Past and present: a correspondent in Iraq

October 9, 2009

Tim Cocks-Tim Cocks is a Reuters correspondent in Iraq.-

This month we reported that the number of civilians dying violent deaths in Iraq had hit a fresh low since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion — about 125 for September.

Sounds like a lot, but for a country that only two years ago was seeing dozens of bodies pile up in the streets each day from tit-for-tat sectarian killing, it was definitely progress.

And as I prepare to end my assignment in Iraq this week, I need no argument from numbers to convince me that things are better here than when I arrived in Feb. 2008.

During my first few months, militants loyal to to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were raising hell in Baghdad, firing mortars and rockets at the Green Zone almost every hour. We could hear or feel them thud on impact, especially when they fell short, on our side of the Tigris.

A rocket hit the BBC building opposite us, causing a blast loud enough to shake our windows, although thankfully no one at the BBC was hurt by the strike.

U.S. airstrikes on Baghdad’s Sadr City slum were killing many civilians. Roadside and car bombs were erupting all over the place and the streets were largely deserted after dark.

Eighteen months on and things are hardly back to normal but, as any Iraqi will tell you, Iraq feels safer than it was.

Security forces have been purged of Shi’ite militiamen and are doing a better job of stopping suicide bombings, enabling U.S. combat forces to largely pull out of Iraq’s cities in June.

We rarely hear explosions in Baghdad. A semblance of law and order seems to be taking shape.
Reporting from Iraq, as a Westerner or an Iraqi, has been a tough business for some time. For Westerners, apart from the fact that few foreign correspondents here speak passable Arabic, the big headache remains security.

Ever since insurgents started kidnapping Westerners and beheading them in 2004, the foreign press corps here have been living in a kind of semi-incarceration, behind rows of concrete blast walls that make you feel a bit like a lab rat in a maze.

It varies from media organisation to the next, but all of us are pretty restricted in our movements.
We generally keep a low profile, moving around Baghdad in low key armoured cars. We don’t wander the streets for long periods of time or frequent bars and nightclubs after work.

The assumption is that any Westerner is a prime target for kidnappers — for political reasons or for a juicy ransom.

And this is not to say there are no dangers to Iraqi media workers. More than 130 have died in violence since the beginning of the war.

Seven of our colleagues from Reuters have been killed in that time, most of them Iraqis.

Security restrictions have left us heavily dependent on dedicated local journalists who can visit places we cannot and help us cobble together stories we send to the wire.

That’s perhaps as it should be in a global news agency with strong local talent, but it’s hard not to miss roaming the streets as I would in almost any other country.

As a military correspondent, embedding with U.S. troops has been an experience, though it can hard to get the full picture that way — for instance, persuading a nervous bystander in the street to talk to you when you’re surrounded by heavily-armed American soldiers has proved a real challenge.

As security improves, our leash has been lengthened. I’ve been able to travel to places with that were once off-limits, like many parts of northern Iraq.

Will it continue getting better? No one can claim to know the answer to that question. Many Iraqis are pessimistic, as well they might be after decades of war, dictatorship, brutal sanctions and sectarian bloodshed. But since Iraq was pulled back from the brink in 2007, it has defied gloomy predictions.

But I’m reminded of comments by the head of the Red Cross Iraq delegation Juan-Pedro Schaerer about avoiding the temptation to write off Iraq’s persistent violence as “normal”.

This week, one of our journalists, Ahmed, was awoken in the middle of the night by loud gunshots.

Gunmen had stormed the house of his neighbour and family doctor, and shot him in the head. Ahmed took him to hospital, where he remains in critical condition. He may never walk or talk again.
Clearly, that feeling of nearly normality is fragile.

Related blog: A voice in the wilderness?

Comments

I repeat Russia was not FORCED to pick between the two. It chose to support Iraq because it did not like the idea of an anti-communist Islamic revolution spreading to the majority Shiite country Iraq and beyond, once Iran started winning the war.”In 1982, the war turned in Iran’s favor and the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini pledged not to stop the conflict until he had overthrown the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Such a prospect was unacceptable to the Soviet Union (and the US) which now resumed arms sales to Iraq while still maintaining an official policy of neutrality. The Soviets also feared losing Saddam’s friendship to the West. After further Iranian gains in 1986, the Soviet Union massively increased its military aid to Iraq. The Soviets were now afraid of the Iranians encouraging Islamic revolution in Central Asia. Soviet aid allowed the Iraqis to mount a counteroffensive which brought the war to an end in August, 1988.”USA and USSR SUPPORTING THE SAME SIDE!!!So even after all this, you think that it was right for the US to support the dictator the Shah, and when overthrown by the people to support the murderous dictator Saddam Hussein to invade a country that was under absolutely no threat from the Soviet Union??US support for the dictator Saddam and the invasion of Iran was to RE-gain a client state, NOT to fight the Soviets.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Your problem is that you take single paragraphs which support your view, take them out of context and miss the information the entire article presents.All of the wikipedia entrys clearly shows how Iran and Iraq were the subject of a cold war influence conflict. That both the US and Russia had different goals and were seeking to secure Iraq and Iran as allies against the other.So you go through that article, take a single paragraph that can be (mis)interpreted to fit your point of view, and think it makes you a master of cold war history.If you are going to misread references or my posts, the debate is effectively over.Anyone who is so inclined can read the references themselves, even the ones you quote from. I am sure they will understand them better then you do.Adios. Responding to your insults and shoddy grip on history has been a bad habit.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive
 

