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April 12, 2003

HERE'S MORE on how what is appropriately called that "wretched RAVE Act" passed Congress.

As I've said repeatedly, the legislation is a disgrace, and everyone associated with it should apologize and resign in disgrace.

Not that anything like that will happen. But that's what should happen.

MICKEY KAUS on Castro's executions:

Castro has celebrated the arrival of Yoko Ono and N.Y. media bigs by starting to execute people after quick trials. ... The condemned were hijackers of ferry boats who were trying to get to the U.S., not mere dissidents. Still ... Nobody was hurt in the attempted hijacking. ... If these people were executed in the U.S. after such rudimentary procedures-- the hijacking was only nine days ago! -- Steve Earle would be writing heartbreaking songs about them. (And don't the French march in the streets when those ugly Americans talk about executing convicted murderers after years of appeals?) ... For a defense of the hijackers by a relative, see this Miami Herald story. ... Hope Yoko and Company have a nice meal at Fidel's plantation! Don't spoil dessert by mentioning any of this unpleasant business!

Mickey forgets the first rule: no act is too unspeakable, so long as the hand that performs it isn't American, or friendly to America.

VIA OXBLOG, here's a list of readings on reconstructing Iraq.

I JUST GOT AN EMAIL FROM ROD RODDENBERRY, who is afraid that my earlier post in which I said that "he hopes to interview some Klingons in Iraq (no, really) once things settle down," might be misinterpreted as some sort of anti-Iraqi slur.

In the mythology of Star Trek, Klingons have been portrayed as animalistic and barbaric in behavior. Although placed a societal status equal to that of humans, the difference in ethnicity between Humanity and Klingons is often perceived as less evolved and thus inferior to Humans. The implication inaccurately suggests that I consider people from Iraq to be equivalent to Klingons.

I guess I was unclear. I just assumed that everyone would read that as referring to the Klingonophile variety of Trek fans, who dress as Klingons, speak Klingon, etc., but to be clear, that's what he meant, not some slur on Iraqis.

I TOOK THE DAY OFF, but Jeff Jarvis has been blogging up a storm. Go read it.

THIS IS CNN:

Did you see any of this reported on CNN? Of course not. Because that would have endangered something the media prizes above everything else, including truth: access. In two decades the mainstream media has degenerated from impartial collectors and arbiters of what was news - in other words, reporters - to skulking curs, haunting the tables of potentates and movie stars and begging for scraps. No wonder they get kicked all the time.

Ouch.

REPORTS ON INDYMEDIA SAY THE STATUE-TOPPLING VIDEO WAS STAGED: Josh Chafetz goes to the photos and says the IndyMedia claims are bogus.

HERE'S MORE EVIDENCE FOR THE DEN BESTE THEORY that France, Russia and Germany tried to block war to conceal the extent of their support for Saddam:

Top secret documents obtained by The Telegraph in Baghdad show that Russia provided Saddam Hussein's regime with wide-ranging assistance in the months leading up to the war, including intelligence on private conversations between Tony Blair and other Western leaders.

Moscow also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.

The documents detailing the extent of the links between Russia and Saddam were obtained from the heavily bombed headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service in Baghdad yesterday.

I wouldn't take this to the bank just yet, but it's consistent with other things that we've heard. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Then there's France.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And there's this:

Last week it was disclosed that two retired three-star generals -- Vladislav Achalov (a former paratrooper and specialist in urban warfare) and Igor Maltsev (a specialist in air defense) -- visited Baghdad recently and were awarded medals by Hussein. The awards were handed out by Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Khashim Akhmed.

It was reported that the retired generals helped Hussein prepare a war plan to defeat the Americans. Achalov confirmed he was in Baghdad just before the war and received medals from Hussein for services rendered. He also told journalists that the defense of Baghdad was well organized, U.S. tanks would be burned if they enter the city and U.S. infantry would be slaughtered. According to Achalov, the only way the allies could ever take Baghdad and other Iraqi cities was to raze them to the ground by carpet bombing.

I think we should be advertising that Saddam had Russian weapons and electronics (remember the GPS-jammers destroyed by GPS bombs?) and Russian military advice, too! We might even suggest, in a low-key sort of way, that those contributed to our swift victory.

Meanwhile, the article reports, the rapid US success is making Russians ask why their military hasn't done better in Chechnya. Er, see the above paragraph. . . .

MOVING THE GOAL POSTS -- a long, long way: Now the peace movement is worried about the impact of fast food on Iraqis.

THE LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT SHOOTING IS NOW OFFICIALLY TERRORISM. Uh, thanks for noticing, guys.

Here's my column from last July. And here are some further reflections on homeland security.

I'M BACK: We had an idyllic picnic beside the lake at Cherokee Boulevard. The InstaDaughter made and packed a picnic dinner all by herself. It was very nice, the weather was perfect, and, well, it was the kind of day that I ought to have more of.

LIGHT BLOGGING: Various other responsibilities have been beckoning. Back later. In the meantime, you can read Dan Kennedy's comments on CNN and Iraq. And Mike Campbell points to an interesting story on Iraq and UN inspection teams. And sheesh, of course I can take some time off, when even Moxie is warblogging. . . .

April 11, 2003

WELL, THE ANTIWAR CELEBRITIES AREN'T DOING MUCH, but Greg Beato lists some lefty groups that are actually raising money to help with Iraqi relief and reconstruction.

No action from Sean Penn on this front, though he may be otherwise occupied for a while.

(Here's a blog that seems to be covering the Sean Penn affair steadily).

WHAT DID CNN KNOW, AND WHEN DID IT KNOW IT? The New Republic is asking.

I'll have more up over at GlennReynolds.com shortly, too.

UPDATE: It's up, now. Also, Rand Simberg is wondering why we should trust CNN's reporting from Damascus or, well, lots of other places. And Tony Adragna wonders if it isn't really a case of "Ritterism." Ouch. But this suggested motto isn't much kinder: "We had to suppress the news in order to cover it." That kind of sums up how a lot of things have changed in 30 years, actually.

JIM GLASSMAN IS SAVAGING CNN over its Saddam suck-up.

MORE ON CNN: Reader Sage McLaughlin sends this, which echoes a lot of other email I've gotten:

You say that we really ought to give Jordan credit for his honesty at this point, now that the danger is passed. Maybe so. But that's what he really, really wants you to do. That's what he is, in fact, begging you to do, with a huge assist from the editorial staff of the NYT.

My opinion: Today's piece was the most shamelessly transparent piece of corporate ass-covering I have ever seen in my life. The point of the article was to plead for understanding, to make the case that CNN had no choice, to hold the organization up as a heroic defender of the rights of its staffers, and to otherwise deflect what he knows is going to be widespread and damning criticism, now that the truth can no longer be concealed.

The really moral thing to do, obviously, would have been to pull out of Iraq years ago, instead of allowing Iraqis on CNN's payroll to be tortured so that they could maintain the status symbol of "access" to the regime. This is nothing more than an attempt to preempt the likely damage to CNN's reputation caused by the (accurate) perception that they have been complicit in Hussein's enslavement of the Iraqi people since at least 1991.

And judging by the presumption of good faith you're somehow able to lend him, it's working beautifully.

You know, I think this is right.

TOMORROW NIGHT IS YURI'S NIGHT, celebrating Yuri Gagarin's pioneering flight into outer space. Rand Simberg (scroll down a bit) has lots of information on how to celebrate, and where.

JOE BIDEN'S DUMB ANTI-RAVE BILL has passed both houses of Congress. Biden -- and everyone else involved with this lousy piece of legislation -- should be doubly ashamed: first for being associated with such a crappy bill, and second for sneaking it through without hearings and attaching it to an unrelated piece of feelgood legislation.

"FOR SUCH AN ADVANCED SPECIES, THEY SURE KNOW HOW TO RUB IT IN." -- Marge Simpson

Yeah, there has been a lot of pro-war gloating. And I guess that Dawn Olsen's cautionary advice about gloating is appropriate. So maybe we shouldn't rub in just how wrong, and morally corrupt the antiwar case was. Maybe we should rise above the temptation to point out that claims of a "quagmire" were wrong -- again! -- how efforts at moral equivalence were obscenely wrong -- again! -- how the antiwar folks are still, far too often, trying to move the goalposts rather than admit their error -- again -- and how an awful lot of the very same people who spoke lugubriously about "civilian casualties" now seem almost disappointed that there weren't more -- again -- and how many people who spoke darkly about the Arab Street and citizens rising up against American "liberators" were proven wrong -- again -- as the liberators were seen as just that by the people they were liberating. And I suppose we shouldn't stress so much that the antiwar folks were really just defending the interests of French oil companies and Russian arms-deal creditors. It's probably a bad idea to keep rubbing that point in over and over again.

Nah.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald links this post in the -- as usual -- deluded notion that it proves his point. I've responded here.

MICKEY KAUS has more on the Eason Jordan Journalistic Enron, as well as a novel theory on why celebrities like to suck up to Castro.

EUGENE VOLOKH has a keen observation on vibrators and double standards.

NOW HERE'S AN ANTITERRORISM BILL I could really support.

MORE NAILS IN THE COFFIN OF ANTIWAR CREDIBILITY:

France, Germany, Russia, Belgium and Canada are not on the side of peace or morality or the Iraqi people. The pictures from the streets of Baghdad make that plain. But we are on the side of TotalFinaElf. Twice in recent columns, Diane Francis has mentioned, almost en passant, a curious little fact:

The Western oil company with the closest ties to the late Saddam is France's TotalFinaElf. That's not the curious fact, that's just business as usual in the Fifth Republic. This is the curious fact: As Diane wrote in February and again last week, "Total's biggest shareholder is Montreal's Paul Desmarais, whose youngest son is married to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's daughter."

Let's see if I've got this straight: TotalFinaElf's largest shareholder is a subsidiary of Montreal's Power Corp, whose co-chief executive is Jean Chrétien's son-in-law, Andre Desmarais. Mr. Desmarais' brother, Paul Desmarais Jr., sits on the Total board.

For months, the anti-war crowd has insisted that "it's all about oil," that the only reason the Iraqi people were being "liberated" was so that the second biggest oil reserves in the world could be annexed in perpetuity by Dick Cheney and Halliburton and the rest of Bush's Texas oilpatch gang. Instead, it turns out that, if it is all about oil, then the principal North American beneficiary of the continued enslavement of the Iraqi people is the family of the Canadian Prime Minister -- that's to say, his daughter, France Chrétien, and his grandchildren.

Perhaps the new Iraqi government will investigate Chirac, Chretien, and Putin for complicity in crimes against humanity? And I wonder if the folks who marched for "peace" will feel bad about being the tools of Big Oil? [ Yeah, but it's French Big Oil -- Ed. Well, it's okay then.]

IRAQIS DEMONSTRATING AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Orin Kerr reports:

As I came closer, I realized that it was a string of about twenty cars, mostly filled with Arab-looking men holding large flags. My initial thought: probably another antiwar protest. (The intersection of H and 16th Street has become a favorite spot for antiwar protesters in the last few weeks.) But as I walked towards the cars, I realized this was something very different: the flags the men were waving were U.S. flags, plus an occasional pre-1991 Iraqi flag, and the men were yelling things like "Saddam is gone!" and "No more tyranny!" Yes, they were loudly celebrating the downfall of Saddam Hussein , and had smiles on their faces a mile wide. It was a remarkable sight, and I was happy to stop by the side of the road and cheer them on for a few minutes.

Things will return to normal around the White House by tomorrow. International ANSWER is convening near the White House at noon to protest the war in Iraq; their website describes the war as a "horrific unprovoked attack on Iraq [that] must be understood as one of the extreme terrorist acts of modern times." I guess somebody forgot to explain that to the Iraqis who were celebrating last night.

ANSWER -- ever ready to add another rivet to the chains of tyranny!

THE 'PEACE MOVEMENT' didn't get the oceans of civilian blood it wanted, and William Saletan notes that this poses a dilemma:

Some argued that war was always immoral; others argued that this war was hasty or unjust. All agreed that the immorality of war was based on the immorality of killing. Now that Baghdad has fallen, here’s my question to peaceniks: Are you against killing, or are you against war? Because what happened in Iraq suggests you may have to choose.

Every death is a tragedy, of course -- except that to a lot of "peace" activists it seems that only deaths at American hands count. It's entirely possible that fewer Iraqis have died in the last three weeks of war than in many previous three-week periods of Saddam's reign. And now the killing by Saddam's thugs is over for good. If we had had "peace" it would have continued indefinitely.

Of course, some have already chosen:

"The prison in question was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children - toddlers up to pre-adolescents - whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace."

And they dare call the U.S. military "baby killers?"

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner writes:

My suspicion is that most of the committed anti-war types loathe American power so much that they'll choose to keep their hands clean.

I will beg to differ.

Me too.

FISKING HANS BLIX almost seems too easy. But shooting fish in a barrel has its pleasures.

CNN EASON JORDAN UPDATE: Several people have sent this link to a transcript of Jordan from back when Hussein was still in power:

BOB GARFIELD: I'm sure you have seen Franklin Foer's article in The New Republic which charges that the Western press is appeasing the Iraqi regime in order to maintain its visas -- to be there reporting should a war ultimately break out. What's your take on that?

