Some Thoughts on the War in Iraq and Terrorism

Was reading this outstanding article about how the word terrorism changes how states can act in the New York Times today “The Reign of ‘Terror'” and I had this response thinking about the War in Iraq that I posted in the comments:

If nothing else the War in Iraq was great at making terrorists. When the US took over Iraq militarily in a few days, a lot of people were prepared to like us. Then we made three terrible ill-considered decisions by morons like L. Paul Bremer. We didn’t protect the museums and sacred sites from looting; we fired the entire Ba’ath Party and removed the civil institutions of government, making things much less governed; and we disbanded the Iraqi Army. Instead of having a functional (if extremely corrupt) government and an army to keep the peace and rebuild, we had a population without governance, and hundreds of thousands of men with jobs and no work.

The war was good for the Kurds without question, and ISIS/ISIL makes it more likely in my view to see a Kurdish state. And we transferred power from the Sunni Ba’ath party to Shiite rule. Instead of being enemies, Iraq and Iran are closer to allies.

Hurting civilians to stop terrorism, just creates state terror, that “terrorists” fight back against like in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. It’s an Orwellian term that makes for many evils.

If you want to read more about the Iraq War see Charles Ferguson’s excellent documentary “No End in Sight.” If you want to see the effects of state terrorism from the Palestinian perspective I highly recommend Joe Sacco’s graphic journalism in “Palestine” and “Footnotes from Gaza.” Excellent piece by Tomis Kapitan in the New York Times.

While posting an update to Facebook about this I added a lot. Here are those thoughts:

It takes a surreal world for a “War on Terror” to create terrorists, but that is definitely what happened in Iraq. Was reading an excellent post in the New York Times earlier today called “The Reign of ‘Terror'” and this blogpost is mainly my comment. The Iraq War ended a strong dictatorial state run by a stalinist in Saddam Hussein and created a power vacuum with 3 people that don’t get along: the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunnis. With Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party the Sunnis had control and were vicious to Shiites in Iraq and Iran and evil to Kurdish people. The end of the Iraq War has created a virtual Kurdistan in Northern Iraq and a country ruled by the Shiites for now. And the radical Sunnis are now part of ISIS. Be careful of a power vacuum. I thought earlier it was the new Yugoslavia, Tito vs. Hussein but the current states of the former Yugoslavia, especially Slovenia and Croatia are much stronger states than modern Iraq. Will be curious to see what the coming years bring. It’s not good now.

Iraq is a mess. It’s not going to be pretty. I really hope that Kurdistan becomes it’s own state. Turkey helping the Kurds against ISIS now is a big deal. I think at some point the rest of Iraq may break up as well but that’s not clear. Kurdistan is already close to a self governed state already.

Argo ****

Good tense political thriller based on current events.

Solid Best Picture winner if not as good as “The Artist” which I loved.

Not sure why there is a contraversy about it in Canada. It is based on true events, and Canada comes out wonderfully.

Good acting all around. I guess this Ben Affleck fellow has a future in Hollywood.

And it was interesting to me to have the perspective of “Persepolis *****” which is one of my all time favorite books. To be able to see it from the perspective of an Iranian teenage girl gave the movie a lot more background.

Good stuff. I think you will enjoy it.

Books You Like That Others Love

Just finished two books today that judging from Goodreads others loved that I merely liked.

Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel of memories you can’t shake “Underwater Welder” and Kurt Vonnegut’s classic “Mother Night.

I give them both 3 stars.

In reading the Goodreads for each book, it’s clear that both books deeply affected people. For me the ending in “Welder” was all too sudden, and I wanted more.

“Mother Night” was a slow, awkward read for me. I just don’t really like Howard Campbell Jr. very much. He isn’t very sympathetic to me. And frankly being a Nazi propagandist is something that is awkward to read about even in fiction.

But, like other things it’s okay to like or not like something others love.

For instance I saw “Cloud Atlas” which to me seemed long, and disjointed. My wife and her friend both adored the movie. To me it was kind of a mess.

And I really don’t like the big hipster literary fiction. I can’t get into David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest”, or most of Dave Eggers (although I loved “Zeitoun), and a lot of the other leading literary lights of our day.

It’s perfectly okay to like what you like.

But, there are times I wish I loved a book or movie or any art as much as others do. To each their own.

