Agam's Gecko
Sunday, May 16, 2004
So I just want to thank the Gecko for filling us in on that tasty little morsel about his fellow reptilian revolutionaries a few minutes ago, and doing so in a much more calm and collected manner than he did last weekend when my back was turned. I told you guys right there in the blog description that he is "unruly" - which is an understatement, actually - but his heart is in the right place. At least I think it is. [If you're short on time, skip the rest of this first item, it's not important.]

The other thing in this brief little aside, is just to give you a short explanation of how I do this, and why it seems like my consistency sucks - or in other words, why it all blapps out at once and then days go by without anything. You'll see that a whole bunch of items are posted up at one time, instead of how bloggers normally do it by sending each item separately. It's a function of how I use the internet, and my reliance on dialing up to connect with a pathetically narrow bandwidth, which disconnects itself after exactly 2 hours. I usually hit a lot of pages when I'm online so that i can reload them again later when I'm offline. Good old (er, good new I should say) Mozilla Firefox is great for that - I never met a page I couldn't look at later, provided I let it load fully in the first place. So hit a lot of my regular reads, as well as usually quite a few bookmarked links gleaned from far and wide and waiting to be checked out. Hit as much of this as I can load up within 2 hours, and then it will take me a day or two to get through reading it all offline.

I'm trying to get in the habit of jotting down stuff in a text file, saving links there and sort of using shorthand and keywords that I can flesh out later. So adding bits and pieces and fragments and quotes during the whole time of reading all these cached pages and articles, a whole lot of items that I want to post are taking shape at the same time. By the time I've finished my reading, and filling out and cleaning up the next blog posting, usually a couple of days has gone by. There just seems like not enough time - an old friend of mine used to like to say that "Whoever made time, made a hell of a lot of it." Still not enough though! And yet not mentioned is if I want to send out some mail - I may be writing to you in response to something from days before (and you might have sent something to me yesterday which I haven't even picked up yet), so that I have everything ready to go when I go online, and I'll be sending out and picking up the inbox waiting stuff at the same time. So if you wonder why you may have gotten an email from me today which seems like it's totally unaware of what you sent to me two days ago, that is why! Just be aware that I do virtually everything offline which means there's a delay - sort of like talking on the phone long distance when it takes some number of seconds for the voice to actually travel to the other end and you end up both trying to speak at the same time. Well, sort of like that I guess. All the input and output is processed while disconnected, and then - plug in - everything is transferred, updated, refreshed and reloaded in a fixed and short period, and then - unplug - it all starts piling up while Agam tries to catch up once again.

Hmm, that's just a ridiculous amount of verbiage for very little benefit. I'm not sure exactly why I wanted to explain all that... maybe I should just delete it. Nah, I'll just put a warning at the top and leave it for the record.

I agree with Roger Simon - the New York Times needs to have Ali, Mohammed and Omar on the Op-Ed page about every other day. No need to even impinge on their time or detract from their work in restoring the medical services of their country. Just run the day's blog article on the Op-Ed page. And don't forget to pay them the going rate for columnists, either.

It's nice to see their site being mentioned more and more often by the most widely-read sites like Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds' Instapundit, Simon and others. These people and the other Iraqi writers (some are linked on the list at right) have been providing excellent anecdotal stories, personal laments venting anger and hope (and everything in between), that help to flesh out the real situation. I've been reading some of these Iraqi blogs since about October '03, and telling everybody I know about them.

