Flowers and Chocolates

Time to check up on the latest photos and stories from George Bush’s excellent adventure in Iraq.


The Discussion: 56 Comments


I strongly recommend that you move the photo under a link, and warn potential viewer of the content beforehand.

January 22, 2005 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

I don’t know that I agree with bellevue. It’s important not to hide the consequences of this wretched Administration’s morally bankrupt policies.

That said, this is one of the most disturbing photos I’ve seen in quite a while.

January 23, 2005 @ 12:40 am | Comment

Yes it’s more than disturbing. Now every time I log on to Peking Duck I have to be painstakingly struggling with my mouse.

January 23, 2005 @ 2:14 am | Comment

Thanks for the photo. We need such things shoved into our faces. What’s the point of being disturbed by a photo of a baby surrounded by devastation 60 years after the fact? I wish such photos were available during the strikes against Belgrade; maybe instead of tearing their hair out over the bombing of the Chinese embassy, Chinese could have seen the bigger picture. This is war now, and this is always going to be war no matter how the reasons for engaging in it will be dressed up in Cairo declarations and UN resolutions.

January 23, 2005 @ 4:54 am | Comment

“What’s the point of being disturbed by a photo of a baby surrounded by devastation 60 years after the fact?”

It serves as a historical record of what’s going on during the Japanese invasion of China. I know exactly the background of the photo.
If you have Tivo or MS Media Center, try to search for “the Horror in the East” in History Channel. The same titled book may explain it as well, but I haven’t read it.

January 23, 2005 @ 5:21 am | Comment

“What’s the point of being disturbed by a photo of a baby surrounded by devastation 60 years after the fact?”

I thought you were asking for the purpose of the photo. I just reread your question, it is pretty heartless to ask why getting disturbed, don’t you think???

January 23, 2005 @ 5:27 am | Comment


My last post to you: CAN YOU READ?

Keir’s question is a rhetoric one, which is affirming the value of posting that photo!

You had high school outside US? (This is a question, not a rhetoric one!)

January 23, 2005 @ 5:58 am | Comment

“What’s the point of being disturbed by a photo of a baby surrounded by devastation 60 years after the fact? ”

A rhetoric to the sentences below??? Don’t make any sense.

“I wish such photos were available during the strikes against Belgrade; maybe instead of tearing their hair out over the bombing of the Chinese embassy, Chinese could have seen the bigger picture.”

January 23, 2005 @ 6:23 am | Comment

“It serves as a historical record of what’s going on during the Japanese invasion of China. I know exactly the background of the photo.
If you have Tivo or MS Media Center, try to search for “the Horror in the East” in History Channel. The same titled book may explain it as well, but I haven’t read it.”

I just find out more about “Horror in the East” from the below BBC site.

January 23, 2005 @ 7:29 am | Comment

Bellevue, replacing the photo with a link would totally dilute its effect. I put it there precisely for its shock value, which forces people to think, whether they want to or not.

January 23, 2005 @ 8:58 am | Comment

So what is the context of the photo? By itself, it says only that human life is fragile. Is this an Iraqi policeman or soldier killed by the so-called Iraqi resistance? Or was he merely a shia trying to attend mosque? A christian killed outside church? Or, was he a terrorist blown up by his own bomb? George Bush did this? Well, he did uncork the bottle that let the genie out. But that genie was alive and well long before Bush decided that, intelligence be damned, he was going to invade Iraq. Life would have been a lot simpler if Saddam had merely been left alone to wreak this kind of work in his prisons and out of the way Kurdish and Shia villages. Again. Without the context, I have no idea if the person who used to inhabit these remains should be honored, mourned, or swept into the garbage bin.

January 23, 2005 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

Lirelou, if you go to where i got the picture, you’ll see there was no source. Whoever it was, good or bad, it’s a reminder of how brutal our adventure is, like all the pictures. I don’t necessarily feel sorrow or pity or joy when I see it — mainly a sickening sense that this wasn’t the war we were sold back in January 2003. (Hence the title, Flowers and Chocolates.)

January 23, 2005 @ 5:05 pm | Comment

I’m with bellevue on this one. I am already soundly against the war in Iraq. I don’t need to see something like that to tell me war is hell. I am educated and already get the message. I never went on the internet and searched out the beheading videos for the same reason. I don’t need to see the act to get the brutality and to be apalled by it. But some people, myself included, can’t get rid of some images once they’ve been planted into their head.

Richard, for the most part you are already preaching to the choir, or at least your preaching to my choir. Next time a warning or a link please. That’s just plain gross.

I don’t come on to your site to be shocked. I just watch election returns for that!

January 23, 2005 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

Well, sorry Cathy. I won’t do it again anytime soon, but I feel there’s a time and a place for vivid reminders of what we’re bringing the world in the name of freedom.

January 23, 2005 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

I’m with Richard 100 percent on this one.

It is very important that the world gets to see photos like this, just as it was also very important that we all got to see the torture photos that came out of Abu Ghraib, etc.
The overwhelming majority of television and newspaper reports produced by “embedded” correspondents in this Iraqi conflict give as only a highly sanitised picture of war.

In fact, researchers from Britain have a published a paper on this very issue: they have found that although the reporters who accompany the British and US military are able to be objective, they avoid images that would be too graphic or violent for British television. Some of the coverage, they said, resembled a “war film”.

Last November 6th, a senior BBC news executive made a controversial case for desanitising the presentation of war on British television. In a speech to a conference of broadcasters in Budapest, Mark Damazer, deputy director of BBC News, argued, quite rightly as far as I am concerned, that the current position is a “disservice to democracy”.

He told The Guardian that: “For reasons that are laudable and honourable, we have got to a situation where our coverage has become sanitised. We are running the risk of double standards, and it is not a service to democracy.”