EASON JORDAN: The writer clearly doesn't have a clear understanding of the realities on the ground because CNN has demonstrated again and again that it has a spine; that it's prepared to be forthright; is forthright in its reporting.

Let's hear more about those "realities on the ground."

UPDATE: Here's a link to the Foer piece. It's pretty damning stuff even without the more recent admission.

That said, I think that Jordan deserves at least some credit for admitting the mistake now. The real question is, what will CNN do where other thugocracies are concerned? Is suck-up-for-access still the general approach, or have they learned something?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Is it a "journalistic Enron scandal?" Oh, no. I think it's much bigger than that.

Matt Welch writes:

The embarrassing Peter Arnett interview on Iraq TV was just a brief public glimpse on what has been a nasty little private “secret” for years -- that “news bureaus” in Baghdad and other totalitarian capitals (Havana, to name one) are actually propaganda huts, churning out what CNN producers call “sanctions coverage” (pieces on the awful humanitarian toll of international economic sanctions), while refusing to report the awful truth. It is possible, though intensely difficult, to do honest journalism in such circumstances. But with this column, I think we have the final proof that CNN will not be the news organization to rise to that challenge. Shame.

Shame, indeed.

ERIC ALTERMAN deserves credit for saying forthrightly what a lot of other people should be admitting:

I WAS WRONG

Paul Wolfowitz thought U.S. forces would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. I did not. His prediction in this case, was correct. I was wrong. (And not for the last time, I’m guessing.)

He strikes a somewhat less gracious tone in the rest of the post, but still, let's give credit where credit is due.

On the radio (I think it was CBS radio news) I heard a correspondent from Mosul say that an Iraqi there asked him if America was there for freedom, or for the oil. What do you think? he asked. "If you stay," responded the Iraqi, "you're here for freedom. If you leave, it's just for the oil."

Interesting perspective.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan identifies more laudable candor.

HERE'S A REPORT on Knoxville band JagStar's tour entertaining the troops in the 'stans and the Gulf. Very interesting stuff. How many bands get to dine with Afghan generals -- and then be de-wormed afterward?

CHIRAC AND SCHROEDER ON THE DEFENSIVE:

Chirac and Schroeder were both on the defensive today after television broadcasts showed jubilant Iraqi citizens welcoming U.S. soldiers and Marines to Baghdad.

Political opponents and media critics said the Iraqis' reaction lent legitimacy to the war. They called on Chirac and Schroeder to put the war behind them and focus on repairing severely strained relations with the United States.

Meanwhile, in Washington today, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that France had "created a big problem" with such moves as holding up aid to Turkey from the NATO alliance, and that a reconsideration of NATO decision-making structures might be advisable.

"I think we need to look very carefully at where France is benefiting from a one-way street, where they benefit and don't contribute," Wolfowitz said. He accused France of failing to acknowledge the help that NATO was giving a European Union peacekeeping mission in Macedonia.

Paul Wolfowitz? Is he any relation to that Paul Wolifivitz guy the BBC keeps talking about?

WHAT THE NEWS MEDIA DIDN'T TELL YOU ABOUT SADDAM before the war, even though they knew it:

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

Maybe, you know, it's not worth the moral compromises involved in reporting from a dictator's capital, if you're not able to tell the truth.

MICKEY KAUS'S GEARBOX FEATURE IS BACK, with observations on why front-wheel drive is like bad sex, and rear-wheel drive is like good sex.

"THE ALLIES GOT IT SO RIGHT," writes John Keegan, "How did the pundits get it so wrong?"

Yet perfectly sensible people, who surely know better, clutter up their minds with such irrelevant factors as "the Arab street", "international opinion", the anti-war movement at home, votes in the UN and so on. They then predict that "American success is not certain", "this could be a long and bitter war" and "the spectre of Vietnam looms over George W Bush".

If they were employed by the City editor, or the sports desk, they would have been given their cards three wars ago.

Yes, but there are standards in sportswriting. I have some related comments over at GlennReynolds.com.

THE INSTAWIFE'S FILM PREMIERE went very well last night -- there was an overflow crowd, the documentary looked good on the big screen, and everyone seemed quite pleased.

They also showed a trailer for Rod Roddenberry's forthcoming documentary, Trek Nation,. (You can see a shorter trailer by following that link.) Rod is Gene's son, and his film, which is being made with a Knoxville production company, is about the influence of Star Trek culture worldwide. He was there at the screening last night, and said that he hopes to interview some Klingons in Iraq (no, really) once things settle down.

UPDATE: A Knoxville production company? Well, yes. Knoxville is the fourth or fifth biggest center of cable-tv production in the country, with lots of stuff for Nickelodeon, Court TV, TNN, Discovery, etc. being done here. Roddenberry saw some MTV promos done by Atmosphere Pictures and then got in touch with them. As for Klingons in Iraq, Robin Goodfellow emails:

I don't doubt there are klingons in Iraq, I remember several years ago being somewhat shocked while reading a usenet post in one of the star-trek newsgroups from someone in Rwanda explaining how television schedules were returning to normal after the refugees were returning and that meant he could
watch Star Trek: DS9 again. That was something of an eye opening for me of the depth and breadth of the global village.

Yep. And I sold a couple of Mobius Dick CDs to Iraqis back in 2000. I wonder who bought 'em, and how they're doing now?

April 10, 2003

OKAY, ONE MORE: Jim Bennett writes:

They once imagined that they had constructed a stronghold from which to defy America. Now that illusion is gone, blasted away along with Saddam's bunker by some well-placed JDAMs. Their dreams of dominion and defiance shattered by the Anglo-American war effort, they now struggle to retrieve as much as possible of their old vision, and wonder how to rebuild among the ruins.

Not the Iraqis. The Europeanists.

Call it "the Dream Palace of the Europeans." And read it all.

AZIZ POONAWALLA WRITES:

The images we all saw on television worldwide yesterday will be in our world history books as one of the defining moments of the 21st century. Alongside those of 9-11, yin and yang. I was and still am opposed to war on Iraq - not the idea of war per se, but like Howard Dean, by the route to which we justified and pursued war. But winning the war was never in doubt and my heart is is full of satisfaction at seeing the statues of Saddam fall at last.

I am however quite disappointed by the attitude of many who oppose the war - who seem to have a grudging attitude towards the liberation. IRAQ IS FREE. Regardless of your politics, your principles, your attitudes - this must be the shared event that we all celebrate.

I want to see Iraq a peaceful, free and prosperous place. It wasn't going to be that any time soon without the war. Now it can be -- but "can" isn't the same as "will."

What worries me is that there are still people -- who when agitating for "peace" pretended to have the Iraqis' interests at heart -- who would like to see Iraq descend into the depths again just so they can blame Bush and vindicate themselves. And they're not all in France.

MICKEY KAUS says that it's bad to forecast light blogging, because it drives down traffic. I guess if I got, you know, paid for traffic I'd care about that. . . . (Just one dollar per pageview, that's all I ask!)

But blogging will be light later, as I'm off to the local premier of my wife's documentary film, Six. The trailer's not up on the website yet, though there are a couple of news stories that excerpt the film on the site. Feel free to order a copy -- it makes a perfect wedding, wake, or bar mitzvah present. [A "wake" present? --Ed. Why not?]

HOW MANY MESSAGES CAN YOU FIND IN THIS PICTURE?

(Via reader Richard Heddleson, who says he found it via a link in a comment at Buzzmachine).

SEAN PENN: Peace activist with a concealed weapon!

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER OBSERVES:

The sight of them panicked Cassandras here in the United States who were quick to predict that the evidence of any armed resistance meant that we were in for a long guerrilla war. But the Vietnam analogy was absurd. It was not the people of southern Iraq who harassed our troops on the drive to Baghdad but the regime's shock troops. These "irregulars" were not insurgents; they were counterinsurgents. They did not represent the people they used as human shields; they ruthlessly repressed them.

Most of these enforcers were Sunnis from northern tribes, alien to the Shiite population they ruled. In the secret police prison in Basra, seven of the 16 officers were surnamed Tikriti, i.e., they came from Tikrit, Hussein's hometown in Sunni north-central Iraq. They were not guerrillas, Mao's "fish swimming in the sea of the people." They were aliens who survived by torturing the locals and, when the British liberators arrived, by shooting civilians in the back. Rooting out these Baath thugs in the middle of a war was difficult, but as soon as the local population became convinced that the regime was finished, the thugs were finished too.

I predict that the Vietnam analogy will remain popular, though, with people nostalgic for a war where America lost.

A READER EMAILS:

Current spin, from Abu Dhabi TV: the Iraqis are jubilent not at the demise of Hussein's regine, but at the end of the US-led UN sanctions which have caused many more deaths than Saddam ever did.

Well, that may be the spin, but it doesn't explain the whole kicking-Saddam's-statue-in-the-head bit, does it? And another reader has his doubts:

While I'm sure some Iraqis need food, most of ones I have seen on TV could use a little exercise. Looking at all the well-fed and the over-fed dancing in the street, it seems our embargo wasn't working as well as "peace" prostesters claimed.

Yeah, it wasn't a lean-and-hungry looking crowd. But, of course, if you buy the "sanctions were genocide" argument, then George W. Bush is a hero while Kofi Annan is a murderer.

Hey, I guess that explains all those pictures of Bush I saw Iraqis kissing yesterday.

UPDATE: I guess it explains why Iraqis were attacking and looting French and German cultural centers, too! They're just glad those murderous Franco-German backed years of sanctions are over!

SPIDER ROBINSON, who I generally like, wrote an essay on the war that I thought was particularly dumb. I decided that it wasn't worth Fisking, but Thomas James felt differently.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING SURVEY of responses to yesterday's Saddam statue-toppling. Some people are distinctly unhappy.

EAMONN FITZGERALD REPORTS ON ANTI-AMERICAN PROPAGANDA IN GERMANY, which he says is reaching Goebbelsian levels.

THE RAVE ACT, which was rather sneakily inserted into unrelated legislation, is up for a vote in Congress today.

Joe Biden is behind this.

FEMALE WARRIORS: I hope we'll see more items like this and this.

But I really hope that people in Arab countries will see them. Is Al Jazeera reporting that the Iraqis got their butts kicked, in part, by women? I can't help but think that the psychological impact of that would be dramatic, and largely positive.

Slate, meanwhile, has a discussion on women in combat underway, while Phil Carter weighs in with some observations.

MAYBE NOT IN YOURS, but in my freakin' name, anyway.

Meanwhile Janet Daley wonders when the left will apologize:

I have this delightful fantasy of left-wingers throughout the Western world putting their hands up and saying: "Well, actually we got that a little bit wrong." And maybe even deciding that, since their analysis of the war was mistaken, their diagnosis of the peace might be open to question too.

But I'm not holding my breath. Those for whom America is always wrong will not be slowed down by this momentary setback. Rather like Mr al-Sahaf, they will not even appear to notice the tanks in the streets of their ideological neighbourhood. They will look away from the welcoming crowds of Basra (yes, they really did cheer, once it was safe to do so) and just move smartly on to the next American "crime against humanity".

Yep. But not many people will listen to a crowd that has squandered its remaining moral and intellectual capital -- again.

LILEKS:

Whatever you think we should do to get to that point, you have to admit that the sound of a cast-iron skull striking the pavement is a good way to start. And if you don’t it’s because you see some other false god on the podium, pointing at an empty heaven.

Men never seem taller than when they stand next to the prone remainders of a toppled tyrant. Someone someday will do a study of the statues the West pulled down. How they all showed a hard face to the dawn. How they all fell face first.

Amen.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON WRITES ON MAUREEN DOWD:

I confess that her writing has long bothered me, always in times of national duress reflecting an elite superficiality that is out of touch with most of us in the America she flies over. It is not just that for the last two years she has been wrong about Afghanistan, wrong about the efficacy of the war against terror, and wrong about Iraq — despite yesterday's surprising sudden admission that "We were always going to win the war with Iraq." The problem is more a grotesque chicness that quite amorally juxtaposes mention of tidbits like alpha males, Manhattan fashion — and her own psychodramas — with themes of real tragedies like the dying in the Middle East and war's horror.

So she just doesn't get it. It is precisely because Mr. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz hate war, wish to avoid a repeat of the vaporization of 3,000 in Manhattan and the specter of further mass killing from terrorists, armed with frightening weapons from rogue states like Iraq, that they resorted to force. She evokes Sherman (who called something like 19th century Dowdism "bottled piety") with disdain, but forgets that Sherman, who saw firsthand the grotesqueness of Shiloh, proclaimed that war was all hell — but only after his trek through Georgia where he freed 40,000 slaves and destroyed the icons of the Confederacy, while losing 100 soldiers and killing not more than 600 young non-slave-holding Southerners, an hour's carnage at Antietam or Gettysburg.

It might be neat between cappuccinos to write about leaders getting "giddy" about winning a terrible war, or thinking up cool nicknames like "Rummy," "Wolfie," and titles like "Dances with Wolfowitz," but meanwhile out in the desert stink thousands of young Americans, a world away from the cynical Letterman world of Maureen Dowd, risk their lives to ensure that there are no more craters in her environs — and as a dividend give 26 million a shot at the freedom that she so breezily enjoys.

Yeah, but actually knowing history and stuff is too un-Carrie-Bradshaw-like for Dowd. My only complaint with Hanson's piece is the Letterman reference.

