Fragments 14-12-06

The anti-Americanism of Americans: Anti-Americanism is rife, as evidenced by the following extracts from a critique of American foreign policy that is typically negative.“The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating ... Violence is increasing in scope and lethality. It is fed by a Sunni Arab insurgency, Shiite militias and death squads, al Qaida, and widespread criminality. Sectarian conflict is the principal challenge to stability.

“Pessimism is pervasive. If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighbouring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al Qaida could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations...”

The familiar left-wing, dreary, anti-imperialist rhetoric about American foreign policy re Iraq. Except that this comes from the Iraq Study Group established by George Bush, co-chaired by a former US secretary of state, including another US secretary of state, a former US supreme court judge, and several former presidential advisers.

Other excerpts from the report are:

“Attacks against US, Coalition, and Iraqi security forces are persistent and growing. October 2006 was the deadliest month for US forces since January 2005, with 102 Americans killed.

“Total attacks in October 2006 averaged 180 per day, up from 70 per day in January 2006. Daily attacks against Iraqi security forces in October were more than double the level in January. Attacks against civilians in October were four times higher than in January. Some 3,000 Iraqi civilians are killed every month.
“Violence is increasing in scope, complexity, and lethality. There are multiple sources of violence in Iraq: the Sunni Arab insurgency, al Qaida and affiliated jihadist groups, Shiite militias and death squads, and organised criminality.

“The insurgency has no single leadership but is a network of networks. It benefits from participants' detailed knowledge of Iraq's infrastructure, and arms and financing are supplied primarily from within Iraq. The insurgents have different goals, although nearly all oppose the presence of US forces in Iraq.

“Al Qaida is responsible for a small portion of the violence in Iraq... Al Qaida in Iraq is now largely Iraqi-run and composed of Sunni Arabs. Foreign fighters – numbering an estimated 1,300 – play a supporting role or carry out suicide operations.

“The United Nations estimates that 1.6 million are displaced within Iraq, and up to 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country.

 “The Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada al-Sadr, may number as many as 60,000 fighters. It has directly challenged US and Iraqi government forces, and it is widely believed to engage in regular violence against Sunni Arab civilians.

 “Along with this military presence, the United States is building its largest embassy in Baghdad. The current US embassy in Baghdad totals about 1,000 US government employees. There are roughly 5,000 civilian contractors in the country.

“Currently, the US military rarely engages in large-scale combat operations.
“The composition of the Iraqi government is basically sectarian, and key players within the government too often act in their sectarian interest. Iraq's Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish leaders frequently fail to demonstrate the political will to act in Iraq's national interest, and too many Iraqi ministries lack the capacity to govern effectively.

“Instead of meeting a target of 10 percent, growth in Iraq is at roughly 4 percent this year. Inflation is above 50 percent. Unemployment estimates range widely from 20 to 60 percent...

“The United States has appropriated a total of about $34bn (of oil revenues) to support the reconstruction of Iraq... Nearly $16bn has been spent, and almost all the funds have been committed...

“The United States has people embedded in several Iraqi ministries, but it confronts problems with access and sustainability. Moqtada al-Sadr objects to the US presence in Iraq, and therefore the ministries he controls – Health, Agriculture, and Transportation – will not work with Americans. It is not clear that Iraqis can or will maintain and operate reconstruction projects launched by the United States...

“International support for Iraqi reconstruction has been tepid. International donors pledged $13.5bn to support reconstruction, but less than $4bn has been delivered...

 “Of all the neighbours, Iran has the most leverage in Iraq... (Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States) for the most part have been passive and disengaged... Funding for the Sunni insurgency comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, even as those governments help facilitate US military operations in Iraq by providing basing and overflight rights and by cooperating on intelligence issues...”

On this day: 16 December 1773

The Boston Tea Party

The incident that sparked the American Revolution took place on 16 December 1773, the Boston Tea Party (in painting, below). The initial cause of that revolution was the impertinence (as the American colonists saw it) of the British imperial parliament in imposing taxation on the colonists and the subsequent arrest and indictment of a trader, John Hancock, whose ship Liberty was seized by custom officials, he having refused to pay tax.  

Hancock organised a boycott of tea from China sold by the British East India Company. That company ran up huge debts and stockpiles because of the boycott and because Hancock began importing “smuggled” tea. The British Parliament passed the Tea Act permitting the East Indian Company to sell tea to colonists directly at prices lower even than the “smuggled” tea. Ships carrying the British East India Company tea were boarded by rebel colonists and the tea thrown into Boston harbour. The British responded with the passing of the Coercive Acts which roused rebels on the 13 colonies. The war of independence followed.

Mallard in flight

A male Mallard in mid-flight. The fundamentals of bird flight are similar to those of aircraft. Lift force is produced by the action of air-flow on the wing, which is an airfoil. This occurs because the air has a lower air pressure just above the wing and higher pressure below. When a bird flaps its wings continue to develop lift but they also create an additional forward and upward force, thrust, to counteract its weight and drag.

Fianna Fáil soars ahead in Nuacht TG4 poll

The decision of Marian Harkin (pictured) not to contest Sligo/North Leitrim saves Fianna Fáil a seat in that constituency they might have lost – the seat of Leitrim TD John Ellis. This is conformed by the Nuacht TG4 opinion poll carried out by TNS/MRBI in the constituency.

Other Nuacht TG4 constituency polls give comfort to Fianna Fáil that it will return to government after the next election.

In Kerry South, Fianna Fáil will win two seats: John O'Donoghue and his running mate, Tom Fleming – if Jackie Healy-Rea fails to retain his seat – and Breeda Moynihan-Cronin taking the third seat. No seat for Fine Gael.

In Wexford, Fianna Fáil is certain to hold onto its two seats with 41 per cent of the vote, with Fine Gael holding its two seats and Labour holding its seat – no chance, according to the TG4 poll for Colm O'Gorman who is standing for the PDs.

In Galway West Fianna Fáil has a chance of winning a third seat either from Fine Gael or the PDs, certain to hold its two seats.

In Mayo Fianna Fáil is certain to retain its  two seats here and is in with a chance of taking Beverly Flynn's seat – she is running as an Independent. Fine Gael, even with its leader Enda Kenny being the candidate here, seems to have no chance of taking three seats although it held three seats out of five in the 1997 general election.

In Clare Fianna Fáil is certain to hold its two seats, even though Sile de Valera is dropping out.