British television viewers have not seen images of dead or injured British soldiers since the Falklands war, he said. “The culture has become more and not less sanitised over the years. We have a problem, and we need to start a debate about this.”

Although British broadcasters were not guilty of the overt pro-war bias of their US counterparts, they tended to assume the truth of what they had been told. In 9 out of 10 references to weapons of mass destruction during the war, there was an assumption that Iraq possessed them.

Broadcasters were twice as likely to show Iraqi enthusiasm for the coalition forces as suspicion or hostility.

Mr Damazer said the BBC report exposed the poor quality of official briefings. “The quality was too low for what we should expect in a pluralist democracy,” he said.
I guess the corporate media, which is more bipartisan now than ever, is certainly now far more censored as well.

Enormous government pressure and flak from other sources today cause the media to provide grisly photos of enemy victims only with the greatest of caution, and very infrequently at that. Capital intensive warfare in itself makes for distancing the public from the slaughter of the “other”. This is helpful in “normalizing” the unspeakable and unthinkable.

Then of course there is also a special vocabulary used by the politicians in Washington, their military and the media, developed to help render the unthinkable palatable: “incidents,” “vulnerability indexes,” “weapons impacts,” and “resource availability? and of course, our old friend from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, “collateral damage”. In George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” he describes the centrality of language in framing and informing debate. He was particularly critical of the use of euphemisms and the passive voice, so today we have, as I just said, “collateral damage,” “free trade,” and “level playing fields,” and such constructions as “towns were bombed,” “economically viable strike packages” and then of course we also have the personification of America’s weapons, as if they had minds all of their own, like these so-called “smart bombs”. You can compare the rhetoric surrounding the war on terrorism with the kind of language Orwell criticised.

Doing terrible things in an organised and systematic way rests on “normalisation.” This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as “the way things are done.” There is usually a division of labor in doing and rationalising the unthinkable, with the direct brutalising and killing done by one set of individuals; others keeping the machinery of death (sanitation, food supply) in order; still others producing the implements of killing, or working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns, shells that use depleted uranium). It is the function of defense intellectuals and other “experts” and the mainstream corporate media, to normalise the unthinkable for the general public. They banalise death, they work to make death and suffering a banality. And they even turn the act of killing itself into banality. In her well-known work on the Eichmann trial, Hannah Arendt spoke of the “banality of evil”. Well, I am now speaking of the “banality of murder”! Television reports these days show us images of war that look increasingly like those you see on a computer games screen.

Congratulations Richard! You are providing us all with a very good service by showing us this very real, more ugly and disturbing side of war. I only wish that the mainstream media would follow your lead.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

We see eye to eye on this one, Mark. It’s not just Washington that employs Orwellian language, although they have elevated it to a fine art. I always smile (though it’s not a happy smile) when I’m reminded that the Chinese Politburo still blandly refers to the shootings around Tiananmen Square as “an incident.”

My current favorite Bush expression is “reform.” As soon as he says it, in just about every context, you know he’s talking about a plan to enrich the ruling classes obscenely and fuck the workers. And the workers eat it up, because it’s reform, and it’s well packaged with quaint phrases like “ownership society.”

January 23, 2005 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

Yes! As “incident”, for the CCP, is indeed a euphemism for massacre, and for America’s wealthy oligarchy, “reform” is a euphemism for “plunder”.

Richard, with all of your talk about the current oligarchy’s quest to yet further their share of America’s wealth by stepping up their plunder from the “working classes” – well, you are starting to sound very much like a real Marxist.

So many people today try deny the very existence of the class war. It is real, not mythologised – as you quite clearly recognise.

Keep up the struggle Comrade!

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

I hope you understand I have respect for the economic theories of Karl Marx. But I also know it’s a very dangerous thing to refer to yourself as a Marxist, at least in America, as you will instantly be marginalized and ignored by those who will equate you with Castro and Lenin. To the American mind, Marxism equals Communism equals a very, very bad thing.

January 23, 2005 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

I do appreciate the fact that to identify yourself as a Marxist is not a wise thing to do in America, as it will, as you say, very likely lead to your marginalisation.

In Europe, Britain and Australia though, there is no such stigma. When I lived and taught in London for example, back in 1994 and 1995, roughly one third of the entire teaching staff regarded themselves as Marxists, and many of them were even members of Trotskyist and Leninist revolutionary vanguard parties! They were in fact rivals each week when it came time to sell their political papers. I used to buy them all, as an act of diplomacy!

In France and Spain, this same kind of militantism is even stronger!

In academia, Marxism (though not of the Leninist or Trotskyist revolutionary variety) actually dominates – even in the United States – though you probably do not realise that. In fact, some of the world’s most highly respected academics today are American Marxists, of the Frankfurt School variety. People like Frederic Jameson for example, and David Harvey, and Marshall Burman.

I too, am a Marxist of the Frankfurt variety, which is why I relate so much to George Orwell. I am very much influenced by the ideas and insights of Gramsci, Adorno, Marcuse, Jameson and Burman. Even Adorno and Marcuse lived and in America after the war, and it was while living in America that they wrote their most famous and important works.

I am also quite influenced by Sarte’s Marxist existentialism, which of course, in many respects, mirrors the ideas of philosophical Buddhism.

Some of these thinkers, incidentally, particularly Adorno and Jameson, have written quite a bit about Wagner!

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

I have read Adorno on Wagner; he actually launched a whole school of thought on the old composer. Jameson I am not familiar with.

