Thursday, 16 July 2009

Christopher Hitchens on Saddam Hussein's Republic of Fear.

Christopher Hitchens: "I used to find in arguments I had about Iraq, that I knew right away when somebody didn't know what they were talking about, and the dead give-away would be when they would say "allright, I agree. Saddam Hussein is a bad guy". And I'd say that means you don't know.

You don't know anything about him if that's what you think. You don't know what it would be like sitting at home wondering where your daughter was, and finding out cos' the police came 'round and banging on the door, handed you a video while they stood there, of her being raped by her colleages, just to show you who was boss.."

Saddam Hussein was an authentic Muslim dictator and thus a typical Islamic psychopath in charge of life and death, though mostly the latter. Hussein was also an authentic Baathist Socialist Party psychopath because, gentle reader, totalitarian state Islamofascism and totalitarian state socialism are, though not surprisingly to me, a most excellent, useful and simpatico fit.

'Editorial Reviews: "Originally written under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil and published before the Gulf War, Republic of Fear describes the rise of Saddam Hussein and the Arab Ba'th Socialist party. The author, an Iraqi expatriate now living in the United States, offers this updated edition under his real name, Kanan Makiya. A new introduction discusses events following the invasion of Kuwait ("the chamber of horrors that is Saddam Hussein's Iraq has grown into something that not even the most morbid imagination could have dreamed up").

The book is not merely a chronicle of recent Iraqi politics, but a discussion of why the country has evolved into "a Kafkaesque world ... one ruled and held together by fear." Essential reading for anybody who wants to understand modern Iraq." John J. Miller.

Via Amazon a Republic Of Fear review:
"Saddam Hussein was a member of the Iraqi Baath party. In his brilliant analysis of Saddams Iraq the author Kanan Makiya illustrates how the Baathist regime managed to hold the Iraqi population in its grip for so long.

Children from 5 and up where indoctrinated with Baathist ideology in the old Iraq. The children where encouraged to spy and tell on their parents if they heard them backtalking the party. During Baath party rule the Iraqi litteracy rate was raised as the output of state propaganda soared. Women where brought into the workplace and the country was developed. Meanwhile, personal freedoms sank-all in the name of progress. Similar developments can be seen in the revolutionary governments of Cuba, China, Vietnam and Algeria. Development took the place of freedom.

Baathist Iraq built itself as a movement and in power on Stalinist norms. It contained both the crude violence and primitive isolationist outlook on one hand while at the same time pushing forward extensive mass education and a modern planned economy. Just like Stalin, the Baath party used the countries "backwardness" as an excuse to resort to extreme measures of violence. And just like Stalin, the Baath party managed to create a more powerfull nation, while at the same time unleashing a regime of terror.

It became necessary for Iraqi civilians to wear a "mask". One could never speak openly about the fear, violence and conformity in the society without risking being punished. So the Iraqi citizen would become like "a snail sealed in a shell". The personality becomes liquidated in the oppressor group and its values. Saddams image was everywhere. On a typical radio broadcast his name was mentioned thirty to fifty times an hour. Saddams images appeard on TV several hours a day. Children had to memorize verses in his honor.

The USSR and East Germany imported "the methods, investments and structures needed for the effective torturing institutions" in Iraq. The Iraqi Baathist state systematically invaded its citizens privacy, denied their individuality and generated fear. Torture was the "apex of that system". Things like public hangings, corpse displays, rape rooms, executions, confession rituals and torture where all used to breed fear in the Iraqi population.

The main idea of Baath government was to uproot individuals from their traditional groups and tribes, thereby destructing the social reality. This would then be replaced by a "new state-centralized network of relationships. The undifferentiated Leviathan like mass that emerged was in principle either hostile to or sealed off from other "partial" non-Baathist sense of belonging." The Baathist view of the world was split up into extremes. On one side the infinitely good, [socialism and pan-Arabism] and on the other side the infinitely bad (Zionism, imperialism and foreign agents).

