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More political links

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Not much commentary from me this time. Too sleepy.

The Guardian says:

US central command in Qatar today revealed it bombed an upmarket residential area of Baghdad yesterday where President Saddam and his aides were believed to be meeting.

At least three buildings were destroyed in the attack on the district of al-Mansour in western Baghdad, which blasted an18-metre-deep crater, ripped orange trees from their roots and left a heap of concrete, mangled iron rods and shredded furniture and clothes.

Rescue workers looking in the rubble for victims said two bodies had been recovered and the death toll could be as high as 14.

Residents standing around the rubble said shrapnel killed victims as far as 200 metres away.

The Globe and Mail describes Kurdish reaction to American and British tanks in Baghdad and the probably death of "Chemical Ali":

"The people of Kurdistan didn't want Ali Hasan al-Majid to be killed; they wanted him to be taken alive and taken to court. ... We are sad that he is dead," grocer Ghafor Rahim said.

"He was supposed to die from psychological torture," added Dilshad Ali, a primary-school teacher. "Or every day, we could come and carve off a piece of his flesh."

...Mr. Ahmed, the museum director and a survivor of the 1988 chemical attack [echoed,] "This was too quick a death."

The men stressed that they wish to see Mr. Hussein taken alive and tried. Mr. Jabbat said the leaders of the regime must be made to account for the victims of the anfal, the campaign of persecution against the Kurds in the 1980s. He noted that many of the names or burial places for the estimated 100,000 victims remain unknown today.

..."I'm proud of the American and British troops, but Kurds were supposed to be a part of it—it was our enemy," said Sakar Mohammed Salah....

The San José Mercury News reprints an AP article about the protest in Oakland Monday morning:

Police opened fire with wooden dowels, "sting balls" and other non-lethal weapons at anti-war protesters outside the Port of Oakland, injuring at least a dozen demonstrators and six longshoremen standing nearby.

...The dowels are supposed to be shot at the ground and richochet up to strike protestors, [Oakland Police Chief Richard] Word said, but some of those injured complained the officers took direct aim at them.

...Deputy Police Chief Patrick Haw [said,] "Police moved aggressively against crowds because some people threw rocks and big iron bolts at officers."

Okay: it's not okay for cops to injure protestors and bystanders. And yet: it's also not okay to throw rocks and big iron bolts at the police. Especially when you're engaging in an anti-war demonstration.

Meanwhile, in old news, it appears that political infighting among those organizations who organize rallies continued unabated, at least up through February. An organization calling themselves Authoritarian Opportunists Who Cozy Up To Genocidal Dictators—for Peace explains that they're opposed to war even though they're also opposed to the tactics of an anti-war group called A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). I suppose it's nice that various groups managed to set aside factionalism long enough to demonstrate, though. (But that was a year ago. I clearly wasn't paying much attention at the time.)

I was going to talk about body armor, but it's late and I'm exhausted. Another time.

6 Comments

[i] And yet: it's also not okay to throw rocks and big iron bolts at the police. [/i]

What makes you think this happened, other than taking the claim at face value?

[i] Especially when you're engaging in an anti-war demonstration. [/i]

Is pacifism the only proper stance for an anti-war demonstration?


"What makes you think this happened, other than taking the claim at face value?"

Fair question. Now, what makes you think police took direct actions against protestors, other than taking the claim at face value? (Or did you not bother to question that because it would have been redundant?)

"Is pacifism the only proper stance for an anti-war demonstration?"

Well, if it's a pro-peace demonstration, it's the only consistent stance. If it's a demonstration by those who philosophically favor war, but merely object to this one, then perhaps a violent stance would be consistent, too. (Also improper from my standpoint, and illegal, but never mind that just now.)

At any rate, when the claimed goals of the protestors are to use "nonviolent direct action" and "open, welcoming, inspiring actions that give voice to the anti-war majority as an assertion of real democracy," in order to create "socially just, directly democratic, ecological, peaceful alternatives," then, yes, this would seem to close off any non-pacifist options.

Then again, I take a dim view of all mass protests, even pacifist ones. so I can't say I have any affinity for the pro-protest positions here.


The main reasons I find the police claims suspect is that:

1. I've been following the story since yesterday morning and this is an innovation in the narrative. Previous statements by the police and the mayor's office didn't claim that the police were provoked.

2. Usually, the first set of police assigned to a demo do not come outfitted with nonlethal projectile weapons. Usually, police assigned to protest duty are a mix of standard issue and close-quarters riot issue (helmets, longer batons). Projectile weapons are usually held back, especially when the demonstrations are small (only 750 here).

3. Third party observers, including the dockworkers and the spokespeople from the firm that operates the docks, made no reference to violence among the protestors.

4. No protestors made the claim that someone on "their side" had started throwing rocks. Your little URL aside, most protests are usually of more than one mind about several issues and about tactical concerns. Thus we see people like Medea Benjamin helping the police against the black bloc at the Seattle protests in 1999, and United For Peace and Justice (liberal) trying to separate itself from ANSWER (far left) in the anti-war movement today. It isn't unusual at all for protests to self-police against violent acts and to name names to the media.

4. The firing happened very very early in the event, which is highly unusual.

5. The site of the event is a politically and economically sensitive port -- it security was one of the major worries of the federal, state, and local governments during last year's lockout.

6. First-hand accounts from several people of my acquaintance stated that the police started firing without provocation.

Incidentally, most people, when they acknowledge that a question is a fair one, answer it before turning it around.

You also seem to be excluding a very large middle between complete pacifism and merely objecting to this war. But since you take a dim view of mass protests regardless of the merits of the cause or tactics it hardly seems worth my time to explain the enormous number of consistent positions between the two.


"Incidentally, most people, when they acknowledge that a question is a fair one, answer it before turning it around."

What was there for me to answer? I never professed any beliefs about what did or didn't happen in this instance.


Hey, guys, please turn down the heat level of this argument or take it to email. (If I'm misinterpreting your tones and this is a perfectly calm discussion, that's fine, but I'd still ask that phrasing be kept a little less argumentative/combative in this comments area.)

I have some comments and further URLs, but they'll have to wait.


What was there for me to answer? I never professed any beliefs about what did or didn't happen in this instance.

Neither did I, until you asked. All I did was ask a pair of questions.

Of course, I don't see much point in teaching you how adults have reasonable conversations either and what your particular failures were (hint: sentences starting with 'Now' are generally read as belligerent demands; turning a question around on someone without tackling the question yourself in any way is generally considered rude), so I'm off this thread.