Letterman -- like many other comics including Jay Leno and Dennis Miller, and unlike Ms. Dowd who only tries to be funny -- has actually been far more serious and perceptive about matters of war and peace than that reference would suggest.

I'LL BET THIS WON'T GO ON AL JAZEERA:

DEARBORN, Mich. (Reuters) - Iraqi-Americans celebrating Baghdad's fall to U.S. troops on Wednesday protested the presence of reporters from al-Jazeera, accusing the Arab news channel of siding with Saddam Hussein's deposed government.

Spontaneous celebrations in this Detroit suburb, which has one of the largest populations of Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims outside the Middle East, occurred all day, as people danced or paraded in the streets in noisy caravans of cars draped with flowers and Iraqi or American flags.

The festivities turned ugly late on Wednesday when scores of men, among a crowd of about 1,500 demonstrators in a Dearborn park, sighted an al-Jazeera correspondent and his cameraman and began hurling insults at them.

"Down, Down Jazeera," the men shouted angrily, as police moved to surround correspondent Nezam Mahdawi, who had just flown in from Washington to cover Iraqi-American reaction . . .

"It's a great message to send for all these hypocrite Arabic networks, especially al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi," said Cassy Mahbouba, head of a group affiliated with the opposition Iraqi National Congress and a leader of the anti-Jazeera protest. Abu Dhabi is an Arab-language satellite station that competes with al-Jazeera.

"These networks talk about freedom and democracy but they don't represent freedom and democracy," Mahbouba said. "To the last moment they tried to support the dictatorship regime."

Heh. I hope I'm wrong, and it does get coverage.

THIS WRAPUP OF INTELLIGENCE leading up to the war contains the following nugget:

The intelligence officials offered a tantalizing coda for conspiracy-mongers. They said the "crude forgery" received by U.N. weapons inspectors suggesting the Iraqis were trying to buy uranium from Niger as part of their nuclear program was originally put in intelligence channels by France. The officials wouldn't speculate on French motives.

What, the French trying to discredit the United Nations weapons inspectors?

Now, why would they want to do that?

IS GROUP-BLOGGING THE FUTURE? Amish Tech Support wonders.

You know, InstaPundit was originally going to be a group blog, but I couldn't get anyone interested at the time.

THERE'S A NEW TALKING POINTS MEMO FOR THE PEACE MOVEMENT:

Question: Do you feel foolish about predicting a quagmire?

Response: Well, there is still the occupation of Iraq, which will be difficult, not to mention the anger the rest of the world feels toward us. It will inspire countless acts of terrorism against the U.S.

Question: Do the cheering Iraqis make you think that what America did was a good thing?

Response: They won’t be cheering for long once they experience globalization. When U.S. multinational corporations move in to exploit them, when they realize that the U.S. will steal their oil, they will understand what this so-called “war of liberation” was really about.

(Whenever possible use an oil reference. Also bring in the globalization angle often. This will animate our rank-and-file (all 16%) and help us raise travel funds for the next WTO meeting. For example, see next question/response.)

Question: What about the children released from the Iraqi prison?

Response: A pure tragedy. Soon-to-be Nike sweatshop workers.

This is a parody, but -- as seems so often the case here -- reality has outstripped fiction already, as this email from Minneapolis reader Dan Israel demonstrates:

I heard these comments from anti-war protesters (yes, still protesting) on the TV and radio here in Minneapolis yesterday...I'm not making these up:

"This isn't liberation. The reason the people in Baghdad are cheering the US troops is because they're starving...of course they are cheering them, they're hoping the troops will give them some food."

"I think it's disgusting when you see these images of our troops giving the Iraqi children candy. They need something nutritious, not just junk food from our troops."

Honestly, I couldn't make these up if I tried...

No, I'm sure you couldn't.

BRAD DELONG WRITES:

Surely those who trusted Mr. Fisk, and who relied on his reporting to support their dismissal of the reports from CentCom in Qatar and of the embedded reporters with the 3rd Infantry Division deserve better than this. I mean, "Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia" is a catchy slogan, but is unsatisfactory as a matter of analysis. Surely Mr. Fisk's loyal readers deserve an explanation of why it is that the world we live in is much closer to the world as reported by CentCom than the world as reported yesterday and before by Mr. Fisk...

Heh.

NELSON ASCHER explains Saddam's secularism:

Saddam has been sometimes praised, mainly by the Old Europeans, obviously, for one virtue that at first seems to be beyond discussion, namely, his secularism in a region full of religious fanatics.

But I have finally discovered the ROOT CAUSE of Saddam's secularism. Islam, like Judaism, has a taboo against the depiction of anything, human images included. By now you may be getting my point. How can one reconcile this puritanical taboo with the narcisism of a guy who wanted his own image, in pictures, statues etc., to be constantly shown everywhere in his country? No way.

Thus between pictures of Saddam, statues of Saddam, Saddam and more Saddam everywhere on one side, and Islam on the other, it was Islam that had to go. As simple as that.

Sounds compelling to me.

I GUESS THIS GUY must be one of those "neocons" that I keep hearing about:

"No, no, no," yelled Shaaban Mohamad, watching television at a Cairo bookstore. "If the U.S. really wanted democracy, they would have taken out just about every Arab leader we have."

Funny, he doesn't look neoconish.

PHILIPPE DE CROY has reverse-engineered NPR's playbook for war coverage. The results are revealing, and apply well beyond NPR.

HERE'S ONE OF THE MORE STAR-CROSSED AD CAMPAIGNS in recent times.

HERE'S AN EXCELLENT COLUMN BY ROGER PILON on the Texas sodomy case. Excerpt:

In a free society, before government can legitimately restrict the liberty of a citizen, it must have a good reason. The basic presumption, that is, is on the side of individual liberty, not government power. It is the government that must justify its action, not the citizen his liberty. And in that framework, not every rationale for government power will do. In fact, beyond protecting the rights of others, the rationales that will do concern primarily the protection of the general welfare - that is, the good of all.

Plainly, powers that punish those who are doing no harm fail that test immediately. If there is anything that marks the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, it is the right to pursue happiness, consistent with the rights of others, even when doing so may be unpopular or, in the eyes of many, immoral. That, in a nutshell, is the morality of liberty.

I agree, of course. (Via Keith Terranova).

UPDATE: Yeah, a non-war-related item. I'm hoping to trend steadily in that direction.

LOCAL TV NEWS IN KNOXVILLE showed a spontaneous street demonstration by area Iraqi-Americans, celebrating the fall of Saddam. Here's a story from the News-Sentinel on a Knoxville man of Iraqi origins who's very happy, too.

That seems to be the pattern everywhere: For Iraqi Exiles in California, Baghdad's Fall is Instant Holiday; Local Iraqi-American Thrilled to See Saddam's Regime Crumble; Iraqi-American Overjoyed by Fall of Regime, etc., etc. Just search "Iraqi-American" on Google News -- new stories are appearing steadily.

So where was all the coverage of how unpopular Saddam was with these folks before the war?

UPDATE: Here's a story about 1,000 Iraqi-Americans celebrating in Dearborn, Michigan. They marched against Saddam before the war, too, but were almost completely ignored by the Big Media.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jay Caruso has a link to video of the Dearborn celebrations.

INDEED:

This resembled the end of the Cold War because it was, in a different context, exactly the same thing. It's the end of a vicious, oppressive dictatorship, that had clung on to power, with the help of the Soviet Union and France and China, well past its due date.

I think that Iraq's "odious debts" should be cancelled.

AS PEOPLE TUT-TUT over the Marine who put the American flag up on Saddam's statue, Malcolm Hutty observes:

The Iraqi crowd cheered when the US flag was raised. Rageh Omah, BBC reporter on the spot, couldn't hear the sonorous commentry in the studio, and made the possibly career-limiting mistake of answering the question "How is the crowd reacting to the American flag?" with the simple truth. This answer has obviously not been repeated in evening bulletins.

Yes, I was thinking about that last night. I was also thinking that if it inspires feelings of impotence and fear in audiences around the world, that may be a good thing. We were told back in 1991 that a reason not to invade Baghdad was the potential Arab unhappiness at seeing "American tanks in the streets of an Arab capital."

Given how things went in the intervening decade-plus in which American tanks were not seen in the streets of an Arab capital, I think it's safe to call that concern misplaced.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis reports:

Cpl. Edward Chin, the man who brought down Saddam yesterday, is on the Today show right now. The flag he put up there was in the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9.11.

That puts a bit of a different spin on it, doesn't it?

IN RESPONSE TO THE AGONIST'S PLAGIARISM SCANDAL, they're talking about a blogging code of ethics.

How about: "Don't lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do." Er, and this: "Link to the source except in extraordinary cases."

Er, and as Ken Layne says, "how hard is it to put things in quotes?"

UPDATE: Grashoppa observes: "I sure hope that as a grad student, Sean-Paul realizes that complaining about "time constraints" won't fly with his thesis committee."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meryl Yourish still isn't satisfied.

BRITISH SAVE FEDAYEEN FROM ANGRY MOB: I suppose it was the right thing to do.

April 09, 2003

ASSIGNMENT DESK: All those Big Media types who'll be crawling all over Baghdad looking for a fresh angle tomorrow (er, today, there) -- start looking for Salam Pax. Everybody wonders where he is, how he's doing, and what he thinks.

In the meantime, I'm posting this flag from his blog. I don't think he'll mind, and it's a useful reminder of what this is about.

Jeff Jarvis agrees. It's the big Baghdad story, guys -- get on it!

IT'S A DAY OF MIRACLES: Ken Layne discovers worthwhile reportage from Robert Fisk, notwithstanding the ethnic slurs.

UPDATE: Incidentally, I just heard Ollie North on TV saying the same thing that Fisk does -- that none of the Fedayeen paramilitaries are Iraqis, they're all from other Arab countries. Well, if those two say it, I guess you can take it to the bank. . . .

I'VE GOT STEVEN BRILL'S NEW BOOK, but Homeland Security -- or something, anyway -- still looks like a joke. But Matt Welch isn't intimidated by threats from The Man. Er, well, The Man's wife, anyway. . . .

POET FREDERICK TURNER has written a poem inspired by the events in Baghdad. One doubts that Amiri Baraka would approve.

AIMEE DEEP'S BLOG seems to be emulating Maxim these days. Well, it's a formula with proven appeal!

THE PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON BIOETHICS DOESN'T WANT YOU TO LIVE TOO LONG. Ron Bailey blames Leon Kass.

I blame Bush for appointing a guy who doesn't want us to live long, healthy lives to head a council on bioethics. It's like appointing Noam Chomsky as Secretary of Defense.

PHIL CARTER has lots of good stuff. Check it out.

I COULDN'T REMEMBER AT THE TIME (hence the term) but the "wag" mentioned in my GlennReynolds.com piece turns out to be Rand Simberg.

Well, he is a wag.

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS:

We should celebrate our common ground as well as the gorgeous mosaic of our diversity. The next mass mobilization called by International ANSWER and the stop-the-war coalition is only a few days away. I already have my calendar ringed for the date. This time, I am really going to be there. It is not a time to keep silent. Let our voices be heard. All of this has been done in my name, and I feel like bearing witness.

Me too.

THE NEXT COMPLAINT: A prognostication.

NOT EVERYONE'S HAPPY -- but some are catching on:

However, Tannous Basil, a 47-year-old cardiologist in Sidon, Lebanon, said Saddam's regime was a "dictatorship and had to go."

"I don't like the idea of having the Americans here, but we asked for it," he said. "Why don't we see the Americans going to Finland, for example? They come here because our area is filled with dictatorships like Saddam's."

Tarek al-Absi, a Yemeni university professor, was hopeful Saddam's end presaged more democracy in the region.

"This is a message for the Arab regimes, and could be the beginning of transformation in the Arab region," al-Absi said. "Without the honest help of the Western nations, the reforms will not take place in these countries."

These voices aren't in the majority yet -- but they're not in the wilderness anymore, either.

UPDATE: Amir Taheri writes in The Times that we shouldn't listen to the Arab elites:

The headlines screamed “Americans slaughter civilians” and “Thousands of Iraqis prepare for suicide missions”. None of that happened. The Iraqis proved to be wiser than some of their Arab brethren had assumed. . . .

The Iraqis did not wish to suffer the fate of the Palestinians, that is to say to die in large numbers for decades so that other Arabs, safe in their homes, would feel good about themselves. The Iraqis know that had the Palestinians not listened to their Arab brethren, they would have had a state in 1947, as decided by the United Nations Security Council. The Iraqis know that each time the Palestinians became heroic to please other Arabs they lost even more.

These days the Arab media are full of articles about how the Arabs feel humiliated by what has happened in Iraq, how they are frustrated, how they hate America for having liberated the people of Iraq from their oppressor, and how they hope that the Europeans, presumably led by Jacques Chirac, will ride to the rescue to preserve a little bit of Saddam’s legacy with the help of the United Nations.

Thank God, the peoples of Iraq, not deceived by Arab hyperbole, are ignoring such nonsense.

Are the “long-distance heroes” humiliated? If they are, so what? They should jump in a river. Today, Iraq is free and, despite its legitimate concerns about the future, cautiously happy.

Read the whole thing.

HEH:

Sen. John McCain said on FoxNews that if the French and Germans care about Iraq's future, he suggests they forgive Iraq's debts to them -- especially since most of the debt was run up buying weapons.

I think we should make this argument repeatedly.

