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NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

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Location: Great Boreal Deciduous Hardwood Forest, New England, United States

old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

15 December 2005

die Weltschieße

Youse all probably think Bob is just always having the Fun of the Barrel of Monkeys running Planet Vleeptron.

Not so.

First of all, the Zeta Beam is still broken, so Bob is stuck again on Planet Earth, and can't even manage to escape from the USA to holiday or expatriate in Yerp.

(I used to know a guy whose Weltschmerz took the following form: He would go into his backyard late at night with a Boy Scout flashlight, point it directly up into the sky, and blink the flashlight, hoping to attract the attention of a Flying Saucer which might take him away.)

In Reviewing The Current State of the United States and the World, Bob confesses to a very human Sin: Skewed Focus.

Bob used to be a Soldier (a ferocious typist) during another entirely ridiculous, grotesque and interminable American War in Asia (we lost), and so Bob is now a War Veteran, and as they ship the flag-draped coffins of young American soldiers home to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, this fixates Vleeptron's focus obsessively.

These are my neighbors' sons and daughters, now soldiers as I once was, and it is an outrage, with Vietnam to educate us historically well within living memory, that Bush and his cronies have managed to blunder an open parliamentary democracy (with the cheerleading assistance of both major parties) into another grotesque, misbegotten, interminable Asian war.

But I was horrified by the murderous racist genocide of the Vietnamese and Cambodian and Laotian peoples, and I am just as horrified by the murderous racist genocide in Iraq.

These human beings are my sisters and brothers, and most of them did nothing to deserve this "Shock and Awe" punishment from the mightiest military superpower on Earth.

A few days ago, during a rare public Question and Answer session, Bush offhandedly acknowledged that about 30,000 Iraqis have died so far in the Coalition War. (We don't tally their numbers nearly as accurately as we do American and British military deaths.)

One of the goals Bush and Blair bleat about as they pursue their chimerical Victory In Iraq is Regional Stabilization -- the fear that, without the continuing military presence of Western armies, the region -- Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, Arabia and the Gulf, Pakistan, the Muslim majority states in Central Asia -- will "domino," their Western-friendly or Western-approved sovereign governments will collapse, succumb to the same "terrorism" that the US and UK describe as opposing our will in Iraq. In other words, without our armed presence, Western-friendly governments with some hint of secular democracy might give way to a string of Iran-style anti-Western Islamic theocracies.

Well. Either the region will collapse and destabilize if the US and UK withdraw their troops -- or the region will collapse and destabilize if the US and UK keep their troops in Iraq.

Here's That Other Focus that Western news agencies rarely discuss in detail. What are Iraqis doing to each other right now, and how much of the murder and ethnic cleansing is the result of Western Shock and Awe? What might make it worse? What might diminish it and lead to some possible healing?

The Balkans have made enormous strides toward healing since the devastating wars of the 1990s because nearly every Balkan nation is desperate to join the economic prosperity umbrella of the European Union. They are even, grudgingly, turning their genocidists and war criminals (until now regarded as national heroes) over to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague. That's the price Brussels demands for an invitation to join the peaceful, prosperous parts of Europe.

But there is no comparable Prosperity Zone and Promise in Iraq's region -- and so no internal Iraqi reason to cooperate and pursue political and diplomatic solutions to diminish or end the murderous domestic ethnic and religious strife. There is no Belgian carrot, no Pot of Gold at the end of the Central Asian and Middle Eastern rainbow.

Lacking that, ethnic cleansing and genocide make more sense as Sunni and Shia struggle to get the upper hand, either while Western troops blunder and make targets of themselves, or if they do depart with relative promptness.

The people and nations of Southeast Asia are still experiencing regional destabilization 30 years after the American military adventure in Vietnam ended. At one miserable point, America's anger at its humiliating military defeat at the hands of an agricultural Third-World non-power caused American diplomats to champion Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge and denounce Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, which finally ended Pol Pot's genocide.

In Southeast Asia, American might was far more an agent of Destabilization than a guarantor of regional Stabilization. Despite what Bush and Blair claim as a rational reason for remaining, that dog won't hunt.

Please note carefully that the following is not the perspective of Aljazeera, but the perspective of one of Australia's leading newspapers.


The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Thursday 15 December 2005

Insurgents 'shot in arms
and legs, then drowned'

by Paul McGeough, Chief Correspondent in Baghdad

This from the mouth of a 14-year-old boy:

"They tied the legs and hands
of 11 Sunni men and hanged them
off the river bridge -- head-first.
But they still refused to talk,
so Sheik Khadum Shibley shot them
in the arms and legs
and then he cut the ropes."

