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Apr 27th, 2003 11:52 PM
The_Rorschach Something surprising on the issue of the future Iraqi economy.

Quite a bit this article alludes to is actually a little scary, assuming of course what I'm reading between the lines isn't just more fear mongering from yours truly.

---
Could Iraq become the Silicon Crescent?
Thursday, April 24, 2003 Posted: 9:46 AM EDT (1346 GMT)


(AP) -- Although Iraq first needs basics like electricity and a government, it is already shaping up as a rare opportunity for technology companies. It is saddled with a tattered phone system, weak Internet access and virtually none of the wireless wonders sweeping other countries.

Even if Iraq never becomes the Silicon Crescent, big money is at stake. Rebuilding the country's telecommunications networks and constructing new facilities from scratch would cost billions.

U.S. officials have not explained how telecom contracts will be awarded, whether deals signed by Saddam Hussein's regime will be honored, or whether U.S. and British companies will be preferred. The U.S. Agency for International Development, which is doling out several Iraq reconstruction projects, will not oversee telecom deals, spokesman Alfonso Aguilar said.

U.S. and international companies that want to take part say the biggest beneficiaries would be the Iraqi people, whose connections to the outside world were stunted by Saddam's dictatorship and ravaged by war.

'Land of opportunity'
"Iraq is now the land of opportunity," said Loay Abu-Osbeh, who oversees the Baghdad office for Abu-Ghazeleh Intellectual Property, a Jordan-based technology consulting firm.

"People who were outside Iraq ... have come back to Iraq to make money in Iraq, and I can see it happening. This is a business everybody is interested in, doing Internet, Internet cafes, connecting to big servers (elsewhere) in the world."

While Saddam's regime had a now-shuttered Web site, Uruklink, Iraqis had little Internet access other than in government centers, which offered slow connections routed through "proxy servers" that tried to filter out content the regime didn't like.

Voice communications haven't been much better. Satellite phones used by journalists and aid workers are too expensive for regular Iraqis, and the country has virtually no cellular phone coverage other than in the Kurdish north.

To compensate, many Iraqis tinkered with their home cordless phones prior to the war to extend their range to a mile or two, according to Pyramid Research analyst Joseph Braude, author of "The New Iraq."

Saddam's regime, which monitored international calls, couldn't mask the decrepit state of the phone system. It was bombed in the first Gulf War and kept in disrepair largely because of trade sanctions. In recent years, phone use had to be rationed.

In 1990, Iraq had 5.3 phone lines for every 100 people, but by 1998 there were only 3 per 100, according to the International Telecommunications Union. Neighboring Iran has 16; Syria has 11. The United States has 67.

$1 billion phone repair bill
Even before the recent war, the cost of rehabilitating Iraq's phone system was estimated at $1 billion over seven to 10 years.

That project will now include repairing bombed Baghdad phone exchanges, although Marines say 95 percent of the networks are intact -- they just lack electricity. Some neighborhoods' exchanges are working again, but only for local calls.

All this could amount to a huge feast for Western telecom and technology companies that have been starving since the 2000 dot-com crash.

Saddam did most of Iraq's recent telecom business with Turkey and France; much of the phone network was built by France's Alcatel in the 1980s.

Will France's antiwar position will hinder its companies in getting reconstruction projects?

An Alcatel spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity said the company will seek telecom business in Iraq, though he acknowledged "we don't know what kind of chance we will have."

Alcatel's U.S. rival Lucent Technologies Inc. is "prepared to offer whatever assistance we can to help the U.S. government rebuild the networks there," spokesman Bill Price said.

Similarly, AT&T Corp., which replaced phone-switching systems in Kuwait after the 1991 war, is eager to get tapped again for Iraq, spokesman Jim McGann said.

The issue of wireless communications arose early in Operation Iraqi Freedom when Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said postwar Iraq should have a cellular network on the CDMA standard developed by Qualcomm Inc. -- based in Issa's district -- rather than the European GSM standard used in most of the Middle East.

Either way, U.S. companies can benefit. For example, Motorola Inc., which makes GSM and CDMA equipment, will seek work in Iraq, spokesman Norman Sandler said.

Some technology aficionados say whatever communications work is done in Iraq should include hot new wireless technologies and equipment that routes long-distance calls inexpensively over the Internet, so Iraq can leapfrog other developing countries.

