been responsible for the death of Muslims, has interfered in the government of sovereign nations, and that it’s moral principles can be bought.

vroom: But what should we do about all the brainwashed jiongoist americans who have been fed with propaganda since they were born?

Don’t we have more of a duty to help educate these people before they join in a immoral war on false pretenses bringing misery to innocents and strengthening the power of the elite of this country?

[quote]ILOVEGWBUSH3 wrote:
Mage,
Even in your attempt to refute my post you mention that America was involved in some way in basically every event I mentioned, which does prove my point, which is that America has meddled in the Middle East, has been responsible for the death of Muslims, has interfered in the government of sovereign nations, and that it’s moral principles can be bought. [/quote]

Yeah, well, the Middle East has meddled in our affairs ever since the oil sheiks rose to power. When they decided to bilk us for everything that they could, they proved that their moral principles could be bought, and forced us to take a hand in our own self-preservation to protect our interests over there. The problem with this whole mess of US involvement in the past in the ME is intimately involved with our dependence on their oil, and we took steps to try to stabilize the region politically and economically to provide the best climate for trade.

Of course, those days are gone now. Now, we have to worry not so much about being ripped off for every barrel of crude, but about some jihadist freak setting off a nuke somewhere. I would say that everybody in the international community who has something at stake in the ME is partly responsible for the mess we’re in right now. Pointing fingers is going to do no good. Now we have to DO something about this before it gets worse. That’s why we are kicking some Iraqi terrorist ass.

[quote]ILOVEGWBUSH3 wrote:
Mage,
Even in your attempt to refute my post you mention that America was involved in some way in basically every event I mentioned, which does prove my point, which is that America has meddled in the Middle East, has been responsible for the death of Muslims, has interfered in the government of sovereign nations, and that it’s moral principles can be bought. [/quote]

Wow, you live with blinders on.

You are saying that by proving that what you were saying was a twisted load of crap, I have proven that America is involved in world politics. Wow, you got me there.

You cannot take world events and blame America for everything. How can we be sure that the actions taken by America didn?t make things better all over the world? Personally I believe that.

No I don?t think that America has been perfect, or always right in what we have done. I am not going to defend everything America has done, but everything does not need to be twisted to make it look like America does nothing but create problems.

I keep hearing about how bad it was that America got involved in Vietnam. That America was terrible for that, and finally the wonderful peace demonstrators won and got us out of Vietnam. Yet I never hear anyone talk about what happened after we left. Vietnam suddenly had peace, and life was wonderful there? We found out how good the communists were? No! Not even close

Heard of the killing fields? 2 million Vietnamese slaughtered. Why? Because America suddenly embraced peace.

The world is not the peaceful loving place the left makes it out to be. Should we be upset that America collaborated with the Mafia in WWII? That helped topple Mussolini, but saved the Mafia from complete annihilation.

Clinton had an executive order keeping the CIA from dealing with any criminal element, or “bad” people. Hey, sounds like that moved us toward our “moral principles”, but it may have cost us the intelligence to prevent 911.

How many lives are worth those moral values? And is following those moral values actually giving up larger moral values?

Catman was right. “Damn hippies.”

Professor x, I don’t quite think you’re understanding me. These fundamentalists are obviously fighting with vigor exponentially greater than ours rather fearlessly. But they’re doing it to defend their WAY OF LIFE; not with total disregard for it. We’ve intervened with Muslim ruled states and indirectly killed a massive amount of them through the Iraelis and that’s why they’re willing to die to stop us; they think we deserve it and it is the only way we will stop.

I don’t think a terrorist attack would stop us so much as set us off. It’s just a matter of whether or not bringing down the country financially is worth an inevitable genocide.

A few points…

  1. You guys did read past the first paragraph of the post you were criticizing right? My suggestion was not meant as an alternative to a ground war. I mean, I know it was the weak part, but it wasn’t a standalone item. :wink:

  2. The alternative to what I suggest is simply waiting around for some WMD’s to be delivered to the US so that we end up nuking the whole region. You prefer this?

  3. As for influence, the US is the leading example of how to do this. You have to look no further than Washington and all the political action committees and biased media you bitch about all the time.

  4. The people you should hate are the terrorists, not everyone living in the middle east. They aren’t the same thing, you know that right?