The schoolboy Munthadar Ishmail Kudair's chilling account of a Shiite village's despatch of suspected Sunni insurgents adds credibility to rising Sunni complaints of a long-delayed but vicious Shiite fight-back after two years of relentless Sunni-backed violence in Iraq.

The summary executions, confirmed by the boy's father and others in the village, come amid anxiety by US and UN officials over widespread reports of rampant torture and killings by freelance death squads and the Shiite militiamen who now dominate Iraq's security forces.

Young Munthadar is disturbingly matter-of-fact as he tells of events that unfolded late last month in Radwania, a small farming community on the Al Ka'ad River, near Baghdad International Airport.

"The insurgents came to kill Sheik Khadum because we would not let them use our lands to launch attacks on the airport.

"We set a trap and captured them. But they wouldn't give the pin numbers to open their mobiles, so he hanged them from the bridge.

"Next morning, they still wouldn't open the mobiles for us to see who their friends were, so the Sheik shot them and then he cut the ropes. One of them had a long beard and Sheik Khadum told him: 'Your beard is dirty -- the best place to clean it is in the river.' "

When the Herald sought confirmation of the boy's account, his father added that a jubilant crowd had gathered, singing Shiite hymns and throwing stones at the dangling men as, one by one, they dropped into the deep.

A Herald researcher who visited Radwania was shown a picture, said to have been taken about half-way through the killings with a mobile phone camera, in which five bodies could be seen hanging from the bridge. Locals refused to part with a copy of the image because they thought it would incriminate the Sheik.

The blood-letting and a campaign of random ethnic-cleansing as hundreds of families -- Sunni and Shiite -- flee communities in which they are in the minority, challenge US hopes that a stable democracy will emerge from today's national elections and President George W. Bush's claim that Iraq can sidestep a civil war that many analysts fear is inevitable.

Most of the civilian casualties in post-invasion Iraq have been Shiite victims of Sunni violence. But in recent months, the Sunni head-count among the thousands processed at city morgues has risen dramatically.

Baghdad's central morgue now routinely returns handcuffs removed from the corpses, many of which show signs of torture, to police headquarters.

Some Iraqi officials have attempted to deny that elements of the predominantly-Shiite security forces are running amok, but others are confirming the suspicion voiced by diplomats, human rights groups and coalition military officers.

The Herald has obtained a gruesome document containing almost 70 images of the victims of torture which last month prompted United Nations officials in Baghdad to warn of an alarming deterioration in law and order.

Prepared by the Muslim Scholars' Association, a Sunni organisation, it focuses on a raid by Iraqi security forces in the mixed Al Hurria district of Baghdad, after which the mutilated bodies of 36 men who had been detained in the early hours of the morning were found dumped near the Iranian border.

There has been no official explanation for the raid in which individual families lost up to four members.

Local Sunnis claimed that the uniformed raiding party wore the distinctive shoulder patches of Brigade Borkan, an entirely Shiite rapid intervention force attached to the Interior Ministry. Borkan means 'volcano'.

And they got short shrift when they took their complaint to the office of Ahmed Chalabi, a deputy prime minister, who told them: "Some of these Sunni communities around Baghdad say it's worse than Saddam.

"I tell you when you say that, you show your ignorance of the suffering of your compatriots. Do you think a Shiite person could go into the office of Saddam's deputy and tell him they were being tortured? They immediately admit that this is not the same."

Precise numbers on the absorption of Shiite militiamen into the security forces are not available, but former members of the private armies of two of the Shiite religious parties are said to have carved up the Baghdad police force according to their turf across the capital. And in recent weeks two illegal detention and torture centres have been exposed in Interior Ministry compounds in Baghdad.

Last year the US occupation authority in Baghdad ordered the disbanding of all private militias, urging instead that their ranks be integrated into the security forces. This has happened but individuals have regrouped within the services, where some of their commanders tolerate or allow the use of vehicles and weapons for illegal raids and extra-judicial killings, according to sources close to the forces.

The biggest and most feared of the Shiite militias is the Iranian-trained and funded Badr Badr Brigade which is attached to the biggest of the Shiite political parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

In an interview with the Herald its chief, Had Al-Ameri, insisted his 10,000 men had laid down their weapons and that, apart from a unit that had been absorbed into the Interior Ministry, 'only a few' had joined the security forces.

Asked about persistent accusations of human rights abuses, he shrugged his shoulders: "Today we are a political organisation. It is normal for people to talk like this in Iraq -- it's a new democracy."

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