Watch: Neo-con Bremer has shoe thrown at him in Parl.


by Sunny Hundal    
10:45 am - February 11th 2013

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On Wednesday last week, one of the architects of the colossal failure that was the Iraq war spoke at Parliament/

The Neo-conservative diplomat Paul Bremer was at an event organised by the hard-right Henry Jackson Society. Bremer was most notable for his role as the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq.

One of the audience members – an Iraqi – threw both his shoes at him on behalf of the Iraqi people. He said Bremer has “fucked up” his country.

Bremer responded with a typically silly remark about how he would not have been allowed that in Iraq. Neither in Guantanamo Bay, I suspect.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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For additional illumination on Paul Bremner, try this:

“Paul Bremner, former head of the US led civilian administration in Iraq was quizzed by a Congressional committee which is investigating allegations of fraud. Mr Bremner defended his decision to send billions of dollars in cash to Baghdad during the years 2003 to 2004. These funds originally came from Iraqi oil revenue and frozen assets.

“Much of the money sent by Bremner went missing and can still not be tracked to this day. When questioned by Henry Waxman, the democratic Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Mr Bremner answered; ‘that he had done his best to kick-start Iraq’s economy.’

“Henry Waxman asked,’who in their right mind would send 360 tons of cash into a war zone?.’ He added, ‘But that is exactly what our Government did. There is no way of knowing whether the cash which totals $9 billion and flown over on pallets from the US would end up in enemy hands.’”
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/143983/paul_bremer_sending_billions_of_cash.html

How childish and immature.

As Mandy Rice Davies once said: He would say that, wouldn’t he? From being Peter Rachman’s girl friend, her career progressed to running a nightclub in Tel Aviv.

By reports, the GW Bush administration never did find out what happened to the missing $9 billion sent to Iraq in bundles of Dollar bills on pallets.

Try this on the meeting in December 1983 between Donald Rumsfeld, as President Reagan’s envoy, and President Saddam Hussein:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaP7ZrmkcuU

Why are they throwing shoes at a US politician visiting the UK Parliament when they could be throwing them at UK politicians who supported the invasion on a daily basis?

Also, lame: throwing shoes and posting the video as if it is making some deep, satirical point.

Shatterface: “Why are they throwing shoes at a US politician visiting the UK Parliament when they could be throwing them at UK politicians who supported the invasion on a daily basis?”

That’s a good question. However, I can reasonably claim to have been highly critical of Blair and to have opposed the invasion of Iraq since it was mooted in the public domain in 2002.

Bremner produced the standard response to the Iraqi shoe-thrower by suggesting that had he done that towards Saddam Hussein, he would have met a quick end. He was duly applauded.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was an evil despot who ran a self-serving regime for the benefit of himself and family. But most of those who knew the country had long since recognised that his despotic regime kept an effective lid on the underlying sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq. It was appreciated by many that removing him would very likely unleash those tensions – as it did. As a result, many tens of thousands have been killed in sectarian and ethnic strife in Iraq. The question is was removing Saddam Hussein worth the ensuing death toll?

According to this interview in 2004 of Paul O’Neill, the first US treasury secretary of the GW Bush presidency, planning for the invasion of Iraq started in January 2001, virtually as the incoming administration took office and months before 9/11:

“CRAWFORD, Texas — Paul O’Neill, President Bush’s Treasury secretary in the first two years of his presidency, says the Bush administration was planning to invade Iraq long before the Sept. 11 attacks and used questionable intelligence to justify the war.”
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-01-11-oneill-iraq_x.htm

Bremner, appointed as US Consul in Iraq by the Bush administration after the invasion, must bear some personal responsibility for what happened and especially as to what happened to the missing $9 billions in Dollar bills. Saying or implying that Saddam Hussein was an evil despot is not good enough.

“The question is was removing Saddam Hussein worth the ensuing death toll?”

If I say yes will you throw a shoe at me?

“If I say yes will you throw a shoe at me?”

No – but I would ask how large the death toll would have to be before you consider it too large to have been worth invading Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.