  5. The fact that the US is dependent on oil is a US problem, not an arab problem. Whether or not price gouging occured or a cold war occurred probably isn’t going to be an excuse the arabic person will accept.

  6. Using the euphamism “influence” to describe what was done in the name of American interests is fine, but realize that all the meddling of the west (whether it was Britain or France or whoever) ends up resting on the self-proclaimed “leader of the free world” these days. Go figure.

Anyways, I don’t know why anyone who tries to look into all the shit that has been done to the inhabitants of the Middle East is always labelled an apologist. It isn’t appropriate. It is simply wisdom to understand your enemy. It may allow some people with insight to find a way out of this mess.

Maybe not.

However, sounds like many would prefer to have a continued ongoing war. No use looking into things. No use understanding things. No use trying to come up with alternatives to death and fighting. No use spending US resources on anything other than fighting wars.

Is that what you truly want? You don’t find peace with non-Islamofascists appropriate? That isn’t even a worthy goal? Strange.

Finally, if you saw my first posts in this thread, I get it, I know how dangerous the threat of terrorism is. Perhaps taking over Iraq is simply a way to get a country in place that does have some more friendly media coverage in the region, at least in Iraq, eventually.

Anyway, I’m sure, if enough money was paid, that media in the region could be influenced. It wouldn’t take much editing to convert a story from spreading hatred to simply reporting facts. The same items can be covered, its just a bunch of wording changes. It’s the same thing here at home when people are crying about biased media.

Alternately, for you bloodthirsty sort, get in there with special teams. Find and take out those that are teaching or promoting the teaching of Islamofascism. Remove those that hold and spread the ideology of hatred.

Do something proactive. I’m no peacenik apologist, but I really think waiting around so there is no alternative but ground war with established and well armed terrorists shows a lack of imagination with respect to solving the problem.

“Alternately, for you bloodthirsty sort, get in there with special teams. Find and take out those that are teaching or promoting the teaching of Islamofascism. Remove those that hold and spread the ideology of hatred.”

Yup that would sure go over well, just go over and start taking out all the clerics who are teaching the anti-western ways, this would be about 80% of them, I’m sure this ould realy put those “swing radicals” at ease and stop them from becoming terrorists.

I really hope it doesn’t come to nuclear blows, or if it does I hope we have our missile defense systems up and running. I would hate to see us get blasted by the russians or something for bobming iran, syria and north korea. (because hell, if were gonna do it we might just as well take out all the scum at once).

Also, what impact would dropping a few nukes on the region have? Look at Japan now? Did the people of japan back when we dropped those bombs Instantly lose all will to fight, and decided then and there maybe peace was a slightly better alternative.

One thing can be said, if al qaeda nukes us and we retaliate with nukes, who will be the one held responsible for the muslim deaths? if he didn’t strike us, we would never drop the bomb.

Veg,

Two things.

First, I can’t believe you really want to go dropping nuclear weapons. You know they don’t discriminate between innocent and guilty right? Ouch. There has to be a better way.

Second, if you were going to go and knock off all those preaching or teaching hatred, you’d want plausible deniability. Set up some type of radical group within the country that opposes the Islamofascists. It would be right wing group that felt better relations with the western world was appropriate. Then, have the group conduct the activities.

I mean really, haven’t you been paying attention to your CIA lectures? Do I have to spell everything out? What you are looking for is untraceability and plausible deniability. Get congress to slip a few billion in secret funds to the CIA and see where it can take you. Surely it could fund targeting the honcho’s and influencing media.

Beats dropping a few nukes and assuming they grow to love you later.

All we really need is some bioengineered crap or nanotechnology crap that goes out of control a generation or two from now and wipes life off the planet. The best way to avoid the dangers of the future is to stop making enemies.

And, if you’ve been paying attention, the damage one person can cause has been increasing since the invention of sticks and stones as fighting implements. We are heading towards dangerous times.

ILOVEGWBUSH3,

“Most of the borders in the Middle East were arbitrarily drawn up by Western Powers, cutting across traditional ethnic and tribal boundaries.”

Yes, this after Turkish empire in the area. If Arabs are mad at this, I don’t object, but it would follow that they should also object to their imperial designs just a few years before - and they would also object to the pan-caliphate hopes of today?