Marxism may be legitimate in the places you name, I honestly don’t know. (I only know people there are a lot more tolerant of it than we Americans.) But tell me, do you think it’s possible for a Marxist to win a popular election in these places, running on a Marxist platfofrm? The question is not at all facetious, but totally serious. Marxism may be considered legitimate, but I haven’t heard of a newly elected Marxist leader in many years (but then, my sources are the corporate-owned American media). Are they well enough regarded that they could actually win?

January 23, 2005 @ 8:12 pm | Comment

Sorry – just one more quick thing Richard. I know, having read some of your very early entries on this website, that you live and breathe Wagner, that you adore his music with a real passion.

You might be interested in reading Thordore Adorno’s classic study: In Search of Wagner.

Richard Wagner’s works, as you no doubt already know Richard, are among the most controversial in the history of European music – largely because of their powerful aesthetic qualities and, in wider political terms, because of their inherent anti-Semitism and eventual assimilation into the official culture of the Third Reich.

Theodore Adorno’s concise synoptic account interweaves these artistic and ideological qualities. It provides musicological analyses of Wagner’s scores and of his compositional techniques, orchestration and staging methods, quoting copiously from the music dramas themselves. At the same time it offers incisive reflections on Wagner’s social character and the ideological impulses of his artistic activity. It is perhaps one of the most important and most widely discussed books on Wagner – and yes, it was written by a Marxist.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 8:15 pm | Comment

Our last two comments cross-posted. I have read the book more than once and know all about it and about Adorno. He makes some good points, but much of his information about Wagner’s assimilation by the Nazis has been disproven, though certainly there’s a lot of value to the book. As I said, he led a whole contingent of Wagner biographers, namely Robert Gutman and Barry Millington — these Wagner-as-Nazi books became a whole cottage industry in the 1970s. I own several, but now I take their theories with a large grain of sea salt. Anyway, that’s way off-topic.

January 23, 2005 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

Good question! Marxists revolutionary vanguard parties like the Socialist Workers party in Britain, of like the Democratic Socialist Party in Australia, do not see themselves as being mainstream parties – they do not wish to participate in the parliamentary system. In this sense, they remain quite marginalised. They see their main task as one of providing an alternative critque to the mainstream media, and in helping to build up mass movements – like envirnonmental movements, women’s liberation movements, anti-war movements, etc.

They thus, in my opinion, perform a valuable public service, especially now, in a world where the mainstream media is becoming increasingly bipartisan.

I am not a member of any such party though, because I do not share in their enthusiasm for Lenin or Trotsky – both of whom distorted the ideas of Marx in order to suit their own political agenda of revolution.

I agree with Marx – that capitalism is historically progressive, and that socialism (genuine socialism) can only develop once the world has been fully globalised by capital. Socialism will most likely develop gradually, just as the transition from feudalism to capitalism took place.

Of course, their were some bourgeois revolutions along the way – like the English Civil Wr and of course, the French Revolution. But these were brought about by reactionaries – by those who were resisting the new capitalist classes – by the traditional landed aristocracies and monarchies.

When I say I am a Marxist, I do not wish to imply that I am a revolutionary Leninist or Trotskyist. Most other Marxists, in Europe and Britain and Australia, are Marxists in the same way that I am. They use Marxist insights and systems of thought in order to help them to analyse and to understand the worlds in which we are living in.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

Yes, I too am aware of the criticisms that have been made of Adorno’s Wagnerian views, and of course, I do not always agree with everything Adorna had to say myself.

The point that I was trying to make though, was that even in America, you will find very influential thinkers who are Marxists. And Adorno was certainly very influential – his works, though written in America, are certainly more widely read and discussed in European academic circles than they are in America though.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

Good points, Mark. I went to school with a fair amount of Marxists, and they were all either mainstream communists or revolutionary socialists. They were all from the very class they claimed to hate, and not a one believed that any opinion from outside their small cliques mattered.

January 23, 2005 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

Dear Richard – you said earlier that the “Wagner’s assimilation by the Nazis has been disproven” – but I’m afraid i must disagree with you on this point, as minor as it may be.

There is, in fact, little debate about this at all. It is generally accepted as historical fact. What is under debate though, is whether or not Wagner’s works are inherently anti-Semitic. This controversy has yet to be proven or disproven. The debate continues to rage!

You might be interested to know, too, that Wagner’s great gandson even considers the compositions of Wagner to be inherently anti-Semitic: “As a listener, I consider Tristan und Isolde a masterpiece of 19th century music, but I am at the same time repelled by Wagner’s Weltanschauung. I cannot just sit and enjoy his music. I never put on Wagner’s music in my home… Richard Wagner’s antisemitic writings will always overshadow my life.” So says Gottfried Wagner, the composer’s great-grandson, who visited Israel on a lecture tour last year. “I cannot separate the operas from his theoretical work. His writings and his music form a unified whole… He always considered himself a philosopher first, and a composer only second,” says Gottfried Wagner, who has been disowned by his family and lives under threat from neo-Nazi groups.

Of course, the controversy has yet to be proven or disproven, and personally, I remain to be convinced either way.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

Dear lirelou,

Yes, the vast majority of Marxists today are in fact a part of the middle class intelligensia. They are to be found predominantly in the world’s universities.

But this does not in any way invalidate their ponits of view, it doesn’t detract in any way from the strength of their ideas or analysis.

There are still plenty of Marxist “revolutionaries” of the Trotskyist and Leninist moulds out there though, to be found in trade unions, and in the work place in general. Though they have become, over the years, increasingly marginalised – especially because of the shrinking of the working class, in the old traditional sense. The working classes today are far more fractured, with large proportions increasingly being employed as part-time or casual staff. The power of working class trade unions has thus been decreasing.