Baathism rose to power out of the Pan-Arabist movement. According to the author, this was a movement intent on getting rid of western colonialism and zionism. It had its roots in Syria in reaction to French rule and it had many of its first members in the officers corps there. They were also opposed to communism. They thought that the Syrian communist party had too strong connections to France and that it was tainted by Russian thinking which could hurt Arabic traditionalism. In their first programmatic statement they proclaimed: "We represent the Arab spirit against materialist communism". The Baath saw their mission being to exorcise the demons of imperialist communism from a degenerate colonized society. They appealed primarily to those who felt threatend by the rootlessness that came about due to modernization, population growth and urbanization.

To the old Baath founder, Aflaq, "Communism is western, and alien to everything Arab", and was the culmination of the humanistic tradition from Europe.When the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in 1958 the communists had achieved a significant degree of power within the country. The Iraq leader at that point became Abd al-Karim Qasim, a nationalist Iraqi military officer, who claimed power by overthrowing the monarchy in a coup détat. He supported the Communists in Iraq and was inturn overthrown by a Baathist coup in 1963. The Baath party purged the communist at this point. Hunting them down in the streets, killing as many as they could find.

Qasim was himself executed. His corpse was tied to a chair and filmed, where in the final sequence a soldier spits in the corpses face. This material was shown nightly on Iraqi televsion (this has similarities to the videos circulating on the internet of Saddam Husseins execution). In 1969 the first purges began against the Jewish population of Iraq. Saying that they where spies and imperialists.

Gruesome spectacles were put on where the population was brought out to witness executions. This would later be reenacted in 1979. But then it wasn't a question of a small group of political outcasts. In 1979 the top leaders of the Baath party itself were purged when Saddam Hussein took over power in Iraq."

Good old Hitch. When the old sophist does get things right as he has about "the filth" of the Koran and the nihilist, Marxist Critical Theory dead-ends of the suicidal, values-free and stupid left, he hits a fucking home he does here.

WARNING! All the following videos are profoundly distrubing to watch.

Karbala: city of matyrs.

A tribute to the Kurdish matyrs.

Scenes from a land of terrifying madness.

"The Horrors of a Camp Called Omarska by Mark Danner. [The crushingly hideous crimes of the Serbs in the Balkans. Yep, I have a post on the hideous crimes of the Balkan Muslims too. I can barely take studying this subject. You figure it out..]

One survivor interviewed by United Nations investigators estimated that
“on many occasions, twenty to forty prisoners were killed at night by ‘knife, hammer, and burning.’ He stated that he had witnessed the killing of one prisoner by seven guards who poured petrol on him, set him on fire, and struck him upon the head with a hammer.”
All prisoners were beaten, but according to the UN investigators, guards in all the camps meted out especially savage treatment “to intellectuals, politicians, police, and the wealthy.”[6] When four guards summoned the president of the local Croatian Democratic Union, Silvije Saric, along with Professor Puskar from nearby Prijedor, for “interrogation,” the female prisoner testified,

I heard beating and yelling…. At times it sounded as if wood were being shattered, but those were bones that were being broken.

...When they opened the door …, they started yelling at us, “Ustasa slut, see what we do to them!” ...I saw two piles of blood and flesh in the corner. The two men were so horribly beaten that they no longer had the form of human beings.[7]

Apart from obvious differences in scale and ambition, it is the Serbs’ reliance on this laborious kind of murder that most strikingly distinguishes the workings of their camps from those of the German death factories. At many of the latter, healthy arrivals would work as slaves until they were reduced to being Muselm Anner; death came when camp bureaucrats judged them no longer fit to provide any useful service to the Reich. The gas chambers-routinized, intentionally impersonal means of killing-had evolved partly out of a concern for the effect that committing mass murder would have on troops, even on men specially trained to do it. As Raul Hilberg observed,

The Germans employed the phrase Seelenbelastung (“burdening of the soul”) with reference to machine-gun fire…directed at men, women, and children in prepared ditches. After all, the men that were firing these weapons were themselves fathers. How could they do this day after day? It was then that the technicians developed a gas van designed to lessen the suffering of the perpetrator.[8]