“The US trained and financially supported Osama Bin Laden when he was with the mujahedeen fighting the Russians.”

And? The US also allied with Stalinist Russia to beat the Nazis. If there is naivete here, it’s your inability to understand that realpolitik isn’t nice and tidy like a textbook. Soviet totalitarianism was creeping across Asia - we endeavored to help stop that.

“The US’s support for Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, even though the US knew Saddam was using chemical weapons”

Realpolitik with tough trade-offs again, as a buffer against a looming Iran - and it’s also important to remember that the US contributed less than 2% of Iraq’s total goodie bag.

“Most of Iraq’s pre^Gulf war weapons programs and rockets were built by American companies.”

Show me.

"American companies blatantly exploitng Iraq now. "

Again, show me. I need evidence of exploitation - not just the presence of American companies doing business there.

“These are just a few examples off the top of my head. I’m sure an expert could come up with many more. I’m no apologist for terrorism, but there is a basis for some of the anger in the Middle East.”

No one disputes why the Arab street is angry - the dispute is over whether they are right to be mad.

“I also forgot the continued support of the US for the totalitarian human rights abusing regime of Saudi Arabia.
(Why would they do that? Hint: it’s about money and oil)”

Yes it is, and I think that while we should have severed that relationship years ago, it was formed after WWII to protect the world’s oil from communist regimes. Had we not done that and the world economy been at the mercy of the Soviet Union, the mess would have been catastrophically worse - a war for oil, and one that would have been fought. Best choice, given the circumstances.

“The Bush administration was more than prepared to do business with the Taliban right up to September 11th, too, even though they were savagely oppressing the people of Afghanistan.”

When was the Bush administration doing business with the Taliban? Check your facts - when the now defunct Unocal pipeline was considered, Clinton was President.

“The US has meddled and made enemies, and has been responsible for the deaths of Muslims, for it’s strategic and economic goals.”

Arab countries have ‘meddled and made enemies and have been responsible for the death of non-Muslims’ - isn’t it fair, under your rationale, to think that they’ve brought trouble to their doorstep?

“To not consider why Osama Bin laden and other fanatics possess the hate that they do is foolish. We have to fight them, but we have to fight the near-sighted and selfish policies which lead to the creation of these fanatics as well.”

We all know why OBL does what he does. OBL sits on millions of dollars and yet laments the fact that the West keeps Arabs poor and miserable.

We understand where the hate comes from - that’s why we are providing an alternative to the status quo. A free, educated Arab is the antidote to the self-imposed tyranny that OBL still advocates.

BUSH3, unfortunatley most of your gripes stem from being upset that there was no perfect utopian solution to some very ugly international affairs. The US has not been perfect, but no one has, and considering the trade-offs that accompany every geopolitical decision, on balance, the US has done more for peace and prosperity than not.

First off, I have to say that a nuclear EXCHANGE is highly unlikely. In all honesty, the chances of us launching a few nukes their way is slim to none. Remember, this is a relatively small group of people we’re up against when compared to the rest of the Islamic world. There are penty of nuclear weapons missing off the Russian black market, so I doubt that they really have a problem getting them. And if they do use them, I swear to God, we will put the hurt on them so bad, we’ll have an American flag tattooed on every one of their asses in no time. Looks like I’m gonna be a busy man sometime in the near future… RLTW

rangertab75

Some interesting thoughts and comments.

First of all most fanatics are not afraid to die. One has to look no farther back then the Japanese. The culture encouraged suicide and giving your life for the emperor. The Japanese were certainly a more worthy and warlike opponent then the Arabs who have lost every major engagement with the West since the 17th. Century.

Here is the issue as I see it. An attack by Al-Queda is inevitible. When they get a nuke they will use it. We will respond in with a much larger strike. Many innocents will get killed. Americans here and Arabs in the middle east. Eventually they will see the annihilation of the Arabs as inevitable and reject terrorism and the terrorists, who survive because of the support of the people.

Unfortunately many will die before this happens. I hope those in the middle east rise up and reject terror against a far superior power. If they don’t the outcome is inevitable.

Okay, given that the US felt there was no other option, this doesn’t mean that the Arabic world has to LIKE being the pawn stuck between democracy and communism for umpteen years.