But in academia, Marxism has never been healthier – in that Marxist thinkers dominate debates in just about every area – a real testimony to the strength and quality of Marxian analysis.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

The Wagner issues I won’t discuss here, as they will be too arcane and meaningless to the majority of the visitors. Let me just say that my entire life, since the age of 15, has been dedicated to the study of Wagner. I ate lunch with Gottfried Wagner, whom you cite, when I was 16 years old in Germany, a moment I’ll never forget. As a Jew and as a person practically obsessed with the horrors of Nazism, I look on my idol with a measure of revulsion. But for many complex reasons, Wagner’s association with the Nazis has been politicized and distorted, and hard analysis exposes some fundamental flaws in the old arguments. The bottom line is that Hitler adored Wagner and co-opted him, making him the poster boy for Nationali Socialism — as a composer, never as an anti-semite or a political philosopher. There is not a single word ever uttered or written by Hitler to indicate he was ever familiar with Wagner’s racism; only his music. Wagner was in many ways a monster, but the descriptions of him as a proto-Nazi simply don’t bear fruit under the lens of serious study, and this train of thought has been almost totally rejected by modern academia. In this sense, Adorno payed Wagner a disservice, though there are certainly enough insights to make his book worthwhile.

Well, I said I woundn’t discuss it, and it now appears I did just that. On that note, I’m going to bed early. We can continue the great debate later.

January 23, 2005 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

Have you ever read Bryan Magee’s book, In Wagner and Philosophy – Magee is a highly respected professor of philosophy in Britain, and although he is not a Marxist as such, he cites Marx as being one of the world’s most important thinkers – somebody who he says “changes one’s outlook permanently if one reads him.”

As I said though, Magee’s study of Wagner is well worth a read. “The repellent nature of Wagner’s anti-semitism”, says Magee, “is not a licence to misrepresent it.” Much of the discussion of Wagner’s politics is “anachronistic”, according to Magee, because it reads back into Wagner’s life interpretations that may hold in our time but did not hold in his. Living as we do in the shadow of the Holocaust, most of us find anti-semitism repugnant. In Wagner’s time, however, it was unexceptional. Many leading prewar artists, from Dostoevsky to TS Eliot, were deeply anti-semitic. Certainly, Wagner’s anti-semitism was more virulent than most but, as Magee shows in his book, there is no reason to consider him a proto-fascist.

Nor should we allow Wagner’s politics to cloud our judgement of his music. A work of art cannot be entirely removed from the social circumstances that produced it, for sure, but nor can it be judged by the same criteria as we might bring to bear upon a work of philosophy or of politics. As the great Jewish conductor Sir Georg Solti has said of Wagner, “Anyone who can produce such beauty, whether he be Jewish, anti-semite, revolutionary, liberal or royalist, is first and foremost a musical genius and will remain so as long as our civilisation lasts.”

Far from being a reactionary, Magee actually argues that the young Wagner was a utopian socialist. He was deeply influenced by the young Hegelians – the group of radical thinkers out of whose number Karl Marx emerged – and in particular by Ludwig Feuerbach.

Many of the themes central to Wagner’s operas – the hostility to Christianity, the view of religion as a myth that nevertheless tells important truths about ourselves, and the exaltation of love as a means of redemption – were distilled from Feuerbach’s thought.

As Magee notes Richard, in 1849, Wagner was forced into exile after taking part in an abortive revolution. In the decade that followed Wagner’s whole approach to politics, art and life transformed. Magee argues persuasively that it was not that Wagner became a rightwing reactionary, as many claim, but that he became disillusioned with politics altogether. Concluding that the world could not be changed politically, Wagner looked to art as the means of both personal and national salvation.

Wagner’s transformation was sealed by his discovery of Arthur Schopenhauer’s work. There have been few philosophers more misanthropic than Schopenhauer. He viewed existence as a miserable business upon which one should turn one’s back and refused to be involved. Sexual love and the arts, above all the art of music, Schopenhauer claimed, were the most valuable of human activities.

Wagner had already written the libretto for the Ring cycle by the early 1850s. Discovering Schopenhauer, however, made him reinterpret his own texts. As Wagner himself put it, only after reading Schopenhauer did he truly understand the characters he had created in the Ring.

Magee explores the impact of Schopenhauer on both Wagner’s politics and his music, particularly through detailed analyses of Tristan and Isolde and Parsifal. It’s a book that I highly recommend you read Richard, if you have yet to do so.

Anyhow, I agree that this thread isn’t really the appropriate place to be discussing Wagner. We seem to have greatly diverged from the original discussion about the importance of exposing us to the horrors of what is happening in Iraq.

Still, let me just say this: as I said earlier, I am a fence-sitter on whether or not Wagner’s works are inherently anti-Semitic. I remain to be fully convinced either way. But I certainly think that Wagner can be enjoyed and appreciated on an aesthetic level, regardless of whether or not anti-Semitic themes run through any of his works or not.

I am no great expert on Wagner, at any rate. I very much enjoy listening to classical music, and I certainly prefer Wagner’s works from those of most other classical composers, but I am more into modern avant-garde jazz. My Miles Davis CD, “Kind of Blue”, is an essential, indeed, an indispensable part of my live.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 23, 2005 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

I never went on the internet and searched out the beheading videos for the same reason.

Neither did I. It’s more than common that I got those video files in e-mail – someone thought they were sending a fun family video – I never opened it and trashed the mail asap.

But Richard also had a valid point here. What he is doing has nothing in common with those happy Chinese e-mailers. Richard, you made it. No one can ignore it now.

To Mark:

I’m glad to read your post and find out that you didn’t ignore the big picture which surely includes Beijing. Some of our friends are completely consumed by the anger towards White House. They are absolutely right to think so, but missing out Beijing is missing a very imporant piece of the globalized puzzle. And I’m delighted that you won’t let another sympton of the same desease get away simply because it has a fancy name. Keep on

January 24, 2005 @ 3:05 am | Comment

Thank you Bellevue.