blah.. Don’t get upset because there is evidence that destroys your claims, which were that the US supported the dictator Saddam and the Taliban because they were fighting the USSR. I can’t believe you’ve carried on this long as well…I repeat- The Taliban was formed in 1996 and were not US allies nor were they fighting the USSR.- Iran was heavily anti-US and just as heavily anti-USSR, so when the US supported the murderous dictator Saddam to invade Iran they did not do so because they were fighting the Soviets over Iran, they did it because they had just lost their other murderous dictator the shah, in Iran less than 2 years prior and wanted their client state back, historically this is hardly disputed..And not a single thing you’ve said or tried to quote about Moscow’s involvement in the area says otherwise..What is most interesting is that the one page on wikipedia that speaks precisely on the subject of argument here:- United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq warat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Stat es_support_for_Iraq_during_the_Iran%E2%8 0%93Iraq_warsays absolutely nothing of your claims they were fighting the soviets.. in fact the opening line on the page reads:”The United States supported Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran.”Which is exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you except I wouldn’t use the word ‘counterbalance’, I’d use the word counterrevolutionary dictator.But I suppose I’m just taking a single paragraph that supports my view. Funnily enough that’s all I need to do because you can’t seem to quote anything that supports your view or represent anything that is being said in the article.So thank you for feeling the need to grace me with your explanation for why you’ve had your last word, but I think its obvious why your backing off, you’ve now actually read something on the subject and realize what you’ve got yourself into.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Just thought I’d post your original comment, wouldn’t want someone to think I was quoting ‘out of context’…”So you argue that America is at fault for supporting Saddam and the Taliban in the first place. But these entities were once allies in America’s fight against the Soviet Union.”A mere fraction of your sensational claims and insults, the USSR didn’t even exist after 1991 when the Taliban came to power. Also I had never mentioned the Taliban in the first place..

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

I have said repeatedly that Iraq and Iran were both involved in a struggle for influence between America and the USA.I have said many times that America sought to secure Iraq as an ally, and prevent Iran from leaning towards the soviet block. Thus denying Russian influence in both Iran and Iraq.I have never said that Iran was a soviet client state. I have never said that Iraq was involved in fighting the Soviet union.Remember all the times I mentioned your inability to read or understand my posts? That is what I refer to.I will sign off with some references, which according to you probably don’t exist, or probably mean something different to what they actually say once you put them through your reality filter.”wikipedia- United States Support for Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War”The United States supported Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran.Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter, “began to look more favorably toward Saddam Hussein as a potential counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini and as a force to contain Soviet expansionism in the region.”—According to Kenneth Timmerman, “Saddam did foresee one immediate consequence of his invasion of Iran: the suspension of arms supplies from the USSR.”"When he launched his attack, the Soviets were busy playing games in Iran. They were not amused that the Iraqis upset their plans. For generations the KGB had been working to penetrate Iran’s Shiite clergy. In February 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took power and threw the Americans out of Iran, the Soviets stood to gain more than they had ever believed possible.”"Wikipedia- Soviet support for Iran during the Iraq-Iran War”The Soviet Union did not provide extensive support to Iran during the Iran–Iraq War, not surprisingly given its massive assistance to Iraq, the mutual antagonism between Marxist-Leninist ideology and the Islamist government of Iran, and Muslim antagonism to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.Nevertheless, the Soviets hoped not to lose all influence. As a 1980 CIA document put it, “The Soviets see Iran as a greater geopolitical prize than Iraq…while hoping to prevent an Iranian turn to the West and to improve their own relations with Tehran, the Soviets also value their ties with Iraq.”"Wikipedia- The Soviet Union and the Iraq War”The policy of the Soviet Union towards the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 to 1988 varied, beginning with a stance of “strict neutrality” and moving towards massive military support for Iraq in the final phase of the war. The war was inconvenient for the USSR, which had aimed to ally itself with both Iran and Iraq.The outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War in September, 1980 provided the Soviets with a quandary since they aimed to be friends with both sides. The 1979 Iranian revolution had overthrown the Shah, the USA’s key ally in the Middle East.Iran’s new anti-American stance presented the USSR with a golden opportunity to win the country over to the Soviet camp. But the war between Iraq and Iran complicated mattersIn 1986-7, the Soviet Union definitely turned to supporting Iraq. The war had been bogged down in a stalemate until the Iranians had taken the Faw Peninsula. This and other military gains offered the prospect of an Iraqi collapse.This worrying development pushed the conservative Arab rulers closer to the USA, which they saw as their protector. The USSR did not relish the idea of increased American military presence in the area.”At the same time, the USSR continued to press for a ceasefire and offer itself as a mediator. To this end, the Soviets made several economic concessions to Iran and opposed the US reflagging of ships in the Persian Gulf.”However, Iran showed little interest in friendship with the USSR, rejecting the Communist world along with the West.””wikipedia- Iran-Russia Relations”During the Iran–Iraq War, the USSR supplied Saddam Hussein with large amounts of conventional arms.Ayatollah Khomeini deemed Islam principally incompatible with the communist ideals of the Soviet Union, leaving the secular Saddam as an ally of Moscow.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive
 

“So you argue that America is at fault for supporting Saddam and the Taliban in the first place. But these entities were once allies in America’s fight against the Soviet Union”Supporting Saddam was a means of gaining US influence in the gulf area, as a counterbalance to Iran, and to counteract Soviet attempts to gain influence in both Iraq and Iran.Supporting the Afgani militants was a means of actually opposing the Soviet invasion of Afganistan. And these militant groups eventually became the Taliban and Al Qaida later on.I have tried to repeat myself, tried to explain further, and literally flicked the history books in front of you, there is little more I can do.If you want to argue about your alternative interpretations of those references (and indeed, history), you should do it on the Wikipedia discussion forums. I certainly won’t waste my time.Face facts, history is not your strong point. You should stick to tangential arguments and personal insults. And of course, selective reading of references, peddling your opinions as facts and misinterpreting what people are trying to explain to you.I await your inevitable last word. But will not answer further.