AUSTIN BAY has a new column up about Iraqi reconstruction.

I'll have something on this subject up over at GlennReynolds.com shortly, too.

WELL, I FIND NOTHING TO ARGUE WITH in this post.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: John Cole has a photo essay that's worth your time.

ALGERIA MISSING TOURISTS UPDATE: My brother, who as I mentioned has actually driven across the Sahara, sends this link to a donations page for the search fund. He also sends this link and this one to discussion forums on the subject, and adds:

If you scroll down from the "donation" button there is not only news on the search for the missing folks, but also a link to pictures of the people and their vehicles. By and large they were well outfited and fairly experienced... not the sort to go missing in such numbers.

Emmanuelle Richard, meanwhile, sends this link to a Swiss story (in French, Google translation here). She also sends a bad link to another story, but the gist is that "a guide interviewed in the report said he was attacked by armed men and was spared after he brandished his Koran."

Hmm. Stay tuned on this one, as I'm deeply suspicious about what's going on in southern Algeria.

TIM BLAIR:

I SHOULDN'T be so happy. After all, I'm a right-wing deathbeast, and the end (or near end) of a war should upset me, because we conservatives lust for war all the time. Except when we have to fight it ourselves, of course. Being chickenhawks and all.

And the toppling of a fascist dictator should have me all weepy and nostalgic for Hitler. Because I'm a fascist, according to much of the mail I receive.

Those Iraqis dancing in the streets? That should really piss me off, because I want to oppress them and steal their oil. Why are they even able to dance? I was promised 500,000 murders, yet thus far only 1,000 or so innocents have died.

So why am I so damn happy? I really can't explain.

I'd go and ask some oppression-hating anti-fascist peace activists about it, but for some reason they're all incredibly depressed.

Yeah, go figure.

ARAB OPINION LEADERS ARE GOING THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH as images of the U.S. victory -- and Iraqi hatred for Saddam Hussein, whom they had anointed an Arab hero earlier -- are broadcast across the Arab world.

Will they learn the obvious lessons this time?

GREGG EASTERBROOK WRITES:

The new type of "bunker buster" bombs used in the strike are awful if you're on the aim point, but also designed for use in urban environments: They are engineered to hammer the exact target but have little nearby effect. Look at those images of the rubble pit on CNN. Barely anything is left--we may never know who was in there--yet all nearby houses remain standing. That's after 8,000 pounds of high explosives just went off. I wonder if French TV will report that we've gone out of our way to design a bomb that doesn't kill the wrong person.

I don't.

BASRA HAS A NEW MAYOR. He's Iraqi. As Group Captain Mandrake says, Yes, we really meant it.

JEFF JARVIS is on a roll. Just go read.

DANIEL DREZNER WRITES ON ANTI-AMERICANISM in The New Republic. It's an excellent piece about why anti-Americanism works better for election sloganeering than for governing, but what's really cool is that he's got links to sources over at his blog, and TNR links to them.

HEH:

from Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton: "'"When tyrants tremble, sick with fear, and hear their death knell ringing; When friends rejoice both far and near, How can I keep from singing?'--19th century Quaker hymn revived by Pete Seeger in the 1960s (Haven't heard Pete or other Leftists singing it lately. Wonder why?)"

Why, indeed?

UPDATE: Reader Mark Throneberry emails:

Enya recorded it not too long ago - and it's a *marvelous* rendition!

It's on her Shepherd Moons CD - as a matter of fact, it's so good: just listen to the whole thing!

Listen to the whole thing, eh?

NEWS AND VIDEO from Ba'ath Party torture chambers, via Virginia Postrel.

JOE BIDEN RAVE ACT UPDATE: There's information over at TalkLeft.

BRIAN MICKLETHWAIT WRITES:

Reporters have been struck by how few busted Iraqi tanks have contained any dead Iraqis, and I have already joined the small chorus asking about where the dead Iraqi bodies are to be seen in our newspapers and on our screens, because despite everything there have to have been some.

But things like these concrete bombs suggest another explanation for the general absence of dead Iraqi soldiers. It wasn't just that the Iraqis were uniquely unwilling to fight for the uniquely nasty Saddamite regime. There was also the fact that, for the first time in the history of conventional warfare, "melting away" actually worked as a way to stay alive. Faced with an enemy willing and unprecedentedly able to smash all your big weapons, but willing to leave you alone if you just got the hell out of there, which the Iraqis were facing if I understand Coalition tactics correctly, they actually could run away.

If this is correct, then this is just one more reason among hundreds to admire all the thought that has gone into the Coalition attack and its tactics, throughout the last few weeks but also throughout the previous year and more. I hope that, when the story emerges, we will discover that the Coalition wasn't just trying to avoid killing Iraqi civilians, but that they were also trying to avoid killing Iraqi soldiers more than was absolutely necessary to protect their own activities. Certainly the public pronouncements of Rumsfeld and co. suggest this. "Go home, abandon your weapons", etc. Well, that's what seems to have happened.

Interesting, and I hope the same thing. Of course, an absence of dead Iraqis would disappoint the bloody-shirt element of the peace movement, if not the Pentagon. But Marc Herold can probably supply dead bodies as needed, in any quantity requested. . . .

A.N.S.W.E.R. is planning a stop-the-war rally for Washington on Saturday.

They may get their wish, an end to the war. I wonder if they'll be pleased?

UPDATE: Reader Rani Shea emails:

The networks are focusing, rightly, on the image of the statue falling. But when the news just shows live coverage without comment, I saw something remarkable. The scene is like a street party, with men and women and kids and soldiers milling about. In one shot, Iraqis are posing with American soldiers for photographs. One man, as his friend takes the picture, kisses the burly and armed American sitting next to him.

What a beautiful and unexpected moment. For the world, and probably for that soldier who is wondering how many more smooches he's going to get from guys he doesn't know.

Heh. I'll let Andrew Sullivan weigh in on this one. . . .

BAGHDAD DOESN'T FALL: "It crumbles."

The footage of Iraqis going after statues and pictures of Saddam is better than blogging at the moment. The TV guys are earning their keep. And it's going out across the Arab world on Arab TV services, I understand.

UPDATE: Just saw a statue of Saddam go down, while Iraqis cheered and threw things. Best of all, it was via Abu Dhabi TV.

A lot of Arab rulers are nervous now.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Peter Jennings just slammed the BBC politely, noting that a BBC reporter described the liberation scene that Jennings was narrating as "utter anarchy." It was, he said, an example of bringing a different perspective to the same events. Heh.

Meanwhile a British reader remarks that the BBC was slow even to cover the liberation events, and is now in an obvious snit, making a big deal about the looting even though it seems confined to Saddam's palaces and the like. My favorite comment:

If the Iraqis want to help themselves to a bit of Saddam regime loot, or string up a few collabos, they're welcome to it, so far as I'm concerned. I've never heard Brit broadcasters so aerated about economic redistribution before.

Heh. I think the BBC -- along with a lot of other people -- has shot itself in the foot over this one.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Scott Wrightson has some nice thoughts.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jim Hogue writes about the BBC's reputation: "It crumbles." He adds:

Quick note, while the statue was being pulled down in Baghdad my wife called and told me that the BBC was deeply engaged in a report on….an earthquake somewhere. Impartial indeed.

I suppose it depends on which BBC service you're watching, as another reader sent me notes on a BBC report from the scene, but still. . .

Meanwhile Jim Treacher has already spotted the next protest sign.

And here's a far more detailed critique of the BBC's coverage, supporting the "it crumbles" thesis. And reader Dave Weigel emails about the looting:

Haven't BBC reporters taken any sociology courses? What's happening in Baghdad isn't looting. It's a popular uprising. Hey, that's how one of my professors at Northwestern referred to the L.A. riots.

You mean you can have a "popular uprising" against a government that's not Western, or at least Western-backed? Who knew?

Meanwhile reader Rick Richman emails: "Amazing turn of events: last year the guy got 100% of the vote!"

LAST UPDATE TO THIS POST: My brother emails: "Funny how it's the finance ministry building in Baghdad that is on fire... those do seem to be particularly flammable when a regime is on the way out." Yeah.

JAMES LILEKS WRITES:

Allied troops liberated a children’s jail today.

I wish that sentence made no sense.

Someone had to decide there would be children’s jails. Who? . . .

The end result of a fascist regime is always this: a man who seeks advancement by proposing a children’s jail; a smarter man who sees the political advantage of building one; the men who lock the doors and make the gruel with dead empty hearts, and the man who worries what will happen to him if the jail is found wanting.

The children, of course, don’t matter at all. In fact they matter least of all, and after a while their jailers come to hate them for what they make the jailers do.

A daisy chain of snakes biting their tales. Look up at the portrait hanging on the wall. Ask yourself what he wants. Bite harder.

Read it all.

THE WAR IS NOW OFFICIALLY A SUCCESS: "Hurt and Disillusioned, Some Arab Fighters Go Home "

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Salaam went to Iraq to do battle with Americans and die a martyr. He returned home with shrapnel wounds and tales of fighting U.S. military might with a rifle.

From a Baghdad hotel he moved to a training camp where volunteers practiced shooting and trench warfare. Then Salaam, 24 years old and unemployed, was sent to war.

"I was sleeping behind mounds of sand and firing from Kalashnikovs on helicopters. It was craziness," he said.

"We stayed at the front five days and we didn't eat anything. I saw two dead bodies shot in the head."

Thousands of volunteers from across the Arab world are thought to be in Iraq to fight advancing U.S. and British forces. On Wednesday, jubilant Iraqis welcomed U.S. troops in Baghdad.

Salaam, a Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim, said he was unprepared for the hostility of some Iraqis to volunteers like himself.

Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have fully appreciated the situation. But here's someone who does:

Hundreds of Muslim fighters, many of them non-Iraqis, were putting up a stronger fight for Baghdad than Iraq's Republican Guard or the regular army, a top United States military officer said yesterday.

"They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them," Brigadier-General John Kelly said.

"But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."

Think of it as evolution in action.

THE BBC / DE GENOVA CONNECTION: My TechCentralStation column is up.

DICK CHENEY I-TOLD-YOU-SO UPDATE:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Witnessing Saddam Hussein's power stripped away, hundreds of Iraqis rushed to take everything else Wednesday: They used pickup trucks and wheelbarrows to haul off everything from refrigerators to flower pots from government ministries, police stations and state companies.

Emboldened by the sight of U.S. troops taking control of the capital, they not only dared to loot but also to celebrate Saddam's fall, to vandalize his image and to call him a criminal -- offenses that just days or weeks ago could have brought arrest, imprisonment, torture, even death at the hands of the secret police.

They also danced in the streets, waving rifles, palm fronds and flags, pumping their arms in the air and flashing the V-for-victory sign. . . .

On a Baghdad street, a white-haired man held up a poster of Saddam and beat it with his shoe. A younger man spat on the portrait, and several others launched kicks at the face of the Iraqi president.

"Come see, this is freedom. This is the criminal, this is the infidel," he said. "This is the destiny of every traitor. He killed millions of us."

Some people think the looting is bad, but I think that a certain amount is good. It reinforces in people's minds that Saddam is gone, and that he was unpopular. Meanwhile, here's what the antiwar crowd was defending:

"They did unthinkable things -- electrocution, immersion in a bath of chemicals and ripping off people's finger and toenails."

The jail basement was a warren of cells, chambers and cages where the ground was strewn with an insect-eaten gas mask and bottles, according to Associated Press Television News footage. . . .

Outside the jail, a man showed APTN his mangled ears.

Hamed took British reporters into a yard behind the jail into a set of white boxy cells, surrounded by red wire mesh with a low, wire roof.

He said some of the cells, which had red doors with large bolts, were used to hold women and children. He also said hundreds of men were kept in a single cell about the size of a living room, which had one rusted grate window.

Between the men's and women's cells was a long mesh cage. Hamed said here, jailers pressed prisoners against the mesh and squeezed hot irons against their backs or threw scalding water on them in front of other inmates.

Fortunately for the Iraqi people, all those folks who just a few weeks ago were demonstrating in "solidarity" with them were quite properly ignored. And within minutes, they'll have changed the subject to something else and will be acting as if they were never colossally, utterly, unredeemably wrong about this.

But they were, and a lot of people will remember.

UPDATE: Actually, I like this take on the looting:

(2003-04-09) -- The looting in Baghdad stopped suddenly today as Iraq's largest organized crime family disappeared from the city.

Thousands of Baghdad residents entered government buildings in an attempt to retrieve some small portion of what had been stolen from them for the past 24 years.

Heh.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reuters is reporting "Smiles and Flowers for U.S. Marines in Baghdad:"

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Hundreds of jubilant Iraqis mobbed a convoy of U.S. Marines on Wednesday, cheering, dancing and waving as American troops swept toward central Baghdad through slums and leafy suburbs from the east.

Crowds threw flowers at the Marines as they drove past the Martyrs' Monument, just three km (two miles) east of the central Jumhuriya Bridge over the Tigris river.

Young and middle-aged men, many wearing soccer shirts of leading Western clubs like Manchester United, shouted "Hello, hello" as Marines advanced through the rundown sprawl of Saddam City and then more prosperous suburbs with villas and trim lawns.

"No more Saddam Hussein," chanted one group, waving to troops as they passed. "We love you, we love you."