In the past week on this one site, one brother describes his conversation with an old friend, another doctor, on his experiences during a month of required service at Abu Ghraib prison. Very helpful to mesh this insider's experiences with what is being blasted at us from every megaphone and bullhorn. Then in a later entry, Mohammed tells of meeting his relative at a family occasion - someone who had once served in Saddam's army, and had finally decided to run away and live as a fugitive. Now a free man at last what does he do? He was so happy, full of joy.
"You can't imagine! It's like being born again. I've never felt so free before". "But what are you doing for a living now? I hope you've found a job". I asked. He smiled as he said, "I volunteered in the new army."
A few days later, another of Ali's experiences, this time a meeting with one of his uncles and a 16 year old cousin. The uncle, a man of noble principle who refused to engage in corruption in his profession as a high school principal, had had to sell almost everything he owned to keep his family fed. Now with the new Dinar and pay scales, he was remaining honest but also earning a salary commensurate with his position. He proudly described the family's new life, the things he could now provide his family. The young cousin is a religious boy who goes to the mosque every Friday and believes whatever the imam tells him. The father would tease him about it but never prohibited him from going. They talked about all kinds of things, from the daily family needs to clerics, Americans, the increased income most Iraqis had enjoyed:
My uncle has a somewhat unusual sense of humor that doesn't fit quite well in his somewhat religious family. He winked at me and turned to his son and asked him "What do you think of the Americans?" His son answered, "They are occupiers".

"So you think we should fight them?" his father asked.

Ibrahim said "No, but I don't like them".

My uncle said, pretending to change the subject "Do you like your new computer that no one shares with you?"

"Yes of course dad".

"Ok, are you satisfied with the satellite dish receiver we have or do you need a better one?"

"This one is fine but I heard there's a better one that gets more channels"

"Ok I'll get you that next week". Then he said, "Is there anything else you'd like to have son?"

"No dad I have all that I need".

"Ok but how about a car?"

Ibrahim was astounded and said "Really? a..a CAR.. for me!?".

"Of course for you! I'm too old to drive now and my eyes are not that well and you are the older son. So whom else would it be for!?"

"Oh, dad that will be great! When will that happen?"

"Just finish your exams and you'll have it".

"I will dad".

"Are you happy now son?"

"Yes dad, sure I am!"

"Then why do you hate the Americans you son of a b***h!? I couldn't get you a bicycle a year ago, I could hardly feed you and your brothers and sisters. You didn't know what an apple or a banana tasted like, I couldn't buy you a damned Pepsi bottle except in occasions, and now you can have all that you wish, and a car of your own! Who do you think made that possible!?"

My cousin's face turned red and didn't answer . . .
He takes this encounter as a starting point for explaining some things to us about the Iraqi Dinar before and after the war, the economy in general, unemployment and many other related issues. I don't find this level of helpful understanding from any of the western media. But these fellows seem to have a playful nature, and that I like a lot. They often allow themselves to lapse into a spell of sarcasm, as a means of pointing out the hypocrisy - often that of their would-be western or Arab "saviours" - of rhetoric about resistance and imperialist aggressors:
But to be fair our Arab and Muslim brothers, supported by the legitimate Arab leaders and cheered by most of the major media are aware of that, and of the dangers of the vicious cycle of (prosperity-stability-more prosperity-more stability) that the Americans and the Iraqi traitors (like myself) are trying to establish. They (our brothers) are doing all that they can; bombing oil pipelines and ports, beheading foreigners in the name of Iraqis and Allah, attacking electricity stations, creating chaos that allows thieves to loot everything they can, yet it's still not working!! The Iraqi Dinar stands stable despite the fact that some Arab governments formally warned their citizens from dealing with it, the oil production is increasing, the markets are full of goods, most Iraqis are busy working, studying selling and buying and the average income is rising!

Please, all those who care about the poor Iraqis and want to save them from the brutality of the American invaders and who want to prevent the Americans from stealing our fortune; meaning Bin laden, Zagrawi and their followers, Arab and Muslim tyrants, our good friend monsieur Dominique de Villepin, all the pacifists of the world, the major media, and in short, all those who hate America and obviously love Iraq: Get your s**t together and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT or else one or two years from now Iraq will be...a prosperous country, and then we will never forgive you for letting us down when we needed you!

Well worth reading the whole thing.