Posted by Hmmm | Report as abusive
 

Wooh he’s back!Why didn’t you just go to the cold war page that details the history of the cold war in that period, and funnily enough says nothing of the Iran-Iraq war…Why are you now trying to change your tune? The point of argument is and has always been your assertion that- “So you argue that America is at fault for supporting Saddam and the Taliban in the first place. But these entities were once allies in America’s fight against the Soviet Union.”I don’t know where you got the idea that I thought the soviets weren’t involved in the area, of course they were, being the other world superpower, and of course had relations with these two massive oil producing nations.My issue is with what you’ve been trying to imply with your strange quotes, that US support for these dictators was necessary to combat a soviet threat. Which wasn’t there.. The US were making the moves.The Soviets were against the war in the first place.The US simply wanted to secure these two states as dictator client states for itself and in doing so deny the USSR access in its world war against communism.You still have provided no evidence of a threat from the soviets. Hilarious that you would try to quote Brezinski, possibly the most blatantly imperialist US strategist of all time.If you think it’s OK to support and empower brutal dictators and terrorists the world over because you’re paranoid about communism there’s something wrong with you. But as I believe you said before, Iran will now “capitulate or be bombed”, which pretty much sums up your rational when it comes to empire building.You actually think:”Supporting the Afgani militants was a means of actually opposing the Soviet invasion of Afganistan. And these militant groups eventually became the Taliban and Al Qaida later on.”The Soviets never invaded, they were asked to help defend democracy by the Afghan government, against the US trained, armed and funded terrorists that were attacking the state.Again I’ll cite the opening description:”The Soviet War in Afghanistan, also known as the Soviet–Afghan War, was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan at their own request, against the (US Backed) Islamist Mujahideen Resistance.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki  /Soviet_war_in_AfghanistanLook I don’t need to get personal with you, even though you’ve been trying your hardest to insult me from your very first post, which I can also cite..This is all very basic stuff, so I’m not losing any hair over it.Oh by the way this quote of yours:”According to Kenneth Timmerman, “Saddam did foresee one immediate consequence of his invasion of Iran: the suspension of arms supplies from the USSR.”“When he launched his attack, the Soviets were busy playing games in Iran. They were not amused that the Iraqis upset their plans. For generations the KGB had been working to penetrate Iran’s Shiite clergy. In February 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took power and threw the Americans out of Iran, the Soviets stood to gain more than they had ever believed possible.””Yea by the way, not world opinion – like Brezinski he was also a conservative democrat and a single journalist, who funnily enough has also written a book on the US arming Iraq after the first gulf war..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennet h_Timmerman#Criticism“He has also been accused of excessive partisanship in relation to Iran and his work on the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. As the American founder of an organization that claims to represent the interests of Iranian democrats, his opinions have little influence in the Iranian diaspora.”So after all that you managed to come up with the opinion of Brezinski (famed imperialist and author of possibly the most offensive book in modern history: The grand chessboard), the opinion of failed journalist Kenneth Timmerman, and a 1980′s CIA ‘document’.Amazing!! Don’t you think the lack of information on your theory and the absolute plethora on mine kind of solves this one..??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Allow me to quote some more Brezinski from his book, ‘The Grand Chessboard’ :”It is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book.” (p. xiv)”For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia – and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.” (p.30)“The momentum of Asia’s economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.” (p.125)”In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single state. Hence, America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly global superpower, but it is also likely to be the very last.” (p.209)”Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to FASHION A CONSENSUS on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.” (Communism? Terrorism?) (p. 211)”To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)Hmmmm…

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Last but not least:“I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the Khmer Rouge. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him. But China could.”

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Brian,The issue you’ve run into on this blog is you’re debating with people who have to give their part of the story while defending their political party and it’s bureaucrats.If Hmmmmm and Anon were to tell you that we were supporting the monsters in Iran/Iraq/Afghanistan in the 1980′s they’d be making their hero Ronald Reagan look bad. That’s why they never bring up his socialist bail out of social security, they never bring up his dozens of tax increases to corporate and gas taxes, there’s just things you can’t talk to a “Reagan conservative” about and I think you’ve found one of those issues.Getting people to admit fault within their party is impossible in this country. All of a sudden in 2009 admitting faults and taking responsibility is viewed as something for the weak.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Mr Ham.Please do not presume to speak for others, when they don’t share your point of view.If one make personal attributations as to the motives of others, it is usually based on their own preconvieved notions or bias towards those they disagree with.For my part, I completely accept that America supported the dictators of Iran, Iraq and the militants of Afganistan. I have certainly never denied it, and wonder why you believe this is the case. Feel free to quote me.But this were all part of the Cold War. Something I think we can both agree was an actual historic event.In Brian’s case, it is something he denies. He claims that the Iraq-Iran war was not part of the cold war struggle for influence. He is free to think that, but it is not the view of historians or historic references.If you believe his claim has merit, then look up the references yourself. The soviet and american involvements and intentions regarding Iraq, Iran and Afganistan are well documented.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

PS. I am aware of the spelling errors in my previous post.Alas, my spellchecker ain’t been quite right lately.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

