I have no comment on this extremely preoccupying situation except to advise that you choose your passwords very carefully indeed:
“CBS reported on Thursday that Berg was questioned by FBI agents who discovered he had been interviewed before because a computer password he used in college had turned up in the possession of accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zaccarias Moussaoui.”
Equally preoccupying is the question I feel now compelled to ask myself: have these people gone completely mad?
“NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S. forces intensified their war against Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday, for the first time sending tanks into Najaf’s vast cemetery to blast guerrilla positions among its tombs.”
If you want to know why I see it like this, Juan Cole – who knows a hell of a lot more than I do about Islamic customs – also puts it a hell of a lot better than I could: here, here, here.
“My own view is that Muqtada has now won politically and morally. He keeps throwing Abu Ghuraib in the faces of the Americans. He had his men take refuge in Najaf and Karbala because he knew only two outcomes were possible. Either the Americans would back off and cease trying to destroy him, out of fear of fighting in the holy cities and alienating the Shiites. Or they would come in after Muqtada and his militia, in which case the Americans would probably turn the Shiites in general against themselves. The latter is now happening.”
“I don’t care what Sufouk told them the Americans are most unwise to engage in major combat in Karbala so close to Husain’s tomb. They make themselves look like Yazid. If they, or whoever is reading this, don’t know who Yazid is, then they have no business being in Iraq, much less in Karbala.”
Also see this Washington Post article.
The people authorising all this would seem to have no values which they hold sacred, the astonishing thing is that they imagine others don’t either, and that them remaining in this ignorance will have no significant military and political consequences. Fear and respect are not the same thing at all. A war like the one we are supposed to be waging on terrorism will not be won through fear, only by our winning respect. At the moment all we are doing is putting up ‘own goals’ on the scoreboard.
I don’t know which makes me feel more afraid: seeing all this chaos unfolding before my eyes, or the thought that US electors might vote in November that this is a ‘just fine’ way of doing things.
Postcript: People often make the inevitable comparisons between what is happening now and the war in Vietnam. I may be corrected, but I never recall having the sense of ‘ethical anarchy’ during that war that I have now. Brutal and atrocious things may have happened then, but the sense of ‘out of controlness’ seems much greater now. Equally it seems to me to be one thing to appear to show contempt for the political ideology of another people and quite another to appear to reveal the same contempt for their most sacred religious beliefs.
Postscript 2: people may be right to say that this war was not about petroleum. But it is right there in the middle. And we have a global economy which is hanging precariously on a very thin thread which depends on every metre of advance – or retreat – made by those tanks.