... in iraq

You can't invade a country and eat its chicken

20 Aug 2014 | 160 words | iraq occupation

Chicken at Rijssel

Rijsel does the best rotisserie chicken in Amsterdam hand down. Every time i have one of those i am reminded of an interview with a US soldier who served in Iraq in 2006 during the height of the first Iraqi insurgency.

In this interview the solider spoke of how he hated paroling the streets of Bagdad in his armored vehicle unable to step out into an urban environment that was considered to be too dangerous for dismounted operations. His contempt for the Iraqi population was greatly enhanced by the fact that from his vehicle he would frequently see chicken rotisseries on the side of the road that were effectively unreachable to him despite superior equipment.

To me this is remains one of the most powerful illustrations (Islamic State and all related current concerns left aside) why one should not invade and occupy countries that one does not understand: You can’t invade a country and eat its chicken

(infidels) كافر

12 Dec 2007 | 345 words | music war iraq stupidity

So i have been nosing around in some of the more obscure corners of the interwebs in the last couple of days and have come across a disturbing number of places where people are proudly proclaiming to be infidels (as in كافر – kuffar). See for an extremely stupid proclamation here.

Now of course there is nothing wrong with being a k�fir (i do qualify as one myself) but it strikes me as rather stupid to aggressively advertise the fact, especially if you are an occupation soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. Seems like some of them see this otherwise and run around sporting this patch:

[found via danger room’s superb ‘most awesomely bad military patches‘ series. (see my favorite patch here)].

The sorry state of mind of the wearers of this patch is probably best expressed by the lyrics of the song ‘Christmas in Fallujah‘. This masterpiece is performed by someone called ‘Cass Dillon’ but has been written and composed by Billy Joel (of ‘We did not start the fire‘ fame). Apparently Billy Joel got ‘inspired’ by letters he received from American soldiers stationed in the sandbox and this has resulted in some of the most crude lyrics ever:

It’s evening in the desert

I’m tired and I’m cold

But I am just a soldier

I do what I am told

We came with the crusaders

To save the holy land

It’s Christmas in Fallujah

And no one gives a damn


We came to bring these people freedom

We came to fight the infidel

There is no justice in the desert

Because there is no God in hell

Not sure what to say about this apart from the fact that this probably explains why the Americans still do not get what they are doing in Iraq and that you can’t really blame the Iraqis for blowing them up. Somebody better tell them that the crusaders are not exactly popular in much of the Middle East and that the most likely location of the ‘holy land’ is about 880 kilometers to the west for Fallujah.

Kurtlar Varsi vs. Valley of the Sun

13 Mar 2006 | 624 words | iraq war movies film united states helicopters review

Have seen one and a half war movies today. First i went to Neukölln to see ‘Kurtlar Varsi: iraq‘ (Valley of the Wolves: Iraq) and then tonight on TV i ended up watching the second half of ‘Tears of the Sun‘.

For those who have not followed the hysteric discussions in Germany in the last month: Valley of the Wolves is the Turkish Blockbuster that depicts a Turkish secret service agent’s mission in Iraq. He is on a (unofficial) mission to kill a CIA operative who was responsible for arresting and humiliating a dozen of Turkish soldiers who were stationed in northern Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003. Having the soldiers arrested and taken away with bags over their heads apparently caused an enormous nationalistic trauma in Turkey and our hero (the tagline of the film is ‘Some Men Are Born to be Heroes’) is here (or rather in Iraq) to take revenge (and to break the hearts of local women).

The film has been wildly accused of anti-semitism and anti-Americanism in the German media and while does indeed use anti-semitic clichés to a level where it is hard to not leave the cinema i would not call it anti-American. The film rather portraits the the American aggression against Iraq from a viewpoint that is not identical with that of the aggressors (and the western media). While in general the story-line is at best absurd (like in most of the films starring Chuck Norris) and the dialogues are extremely weak, the film does give you an idea how the global war on terror can be perceived if you have been born on the wrong side of the either-you-are-with-us-or-you-are-against-us rhetoric.

