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Iraq blocks Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Instagram, shuts down internet (netblocks.org)
560 points by anigbrowl 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 304 comments





Iraqi here (But I live in Turkey), protests were raging yesterday and today, first social media was taken down now the whole internet from mid (Baghdad) to the rest of the south of the country

Here is a local service monitor for all major ISPs in Iraq: http://akonet.info

This is the usual procedure by the "freedom" government they do this every time, the only issue is this time the protestors are not carrying any flags or any political or religious figures names etc... only the Iraqi flag and burning Iranian flags,

so far it's people(sometimes people and the army) vs government... few people got killed already, there is news the Baghdad airport has fallen into the hands of the protestors, and most of the main roads are blocked and crowded with people

//UPDATE:

All cities are offline except Kurdistan up north


Thank you for this. I am Kurdish, living in the UK. I usually follow both Iraqi and Kurdish news but somehow I was completely oblivious to the current uprising.

I wish the Iraqi people the best I hope you can either get the government to get their ass into gear or otherwise replace them. I have spoken to plenty of family members in Kurdistan and they're all wishing you all the best.

It's a sad state of affairs but I hope it works out for the better.


Wow this is a great website. Thank you for sharing.

So the protests have no religious colouring? Like, it's not Shia vs Sunni vs Kurds vs Commies vs whatever, just a protest against poor government performance?

If so, it's a sign of good progress in Iraqi society and mindset. Such a thing wouldn't be possible just 10 years ago, it was always sort of 'us' vs 'them', these groups being ethnically and/or religiously defined.


"So far" yes

> This is the usual procedure by the freedom government

The "freedom" government blocks the internet to censor people? I find that somewhat ironic...

(I presume that's the name of the party in power or something. It sure doesn't seem like it's a description of their behavior.)


I put quotation marks around the "freedom" looks better now? xD

Yes, though I wasn't questioning the way you put it.

Why "freedom"? Is it the name of a political party?


Hahaha are you serious? the government and all the political parties involved wew installed and formed by the US as a "freedom" after Saddam.

It’s still a valid question, it could easily be a party as well. I’m sure everyone is aware of the post Saddam situation in Iraq.

GP is asking for clarification about the word "freedom" - whether it refers to an official name of the ruling party, or is a way people call it, or what.

I recall reading somewhere that internet shutdowns during protests are usually counterproductive. People who were previously only voicing their frustration online or passing the time with entertainment are suddenly left with a lot of free time on their hands. While a shutdown can prevent coordination on the national scale, it can't stop people from taking to the streets and organizing spontaneously.

EDIT: Found my source: https://www.iafrikan.com/2019/05/06/shutting-down-social-med...

"Under a blackout, each successive day of protest had more violence than would typically happen as a protest unfolded with continued internet access. Meanwhile, the effects of shutdowns on peaceful demonstrations, which are usually more likely to rely on careful coordination through digital channels, were ambiguous and inconsistent. In no scenario were blackouts consistently linked to reduced levels of protest over the course of several days. Instead of curtailing protest, they seemed to encourage a tactical shift to strategies that are less orderly, more chaotic and more violent."



They didn't really shut it down for the whole city though - they only took down cell stations for a couple of blocks around the protest; wired connection and cellular for those in the rest of the city was just fine.

This explains why I've been seeing #save_the_iraqi_people and related hashtags all over Instagram. For those not in the know:

> demonstrators in Baghdad and elsewhere protest against lack of jobs and poor services.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/baghdad-police-open-f...


Contrast the public and political reaction to these events with the public and political reaction to the protests in Hong Kong.

Iraq is a basket case country whose government is hanging on by a thread. China is a superpower with clear aspirations to unipolar hegemony. They are not comparable and cannot be held to the same standard.

Iraq used to not be a basket case country until it was invaded by the unipolar hegemony.

If you were not part of the governing minority you got brutally suppressed. If you dared to voice a different opinion you got send into prison for a nice round of torture. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The invasion of Iraq was a shit show, but let's not get into history rewriting here: Living in Iraq before the invasion was not some kind of utopia. He was a brutal dictator. And people suffered for it.


No it wasn’t some utopia of course not, but at least the country functioned on a basic level, like it had reliable electricity and services, education and medical services (including research) and wasn’t ruined by war.

How often do you see Iraqi scientists or doctors these days participate in international conferences? Whereas that used to be commonplace.


>If you were not part of the governing minority you got brutally suppressed. If you dared to voice a different opinion you got send into prison for a nice round of torture. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe, but:

'I toppled Saddam’s statue, now I want him back'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-36712233/i-toppled-sadda...

Elsewhere he said that there are now '1000 Saddams'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kadhem_Sharif


And after the invasion millions more suffered for it even more. Including those suffering under Saddam. Who do you think are targeted mostly by IS? The formerly oppressed majority. The invasion made everything worse for everyone. No, you are not officially repressed by the state anymore. Instead you are oppressed by your local friendly militia.

As long as we are clear on that, yes, Iraq under Saddam was shit. That's no excuse to make it worse.


Imagine arguing Saddam's Iraq wasn't a basket case country. Iraqi celebrated when he was gone for a reason.

It had advanced education, universities which sent scientists to participate in conferences. Of course Saddam was a tyrant but at least the country functioned.

I saw scientists from Baghdad University at a conference in Germany a month ago. It didn’t disappear into a black hole.

except for Kurdistan, which faced decades of repression, followed by civil war and blockade by the Federal government after Desert Storm. It's telling that the region most consistently abused by the Baathists ended up being the only relatively stable region in Iraq after Saddam fell

What nonsense. Iraq has been a shitshow for a very, very long time. And I'm not endorsing the war in any way.

The relevant question for the people living there is allways: but is it better tody?

And it seems, no.


But you didn't ask the relevant question. You made a statment that was wrong and I said so. Maybe next time you can just state the correct thing or ask the relevant question. If you had, I would have agree with you.

You never know who gets the power after a tyranny is removed. However, if you want tyranny to go, you have to gamble.

But the chances of a smooth transition are higher if the people of the country mange that by themself, instead of foreign forced change, where many suspect the motives are different.

You are ignoring that the US is not the only forign power. In a time of state collapse, other state will always have the upper hand.

Even if the US had not tried to create their kind of government, Iran sure as shit was trying to get their guys in.

So for the US its not about a question about US control, Iraqi control. Its a question of US control or Iranian control.

In this case they supported mostly the same groups, ironically. Iran did en up with the upper hand by far in Iraq, meaning the US achived LITERALLY the opposite of what they wanted to achive.


That hegemony is actually bipolar in a very DSM sense of the word.

What are you implying?

That not one of you is sincere.

When a protestor in hong kong gets shot "the whole world" is on its feet, when SA and USA starve to death 80 000 children in Yemen no one bats an eye.


I'm not going to deny the hypocrisy, but I think it's a very human thing really. Do you respond equally to every unjust death in the world?

Not sure what you're asking me.

No, I'm not brainwashed enough to think that shooting a violent protestor is the same as intentionally starving to death a whole goddamned country.