'Geeks Without Borders'
If paying for such projects proves difficult, there's a coalition of the willing: the London-based Committee for Information Technology Reconstruction of Iraq.

The nonprofit's founder, Ben Fitzgerald-O'Connor, suggests auctioning off Internet addresses with the ".iq" suffix that was assigned to Iraq but is now in limbo.

Assuming enough people -- geniuses, presumably -- would want "iq" in their e-mail or Web addresses, Fitzgerald-O'Connor estimates $10 million could be raised for Iraqi Internet projects.

"It would be a little thing the (technology) community could do to help," he said. "Something like 'Geeks Without Borders."'
Apr 18th, 2003 08:11 PM
Abcdxxxx Hey I'd like to think we have enough tanks out there to go around, but since we're dumb enough to pick and chose our stake outs, I can certainly see their logic. Am I to think Iraq would be any better off with preserved liberaries and burning oil fields? Then people would say they left them unprotected so Haliburton could come in and rebuild them. Certainly I see the value in cultural resources, but untilities, and crude oil do tend to get priority. Isn't that just simply how war works? It's the first thing you target, and the first thing you protect.
Apr 18th, 2003 07:14 PM
KevinTheOmnivore I never once said that tourism would support the Iraqi economy, that's just you putting words in someone's mouth, in typical fashion.

My point was that there's more to Iraq than oil and economy. Should we protect only the office to an oil ministry that might not have even been all that honest with its records and book keeping anyway? What makes their office more valuable than any other office?

And why should we think so lowly of these people, so poorly, to assume that these ignorant, backward people could OBVIOUSLY do nothing other than pump oil for the West...? Obviously I'm being a bit extreme, and likewise putting words in YOUR mouth, but what's good for the goose....

And Saudi Arabia is a terrible example. The top level of their society sit back and profit off of oil because it's how THEY can prosper, not how everyone in their country can. Maybe their people would excel at something else, produce much else, but we won't truly know with that existing government, will we?

So the answer is this: Make all of Iraq dependent upon a fossil fuel, allow every other possible resource go unprotected, because clearly, all these Arabs can do is pump out black gold, right?
Apr 18th, 2003 06:51 PM
Abcdxxxx I'm still caught up on this potential tourism boom you're expecting. In theory, the 2nd biggest masque you mentioned has always been available to Muslim tourism.... I'm not aware of anyone making trips out there the way they do to Mecca....and certainly the Saudi's aren't really worrying about tourism to float their economy.

I wouldn't be too shocked if Iraq ends up like Monte Carlo, or more recently, Beirut, becoming a total party stop. You'll hear people comparing it to "Cuba before Fidel" or "Berlin after the wall only without the electro bands".
Apr 18th, 2003 06:36 PM
KevinTheOmnivore
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Rorschach
Thats reaching brother. Thats like implying religion instills accountability and ethics, and I think thats more credit than its due.
Bur Ror, you're the one who cited the Koran as the reason they are inexcusable.

Quote:
Every nation has people who are capable of having children. When they raise those children, they will issue edicts and instuction. Do this. Do not do this. They will expect to be obeyed. If the child does not obey them, they will punish the child. This is universal. This is teaching self restraint and self responsibility. Why are we fighting over this?
Because these things happen everywhere, even here in America. Why? Because ultimately, humans are humans. We react to situations in different ways, even breaking our own moral codes when being swept up in the moment (come on! Yoyu remember High School! ).

Spinster made this point in another thread. When a bank is robbed in America, of course we blame the criminal. But if the law enforcement body in power did NOTHING to prevent it, wouldn't we be equally angry at them for not doing their job? Doesn't the American military, who is the acting body there by defact, carry some of the blame?

Quote:
If they never did it previously, obviously, they understood that it was socially unacceptable -which is the standard by which we measure right and wrong as most people regard ethics as archaic.
Right, they never did so because they'd have their hands chopped off and their wife raped in front of them. Would you break the law if you disagreed with its enforcement? Would you act rebelious towards this government if it became oppressive?

Quote:
If you deny they have the intellegence to tell the difference between the universally acceptable conduct and oppressive laws, we should be also seeing a virtual orgy of rape and killing right now.
How do we know this kind of stuff isn't going on?
Apr 18th, 2003 05:50 PM
The_Rorschach "But Ror, not all Iraqis are Muslims. "

Thats reaching brother. Thats like implying religion instills accountability and ethics, and I think thats more credit than its due.

