April 28th, 2004


Iraqis raising the white flag?

This is the new flag for Iraq, as chosen by the Iraqi National Congress, without the knowledge of or consultation with the Iraqi people. Many Iraqis are not happy.

The old flag is a symbol of Iraq to millions of Iraqis. It also bears the words "God is Great" across it in Arabic script, so it's also of spiritual significance to many.

To make matters worse, the new flag looks quite similar to another flag...

Really, if I didn't know better, I would think that the IGC , the CPA, and the Bush administration were trying their darnedest to infuriate Iraqis at times. Aren't there *any* decisions they are willing to leave for the future, when they might have some meaningful element of democratic legitimacy to them? The Iraqis are already suffering from a profound sense of culture shock... why add to the problem right now? It is simply counterproductive and unnecessary.

Want to change Iraq? Why don't you start with a working electricity grid, fresh running water, local policing, and the removal of garbage and raw sewage from the streets... and then work from there?


*UPDATE* More than 1000 student demonstrators in Mosul protest the new flag, call for Islamic unity. Given that Mosul is relatively peaceful compared to the rest of Iraq, this isn't the best of signs.

Meanwhile, it appears that the light blue stripes on the flag are being changed to dark blue in order to make it less like the flag of Israel.

Hm. Maybe they should declare that the Iraqi flag is currently in beta testing, and give it a spiffy new project name and revision number... The "Vigilant Freedom" flag, v. 0.92, or something like that. ;-)

Cry havoc.

Reuters has released video from the combat at Fallujah. It shows little, and yet it tells all -- arguably the most real footage from combat in Iraq is like that we've yet seen.

This Friday, NBC's Nightline will feature the faces and names of all U.S. servicemen who have died in combat in Iraq. The show's producers have apologized in advance that they won't be showing all of the US servicemen and contractors who have died in Iraq, though, as their show just isn't long enough.

The face of the occupation just got uglier.

Tonight, CBS' 60 Minutes Two aired allegations -- supported by numerous photographs and witnesses -- that document numerous cases of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners inside Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. (If you go to the site mentioned above, you'll find a link for "Free Video" at the top of the article which shows some of these pictures.)

Amongst the photographs were pictures of prisoners with wires attached to their genitals, prisoners stacked in a pyramid, prisoners forced to simulate oral sex on others, and prisoners who appear to have been beaten to death.

The New York Times is now covering this story. A total of 17 soldiers, including a brigadier general, have been removed from duty as a result, and Court-Martials are in the works for at least six soldiers. At least one of those charged blames the military for staffing the prison with reservists, not providing them with procedures for running the facility, and not educating them on the proper treatment of prisoners.

More bad and potentially inflammatory news at a bad time. The pictures are already circulating out there and other articles are already in the works, so it's a safe bet that the pictures will be broadcast on Arab television very shortly -- just like they were on CBS.

Damn that Al Jazeera, with its words and its photos and its newfangled moving pictures of things which allegedly happen! Why are they so obsessed with Iraq anyway? It just causes trouble. Why don't they show pictures of fresh paint drying in Iraqi schools instead?

An Iraqi prisoner who was told to stand on a box with his head covered and wires attached to his hands. According to witnesses, the prisoner was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.