Yeah, the thrill will pass, and soon they'll be bitching about this and that, just like everyone else does. But I think that Cheney has been sufficiently vindicated. And some other people have been proven colossally, utterly, unredeemably wrong. Did I mention that?

JOSH CHAFETZ NOTES: "Unfortunately, I appear to have been right." There's a story in the Yale Daily News with names and details in support of his earlier report of antiwar student harassment.

I agree with his earlier post that this sort of conduct is appalling, and it's not something that anyone should be proud of. Leave these sorts of tactics to the black bloc crowd, please.

ANOTHER ONE OF THE BUFFALO SIX has pled guilty, and Eric Muller thinks the evidence is damning.

Strictly speaking, this doesn't alter my views about "dirty pool" in the plea-bargaining process, posted earlier.

April 08, 2003

MORE ON THE DISAPPEARING TOURISTS: Nelson Ascher sends this article from Liberation (Google translation here), but there doesn't seem to be much more information on what's going on. The story dismisses GPS jamming (unlikely, I'll admit) and Islamic terrorists (I'm not so sure about that) and kidnapping. So what's left?

I'd like to see a lot more examination of what's going on in that area. A surprisingly large number of people drive around in the Sahara on vacation (my brother did it once) and more than a few of them disappear, but their bodies are usually found. It sounds too much like a thriller plot, but this many disappearances in a short period make me wonder if there's somebody there with something to hide.

STUART BUCK posts on the question of whether, if the Iraqis are all armed, it doesn't undercut arguments that an armed populace makes tyranny highly unlikely.

It might, if it were true that Iraqis are all armed. But there's not much reason to think that they are. It's true that a Tim Noah piece that Buck links repeats that assertion, picked up from a New York Times story. But dictatorships often pretend to arm their people against external threats, while really only arming those deemed politically reliable -- typically members of the ruling party. (And the question of who has them does matter. Uday Hussein has -- er, had -- a newspaper, but that hardly proves that Iraq has a free press.)


That seems to be the case in Iraq, where this story from today reports:

Civilians also took advantage of the collapse of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's authority to grab weapons from an army base, said Group Sergeant Jeff Treiber.

That doesn't sound like the action of a universally-armed populace to me. Maybe Neil MacFarquhar, who wrote the story for the Times, got his information from Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. A journalist possessed of a more critical mindset toward those in power, of course, might wonder why a ruler who doesn't trust his own army, or even his own "elite" Republican Guard, would trust a populace that he terrorizes with guns.

(Thanks to reader Jim Loan for pointing me to Buck's blog, which I should read more often. And I should stress that Buck's analysis is far more sophisticated than Tim Noah's.)

UPDATE: Nelson Ascher emails:

Hypothesis:
An armed populace may be effective BEFORE the appearence of a totalitarian government.

But if you arm them when they're already under such control, surveillance and terror, it is not likely that they would or could revolt. Otherwise no officer in the army of a totalitarian state would issue guns to his own soldiers. Once you have a disciplined organization or state, small arms are rather useless. What is needed is a counter-organization (a party, a movement etc) that's able to transform thousands of isolated arms in a weapon-system. That's why many revolutions consist in turning part of the standing army against the government.

Yes, and it's why such governments do their best to atomize citizens and make them distrustful of one another. I've written a little about this subject here, and Indiana University law professor David Williams has written more on it. He has a book out now that I'm working my way through -- or was until a student borrowed it for a paper she's writing for me. Here's what I wrote a while back, in the piece linked just above:

As the interned American citizens of Japanese descent learned, the Bill of Rights provided them with little protection when it was needed. And, of course, there is no guarantee that a free press will prevail over the long term either. Certainly some tyrannies have arisen in nations where press freedom existed--Weimar Germany, for example. Yet we do not generally require proof of efficacy where other Constitutional rights are concerned, so it seems a bit unfair to demand it solely in the case of the Second Amendment.

It seems to me that Noah is trying to make just such a demand. Nonetheless, I do think that an armed populace is effective -- if not foolproof -- at preventing and remedying tyranny. And I'll bet we'll find out that Saddam thought so too, and that, as the evidence above suggests, reports of universal gun ownership among Iraqis were about as reliable as, well, most reports from the Iraqi government.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Megan McArdle is skeptical of Noah's premise, too:

Noah tries to counter this by saying that given that McFarquar was in a gun shop where transactions were taking place, the Iraqi people at least have free access to guns. But he knows no such thing. All he knows is that the people in the gun shop in Baghdad were able to buy guns from that gun store owner. We don't know who you need to know, pay, or present in order to buy a gun in that store.

Then there's the countervailing evidence:

I've read about freelancing Fedayeen who've been setting themselves up as local strongmen with nothing more than the small arms they're able to conceal from coalition troops. If everyone has a gun, how come they're letting themselves be robbed by one or two guys with some pistols? Why no posse?

I've also read about the crowds stabbing, beating, and in some cases, tearing limb-from-limb, the Ba'ath and Fedayeen left behind when the coalition troops move on. If they've got guns, how come they need to use primitive human wave techniques? (I know there's a visceral urge to get up close and personal, but there's an equally visceral urge, to young men with guns, to be the guy who makes the kill shot, rather than an anonymous member of a crowd. Plus it's a lot less dangerous than being at the front of a mob storming an armed pack.)

There seems to be a fair amount of hostage taking activity -- small bands of soldiers using large bands of people as shields. If you had a gun, and they had your kid, wouldn't you rise up by then?

Yeah. Megan has more; read it all. And read the comments, too, many of which express astonishment at the willingness of Noah and MacFarquhar to draw sweeping conclusions from virtually no evidence. As one commenter writes:

That's the entirety of evidence that Noah, no friend of the NRA, found to blunt the criticism that McFarquhar had it wrong? A guy with a record of making fanciful estimates accepts the word of retailers at face value and draws a conclusion about the entire country from observing two gun shops in the capital? And from /this/ it's reasonable to expect a defense of ideas that contradict this, uh, "evidence"?

If I go to Palo Alto, CA -- where there's a Porsche dealership -- and observe that people are doing business at the place and that the owner says sales are up fifty percent since the last gubernatorial election, is there anyone reading this blog who thinks it would be reasonable to draw the conclusion that every household in Northern California either has a Porsche or has easy access to one?

That's par for the course when many journalists write about guns, sadly. By the way, here is another piece that I've written on the subject.

I DON'T KNOW IF I'LL DO A WRAPUP of military predictions that proved wrong, as I did once the Afghan War was settling down. But if I did, I might include this piece by Jeff Taylor, which begins:

The cliché is that generals are always doomed to fight the last war. The reality on the ground in Iraq sure makes it look like the generals have been doomed by their political leadership to fight the last battle.

The ease and manner with which the Taliban were kicked out of Afghanistan seems to have given the Bush war planners a false impression of how things would unfold in Iraq. The two situations were and are radically different.

Not everything in Taylor's piece is wrong, but the key point -- that the planners were trying a repeat of Afghanistan -- is about as wrong as can be. But don't ask me, ask someone who's actually in the military:

The stunning advance, at a cost of fewer than 10 U.S. combat deaths, would silence complaints by television generals, and even some officers in the field, that the war was being mismanaged. It would also provoke another kind of talk.

''The U.S. advance on Baghdad is something that military historians and academics will pore over in great detail for many years to come,'' British Air Marshal Brian Burridge said Monday. ''They will examine the dexterity, the audacity and the sheer brilliance of how the U.S. put their plan into effect.''

Already, military analysts are comparing the advance to Gen. George S. Patton's brilliant attack across northern France in the autumn of 1944.

Instead of getting bogged down in pitched battles for cities along the road to Baghdad, U.S. forces raced directly to their main objective, pausing to fight only when given the chance to exact a heavy toll on the Iraqis. The speed of the assault and the intensity of the accompanying air campaign gave Iraqi units little opportunity to retreat and regroup; the U.S. advance quickly gobbled up the Iraqi rear.

Compare these two articles, and you'll see that Taylor appears to have missed out, in ways that go beyond just the aspects I've quoted. In a way that's no surprise, as he was trying to offer criticism of a war plan that he didn't know (and couldn't) and that hadn't unfolded. But, then again, maybe he shouldn't have tried to do that.

ONE OF THE WEAKNESSES of a totalitarian dictatorship is that even the people running things wind up not knowing much:

Maj. Gen. Sufian al Tikriti left Baghdad on Sunday in a white Toyota sedan, in uniform and alone except for a chauffeur.

Just outside the city, the Republican Guard general came upon a Marine Corps roadblock, where he died.

His sudden death, and a great deal of other evidence, suggests how little Iraq's military knows about the whereabouts and movements of the U.S. and British soldiers who invaded their country three weeks ago.

"I think they are basically clueless," said a senior officer of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF). "They have no situational awareness," he said, using the military term for knowing the locations of friendly and enemy forces.

That fits interestingly with this report:

A captured Iraqi colonel being held in one of the hangars listened in astonishment as his information minister praised Republican Guard soldiers for recapturing the airport.

He looked at his captors and, as he realised that what he had heard was palpably untrue, his eye filled with tears. Turning to a translator, he asked: "How long have they been lying like this?"

All along, buddy. All along. (Via SgtStryker).

UPDATE: CPO Sparkey links to some more stories along this line and observes:

If you kill messengers for news you don't like, soon all you'll hear is happy lies. This can go on for awhile, but eventually the the truth will bring death to your doorstep.

Indeed.

HERE'S MORE on the Mike Hawash case. And here's a worrisome column by Dan Gillmor. I'm very unhappy about this. Of course, if I find out that the Justice Department is right here, I'll be unhappy too, just in a different way.

GO DAWGS: Here's a picture of a University of Georgia flag being unfurled over one of Saddam's palaces.

THE ANTIWAR CRACKUP -- war opponents are a minority even in San Francisco:

Although support for the war was lower in the Bay Area than elsewhere in the state, residents in the nine-county region told pollsters by nearly a 2-to- 1 ratio that they approve of the U.S. attack.

Asked "Do you support or oppose the U.S.' taking military action in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power," 63 percent said they favor and 32 percent said they oppose, a result that surprised even the pollsters.

"The stereotype that one would have of the Bay Area would be that it is one of the hotbeds of the anti-war movement," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, based in San Francisco. "For a poll to show strong support of the war here -- that's major news."

Indeed it is. And so is this:

A large majority of Canadians -- 72% -- believe Canada should have supported the U.S. at the start of the war against Iraq, according to an exclusive National Post/Global News poll. . . .

Jean Chrétien is to give a speech in the House of Commons today endorsing the Bush administration's "mission" in Iraq and asking MPs to declare formal support for a quick victory by coalition forces.

I think it was Fareed Zakaria who said, back during the Afghan War, that "victory is the best propaganda."

Of course, the "don't get cocky" advice still applies.

KANAN MAKIYA THINKS that Iraq should be demilitarized. I see the point, but I wonder if that sort of arrangement could be stable.

F.I.R.E. IS REPORTING A BIG DUE-PROCESS VICTORY AT HARVARD. Good.

ELIE WIESEL:

MONTREAL (AFP) - Nobel peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel said the war on Iraq is justified and blamed unnamed European countries for failing to prevent it through pressuring President Saddam Hussein.

"If some European countries put as much pressure on Saddam Hussein as on (US President George W.) Bush, there would have been no war," he told a press conference in Montreal.

Meanwhile David Adesnik points out Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter's support for Saddam Hussein -- in 1980! Zbigniew Brzezinski is involved, too. Funny that when these guys were opposing the war, nobody in the press was raising the possibility that their motivation, in part, was to defend their own failed policy.

UPDATE: A few people have sent outraged emails about my "double standard" in not pointing out that some people, like Rumsfeld, backed Hussein in the past.

But what I was doing was pointing out the double standard of the "peace" movement types who have been making that point for months. The difference is, Rumsfeld, et al., have learned from their mistake. Carter -- typically -- hasn't.

ERIC MULLER doesn't think much of the pro-war country song Have You Forgotten? (though he gives appropriate degree-of-difficulty credit for finding a rhyme for "bin Laden"). I haven't heard it,. (I haven't even heard Toby Keith's hit pro-war song) but I'll assume it's as dumb as he says.

Still, most hit songs are dumb. But isn't it a significant cultural indicator that this time around the dumb hit songs about war are pro-war?

UPDATE: Reader Steven Ehrbar emails:

Given that the song doesn't mention Iraq or Hussein, that the song came out before we moved against Iraq, and that the songwriter himself said that it wasn't taking a position on whether we should go to war against Iraq, Mr. Muller's commentary is what's stupid.

It's not a song about Iraq, it's a song about the War on Terror. And it's a damned good song about the necessity of the War on Terror.

Um, okay. I haven't heard it, except for about 5 seconds as a bumper on Frank Cagle's radio show, which didn't give me the chance to form an opinion. But a lot of people (including Frank) seem to be treating it as a song about Iraq -- at least, that's how it seems to me.

A BOUTIQUE SUBSCRIPTION-ONLY RECORD LABEL -- a very interesting business plan from Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens, a band I rather liked.

JAMES CARROLL offers yet another list of lame questions in place of a column. Why is he doing this? How long will he keep this up? Did the Globe get a bunch of question marks wholesale, and assign Carroll to use them up? Are they rationing periods and exclamation points in Boston? Did the Army requisition them all for the war effort? Is that why Carroll seems so angry? Are the Globe's editors embarrassed by Carroll's work? If not, why in God's name aren't they? Do any readers pay attention? Does he actually think that he's saying something important? Or is it just easier to keep posing questions without answering them, so that you're never responsible for stating a clear position? Who knows? Who cares?

