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Tom Penn

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About Tom Penn

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  1. The only thing I know for sure about Chalabi is that Harith Al-Attia is exactly correct that he deserves a lot of the credit, or a lot of the blame (depending on your view), for the US policy change on Hussein's governance from "Containment" to "Regime Change". And he is right that this official change of policy occurred during the Clinton administration, but was only acted on under Bush in light of 9/11. Chalabi worked tirelessly, organizing and empowering the world-wide Iraqi dissident community to speak out about the horrors of Hussein's brutality in Iraq. He did not just lobby the US government, but others as well. Without the efforts of Chalabi and other like him, people like me could only guess about what was happening in Iraq. I do not know if all the information Chalabi provided to the US Congress was accurate, or if his group provided inaccurate intelligence about WMD programs. But, I do know there are hundreds of thousands of dead bodies piled in mass graves around Iraq, torture chambers all around the country, and that rape and child abduction appear to have been institutionalized tools of Hussein's government. Chalabi surely deserves some substantial credit for working to see that these horrors are finally ended in Iraq, I hope forever.
  2. Salim, Dear friend, you make many very good points. Certainly, you understand the situation within Iraq much better than I ever could. Texas Gentlemen in a post titled "Iraqi Opinions" in the forum “By members” below expressed my reservations about immediate direct elections versus Bremer's caucus plan much better than I have. My concerns about premature direct elections are not limited to security. There are many other very important practical concerns, but I won't go into those details here again. I fully support proceeding with elections for local governments in more stable areas, and it is my understanding that those are taking place (I sure hope they are). But, I am very afraid of what could happen in Iraq if the Sunni's are not fully joined in the national political process from the beginning. It's absolutely unthinkable that sovereign power of the nation be handed over exclusively to Kurds and Shiites, as is now being proposed. Such a division of the Iraqi people is impossible. If the Sunni's are disenfranchised politically, they will have no choice but to fight, and if you think there is a terrorist problem in Iraq now, just wait. No, they MUST be brought along by your side. Compromises must be made to keep them politically engaged. And I do not mean compromises that give them privileged power, but I mean by making the process representative in a fair way for the whole nation. Our soldiers and the Iraqi Army and IP will still be there to ensure the 2005 elections take place and that "interim" does not become "permanent". I absolutely do not trust Sistani, or any other religious figure consolidating his power and throwing his weight around. Bin Laden talks softly, and he was not raging about killing infidels when we were helping the Afghans oust the Soviet Union. I do not trust political religious leaders. And I do not trust anyone who says one thing, but does another. And regardless of what Sistani says, he is very much engaged in politics and taking a very active position at that, as are the other Shia clerics. As a matter of fact, he already seems to be DOMINATING the political process within Iraq. I hope that I am wrong to distrust Sistani, but his positions look very much to me like an opportunistic, heavy-handed power grab by Shia church figures before secular parties have had a chance to fully organize, develop their positions, and publicize them to attract memberships. The church figures have taken to doing these things in their Mosques at every opportunity. They have a ready-made bully pulpit and they are obviously not afraid to use it. And, this new alliance of Kurdish politicians and Shia clerics does not bode well for a peaceful, democratic path forward for Iraq as a nation, and further supports my theory that this early direct election position by the Shia clergy is an ill-disguised power grabbing maneuver. And it quite likely will fuel the resistance and scare more Sunnis into more active support of it, and perhaps further encourage participation by like-minded sectarians from elsewhere in the Muslim world, which will add to the many enemies of a free and democratic Iraq. I know that no election is flawless, but it is very important that we all understand the potential consequences of each knowable "flaw". Decisions must be made on a logical risk versus reward basis. Some risks are too potentially damaging to our common objective to take. And, I'll tell you, Salim, this emerging situation looks pretty dangerous from where I am sitting. But, I have such a limited perspective and perhaps I am wrong about many things. Actually, I pray that I'm wrong about many things. But, I am eager for you to teach me. It is very likely that I worry too much, but my worry is for you and your countrymen, so please be patient with me. Take care, my friend. Regards, Tom Penn
  3. Best political analysis of the American position in Iraq that I have read, Texas Gentleman. I could not agree more. I do hope Iraqis choose to continue down this path, and that Sistani backs off. I hate that these decisions are left so much to a wild card like the UN. They may side with Sistani just to get to watch us try and dodge all the landmines created by a premature popular election scenario. Clearly the UN is not squeamish about the sight of Iraqi blood, and many in that esteemed body would consider an Iraqi disaster quite a price worth paying just to be able to point their crooked finger toward an "American failure". Distressing. I wish we could at least trust the UN to try and do the right thing by the Iraqi people.
  4. I wish so much I could read arabic and understand your story. It's such a pretty and eloquent looking language. Beautiful curves, and to me, full of mystery. I feel like a pre-schooler looking at English cursive writing. I thought that things written in such a way must be very important and special. Anyway, I'm sorry for myself that I cannot read your words.