Afghanistan was a historical episode defined as being part of the cold war, yes.The Iran Iraq war and the support of dictator Saddam to overthrow the Islamic revolution in Iran was not.I challenge you to find a single credible source that supports the assertion it was a fight against the soviets, or even a documented episode in the context of The Cold War.Even encyclopedias omit this theory, indeed the only references to Iran and the cold war are the CIA coup in 1953, the Iran hostage crisis, and the Iran-contra affair.Even in the case of the 1953 CIA coup -”In the view of American mainstream public opinion, the crisis in Iran was perceived as a part of a Cold War conflict rather than as a nationalist struggle against Western colonialism.[41″Secretary of State Dean Acheson admitted the “’Communist threat’ was a smokescreen”http://en.wikipedia.org/wi ki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat#Cold_ War_originsBy the way Anon, please don’t presume to speak for others when they don’t share your strange opinions, especially me. Show me where I made this claim you speak of?

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

“By the way Anon, please don’t presume to speak for others when they don’t share your strange opinions, especially me. Show me where I made this claim you speak of?”Ok. I claimed that you believed that the Iran-Iraq war was not part of the cold war struggle for influence between Russia and America.Then you say in the same post:”Afghanistan was a historical episode defined as being part of the cold war, yes. The Iran Iraq war and the support of dictator Saddam to overthrow the Islamic revolution in Iran was not.”QED.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

Anon,I believe both your claims have merit, however you cannot disagree that having a political party will bring at least some bias into the equation with just about everyone.You’re going to be less likely to point out Reagan’s flaws, democrats are going to be less likely to point out Obama’s flaws. I don’t think I’m giving any low blows or anything with that statement that seems pretty matter of fact to me.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

“I challenge you to find a single credible source that supports the assertion it was a fight against the soviets, or even a documented episode in the context of The Cold War.”Challenge accepted.As my reference, I quote you.”The US simply wanted to secure these two states as dictator client states for itself and in doing so deny the USSR access in its world war against communism.”You have admitted:-The US wanted to secure Iran and Iraq.-As dictator client states.-To deny the USSR access to those states.-In the US war against communism (ie. the cold war).Hence, the American support of Saddam can be seen as part of the wider cold war conflict.Challenge met.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

haha, you have such a way with words anon!I believe you said: “He claims that the Iraq-Iran war was not part of the cold war struggle for influence.”You then quote me: “Afghanistan was a historical episode defined as being part of the cold war, yes. The Iran Iraq war and the support of dictator Saddam to overthrow the Islamic revolution in Iran was not.”Note the difference.. don’t you think it would have been easier to just quote me in the first place?I repeat- The Iran Iraq war and the support of the dictator Saddam to overthrow the Islamic revolution in Iran was not a historical episode defined as being part of the cold war.I repeat, please don’t presume to speak for others when they don’t share your strange opinions.Again I repeat: “I challenge you to find a single credible source that supports the assertion it wasA) a fight against the soviets,B) or even a documented episode in the context of The Cold War.”You seem to be having trouble understanding the sentence so I thought I’d break it down for you..And maybe I need to supply you with the rest of your other quote:”My issue is with what you’ve (hmmmm has) been trying to imply with your strange quotes, that US support for these dictators was necessary to combat a soviet threat. Which wasn’t there.. The US were making the moves.The Soviets were against the war in the first place.The US simply wanted to secure these two states as dictator client states for itself and in doing so deny the USSR access in its world war against communism.”Although I can see how the last sentence could be misconstrued I don’t see how this is an admission.Maybe instead of saying “and in doing so” I should have said “and in doing so it would also conveniently deny the USSR access (to the resources controlled by a US dictator client) in it’s world war against communism.”Laziness but I think it was clear from the sentence immediately preceding that I do not agree it was part of the defined “cold war”.Again I repeat: I challenge you to find a single credible source that supports the assertion it wasA) a fight against the soviets,B) or even a documented episode in the context of The Cold War.You’re the one who thinks it was part of the ‘cold war’ so it should be easy to find the evidence that led a person of your stature to that conclusion. It should only be a few clicks away right? or have you already looked…

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

“and in doing so it would also conveniently deny the USSR access (to the resources controlled by a US dictator client) in it’s world war against communism.”Once again, this comment indicates that supporting Saddam could be viewed as part of the greater cold war conflict.I would have thought that you would consider yourself to be a credible source. So naturally, I quoted you.Most of the wikipedia sites I have viewed clearly indicate that the soviets had a interest in Iraq and Iran. And that the Iran-Iraq war (supported by the US as it was) hence represented an serious inconvenience for soviet plans for the region.Those sites have been quoted repeatedly already. I really don’t see where the issue is here.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

Nice try anon, you CHOOSE to see it that way, as I have just explained what I meant. Don’t shirk away from providing your own evidence.Just because the USSR wants relations with a country and the US wants to overthrow that country and install a dictator client doesn’t mean it’s part of the cold war.It means the US is corrupt and aggressive..This was a period where the US was training terrorists, overthrowing popular democratic governments with violence and supporting brutal dictators all over the world.Wikipedia does not support your claims on either page dealing directly with the question.-United_States_support for Iraq during the Iran Iraq war-Cold warhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_S tates_support_for_Iraq_during_the_Iran%E 2%80%93Iraq_warhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w iki/Cold_war#Second_Cold_War_.281979.E2. 80.9385.29Nor does any encyclopedia or credible source, its simply something you two made up to support your own conclusions.Again I repeat: I challenge you to find a single credible source that supports the assertion it wasA) a fight against the soviets,B) or even a documented episode in the context of The Cold War.No I bet you’ve already tried to find proof and came up with nothing.I searched for over an hour online for your so called proof and found not a trace..