We don't even have to talk about how american police act... that's a whole other dimension of hypocrisy, unfathomable to me personally.


Ah, he was a violent protestor. Perfectly justified to kill him on the spot, then.

The protestors in Hong Kong were not violent at all, of course. Not a single on harmed a hair on a peace officer's head, or even so much as scratched a pane of glass...


That's not what I was asking, but I'm fine with leaving it at that.

That people have monstruous selective empathy I guess.

The Iraqi people have been suffering silently for the past years; they are trapped between ISIS, Iranian influence, destruction of the war, and the US-backed corrupt government. People are fed up.

There will continue to be unrest in Iraq until an all-Shiite government is in control.

At the time of Gulf War II under W, the population was about 20% Sunni, 20% Kurdish, and 60% Shiite. So if you disarm the minority ruling Sunni establishment and instead pledge to install a democracy, a Shiite government is the logical conclusion.

Since realizing their mistake, the US has attempted to patch together some multi-religious, multi-ethnic government, but these are all destined to failure. The Kurds want to be left to their own devices, the majority Shiites want to rule the south of the country with most of the oil, and they want the Sunnis left out of power in the deserts to the West.

George HW, being smarter than George W, pulled his punches, left Saddam in power, and left him with helicopters to kill enough Shiites to prevent a successful rebellion of the "marsh Arabs", as they were called in news reports back then.


This "analysis" is so wrong.. power is already dominated entirely by Shiaa governments, except for Kurdistan region, but that has little to no effect outside Kurdistan. The problem is that much of the current government officials are corrupt and have their loyalties to Iran. They are busy enriching themselves. Let alone the fact that they armed a powerful militia group that's completely beholden to Iran.. Much thanks to the US for destabilizing the country and handing it over to their so called "enemy" Iran. There should be no doubts that the government in Basrah is all Shiite, yet people IN Basrah have been protesting very strongly in the past year. Because simply this government doesn't serve the iraqi people.

You assume 40% of the population won't create a lot of unrest when the 60% come into power and cut them out of having a say in how their lives are run. Which, I guess might happen, but it seems unlikely, especially given the acrimonious history that just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

>There will continue to be unrest in Iraq until an all-Shiite government is in control.

There will continue to be unrest in Iraq and the rest of the middle-east (and I'm including Israel in this, they are as bad as the others on this point) until A) tribalism and B) religion is taken out of politics once and for all.

A democracy is simply not possible unless it's built on an ethical bedrock that has entirely done away with both of these primitive and childish moral systems.


Starlink can’t come soon enough. Imagine internet beyond the grasp of control freak governments

> Imagine internet beyond the grasp of control freak governments

Radio jammers.

There are very few technological solutions to political problems.


Deploying and maintaining radio jamming devices is _way_ more difficult and expensive than telling an ISP to shut down service.

Nobody needs to jam anything, a starlink cpe needs to transmit. Try to operate one in xinjiang province, for instance, men with portable spectrum analyzers and guns will come to take it away and arrest you.

With a horn antenna tuned to the right band and a portable spectrum analyzer, finding a starlink, kuiper or oneweb cpe will not be technically difficult.


Also worth remembering that this kind of equipment, beyond being available to militaries, is also routinely in use by governments everywhere to enforce local RF regulations. Even in times of perfect calm, if you start illegally transmitting and disrupting legit radio activity, you can expect the local equivalent of FCC to quickly track you down.

Ku and mid ka, high ka band spectrum analyzers are no longer a $40,000 item anymore. I'm pretty confident I could put together a (starlink, kuiper, oneweb) locating kit for under $10k USD. The knowledge to run a spectrum analyzer just to locate on class of equipment could be taught to any moderately educated local police in one day.

Not much is using these bands anyway, especially in places like Iraq. Wouldn't it be even simpler to skip the spectrum analyzer and sweep the area with high-gain antennas tuned for these bands, the fox-hunting way?

Ku and ka aimed at the sky doesn't propagate like vhf, uhf. You'd need fairly high gain horn antennas to detect off-axial-aim emissions.

True, but jamming is even easier (and cheaper) -- particularly if you aren't especially concerned about incidentally jamming nearby frequencies.

Depends on the frequencies and types of antennas used. Doesn't take much to disrupt a radio-based service (people do this by accident, that's why RF regulations exist everywhere). It's not that much of an expense for a government to set up a few antennas and make them put out half a megawatt of noise each.

> Doesn't take much to disrupt a radio-based service

Particularly satellite signals, because they're very weak to begin with.


Indeed. High-gain antennas and some math trickery can compensate a bit (see e.g. GPS and its below thermal noise floor signals), but I don't think a commercial transceiver could in any way win with a 50kW signal on a broadcast antenna turned jammer on a nearby hilltop.

But iraq is quite a big country. So do you think some jammers are enough for the country, or would you have to deploy them on every big hill/mountain?

You don't need to deploy them on each hill because you don't need to cover the whole country. Just concentrate on the densely populated areas and surroundings. People both away from the protests and not taking part in organising anything are likely irrelevant to gov in this case.

You can also use directional antennas to find and destroy RF jammers

Thats why they would be probably based on military bases etc.

Can you destroy them with the antenna? Or is that just for locating it?

sure, but they have to have the hardware for that ready to go, and they have to get people deploy each site and prevent it from being vandalized or disabled

Wideband noise generators are cheap and trivial to make. Giving them more power is a bit more tricky. If satellite internet becomes a norm, I'd be surprised if most armies didn't end up with one of them.

Such antennas however are an easy target for rockets, grenades, IEDs, car bombs... in a riot situation good luck defending the jammers.

What kind of protests are you imagining? With that kind of ordnance in use, it's no longer a protest but an all-out civil war.

Let's face it these things will be used mostly in situations which can at best be described that way. France's Yellow Vests, Hongkong, China and whatever is happening in India at the moment.

It's the first time I hear Yellow Vests or Hong Kong protests involving explosive ordnance deployed on either side.

That depends if you're counting tear gas grenades as explosives - I do. But even then, arson has been used as weapon in both conflicts, and a molotov cocktail is pretty easy to build, transport and throw.

The technology that "turns off" the internet is not, in any way, required to run the internet. A router that uses deep packet inspection can process fewer packets than one that simply routes.

When communication networks can be accessed wirelessly, the devices that can block those communications will simply become part of what we understand as standard communication equipment.


Way more difficult maybe than running a bash script but in real terms it's very doable.

An interesting social effect could be that currently by default there is no internet. Then you get a device that provides internet and the government takes it a way. If there was starlink lets say there is internet by default. Then the goverment gets a device to jam that internet and the protestors can take it away. It kind of switches the local on ground dynamic I would say and makes it way more interesting for the protestors. They can occupy jammers like they do airports and get internet back


I realised there's more to this article, but with notes like this: "Note this strategy assumes that the link from the ground to the UAV is somehow protected from an electronic attack by the jammer either through waveform design or by narrow beam antennas." you know they're not focusing on consumer level hardware.

Isn't starlink and most other LEO constellations ku, though?

Yes, C and Ku are dominant now, but not on LEO.