Roger Simon comments on a Wall Street Journal editorial regarding the United Nations, and possible reform measures that might be advisable for that body, saying:
But far more extensive changes are clearly necessary in the UN Charter itself, making sure the UN is fully and openly accountable to its member states and to the citizens of those countries
I would go further down this road that what I've heard mentioned anywhere until now. At a time when those who have the power to focus attention on pressing problems are all but ignoring the horrible tragedy befalling hundreds of thousands (if not millions by now) of black Sudanese refugees in the Darfur region of western Sudan; and when it is clear that the Sudan government is culpable in this and other humanitarian outrages including ethnic cleansing and a long standing slavery trade conducted by Arab Muslim Sudanese against Sudan's African tribes; and when Sudan earns herself a chair on the United Nations Human Rights Commission and only the United States has the sufficient moral principle to issue a public complaint about this ridiculous state of affairs; it is time to recognise that something (or many things) are terribly wrong inside the organisation. And to my mind, it stems from a simple truth. A large number of the member states have no business being there in the first place.

It is time to admit that for the UN to claim the credibility it needs to function in a meaningful way, there needs to be a minimum standard for membership. In the early 1970's when there were only about 40 actual democracies on the planet, it was reasonable to make allowances for the purpose of getting as many states in as possible. Now, I've heard that the number of countries which can reasonably be described as democratic, with at least minimum acceptable standards of rights and freedoms, has reached about 120. It's time to make UN membership conditional on these basic minimum standards. The other 80 or so states can suffer a bit of well deserved humiliation until they get their act together, and show to some minimal degree that they actually represent the citizens which they lay claim to. It's harsh but necessary. This nonsense of states like Sudan, or Libya a year or two ago taking a place on the highest international body responsible for human rights, and banding together with some of their anti-democratic friends to vote the United States off, is an absolutely stupid state of affairs which can't be tolerated any more. In the 21st century, if the United Nations is going to mean anything, it must be a body which is democratic, and for which democratic principles are a requirement for membership. That's it. Obviously this will eventually be the case, it just has to be that way. I see no reason why it shouldn't be done right now.

The Arab League is talking democracy:
Mr. Balkhadem said the League has agreed it is necessary for Arab countries to establish democratic practices, including making court systems independent, greater freedom and human rights for citizens and greater rights for women. . .

The foreign ministers, representing the 22 members of the Arab League, denied their push for greater freedoms had anything to do with President Bush's call for more democracy in the Arab world. Several foreign ministers said the document they approved Monday comes from Arab understanding that takes into consideration Arab culture and religion.
Well yeah, ok. No problem with Arab culture and religion being compatible with democracy. But if this "push for greater freedoms" has nothing to do with President Bush (and plenty of others, let's not forget) calling urgently for democracy in Arab states, then why haven't we seen such statesmanlike declarations years ago, or even decades ago? Hmmmm? Could it be these dicatorships are responding to pressure after all? How about "Get your shit together or clear out of the General Assembly," as per the previous item.

Picked up from Pejman Yousefzadeh's Pejmanesque.

The entertaining, and only slightly tipsy VodkaPundit wonders if we can guess who said the following:

The new Socialist government in Spain has caved in to the terrorist threats and withdrawn its troops from Iraq. So have Honduras and the Dominican Republic. They are unlikely to be the last. With the security situation expected to worsen before it improves, we have to accept that a few more countries--which do not appreciate how much the world has at stake in building a free Iraq--will also cut and run.

No matter how the retreating governments try to spin it, every time a country pulls out of Iraq it is al Qaeda and other extremists who win. They draw the conclusion that the coalition of the willing is weak and that the more terrorist outrages, the more countries will withdraw.

Our choices are:

A) A blood-thirsty warblogger.

B) An impassioned neocon.

C) Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.
OK, it's not a contest or anything, and so Stephen reveals (and I shall reveal to you also) that The correct answer is C and I'm on my way to read the rest of Ramos-Horta's piece right now. I normally check links and read articles before posting them here, but I do want to pass this one along now. Jose Ramos-Horta was of course, effectively the East Timorese foreign minister during the 25 years of Indonesian occupation of his country.

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