Talking about whether or not treating the region like shit for decades or centuries was JUSTIFIED doesn’t reduce the built up frustration, even if it was.

Hedo,

I’m not sure it is inevitable. I know the Bush administration is lining up the hawks as I type (with Powell out there is not even the pretense of a moderate voice), but if we have some decent thinking going on, I’m sure there are alternative solutions.

Given the price of the war in terms of dollars and in terms of lives, it is worth putting a bit of grey matter on the job. I think the concept was nailed though, the arab on the street is pissed about a lot.

What we face is a huge marketing job. The brand is democracy and freedom. Maybe we should shop the job out to Coke, Pepsi or McDonalds? No other country on the planet can market like the US, I doubt it’s impossible.

Again, for those quick to forget, I’m talking about “marketing” to the masses, not to the Islamofascists.

[quote]vroom wrote:
What we face is a huge marketing job. The brand is democracy and freedom. Maybe we should shop the job out to Coke, Pepsi or McDonalds? No other country on the planet can market like the US, I doubt it’s impossible.

Again, for those quick to forget, I’m talking about “marketing” to the masses, not to the Islamofascists.[/quote]
This is a great idea, vroom. I think that this is the general idea, i.e., “selling” our ideals of personal freedom and responsibility, but we have to give them the ability to at least try it out, ya know? The only way that they’re gonna have a chance to explore the wonders of democracy and choice is if the freakazoidal hard-line islamoparanoiacs are removed from positions of absolute authority. They aren’t leaving without a fight, it would seem, so we’re using our guns right now instead of TV’s.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
ILOVEGWBUSH3 wrote:
Mage,
Even in your attempt to refute my post you mention that America was involved in some way in basically every event I mentioned, which does prove my point, which is that America has meddled in the Middle East, has been responsible for the death of Muslims, has interfered in the government of sovereign nations, and that it’s moral principles can be bought.

Yeah, well, the Middle East has meddled in our affairs ever since the oil sheiks rose to power. When they decided to bilk us for everything that they could, they proved that their moral principles could be bought, and forced us to take a hand in our own self-preservation to protect our interests over there. The problem with this whole mess of US involvement in the past in the ME is intimately involved with our dependence on their oil, and we took steps to try to stabilize the region politically and economically to provide the best climate for trade.

Of course, those days are gone now. Now, we have to worry not so much about being ripped off for every barrel of crude, but about some jihadist freak setting off a nuke somewhere. I would say that everybody in the international community who has something at stake in the ME is partly responsible for the mess we’re in right now. Pointing fingers is going to do no good. Now we have to DO something about this before it gets worse. That’s why we are kicking some Iraqi terrorist ass.
[/quote]

I am quite impressed with your post, and it’s not often that I agree, even partly, with someone from the other side of the fence. The oil shieks do have little or no morals, on that I agree. They do stiff us for oil.

But the US and the West is partly to blame! Lothario, you said that pointing fingers is going to do no good. That’s not entirely true. How many Americans actually know what underhand dealings the American government has done in the ME and around the world? People need to know. Those who ignore history are doomed forever to repeat it. Unless America has a fair and even-handed foreign policy from now on, it will continue to make enemies and breed new generations of terrorists. The meddling in the affairs of foreign countries for American strategic and economic reasons has to stop. If I was an Iranian and I discovered that America had toppled my own countries leader to impose a ruler of it’s choosing, I would be angry. If I was a citizen of Saudi Arabia I would be unhappy that America backs up my countries repressive and barbaric regime, I would be unhappy. Now I would never take it as far as becoming a terrorist. That’s evil. But if I was angry and raised in a different culture with more savage traditions, I might.