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

The point is that the US has a terrible criminal history especially in the mid-east and it’s the responsibility of the media to maintain their journalistic integrity by staying on point, not embedding with the criminal and reporting on events like the invasion of Iraq and consequent collapse of the society in the context of: the consequence of criminal action.An action consistent with previous crimes perpetrated by the US in the region and around the world, with motives consistent with a systemic policy of aggression, neo-imperialism, deception and anti-democratic behavior throughout their history.While the US was supplying weapons of mass destruction to Saddam (while he was using them) they were also supporting terrorists in Afghanistan, and terrorists in Nicaragua with the proceeds from illegal weapons trafficking to their enemies in Iran.The cold war was not so much about a communist threat to people, but about a communist threat to US imperialism and global hegemony.Because whether communism, socialism or nationalism was the people’s democratic choice or not, the US attacked them equally. More often than not it was democracy that was overthrown by the US in it’s war against communism, by any means.The rich and powerful had everything to lose, and the poor and powerless everything to gain from socialism.. Thus it needed to be evil.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

I think the problem is that you are not reading your references, or choose to ignore what they say.______________________-From your own reference: United States support for Iraq during the Iran Iraq war-”The United States supported Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran. This support included several billion dollars worth of economic aid, the sale of dual-use technology, non-U.S. origin weaponry, military intelligence, Special Operations training, and direct involvement in warfare against Iran as well”—During the crisis, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein attempted to take advantage of the disorder of the Revolution, the weakness of the Iranian military and the revolution’s antagonism with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolt and with the Shah ousted, Hussein had ambitions to position himself as the new strong man of the Middle East. “He condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and signed an alliance with Saudi Arabia to block the Soviet-backed attempt to take over North Yemen. In 1979 he also allowed the CIA, which he had once so virulently attacked, to open an office in Baghdad.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter, “began to look more favorably toward Saddam Hussein as a potential counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini and as a force to contain Soviet expansionism in the region.”—With the UN-imposed embargo on warring parties, and with the Soviet Union opposing the conflict, Hussein found it increasingly difficult to repair and replace hardware damaged in battle. According to Kenneth Timmerman, “Saddam did foresee one immediate consequence of his invasion of Iran: the suspension of arms supplies from the USSR.”When he launched his attack, the Soviets were busy playing games in Iran. They were not amused that the Iraqis upset their plans. For generations the KGB had been working to penetrate Iran’s Shiite clergy. In February 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took power and threw the Americans out of Iran, the Soviets stood to gain more than they had ever believed possible. … KGB boss Yuri Andropov [had] little difficulty in convincing Brezhnev and Kosygin to agree to an embargo on arms to Iraq… p. 83-84″The United States assisted Iraq through a military aid program known as “Bear Spares”, whereby the U.S. military “made sure that spare parts and ammunition for Soviet or Soviet-style weaponry were available to countries which sought to reduce their dependence on the Soviets for defense needs.”-From Wikipedia: Soviet support for Iran during the Iran Iraq war-Iran, after the Western embargo of 1979, was motivated to expand its own manufacturing capability and to seek short-term, clandestine procurement of spares and replacements compatible with its Western equipment base. To the extent the Soviet Union could satisfy these needs, it had incentive to do so. Some equipment was shipped from satellite states such as Bulgaria,Poland and Romania. North Korea (see North Korean support for Iran during the Iran–Iraq war both shipped Soviet-designed weapons it made, as well as acting as a conduit for shipments directly from the Soviet Union and the China,-From Wikipedia: The Soviet Union and the Iraq War’The policy of the Soviet Union towards the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 to 1988 varied, beginning with a stance of “strict neutrality” and moving towards massive military support for Iraq in the final phase of the war. The war was inconvenient for the USSR, which had aimed to ally itself with both Iran and Iraq.The outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War in September, 1980 provided the Soviets with a quandary since they aimed to be friends with both sides. The 1979 Iranian revolution had overthrown the Shah, the USA’s key ally in the Middle East.Iran’s new anti-American stance presented the USSR with a golden opportunity to win the country over to the Soviet camp. But the war between Iraq and Iran complicated mattersIn 1986-7, the Soviet Union definitely turned to supporting Iraq. The war had been bogged down in a stalemate until the Iranians had taken the Faw Peninsula. This and other military gains offered the prospect of an Iraqi collapse.This worrying development pushed the conservative Arab rulers closer to the USA, which they saw as their protector. The USSR did not relish the idea of increased American military presence in the area.”At the same time, the USSR continued to press for a ceasefire and offer itself as a mediator. To this end, the Soviets made several economic concessions to Iran and opposed the US reflagging of ships in the Persian Gulf.”However, Iran showed little interest in friendship with the USSR, rejecting the Communist world along with the West.”________________________Now these are all indicators that America was trying to trump soviet influence in the region and increase it’s own as part of the cold war struggle. Ergo, it was part of the cold war.Quite frankly, when you make comments like “no reference supports your strange views” or “I’ll bet you were looking for references and found none”, I can only wonder whether you even know what you are talking about.Even your own quotes support my view that it was part of the cold war. And you get defensive when I point it out. Is it my fault your posts don’t make sense?I am certainly not going to argue it further. If you can read the above and still conclude no reference supports my view, there is no point wasting my time trying to convince you.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