The most striking scene of the movie is the re-enactment of the 2003 Abu Ghraib torture photographs which makes some of the pictures (the dog & pvt. England) come alive on screen. You can argue that this is a cheap trick (like two young leftists in the subway station did), but it also is the most realistic scene of the entire movie as it is undoubtedly based on real events. In the end it is this scene what keeps the movie form being a bad, anti-semitic, pathetic and pseudo religious piece of crap as it it gives it some credibility. To me it almost feels like the rest of the movie just serves the function of tying the Abu Ghreib scene and the arrest of the Turkish soldiers together. The interring question is if the film would have had the same success without the blatant anti-semitism…

Tears of the Sun, to the contrary, features Bruce Willis as a cynical American special force commander that goes into the jungle to save a (attractive female) american doctor and (being under the influences of her charms) ends up disobeying orders (and losing a couple of his men) in order to protect (her and) the 70 or so refugees, whom his superiors considers ‘excess baggage’.

Valley of the sun (just like Kurtlar Varsi, where the Turkish super agent finally manages to kill his American counterpart but looses the beautiful chick) does have an happy ending (complete with a copy of the palm tree napalm air-strike scene from apoclypse now) in which the black hawk helicopters arrive to take the exhausted special forces soldiers and the refugees home while smiling african kids wave the helicopters good-bye as they depart into the afternoon sky…

While i cannot help to feel relieved when the black hawks arrive in the sky this particular combination of films makes me wonder how many people outside of the first world are left to muster the optimism of thinking that help is on its way when they see a black hawk helicopter approaching in the sky…

Computer controlled missiles

04 Dec 2005 | 285 words | technology iraq drone wars war terrorism

Looks like computer controlled missiles are all the rage this weekend. first allthetechnology blogs showcase a USB powered airdart launcher that can be controlled from any mac or PC. It is being sold for 20 pounds over at the Marks & Spencer online store

Powered by your mac or pc, you’ll have hours of flying fun with these USB air darts. Let the mission begin! Control the aim and the firing mechanism of the darts via your computer mouse! 3 darts! Software included!

usb powered airdarts

… and a mere two days later the BBC reports on a ‘new tack in cyber war‘:

A new twist has surfaced in the cyber war being waged by Islamic militants.

A message has been posted to several radical Islamist – or jihadi – websites announcing a competition to design a new site for a militant group in Iraq. The prize offered is the chance to fire missiles remote-controlled by computer at a US military base in Iraq. […] The winner will be given the chance, the group says, to fire three long-range missiles at an American army base in Iraq by – in the words of the announcement – “pressing a button on his computer with his own blessed hand, using technology developed by the jihad fighters”.

Note the technical similarities: three missiles to be fired form your office chair with your own blessed hand. Makes me wonder if the jihadies do indeed develop their own technology or if the just go online shopping at M&S.

Update (04-dec-05): Looks like the contest has been announced on the 5th of november. So maybe it is the other way around: M&S nicking their x-mas toy ideas from the jihadies?

On asymmetric warfare

20 Aug 2005 | 308 words | war iraq occupation, gaza

Couple of days ago spiegel online ran a story about how the insurgents in Iraq where now using dogs with explosives being strapped on to them to attack the occupying forces. While the article did not even bother to point to specific incidents or provide other proof for this claim it reminded me of two pictures of donkeys slummering on my hard-disk.

In late 2003 donkeys suddenly entered the stage of the global war on terror with incidents involving donkeys taking place in Bagdad …

Most people would never suspect the lowly donkey of being an instrument of terror – which is exactly why anti-U.S. insurgents used the beasts to launch rocket attacks Friday on two hotels and the Oil Ministry in Baghdad. […] Iraq’s donkey cart drivers now find themselves on the front-line of suspicion after insurgents used the traditional vehicles to launch rockets at the capital’s two main foreign media hotels on a major commercial street on Friday. (jordan times 23 november 2003)

… and Gaza:

Israel killed a senior Hamas militant with a helicopter missile strike on a donkey cart he was riding Thursday after his radical Islamic faction fired a rocket into a large Israeli city for the first time. […] Palestinian bystanders collected parts of Kalakh’s body from the ground, wrapped them in white cloth and carried them on a stretcher to a hospital in the Palestinian city of Khan Younis, in the south of the densely populated Gaza Strip. The donkey lay dead on the ground next to the smashed cart.

The picture from bagdad did not feature a dead donkey (which was kept alive but left other people wondering about his future) but perfectly expressed the helplessness of the US army in dealing with the situation in Iraq. You see two rather puzzled us soldiers calling home from the donkey cart.

Finally, a connection between Iraq and 9/11...

29 May 2005 | 5 words | beirut cars lebanon iraq war

Downtown beirut, 29 May 2005

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: