January 22, 2007
When we hear someone praised or vilified, it's a good idea to stop and consider the source. Ask: what axe is being ground. It's not foolproof, but it's helpful. So, for example, when wealthy Wall Streeters never tire of telling us what a genius Alan Greenspan was, the rest of us might want to look to our wallets.
Which brings us to the much vilified Moqtada al-Sadr, the target of the US escalation in Iraq. US authorities tells us what a bad man he is, but they're hardly a credible source. What does al-Sadr himself say? Here's an interview with al-Sadr conducted by Renato Cabrile for the Italy's La Repubblica. From the translation at Dark Mirror:
Caprile: So how did it come about that al Maliki, whose government until recently included no less than six ministers from your movement, suddenly came to the conclusion that the religious militias, and yours most of all, are the real problem that must be solved?
Al Sadr: "Between [al Maliki] and myself there have never been very warm relations. I always suspected he was manipulated and I never trusted him. We have only met on a couple of occasions. On the most recent of which he said to me "you are the backbone of the country," and then he confessed that he was "obliged" to fight us. Obliged, you understand.
Caprile: The fact remains that your people are about to be struck with an iron fist.
Al Sadr: The operation has already started. Last night they already arrested over four hundred of my men. It is not us they want to destroy, but Islam — we are only an obstacle. For the time being, we shall not put up any resistance against them.
Caprile: Do you mean that you will hand in your weapons?
Al Sadr: During [the holy month of] Muharram the Quran forbids us to kill. So let them kill us if they want to, for a true believer there is no better time to die: Paradise is assured. But God is generous, not all of us shall die. After Muharram the tide will turn.
Caprile: Some say that the army and police are heavily infiltrated by your men and that the marines would never be able to disarm you on their own.
Al Sadr: The truth is exactly the opposite: it's our militia that's swarming with spies. And in any case, it's not a hard task to infiltrate a people's army. And these are the very same people who have been committing unworthy deeds to discredit the Mahdi Army. There are at least four armies ready to strike us. One is a "shadow force" which no-one ever talks about, trained under the most secret conditions in the Jordanian desert by the Americans. And then there's the private army of Allawi himself, that infidel who will soon take Maliki's place, which is readying itself for the fray in the former military airport of Muthanna. Then there are the Kurdish peshmergas, and lastly there are the American regular troops.
Caprile: If what you say is true, you have no hope of standing up to them.
Al Sadr: We too are very many. We represent the majority of the country, who do not want Iraq to become what Allawi is dreaming of: a secular state, a slave to the western powers.
Caprile: For the last week you have been officially in the crosshairs. The government maintains that without their leader the religious militias [would be] militarily weakened.
Al Sadr: I am aware of this. This is why I moved my family to a safe place. I even made my will, and I keep constantly on the move, making sure that only a few people know exactly where I am. But even if I should die, the Mahdi Army would still continue to exist. Men can be killed, faith and ideas cannot.
Caprile: It has been said that amongst the crowd watching Saddam's execution you too were present. Is this true?
Al Sadr: This is absolute rubbish. If I'd been there they'd have killed me too. As for Saddam, I certainly shed no tears for the man who massacred my family and tens of thousands of my people. But if it had been up to me, I'd have had him executed in a public square so all the world could see.
Caprile: Even if you weren't there, can you deny that the execution room was full of your men?
Al Sadr: No, those were not my men. They were people paid to discredit me. To make it seem I was the person really responsible for that hanging. The proof lies in the fact — just listen to the audio — that when they recited my prayer they left out some essential parts. A mistake that not even a single child in Sadr City would ever have made. The aim was to make it seem Moqtada was the real enemy of the Sunnis. And they succeeded. Some time back, I was received with full honours in Saudi Arabia. But straight after that charade under the gallows my spokesman al Zarqani, who was making the pilgrimage to Mecca, was arrested. An all too explicit way to make me understand that I was no longer listed amongst their friends.
Caprile: In any case, the war between you and the Sunnis goes on.
Al Sadr: It is true that we are all Muslims and we are all sons of the same land, but they must first distance themselves from the Saddamists, from the radical groups, from Bin Laden's men, as well as repeating their "No" to the Americans. All we're asking is for the ulemas to accept these conditions of ours. They haven't yet done so.
Caprile: Can it really be true that there is nothing but blood in Iraq' future?
Al Sadr: If the future is a country split in three, I cannot see any alternative. That is what Bush wants so he can control us more easily, but it's certainly not what the Iraqis want. In my opinion, there is only one possible way a solution can be reached: immediate withdrawal by the Americans. [Emphasis added]
Sounds like a nationalist who wants the foreign occupiers out. No wonder he's the boogeyman. Of course he has his own axe to grind. Still, why can't we hear more of al-Sadr's side of the story?
> So, for example, when wealthy Wall
> Streeters never tire of telling us
> what a genius Alan Greenspan was,
> the rest of us might want to look
> to our wallets.
Please tell us exactly how Alan Greenspan took money out of your wallet.
The fact is, Greenspan oversaw probably the greatest accumulation of wealth of any Federal Reserve Chairman ever. That includes the 50% of Americans who own stocks, and the many people all across the economic spectrum who now work at companies financed by these people. Greenspan even told people when to get *out* of the market.
If you did not take advantage of the market during Greenspan's tenure, do not blame him (or the rest of us). It was your own fault.
Posted by: Kevin at January 23, 2007 10:20 AM
The fact is, Greenspan oversaw probably the greatest accumulation of wealth of any Federal Reserve Chairman ever.
Wealth or just moving about a fiat currency that he helped to print up?
Posted by: at January 23, 2007 12:54 PM
>> The fact is, Greenspan oversaw
>> probably the greatest accumulation
>> of wealth of any Federal Reserve
>> Chairman ever.
> Wealth or just moving about a fiat
> currency that he helped to print up?
Please provide your evidence that the US dollar is a "fiat currency."
Millions of US citizens who are now in happy (and lush) retirement know the truth about what Greenspan did for them. My parents are among them.
Posted by: Kevin at January 25, 2007 03:57 PM
Kevin, I guess your parents didn't work for Enron or Worldcom or USAirways or Delta or Westinghouse or Global Crossing.
Posted by: Lane_in_PA at January 26, 2007 01:12 PM
> Kevin, I guess your parents didn't work for
> Enron or Worldcom or USAirways or Delta or
> Westinghouse or Global Crossing.
No, they did not. They chose to work for good companies that were properly managed. (Indeed, my parents were some of those very managers.)
In any case, capitalism does not insure there will be no losers. That is its genius--everyone works all the harder not to become one of the losers, and thereby excels, pulling all of society ahead with them. There does not exist a system with no losers. There only exists a system where you're expected to do your best. This system has created the greatest accumulation of wealth the world has ever seen, and, yes, that includes the majority of the middle class. There were some losers in the last 25 years, but there were many more winners. You have a problem with that?
Posted by: Kevin at January 29, 2007 11:16 AM