Restless Mind

It’s okay to love
the randomness of my mind.
The way it jumps and leaps
from one thought to another.

From one book to another,
from one place to another.
My mind is restless,
getting different thoughts from different places.

Not just reading newspapers,
not just reading magazines,
the same blogs all the time,
the same books all the time.

I read poetry, and picture books,
and young adult, and non fiction,
and science fiction, and graphic novels .. and …

I talk to the blue collar,
the white collar,
the artists, the unemployed,
the underemployed.

Everyone has a story to tell and something to say.
You need to open your perceptions.

We live in time of filtered streams,
where we tend to read and listen to people who think like us.

But open up your perceptions,
open up your mind,
and be amazed of what’s out there.

It takes a restless mind
to change the world.


I have heard the statistic that 42% of college graduates don’t read after college. I am skeptical. If it’s true, it’s sad and an indictment of college. To me college is all about like the University of Chicago motto: “Let Knowledge Grow From More to More and Thus Let Human Life Be Enriched.”

I think Kurt Vonnegut would say someone who doesn’t read is a twit. And I tend to agree. I also frankly find it sad.

Why the title, because my favorite book I finished this week is Roald Dahl’s fun children’s story “The Twits”. I read a ton of Dahl last year and loved it. “The Twits” is short, silly and wonderful. Basically it’s about 2 horrible people in a couple who keep being meaner and meaner to each other and get uglier and uglier. Great illustrations, short and fun. ***1/2 (4 GR) (Walker PL)

And I do think there are twits that find the highlight of their life is to be mean to people. If you know these kinds of people give them a wide berth.

Illustrated Basho Haiku Poems by Basho: Enjoyable, the impressionist art didn’t really fit the pieces. Also I think I have seen sparer versions of Basho’s work. *** (3 GR)

North of Boston by Robert Frost: Good, but not really my style of poetry. *** (3 GR)

The other book I finished this week was also short, Daniel Clowes’ “Ghost World”. This is an ok graphic novel, and I was frankly disappointed. It’s one of the rare examples of movies I found richer and better than the book, which includes “The Graduate.” I found the 2 main characters mean and petty, and the characters from Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch are richer than the characters in the book. **1/2 (2 GR)

Books bought:

Tonight at Bull Moose:
poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan G. Wooldridge: Excited about this one, seems to be about how poems come into our life, and a lot about my recent journey. Love the opening quote:
“…Poetry arrived
in search of me, I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when…” – Pablo Neruda. Haven’t started this one yet, but excited to. Steal for 3 bucks.

It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong w/ Sally Jenkins: Is Armstrong’s record possibly tarnished by doping, sadly yes, but definitely one of my heroes. Curious how this reads, a why not for 50 cents.

Waterchild: From a Pregnant Year by Judith Bolinger (poems) and Jane English (pictures): Short poetry book with pictures, looks interesting. Another why not for 50 cents.

From River Run Books (Portsmouth, NH):

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: World Book Day book that I have been interested in for a while about the donor of cells that have been used by the millions and billions for medical research. (Free)

Other People We Married by Emma Straub: One Lanna bought, we both follow @emmastraub on Twitter, enjoyed the first story.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: Pulitizer Prize winning author from Rutgers. Been curious about this one for a while, part of World Book Day so free.

Wildlife by Richard Ford: “Independence Day” is one of my favorite books. Haven’t been able to get into his other books as much, including “The Sportswriter”, but for two bucks willing to try again.

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman: Been going through “Amusing Ourselves to Death” in pieces on my Kindle for a while, really interested in media criticism still.

Books checked out:

Ghost World

The influencing machine : Brooke Gladstone on the media: Seems interesting so far, have only browsed on this graphic novel so far. (Camden PL/Minerva)

The Twits

My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl: My HS friend Oliver Kimball recommended this and “The Irregulars”. Seems like fun so far, since it’s about Sudanese fly, it’s VERY different that Dahl’s children’s books. I think this wouldn’t be the same story in the age of Viagra. ***1/2 (4 GR) pg 39 of 245

Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan by Robin Wood: Recommendation of another friend. Might be more academic for my taste. Curious to read the essay on Scorsese. From St. Joseph’s College, via Trinity College (VT) that no longer exists.

The Witches by Roald Dahl: This just looks fun, thought would be good to back to Dahl.

