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Al Jazeera: Control Room 10, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iraq, Qatar.
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I’m not entirely sure how this passed me by, but here’s an excellent 2004 documentary on Al Jazeera and the American handling of the media in the Iraq invasion. The documentary is very interesting and raises a few excellent points.

– On 8th April 2003 the Americans bombed Al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad and killed their lead journalist. They had had the coordinates for weeks. On the same day they bombed Abu Dhabi TV too.

– On 9th April the statue of Saddam was pulled down among the crowd in Firdos Square. Critical Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV were not there too see it.

– It reminds the viewer just how quickly and effectively Bush galvanised large chunks of ‘the Arab street’ behind Saddam. The theory being that even if, for example, the UK and France hated a belligerent Italy and their tyrannical leader, were they to be invaded by a vastly powerful, bellicose, arrogant, foreign power of a different culture and religion, the UK and French ‘street’ would nevertheless most likely be angry and resentful towards the invaders.

– Al Jazeera plays to Arab nationalism just as Fox, MSNBC or CNN often play to US patriotism/nationalism.

– It eloquently but harshly juxtaposes the differences that Westerners often feel when seeing bloodied and gory images of Iraqi civilians versus similar images of US soldiers.

Scraping the barrel of man’s humanity 30, September 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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The levels to which those who send out suicide bombers will go never ceases to amaze. The Times of London was one newspaper that covered the British Security Service MI5 and their worry that mentally ill people might be being ‘groomed’ as a new wave of terror attacks in the UK. Indeed, such a worry is more than founded in reality considering the utterly despicable example of a suicide bombing in February where two women believed to have Down’s syndrome were cajoled into delivering a bomb which killed almost 100 people.

Today, Deborah Haynes, The Times’ excellent correspondent in Iraq interviewed a young Iraqi girl who appears to have been drugged into acting as a suicide bomber. This video captures the pitiful sight of the girl after she refused to detonate the bomb and emphasizes the utterly, truly and profoundly bestial nature of the abhorrent people who drug, persuade and force people to commit such acts. To be honest, words simply fail to come remotely close to describing such pungently vile people who exemplify man’s unfailing ability to plumb the very depths of depravity.

The costs of war 11, March 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Middle East.
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The cost of war is usually discussed in terms of the costs in terms of human lives; of the soldiers and civilians. However, how much does the Iraq war cost in dollars and cents? The answer, it seems, is a scarcely believable number. 

Tom Engelhardt compares the true cost of the war with what the Bush administration thought that it was going to cost at the beginning. Their estimates, Engelhardt reports ranged from $60 billion up to $200 billion (though the economic adviser who came up with this huge figure was soon looking for a new job).  

Alas these figures are ‘some way’ out, in much the same way that Pluto is ‘some way’ away from the sun. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has calculated that the war will cost at minimum $3 trillion and most likely, factoring in future costs, up to $5-7 trillion. Tom then nicely points out that “Bush administration was at [very] least $2,940,000,000,000 off in its calculations.”

Another article which is quoted by Engelhardt is from William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. He comes up with some interesting figures and concludes that the war is costing some $3.5 billion per week. Yes, that was $3.5 billion, per week. He goes on to break the costs down to manageable chunks, but first gives it a sense of proportion.


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)*                    => $400 Million per year     => <1 day’s costs in Iraq

US spending on finding and securing loose nuclear weapons     =>  $1 Billion per year          => <2 day’s costs in Iraq

US spending on global warming                                                     => $7 Billion per year            => 2 week’s costs in Iraq 

(*This accounts for all the spending by the entire international community on the IAEA – the major international body whose job it is to regulate and keep a track on nuclear activity around the world.) 

Hartung then gives a few examples of the weekly material costs of the war.

$1.5 million for M-4 carbines (about 900 guns per week);
$2.3 million for machine guns (about 170 per week);
$4.3 million for Hellfire missiles (about 50 missiles per week);
$6.9 million for night vision devices (about 2,100 per week);
$10.8 million for fuel per week;
$5 million to store and transport that fuel per week;
$14.8 million for F-18E/F fighter planes per week (one every four weeks);
$23.4 million for ammunition per week;
$30.7 million for Bradley fighting vehicles (10 per week).