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Obama on Iraq in 2002

Via Andrew Sullivan, video of an interview of Obama from 2002 where he talks about Iraq.

Not only do I think Bush and Co. should be held accountable for being so wrong about Iraq, but I think (whether you like him as a presidential candidate) you've gotta give big ups to Obama for being so right about it.

Such a Culture

From an article titled "U.S. probing alleged rape of Sunni woman" by Oren Dorell in the USA Today:

Ahmed Abdullah, 29, a Sunni from Zaiona, had doubts [about whether or not a 20-year-old Iraqi was raped by members of the Iraqi police force]. "I don't believe that Iraqis will rape a woman. We don't have such a culture. We might kill, behead or do torture, but rape - I don't think so," he said.

Kingdom of Heaven

200px-KoHposter.jpgTonight we watched Kingdom of Heaven (2005,R) (ScreenIt! Review). From the Wikipedia entry:

The story deals with the Crusades of the 12th century, and involves...a village blacksmith who goes on to aid the city of Jerusalem in its defense against the great Islamic leader Saladin, who battles to reclaim the city from the Christians. The script is loosely based on the life of Balian of Ibelin. Professor Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University was the film's chief academic consultant.

So much violence. So much battling of God's enemies. So many cries of "God wills it." From both sides. I give it 3 out of 5. Coincidentally (before I started watching Kingdom of Heaven, I didn't realize that it was all about war between Christians and Muslims), today I also watched the Fox News special Radical Islam: Terror in Its Own Words (on the recommendation of a relative). I thought it was instructive in emphasizing the danger, in giving more full attention to what we usually only hear in brief soundbites...the chants of "death to America", the way children raised to be martyrs. Much emphasis was made that the special was addressing radical Islam, not its moderate relative, but that moderate Islam is too reticent in condemning the radical fringe. I guess these are all points that have some validity. This violent, radical Islam is not something that human society should tolerate. But the coincidence of watching these two things today reminded me again of the obvious parallels between then and now. A battle between a Christian king and a Muslim general from Tikrit. The infamous reference by king George to crusades. The spiritual significance tied to death as a death as a Muslim martyr. It's tempting to think that we have progressed so far since then but that they are still stuck in such a primitive place, but many of us still think of what we've been doing lately as going to war in God's name, with his blessing. I was brought back to the feeling of how important it is that we not sink to the level of these murderous extremists...not to torture, not to trust in nor embrace violence. Not to allow our enemies to draw us away from the things that are so noble and wonderful about our country.

Terrorist in parliament

From an article of the same title in the Nov 9, 2007, issue of The Week:

An Iraqi Shiite who was sentenced to death in Kuwait for the 1983 bombings of the U.S. and French embassies is now a member of Iraq's parliament, U.S. military sources told CNN this week. Jamal Jafaar Mohammed had fled Kuwait and was convicted in absentia for the bombings, which killed five people. He was elected to parliament in 2005 as part of the Shiite alliance of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose Dawa party claimed responsibility for the embassy bombings at the time but has since recanted. Military officials said that Mohammed acts as a liaison between Iraqi Shiite militias and Iranian special forces in Iraq. He hasn't been to parliament in months, and is currently believed to be in Iran.

Iraq's Woes Are Adding Major Risks To Childbirth

From an article of the same title Nancy Trejos in The Washington Post:

Spontaneous road closures, curfews and gun battles make even getting to the hospital a challenge for expectant mothers. Once they arrive, the women have no guarantee that they will receive adequate health care from a qualified physician. "It's spiraling downward. It's getting worse each day," said Annees Sadik, an anesthesiologist at al-Jarrah. Iraq once had a premier health-care system. But the trade embargo of the 1990s and now the exodus of medical professionals have made it no better than a third-world system, doctors say. Hospitals lack the equipment, drugs and medical expertise to make labor easier or to handle complications. Women are forgoing prenatal visits to doctors as a result. Fearful of going into labor during the nighttime curfew, they are having elective Caesarean sections. Others are relying on midwives in their neighborhoods. Doctors, especially women, have been targeted by unknown groups for kidnapping and murder. The kidnappers often appear to be motivated by money, seizing professionals because they are among the wealthiest people in Iraq. But many Iraqis also say that insurgents are waging a campaign to eliminate the people with the skills most needed to rebuild Iraq.


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