LEO is dominated by 400-500Mhz for milcom, L and C. Resurgence of Ku in LEO is mostly due to regulatory regime already being cleared for satellite internet due to previous entrants, and cheaper hardware for consumer market.


And prosecuting people with the relevant transceivers.

Then Iraq would have to make it illegal to own this sort of internet connection. A country like North Korea could do that, but not a country like Iraq or Cameroon that has some degree of normal freedom but intermittently shuts off the internet.

A country willing and easily able to shut down the Internet is also perfectly able to temporarily limit or ban civilian use of a frequency range.

There are ways of dealing with jamming [0] though I doubt they are in most (or any) easy consumer available units.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_counter-countermeas...


Yeah, but what about the radio jammer jammers?

Aren't some of them planning to use lasers? They'd have a hard time blocking that.

Lasers between them in orbit is what I've heard, nothing about ground stations, AFAIK.

Yeah, probably not much point in making an internet connection that only works without cloud cover.

I'd imagine a laser at typical radio wavelengths would be just as susceptible to cloud-cover-induced interference as a non-laser at typical radio wavelengths, no? Not that even lasers would be necessary to mitigate jamming; ordinary beam-forming / directional antennas should be enough (barring some really sophisticated jamming technology of which I'm not aware, or the Iraqi government putting up and maintaining permanent chaff clouds or something similarly outlandish).

Jammers (to my knowledge) operate by actively producing an inverted copy of the signals it actually sees. That is: it'd be reliant on non-directional signals. Any directionality / beam-forming would make jamming a lot harder, since it makes it a lot harder for the jammers to actually see the signal in the first place (let alone produce an inverted-waveform copy of it).

Jamming also tends to get in the way of other radio communications, so even if it was actually effective against satellite communications, it'd be a last resort and would likely cause all sorts of other issues.


> Jammers (to my knowledge) operate by actively producing an inverted copy of the signals it actually sees.

No. Usually, all you need is to do is to send a signal - any signal - on a frequency you want to jam with enough power to overwhelm the target signal. A directional antenna won't get a milliwatt satellite signal if it starts picking up half a kilowatt of random noise, even if that noise is coming from the side. It's essentially a matter of how much power your jammer radiates and how high you can put it. Whether or not jamming interferes with other radio communication depends on how much of the spectrum your jamming signal covers.


Seems like it'd be pretty straightforward to block signals coming from the side (e.g. by putting some metal or something else similarly RF-blocking between the antenna and the jammer), no? Kinda like how wearing a hat helps keep the sun out of your eyes. Actively jamming the jammer (i.e. inverting the signal received from the jammer side and rebroadcasting on the the antenna side) would help, too, though this probably makes it easier to detect. And yeah, the higher the jammer, the harder it is to block it without blocking the signal you're trying to actually see (but it's still possible; if it wasn't, then modern astronomers would have a much harder time picking out interesting things amidst the menagerie of cosmic background radiation bouncing about).

There are plenty of other strategies, too (like not sticking to a single frequency, or picking frequencies that are likely to be too valuable to block with such a blunt-force method).


> Seems like it'd be pretty straightforward to block signals coming from the side (e.g. by putting some metal or something else similarly RF-blocking between the antenna and the jammer), no?

Depends on the wavelength and your surroundings. Imagine yourself wearing a cap that's little too small and half-transparent on the edges, walking on fresh snow, surrounded by snow mounds, trying to spot something on one of the hilltops nearby. So the cap mostly protects you from direct jamming signal, but reflections and bleed are still painful.

Now we're talking here about satellites, in particular LEO satellites, so you need a mass market (or at least commercial-grade) tracking antenna, which will have to look all across the sky and not just point straight up. In urban environments, there's a great chance there will be scores of decent reflectors (buildings) all around you for the jamming signal to bounce off, and as for bands, the ones used by Starlink are ones that are unlikely to be used much for anything else in places like Iraq - so they may as well just jam the whole band. And since Starlink is a commercial service, you won't be able to switch to something the government depends on (not to mention procure new antennas and adjust software on the transceivers).


> Imagine yourself wearing a cap that's little too small and half-transparent on the edges, walking on fresh snow, surrounded by snow mounds, trying to spot something on one of the hilltops nearby. So the cap mostly protects you from direct jamming signal, but reflections and bleed are still painful.

The usual answer, then, would be a polarized filter and a more narrow aperture (e.g. goggles). The narrower the FOV, the less risk of glare.

That does mean an antenna will have to actively keep itself pointed at a moving point in the sky, but with GPS, a compass, a clock, and each satellite's orbital parameters, that should be a solvable problem.

The harder problem would be for the satellite to pick out the signal coming back from the ground without having to limit itself to a single ground station.


> imagine a laser at typical radio wavelengths

Huh?

Radios are Kilo/Mega/Gigahertz.

Light is Terahertz.


Okay, sorry, "electromagnetic radiation amplified and collimated in the same manner as a laser does to visible light". Better?

Like beamforming, or something more extreme like a maser?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beamforming

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maser


As an aside, the Maser wikipedia article is a bit incorrect.

> The laser works by the same principle as the maser, but produces higher frequency coherent radiation at visible wavelengths.

There are plenty of lasers in the non-visible spectrum, I use IR lasers all the time.


A maser's what I had in mind, but either would likely work reasonably well.

I could've sworn somebody was planning to use lasers to communicate from the satellite to a ground station, claiming it would improve latency. Maybe I misread.

Lasers alone won’t improve latency, but they would certainly impact reliability. Radio waves already travel at essentially the speed of light.

It's been done in the past. I think the main benefits are preserving EM spectrum and some theoretical improvement in bits per watt

The lasers are for inter-satellite comms, where there’s no atmosphere to interfere.

wat how are lasers working in this scenario

Each end (satellite and ground station) point a laser at each other, which they modulate according to the data they wish to send. The other end has a sensor (much like in a camera) that captures the light, and processes it to recover the data (demodulate). It's much like fiber optics, except over air instead of a cable.

How much power would such a laser emitter require? That is a huge distance to cover. Wouldn't it get attenuated over the distance?

Lasers are subject to the same inverse squared law as regular radio waves. However with lasers you're starting with a smaller beam so the attentuation is actually less

Do you realise that most of satellite jamming is done on uplink, not downlink?

This is how Cubans jammed US milcom and few civilian satellites since nineties


Not to be too cute but by relying on corporations you're trading one dictatorship for another. Im not saying an oppressive government is the same as Comcast. Im just making the point that neither entity is accountabile to the people they 'serve.'

No one is wholly trustworthy. That's why every additional option is a good option.

> That's why every additional option is a good option.

Without the "but verify" part of trust, every additional option is just another name for the same thing


It will still be owned by a private company you have no control over, which isn't necessarily better

Especially since Iraq is leaning on private companies (ISPs) to get them to shut down the internet.

The one advantage that Starlink might have is, it might be a company beyond the reach of the Iraqi government, and therefore less likely to give in to their pressure to close off access. But what we really need is several such companies, not just one.