And even within the camps themselves, SS officers worried that violence and sadism would demoralize and corrupt their elite troops. “The SS leaders,” Wolfgang Sofsky writes,
were indifferent to the suffering of the victims, but not to the morale of their men. Their attention was aroused…by the sadistic excesses of individual tormenters. As a countermeasure, camp brothels were set up, and the task of punishment was delegated to specially selected prisoners. The leadership also transferred certain thugs whose behavior had become intolerable. [Emphasis added.][9]

At Omarska such men would have been cherished; the out-and-out passion with which a guard administered beatings and devised tortures could greatly bolster his prestige. Acts of flamboyant violence, publicly performed, made of some men celebrities of sadism. In his memoir The Tenth Circle of Hell, Rezak Hukanovic-a Muslim who was a journalist in Prijedor before he was taken to Omarska-describes how guards responded when a prisoner rejected the order to strip and stood immobile amid the cowering naked inmates:

The guard…fired several shots in the air. The man stood stubbornly in place without making the slightest movement. While bluish smoke still rose from the rifle barrel, the guard struck the clothed man in the middle of the head with the rifle butt, once and then again, until the man fell. Then the guard…moved his hand to his belt. A knife flashed in his hand, a long army knife.

He bent down, grabbing hold of the poor guy’s hair…. Another guard joined in, continuously cursing. He, too, had a flashing knife in his hand…. The guards [used] them to tear away the man’s clothes. After only a few seconds, they stood up, their own clothes covered with blood….
...The poor man stood up a little, or rather tried to, letting out excruciating screams. He was covered with blood. One guard took a water hose from a nearby hydrant and directed a strong jet at [him]. A mixture of blood and water flowed down his…gaunt, naked body as he bent down repeatedly, like a wounded Cyclops…; his cries were of someone driven to insanity by pain. And then Djemo and everyone else saw clearly what had happened: the guards had cut off the man’s sexual organ and half of his behind.

Hukanovic’s memoir (in which he writes about himself in the third person as Djemo) and the testimony of other former prisoners overflow with such horror. Reading them, one feels enervated, and also bewildered: What accounts for such unquenchable blood-lust? This is a large subject, to which I shall return; but part of the answer may have to do with the elaborate ideology that stands behind Serb objectives in the war. In order to achieve a “Greater Serbia,” which will at last bring together all Serbs in one land, they feel they must “cleanse” what is “their” land of outsiders. Founding-or rather reestablishing-”Greater Serbia” is critical not only because it satisfies an ancient historical claim but because Serbs must protect themselves from the “genocide” others even now are planning for them.

In this thinking, such genocide has already begun-in Croatia, in Kosovo, in Bosnia itself: anywhere Serbs live but lack political dominance. As many writers, including Michael Sells and, especially, Tim Judah, point out, such ideas of vulnerability and betrayal can be traced far back in Serbia’s past, and President Slobodan Milosevic, with his control of state radio and television, exploited them brilliantly, building popular hatred by instilling in Serbs a visceral fear and paranoia.

Administering a beating is a deeply personal affirmation of power: with your own hands you seize your enemy-supposedly a mortally threatening enemy, now rendered passive and powerless-and slowly, methodically reduce him from human to nonhuman. Each night at Omarska and other camps guards called prisoners out by name and enacted this atrocity. Some of their enemies they beat to death, dumping their corpses on the tarmac for the forklift driver to find the next morning. Others they beat until the victim still barely clung to life; if he did not die, the guards would wait a week or so and beat him again.

For the Serbs it was a repeated exercise in triumph, in satisfying and vanquishing an accumulated paranoia. As Hukanovic makes clear in his account of the first time his name was called out, this torture is exceedingly, undeniably intimate-not simply because force is administered by hand but also because it comes very often from someone you know:

“In front of me,” the [bearded, red-faced] guard ordered, pointing to the White House…. He ranted and raved, cursing and occasionally pounding Djemo on the back with his truncheon….

...The next second, something heavy was let loose from above, from the sky, and knocked Djemo over the head. He fell.