"In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but the parts of Baghdad that are now under best order are the ones being organized by the Shi'ite muslims in Baghdad. "

Religion does teach self restraint, but that is not saying that athiests and agnostics have an excuse to riot and kill. Every nation has people who are capable of having children. When they raise those children, they will issue edicts and instuction. Do this. Do not do this. They will expect to be obeyed. If the child does not obey them, they will punish the child. This is universal. This is teaching self restraint and self responsibility. Why are we fighting over this?


"I'm not trying to argue that the Iraqis are lawless savavges who need to be "taught" behavior, however, their rule of law for the past years has in fact been contrary to what you understand as right and just."

and. . .

"So now they're in a vacuum. the laws they have known are wrong, and they know this. What do they do? Should we presume they have all read the Second Treatise of Civil Government???"

If they never did it previously, obviously, they understood that it was socially unacceptable -which is the standard by which we measure right and wrong as most people regard ethics as archaic. If you deny they have the intellegence to tell the difference between the universally acceptable conduct and oppressive laws, we should be also seeing a virtual orgy of rape and killing right now.
Apr 18th, 2003 05:35 PM
mburbank Most of 'em. But they'll deny it. Why? Craftiness. Simple, Native Arab Craftiness.
Apr 18th, 2003 05:31 PM
KevinTheOmnivore But Ror, not all Iraqis are Muslims. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but the parts of Baghdad that are now under best order are the ones being organized by the Shi'ite muslims in Baghdad.

I'm not trying to argue that the Iraqis are lawless savavges who need to be "taught" behavior, however, their rule of law for the past years has in fact been contrary to what you understand as right and just. For example, Iraqi police who have been deemed safe, and I guess "anti-Saddam" have been put back to work. Our troops haven't given them weapons however, because they have always been accustomed to using them in a fashion that wouldn't be accepted here in America. Mirana rights, right to attorney, are these common in Iraq? You would be arrested and killed for speaking out against the government. These are not only rules that have now been dismissed by the Iraqis, they SHOULD b dismissed by the Iraqis.

So now they're in a vacuum. the laws they have known are wrong, and they know this. What do they do? Should we presume they have all read the Second Treatise of Civil Government???
Apr 18th, 2003 05:20 PM
The_Rorschach Quite right Kevin, I was, but I believe my point is still valid.

"The Qur'an presents the divine principles as signs, clues or guides (Ayat) to help the Muslim succeed in this world and in the hereafter. Islam has no clergy or religious hierarchy charged with the "official" or "exclusive" interpretation of the divine principles. This leaves the detailed interpretation and application of these principles to individual Muslims who are free to choose and, therefore, must accept the responsibility for their choices"
-emphasis added by me-
Except from http://www.datadubai.com/quran.htm

Self responsibility, however, is not only a western concept. I believe every nation, and every people, have a mutual understanding that a person make his own choices, and must therefore be accountable for them.
Apr 18th, 2003 05:19 PM
mburbank See, now Abccdzzzx made an actually funny Jew joke.

Vince's sucked.

See what a joke needs, Vincerooni, is context.

That's why we Jews are naturally funny. It's something a goomba like you is too busy making cement shoes for Pisans to understand, Capice? Ay, thatsa some spicy meatball, you great stupid greasy bag of yesterdays old woman sick.
Apr 18th, 2003 05:02 PM
KevinTheOmnivore
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Rorschach
You are the political equivilent to Phil Collins Jen. Honestly.
ENOUGH WITH THE PHIL COLLINS BASHING!!!

So anyway, on the issue, I feel it's irresponsible on our own parts to sum it up simply to the Iraqi "hooligans," and move on. As Abcdxxxx has noted before, you can't necessarily blame people who have been oppressed for years for venting some of that frustration.

Ror, you seem to be condemning these people through a Western, or Lockean kind of lense. With that perspective, a lack of respect for property, and the rule of law must be blamed on the criminal. However, I think it's risky to view it that way, because you are dealing with people who lived under a man who had a rape task force, and likewise gauged out the eyes of children while their parents watched. This is not what we here in America are accustomed to, and to expect these people to abide in a fashion similar to someone who has lived in a relatively free, prosperous, and democratic society strikes me as a bit unfair.