Given how satellites don't respect national borders by default, I wonder whether there will be - or maybe already are - international agreements that would make it easier for a nation's government to coerce a foreign operator to deny service over that nation.

Aren't there multiple Starlink competitors in development now?

Yes, they’re just the furthest along and perhaps most likely to succeed since they own the launching mechanism the others would likely use.

At least it's a another competing choice.

That seems much better to me. Comcast only shuts off my internet occasionally, through incompetence. They could censor customers who criticize Comcast, but that isn't maximizing their profits, so they don't.

>It will still be owned by a private company you have no control over

I don't have any ethical justification to enslave or coerce or control a person. Why should I have any ethical justification to enslave or coerce or control, if a group of people get together (a company) to do something?


> >It will still be owned by a private company you have no control over

> I don't have any ethical justification to enslave or coerce or control a person. Why should I have any ethical justification to enslave or coerce or control, if a group of people get together (a company) to do something?

Who said anything about justification? Profit or power is the motive. Those need no justification to their pursuers.


Things like Starlink won't remove a government's ability to cut off internet access. The radio signals aren't hard to jam.

We need one that uses lasers

Not to be too cynical, but it’d be pretty straightforward to at least tell where the ground-based terminals are if they’re shooting lasers into the sky. Not sure if laser-based systems use IR or UV or what (presumably whatever has the least amount of atmospheric attenuation), but airborne cameras could likely pick it up pretty quick.

And for the most brutal dictators: laser-guided bombs are already a thing...


Why would an airborne camera be able to pick ground-based lasers up easily? Wouldn't you need to fly directly between the satellite and the ground terminal?

Same goes for laser-guided bombs - those home in on where the laser pointer is pointing, not the pointer itself.


Deflection. It's pretty easy to spot a laser pointed straight up, because it's deflections create a visible trail of the beam. Have you ever shined a laser pointer in a foggy room, or seen the lightshows that do so? That.

Right, but presumably you'd be using a wavelength that's scattered a bit less than that.

Remember that you don't jam transmitters, you jam receivers. Blinding an on-orbit receiver is easy regardless of whether you use lasers or radio because you know exactly where it has to be at any given time.

Why? Are lasers hard to "jam" (I'm using quotes because it seems weird to use "jam" with optical media, but maybe that's just me)?

All you need is a cloud.

For certain wavelengths, yes. But others go straight through.

Others have stated their objections to your comment, but... my belief is that once StarLink becomes operational, the American Gov. will have oversight & control of it, just like our current ISPs.

I believe that the only way the US could legally do that is by exerting control over up/downlink stations that are in US jurisdiction. I'm assuming that things like Starlink will have up and downlink stations in places outside of the US as well as inside.

Extralegally, though? All bets are off.


SpaceX is a US corporation, therefore US jurisdiction.

You're making an assumption that Starlink will fight a nudge by the US government instead of quietly complying.

I'm not, really. That's why I added my "all bets are off" comment.

I can't see every other nation being too happy about US-controlled global Internet service. They will demand some degree of control over their territories. I can see the space law getting some updates sometime soon.

You'd think a headline like the one we're posting under would stop techno-optimism dead in its tracks.

When all you have is a startup, everything begins to look like a nail.

We got the news within 12 hours. Right now massive amounts of data is being collected, and eventually it will get out.

This seems like it'd all be a lot easier to control without technology.


A Starlink dish is a transmitter, which is a beacon that says "come arrest me!" or "drop bomb here."

Seriously though: as bad as Trump is, I still think Bush II was by far the worst president of the past 100 years. Trump would have to do something much worse than he's already done to match Bush's accomplishments.


Iraq, Syria, yes. Agreed. Though it feels like Trump is one false move from something just as bad or worse.

The freedom to access information is one of the greatest and most sacred gifts the internet gave us. The longer we can protect that, the further the human race will progress. Bring on starlink!

And instead controlled by one corporation headquartered in a nation that also partially controls Iraq.

To anyone else interested, here's a link to a draft paper about starlink: https://mobile.twitter.com/MarkJHandley/status/1044621609120.... Apologies for not posting the direct link, for some reason my copy url gets hijacked on twitter mobile.


You're forgetting that governments, especially of the control freak type, tend to be the only entities that are entitled to the use of violence and coercion.

Good luck using Starlink or any other forbidden technology when your skull is being pushed to the ground by their boot


Imagine how difficult it must be to drive through a neighborhood, and mark off anyone with a satellite dish on their roof as a political criminal.

Hint: Not very.

Also, how exactly do you plan to pay your bills to your ISP, when their service is illegal in your country?


I bet half of houses in my neighborhood has a TV dish. If it will be possible to make Starlink dishes visually indistinguishable from those, the police will have a slightly harder time. Slightly, because detecting radio transmission doesn't seem hard either.

Transmissions from ground to orbit tend to be highly directional (it's why satellite TV/internet typically uses dishes instead of ordinary antennae). Detection from the ground would be pretty difficult, given that most (ideally all, but there's probably at least some leakage) of the signal will never reach anything else on the ground (for the same reason you typically can't see the beam of light from a flashlight or laser pointer unless it reflects off dust or fog or some other particulate in the air).

The most reliable way to detect ground-to-space transmitters would be with aircraft, since those will have a much easier time crossing paths with the signal (and thus actually being able to see it).


Also, imagine it being much harder to verify that your systems are air-gapped.

Suggesting that revolted populace protesting about basic life amenities will have the ability to purchase and operate a starlink antenna is uneducated at best

satellite internet already exists

the internet, with most content and platforms by freak capitalists

Yet people pine for Net Neutrality.

Well mission accomplished .. I guess. A great documentary if you haven't seen it is "Iraq: No End in Sight." It's pretty clear that the completely failed (non-existent) reconstruction efforts of the Bush administration would lead eventually to a failed state.

The same thing is happening in Libya after the Obama era bombings. These places weren't democratic paradises before or anything; I'm not saying that. They had corruption and human rights issues -- but they were stable. People who didn't protest against the government and weren't in poverty could usually live in relative peace. You can say the same thing about China to some extent as well.


All warfare actions conducted by the United States are excuses for agencies to spend money, and the money goes to corporations that are contolled by politically connected individuals. The dividends from the government consumption of these items enrich the people who are giving the orders to launch the missiles.

It is beyond disheartening that innocent people die because of this. I would rather just pay the money, if I must, and let the warheads rust in peace.


I usually hear this kind of statement, is it really that simple? Aren’t there other geopolitical interests from the strongest economy in the world?

I'm sure we could make the argument that "if the US doesn't invade x country then China/Russia will".

But for me, I just focus on the outcomes, not the motives. If Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton and Raydeon shareholders are making 100k or 1m or more, and hundreds of thousands of civilians are dying, those are two cold hard facts that can't be ignored.

Either the ends justify the means or they don't, in the eyes of the beholder.


A still-relevant classic analysis of US military-commercial ventures: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket

One of the most distinguished veterans of the Marine Corps, and simultaneously one of the only Marine generals to NEVER feature on the Commandant's Reading List. I love posing that question to junior Marines as introspective food for thought.