I have always been aware, and have acknowledged several times already on this website, the darker side of the CCP. My overall argument, however, is that the CCP, for all of its undenialble past and present evils and faults, is nevertheless generally steering China in the right direction. I say “generally”, because this is not always the case. I am a cautious optimist when it comes to China’s future. I have always maintained that, and I still do. Refer to the debate that Richard, Patrick and I had on this issue in the November 14 archives, in response to the address given by John Pomfret on China’s future. Pomfret is a cautious pessimist.

At any rate, gunning down students in Tiananmen Square (which happened over ten years ago now – and China, and the CCP, has changed a little since then) was certainly an act of terrorism.

Likewise, the wanton killing of Iraqi civilians through such bombing campaigns as “shock and awe” is also terrorism – not, as our leaders would claim, a war “against” terrorism!

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 25, 2005 @ 12:58 am | Comment

I strongly support Richard’s decision to post the photo.

If you are shocked by it, maybe you should register your indignation with the White House, not Richard.

I will also note that it is no more gruesome than images routinely shown in the Chinese news media (print and television).

January 25, 2005 @ 3:51 am | Comment

Revealing comments. When you spend your time bashing everything America does, it’s quite easy to end in Marx arms.
Congratulations, Richard. I thought American Left was a very different thing.

Next step? Pol Pot reassessment? After all he wasn’t as bad as GWB…

January 25, 2005 @ 4:03 am | Comment

“Reading this article by Rick Perlstein, reporting on Bush’s inauguration, only makes me even more convinced that the world now depends on the current Iraqi resistance to score a significant political victory over the Bush regime.”

Your marxist friends, Richard…


January 25, 2005 @ 4:20 am | Comment

Dear j.j.,

Pol Pot may not have been as bad as GWB, but Ronald Reagan’s administration did in fact provide Pol Pot with financial and diplomatic support right up until the time of Pol Pot’s death.

Not only this, but US policy is what led to the rise of Pol Pot in the first place. Declassified United States government documents leave little doubt that the secret and illegal bombing of then neutral Cambodia by President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger between 1969 and 1973 caused such widespread death and devastation that it was critical in Pol Pot’s drive for power. “They are using damage caused by B52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda,” the CIA director of operations reported on 2 May 1973. “This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of young men. Residents say the propaganda campaign has been effective with refugees in areas that have been subject to B52 strikes.” In dropping the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on a peasant society, Nixon and Kissinger killed an estimated half a million people. Year Zero began, in effect, with them; the bombing was a catalyst for the rise of a small sectarian group, the Khmer Rouge, whose combination of Maoism and medievalism had no popular base.

After two and a half years in power, the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by the Vietnamese on Christmas Day, 1978. In the months and years that followed, the US and China and their allies, notably the Thatcher government, backed Pol Pot in exile in Thailand. He was the enemy of their enemy: Vietnam, whose liberation of Cambodia could never be recognised because it had come from the wrong side of the Cold War. For the Americans, now backing Beijing against Moscow, as I mentioned in my earlier commentary above, there was also a score to be settled for their humiliation on the rooftops of Saigon.

To this end, the United Nations was abused by the powerful. Although the Khmer Rouge government (“Democratic Kampuchea”) had ceased to exist in January 1979, its representatives were allowed to continue occupying Cambodia’s seat at the UN; indeed, the US, China and Britain insisted on it.

Meanwhile, a Security Council embargo on Cambodia compounded the suffering of a traumatised nation, while the Khmer Rouge in exile got almost everything it wanted. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said: “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot.” The US, he added, “winked publicly” as China sent arms to the Khmer Rouge.

In fact, the US had been secretly funding Pol Pot in exile since January 1980. The extent of this support – $85 million from 1980 to 1986 – was revealed in correspondence to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On the Thai border with Cambodia, the CIA and other intelligence agencies set up the Kampuchea Emergency Group, which ensured that humanitarian aid went to Khmer Rouge enclaves in the refugee camps and across the border. Two American aid workers, Linda Mason and Roger Brown, later wrote: “The US government insisted that the Khmer Rouge be fed . . . the US preferred that the Khmer Rouge operation benefit from the credibility of an internationally known relief operation.” Under American pressure, the World Food Programme handed over $12 million in food to the Thai army to pass on to the Khmer Rouge; “20,000 to 40,000 Pol Pot guerillas benefited,” wrote Richard Holbrooke, the then US assistant secretary of state. The Australian journalist, John Pilger, even witnessed this. Travelling with a UN convoy of 40 trucks, he was driven to a Khmer Rouge operations base at Phnom Chat. The base commander was the infamous Nam Phann, known to relief workers as “The Butcher” and Pol Pot’s Himmler. After the supplies had been unloaded, literally at his feet, he said, according to Pilger: “Thank you very much, and we wish for more.”

In November of that year, 1980, direct contact was made between the White House and the Khmer Rouge when Dr Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the CIA, made a secret visit to a Khmer Rouge operational headquarters. Cline was then a foreign policy adviser on President-elect Reagan’s transitional team. By 1981, a number of governments had become decidedly uneasy about the charade of the UN’s continuing recognition of the defunct Pol Pot regime. Something had to be done. The following year, the US and China invented the Coalition of the Democratic Government of Kampuchea, which was neither a coalition nor democratic, nor a government, nor in Kampuchea (Cambodia). It was what the CIA calls “a master illusion”. Prince Norodom Sihanouk was appointed its head; otherwise little changed.