Several years back, it was estimated that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died in the ensuing sectarian and ethnic conflicts in Iraq which followed the invasion and the overthrow of the regime. The missing $9 billion dollars raises questions about the real motives for the invasion that had been planned for since January 2001 at the beginning of the GW Bush Presidency. Try this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_War_misappropriations

Btw WW2 started on 3 September 1939 when Britain and France issued an ultimatum to Nazi Germany to desist from the German invasion of Poland. There was no response so Britain and France declared war on Germany. By August 1945 when hostilities finally came to an end, 55 million people had been killed.

I’m not sure how useful a question that would ever be. Unless blesses with the gift of clairvoyance the choice is never going to be couched in terms of a finite number. For anyone who is not a pacifist, and I am not, then the dilemma is simply knowing that in order to overthrow a tyrant (one would hope an uncontroversial goal for any progressive) the price will be the deaths of many innocents. It’s an uncomfortable choice for anyone with a conscience but I think it unlikely that the continued rule of the Baathists would have been more benign.

Incidentally the $9bn you cite, if I understand your links correctly, is the money spent without proper accounting controls, it’s something of an exaggeration to refer to it as “missing” although some of it may be. And of course, the US goal of overthrowing Saddam predates the Bush administration.

Jimmy: “And of course, the US goal of overthrowing Saddam predates the Bush administration.”

The goals of getting rid of Hitler, Stalin and Mao doubtless long predated their welcome demise. So what? American administrations had propped up the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq so as to serve American interests – hence the meeting between Rumsfeld and SH in December 1983 – and to contain the internal sectarian and ethnic tensions.

There are – and have long been – plenty of nasty, authoritarian regimes around the world and we would be engaged in permanent war trying to depose them all. The Thirty Years War in Europe lasted from 1618-48. It was mostly about one or another sovereign state invading a neighbouring state to install some alternative brand of Christianity so as to save the souls of misguided heretics from eternal damnation – what higher motivation could there possibly be? Thousands were killed as a result.

The Thirty Year War finally ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which established the subsequent guiding principle in international affairs that the internal affairs of a sovereign state were the responsibility of its sovereign and should be free from interference by other states:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Westphalia

The invasion of Iraq did not have the sanction of the United Nations – although Blair in a keynote speech in Chicago in 1999 had said: “If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar.”

Blair was advised by many distinguished international lawyers before the invasion that such an invasion would be contrary to international law.

“The Thirty Year War finally ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which established the subsequent guiding principle in international affairs that the internal affairs of a sovereign state were the responsibility of its sovereign and should be free from interference by other states:”

A much overrated principle in my view and one which I believe died at Birkenau.

US support for Saddam under Reagan (an infinitely worse administration than Shrub’s) was indeed shameful, but I’m puzzled that so many on the left seem upset that the policy changed.

Jimmy: “A much overrated principle in my view and one which I believe died at Birkenau.”

Really? You would have had no objection then to a Soviet blitzkrieg attack across the North German plain to liberate the exploited workers in the capitalist countries of westen European? How about North Korea liberating South Korea?

The UN Security Council was created to prevent such unilateral military action except for cases such as Birkenau. The UN Security Council did not sanction the invasion of Iraq.

Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939 so as to honour a treaty obligation with Poland to defend Poland’s territorial integrity. At the end of the ensuing conflict in August 1945, 55 million people had been killed.

Isn’t it curious how often the Nazi concentration camps are so often invoked to justify a pre-emptive miltary strike but not in the case of the famine in the Ukraine in 1932/33 created by the enforced collectivization of Soviet agriculture in accordance with a policy announced by Stalin in December 1929: “To launch an offensive against the kulaks means that we must smash the kulaks, eliminate them as a class.”

Estimates of the resulting death toll from the famine in the Ukraine and Belarus are of the order of 7 millions. Apparently, nobody cares about those victims.

What would have happened to an Iraqi protestor who threw a shoe at member of the Ba’ath regime?

“Bremer responded with a typically silly remark..”