It's not remotely that simple.

It's also shocking to see the EU tout mass migration from Syria as a solution to the demographic problem of dropping birth rates. There's a perverse incentive here that's scary.

The same is true with the US, ignoring the political angle, it's not motivated to help stabilize countries that are sources of mass migration.


I think it's more complicated that naked corporate interest pushing for conflict. There are strategic geopolitical reasons why the US would want more control in these areas. (I'm absolutely NOT saying that makes it "okay") I think the disaster-capitalism aspect of things is just an unfortunate byproduct.

>There are strategic geopolitical reasons why the US would want more control in these areas.

These are access to resources in event of war, and control of trade routes. Such a war would only benefit corporate interests, the people stand little to gain. And control of trade routes is only useful for war and corporate interests.


Resources, and therefore trade of those resources, are necessary for the country to function. Corporations don't exist in a vacuum separate from other considerations. They don't, for example, care about oil in and of itself. Yes, they make money on it, but only because petroleum and it's byproducts are a necessary feedstock at all levels of the global economy. Reducing complex issues of geo politics and economics to "corporate greed" is overly reductive. Demand for their products is what gives rise to them in the first place. I'm not saying corporations don't influence things, but they cannot be isolated and analyzed separate from the system in which they operate. Google wouldn't have much influence on foreign policy in the middle east. Oil companies have influence there precisely because there are factors outside of their corporate greed that makes them relevant. Things just aren't as simple as "because money".

>Resources, and therefore trade of those resources, are necessary for the country to function.

Then they should pay a fair price for those resources. Any use of force in this matter is unnecessary, and can be effectively boiled down to corporate greed outweighing human empathy.


Corporations are resources, in and of themselves, however distasteful that may seem to swallow. They are value generating machines, and lower level resources (like oil) are their inputs. If they generate value efficiently enough, they start generating influence beyond their home nation's borders. If that carries on, influence turns into dependence. And so long as a nation is able to keep the corporate interests aligned with their own - or at least more aligned than they are with anyone else - its probably a win for the corporation, the government and the people (although those benefits will not always be distributed evenly...)

People may be the pawns on the board... corporations might be more like the knights or the rooks.


>influence beyond their home nation's borders. And so long as a nation is able to keep the corporate interests aligned with their own - or at least more aligned than they are with anyone else - its probably a win for the corporation, the government and the people.

Often this "win" is a huge loss for the foreign groups involved. So still a losing situation in my eyes.


Sure, I agree in a sense. But nobody actually knows how to generate a true win, where we all live globally together in harmony and understanding - its all a big mess, and no one has the magic formula. At best, we only know how to slow our competitors down. Its like a chess game, but one where nobody knows what a checkmate really is.

If we knock the American tech giants down several pegs, as a hypothetical example, it might be beneficial in some ways. But we're also helping to clear the path for companies like Huawei to fill the void. That in turn, helps China project influence around the globe. Every nation-state in the world wants to position its resources (like corporations) as advantageously as possible, and they'll seize on any and every opportunity to do so.

We might not like wars for oil - we might like the alternatives even less.


> But nobody actually knows how to generate a true win, where we all live globally together in harmony and understanding - its all a big mess, and no one has the magic formula. At best, we only know how to slow our competitors down

Slowing down fellow people is also a loss, and I don't buy that our "best" purposefully takes us further from the goal.

>We might not like wars for oil - we might like the alternatives even less.

Do you think I'm arguing that the US should stop engaging in wars for oil but other countries should go for it? Everyone should find these wars to be despicable and avoided at all costs. Yes, this is difficult. It's impossible if you think that they're necessary to prevent others from doing it.


But the US civilian administrator firing all of the Iraqi military was just stupid. Or sadistic.

My operating theory of foreign policy toward the countries of the former Ottoman Empire is that the US/EU do everything they can to keep it from re-forming. The peoples of these countries have far more in common than they have in difference, and if they pooled their oil money and weren't busy fighting each other they'd dominate the rest of the world.

Highly unlikely. Look at the bloodletting in Syria or Lebanon for lessons in how much the former Ottoman subjects like each other

They do have more in common. There's a quote out there with the gist, that to really hate someone, you need to know them. Just look at the break up of Yugoslavia. Former Ottoman, very similar cultures and peoples and even very mixed and integrated peoples. Yet utter mayhem.

I'd say China is probably closer to Taiwan or South Korea, who followed a similar development model.

hey guys, I want to take this opportunity to ask if anyone here was born in the early 70s in Baghdad and went to Baghdad College high school (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baghdad_College) in the early to late 80s. We left in 87 to London, UK then Boston, US after that, just before the end of the war with Iran, and I'd like to reconnect with any classmates/old friends who may also be into tech... I'm sure everyone is all over the world by now, in different places. Thank you, and take care wherever you are.

From a pragmatic perspective, what is the West and the US in particular supposed to do about this?

We shouldn't have gone into Iraq in 2003 in the first place, but we did, so what now?

Our government is going to keep its boot on the neck of Iraq and stay involved over there as long as Iraq still has oil, right? If the problem now is more that we have too little influence, so what? Are we supposed to try regime change again because it worked so well last time?

The current Iraqi regime may not be good, but neither was Saddam. We still should have left Saddam alone, excepting targeted strikes if we ever got good intelligence about WMD programs.


If somebody leaves a void (US?) then the next strongest force (Iran?) will try to fill it.

In the case of Iraq (maybe similar for Syria?) I guess that there aren't probably big motivations/interests nor strong cultural similarities for the West to create something similar to a "Marshall Plan" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan ) to kickstart again the nation and then make it work long-term from both an economic and indirectly social perspective. Therefore, I think that Iraq will just drift more and more towards what will look like the next-best offer(s) (Iran?).


> We shouldn't have gone into Iraq in 2003 in the first place, but we did, so what now?

"Water under the bridge ... what can we fuck up next?"

That aside (and no, US/NATO won't learn from that): split Iraq up in three entities (Kurdistan, Sunni and Shia parts), help with the separation, guarantee the agreed upon borders, and then invest lots of money.

> The current Iraqi regime may not be good, but neither was Saddam.

Compared to post-Saddam Iraq, Saddam was good. Good is relative. Want to lose a finger? Of course not. Want to lose a finger instead of losing both legs? Yeah, losing a finger is okay.


If they had the ability to make a functional government, they'd have done it already.

People seem to be largely kicking the can down the road until someone else is in office.


Our government is going to keep its boot on the neck of Iraq and stay involved over there as long as Iraq still has oil, right?

It doesn't seem like it, no. If the US was still controlling Iraq, we wouldn't be permitting their current government, which is more or less controlled by Iran.


Cui bono?

Whom would benefit from a social media organised protest/riot against the government?

This comes as the Iraqi president Mahdi anounces a potential arms deal with Russia as part of a diverification of strategic allies.

Until now, arms deals were exclusively with US.

Mahdi has campaigned on a theme that US invlovement in Iraq has not been entirely positive.


