Fire and Blood: the Iraqi conflagration is beyond American intervention

The daily stories out of Iraq are so gruesome and brutally violent that I have, horribly, become accustomed to them. Car bombings, kidnappings, the discovery of dozens of tortured bodies dumped in a Baghdad suburb: I haven’t linked to stories like these on this blog for months now.

But last Friday a headline caught my eye: Hundreds killed, injured in Baghdad blasts, it read. “Hundreds!” I thought. In fact, it was the worst bombing in Baghdad since the American invasion of that country, with a final death toll of 215 people in a mainly Shi’ite neighbourhood.

The next day was time for revenge. Shi’ite militiamen captured six Sunni Muslims as they left Friday prayers, doused them in kerosene and burned them alive. More attacks that day killed another 19 Sunnis.

Nearby Iraqi soldiers did nothing. These are the soldiers the United States has trained, the ones that need to “stand up” before the United States “stands down”. Mostly Shi’ites themselves, they likely felt that the Sunnis got what they deserved that day.

Life in Iraq, the most dangerous country on earth, is now defined by fear. Civilians are being killed at a rate of well more than 100 per day.

Meanwhile, the American establishment frets and mutters and weighs options, slowly. “American fortunes,” moans the New York Times, “are ever more dependent on feuding Iraqis who seem, at times, almost heedless to American appeals”.

Once mighty, America is now reduced to making appeals which no one listens to. American foreign policy journals and newspaper op-ed pages are filled with new plans and proposals – the latest is to divide Iraq into three separate regions in a loose federation – but none seems to recognize that a plan without potency is no plan at all.

Reality continues to defy these thinkers and policy-makers. They don’t realize the war in Iraq is already lost. They pour ink onto paper in America while blood pours on the streets of Iraq.

The ultimate truth, that America has no right to make plans for Iraq, never occurs to them.

The pretense that America must stay in Iraq to protect the Iraqis from themselves must be dropped. Iraq’s fate is no longer in American hands. The sooner that is recognized the better off everyone will be.

[tags]Iraq, foreign policy, America[/tags]


Open Thread – Quebec as a “Nation”

According to the CBC, the House of Commons has passed the controversial Harper motion declaring that “the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada”.

The word nation is typically used to describe a country: the first definition in the American Heritage Dictionary says a nation is “A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country.”

Harper claims that he actually means nation in the “cultural-sociological” sense, thus claiming the third definition of nation in the American Heritage Dictionary: “A people who share common customs, origins, history, and frequently language; a nationality.”

I propose yet another definition: “A can of worms; a cat no longer confined to a bag; a wrench typically used by monkeys”.

I could be wrong about that, which is where you come in. Thoughts?

[tags]politics, quebec, canada[/tags]


The Hipness Battle

I wrote a quick blog post on Raise the Hammer in response to a New York Times article called Cities Compete in Hipness Battle to Attract Young. Hamilton has a lot to learn in this regard, as the many people who leave Hamilton when they get into their twenties attests – including some of you.

Drop by RTH and leave a comment if you wish.

[tags]urbanism, culture[/tags]


Pole Dancing for Empowerment?

I have a website client who owns a fitness club in a small town here in Ontario. He recently asked me to update his website to advertise his latest offering: pole dancing classes, offered by a company called Aradia Fitness.

The poster he sent me as the basis for the update reads in part:

Ladies! As seen on TV, Pole Dancing for fitness classes have finally arrived! We offer you the most exhilarating and empowering experience – EVER! Learn pole dancing and sensual movement creating a fit, feminine body and a confident, liberated state of mind. For women, by women – any shape, any fitness level!

Pole dancing is not the only offering from this company. Their website is currently advertising “Xmas Themed Lapdance and Stripping workshops”, which are presumably also intended as a means of empowerment.

I happened to meet one of the founders of this company at a trade show back in the summer. She is a confident, independent, successful businesswoman, and in that sense is a model for what feminists have long sought to achieve.

On the other hand, her company’s offerings revolve around practices that many call exploitive and demeaning to women.

Is this an example of “taking something back” in the same positive way some people explain the use of the “n-word” by black people? Or is this simply commercial exploitation and perpetuation of demeaning roles for women?



There was a guest book in the apartment we stayed at in Rome. The first page had a note from the apartment rental company asking guests what they thought about their stay. The remaining pages were filled with comments left by guests in various languages.

Partway through the guest book I found this entry, which I copied down in my notebook. I have edited it a little bit for clarity and spelling.


October 14 – 18, 2005

You want me to say something about this place, well it stinks. It smells like 9000 cigarettes were smoked in here yesterday. This entire city stinks, the streets are so fucking narrow they trap the car exhaust and you can’t get the smell of diesel out of your nose. Plus, all the dog shit.

I went out last night and walked around. I had to dodge a patch of vomit and I stumbled into this woman. She smelled of perfume but I don’t know how good it was. She jabbered something at me in Italian. She had a hot ass.

I said I was sorry and she started speaking English. She asked me if I was American but I said Canadian (I’m American). It worked and she warmed up. These people have no gratitude, not for WWII or anything.

When she asked me where I was going I lied and said just buying cigarettes. I was keeping my options open. No use, because she said her boyfriend was at this bar nearby, but she invited me in for a drink.

I should have known better but I followed her down a little alley and into this dank little place called (as far as I can tell from the sign), “BAR”.

Started drinking with her and her boyfriend and a couple of other people who didn’t speak much English. I just kept drinking (they have a great drink here made with crushed ice + sugar + lime juice + vodka, mostly just vodka but tasty).

Next thing I know I wake up and I’m outside and it’s morning. I’m laying in the alley with no clue how I got there. There’s a dead pigeon right in front of my nose. Its head is crushed and the beak is squished out of its face, barely attached to the skull by a few strands of nerves and tendons.

It stank. But not as bad as this apartment.

Paul R – Ypsilanti, Michigan

P.S. If you find my wallet it’d be great if you could mail it to me at [address deleted].

Life, politics, code and current events from a Canadian perspective.

Adrian Duyzer
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