“Just because the USSR wants relations with a country and the US wants to overthrow that country and install a dictator client doesn’t mean it’s part of the cold war.”You’re kidding right? Taking control of a nation to prevent it becoming friendly with the USSR doesn’t count as part of the cold war?”This was a period where the US was training terrorists, overthrowing popular democratic governments with violence and supporting brutal dictators all over the world.”What period are you referring to? Would you be referring to the cold war? Is that the period you claim the Iran-Iraq war happened?”Even encyclopedias omit this theory, indeed the only references to Iran and the cold war are the CIA coup in 1953, the Iran hostage crisis, and the Iran-contra affair.”Whoops. The CIA coup had nothing *directly* to do with the Soviets. Nor did the Iran hostage crisis. Or the Iran-Contra affair. But they are counted as part of the cold war. Why is that, you think?And look here.http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.c fm?fuseaction=topics.item&news_id=90411& topic_id=1409But hold the phone. According to you, the Iran-Iraq war was not part of the cold war conflict.You’d better tell those in the Cold War International History Project that they are wasting their time. I am sure they will appreciate the opinions of a learned historian such as yourself.Seriously, it has been a blast poking holes in your arguments and pointing out the inconsistencies in your own comments. But all things must come to an end, and quite frankly debating with you on this issue is ridiculous.Go to any person and ask them if the Iraq-Iran war was part of the cold war. Educated or not, they will probably say yes.But not you. And your opinion is the only correct one, right?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive
 

The point of my first comment was that the US has a terrible criminal history especially in the mid-east and it’s the responsibility of the media to maintain their journalistic integrity by staying on point, being independent – not embedding with one side of the war, especially when a criminal invasion is being waged, and reporting on the invasion of Iraq and consequent collapse of the society in the context of the consequence of a criminal action.An action consistent with an extensive documented history of similar acts perpetrated by the US in the region and around the world as part of a systemic policy of aggression, imperialistic intervention and deception over the last 50 years.While the US was supplying weapons of mass destruction to Saddam (while he was using them) they were also supporting terrorists in Afghanistan, and terrorists in Nicaragua with the proceeds from illegal weapons trafficking to their enemies in Iran. I have used these few examples only because they are uncontroversial..The cold war was not so much about a communist threat to people, but about it’s threat to US expansionist capitalism and global hegemony.Because whether communism, or socialism, was the people’s democratic choice or not, the US has attacked them equally. More often than not it was democracy that was overthrown by the US in it’s war against communism, by any means. Again there are many examples of this.Communism and Socialism needed to be evil not to protect the average man, but to protect the rich and powerful minority who are directly threatened by political ideals of equality and democracy.Why else would nations claiming to be democratic outlaw a political party at home who’s only power came directly from the democratic process, the people.They were afraid it would be popular, and for good reason.Reporting on the invasion of Iraq and events of the so called ‘cold war’ (descriptively – the war on communism) provide tremendous insight, as microcosms, into the nature of private (corporate) media, their anti-democratic nature and their alliances with the systems and power-circles that provide the basis for their survival.True, damaging criticism is reserved for enemies of these allies as they sell the selected personal opinions of paid private employees as unbiased facts.If we really respect democracy, why is our media, our societies most crucial democratic tool, itself not democratic??

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Brian. You essentially focus on all the things done by the USA, and act as if it were a single source of strife and evil during the cold war.You have mitigated or swept under the rug everything which was done by the soviet union during the cold war. You simply ignore it or treat it as irrelevent.Even if you ignore the majority of the cold war, and treat it as a matter of US expansionism, the reality is that American expansionism was simply the alternative to soviet expansionism. As they say, it takes two to tango.You are ignorant if you believed people in the USSR had freedom. And you are deluded if you think that people in those communist nations had the option to choose whether they were communist or not.The moment Eastern Europe was given the opportunity, the people rebelled from soviet rule. Even in the face of military forces killing unarmed civilians.And then there is the one truth you (and many anti-americans) can never accept.You think the hippies broke down the berlin wall? You think the wall fell on it’s own? That the soviet union simply dropped dead for no reason at all?There is only one reason the berlin wall fell. Fifty years of confrontation, coups, US-led dictatorships and proxy wars. Economic and political warfare that whittled the USSR down, until it finally collapsed.That is the sad truth. All that stuff that gets you bitter, all the things you decry about what America during the cold war, the things you call crimes and horrible actions by the US?It won the cold war.It. Was. All. Justified.And that is the thing you just can’t accept. But history will always be there, an insult to your very world-view.

Posted by JohnisGood | Report as abusive
 

John is good,Something you guys will never understand is that being anti-US gov’t is not anti US and does not make you an America hater.You know who else was anti their own gov’t? All the heroes and patriots that founded this country.How many tens of millions of people needed to die in order for us to “win” the cold war? What number do you reach before it’s no longer a win?Imagine how well our economy would be and how many more freedoms we’d have as a nation if we weren’t having our brains taxed out in order to keep up with our gov’ts idea of empire building. About 2/5 of every dollar earned in this country goes right back to the gov’t, I doubt that’s the idea of freedom our forefathers had when they were writing the Constitution.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Were it not for the cold war, the soviet union would be alive and well today. And still shooting people who tried to leave it.You can complain about the deaths and events that happened during the cold war, but the results speak for itself.Likewise, you can complain about what happens now. But the goals of the American government towards preventing the spread of militant islam are quite clear. So willing or not, you should expect another couple of decades of wars yet.The founding fathers took action against tyranny. But it seems you only care about tyranny when it involves you. And tough luck for the rest of the world. Would that be a fair statement?The founding fathers also believed in taxation for representation. So pay your taxes and vote accordingly. Unfortunately, democracy means majority rule.