The US (and allies) pushed Saddam into war against Iran. Then there was the Gulf War, then sanctions that reportedly killed hundred of thousands of people (remember Madeleine Albright testifying that it was "worth it"?). Then the unforgivable, unjustifiable war of 2003. Then civil war and unrest, then ISIS. Iraq has been constantly at war and suffering for 39 years and counting because of the US.

Isn't imperialism wonderful. It makes me sick and I don't even know a single Iraqi :/


Just from the past couple of months:

• Kashmir: https://netblocks.org/reports/pakistan-shuts-down-internet-i...

• Russia: https://netblocks.org/reports/evidence-of-internet-disruptio... • Bangladesh: https://www.economist.com/news/2019/09/04/bangladesh-bans-mo...

• Sudan: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/13/end-mass-...

• London: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-tube-...

"Shutting down digital infrastructure in response to a peaceful protest is deeply authoritarian," said Griff Ferris, legal and policy officer at Big Brother Watch."

I've heard they did not shut down internet in Hong Kong as lots of mainland China is routed via Hong Kong...


If anyone in or near Iraq can read this, you can spread messages using person-to-person tools that don't need the internet at all.

For example, using the Scuttlebutt network (SSB), you can deliver messages from your contacts, using Bluetooth or just by being on the same wifi. They can be public messages, or encrypted private messages so only certain recipients can decode them. Manyverse (https://manyver.se) is a decent Android app for SSB.

There are other tools like Briar, which I don't know much about, but other people here may be able to help...


If you were in Iraq, would there have been any reasonable countermeasures, accessible to the average person, that could have preserved access? Or is it limited to something like a sat phone/sat internet?

It's not apparent from the article if phone calls are blocked. It's probably not cheap, and it's certainly easy to track, but you can run data over international voice calls. Probably works better on a real landline, but should work a bit over mobile too.

You'd have to know a modem pool to call and have an account there, I wouldn't even know where to start. Especially if I was already cut off from the Internet.

The question was asking about prep work that could have been done. Now is the time to print out some modem pools and get an account ;)

However, if you know someone technical out of the country, you can call them and ask them to set something up and get you the details. (Or you can't call them, and there you go).

If you're talking with people on things like Signal or WhatsApp, where phone numbers are user ids, you automatically know their phone number to call them in case the chat service is unreachable.


From what I’ve gathered, disenfranchised citizens in Baghdad are protesting, and the government has responded by shutting down the internet. I understand it’s reactionary but what is their logic here?

You mean the logic in shutting down the internet? Countries do that these days (see Kashmir) to keep the protests under control by blocking communication and collaboration among the protesters. It increases the barrier to discovery and participation in a protest basically.

The shutdown in Kashmir is mostly to stop communications coming in from outside of India, mostly terrorist outfits in countries like Pakistan. There is lot of evidence in last 30 years or so how Kashmir becomes violent and how violent "protests" are organised with funding from state and non state actors from other countries.

Since you have mentioned Kashmir, I must point that protests in Kashmir have been historically violent and have even led to deaths of tourists.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/body-of-thiruma...


Thanks. It seemed to me counterintuitive to respond to protests about inadequate services by cutting off another service (fanning the flames)

Yes, there's another comment here somewhere that points to a study where showing violence tends to increase post-shutdown compared to leaving communications open. I suppose leaving things open lets people organize more, but they tend to be more peaceful in those gatherings. Just supposition though.

I'd guess the control of communication channels. Attempt at making it more difficult for the protesters to organize and/or gather international support.


Lora is not for general usage / internet. Basic messaging - maybe. But it achieves a few kbps in good conditions.

Recall we had a whole interactive/social world in the 80s with BBSs with 300 baud acoustically coupled modems.

Is it any more difficult to jam than other network technologies?

No, and they have a large attack surface thru various techniques, so not a good choice for anything but keeping touch with friends and relatives (assuming no mass usage occurs)

I really hope the SpaceX satellite internet works.

So here is a prime example of a government using the power to censor the internet during a revolution...

I guess the freedom box was for such issues :

https://www.freedomboxfoundation.org

but I guess it needs internet at least...


What I took from this: Earthlink still exists?!

I see that $1T Iraq war spread freedom and democracy across the Middle East. Great bargain.

Is it a pro or anti-Iran protest? I think it's an anti one but not very sure...

They are burning Iranian flags.

Considering this country is literally liberated by the US, it is totally hilarious!

What about using apps like Bridgefy or Firechat?

IP over Avian Carriers does not look so bad idea now

Ahh, the smell of freedom!

Why are they burning Iranian flags?

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21141210.

Because the government is backed by Iran (puppet) and it's fully corrupt?

Wait, didn't America wage a war to install a pro-American government in Iraq? Are they somehow pro-American and pro-Iran at the same time, or did they switch alliances while nobody in the west was paying attention?

The initial government was pro-American, but the consequence of pushing a country to have democratic elections is that they sometimes elect people that you don't like.

When you want a country to be free and democratic, you can't also tell them who to elect. You have to choose one or the other. The United States has often chosen the latter while pretending to want the former, but at least with Iraq they seem to be mostly hands off (in recent years).


> The initial government was pro-American, but the consequence of pushing a country to have democratic elections is that they sometimes elect people that you don't like.

I don't the right prior here is "elections = real democracy", for cases like Iraq. The US has long history of installing "democratic" governments that are not actually democratic, but rather military states who violently suppress the people, but support US interests. The list of countries where this has borne out is long, but if you are interested, an easy place to start would be Cold War era South America (Guatemala and El Salvador being two straightforward examples).


Ironically whole thing started with CIA staged double coup(first one did not work apparently) in Iran during 1953(declassified recently). It was so successful that they copy-pasted it to LATAM and elsewhere. [1]

Interesting fact: Kermit Roosevelt Jr. a grandson of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, played the lead role in the CIA-sponsored overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran, in August 1953. [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9ta...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermit_Roosevelt_Jr.


After World War I the British redrew the map of the middle east pretty arbitrarily after defeating the Ottoman Turks founding modern Iraq. It wasn't really guaranteed in the first place to include people who like each other.

It was far from arbitrary.

The British drew the map specifically so that they could use the local tensions to divide and conquer.

We're still suffering because of that.


I'm totally in agreement with you, and yet I'm still saddened that people fall prey to this trick which they have in their power to fix, by learning to forgive and live together in harmony and piece. The tragedy is how hard it is for people to come together and collaborate in good faith. And when that truth is exploited it's even more sad.

According to Wikipedia the Muslim population of the country is split 64–69% Shia and 29-34% Sunni.

The Sunni minority once ruled but now the Shia majority rule and the government is said to be aligned with Shia-majority Iran.


> The United States has often chosen the latter

Seems like it's usually a government that's popular with its people that gets overthrown and replaced by a "democratic" government.


The incumbent government is usually popular because it's a totalitarian regime where the people aren't given a choice.

The opposite is often true. For instance, in Guatemala and Chile the US helped overthrow democratic governments and installed totalitarian regimes.

To be fair, they weren't totalitarian. That's absurdly overstating things. North Korea or Khmer Rouge Cambodia were totalitarian governments.