You may call fledgling democratic rights – ‘silly’, but perhaps you could go on to explain why what he said was untrue?

I’ve met quite a few Iraqis in the UK. Not a single one of them isn’t grateful beyond belief for the role Britain played in overthrowing their persecutor. In fact, you sometimes feel embarrassed when talking to them, such is their steadfast admiration of Blair and Bush. You will never understand this because you have never been persecuted by the state like they were.

Others will have a different view of course, but a 2005 opinion poll in Iraq noted that 77% of Iraqis felt the ousting of Saddam Hussein had been worth the hardships brought on by the war.

Finally, Bremer has never been a neoconservative. Bremer was never an architects of the Iraq War. Bremer was a senior diplomat sent to Iraq following the invasion. The decision to take military action against Iraq had nothing to do with him. There are enough things that went wrong with Iraq. You do not need to make things up.

VERY INTERESTING INDEED.

I just watched the video. I suggest others listen to the conversation prior to the shoe throwing.

You left that bit out, didn’t you?

Before he throws the shoe – he says: “I have message for you, from former President Saddam Hussien.” *throws shoe.

Undermining ‘neocons’ by promoting Saddamists now?

Bit low, even for LC.

@Bob B

I think your analogies are rather far fetched. I suspect you don’t genuinely believe that western European workers required liberation by Stalin, or South Korea by the feudal monarchy to its north. If you are pointing out that the doctrine of liberal intervention could be abused by charlatans then of course this is true (and indeed has happened before) but it hardly negates the concept. Nor is it a logical argument to point out that not all tyrannies are overthrown in this way. One may as well argue against prosecuting murder because some killers evade justice. I share your discomfort with the idea of unilateral action and would have preferred to see the invasion of Iraq taken back to the UN. In matters of war and peace however we are invariably forced to choose the lesser of two evils and in the overthrow of Saddam I have little doubt the correct choice was made.

15. Maltese Cross

To mix a metaphor, I imagine Sunny has wet dreams about incidents like this.

Jimmy: “I suspect you don’t genuinely believe that western European workers required liberation by Stalin, or South Korea by the feudal monarchy to its north.”

Of course I don’t but from its (benighted and insular) perspective the governing regime of the pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union could have believed it would have been facilitating the liberation of oppressed workers by launching a blitzkrieg attack across the North German plain to subdue capitalist regimes in western Europe.

That was certainly a contingency which concerned NATO in the 1970s and early 1980s, not least because of the recognised continuing numerical superiority of Warsaw Pact armour capability. After all, the Soviet Union had sent out military missions, including tanks, to suppress dissident uprisings in East Germany in 1953, in Hungary in 1956 and Czecho-Slovakia in 1968. North Korea had invaded South Korea in June 1950. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Iraqi exiles living safely in Britain didn’t have to endure the threats to their personal security and well-being from the unleashing of sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq, which followed the invasion on 20 March 2003 and which have led to the deaths of at least 100,000 civilians according to independent estimates. Prior to that illegal invasion, Iraqis who didn’t appear to threaten or offend the SH regime could lead relatively secure lives in a more-or-less secular state.

And there remains the mystery of what exactly happened to the missing $9 billions delivered in Dollar bills on pallets after the invasion – not according to me but according to a US Congressional inquiry – as well as the misappropriations referenced in the Wikipedia entry linked @7. Some US based logistic and security contractors, with good Neo-Con contacts, made a lot of money by several accounts from contracts placed by the US administration in Iraq.

Try this interview on American media of Richard Clarke, President GW Bush’s former counter-terrorism adviser:

“(CBS MarketWatch) — A second former Bush administration official is set to accuse top presidential aides, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of planning retaliatory strikes on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, despite briefings from intelligence officials explaining that Iraq likely wasn’t responsible. . .

“Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq … We all said, ‘but no, no, al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan,’ Clarke said in the interview. “And Rumsfeld said, ‘There aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan, and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.’ I said, ‘Well, there are lots of good targets in lots of places, but Iraq had nothing to do with [the September 11 attacks].’”
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-03-20-clarke_x.htm

The legality of the Iraq was, at the time, not as cut and dry a question as it seems now. The Iraq invasion came on the back of a growing liberal interventionism that had been witnessed over the previous decade. At the time, this certainly seemed to be a developing ‘norm’ in international law – and any aspect of customary international law is almost by definition going to have a controversial rise. Had Iraq been better timed, had the case for war been made stronger, the coalition been broader and the execution more competent – one can only think that norm would have continued unabated.

Even now, whether under the humanitarian guise of responsibility-to-protect; or a more self interested notion of ungoverned or ill-governed areas representing risks to the interests of democratic states and therefore providing a UN ‘self defense’ rational – the arguments for intervention elsewhere are not a million miles away from those given for Iraq.

It would be nice to live in a law-governed world, but the United Nations in its current form isn’t fit for purpose. It had a usefulness in the post-WW2 years, but its utility has rather dried up since the end of the cold war.

In a globalised world, a Westphalian notion of sovereignty and non-intervention doesn’t serve the strategic interests of most of the powerful states. Like it or not – every state has a choice – it can stick to well established customary law and treaty law; or it can act unlawfully on the assumption that such unlawful behaviour is contributing to a change in customary law – or simply because its interests are better served by going outside international law and suffering the consequences.

As it stands, the key elements of international law that govern war, aggression and self defence don’t adequately serve the interests of the powerful, co-dependent, democratic, human rights respecting states. A state acting ‘lawfully’ isn’t an end in itself. I’m far more concerned with the actual outcomes that state behaviour has for real people. Whether that be for those at the mercy of tyrants or those at risk from attacks launched in tyrant controlled areas. Paying regard to the long-term consequences of any deviation from international law, if the interests of real people are better served by a deviation – so be it.

I think we need international law – in fact I think we need much more of it – but it needs to be better and it needs to better reflect the strategic realities of the world. Luckily, many state’s interests are now served better by notions of freedom, openness and human rights so one can hope that the international law that will no-doubt emerge in the coming years will be something with more utility and make deviations from the law not only less attractive, but more coherently condemnable by those who are concerned with people’s well-being.

It can only be hoped that this law develops gradually through agreements rather than as a result of a settlement after another world-wide conflict.

“Prior to that illegal invasion, Iraqis who didn’t appear to threaten or offend the SH regime could lead relatively secure lives in a more-or-less secular state.”

Sounds lovely.

Are you being serious?

“Are you being serious?”

Yes – I was reflecting reports from Iraqis.

Doing or saying anything which appeared to threaten the SH regime and the ensuing reprisals would be swift and terrible but otherwise the quality of everyday life was a great deal better than the loss of personal security and the failing utility supplies which followed the invasion of March 2003. And the terrorist killings have continued since.

Independent estimates from some years back are that at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed as the result of the ethnic and sectarian tensions unleashed by removing the SH regime. The UN Security Council did not sanction that invasion.

Before someone again invokes the Holocaust, while the Nazis were explicitly antisemtic in their fundamental programme of 1920 – as were other political parties and groups in the Weimar Republic – the so-called “final solution” dates from decisions as the Wannsee Conference of January 1942. Britain had declared war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939. At the end of the war that followed, 55 million people had been killed, which is a great many more than the number of Holocaust victims.

Btw according to this Guardian report from 2004, Senator Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President GW Bush, was a fund-raiser for the Nazis on their way to power:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

That is one reason why I take the professed libertarian concerns of the neo-cons less than seriously.

“That is one reason why I take the professed libertarian concerns of the neo-cons less than seriously.”

One of them having a dodgy ancestor?

Jimmy: “One of them having a dodgy ancestor?”

To be specific, US Senator Prescott Bush, President GW Bush’s grandfather was a fund-raiser for the Nazis on their way to power.

There were and are lots of nasty, oppressive regimes around the world. A goodly collection of them – including Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – have been propped up by successive American presidencies. Hence the visit of Rumsfeld, as President Reagan’s envoy, to meet with Saddam Hussein in Decmeber 1983.