  5. George B, I am not ignorant, naive or in self-denial. American Empire? Hilarious. If we are an Empire, pray tell, what nations are we an Empire over? Who, exactly, are the subects of this Empire? How do we weld our Emperial power? My communist friend, if the US is an Empire, why did we honor the will of the democratically elected Turkish parliament and go around Turkey instead of through her at the inception of this war? Did Stalin, Hitler, Napolean, or any of your other jackbooted Impirial heroes ask permission before stomping through their friends? No. Had they asked permission, would they then have honored a negative response? No. Would they then have worked to bring Democratic self-rule? No. Your pretense that history has happened in a vacuum and that bad, evil America has stomped around the world enslaving the free exposes you as the one who is ignorant, naive and in self-denial. You cannot speak of the "truth" and "American Empire" in the same post without exposing yourself further to be a Communist America hater. Why don't you talk about the truth of Communist conquest and number of genocides committed in YOUR name.
  6. Sistani is doing no one a favor by pretending that the US is not working toward a direct election for a Democratic government in Iraq. The disagreement is not about the end result, but the most viable, efficient, and safe path to get to that result. Sistani seems to think some magic wand can be waved and *poof* free and fair direct elections can be held in Iraq. This is pure naive fantasy. I do agree that we are lucky Sistani is not a radical, but it would be helpful if his object was not to unify Iraqis for the sole purpose of opposing the US framework to build political and electoral institutions to support direct elections next year. If Sistani were so fired up about early direct elections, why did he not help the Americans when we were trying to light a fire under the GC's ass last year when we were begging them to get busy WRITING A CONSTITUTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO VOTE ON?!!! But, no. Sistani has been too occupied with throwing up roadblocks to the caucus election for an interim government and Constitutional convention representatives (our plan B because why? NO CONSTITUTION), without proposing any real viable alternative. No, it is not helpful that Sistani pretends the Americans are the ones "dragging our feet" and trying to postpone Democracy. It is not helpful that Sistani ignores all the very practical reasons why direct elections right now are not feasible (lack of electoral and political infrastructure, lack of security, lack of a lawful process, lack of a CONSTITUTION, etc.). It is not helpful that Sistani pretends there are no external (elections within coalition govts) and internal political realities (defanging the "resistance", as well as points mentioned above) that dictate the handover to a interim Iraqi authority before direct elections can feasibly be held. Sistani fails to recognize that a caucus system for electing an interim government and Constitutional convention representatives is much more democratic, and will more quickly lead to the production of a Constitution and direct elections, than the "loyal jirga" path that Afghanistan has taken. Sistani needs to face the reality that a handover of political power to an Iraqi interim government must take place in June and that direct elections are not feasible within that time frame. Until he can come up with an alternative plan that acknowledges those realities, he is simply being obstructionist.
  7. Salim, the UN is the most corrupt and powerful undemocratic institution in the world. I do not trust them in any measure. Iraqis would do well to stay on guard where the UN is involved. Think about it. The same governments that do not want Iraq to succeed have a great deal of power there. Libya chairs the UN Human Rights Commission. If you can believe it, Iran and Iraq were scheduled to chair the UN Disarmament Conference this past summer. I could go on and on telling you things that would sound like bad jokes if they were not true. Look carefully at whatever course the UN advocates. I do not trust them to act in the best interests of Iraqis.
  8. All those who took blood money from Hussein should pay restitution to the Iraqi people and give an accounting of what Iraq's treasure was spent on by them. If there is any justice in this world they would be brought before a court of law. The Iraqi people need to know everyone who benefitted from their abuse and imprisonment so they can guard against their influence in the future. The Iraqis should take note the number of Communist and Socialist parties around the world that have benefitted from their suffering. I'll bet a lot of the money for the private donors was then used to fund the efforts of Hussein's Communist and Socialist friends to buy influence and organize marches throughout Europe and the world. I would not doubt that many of George B.'s favorite Communist/Socialist "writers" and "peace movement" leaders are on the list, or were paid by people or political parties on the list. The Iraqi people should beware, as these political parties have set up shop in Iraq and will lull the Iraqi people into new shackles like they are trying to lull the Europeans into the EU which will destroy their democracies and take power away from the citizens of the individual nations. I would bet this same type of bribery is being used by the other corrupt Arab governments to fund their press, so they can continue to oppress and steal from their own people. Iraqis should search the internet for the names of these people and find out how they have been working against you and what groups they belong to. OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE TRUTH!