UPDATE: Hey, this got picked up over at SillyGlobe! I have arrived.

PALESTINIANS -- EVER EAGER TO BACK THE WRONG HORSE -- are still supporting Saddam, and are claiming the United States bombed their "embassy" in Baghdad.

The Palestine National Authority, following the lead of many of its citizens who have long protested in favor of Saddam and against the U.S., condemned the "U.S. aggression” of yesterday. American fighter jets bombed the PA's embassy in Baghdad yesterday afternoon. “The US aggression on the embassy was premeditated and directly singled out the Palestinian embassy, which is located in the diplomatic neighborhood in the Iraqi capital,” a PNA official spokesman said today.

Hmm. I wonder if there's any connection with this:

On the southwestern edge of Baghdad, just east of the Diyala River, Marines discovered what appeared to be a large-scale training camp for the Palestine Liberation Front as well as documents indicating that Iraq had sold weapons to the PLF as recently as January for the front's fight against Israel.

Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Regiment, who found the facility said it had lecture halls, barracks, dining halls, an obstacle course, parade deck, administrative offices and bomb-making materials.

"This proves the link between Iraq and terror groups," said Capt. Aaron Robertson, the battalion intelligence officer.

Probably just a coincidence. Though to quote Gandalf, "where such customs hold, it is also the custom for Ambassadors to use less insolence."

DICK CHENEY I-TOLD-YOU-SO UPDATE:

Around 150 children spilled out of the jail after the gates were opened as a US military Humvee vehicle approached, Lieutenant Colonel Fred Padilla told an AFP correspondent travelling with the Marines 5th Regiment.

"Hundreds of kids were swarming us and kissing us," Padilla said.

"There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back."

"The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party," he alleged. "Some of these kids had been in there for five years."

The children, who were wearing threadbare clothes and looked under-nourished, walked on the streets crossing their hands as if to mimic handcuffs, before giving the thumbs up sign and shouting their thanks.

These stories just keep coming.

MEGAN MCARDLE WRITES ON THE ANTIWAR CRACKUP: "You can't keep a movement going on Centrum Silver."

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer's demographic information would seem to be inconsistent with Megan's observation, though I guess it doesn't actually contradict it.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Miller has information on support for the Vietnam War by age and says that, contrary to popular belief, young people were always the most supportive of that war, too. The protests simply gave the opposite impression because they made war opposition visible.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an analysis that says Megan's right.

SEEING THE LIGHT: Reader Mark Falcoff sends a translation of an article that appeared in Le Figaro today -- there's another one over at The Command Post too:

AFTER THE WAR, WE MUST RENEW OUR ALLIANCES
By Pierre Lellouche, Jean-Jacques Descamps, Herbe Mriton, Jerome Riviere and Michele Tabarot*

[from Le Figaro, Paris, this morning's edition]
Up till now we have been nothing more than a handful of members of the French national assembly publicly troubled by the official attitude towards the Iraqi crisis, notably insofar as it applies to our traditional allies. We have said quite simply that we should associate our efforts towards creating joint pressure- diplomatic and military--to achieve the disarmament of Iraq without automatically recurring to war, but without excluding that possibility either.

We also said at that time that in declaring in advance and under all circumstances that we would refuse to go to war we were simply encouraging Saddam Hussein to play for more time. We said, finally, that such an attitude did not in fact tend to avoid war but rather would inevitably lead to it outside the framework of the UN, precisely the opposite of the objective supposedly sought by French diplomacy.

For having hewed to that language, very much in isolation, and for having reminded everyone of the million deaths caused by Ssaddam Hussein, we were tarred as partisans of the hateful "camp of warmongers". The war having begun, we saw the unfolding of a veritable campaign of disinformation, with a view to fashioning France as a kind of herald of the "camp of peace" opposed to the inhumane action of the Anglo-Americans. We also witnessed the procession of Iraqi flags in PAris accompanied by cries, "Long live Saddam, death to the Jews!"

We saw our diplomacy, traditionally jealous of its independence but also in solidarity with our allies, caricatured by a neutralism tainted by pacifism and violent expressions of anti-Americanism. Finally, to our great shame, we saw a third of the French population in opinion surveys openly wish for the victory of Saddam, and still others to profane in a particularly ignoble fashion a British military cemetery at Etaples, in the north of France. . . .

It is not however time to engage in recriminations over the diplomatic failure that has brought about precisely what everyone feared: a war without the approval of the UN, led by those who had the means to carry it out, accepted in silence by those who did not wish the victory of Saddam Hussein, and therefore indirectly of fundamentalist Muslims.

It is time, on the other hand, to signal out those irresponsible people who--still too numerous in our country--sit comfortably in front of their television sets, secretly hoping that the Anglo-American coalition in Iraq will be defeated, or now, when victory seems certain, hope for the "Lebanon-ization" of Iraq, a kind of gigantic Gaza which would transform that country into a new urban Vietnam for America. . . .

Even if our friendships can evolve, the hard nut to crack remains that which links us for more than two centuries, to that country which allowed us to vanquish Nazism and Communism, and not with some adventurer based on tactical or economic considerations wholly at variance with our moral and cultural values. We will have need of the Western alliance in the future, in a world decidedly more chaotic and dangerous than the one to whose stability we had become accustomed during the half-century of cold war.

*Deputies in the National Assembly representing the UMP party, from Paris, Indre-et-Loire, la Drome, and Alpes-Maritimes.

Interesting. I'm glad to see at least a bit of sense dawning. And that some French thinkers are wishing for Iraq to become like Lebanon tells us all we need about the extent to which they actually had the best interests of Iraqis at heart -- and makes me wonder how much of a role France has played in making Lebanon turn out the way it has.

THE MEME THAT WON'T DIE: All your base are belong to us, 2003 remix.

WAR BLOGGING: My take on where things stand is up, over at GlennReynolds.com.

I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED THIS SOONER, but video of the University of Tennessee College of Law symposium on Marbury v. Madison is now online -- there's a menu here. My portion is in Session Two, and in the free-for-all at the end, though you'll probably find the addresses by Mark Tushnet and Bill Nelson more exciting.

UPDATE: Had the wrong link before. It's fixed now.

ANGRY AT ITS BIAS, British sailors have switched off the BBC:

Sailors also believe the news organisation places more faith in Iraqi reports than information coming from British or Allied sources.

One senior rating said: "The BBC always takes the Iraqis' side. It reports what they say as gospel but when it comes to us it questions and doubts everything the British and Americans are reporting. A lot of people on board are very unhappy."

Ark has replaced the BBC with rival broadcaster Sky News.

Perhaps Tony Blair should promote a new system in which there are competing national services, and people get to choose which one gets their license fees each year. Just a thought. . . .

UPDATE: If this interests you, don't miss Biased BBC, a weblog devoted to, well, bias at the BBC.

RALPH PETERS is wondering where some people are:

Forget the French and Germans, to whom honesty is an incomprehensible concept. Ignore the Arabs, with their addiction to comforting lies and a culture of blame. What about our bleeding heart celebrities who were so happy to ignore the bleeding people of Iraq?

Why hasn't the Holier-Than-Thou Club had anything to say about the regime's use of human shields? Or the use of hospitals as military facilities? Or the executions of Iraqi citizens by death squads? Or the mistreatment of prisoners? . . .

Guess not. They've moved on. Not one film star is making an effort to go to Iraq to actually do something for the millions who suffered under Saddam. The antiwar movement was a fad for moral lightweights eager to portray themselves as heroes.

We all know where the heroes are today. They're in Iraq, making history. Not in film studios.

Indeed.

STRATEGYPAGE REPORTS:

Hundreds of Iraqi exiles have answered the call by the Iraqi National Congress to volunteer for duty in Iraq as translators and negotiators for coalition troops. More are arriving daily and being put to work. The exiles often find themselves revisiting areas they grew up in and reuniting with friends and kin they have not seen for years. Their advice on who's naughty and who's nice is preventing a lot of embarrassing incidents. Captured Saddam loyalists have already caused problems by accusing anti-Saddam locals as being pro-Saddam.

U.S. casualties to date are 246 (91 dead). British forces have suffered 30 dead. No reports from Australian or other coalition combat forces.

Lots of interesting stuff, as usual.

UGANDA'S OIL, Tanzanian privatization, and Benin's economy -- just a few of the interesting subjects touched on by AfricaPundit.

WOW, just noticed that an unusually large number of folks hit the PayPal and Amazon buttons in the last couple of days. Thanks!

DICK CHENEY I-TOLD-YOU-SO UPDATE -- this story offers more:

As the marines' 1st Division poured towards Baghdad along the Highway 7 dual carriageway yesterday, preceded by a rolling storm of artillery shells, cluster bombs and missiles, Iraqis by the road - predominantly young men - cheered, waved and gave the thumbs-up sign.

Until yesterday, their enthusiasm for the invaders could have been interpreted as caution in the face of an unknown occupier. Yesterday there was no doubt: they knew Saddam was finished, and they were glad. For the first time, Iraqis could be seen mocking the images of President Saddam which hang at key points along the dusty roadside - Saddam the suited statesman, Saddam the Bedouin, Saddam the general. One youth picked up a stone and hurled it at a mural of the dictator. A larger than life statue of Saddam stood partly destroyed, only two legs and half the body still standing.

But of course, it's from that pro-war, pro-Bush rag, The Guardian.

YOU CAN'T CRITICIZE THE EUROPEAN UNION in Hungary by using this poster (the legend reads "You can vote with a NO too"). That's because it contains banned Nazi and Soviet symbols.

I think it's a pretty powerful poster -- and I suspect that banning it will only give it more force, as is usually the case with such things. (Via the EUObserver).

Meanwhile Samizdata reports on an anti-communist demonstration in Paris. No, really! It was outside the Vietnamese Embassy, and protested the arrest of pro-democracy campaigners in Vietnam.

ERIC MULLER, posting over at the Volokh Conspiracy, thinks the FBI got it right with its program to interview Iraqis in America, and wonders why people were so upset.

THE ELF SCANDAL CONTINUES TO UNFOLD -- and we're not talking Legolas here:

Mr Sirven said some of the 1bn French francs (152m euros) of Elf money that went through his personal Swiss accounts to finance what he described as political "missions" - although he refused to disclose who the ultimate recipients of the money were.

"I will not give any names, but it is certain that a large part of the money went in that direction," he told the court. . . .

An Elf employee, nicknamed Oscar, would bring the cash in plastic bags to the Elf tower building in north-west Paris or other Elf offices in the capital.

"Oscar" had a specific way of identifying himself by showing a stamp or metro ticket. The cash would then be handed over to beneficiaries, prosecutors say.

Interesting.

VICTORY IS THE BEST PROPAGANDA:

When the US pushed China to participate in an Asian coalition to halt North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Beijing demurred. It claimed little influence over Kim Jong Il. . . . Now, since the start of the US-led Iraq war, Chinese efforts have increased and taken firmer shape in response to the Bush administration's "doctrine of preemption," now on display in the Gulf.

"The Iraq war has brought a change," says Shi Yinhong, a professor of international studies at People's University in Beijing. "Before Iraq, there was a stalemate in the Chinese position, and fragmentation. Now there is some recognition of a possible time sequence in the US approach to North Korea, and that has created a sense of urgency in China."

Well, that's progress.

BERNARD LEWIS WRITES that Saddam's regime is a European import:

In 1940, the French government accepted defeat and signed a separate peace with the Third Reich. The French colonies in Syria and Lebanon remained under Vichy control, and were therefore open to the Nazis to do what they wished. They became major bases for Nazi propaganda and activity in the Middle East. The Nazis extended their operations from Syria and Lebanon, with some success, to Iraq and other places. That was the time when the Baath Party was founded, as a kind of clone of the Nazi and Fascist parties, using very similar methods and adapting a very similar ideology, and operating in the same way -- as part of an apparatus of surveillance that exists under a one-party state, where a party is not a party in the Western democratic sense, but part of the apparatus of a government. That was the origin of the Baath Party.

When the Third Reich collapsed, and after an interval was replaced by the Soviet Union as the patron of all anti-Western forces, the adjustment from the Nazi model to the Communist model was not very difficult and was carried throughout without problems. That is where the present Iraqi type of government comes from. As I said before, it has no roots in the authentic Arabic or Islamic past. It is, instead, part of the most successful and most harmful process of Westernization to have occurred in the Middle East. . . .

I say again: To blame the Saddam Hussein-type governments on Islamic and Arabic traditions is totally false.

Read the whole thing. And wonder why the hard Left has been so determined to defend an authentically fascist state.

THE ANTIWAR CRACKUP: ANDREW SULLIVAN POINTS OUT this poll from the Washington Post showing opposition to the war at a mere 16% and asks, "Has any large protest movement been this much of a failure so soon?"

JOHN KEEGAN WRITES THAT IT HASN'T BEEN A REAL WAR IN BAGHDAD:

In orthodox military practice, the Republican Guard, less perhaps a portion held back for last-ditch defence, should have been committed first, to blunt the coalition onset. The regular army should then have been committed to reinforce the Republican Guard when and where it achieved success. The paramilitaries should have been kept out of battle, to harass the invaders if the regular defence collapsed.