[quote]ILOVEGWBUSH3 wrote:

But the US and the West is partly to blame! Lothario, you said that pointing fingers is going to do no good. That’s not entirely true. How many Americans actually know what underhand dealings the American government has done in the ME and around the world? People need to know. Those who ignore history are doomed forever to repeat it. Unless America has a fair and even-handed foreign policy from now on, it will continue to make enemies and breed new generations of terrorists. The meddling in the affairs of foreign countries for American strategic and economic reasons has to stop. If I was an Iranian and I discovered that America had toppled my own countries leader to impose a ruler of it’s choosing, I would be angry. If I was a citizen of Saudi Arabia I would be unhappy that America backs up my countries repressive and barbaric regime, I would be unhappy. Now I would never take it as far as becoming a terrorist. That’s evil. But if I was angry and raised in a different culture with more savage traditions, I might.
[/quote]
I like your post, too, and you definitely make sense, but tell me something: What could be more evenhanded foreign policy than liberating your country from a bloody and repressive regime who has killed tens of thousands of your citizens in ethnic cleansing attacks? And then, instead of conquering your country, we give you back the reins of power to rule for yourselves in freedom? That’s pretty fucking magnanimous, if I do say so. It’s not like we’re charging for this service, either. This is a “good for everybody” kind of deal, a kind of experiment where we find out if peace in the ME can be brought about by freedom. I hope it works!

And as far as the history thing goes, I didn’t mean “let’s ignore the past”, I meant “let’s stop beating ourselves up about it and make some changes”. That’s what’s happening, man! No more UN payoffs for Saddam, no more harboring terrorists and paying off the families of suicide bombers. Positive things are starting to happen in Iraq… finally. If we can just mop up the damn insurgents, and get some elections going like we did in Afghanistan, well… it ain’t gonna hurt one bit.

Loth,

Positive things are happening, but there is another set of positive things that nobody is talking about, perhaps because they aren’t happening.

Is there a move to tread a little more carefully on the countries of the region at all? Stomping on the odd regime from time to time may or may not be seen as something to praise if you happen to be a nearby regime.

All our thinking, and many comments here, comes from only our point of view, without concern for how it will be perceived over there. We don’t have to be wrong to be seen to be wrong… and if we recognize that, maybe it can be ameloriated a bit.

I did see an interesting article on Yahoo yesterday. It described the age old tradition of keeping some of your harvest available as seeds for next years planting as now being illegal in Iraq. Instead, they will have to buy their seeds, because they are patented or some such, from Monsanto (for example).

Maybe this is appropriate. Who knows. But I can tell you one group of people who will either ignore it or be very pissed off.

Right or wrong, when you go stomping on peoples traditions, on how they live their lives, you will face resistance. Sure, it might need to be done from our point of view, but don’t expect people to be happy about it. The same is true with cold war justifications or anything else done to impose civilization on the region now or in the past.

Just imagine some foreign power coming in and telling you what to do with your lifestyle or your government. We are the outsiders to them. The same moral outrage some of you feel about me merely expressing an opinion, living a few miles outside the border, they must feel a thousand times over as they not only have to listen, but also do as they are told, over and over again.

Again, for the those who think otherwise, I’m discussing the general populace, not Islamofascists. The Islamofascist is not a rational animal.

Speaking of Islamo-fascist mindsets, see this article from The Times of London:

Final steps of dead men walking
From James Hider in Fallujah
Fleeing rebels are tracked by aircraft and killed by US troops

THE last hours of the mujahidin are terrifying. With the city they once ruled with the absolute authority of medieval caliphs now overrun by American and Iraqi troops, they have to keep moving. To pause even for a few minutes can mean instant death from an unseen enemy.

A group of 15 fighters dressed in black and carrying an array of weapons ducked into a two-storey house in war-torn southern Fallujah yesterday morning. Their movement was picked up by an unmanned spy plane that beamed back live footage to a control centre on the edge of the city. Within minutes, an airstrike was called and the house disappeared in a giant plume of grey smoke.

From a house across the road, the explosion flushed out another group of guerrillas. Deafened by the blast, they stumbled out into the street, formed a ragged line and started off on the marathon to postpone their deaths, the drone dogging their every step.

?The rats are trying to move about,? Major Tim Karcher, of the Second Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, said as the figures flitted from street to street, seeking cover close to walls.

Sometimes they can throw off the drone, ducking out of sight of the men in whose power it is to summon FA18 fighter-bombers or 155mm artillery strikes. But they have no way of knowing. And, increasingly, as they run they are coming into the crosshairs of American snipers, crackshots such as Sergeant Marc Veen and his long-barrelled rifle, Lucille. Yesterday morning he spotted a black- clad man with an AK47 assault rifle peering round a corner 500 yards from the villa where Cougar Company of the Seventh Cavalry has set up a forward base.

He shot the man in the stomach: he fell, but kept crawling, so Sergeant Veen shot him again in the shoulder. Still the man tried to move away, so the sergeant blasted him with his 50-calibre machinegun.

?There?s pretty much no feeling,? the 24-year-old from Chicago explained, perched on the parapet of the house, the shell of the killer bullet tucked as a trophy into his flak jacket. ?If I didn?t get that guy, that guy would get one of my buddies some time later.?

The battle for Fallujah is all but over. The main north-south road in the once-dreaded Jolan district is a US military highway. Any guerrilla who could make his way back up from the last pockets of resistance in the south would see the mujahidin graffiti ? ?Jihad, jihad, jihad, God is Greatest and Islam will win? ? replaced by slogans daubed by the US-backed Iraqi Army, posted the length of the route.

Standing on a street reeking of decomposed bodies, the ruins of a five-floor building silhouetted behind him, Lieutenant Fares Ahmed Hassan said that the destroyed city would send a strong message to a nation where force has long been the lingua franca of government. ?When the people of Fallujah come back and see their houses, they will kick out any terrorists. This will be an example to all Iraqi cities,? the Kurdish officer said.

Apart from a few women and children, the only civilians he had seen were men of fighting age, about 500, detained for vetting. He said that some civilians had said that insurgent snipers had shot anyone trying to leave their homes. As US troops sweep through the houses, they are unearthing the insurgents? horrifying secrets ? more akin to the handiwork of serial killers than guerrillas or even terrorists ? that have shocked the world and explain why this offensive has met with so little opposition from the Arab world.

In the south of Fallujah yesterday, US Marines found the armless, legless body of a blonde woman, her throat slashed and her entrails cut out. Benjamin Finnell, a hospital apprentice with the US Navy Corps, said that she had been dead for a while, but at that location for only a day or two. The woman was wearing a blue dress; her face had been disfigured. It was unclear if the remains were the body of the Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan, 59, or of Teresa Borcz, 54, a Pole abducted two weeks ago. Both were married to Iraqis and held Iraqi citizenship; both were kidnapped in Baghdad last month.

US and Iraqi troops have discovered kidnappers? lairs filled with corpses or emaciated prisoners half-mad with fear, and piles of bodies of men who had refused to fight with the insurgents. As the guerrillas run their last sprint from death, sympathy for their cause is running out among Iraqis.

Barham Salih, Iraq?s interim Deputy Prime Minister, said in a newspaper interview that the country?s elections in January would depend on security. It was the first time a senior Iraqi politician had said that violence could derail the vote.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Loth,

Positive things are happening, but there is another set of positive things that nobody is talking about, perhaps because they aren’t happening.

Is there a move to tread a little more carefully on the countries of the region at all? Stomping on the odd regime from time to time may or may not be seen as something to praise if you happen to be a nearby regime.

All our thinking, and many comments here, comes from only our point of view, without concern for how it will be perceived over there. We don’t have to be wrong to be seen to be wrong… and if we recognize that, maybe it can be ameloriated a bit.

I did see an interesting article on Yahoo yesterday. It described the age old tradition of keeping some of your harvest available as seeds for next years planting as now being illegal in Iraq. Instead, they will have to buy their seeds, because they are patented or some such, from Monsanto (for example).

Maybe this is appropriate. Who knows. But I can tell you one group of people who will either ignore it or be very pissed off.

Right or wrong, when you go stomping on peoples traditions, on how they live their lives, you will face resistance. Sure, it might need to be done from our point of view, but don’t expect people to be happy about it. The same is true with cold war justifications or anything else done to impose civilization on the region now or in the past.

Just imagine some foreign power coming in and telling you what to do with your lifestyle or your government. We are the outsiders to them. The same moral outrage some of you feel about me merely expressing an opinion, living a few miles outside the border, they must feel a thousand times over as they not only have to listen, but also do as they are told, over and over again.

Again, for the those who think otherwise, I’m discussing the general populace, not Islamofascists. The Islamofascist is not a rational animal.[/quote]

vroom:

I can assure you if we (in the US) were living under a regime as brutal as Sadams obviously was, I would be thrilled to have a foreign government come in (temporarily) remove the dictator and restore order.

The people of Iraq (most) I bet are quite grateful. Don’t expect CBS, CNN or the New York Times to report it.