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant: Definitely an intriguing title. A Warren PL book I got at Walker. I miss Walker Library, Westbrook, ME was once lucky enough to have 2 nice libraries in a town of less than 20,000. (16,638 – Jul 2009 … Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Also reading:

Is There No Place on Earth For Me by Susan Sheehan: Seems like this one may be lost in a sea of books. On page 10.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: Up to page 175, great, great stuff, expect to finish this for next week.

Didn’t read any of Jimmy Corrigan or Duncan the Wonder Dog this week, but expect to finish at least Duncan this weekend.


The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir: Read this again at work today, lovely writing. Great find for a buck on Kindle. ***1/2 (4 GR) 51%

Dragged into Darkness by Simon Wood: Was lurking on my Kindle, haven’t finished a Simon Wood book since I devoured “The Fall Guy”. Seems like fun so far. 6%

The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune: Read about half of this a while ago, good stuff, makes me want to finally brew my own beer. It is liquid beer after all. Nice readable book if you want to know more about the world of beer. *** (3 GR) 74%

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Finding this harder to get into than I thought I would, got about 20% in months ago and decided to start over. 14%

The Holy Bible: NIV: Been reading the Bible in bits and pieces a lot in the last 18 months. Feel like it’s something I missed in growing up Unitarian.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Hated this book in HS, thought I would try again, 3% in, yep still hate it, wordy and boring, not a fan of Victorian literature.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham: Seems interesting, browsed through some chapters.

Choke on Your Lies by Anthony Neil Smith — Freebie on Kindle of a fun, rich crime fiction author. His stuff is intense, this might be the first one I finish. 4%

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey: Curious where this is going, only 2% in, big start.

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey: Beautiful so far, a lot about the emptiness of the huge places in this world, this is set in Arches National Monument before it was a national park. 5%

The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Children’s Stories by Various Authors: Nice children’s version of Bible stories, very retro style pictures that remind me of happy 80s cartoons. 22% *** (3 GR)

The Gold of the Sunbeams by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay: Beautiful work from an autistic child who can’t talk but writes beautifully. 21%

Read a little bit of a couple of other books too including “Born to Run”; “Beethoven’s Shadow” and “The Secret Piano” but at over 1200 words, that’ enough for now. And I think I didn’t read that much this week. Interesting how the mind works.

National Library Week

This week from April 8th-April 14th is National Library Week. Regular readers of my #FridayReads post realize how much I lose Walker Library and Minerva, and how important libraries are too my life. They enrich the soul, enrich the mind and one of our most democratic institutions for growth. So if you haven’t been in a while, visit your library, it misses you. And it’s ok just find a shelf for your library books and you are less likely to lose them. Libraries are amazing, especially in states like Maine where libraries have an easy to use program like Minerva to get books from libraries across the state.

So come back to your library. Try some books out, reading begets more reading, as you can tell from my reading.

Books read this week:

Daytripper: My favorite book so far of 2012 and Wednesday’s post. ***** (5+ GR)

Dragonslippers by Rosalind Penfold: Well done graphic novel about abuse, the art felt very HS pamphlet. I am happy this book doesn’t resonate with me. But I have been lucky. *** (3 GR)

Words I Wish I Wrote: A Collection of Writing That Inspired My Ideas by Robert Fulghum: Very solid and cool book about quotes that inspire one of America’s favorite Unitarians. I enjoyed this but a slow read. It’s a cool way to learn about some great writers. *** (4 GR)

Maine in Four Seasons: 20 Poets Celebrate the Turning Year edited by Wesley McNair: Cool poetry book I read it the library, there are only 20 poems in it. Makes me realize I wish I could have went to Lowry’s Lodge tonight. Would go out for the after poetry, but today is a day to be home after a weeklong cold. And I had to work until 8 tonight when it starts at 7.