Saddam has fought the battle the other way around. The regular army was committed first, south of Baghdad, and seems to have run away as soon as it saw that the fighting threatened to be serious. The Republican Guard was then brought forward to hold the approaches to Baghdad and has been devastated by American air attack, its armoured units in particular being offered up for pointless sacrifice.

The only serious resistance appears to have been offered by the units least capable of meeting the coalition troops on equal terms, the Ba'ath Party militia, effectively a sort of political Mafia equipped with nothing more effective than hand-held weapons.

Because the war has taken such a strange form, the media, particularly those at home, may be forgiven for their misinterpretation of how it has progressed. Checks have been described as defeats, minor firefights as major battles. In truth, there has been almost no check to the unimpeded onrush of the coalition, particularly the dramatic American advance to Baghdad; nor have there been any major battles. This has been a collapse, not a war.

Nevertheless, Air Marshal Brian Burridge, the British commander in the Gulf, has a point when he says the British media have lost the plot. . . .

The older media generation, particularly those covering the war from comfortable television studios, has not covered itself with glory. Deeply infected with anti-war feeling and Left-wing antipathy to the use of force as a means of doing good, it has once again sought to depict the achievements of the West's servicemen as a subject for disapproval.

The brave young American and British servicemen - and women - who have risked their lives to bring down Saddam have every reason to feel that there is something corrupt about their home-based media.

Keegan never explains why Saddam's strategy was so inept. I suspect, however, that he didn't trust even the "elite" Republican Guard to operate out of his sight, for fear of defections. Thus he couldn't employ it as Keegan suggests, and had to keep it close to Baghdad or other loci of control.

UPDATE: Reader Bryan Smith emails:

Personally, I think Saddam did have a plan, but not a military one. I don't believe he had any intent of winning this war. He assumed a large portion of his regular army would desert. He kept the Republican Guard around Bagdad so he would have an effective police force once the Americans left. He didn't use chemical weapons because that would have enraged us and set world opinion against him (world opinion being France and Germany, who could no longer support him). Basically, I think he played the 3rd-world victim and waited for Western weakness. The UN nonsense and the "anti-war" demonstrations must have given him some hope...

This plan, from our perspective, is of course as inept as his military one.

Hmm. Does this make the antiwar and UN folks partly responsible for all those Iraqi soldiers who died? I won't make that charge, but others have. . . .

Meanwhile several readers thought Saddam's military problems were explained by this Ralph Peters column on "The Secret War." Could be.

April 07, 2003

I GUESS DICK CHENEY WAS RIGHT AFTER ALL:

British troops walked into the historic centre of Basra yesterday to be greeted by thousands of Iraqi civilians flocking on to the streets to welcome them as liberators. . . .

English-speaking Iraqis came up to reporters to express their own delight. Among them was Saad Ahmed, a 54-year-old retired English teacher. "We have been waiting for you for a long time," he said. "We are now happier than you.

"You are victorious as far as the war is concerned, but we are victorious in life. We have been living, not as human beings, for more than 30 years."

His son Emad, a 23-year-old student, added: "It's a great day for us and for all Iraqi people. Every family in Iraq have one, two, three deaths because of Saddam, either from wars or in his prisons. I am very happy." One of those joining in the celebrations, Qusay Rawah, said the downfall of Saddam's regime in Basra was a day "we had prayed for".

Of course, you can't please everybody:

But Jelil, a resident of the Old Town, denied that there was any cause for celebration. "The people in Basra feel defeated," he said. "Sure, we certainly hated Saddam, but we also hate the British and Americans."

Maybe Jelil can get French citizenship, though the "hating Saddam" part might disqualify him. . . .

PATRICK RUFFINI has suffered a hack attack. Here's his backup site.

And, btw, mine's at http://instabackup.blogspot.com -- just in case.

UPDATE: Some free advice from Stacy Tabb:

Oh, if you want to publish a little advice for those being hacked, the two main ways a hacker will get in to a blog are if HTML comments are enabled in older versions of MT (2.6+ has the sanitize plugin integrated) and PHP install files left lying around (such as for phpBB, etc.). If people would clean up after themselves they (and we) wouldn't have so much grief.

Words from the wise.

MISSING TOURISTS IN ALGERIA -- NEW DEVELOPMENT:

Desert nomads were reported yesterday to have discovered an abandoned vehicle and a network of tunnels in a remote region of southern Algeria thought likely to provide clues about the mysterious disappearance of 29 western tourists in the Sahara over the past seven weeks.

Germany's ARD television channel said the off-road vehicle was found in a mountainous district north of the Algerian town of Tamanrasset at the weekend by a camel train of nomads passing through the region. The vehicle was left parked outside the entrance to a complex system of underground caves linked by tunnels. The nomads said they suspected the caves "were inhabited", although they had not entered the system to find out.

Smart move. Keep your eye on this bizarre story. Maybe Osama's hiding out there . . .

BAGHDAD: Apparently, not much like Stalingrad after all.

This is supposed to be the fearless Republican Guard, but under fire there is no bravery and little dignity as many of them abandon their posts, some struggling to strip to their underwear as they flee.

Desperate to get away, when they are confronted by a security fence that extends into the river they jump in, swimming 50 metres out from the bank before returning along the opposite side of the fence to pick up the access road again. . . .

But those who are pinned down on the spit have no chance. They come under heavy bombardment from the Bradley vehicles. After an hour, US infantrymen emerge from the vehicles, crouch in their shadows and pick off the remaining guards, one by one.

That was always a silly analogy for the purposes it was offered for, since it put Saddam in the role of Von Paulus. But this shows that it was sillier still, doesn't it?

1,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MURDERED IN THE CONGO. But the United Nations is on the job:

The United Nations has sent a team to the area to investigate the reported massacre.

Well, we don't have to worry, then.

STALE, FEISTY ANGLES: Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom Watch" dated today ("Iraqi Quicksand Edition") gives Dick Cheney a down arrow with this blurb:

Tells "Meet the Press" just before war, "We will be greeted as liberators." An arrogant blunder for the ages.

Meanwhile reader Christopher Garrett emails a link to this story from the Chicago Tribune, also dated today, and headlined "10,000 Cheer: Saddam is no more!"

Not as bad as TV Guide's touting of Peter Arnett last week, but close. But have no fear: CW watch also offers this blurb for blogs:

Internet diarists, both here and abroad, offer fresh, feisty angles. Beats Aaron Brown every time.

And Newsweek, too!

UPDATE: Then there's this: People's Plea: Kill Saddam!

Many of Saddam Hussein's elite Republic Guard last night were on the run out of Baghdad as the American forces pushed into the city's heart.

And the populace took to the streets in support of the liberators, hundreds lining the streets imploring them to "kill Saddam".

Hmm. I wonder if I could get Cheney to autograph the CW piece?

DAVE KOPEL IS DECRYING the lack of diversity in the historical profession.

RUSSELL WARDLOW REPORTS from the Oakland protests, where the police fired wooden bullets. (Wood? I've heard of rubber bullets, and plastic bullets, but this is a new one to me.)

I won't weigh in on the crowd-control strategy -- I'll just note that people who set out to block shipments of war materiel to soldiers in wartime could easily be prosecuted for treason. This wasn't simple civil disobedience.

UPDATE: Here, courtesy of reader Allen Roberts, MD, is some information on wooden bullets.

BEST QUOTE OF THE WAR:

"Iraq will not be defeated" in the war, Ambassador Mohsen Khalil told a news conference in Egypt. "Iraq has now already achieved victory - apart from some technicalities."

Ah, those pesky "technicalities," like having your army defeated and enemy tanks and troops roaming at will in your capital. . . .

(Via Zach Barbera).

UPDATE: Another reader says that this is the best quote of the war:

After bombing Saddam Hussein's New Presidential Palace on Monday, the U.S. Army swept in and took inventory. Soldiers searched the vast complex by the river and marveled at what they saw.

"This used to be a nice place, they should make it like a Six Flags, or something," said Spc. Robert Blake, 20, of State College, Pa., and the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry.

Why choose? I think they go together very nicely.

JOE BIDEN SLEAZE ALERT! TalkLeft warns that Joe Biden is trying to sneak the RAVE act into "Amber Alert" legislation and has some advice on what to do about it.

I'm coming to really dislike Biden for his, well, sleaziness over this issue, among others.

Here's more on the RAVE Act. And here's more still.

UPDATE: Just noticed that Dave Kopel is reporting that Biden is claiming, falsely, that the ACLU has dropped its opposition to the RAVE Act.

And, though it has nothing to do with the RAVE Act, here's another reason why I'm down on Joe Biden these days.

KEN LAYNE AND COLBY COSH have sane comments about The Agonist, blogging and Big Media. So does Jeff Jarvis, who rightly stresses the importance of links and attribution to blogging.

And my earlier post was remiss in not giving proper credit to the Strategic Armchair Command for breaking this story.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has a lengthy post with lots of links to others' reactions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Dean Esmay, too.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: And Meryl Yourish has some harsh words.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ADVISES: Do not take counsel of your fears. Excerpt:

Anytime we bomb, of course, we will be criticized. But the looming end of the war will begin to the reverse the dynamic of the coverage — as reports emerge of mass graves, torture chambers, weapons of mass destruction, interviews with Saddam's victims, tons of American food and aid, and the birth of reform government. And it could shift quite radically once shocked Iraqis accept that Saddam is gone, and that the buildings and homes of their oppressors are in shambles and their own are mostly spared — a gradual improvement in public opinion will allow us a year or so to establish a legitimate government. The worry should not be about Arab public opinion but rather about the American Street — which is slowly simmering and may, if we are not careful, wish to tire of the Middle East and its current insanity altogether.

The American Street is aptly summed up by James Lileks today:

Passed the TV this morning, and heard an Arabic-accented voice passionately denouncing the war. He was Western in appearance, telegenic, articulate, and he described the Iraq War as a “catastrophe” for the entire Arab world. I stuck around to see what he meant - catastrophic in the sense that another series of illusions were being destroyed before their very eyes? Allah will help them! But Allah has declined the invitation. The Americans will never fight a ground war! But there they are, on the ground, more methodical and efficient than one could have ever imagined, and they are losing one soldier for every 1000 Iraqis they kill. The combination of training, technology, dedication and lethality is worse than the Arab world could have possibly imagined - and the soldiers' primary motivation is getting the job done well so everyone can go home. Imagine what they would do if they were truly, deeply pissed.

The lesson of Mogadishu: don’t draw any lessons from Mogadishu.

The guest, it turned out, was the ambassador from Syria, a nation whose bootheel has been pressed against the Lebanese jugular for how many years now?

It reminded me again of an interview I heard a few weeks ago with the CEO of some big Middle-eastern Internet company; he said that Arabs hate the US because of the oppressive governments we support. The host asked if people were pleased when the Taliban was deposed, and he said of course not - the US was attacking a Muslim nation!

At some point the entirety of the American Street’s reaction to Arab concerns will be: whatever.

Indeed.

JOHN HAWKINS FEATURES a three-way interview with Andrew Stuttaford and Bill Quick.

DIANA MOON HAS UNCOVERED A HACKER. Heh.

JIM DUNNIGAN WRITES ON URBAN WARFARE MADE EASIER by modern tactics and technology, but warns:

The tactics feature several key elements, and if you skimp on any of them your chances of success plummet.

Interesting.

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS CROSS-BURNING BAN: There's more over at the Volokh Conspiracy.

"DEFEATS DISMAY ARAB MEDIA:"

Arab satellite news channels, broadcasting footage of advances by coalition forces on Baghdad, are beginning to question whether Saddam Hussein has put up a proper fight against the allied advances.

Throughout the Arab world there is a mood of disappointment. The initial resistance by Saddam's forces raised expectations that he would put up a tougher fight around the capital.

Several Arab newspapers highlight the discrepancy between Iraq's assessment of the war and that of the coalition forces. "The information war is intensifying," said al-Sharq in Qatar. In Jordan, al-Rai asked "where the real truth lies amid the confusion and contradiction of the news reports?" Nevertheless, on its front page the paper's main headline read: "Iraq retakes Saddam airport."

The Lebanese daily al-Nahar went one better, saying that "Saddam led the attack to retake the airport", while Akhbar al-Khaleej in Bahrain said: "We have wiped out the invading forces at the airport."

But other Arab papers adopt a more realistic line, with al-Watan in Saudi Arabia declaring that "the Americans have taken the airport and the Iraqis have retreated into Baghdad".

Heh. Wake up and smell the coffee, guys. You've been lied to by yet another tinpot savage, spouting pathetically transparent pan-Arab propaganda because he knows you'll fall for it.

How many times does it have to happen before you wake up?

But we'll remember who you were pulling for, and file it for future reference.

ANOTHER GREAT LILEKS today.

I MENTION MARC HEROLD'S BOGUS CIVILIAN CASUALTY FIGURES BELOW, but Dan Drezner has a good example of how they're uncritically taken up by big media with an agenda -- in this case, the BBC. "Shame on the BBC," writes Drezner. Indeed.

OH, THOSE weapons of mass destruction.

Arundhati Roy, Robert Fisk, et al., will no doubt denounce it all as lies of the zionist media.