Posted by JohnisGood | Report as abusive
 

johnisgood, whoa that’s a hell of an extrapolation, I doubt you’ve read all of my posts, or my mind for that matter.To set the record straight I have never been a fan of the Soviet Union either. They were a corrupt and flawed implementation of the ideologies of socialism, evident in their fall from within. The US didn’t defeat them, they got socialism wrong and defeated themselves.The reason I focus on the US in this case is because it is in relation to the thread topic and corporate media.In terms of US expansionism and Soviet expansionism we will never know how the world may have ended up if the US didn’t wage it’s anti-democratic war against communism and socialism… but even if they were in hindsight, as YOU claim, the lesser of two evils that still doesn’t mean they are beyond criticism.Just because I choose to criticize the US (in conversational context) and not someone else doesn’t mean I support them.Though in my opinion the US was the worse of two evils because I agree with more social and democratic ideologies and the US is more anti-democratic by nature of capitalism. The ideal (at least) of socialism must strive for the highest form of democracy by definition. Capitalism must not, it is anti-democratic by definition and favors a rich and powerful minority.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Johnisgood,You’re right, how the Soviet Union acts towards it’s citizens isn’t the concern of the American gov’t, at least it shouldn’t be.You’re right, the results of the war speak for itself. We now have an unquestionaed American empire that can kill whoever it wants and destroy whatever country it wants without any threat from any nation. Welcome to the NWO.So when are we going to take a stand against the militant islamic nations of Egypt and Saudi Arabia? The US is perfectly ok with militant islam as long as it’s leaders are puppets to our gov’t.The founding fathers wouldn’t even back the french in their revolution because it was a war we couldn’t afford, even though without the french we wouldn’t even have a country now. You fight wars you can afford, contrary to today’s neoconservative approach we’ve taken.Who’s being represented? The 25% of the country that voted for Obama? Or the 25% of the country that voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004? People aren’t being represented by either party, which is why our voting turnout is so horrible.That’s what’s happened to the majority. You’ve been duped into believing (contrary to the facts) that Republicans are small gov’t, small welfare, well defended border, anti-abortion type of people. All of those points aren’t the case. Democrats believe their politicians care about the lower class, that they’re a more diplomatic group, that their bureaucrats help the environment, again, all lies.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

That’s nice.So one of you is a closet socialist who believes that the Soviet Union was the lesser of two evils, and that it simply collapsed on its own.And the other is a chamberlain-esq isolationist who only cares about how much tax he pays, and thinks America is part of the New World Order.I was going to respond with my own argument, but I really don’t feel it is needed. You two have a blast.

Posted by JohnisGood | Report as abusive
 

John,I thought taxes were supposed to be a big deal to Republicans? Or is that just another way of modifying what it means to be a conservative to better suit your favorite political party?I didn’t know my wording was being watched like a hawk. I care about how much EVERYONE is being taxed. You included sir.We were taxed less and represented better in the 1700′s prior to the revolution.I am glad though that you didn’t argue how every stereotype gov’t and media propogates is a lie though, not many people do.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Every stereotype of the political party that is.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive
 

Closet socialist?? Because I prefer democracy and socialism is democratic..How am I in the closet? I just explained my exact views.That’s good though you can save your idiotic fox-news opinions and leave the debate to the grown ups.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Finally back to the topic..I think ‘The Bell’s comment is a great choice for best comment, really wraps it up quite nicely.There are an ever increasing number of people out there who are crossing the threshold between suspecting something is systemically wrong with the news and knowing it.The news is much like the bible, you need to have faith in it or go to great lengths to discover the truth for yourself, it’s controlled by a small group of powerful men, it’s organization is centralized and news is copied from centers of journalism to satellites (reuters, AP..), opinion is presented as fact, so the ideas are often not represented by the person who came up with them.We talk a lot about winning in Iraq. How to win in Iraq? But if “we” win, the Iraqis still lose right. They have lost already.The only way it is possible to ‘win’ a criminal invasion under the guise of a humanitarian (illegal) regime change you supported, for fabricated, fraudulent reasons of imminent threat of WMD’s you sold them in the first place.. is to cut the crap and say Yeah we went in there to control the oil, award trillions in no-bid reconstruction contracts to ourselves – in cash, control the government, install permanent military bases from which to attack Iran, and crush all opposition.That is the only way to ‘win’ in Iraq because the damage done to the country by the US is almost impossible to reconcile.You’re either with us or you’re against us!!!

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

Brian.I think the main issue you have is not the bias of media, but that they are not reporting the bias you prefer to hear.Reading your post, I see a lot of personal opinion. Little more.First of all, doing as you recommend would not actually affect or win the wars. All you want is for someone to officially confirm that your biased opinion is correct. You can just go to a left-wing hate blog for that.Second, do you have any evidence the war was about oil or military bases? Just thought I’d ask.Third, you mentioned that America sold WMDs to Iraq. Are you referring to the fabricated weapons, or just the fraudulent ones?Finally, I am somewhat amused by your use of the term ‘idiotic fox-news couch potato opinions’.Particularly since your general quality of posts not only show your terrible grip on history, but also draw indications as to your general level of education.