The two “non-communist” members, the Sihanoukists, led by the Prince’s son, Norodom Ranariddh, and the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, were dominated, diplomatically and militarily, by the Khmer Rouge. One of Pol Pot’s closet cronies, Thaoun Prasith, ran the office at the UN in New York. In Bangkok, the Americans provided the “coalition” with battle plans, uniforms, money and satellite intelligence; arms came direct from China and from the west, via Singapore. The non-communist fig leaf allowed Congress – spurred on by a cold-war zealot Stephen Solarz, a powerful committee chairman – to approve $24 million in aid to the “resistance”.

Until 1989, the British role in Cambodia remained secret. The first reports appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, written by Simon O’Dwyer-Russell, a diplomatic and defence correspondent with close professional and family contacts with the SAS. He revealed that the SAS was training the Pol Pot-led force. Soon afterwards, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the British training for the “non-communist” members of the “coalition” had been going on “at secret bases in Thailand for more than four years”. The instructors were from the SAS, “all serving military personnel, all veterans of the Falklands conflict, led by a captain”.

The Cambodian training became an exclusively British operation after the “Irangate” arms-for-hostages scandal broke in Washington in 1986. “If Congress had found out that Americans were mixed up in clandestine training in Indo-China, let alone with Pol Pot,” a Ministry of Defence source told O’Dwyer-Russell, “the balloon would have gone right up. It was one of those classic Thatcher-Reagan arrangements.” Moreover, Margaret Thatcher had let slip, to the consternation of the Foreign Office, that “the more reasonable ones in the Khmer Rouge will have to play some part in a future government”.

Just though you might appreciate a bit of a history lesson j.j.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 25, 2005 @ 4:24 am | Comment

Yes, you’re right.
I think you can go a little further: Communism was a US invention to pursue its imperialistic goals.

Oh, my God…

January 25, 2005 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Dear j.j,

Are you an American? If so, then you might also be interested, and outraged to know, that, as a taxpayer, you were helping to finance the salaries of every single Taliban government official right up until as recently as 1999.

To suggest that “Communism was a US invention” is way too simplistic though. There is no such thing as a communist country, and there never has been – and there never will be. It was only ever touted, or envisaged, as a utopian ideal by Marx.

The US, along with Britain, Australia, and other Western European countries, did of course exploit the Soviet Union’s claim to be “communist” – it served a purpose, in the same way that the present so-called “war on terrorism” does, which has been invented to replace the “threat” of what Reagan once called “the evil empire”.

Whenever the US wanted to politically and or militarily intervene in the affairs of other sovereign nations in order to prevent the successful emergence of independent nationalist movements, they were always able to justify their behaviour with the use of Cold War rhetoric. Now, they simply do this in the name of making the world “safe” from “dark evil forces” connected with terrorism.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 25, 2005 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

So the Bush regime in Washington is now asking for an additional 80 billion dollars to fund its military operations this year, and now wants to keep 120,000 troops in Iraq for the next two years.

Administration officials said this new request for funding from Congress would be on top of the $25 billion in emergency spending already approved for this year.

This pushes the total bill for both conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq) to almost $US300 billion so far! The bill for Iraq alone is almost $105 billion for this fiscal year alone, shattering initial estimates.

It is more than 13 times larger than President George Bush’s budget for the Environmental Protection Agency and nearly as big as the state of California’s annual budget.

The extra $80billion the Bush Administration wants for Iraq and Afghanistan is more than:

3.7 times the GDP of Iraq

17 times the GDP of Afghanistan

120 times what the Bush Administration has asked for in aid for tsunami victims.

And meanwhile, I have read, public libraries in some American cities are right now being forced to close down due to a lack of government funding – all three public libraries (or is it four?) in John Steinbeck’s home town even, are set to close.

Mark Anthony Jones

January 25, 2005 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

It’s the old guns or butter argument. Guns always win, I’m afraid. Always.

January 25, 2005 @ 9:55 pm | Comment

MAJ, you forget disonaurs’ extinction.
If you read in your marxist books you can surely find some American responsibility.

Your marxist friends, Richard.

Enjoy again.

January 26, 2005 @ 8:28 am | Comment

j.j., I am no Marxist and if you know this blog you will know Mark and I see many things very differently. There are all kinds of commenters here: communists, Marxists, liberals, libertarians, Bush-lovers and Bush-haters. They’re all welcome. We even get people like you, who write nasty, stupid comments grounded in ignorance and based on a fundamental lack of critical thinking.

January 26, 2005 @ 8:40 am | Comment

Thank you for your generosity, Richard.

The photo you published – in fact – is full of “critical thinking”.
To say that “insurgent victory” against “Bush regime” is the only hope fo the world and other extremist amenities – in fact – is a wonderful kind of “critical thinking”.

Enjoy that sort of critical thinking.

Perhaps it’s what your blog readers expect from you.

January 26, 2005 @ 9:15 am | Comment

J.J., here’s the proof that you’re an asshole: go look at the post I wrote a few weeks ago on whether moral people can support the insurgents. Go see what I say about it. Then come back and tell me what you think, if you have the balls.

January 26, 2005 @ 9:27 am | Comment

I read it, I agreed with you and I told you. I don’t need balls, only honesty.
And a little respect.
It’s not my business if you are proud to host in your blog the nonsenses of some terrorist supporter but I’d appreciate a lot if you allowed me to name them as nonsenses without insult me.
As you said 2000 words don’t make you right. I only use 10. They are more than enough in this case.

I think you can agree with me. On the contrary, enjoy your marxist friends.


January 26, 2005 @ 9:41 am | Comment

JJ, it’s you who adopted this sneering tone and attack mode. Go back up the thread and see who came out with two fists swinging, me or you. I treat nearly all my commenters with respect — provided they treat me with the same courtesy.