I think it's unacceptable what has happened. Like Max said, the museum is acceptable perhaps, but the Library too??? What about the government buildings that were looted? What about the UN offices that were looted, in which thousands of UNICEF documents were ruined? Our troops are only human, and they can only do so much. And they're damned either way. If we put tanks on every building they'd be criticized for running a police state. However, at least according to this article, the UN predicted wel in advance that this might hapen, and even outlined the appropriate precautionary measures. Perhaps it was spite that made us ignore such warnings, but I feel that the only ones who will suffer from such spite will be the Iraqi people.

Mesopotamia? Not a potentially HUGE tourist attraction? Doesn't Iraq have the second largest mosque in the world? There's much that will/could/and should attrack visitors from all around the world to this place, and to prioritize a fossil fuel over this based solely on short sighted economic reasoning is naive and unfortunate, IMO.
Apr 18th, 2003 03:07 PM
Abcdxxxx Too bad Iraq doesn't have pyramids then. Guess they shoulda put their Jews to good use... you just can't rely on space aliens these days.
Apr 18th, 2003 11:08 AM
mburbank Insightful and funny. Because I'm a Jew. And that would be the kind of salt we use.
Apr 18th, 2003 10:33 AM
VinceZeb
Quote:
I will take that with grain of salt. What I have seen in papers today is that a large portion of the Museum looting was the work of a single organized criminal group (although certainly other followed), which would make sense, taking advantage of chaos they knew ws coming.
I'd have to assume that the salt will be kosher.
Apr 18th, 2003 10:05 AM
mburbank "there's also speculation that most of the collection was reproductions, and Saddam had already self looted the museum a while ago."

I will take that with grain of salt. What I have seen in papers today is that a large portion of the Museum looting was the work of a single organized criminal group (although certainly other followed), which would make sense, taking advantage of chaos they knew ws coming.

The Library is unforgivable, since there was a period of days between the Museum and the library.

Of course the Looters are responsible for their actions. We are responsible for not even trying to stop them.

Protecting the oil fields doesn't suprise me, nor do I find it astonishing. Protecting the oil ministry building and not hospitals or museums? That's pretty sad.

On a side note, the Egyptian economoy is almost entirely based on tourism and antiquities. Granted oil will always be it's economic engine, but Iraq (you know, the FREE DEMOCRATIC FAIRYLAND Iraq where going to build) could certainly count it's history as a major part of it's economoy. I just don't think the Bushies are your Museum types.
Apr 17th, 2003 09:51 PM
Abcdxxxx I can't find anything published yet to support this yet... but the story I'm hearing is that the museum collection was designed to be broken down in a 24 hour period at the onset of war for hiding, and in this case they had several weeks lead time.... there's also speculation that most of the collection was reproductions, and Saddam had already self looted the museum a while ago. Take that with a grain of salt for now, but it sounds plausible...

and it still sounds like a coupla tanks parked protecting the outside of the museum, and the library wouldn't have hurt either.
Apr 17th, 2003 06:34 PM
Abcdxxxx It was a fuck up...

but I'm still curious how some hooligan street looters could manage to break the museum vaults... or what they're going to do with that crumbling stone antiquity they hustled back home?

In terms of importance, I can see why protecting oil fields would get priority... outside of our own interests, the oils fields also represent the future interests of the Iraqi people. The nation isn't going to ever base it's economy on artifact trading, and it's unlikely tourism is going to carry them anytime soon. So it's back to oil. As much as it's a horrible tragedy that artifacts were damaged, and stolen - a symbolic blow to civilization everywhere... the potential damage to oil fields would have turned Iraq into even more of a helpless human rights disaster.
Apr 17th, 2003 05:53 PM
The_Rorschach I get your point, and I agree with it. We SHOULD have protected those sites. While it was unlikely they would be attacked, we still should have taken precautions. That is simply being responsible as an occupying power. . .But what we are not responsible for are the actions of Iraqi citizens. They looted their own national treasures, and as fucked up as that is, it was their choice -And therefore they are responsible. Bottom line.
Apr 17th, 2003 05:27 PM
mburbank Truthfully, it didn't cross my mind. But it DID cross the mind of Martin Sullivan's mind, and the reason he resigned his Bush appointed position is so he could say so.