The Khmer Rouge is an interesting example, as it was a left-wing totalitarian government that the USA supported[0], albeit often at arms length. It was part of the geopolitics at the time, as the USA was aligned with the PRC and the Khmer Rouge against the Soviet bloc. A lot of it was also a petty vendetta against Vietnam, as arming the Khmer Rouge was a way to get back at Vietnamese Communists for winning the Vietnam War.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegations_of_United_States_s...


From the Wikipedia article on the Pinochet regime [1]:

> The regime was characterized by the systematic suppression of political parties and the persecution of dissidents to an extent unprecedented in the history of Chile. Overall, the regime left over 3,000 dead or missing, tortured tens of thousands of prisoners, and drove an estimated 200,000 Chileans into exile.

From the Wikipedia article on Carlos Castillo Armas [2]:

> Upon taking power Castillo Armas, worried that he lacked popular support, attempted to eliminate all opposition. He quickly arrested many thousands of opposition leaders, branding them communists. Detention camps were built to hold the prisoners when the jails exceeded their capacity. Historians have estimated that more than 3,000 people were arrested following the coup, and that approximately 1,000 agricultural workers were killed by Castillo Armas's troops in the province of Tiquisate. Acting on the advice of Dulles, Castillo Armas also detained a number of citizens trying to flee the country. He also created a National Committee of Defense Against Communism (CDNCC), with sweeping powers of arrest, detention, and deportation. Over the next few years, the committee investigated nearly 70,000 people. Many were imprisoned, executed, or "disappeared", frequently without trial.

Those don't sound totalitarian to you?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_dictatorship_of_Chile...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Castillo_Armas


That's not totalitarianism though. Since we're quoting Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism

"Totalitarian regimes are different from other authoritarian ones. The latter denotes a state in which the single power holder – an individual "dictator", a committee or a junta or an otherwise small group of political elite – monopolizes political power. "[The] authoritarian state [...] is only concerned with political power and as long as that is not contested it gives society a certain degree of liberty".[8] Authoritarianism "does not attempt to change the world and human nature".[8] In contrast, a totalitarian regime attempts to control virtually all aspects of the social life, including the economy, education, art, science, private life and morals of citizens."

So Chile and Guatemala were Authoritarian, but not Totalitarian. The practical difference is that an Authoritarian Chilean government kills 3,000 people while the Totalitarian Khmer Rouge kills 1.5 to 2 million of its own people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_Rouge

"According to a 2001 academic source, the most widely-accepted estimates of excess deaths under the Khmer Rouge range from 1.5 million to 2 million,"

In North Korea, it's hard to estimate because it's a closed society with tight control over information:

https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP10.HTM

"Perhaps from 710,000 to slightly over 3,500,000 people have been murdered, with a mid-estimate of almost 1,600,000. But these figures are little more than educated guesses"

Saying they are the same thing is ridiculous and really soft pedals how insane some communist regimes were.


There is no defense of the Pinochet era. I believe that his predecessor tragically abused governance though, seizing control over so many lives, there and abroad.

I feel this is such important context for what followed. It raised such a fervor of hatred toward the communist political body. I still believe this was theft of property from people's families and estates built over many generations of effort.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vuskovic_plan#Application https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Salvador_Allende...

The bounds of civility had been trampled and vanished. The violent retaliations which followed were outright disgusting.


I'm interested in some examples.

the ones that come readily to my mind like Iran and Chile don't quite fit that mold.


But Maliki was America’s choice while also being clearly pro-Shia. Or are you talking about the transitional government?

But the people are now protesting the Iranian favoring government?


> When you want a country to be free and democratic, you can't also tell them who to elect.

Wasn't that what happened in Egypt?


The hands off approach to Iraq is exactly how we got ISIS btw...

No it isn’t. The US invasion that threw out out Saddam’s government is how we got ISIS.

Half these Pro-Americans used to hide in Iran before the war, America got outplayed when it comes to the Iraqi government lol

[flagged]


1. USA ousts Saddam Hussein, and is obligated to help Iraq transition to a democratic government (because they invasion was done under the pretext of liberating a country from a mad dictator with weapons of mass destruction, instead of the commonly cited argument of securing resources for the American empire).

2. USA backs a candidate and initially gets a government elected that is favorable to the USA. However, these politicians turn out to be kind of scummy and screw up just about everything.

3. Iran realizes that elections can be influenced (they watched the USA influence the first election), and having lots of paramilitary type forces that are trained in information operations, decides to capitalize. They flood across the porous border to spread propaganda (the current scumbags in government make it so the Iranian propaganda doesn't even have to lie, it just has to point out how much the current guys suck).

4. Iraqi citizens, growing sick of the crappy politicians they elected initially, start listening to the propaganda and elect a government friendly to Iran. This is the first time this has happened in a long time, Iraq has not been allies with Iran for several decades.

5. End result- USA invades, eventually loses influence to Iran. The global hegemony USA got outplayed by a regional hegemony because they backed unethical and incompetent sellouts rather than finding a good candidate.


Standing between Saudi Arabia and Iran was Saddam Hussein and his military. By removing him it created a power vacuum that has been filled by various groups over time.

The different election results in Iraq over the years now point to a chess game between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional control.

Now instead of Iraq standing between the other two, it's serving as a way to create conflict where the two may eventually fight each other like the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s.

If the U.S. does not get involved in this scenario then the long term strategic outcome of the 2003 Iraq war might be seen differently. On the other hand, if Iran wins and becomes more powerful, the Iraq war will look even worse.


Which is exactly what was predicted:

"That's a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have, the west. Part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim. Fought over for eight years. In the north, you've got the Kurds. And if the Kurds spin loose and join with Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq." -- Dick Cheney


Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Cheney the one that basically pushed the war? When is this quote from?

From the Wikipedia article:

> Following the US invasion of Iraq, Cheney remained steadfast in his support of the war, stating that it would be an "enormous success story",[90] and made many visits to the country. He often criticized war critics, calling them "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while US soldiers died in Iraq. In response, Senator John Kerry asserted, "It is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq [than Cheney].

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Cheney#Iraq_War


It's a quote after the first Gulf War.

> instead of the commonly cited argument of securing resources for the American empire).

I'm sorry but there are very few "citations" that state that the war was about securing resources for the American "empire". It was primarily about exactly the stated reasons and there is a popular and uncited belief that it was about oil. If you have some scholarly articles that state that it was completely about oil I'd love to see them.


As someone alive and paying attention to that period in time, I got the impression the "for oil" thing was generally hyperbole never explicitly stated but probably loosely true right since the VP was an oil guy.

Except that American oil companies didn't get any benefit so how does that make any sense? If we are willing to accept the evidence that oil companies in the US didn't meaningfully benefit, doesn't that whole argument kind of seem silly?

It's bad enough that we invaded under pretenses that really really really should have been obviously incorrect at the time, with no plan, just... I don't know. It seems unnecessary to even bother linking it to oil. It was evil. It was stupid.


> Except that American oil companies didn't get any benefit so how does that make any sense? If we are willing to accept the evidence that oil companies in the US didn't meaningfully benefit, doesn't that whole argument kind of seem silly?

