Re: Fwd: [empirenotes] Bush, Iraq, and Demonstration Elections
- Ah, so he's a physics professor, not political science. He would've been an
interesting governor. But unfortunately, he had the curse of Greg: I voted for
him, and only once in my four years of voting have I voted for a candidate that
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
> Some background info about Professor Mahajan:
> I've read one of his articles on CommonDreams.org and was pretty
> impressed. See below.
> Report from Fallujah -- Destroying a Town in Order to Save it
> by Rahul Mahajan
> FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Fallujah is a bit like southern California. On the
> edge of Iraq's western desert, it is extremely arid but has been
> rendered into an agricultural area by extensive irrigation.
> Surrounded by dirt-poor villages, Fallujah is perhaps marginally
> better off. Much of the population is farmers. The town itself has
> wide streets and squat, sand-colored buildings.
> We were in Fallujah during the "ceasefire." This is what we saw and
> When the assault on Fallujah started, the power plant was bombed.
> Electricity is provided by generators and usually reserved for
> places with important functions. There are four hospitals currently
> running in Fallujah. This includes the one where we were, which was
> actually just a minor emergency clinic; another one of them is a car
> repair garage. Things were very frantic at the hopsital where we
> were, so we couldn't get too much translation. We depended for much
> of our information on Makki al-Nazzal, a lifelong Fallujah resident
> who works for the humanitarian NGO Intersos, and had been pressed
> into service as the manager of the clinic, since all doctors were
> busy, working around the clock with minimal sleep.
> A gentle, urbane man who spoke fluent English, Al-Nazzal was beside
> himself with fury at the Americans' actions (when I asked him if it
> was all right to use his full name, he said, "It's ok. It's all ok
> now. Let the bastards do what they want.") With the "ceasefire,"
> large-scale bombing was rare. With a halt in major bombing, the
> Americans were attacking with heavy artillery but primarily with
> Al-Nazzal told us about ambulances being hit by snipers, women and
> children being shot. Describing the horror that the siege of
> Fallujah had become, he said, "I have been a fool for 47 years. I
> used to believe in European and American civilization."
> I had heard these claims at third-hand before coming into Fallujah,
> but was skeptical. It's very difficult to find the real story here.
> But this I saw for myself. An ambulance with two neat, precise
> bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing down
> at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest
> (the snipers were on rooftops, and are trained to aim for the
> chest). Another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in
> the windshield. There's no way this was due to panicked spraying of
> fire. These were deliberate shots designed to kill the drivers.
> The ambulances go around with red, blue, or green lights flashing
> and sirens blaring; in the pitch-dark of blacked-out city streets
> there is no way they can be missed or mistaken for something else).
> An ambulance that some of our compatriots were going around in,
> trading on their whiteness to get the snipers to let them through to
> pick up the wounded was also shot at while we were there.
> During the course of the roughly four hours we were at that small
> clinic, we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a
> young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was seizing and
> foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not
> expect her to survive the night. Another likely terminal case was a
> young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with
> extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds
> that could have been from a cluster bomb; there was no way to verify
> in the madhouse scene of wailing relatives, shouts of "Allahu Akbar"
> (God is great), and anger at the Americans.
> Among the more laughable assertions of the Bush administration is
> that the mujaheddin are a small group of isolated "extremists"
> repudiated by the majority of Fallujah's population. Nothing could
> be further from the truth. Of course, the mujaheddin don't include
> women or very young children (we saw an 11-year-old boy with a
> Kalashnikov), old men, and are not necessarily even a majority of
> fighting-age men. But they are of the community and fully supported
> by it. Many of the wounded were brought in by the muj and they stood
> around openly conversing with doctors and others. They conferred
> together about logistical questions; not once did I see the muj
> threatening people with their ubiquitous Kalashnikovs.
> One of the muj was wearing an Iraqi police flak jacket; on
> questioning others who knew him, we learned that he was in fact a
> member of the Iraqi police.
> One of our translators, Rana al-Aiouby told me, "these are simple
> people." Without wanting to go along with the patronizing air of the
> remark, there is a strong element of truth to it. These are
> agricultural tribesmen with very strong religious beliefs. They are
> insular and don't easily trust strangers. We were safe because of
> the friends we had with us and because we came to help them. They
> are not so far different from the Pashtun of Afghanistan -- good
> friends and terrible enemies.
> The muj are of the people in the same way that the stone-throwing
> shabab in the first Palestinian intifada were and the term, which
> means "youth," is used for them as well. I spoke to a young man,
> Ali, who was among the wounded we transported to Baghdad. He said he
> was not a muj but, when asked his opinion of them, he smiled and
> stuck his thumb up. Any young man who is not one of the muj today
> may the next day wind his aqal around his face and pick up a
> Kalashnikov. After this, many will.
> Al-Nazzal told me that the people of Fallujah refused to resist the
> Americans just because Saddam told them to; indeed, the fighting for
> Fallujah last year was not particularly fierce. He said, "If Saddam
> said work, we would want to take off three days. But the Americans
> had to cast us as Saddam supporters. When he was captured, they said
> the resistance would die down, but even as it has increased, they
> still call us that."
> Nothing could have been easier than gaining the good-will of the
> people of Fallujah had the Americans not been so brutal in their
> dealings. Tribal peoples like these have been the most easily duped
> by imperialists for centuries now. But now a tipping point has been
> reached. To Americans, "Fallujah" may still mean four mercenaries
> killed, with their corpses then mutilated and abused; to
> Iraqis, "Fallujah" means the savage collective punishment for that
> attack, in which over 600 Iraqis have been killed, with an estimated
> 200 women and over 100 children (women do not fight among the muj,
> so all of these are noncombatants, as are many of the men killed).
> A Special Forces colonel in the Vietnam War said of the town, Ben
> Tre, "We had to destroy the town in order to save it, encapsulating
> the entire war in a single statement. The same is true in Iraq
> today -- Fallujah cannot be "saved" from its mujaheddin unless it is