"Earlier this week, antiquities experts said they had been given assurances from U.S. military planners that Iraq's historic artifacts and sites would be protected by occupying forces."

I've heard this in several interviews. In more than one, Museum currators asserted there were US tanks and troops on the same block as the museum while the looting took place.

We secured the oil fields immediately, (and the buerocratic agencies connected with them! Those buildings we prevented from being looted!) but hospitals and Museums weren't on the list.

Don't get me wrong. I don't see this as a CONSPIRACY, I see it as a fuck up, and one we ought to admit to. I think the administration should say "Of course this is terrible. As the occupying power, we should have at very least tried to do something about this once it started. Failing that, we absolutely should have protcted the national library after the major Museum lootings occured." We can't do that though becuase as a nation we must never be wrong about anything.

Sullivan didn't resign because it happened, he resigned because we didn't try to stop it. And this is a guy appointed by the Bush adminsitration to what is a VERY plumb job for a Museum professional.
Apr 17th, 2003 05:13 PM
The_Rorschach Is I-mockery loading really fucking slow today, or is it just me?

"Fair enough, but what DO you think accounts for the Museums and libraries being looted, beyond the possability they might be worth something?"

Well, I admit sometimes my view of reality is overly simplified, but I think you just summed it up. It doesn't look to me like the actions of thinking people. I think they imagined easy wealth lying within, and decided to take it. I don't think they gave any thought to who would buy it, or how, or whether it could even BE sold. It has all the earmarks of desperate action.


"Is this such a bizarre unpredictable event that even once it started was far too mindboggling to try to do anything about?"

Well, be honest Burbank. You work in a museum right? You're of above average intellegence, I'm sure you talk with your fellow curators (sp?), and I'm sure the topic of What If The Museum Get Bombed or Destroyed By The US or Saddam came up. . .Did you ever think they would be ravaged by the civilian Iraqi's though?

It was mindboggling even before it happened. The very idea is insane, and the fact that they were this desperate only reinforces the idea that we were right to insist on a regime change - As illegal and amoral as the idea is in my opinion.
Apr 17th, 2003 05:01 PM
mburbank Fair enough, but what DO you think accounts for the Museums and libraries being looted, beyond the possability they might be worth something?

Is this such a bizarre unpredictable event that even once it started was far too mindboggling to try to do anything about?
Apr 17th, 2003 04:47 PM
The_Rorschach You are the political equivilent to Phil Collins Jen. Honestly.

You can't eat artefacts. The Black Market extends into America, military grade weapons and gear are sold there yearly. Even happened to have been at a base where an SK was being investigated for it, so I'm fairly sure thats an accurate statement.

You have any idea who to talk to? You think they do?

Sociology is not politics. I think you are confusing an inherently crippled pseudo-science (sociology) for a genuine, if soft, science (polticial science). "BUT THEY ARE POOR" is an argument which only mitigates factors in sociology where, from what I have seen, they don't necessarily believe in personal responsibility -but rather than people react thoughtlessly to external stimuli and cannot be accountable for their actions as such.
Apr 17th, 2003 04:12 PM
Jeanette X
Quote:
It certainly would never have occoured to me to loot a museum, you can't put a price tag on posterity, you know?
The people who did it were very likely extremely poor, and illiterate. When you are that poor, the only thing you care about is surivival-which could be achieved by selling the pilfered items on the black marker.
Apr 17th, 2003 04:10 PM
mburbank " Earlier this week, antiquities experts said they had been given assurances from U.S. military planners that Iraq's historic artifacts and sites would be protected by occupying forces. "


And beware of any statement that begins "I agree with Donald Rumsfeld."
Apr 17th, 2003 03:58 PM
The_Rorschach Wow. . .What an idiot. He's quitting over something which has already happened and can not be changed rather than remain where he might be able to make a difference.

I agree with Rumsfield. Looting gov't buildings, banks and markets are understandable acts in a post war country -if reprehensible. It certainly would never have occoured to me to loot a museum, you can't put a price tag on posterity, you know? You're robbing future generations of their cultural identity and the intimate knowledge that can only be gained by visiting the antiquities of their ancestors.

edit: Whoah, sorry about that, started a sentence and forgot to end it
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