  9. Sargeant Masry, I took a google through the “articles” of Felicity Arbuthnot, and checked her biographical information. She is either a tyrant-loving, America-hating, history re-writing, crack-pot scientist darling of the communist world, or a humanitarian (I can’t tell the difference anymore). Having researched her history, I found it outrageous that she should call your credentials and motives into question. She is a self-proclaimed “expert” on Iraq by virtue of having been chauffeured around Iraq by one of Hussein’s best friends on many occasions since 1991. Her biographical information failed to mention where she went to university, or whether she achieved a degree in Arabic Studies, so I doubt she has done either. Ms. Arbuthnot is an Irish-born British citizen, who worked for the UN in Iraq under Denis J. Halliday while he administered the UN Palaces for Food program. The UN paid a lot of money for oil in exchange for food and medicine to care for the Iraqi people. Since Ms. Arbuthnot worked for the UN under Denis Halliday administering this program in Iraq, she owes the world, and especially Iraqis, an explanation. Where is all the money the Iraqi people got for the oil they sold the UN? If not the money then where did the food go? Where did the medicine go? Why were the smuggling programs that contravened the US Oil for “Food” program left uninvestigated? Can she guess where that money went? That money belongs to the Iraqi people, and as an American, I’m pretty confident in saying, IT IS NOT IN MY POCKET. Certainly, it was not used to properly feed and care for the Iraqi people. So, where is it? Regarding the content of her articles, they all sound a lot alike. All the world’s problems are, of course, America’s fault. Supposedly she spent a lot of time in Iraq during Hussein’s rule working as a “humanitarian”, yet I could not find one mean word about Saddam Hussein. I could find no comment against his regime’s systematic oppression, starvation and murder of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of the Iraqi people. No complaints about all the palaces he built and the lavish lifestyle he enjoyed while he and his proxies robbed, raped, shredded, starved, maimed and murdered the Iraqi people. If Ms. Arbuthnot really cared for Iraqi’s, why would she bother attacking an Arab-American soldier who is building schools for the Iraqi children, and asking for book donations for Iraqi libraries? She has never bothered to speak against the documented atrocities of Saddam Hussein, but she attacks with hateful passion a man risking his life to give Iraqis a chance at a better one? If I were a less charitable person, I might think Felicity Arbuthnot’s name might be found on Hussein's money list. Thank you Sergeant Masry for all your good work. Your progress is causing great distress to all the "humanitarians", “freelance journalists”, tyrants and terrorists who supported Saddam Hussein, so you must be doing something right. Respectful regards, Tom Penn
  10. An incredible day for Iraqis and freedom loving people throughout the world. I am full of emotion. Saddam will see Iraqi justice. God bless you all.
  11. I am eager to hear every word uttered from the mouth of a free Iraqi. God bless you. I was so concerned that Iraqis would fail to understand our purpose, like many Vietnamese did. But, Iraqis understand freedom more than many Americans. Thank God. May your future be full of peace and dignity and freedom.
  12. Bill Gates has great wealth because he is a brilliant, hard-working man. Look at all those he employs around the world, and has enriched by his genius. He has enabled other businesses to be more efficient and successful the world over. Consider the great work accomplished by his charities. Great wealth, lawfully gained, is good and not evil. Bill Gates would not be such a wealthy man, and Microsoft products would not be successful if people did not WANT to buy his product. Good business makes the world a winner. One of the reasons America is such a wealthy, powerful and successful nation is because her people are free to pursue their dreams. I hope Iraqis will be able to do the same, and enrich themselves and their nation, as their abilities will allow. I also hope that wealthy, successful Iraqis will give back to their communities, their country, and the world, as many wealthy successful Americans choose to do.
  13. Freedom and Democracy allow the community to decide the moral standard. For example, many community councils create laws to prohibit the sale of liquor, restrict or prohibit the sale of beer, types of permissible businesses, etc. Many times the community will vote on a local ballot on such issues. Typically the cities and urban centers are more liberal than the countryside communities, reflecting the majority beliefs of the citizens. But, none can decide a lifestyle for another, except for lawful restrictions decided by the democratic processes. For example, we agree as a society that adults cannot have sex with children and public nudity is not permissible. The Iraqis will decide permissible lawful choices within their own democratic framework. Also, many Americans live honorable, Godly lives, as all are free to do according to their religious and moral beliefs. Did God not give man free will?
  14. Dearest Bahlol, Please do not apologize for your English. I understood every beautiful word, and I have rarely been so deeply moved. I am truly amazed by the Iraqi people. How can people that have suffered such horror and betrayal emerge so thoroughly good and forgiving and intelligent and kind? I have so much to learn from you. You are an inspiration to the world. You ask the question, “will others leave us alone”? I believe that the Iraqi people will build a great democratic society, and as such, you will be strong. And the American people will stand side by side as your friend for as long as you will have us. Standing strong together, who would dare to threaten you? You have all my prayers for your future happiness. With love, pure friendship, and deep respect, Your brother
  15. I am a great admirer of James Baker. He is one of only a handful of men with the kind of stature and respect around the world to negotiate Iraq's debt forgiveness and restructuring. All these countries Iraq is now indebted to, loaned money to your tyrant for him to put in his pocket at the expense of the Iraqi people. Surely many can be shamed into forgiving this burden, and Baker is just the man to it. He is from my state, and so I have followed his career. He is a truly fine man of uncommon quality and character with exceptional negotiating skills. Bush could not have done better for Iraq.
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