This page collects pages on the situation in Iraq. Some of these entries are maybe also about the situation in the USA. I guess they’re related now, with the US invading the country. (RSS, Search)

2007-01-05 Killerspiele

BLAMM!! Recent highschool massacres in Germany have politicians fighting against “Killerspiele” – so-called “killer games”. Nobody really knows what this means, although most have the faint idea that it is about shooting and maltreating fellow humans as part of the game. At the same time, most people talking about this in the newspapers and on TV admit to never having played these games before.

I also note a distinct lack of enthusiasm to combat so many forms of real violence. It seems that we still have sex slavery (at least one shady brothel in the area advertises it’s sex workers like cattle: “New! Thai Women! New! Thai Women! New! Thai Women!” Now that should make a grown man cry.

The Germans still have troops in Afghanistan. There was a scandal recently because German soldiers have been posing with skulls of unknown origin on their vehicles – and – get this! – took pictures of themselves. First, I note the incredible stupidity of the soldiers, and their total lack of empathy. And second I note again how many fail to understand that training people to shoot and kill will result in changed men. They are no longer selling groceries, studying Japanology, or painting ceilings. They’re deep in enemy territory. War changes men. Even if you win, these soldiers will have to return one day and live amongst us. This is has been true for Vietnam and Korea veterans, and it is true for Iraq and Chechnia veterans, and it will be true for Afghan veterans as well.

Even if I’m not descending into this snake pit. There’s full contact martial arts, boxing, paint ball, sado-masochism – all of it I find deeply disturbing. Games were players shoot imaginary enemies are amongst the least of our problems.

(As I wrote the previous paragraph I imagined some misguided fellow trying to tell me that sado-masochism is different because we’re talking about two consenting adults. This is not my point. When talking about “killer games” on computers, the point is that there’s often just one adult consenting to play.)

(Or are we trying to protect the little people inside the computer from harm? Sometimes cynicism is too easy… haha!)


Comments on 2007-01-05 Killerspiele

I agree - computer games are the least of our problems, but they are easy target. There’s still little proof that games of any kind are anything but a positive outlet for the stresses and emotion of ordinary life, but that doesn’t stop the real problem (the politicians and warmongers) from pointing at them instead of themselves.

Some folks game then go onto kill in real life, undoubtedly. I suspect they also eat Big Macs, sleep 8 hours a night and watch daytime TV, but none of those are blamed for the actions of one dysfunctional individual. Yet I can understand why watching Daytime TV would drive someone to kill more than I can understand someone playing Grand Theft Auto then wanting to steal a car.

It’ll be another 30 years before we can talk about Digital Right for Virtual People; then it’ll be illegal to kill a spambot. Imagine that.

I’m going into hiding now because I killed my Sims character the other day. I think the police are onto me :)

GreyWulf 2007-01-05 23:15 UTC

The irony is that, at least in the United States, violent video game companies and the military are teaming up to provide:

  1. “cheap and effective” training tools for soldiers,
  2. free downloadable video games to recruit

For example, BBN who helped develop many of the technologies and protocols the Internet now runs on, now has defense contracts for building “Immersive Learning Technologies”.[1]

AaronHawley 2007-01-08 14:43 UTC

I remember when the US army started using the Doom engine to train soldiers, and when the US army started to make an appearance at game shows. Scary stuff!

But it is not limited to games only. The Black Hawk Down (2001) extra material on DVD shows how the army provides training for the actors, and somebody on my blog or on #emacs mentioned how the US army will sponsor movies (and probably games) if they follow certain rules. I assume this means that you can show how the politicians make mistakes, and life as a soldier can be hellish, but you need to emphasize that the soldiers do it all in good faith, and “no man is left behind”, etc. Give the grunts some positive feelings, make kids consider signing up...

AlexSchroeder 2007-01-08 16:04 UTC

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2007-01-02 No Refugees from Iraq

TelePolis writes in reaction to the video of Saddam’s execution:

Nach Angaben der irakischen Regierung sind 2006 16.273 Iraker gewaltsam getötet worden, darunter 14.298 Zivilisten, 1.348 Polizisten und 627 Soldaten. Möglicherweise fehlen hier die Bilder, um dieser Realität des andauernden Massenmordes gewahr zu werden. Den Tod und die Grausamkeit nicht zu zeigen, kann auch eine Verleugnung sein. Dann lassen sich die Augen und auch die Grenzen vor den Flüchtlingen besser schließen, die dieser Hölle entkommen wollen. [1]

My translation: “According to the Iraqi government, 16273 Iraqis were killed in 2006, including 14298 civilians, 1348 policemen, and 627 soldiers. Perhaps the images are missing in these cases to start comprehending the ongoing slaughter. Not showing death and cruelty can be a form of denial. It allows us to close our eyes and our borders against the refugees trying to escape this hell.”