Let me start by saying that I don't know much about the history of this period. That being said, I imagine these questions can be answered in two ways:

1. If you don't succeed at doing X, it does not mean that you never intended to do X. Something as chaotic as war will be full of unintended consequences. Maybe American oil companies did not benefit as a result of the war, even though America wanted them to; similar to how ISIS was formed as a result of the war, even though America certainly didn't want it to.

2. I don't think the narrative has ever been that US wanted to directly benefit American oil companies, à la United Fruit Company. The theory is, rather, that the US wanted to ensure that the flow of oil to international markets would not be stopped due to Iraq's actions. Think of it this way: the work US navy does to secure international trading routes is not about directly benefiting US shipping and insurance companies. It is about keeping the wheels of global trade and economy moving. The US companies may benefit from this non-directly, but other nations and companies will benefit from this equally as well. The narrative is not about the US going to war as a colonizer to steal Iraqi oil or get sweetheart deals for US companies. It is that it went to war to ensure continued flow of Iraqi oil to the market and ensure Iraqi government would not throw a wrench in the oil shipments through the region. Ultimately, the reasons for the war, according to this theory, were economical rather than humanitarian or defence-related.

Now I don't know if the above statements are true. I just wanted to bring up the arguments and assertions people make, lest the debate delve into attacking a straw man.


It's the plan cooked up in the late 90s by a think tank called "Project for a New American Century"[0]. The founders were a bunch of reganites whose names pepper the list of high officials of the two Bush presidencies. They believed they could secure the middle east's resources and maintain US hegemony by fighting and winning several concurrent foreign wars. The crazy thing is they laid it all out in their publications three years before 9/11 gave them the political capital to mobilize their plans, and very few people talked about it during the war.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_C...

Edit: relevant entry from the wikipedia article:

in 1998, Kristol and Kagan advocated regime change in Iraq throughout the Iraq disarmament process through articles that were published in the New York Times.[22][23] Following perceived Iraqi unwillingness to co-operate with UN weapons inspections, core members of the PNAC including Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Zoellick, and John Bolton were among the signatories of an open letter initiated by the PNAC to President Bill Clinton calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein.[19][24] Portraying Saddam Hussein as a threat to the United States, its Middle East allies, and oil resources in the region, and emphasizing the potential danger of any weapons of mass destruction under Iraq's control, the letter asserted that the United States could "no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections." Stating that American policy "cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council," the letter's signatories asserted that "the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf."[25] Believing that UN sanctions against Iraq would be an ineffective means of disarming Iraq, PNAC members also wrote a letter to Republican members of the U.S. Congress Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott,[26] urging Congress to act, and supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (H.R.4655)[27][28] which President Clinton signed into law in October 1998.


"rather than finding a good candidate."

The idea that any part of the US government could do the sorts of things attributed to this "hegemony" is palpably ridiculous. Especially "find a good candidate". The US has a system for finding a good candidate to run a country, and it found Donald Trump.

If the hegemony that controls everything has been defeated at every turn for generations, clearly someone's talking bollocks. The more rhetoric like this you consume, the less you can appreciate what's going on.


I fail to see how this isn't a win for the US. The Iraqis get a less terrible government no matter who it is and we get to wash our hands of the situation without pissing off Israel or the Saudis.

It's not a win for the USA because one of their enemies gained influence in the region. It's really as simple as that, but:

The invasion also led to the rise of ISIS, which is widely seen as a embarrassment to the USA because they were supposed to be rebuilding a country and ended up allowing a large and deadly terrorist group to form under their noses.

And just to add on, there are literal losses as well. When the Iraqi army retreated from Mosul in 2014, they left behind a bunch of US supplied equipment that ISIS took control of. Iraq has "lost" at least a billion dollars of military equipment in recent years, most of which has been taken by ISIS and enabled terrorism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Mosul https://www.newsweek.com/us-military-lost-track-1-billion-wo...


"Iraq has "lost" at least a billion dollars of military equipment in recent years"

That's...one tenth of one percent of the cost (to the US) of the war.


That’s the wrong measure by a long shot.

If I lose a $2000 rifle, and that rifle is then used to massacre a school, was the loss a mere $2000?


If you lost a thousand $2000 rifles, then the loss was a "mere" 0.1%. Plus or minus an order of magnitude (or two).

I mean, like, you are implying the other 99.9% of spending on the war was harmless or salutary?


No. I’m just saying that they used the money that we lost to gain strength and power, and they used those weapons to kill us and many others. Gaining power and resources provided them with the ability to leverage that and grow even more, and to fund new criminal enterprises. Focusing on the relatively small dollar amount we lost to them initially doesn’t really capture the total loss.

I think this is getting into the same territory as the difference between owing a bank a hundred bucks and a hundred million bucks.

They got in, shot down Saddam, got a bunch of anti-Saddam parties and gave them power... most of them were hiding in Iran or worked with Iran during the Iraq/Iran war they didn't understand the powerplay by Iran, they kept struggling with troops in or out whos who etc... withdrawn and left the incompetent government alone, gave Iran, even more, breathing space to take over

America waged war based on information provided by a Iraqi minister, who was later found to be working for Iranian interests.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Chalabi

IRGC had also announced the Syria as its 35th province.

https://carnegieendowment.org/2013/08/27/iran-s-unwavering-s...

IRGC and Russian bombing had driven out most of the Sunni's from Southern Syria towards north Syria, close to Turkish borders. and Iran is repopulating the land with Shias from allover from Afghanistan to Lebanon.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/13/irans-syria-pr...

IRGC has sort of created a contiguous Shia controlled land mass from Iran, Iraq, Syria to Lebanon. Some geopolitical observers I follow, expect the next will be in Afghanistan, with Afghani Shias against Pakistan controlled Sunni Talibans, as soon as US withdraws from Afghanistan.


The Iraqi elections are democratic (somewhat? I don’t know the level of Iranian influence) and not controlled by the USA.

"Democratic" is a duplicitous, ambiguous word:

- to the people, it means a government that is less corrupt and more accountable to do the people's work; a semi-meritocracy.

- in diplomatic circles, it means whatever Americans and their rich owner-class want. There aren't very many democratic countries allowed; they're usually small and don't have a resource curse.


Iraq is an example of country with government that "Americans and their rich owner-class" definitely didn't want. It's democratic in the actual sense of the word:

-- It's a government that got majority of the vote.

This has little to do with corruption/accountability, iraqis tend to vote along sectarian lines. There are more shia, they are better organized, they win.



On the ground it might be more helpful to think of Pro-Saudi vs. Pro-Iran rather than involving America directly - those two political hegemonies are much more relevant to locals.

The initial goal was set by the policy makers who understand "unknown unknown" very well, along with most mainstream media journalists who share the same ideology/beliefs/cult. However knowing "unknown unknown" prohibit them from knowing "unknown unknown unknown". So the the final result doesn't align with initial intentions.

The same mistake is repeated again and again, even today.


Probably a bit of “honne & tatemae”

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