January 26, 2005 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

Dear j.j,

If you harbour so much hatred for people simply because they base their understanding of human societies on the analysis that what constitutes a particular mode of production (be it feudalism or capitalism or whatever) are its social relations of production and reproduction, then I suggest you seek professional treatment for your neurosis. I don’t mean to sound rude or insulting when I say this – it’s just that such blind hatred in fact does strike me as being very neurotic indeed.

I bet you don’t even know what Marxist theory is! I challenge you to explain it to me, and to explain what it is that you find so distasteful about it. And please don’t waste my time by trying to argue that Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin and Mao have anything to do with Marxism. I have already, on numerous occasions elsewhere on this website, explained that I do not support their views, or any of the regimes that developed as a result of their revolutionary programs. Their views have very little to do with Marxism.

To attack Richard for allowing me to express my views about the nature of the Iraqi occupation and on my attitude towards the nature of the Iraqi resistance, is in fact an attack on freedom of speech – something characteristic of fascism, be it of the Nazi kind, or of the Stalinist/Maoist kind.

If you disagree with my analysis, then fine. But rather than being lazy by simply trying to trivialise my views by dismissing me as a lone radical Marxist, perhaps you ought to instead challenge my actual views – and to do this you will need to take some time and energy into carrying out research, so that you can challenge my views empirically.

By empirically, j.j., I mean scientifically. What makes something scientific is whether or not it can be verified. In other words, it must be capable of being proved wrong.

If I said, for example, that God exists, then I am simply not being scientific at all, because there is no way that anybody can prove this to be wrong or right. My statement alone does not constitute scientific evidence to prove this statement to be correct. In other words, my statement is not empirically verifiable.

If you want to maintain any credibility as a commentator, if you want me and others to take you seriously, then you need to stop making comments that are, to be perfectly frank, rediculously naive and embarrassingly childish – and your poor use of sarcasm does you no favours either. You need to challenge my actual ideas, using empirically verifiable evidence to support your views. When you start doing this, then I might be able to start taking you a little more seriously.

As for your charge that I am a “terrorist”, well, I think you should read my comments on this website far more carefully. I have always maintained that it is morally wrong to fight fire with fire. Two wrongs never add up to be a right. I have argued very strongly that the ends never justify the means – and I have explained, through the use of sheer logic, why it is that I think like this.

Best regards j.j,
Mark Anthony Jones

January 26, 2005 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

Don’t expect him to respond, Mark. He gets off on emotional outbursts, not rational inquiry.

January 26, 2005 @ 6:54 pm | Comment

Dear j.j,

Just one more thing. If you turn to the British newspapers today, like The Guardian for example, you will read that the four British citizens who have just been released from the Guantanamo Bay interrogation centre, all of whom were released without charge after having spent about two years in denetention there, where they were regularly subjected to torture – you will read about how all of them have been psychologically traumatised, and how they now require extensive and careful counselling – and, quite rightly – at taxpayers’ expense. All of them will no doubt try to sue the US Government for compensation.

Likewise, if you turn to the pages of today’s Sydney Morning Herald, you will also read about the Australian citizen who has also just been released from Guantanamo Bay, after having spent three years there, where he too was subjected to regualr torture. I am going to quote from the article at length for you, because I want you to see fascism for what it is. I want you to be able to read this, so that you can stare fascism in the face:

Mamdouh Habib was the victim of atrocities fit for a concentration camp, including being tied to the ground while a prostitute menstruated on him, his lawyer said yesterday.

Interrogators at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay had also told the Sydney man they had killed his family and superimposed animal heads on photos of his wife and children, Steven Hopper said.

At an Australia Day forum in Sydney, Mr Hopper gave more details of atrocities allegedly endured by his client while held at the US base in Cuba.

The Federal Government said it was aware of similar allegations of torture made by former British detainees at Guantanamo Bay but it was the first time the Government had heard the claims involving Mr Habib.

Mr Habib is due back in Sydney within a fortnight after the US said it would release him without charge despite holding him for more than three years on suspicion he knew about the September 11 attacks and had trained with al-Qaeda.

Mr Hopper said yesterday: “The Americans used prostitutes as tools in their interrogations. They’d say to detainees ‘If you co-operate with us, we’ll let you at this woman for the night’. And if they wouldn’t agree they’d use them in other ways.”

He said detainees held at the base with Mr Habib reported that a prostitute was told to stand over him and menstruate on him.

“[We believe] one of the prostitutes stood over him naked while he was strapped to the floor and menstruated on him,” he said.

Mr Hopper said officials at the base also defaced photos of Mr Habib’s wife, Maha, and their four children.

“The Americans in their wisdom have taken the heads off the pictures, enlarged them and superimposed them with the heads of animals and then strung them up all over the walls of the interrogation room,” he said.

“As they sat there talking to Mamdouh asking him about his terrorist activities, they held up a picture of Maha and said, ‘It’s a shame we had to kill your family, it’s a shame you will never see these people again’.”

He said Mr Habib was also subjected to the same interrogation techniques used on prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“Make no doubt about it, Guantanamo Bay wasn’t a prisoner-of-war camp,” Mr Hopper said. “It was a facility designed to interrogate people. It was nothing more than a vulgar concentration camp and it has marked a new high in the rise of American fascism.”

Mr Habib was detained in Pakistan in late 2001 and sent to Egypt before being flown to Guantanamo Bay in 2002.

Mr Hopper also detailed abuses against Mr Habib while in Egypt, saying he was suspended from the ceiling with only an electrified barrel to stand on.

“He would stand and get a shock or hang painfully by his arms until he’d collapse,” he said.

He was blindfolded and locked in rooms that were flooded with water and charged with electricity, Mr Hopper said.

“On other occasions they used German shepherd guard dogs and [interrogators] told him they train dogs to sexually assault people,” the lawyer said.