The war mongers and their coalition of the willing seems to be rather unwilling when it comes to helping the refugees.


Comments on 2007-01-02 No Refugees from Iraq

"Iraq 2006, the Year in Review" by PatrickCockburn.

AaronHawley 2007-01-02 17:51 UTC

Thanks for the link.

AlexSchroeder 2007-01-02 18:17 UTC

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2006-07-22 Regulating Warfare

I think what the world needs, is an agreement on asymmetric warfare. The past has shown that the world cannot agree on a definition of “terrorism”, and I think that makes sense. Usually the others are terrorists, if they are:

  1. worse than criminals (simple murder is not enough, current favorites are bombing civilians)
  2. not on our side (if we bomb civilians, we’re not terrorists)
  3. and not a regular army

That’s why so-called civilized countries like the USA and Israel don’t feel the need to adhere to either of two well-known and regulated options of conflict resolution:

  1. court (including the law)
  2. war (including the Geneva Conventions)

Personally, I’d like to see terrorists treated like either common criminals, to be put on trial, with evidence being sought against them, a defense being arranged for them, and so on. That’s what all prisoners in the American concentration camps deserve, if you ask me (Guantánamo, and others, should there be more, as some people suspect).

Why not treat terrorists like soldiers in a war? The first problem with calling the fight against various organisations a single “war” is that it will never end. Like the “war on drugs” or a “war on crime” – the concept is silly. A war between two nations involves a command structure and a government. Once it surrenders, the troops surrender, a peace treaty is negotiated, and the prisoners of war are released.

If the various organisations don’t recognize a single “government”, then you can never knock out the “government” – you can never win unless you imprison every single one of them.

Actually, that’s just how crime fighting works: You imprison every single one of them. And you also give them a fair trial. Sounds good to me.

And even if you did win a war against terrorrism, you wouldn’t want to release the prisoners. You’d want to put them to try them for war crimes and crimes against humanity (if they didn’t commit any, how can they be terrorists?) So you want to put them to (a fair!) trial anyway.

The current situation, were the existence of an organisation can serve as the pretext to bombing ports, airports, bridges, and buildings is just not acceptable. Similarly, detention for indefinite lengths of time, cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners, neither providing them the protection of the Geneva Conventions nor civil rights – that too, is not acceptable.


Comments on 2006-07-22 Regulating Warfare

Uri Avnery schreibt in TelePolis auch über das Problem:

Krieg” ist eine bestimmte Situation, die vom internationalen Recht reguliert wird. Er findet zwischen Feinden statt, die gezwungen sind, einige Grundregeln zu beachten. Aber die israelische Regierung erklärt, dass sie nicht einem Feind gegenübersteht, der Rechte hat, sondern “Terroristen”, “Kriminellen” und “Banden”. Und die haben natürlich keine Rechte. [1]

Natürlich habe eigentlich Terroristen, Kriminelle und Banden in einem Rechtstaat auch Rechte. Erst in der Kombination eines “Krieges” gegen “Terroristen” wird plötzlich auf alles Verzichtet, was zu einer zivilisierten Kultur gehört: Die Genfer Konventionen gelten nicht, aber das zivile Recht gilt genausowenig.


AlexSchroeder 2006-07-26 19:09 UTC

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2006-07-07 Inappropriate For All Ages, a short video

Via GreyWulf [1], via BoingBoing [2]: A cool little 1.1M video about the real pirates stealing our future – You wouldn't!



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2006-06-12 suicide is asymmetrical warfare

CharlieStross – a science fiction writer I have enjoyed in the past (eg. 2005-12-13 Books) and whose blog I still enjoy – rants about the situation in Guantánamo. He concludes with the following: “But meanwhile, kindly reflect: if you support the war on terror, then you’re also supporting a policy that has brought concentration camps back to the western world.” [1]

In his addendum [2], he has two or three quotes from The Guantanamo Detainees: The Government’s Story (PDF), prepared by legal academics from Seton Hall Law School who acted as defense advocates for the detainees.

Hierzu auch ein Artikel bei TelePolis. [3]


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2006-05-26 Iraq

I was just recently talking to my Arabic teacher about the use of torture in Egypt and Iraq, and many other things. I had just helped him set up his DVD recorder. The talk turned to Abu Ghraib and how the situation in Palestine and Iraq was on Arabic television every single day. I mentioned the files published by, and it turned out that he didn’t know about them. So I promised to look for the files and send him some links.

Time to remember. Here are the links I sent him.