...Half conscious, sensing that he had to fight to survive, he wiped the blood from his eyes and forehead and raised his head. He saw four creatures, completely drunk, like a pack of starving wolves, with clubs in their hands and unadorned hatred in their eyes. Among them was the frenzied leader, Zoran Zigic, the infamous Ziga…. He was said to have killed over two hundred people, including many children, in the “cleansing” operations around Prijedor…. Scrawny and long-legged, with a big black scar on his face, Ziga seemed like an ancient devil come to visit a time as cruel as his own….

“Now then, let me show you how Ziga does it,” he said, ordering Djemo to kneel down in the corner by the radiator, “on all fours, just like a dog.” The maniac grinned. Djemo knelt down and leaned forward on his hands, feeling humiliated and as helpless as a newborn….

Ziga began hitting Hukanovic on his back and head with a club that had a metal ball on the end. Hukanovic curled up trying to protect his head. Zigic kept hitting him, steadily, methodically, cursing all the while.

The drops of blood on the tiles under Djemo’s head [became] denser and denser until they formed a thick, dark red puddle. Ziga kept at it; he stopped only every now and then…to fan himself, waving his shirt tail in front of his contorted face.
At some point a man in fatigues appeared…. It was Saponja, a member of the famous Bosna-montaza soccer club from Prijedor; Djemo had once known him quite well…. “Well, well, my old pal Djemo. While I was fighting…, you were pouring down the cold ones in Prijedor.” He kicked Djemo right in the face with his combat boot. Then he kicked him again in the chest, so badly that Djemo felt like his ribs had been shattered…Ziga laughed like a maniac…and started hitting Djemo again with his weird club….

Djemo received another, even stronger kick to the face. He clutched himself in pain, bent a little to one side, and collapsed, his head sinking into the now-sizable pool of blood beneath him. Ziga grabbed him by the hair…and looked into Djemo’s completely disfigured face: “Get up, you scum….”

Then Ziga and the other guards forced Djemo to smear his bloody face in a filthy puddle of water.

...”The boys have been eating strawberries and got themselves a little red,” said Ziga, laughing like a madman…. Another prisoner, Slavko Ecimovic,...was kneeling, all curled up, by the radiator. When he lifted his head, where his face should have been was nothing but the bloody, spongy tissue under the skin that had just been ripped off.

Instead of eyes, two hollow sockets were filled with black, coagulated blood.
“You’ll all end up like this, you and your families,” Ziga said. “We killed his father and mother. And his wife. We’ll get his kids. And yours, we’ll kill you all.”
And with a wide swing of his leg, he kicked Djemo right in the face….

In early April 1992, little more than a week after officers of the newly christened Bosnian Serb Army launched their campaign of limited conquest in Bosnia, officials in Washington began receiving reports of atrocities, among them mass executions, beatings, mutilations, and rape. Jon Western, at the State Department, then working on human rights in Bosnia, recalls that

many of these atrocities looked an awful lot like what we had heard and read about during World War II-the Balkans historically produce a lot of disinformation-and we were trained to look at them critically and decipher what was real. But as reports continued to come in…, it became apparent that they weren’t just propaganda.

In fact, we were getting reports from a number of sources: eyewitnesses who had been incarcerated in concentration camps begin filtering out in summer 1992 and began giving accounts of atrocities that we could cross-reference with those from other eyewitnesses….[10]

As the Serbs prosecuted their “lightning campaign”-the Bosnian Serb Army of eighty thousand men, which had come fully equipped from the Yugoslav National Army, conquered 60 percent of Bosnian territory in scarcely six weeks-State Department officials compiled testimony of increasingly shocking and gruesome atrocities. Jon Western recalls that children were “systematically raped”:
There was one account that affected me: a young girl was raped repeatedly by Serb paramilitary units. Her parents were restrained behind a fence and she was raped repeatedly and they left her in a pool of blood and over the course of a couple of days she finally died, and her parents were not able to tend to her; they were restrained behind a fence. When we first heard this story, it seemed very hard to believe but we heard it from a number of eyewitnesses …and it became apparent there was validity to it.

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