By an account of GW Bush’s own cabinet member, Paul O’Neill, the US Treasury Secretary, the Bush administration started planning for the invasion of Iraq on coming into office in January 2001, months before 9/11 that year. As we heard from Richard Clarke (linked @16), Bush’s counter-terrorism adviser, the day after 9/11 Rumsfeld was (wrongly) suggesting that SH was implicated. Why pick on Iraq to invade? Why the missing $9 billion in Dollar bills airlifted into Iraq on pallets? Why all those multi-million dodgy contracts handed out in Iraq after the invasion to American contractors, at least some with neo con connections?

Least anyone suppose my opposition to the Iraq invasion verges on personal eccentricity, recall that Barack Obama, as a US Senator, opposed the Iraq war from the start. And this BBC news report from March 2003 gives the names of MPs who voted for the rebel amendment to the Blair government’s motion for the war:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2862397.stm

As an Iraqi, I hate Paul Bremer in a way that non-Iraqis simply cannot feel. That’s not to say that you cannot understand how bad he was for Iraq or lack human empathy, but you’ll never have the gut instinctive hate for him. You barely know the people or society which his incompotence, ego and dogmatic self-righteousness destroyed. I did and I hate him.

I hate Saddam more though and the man who threw the shoe clearly says that he has a “message from Saddam Hussein”. He’s not only an apologist, like many liberals are, for Saddam Hussein – he’s clearly a supporter too. In future, report those comments too instead of a thinly-veiled pursuit of your anti-American agenda.

“He’s not only an apologist, like many liberals are, for Saddam Hussein – he’s clearly a supporter too.”

I dispute that “liberals” are or were apologists for SH. For liberals, the issues are the legality of the invasion in March 2003 without the sanction of the United Nations and whether the liberating benefits of removing SH were worth the foreseeable ethnic and sectarian strife that would likely follow and which is still continuing on almost a daily basis.

The Republicans in America have more to apologise for by propping up the SH regimes through 1980s – hence the visit of Rumsfeld, as President Reagan’s envoy, to meet with SH in December 1983 – see the link @3.

“The Republicans in America have more to apologise for by propping up the SH regimes through 1980s ”

Why do you want them to apologise if you believe that leaving SH in place was the lesser evil? Surely they were simply carrying out the policy you now berate them for abandoning?

Jimmy: “Why do you want them to apologise if you believe that leaving SH in place was the lesser evil? Surely they were simply carrying out the policy you now berate them for abandoning?”

Because Republican administrations propped SH up when that suited their interests to do so and then launched an invasion of Iraq to depose SH when that suited their interests and when the ensuing ethnic and sectarian conflicts have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

What happened to the missing $9 billions airlifted on Bremner’s authority into Iraq after the invasion in Dollar bills on pallets? What military planning was there for Iraq post-war?

Blair knew US had no post-war plan for Iraq
· PM committed troops despite chaos fears
· Bush ‘offered to fight without UK’
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jun/17/iraq.iraq

Bob,

Your reply makes no sense. You appear to be saying that the US was wrong to prop him up and wrong to overthrow him. And your continual reference to $9bn (which doesn’t seem to be supported by your links) is in any event an entirely different point, as is the failure to plan.

Jimmy: “You appear to be saying that the US was wrong to prop him up and wrong to overthrow him.”

Of course. The problem of SH and his self-serving regime was created by US Republican administrations to suit American interests. He was then deposed to suit the interests of the Neo Cons in the GW Bush administration regardless of the nmber of Iraqis killed as the result of the foreseaable ensuing ethnic and sectarian conflicts.

You just dodge all the inconvenient questions for your benighted cause to whitewash the invasion of Iraq.

Why airlift $9 million in Dollar bills on pallets into a war zone? Why no planning by the Bush administration for the post-war situation in Iraq – as Blair knew? There was no need for Blair to involve Britain is this dubious initiative and tell lies to justify the invasion.


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