“Mamdouh has said he wasn’t sexually assaulted by these dogs but really we don’t know.

“Who would admit to it, particularly an Arab Muslim male?”

The forum Mr Hopper spoke at focused on Australia’s political relationship with the US.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said last night that it was the first time the Government had heard the claims involving Mr Habib.

j.j. – do these sorts of means justify the ends? I ask you this in all seriousness. How will this man and his family ever recover from this sort of ordeal? And if this isn’t fascism – American fascism – then your definition of “fascism” is definitely very different from mine. How is this sort of treatment any different from the type of treamtent that Saddam Hussein’s men dished out? You will no doubt try to tell me that Saddam did worse, but where is your evidence for this? And if so, so what? It is fundamentally no different, and it is an atrocity, a crime against humanity, no less. And let us not forget, as I have also already pinted out, that the reagan administration gave Saddam 5 billion dollars worth of chemical and biological weapons materials, as well 60 Hughes helicopters, and various other types of military hardware – knowing that he was using these gifts against Kurdish villages.

And you have the audacity to try to label me as a terrorist!

This is not a war against terrorism jj. This is terrorism! Period.

Mark Anthony Jones

January 26, 2005 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

Sorry. No lesson of freedom-speech from a terrorist supporter.

Richard, you don’t have the balls to say that in your blog. Someone has to do it.

January 27, 2005 @ 8:19 am | Comment

I’m sorry I’ve bothered your interesting debates about how big evil is America and how big hope for the world are terrorists in Iraq. I’m sorry – above all – for my contribution (idiotic, of course) to this surreal discussion. Enjoy it. Clearly you can.

Thank you Richard.

January 27, 2005 @ 8:30 am | Comment

I don’t think I ever said America was evil, jj, bvut you seem to see things from a unique perspective. Just a suggestion: try to lose some of the anger and the bitterness. You may have some good points, but when they’re shrouded in self-righteous rage it doesn’t help your argument. Go back and look at just about every comment you’ve made here. They really stand out. Thanks for contributing.

January 27, 2005 @ 10:35 am | Comment

It isn’t rage. It’s indignation.
As your marxist guest’s contributions show, you can say terrible things in a very polite way.
The problem is when the others don’t realize it.

Thanks for the time.

January 27, 2005 @ 2:27 pm | Comment

And jj, I agreed with your main point here about Mark supporting the insurgents, but my reaction was to write a detailed description of why I thought his viewpoint is morally wrong. But I didn’t get belligerent; that diminishes a person’s credibility. Just curb the vitriol.

January 27, 2005 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

what happen to him

January 27, 2005 @ 6:10 pm | Comment

Dear j.j.,

If you actually read all of my comments carefully, you will realise that you are misrepresenting and distorting my views when you label me a “terorist-supporter”.

I think anyone who supports the US invasion and occupation, is, in reality, supporting terrorism. I have proven that already, and if you think that “shock and awe” bombing (which resulted in an estimated 10 to 50 thousand civilian deaths – if you think that isn’t terrorism, then you really do need to look carefully at the meaning of the word terrorism.

You conveniently ignore all of my points, all of my arguments – instead you try to dismiss me as a terrorist becasue I have argued that the world now depends upon the Iraqi resistance to inflict a political victory over the US occupation.

The problem with your position is twofold:

Firstly, you naively consider the Iraqi resistance to be homogeneous. It isn’t. You are very wrong to think so, and I have already provided evidence to demonstrate this. To put it briefly – the Iraqi resistance is made up of not only Islamic fighters – the ones who are resorting to terror (guerrilla warfare) tactics. It is also made up of women and children and secular liberals and a whole range of others, and much of the resistance to the US occupation has been peaceful. Some of the resistance is resorting to violence, yes, but this is only one part of the resistance. I pointed this out in my original polemic.

I also made it very clear in my original polemic that I DO NOT support the terror tactics used by a number of insurgent groups (and there are over 40 such groups). I made it very clear that I do not beleif that such means justify the ends. I made it clear that I do not believe that two wrongs ever add up to make a right, I have said that it is wrong to fight fire with fire.

Secondly, Richard, and I take it you too j.j., regard the on-going occupation as justified on the basis that now that the invasion and occupation has taken place, regardless of whether it was morally wrong or not, now that it has taken place, the occupying forces must now stay in an effort to ensure that a democracy of sorts emerges, and that the new power brokers in Iraq don’t turn out to be Islamic theocraticians.

The problem here is also twofold:

(a) the majority of Iraqis are Shi’a Muslims, and the US does not want to see them in power – because it fears that they will form aliances with Iran – the majority of whom are also Shia. So the US is desperate to remain in Iraq, so that it can thwart democracy.

(b) The Randian “the ends justifies the end” foundation upon which such a democratising program rests is morally indefensible! You cannot seriously argue that it is worth sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians (or even tens of thousands if you want to doubt the figures) in an effort to help the people of Iraq by introducing them to “democracy”. This is silly, outrageous, morally preposterous nonesense!

Some, maybe even many, among the Iraqi resistance are terrorists, in the real sense. Many are not. But the resistance exists because the occupation exists. The occupation itself is the main source of violence in Iraq. Nobody, surely, can try to deny that.

The so-called “war against terrorism” is itself terrorism! That is why the resistance needs to politically defeat the terrorists in Washington. Otherwise Iran may be next, and then Syria, and so on. How many more people, jj., would you like to see sacrificed for the glorious American cause? Answer me that.

I am no terrorist supporter j.j. You are.

Mark Anthony Jones

January 27, 2005 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

Roman Alsace-Lorraine
14/27 Gregory Terrace
Spring Hill
Brisbane City
I believe in the European Union’s ability
to destroy terrorisim!

February 2, 2005 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

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