Posted by JohnisGood | Report as abusive
 

A boring and well known pathetic strategy of the desperate to attack the messenger with conjecture and speculation rather than the more difficult job of attacking the message.. laced with a few classic fallacies of argument such as the opinion observation (despite the impossibility what we say not being our opinions), which just as lamely implies that your opinion falls into the same category as the one you’re criticizing, and the assumption and conspiracy theory that I fall into some sort of boogey man group of stereotypes.I’ll avoid the arrogant hate speech and deal with the snippets of relevant content in your post:Firstly – just what esactly do you think I’m suggesting? Have you even read my posts?The only solutions I have hinted at in relevance to this thread are for the criminals to be brought to justice now that the crime has been revealed, and now that the boogey man is dead leave Iraq to govern itself. And for the media to stop embedding with the criminals and report US actions within the war in the context of the crime being committed. If they can’t do this I have suggested that corporate media needs to become democratic media to prevent systemic abuses of power.I’m not sure what ‘suggestion’ you’re referring to but your statement makes no sense in light of the ones I’ve actually made.Secondly – Sure.. I have ABSOLUTE motive, I have a proven historical track record of similar crimes, I have testament of many professionals, intellectuals, defectors and insiders, I have statements made by US officials and advisers on the imperative of US primacy and domination of the region, I have them lying on record, I have the nature of the crime itself, the nature of the US installed government, I have the oil contract divisions, no-bid reconstruction contracts, front companies, the threats on Iran and the now altered oil proviso. If this were a criminal case the evidence hearing would go on for years, case closed.It’s like asking me what proof I have that a drug addict, hanging for a fix, with a needle in his hand, the deal being witnessed by the community, caught stoned out of his mind, with a history of drug felonies, inside a crack-house, is going to use drugs again.What do you have? Weapons of mass destruction..?Thirdly – I have no idea what you’re talking about…Encase that was actually a serious question I’ll answer it by saying the weapons and technologies purchased during and after the Iran Iraq war and detailed in the 12000 page Iraqi weapons declaration stolen from the UN and blacked out for non-security council members. The information is public. Try a little research if you are afraid of MY opinions, here’s a good starting point:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unite d_States_support_for_Iraq_during_the_Ira n%E2%80%93Iraq_warFinally- I’m so glad you’re somewhat amused your highness but in all honesty I don’t think I can take much credit for that, you seem to know how to amuse yourself quite well..Can you provide any evidence the wars in the mid-east are not imperialistic?

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 

I just noted that it seems a little odd that you call the motives for the war ‘fabricated’ and ‘fraudulent’…….and then you go on to not only assert that the WMD’s did exist, but then go on to provide references supporting that this was the case.Let alone the fact that you have openly admitted to being socialist, left-wing and hate-filled. Meaning my ‘opinions’ as to your bias is well founded and evidenced by your own posts.And while you have evidence of oil contracts, reconstruction contracts and military bases, these are all circumstantial.They only mean something sinister to you because of your opinion and are no actual proof of anything. Something any court of law would tell you, if you bothered to ask.That same court of law would also tell you that I don’t have to prove that America’s wars are not imperialist. Because you have failed to prove that they were imperialist in the first place.Once again leading me to conclude that your posts are completely incoherent.

Posted by JohnisGood | Report as abusive
 

Evidently no one knows what deleterious means. Grievous, destructive, callous disregard and inhumane all come to my mind. Iraq has seen it’s standard of living tumble into depraved conditions since the first gulf war and the subsequent trade embargo. The occupation of Iraq has increased her woes exponentially.Children regularly die of disease because of a lack of potable water and health care. Malnutrition has taken it’s toll on all Iraqi citizens not aligned with some criminal element of the existing or former governments. People die in the street regularly from sectarian violence still. All of this courtesy of the U.S. occupation.After working in a prison for over a decade, I assure you one cannot make another do good by doing bad to them. The death and destruction we have left will one day produce a harvest we cannot avoid reaping. Not all who watch their parents die violently become a slum dog millionaire.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive
 

Johnisgood, regarding your last posted comment:”I just noted that it seems a little odd that you call the motives for the war ‘fabricated’ and ‘fraudulent’….…and then you go on to not only assert that the WMD’s did exist, but then go on to provide references supporting that this was the case.”Given the fact that there was no credible evidence to support the claim that Iraq had WMD’s in 2003, Iraq had always stated they did not have a current WMD program prior to the invasion and the fact that they were indeed found to posses no WMD’s. How is it contradictory for me to say that the US sold them the weapons when they were using them back in the 80′s and then fraudulently accuse them of possessing them in 2003?Why do you think that’s odd?”Let alone the fact that you have openly admitted to being socialist, left-wing and hate-filled. Meaning my ‘opinions’ as to your bias is well founded and evidenced by your own posts.”I have neither openly admitted to being socialist, left-wing or hate filled?Please show one quote where I have openly admitted to any of these 3 things. They are untrue and fabricated claims.”And while you have evidence of oil contracts, reconstruction contracts and military bases, these are all circumstantial.”You provide only a small excerpt of the evidence I quoted, and these 3 are not circumstantial, but in the context of the rest of the evidence are direct evidence themselves. Why did you only quote a small part of the evidence I provided?”They only mean something sinister to you because of your opinion and are no actual proof of anything. Something any court of law would tell you, if you bothered to ask.That same court of law would also tell you that I don’t have to prove that America’s wars are not imperialist. Because you have failed to prove that they were imperialist in the first place.Once again leading me to conclude that your posts are completely incoherent”"Bothering to ask” a court of law these things is an incoherent concept, so is assuming that a court of law would demand the defense be granted the right to not have to defend itself in the face of a wealth of evidence, as you state.You’ll find the evidence is profound and conclusive. If you are going to deal with it seriously you should bring it all up and try to disprove it, piece by piece, witness by witness, not by making up some strange hypothetical courtroom scenario.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive
 
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