  • Never-published photos, and an internal Army report, show more Iraqi prisoner abuse – evidence the government is fighting to hide. [1]
  • A letter from the editor: By continuing to publish documentation of the abuse, we hope to shed light on a chapter in American history that this administration has tried to keep in the shadows. [2]
  • 279 photographs and 19 videos from the Army’s internal investigation record a harrowing three months of detainee abuse inside the notorious prison – and make clear that many of those responsible have yet to be held accountable. [3]

(You will have to watch a little ad movie before being granted a “day pass” for the site.)


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2006-05-01 Iraq

Hintergründe zur Finanzierung des Gefängniswesens im Iraq durch die USA bei TelePolis:

Nach Angaben der Nachrichtenagentur Reuters halten die USA in Irak derzeit 14.500 Menschen in vier Gefangenenlagern fest. Mehr als die Hälfte von ihnen sitze in dem Lager Camp Bucca in der südirakischen Hafenstadt Umm Qasr ein. Tausende der Festgenommenen würden wegen Verdachts auf Terrorismus über Monate hinweg ohne Anklage und wider jede rechtsstaatliche Grundsätze festgehalten. [1]


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2006-02-18 Iraq

TelePolis, Abu Ghraib.

Alle in Abu Ghraib bis hin zu Technikern und Köchen hätten allerdings gewusst, was auch er erfahren hat. Doch kaum einer habe es gewagt, während in den internen Untersuchungen weniger Wert auf Aufklärung denn auf Vertuschung und Eingrenzung gelegt worden sei. [1]

They link to Voice of America:

On issues ranging from abuses by some members of the military at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, to CIA and FBI counter-terrorism efforts, whistleblowers have played a key role in bringing wrongdoing to the attention of Congress and the public.

They do so at great peril, but Republican Congressman Christopher Shays calls their courage in breaking bureaucratic ranks crucial to helping Congress and the public uncover corruption, fraud and waste:

“Seldom in our history has the need for the whistleblowers unfiltered voice been more urgent, particularly in the realms of national security and intelligence,” he said. [2]

Since I talked about free speech with LionKimbro and BayleShanks on this site, let me reaffirm that this is the important part about free speech, as far as I am concerned. The question in recent discussion has been, whether any kind of limits on free speech can be extended to make this important job impossible.

(Discussion with Lion and Bayle: Comments on 2006-02-06 Islam Comics; related page on a law banning support for terrorism in Great Britain: 2006-02-16 Censorship.)

Another TelePolis article links to the report of the UN Comission on Human Rights. [3] The chapters of the report (PDF):

  1. The Legal Framework
  2. Arbitrary Detention and Independence of Judges and Lawyers
  3. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  4. Religious Intolerance
  5. The Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health
  6. Conclusions and Recommendations

I also find the following passages from the introduction telling:

  1. In studying the situation, they have continuously sought the cooperation of the United States authorities and on 25 June 2004, they sent a letter, followed by several reminders, requesting the United States Government to allow them to visit Guantánamo Bay in order to gather first hand information from the prisoners themselves. By letter dated 28 October 2005, the Government of the United States of America extended an invitation for a one-day visit to three of the five mandate holders, inviting them “to visit the Department of Defense’s detention facilities [of Guantánamo Bay]”. The invitation stipulated that “the visit will not include private interviews or visits with detainees”. In their response to the Government dated 31 October 2005, the mandate holders accepted the invitation, including the short duration of the visit and the fact that only three of them were permitted access, and informed the United States Government that the visit was to be carried out on 6 December 2005. However, they did not accept the exclusion of private interviews with detainees, as that would contravene the terms of reference for fact-findings missions by special procedures and undermine the purpose of an objective and fair assessment of the situation of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay. In the absence of assurances from the Government that it would comply with the terms of reference, the mandate holders decided on 18 November 2005 to cancel the visit.
  2. The present report is therefore based on the replies of the Government to a questionnaire concerning detention at Guantánamo Bay submitted by the mandate holders, interviews conducted by the mandate holders with former detainees currently residing or detained in France, Spain and the United Kingdom and responses from lawyers acting on behalf of some Guantánamo Bay detainees to questionnaires submitted by the mandate holders. It is also based on information available in the public domain, including reports prepared by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), information contained in declassified official United States documents and media reports. The report raises a number of important and complex international human rights issues. In view of the fact that an on-site visit was not conducted and owing to page limitations, the report should be seen as a preliminary survey of international human rights law relating to the detainees in Guantánamo Bay. In accordance with usual practice, the United States Government was provided with a draft of this report on 16 January 2006. In its reply of 31 January 2006, the Government requested that its response be attached to the finalized report (see Annex). A number of revisions were made to the draft report in the light of the Government’s reply of 31 January 2006.

I find this report very readable and recommend it as a summary of the problems with the situation in Guantánamo.


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