Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I read the news yesterday; it didn't improve my good humor

One of my secrets is that I don't read newspapers every day. Enough news flies by at various blogs and other sites that I frequent that I don't feel I miss much. But yesterday I delved into the New York Times; I probably shouldn't have. There were some scary items from the far reaches of empire.

The paper's editorial writers waxed lyrical about Iraqis voting on Sunday.

Iraq’s citizens once again showed tremendous courage and determination, defying bombs and a flawed pre-election process to cast their ballots.

Okay -- we know by now that the U.S. likes it when nations we impose ourselves on hold elections. And maybe the elections really are a good thing, though they always get reported as some kind of triumph for the U.S., less so for the electors..

But elsewhere in the paper, one Michael Slackman marvels to discover Region Unimpressed by Balloting in Iraq. Oh my, oh my ...

the mere act of voting was not seen as a step toward democracy. That perception, combined with Election Day violence, American occupation and Iranian influence, left few analysts and commentators in the Middle East declaring the elections a success and Iraq on the road to stability.

“Iraq is a failure and a big mess,” said Hussein al-Shobokshy, a columnist for the Saudi Arabian owned pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Alawsat.

Well what did you expect? When you invade a country amid a fog of lies, turn 20 percent of its people into refugees, kill some 300,000 to a million people, and set off a civil war, it really shouldn't be a surprise that neighbors don't think a little voting shows that everything is now hunky-dory. Get a grip, reporters!

Oh -- and I probably should add that the NYT gave oped space to someone with the unlikely name of Bartle Breese Bull to spin out cheerful but substance-free journalistic nostalgia from election sites. Bleech!

I can only conclude that we're being primed for an attack on Iran from reading this NYT offering: "For Iran, Enriching Uranium Only Gets Easier." Topped by a picture of Ahmadinejad playing the politician's role of "interested President inspecting a scientific facility which he doesn't comprehend," the article warns that, because of how the enrichment process works, Iran could make bomb-grade uranium with a lot less centrifuges that it now has making low grade uranium.

It is not until the second half of the article that we learn such important tidbits as these:

In the desert, at the Natanz complex, Iran presented atomic inspectors with evidence that it had succeeded in enriching some of its 4 percent uranium to 20 percent, the United Nations agency said in a Feb. 18 report. But American and European officials said the amounts were small so far.

Originally, Iran enriched its uranium to 4 percent with thousands of centrifuges in two cavernous underground halls roughly half the size of the Pentagon. The center of its new effort, according to the atomic agency, is a facility at Natanz known as the pilot plant, where Iran currently has 164 centrifuges spinning. Even with the aid of nonlinearity, that number is insufficient to enrich much uranium quickly.

In interviews and briefings, officials in Washington and diplomats in Europe said the pilot plant could make perhaps three kilograms, or about seven pounds, of 20 percent fuel per month. At that rate, they added, making enough to power the research reactor in Tehran would take five to seven years. But the reactor has only months to go before it could run out of fuel, they estimated. ...

Not much there, when you get into it. Hey -- haven't we been extras in this movie before, in 2002 and 2003?

Also notable in the ominous war drums category is an ad from Vote Vets currently turning up on progressive blogs. Ostensibly calling for energy security, it recycles discredited Pentagon claims that IEDs exploded in Iraq came across the border from Iran. As if Iraqis weren't capable of blowing up occupation troops and each other without a devilish sponsor. Good discussion of this war-mongering effort in this post.

While I'm surveying imperial battlegrounds, I shouldn't neglect the current shooting war. Seems the U.S. has successfully overcome immediate opposition in an Afghan place named Marja. But nobody quite knows what it is. Here's Joshua Foust who blogs regularly at All Central Asia, All the Time writing in the Times last week:

Unfortunately, Western leadership is undecided about the nature of the place itself. Depending on which official is speaking, Marja is either a teeming “population center” of 85,000 residents or an isolated farming town of about 50,000 or a district with about 125,000 people. But if Marja is a district, it is unrecognized by the Afghan Interior Ministry. And if Marja is a town, then it needs to hold a constitutionally mandated election to choose a mayor, and not face a governor forced upon it by Kabul.

Regardless of Marja’s status, the choice of new “district governor,” Haji Abdul Zahir, does not make sense. Mr. Zahir has lived in Germany for the last 15 years and had never set foot in Marja until two weeks ago.

This week, it came out that Zahir served prison time in his German exile for stabbing his stepson. Smooth choice for your war marketing campaign, guys.

Meanwhile, Afghan civilians die [1:54]:

No -- reading the news has not improved my mood.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

It never improves mine either. I am tired of the utter insanity in this country.

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