Sons of Liberty: Re-read the first book of this series again on Saturday. The fact I can do that is a week takes this book up to ****. (5 GR)

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle: One of my favorite books of all time. This is probably my 5th or 6th read. Been lending this to lots of people at work. If you ever wonder how bizarre North Korea is this lets you know. The sarcastic style of French Canadian animator Delisle is perfect for this book. ***** (5 GR)

Sons of Liberty: Death and Taxes: Re-read the 2nd book in the Sons of Liberty series today. Solid, not as good as book 1. Less about slavery, more about the rebellion about the Stamp Tax. Still looking forward to part 3. ***1/2 (4 GR)

Checked out a ton of books (7), a good celebration of National Library Week: (All Walker this time)

A Shoe for All Seasons by Jeff MacNelly: Shoe has been around a long time, as this collection from 1982 indicates. Journalism has been poor for a long time too, in both money and now ever too frequently content. **1/2 (3 GR) about 20% in. (Walker)

Making Comics : Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels / Scott McCloud: Saw Scott McCloud at MECA doing a lecture. “Understanding Comics” is a book I want to read. Just started this. Should be interesting to learn more about the art.

Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson: I loved Habibi, heard this as good or better. Expected to get just this and Sons of Liberty 2 at the library.


Sons of Liberty 2

Wildness within walking distance : Poland Spring, Maine / Robert M. Chute: Cool book of poetry. The pictures are beautiful. The simple Maine woodlot is an underrated place of beauty. The pictures are stunning, the poetry nice. pg. 51 of 74 ***1/2 (4 GR)

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus: The adult librarian put it in my hand so I checked it out. About 3 chapters in, reminds me a lot of “Children of Men.”

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July: Cool books of short stories, only 2 stories in.

Other books reading:

Quiet by Susan Cain: Slow read for me, already late from the library, because there are holds on it. on pg 190 of 271 so too far in to return on Wednesday. Interesting subject, I have gotten out of the habit of reading non-fiction, it’s much slower than fiction. Recommended, but definitely only doing a chapter or half chapter at a time. ***1/2 (4 GR)

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware: Considered Ware’s best book. Definitely has his sense of hopelessness, about 15% in. (Rice PL/Minerva)

A Moxie and a Moon Pie: the Best of Moon Pie Press, Volume 1: On pg 58 of 176. 11 poets each with 16 pages. Liking Robin Merrill the best so far. And yes, have been skipping around. (Walker) ***

Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 by Adrienne Rich: One of the major American poets of the 20th Century that doesn’t resonate with me, poetry is a most individual artform. *** (3 GR) pg. 48 of 62

Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines: pg 58 of 392. Crazily this entire book is available on the web for free. The author would rather have you give to animal rights organizations than pay for his book. I don’t know if I have that much attention span online. Need to get back to this one again. It is #1 on the website. I guess I haven’t read this at all this week. So it goes.


Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White: Cool read about the challenges of being a chef in the late 80s in London. A driven, driven man. 67% ***1/2 (4 GR)

NIV Once a Day 31 Days of Wisdom: The 31 books of Proverbs, on Proverbs 12. Well done by Zondervan.

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey: Still liking the first third the most. Need give the finish of this some time. 73% ***

Even You Can Learn Statistics by David Levine and David Stephan: Free book on Kindle, think this will be a slow read, but a topic I want to know more about. 1%

Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir by Susie Bright: A book I think I want to like more than I do. 6% **1/2

The Mind Tree by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay: Fascinating, really fascinating book written from a autistic child who can’t speak, very rich. Need to spend more time with it, reminds me of the Diving Bell and the Butterfly. **** (31%)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I think I set the record for slowest read of this book everyone considers a super page-turner. Enjoying it but it’s one book of many for me. 16%

Wool 4 by Hugh Howey: Another book I need to get back to and spend some time on. Still around 50%. ****

So that’s it for now. This week’s lesson, maybe it is possible to read too many books at once. Naaah.

Daytripper *****

Heard great things about this graphic novel on the website where it’s his #2 graphic novel of all time.

I see why. This book by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba is my favorite book so far on 2012, and completely amazing. I keep being astounded what the graphic novel form can do.

This book started as a series of 10 comics, which do read like chapters in a book. Each one of them a turning point in the life of a Brazilian newspaper writer and author, each with it’s own style. The last chapter especially is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Actually made me feel better about my father-in-law’s passing.

Beautiful, glorious book. Can’t recommend any more. Get this one.



Read again on January 10, 2013 in one day. Just a beautiful book. Makes you realize death is part of life. Really hits your heart and makes you cry. Also helps me while my dad is in hospice and my father in law died in March, 2012. This is one of my favorite 10 books of all time. Spectacular.