UPDATE: Well, this one looks to be pesticide, not Sarin. How can they confuse this? Easily, actually -- many pesticides of the cholinesterase-inhibiting variety basically are nerve gas. Some, like methyl parathion, are even rapidly lethal if they get on unprotected skin, I believe. But they're not actually identical, just close enough to make people sick or trigger false-positives.

Meanwhile there's this report and photo, which leads The Command Post to ask, "Is this how you store your pesticides?"

Yep. My Raid, Roundup and Bug-B-Gone are all stored in unmarked barrels in buried trenches. On the other hand, the comments to the Command Post item suggest that maybe you would store it that way if you lived in the desert, and couldn't afford climate controlled storage.

WOW. READ THIS:

HERE is a question for the pollsters to place before the British people: "Does this war make you less proud of your country, or more?"

The reason I ask is that in recent weeks I have lost count of the number of times I have heard commentators, politicians and peaceniks of every hue utter the phrase: "I am ashamed to be British."

And yet I strongly suspect that for the vast un-mouthy majority of British people, exactly the opposite is true. . . .

I have felt pride in my country every time I see images of British soldiers. Those soldiers are ferocious in battle, magnanimous and humane when the fighting is done. . . .

The war hasn't quite worked out the way the peace camp must have hoped.

Not enough mindless slaughter.

Yes, there have been deeply disturbing images of dead and burned Iraqi children. But do we honestly imagine that Allied forces, fighting a war unrestrained by political concerns, didn't kill and maim countless numbers of innocent French, Dutch and Belgian children in the Second World War, never mind the babies we burned alive in Japan and Germany.

We just didn't see pictures of them.

The peaceniks must be fuming. You would be hard pressed to search through history and find an army that has behaved with the dignity and decency of the British forces in Iraq.

And who can now doubt that it was right to fight this war?

The weekend brought the sickening discovery of a Saddam Hussein death factory in Az Zubayr, an entire warehouse full of the tortured, mutilated and finally executed human beings discarded in bin liners and fertiliser bags.

Their horrific wounds were lovingly documented, their moment of death photographed for Saddam's records. Some of the victims were women. It seems that most of them were soldiers. Iraqi soldiers. This is how Saddam treats his own people.

And the peace camp still has the gall to call Bush and Blair butchers. They are the war criminals even when the evidence against the bestiality of Saddam's stinking regime is overwhelming. . . .

Former United Nations worker Vanessa Lough says that over the past two weeks children as young as four have been snatched from their parents and hung from lampposts or burned alive in southern Iraq. Scores of children have been executed as a way of punishing their parents.

ONE man had committed the terrible crime of laughing with British soldiers. They (Ba'ath party goons) told him he had betrayed Saddam in an act of treason, says the former UN worker, who now works as an interpreter for aid organisations.

"He received a broken leg and a severe beating. The men made the father watch as they set his son alight with petrol."

Bush and Blair are the war criminals?

I hope the peace camp makes it out to Iraq some time soon to explain to the Iraqis that it is actually the West who are the cold-blooded killers.

I hope that George Galloway, Tony Benn, John Pilger and Robert Fisk can make the Iraqi people see the light - that it is the Coalition forces who are neo-Nazis, intent on stealing oil and slaughtering children. Still ashamed to be British? Personally I couldn't be more proud that British troops are risking their lives to free this ravaged country.

Follow the link to discover that this appeared in The Mirror of all places -- and read the whole thing.

THIS ARTICLE IN DIE ZEIT NOTES (Google translation here) that anti-Americanism is losing big in the real world, and that anti-Americans are increasingly inventing their own fantasy world instead.

This is interesting, and fits neatly with Nelson Ascher's observation about the French being "in denial," and with his earlier observation that anti-Americanism in Europe might start to resemble Arab politics.

The Dream Palace of the Anti-Americans. It's waiting to be written, folks. (Thanks to reader Holger Uhl for the link.)

UPDATE: Here's more evidence.

HOW MANY FREAKIN' SMOKING GUNS DO WE NEED? How about this one:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. forces near Baghdad found a weapons cache of around 20 medium-range missiles equipped with potent chemical weapons, the U.S. news station National Public Radio reported on Monday.

Yeah, but you can't trust those warmongering folks at Reuters and NPR. So how about this one:

Mustard gas and cyanide have been found in river water in the Iraqi city of Nasiriya, coalition forces said yesterday. The poisonous substances are believed to have been dumped in the Euphrates either by Iraqi soldiers fleeing from U.S. troops or by local factories that produced weapons of mass destruction.

The WMD stuff is, of course, only one of many reasons for getting rid of Saddam Hussein. But it appears that the critics were wrong about this one, just as they were wrong about all the others.

The real reason for war, anyway, can be seen here.

AFTER SADDAM, DEMOCRACY: Michael Barone has an excellent column on what should come next, and endorses the idea of a permanent trust fund for oil revenue, modelled on Alaska's. Barone emails:

I was prompted by a posting March 28 in instapundit.com, in which you quoted Lou Dolinar of Newsday as passing on a proposal for a different kind of investment fund. I emailed him and he had no objection to my printing this as my own suggestion. Due to dead tree limitations, I have only 770 words.

Damn dead trees. Read the column, though.

UPDATE: Read this piece, too about a similar model being tried in Chad.

HEH:

Confounding the Arab media and the pundits who had talked darkly of a new spirit of Iraqi patriotism resisting the invaders, the people of Basra braved gunfire to dance in the streets and cheer for the British troops who finally broke the grip Saddam's dreadful regime had exerted on Iraq for so long. This reporter saw one Basra citizen even kiss a British tank.

(Via Tim Blair, who's back posting at his regular venue.) And there's this, too. Oh, and this! Heh, indeed.

PORPHYROGENITUS WRITES:

So we're in downtown Baghdad and it becomes clear what CENTCOM meant when they said Baghdad would "fall from the inside out". It's also clear why they are not in the least bit unhappy about having the Iraqis know exactly where they are: they want as many Ba'ath loyalists, Republican Guards, and Fedayeen butchers, foreign auxiliaries and their ilk to come to them as possible. Every one of that lot who gets killed trying to dislodge American forces from the center of Baghdad is one less we have to go searching for in the streets of the city, "house to house" as it were. Let 'em come. That's what's been happening at the airport, and now that's what's happening in downtown Baghdad.

Yes, this does seem to be the strategy, and I think it's a good one. But after reflecting on how well things are going, he also offers this appropriate cautionary note:

Don't get cocky.

That's good advice, too.

MARC HEROLD'S BOGUS CIVILIAN CASUALTY FIGURES are debunked (again) by Iain Murray. Herold should be embarrassed, but he's clearly beyond that.

What's even more embarrassing is that Big Media folks treat these numbers as if they mean something.

WIRED HAS A STORY on the charges, which now appear to be true, that Sean-Paul Kelley has been passing off Stratfor's stories as his own. That's very disturbing, and he shouldn't have done that.

However, to those who are pronouncing this scandal a blow to the credibility of the blogosphere, I should note that (1) he was first caught out by another blogger; and (2) it's not as if Big Media has been free of such things.

Some people emailed wondering if I knew something was up, and that's why I haven't linked to The Agonist much. Well, I knew something was up last week, but didn't want to post on it until more came out. But the real reason I haven't linked to him a lot is simpler: most of his posts didn't have links to sources. I didn't suspect plagiarism, really, but I'm generally skeptical of secondhand reports without clear sourcing.

LATE START THIS MORNING: The lovely InstaWife let me sleep in, then brought me breakfast in bed. But Andrew Sullivan has been on the job, so go there. This is worth reading, too. Back later.

April 06, 2003

DEREK LOWE HAS MOVED -- he's now at Corante. Drop by and wish him well.

I'VE BEEN WOEFULLY DEFICIENT in blogging gun-related issues lately. But you might be interested in Students for the Second Amendment.

ACCORDING TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:

More than three-fourths of Americans -- including two-thirds of liberals and 70% of Democrats -- now say they support the decision to go to war. And more than four-fifths of these war supporters say they still will back the military action even if allied forces don't find evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Howard Veit says it's the "liberal" numbers that are the most significant, since they mean that the only real opposition to the war consists of "the Movie Star-Media elite, Frisco Bay Area Whackos, and CNN." This is a bit of an exaggeration, but the numbers certainly are strong.

STEVE BRILL WRITES THAT HOMELAND SECURITY IS A SUCCESS STORY: Now that's stating a controversial thesis.

UPDATE: On the other hand, there's this.

THIS SOUNDS LIKE DIRTY POOL:

The FBI last fall arrested six Lackawanna, N.Y., men of Yemeni origin and charged them with conspiracy and aiding a terrorist organization. All six had been to Afghanistan in early 2001 for training by Al Qaeda.

But prosecutors used dubious tactics to force the men into a plea-bargain admitting guilt to lesser charges. According to The Wall Street Journal, they threatened the defendants with "enemy combatant" status - meaning they could have been turned over to the military, deprived of counsel, and held incommunicado indefinitely.

If I recall correctly, at least some of these guys are American citizens. I don't like this report about Mike Hawash, either.

STRATEGYPAGE has this report on Afghanistan:

The long anticipated "Taliban Offensive" is apparently underway. It's not very impressive, with perhaps about half a dozen armed groups prowling around, attacking foreigners (troops or aid workers) and Afghans considered "un-Islamic." Many foreign aid groups are afraid to the point of considering leaving the country. So far, the Taliban have not mustered sufficient power to threaten, much less overthrow, the government.

The number of attacks on US bases are declining. There were 27 attacks, mostly with highly inaccurate 107mm rockets, in March. Last November, there were 55, and the attacks have been declining ever since.

There's more, but it's pretty much all in this vein.

"VIVE CHIRAC -- STOP THE JEWS!" More of, well, what we've come to expect from antiwar protests in France.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING STORY of life in a cult, and the escape therefrom.

MEDIA TURNS OUT TO SUPPORT THE TROOPS! Well, Media, Pennsylvania did, anyway. Dave Dilatush has pictures.

And here, courtesy of Solomonia, are pictures from a similar rally in Stoneham, Mass.

Yeah, they're small towns. But they count, too.

I'VE FOUND NPR'S EMBEDDED WAR COVERAGE, especially that by Eric Westervelt, to be very good. Westervelt's coverage is straightforward, and every story tells me something I didn't know before. Given the frequent criticism that NPR gets in the blogosphere, I think that's worth pointing out.

JOSH CHAFETZ OFFERS AN APPALLING REPORT of an effort to intimidate an antiwar student at Yale.

The story, frankly, seems hard to believe to me -- not only does it not sound like Yale students to do such a thing, it doesn't sound like the way Yale students would do such a thing if they did, if that makes sense. But Josh says he has it on good authority.

UPDATE: Bruce Bridges is skeptical:

This sounds suspiciously like an urban legend. First, never trust a story from a friend of a friend. Especially if the person telling the story assures you that this one friend is very reliable. All urban legends are passed around like that.

Second, it just sounds like an urban legend. Over the past couple of years the many reports of attacks on Muslims have often proved to be fabricated. I'm not doubting that there are some idiots out there but I wouldn't believe this unless I heard verifiable proof.

I could be wrong of course.

We'll see. I'm trusting Josh pretty heavily here, but I'd feel more comfortable if the victim had a name.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader points out that the Yale story sounds suspiciously similar to this account placed at Wheaton College. Of course, it's always possible that they're both true, though two such incidents of pro-flag ruffianism in northeastern college communities seem a bit unlikely. And there's nothing in today's Yale Daily News.Stay tuned.

I THINK IT MAY BE A BIT EARLY YET, but Colin Glassey is declaring victory in Iraq.

Meanwhile Howard Owens offers historical perspective on casualties.

Oh, and this piece by Max Boot on the media romance with guerrilla warfare -- compared with its actual history of ineffectiveness, especially against American forces -- is worth reading.

Mark Steyn, meanwhile, writes:

The way to understand this campaign is to look at the dogs of war that didn't bark: no missile attacks on Israel and only a couple of perfunctory strikes at Kuwait; not a single Iraqi plane in the sky in defence of the homeland; the key river bridges mined with explosives but not a single one detonated; no significant land engagements, etc.

All these are big decisions which would have been taken at the top and, if there's no top, nobody takes the decision. If you choose to believe that was the real deal on Saddam's latest video, it doesn't alter the fact that the Iraqis are still acting headless: everything that has not happened this last fortnight is consistent with the leadership being embedded into the rubble with a last startled look on their moustaches.

On the other hand, everything that has taken place is strictly local, freelance, improvised. . . .

But, for everyone other than media naysayers, it's the Anglo-Aussie-American side who are the geniuses. Rumsfeld's view that one shouldn't do it with once-a-decade force, but with a lighter, faster touch has been vindicated, with interesting implications for other members of the axis of evil and its reserve league.

Mickey Kaus, where I first noticed this Steyn link, has much more on the "were there enough troops or not?" debate, which I think is likely to wind up a draw: Could we have beaten the Iraqi military with fewer troops? Yes. Would it have been nice to have more troops for occupation/pacification? Yes. Does that mean our force levels were right? Depends on what other threats we might have been worried about -- it's entirely possible, for example, that North Korea might have been more adventurous if we had seemed to be committing everything we had in Iraq. Who knows? Somebody had to make an informed guess, and so far the results make the guess look pretty good. That's my take, anyway. Meanwhile, a guy in the bar last night observed that you can tell how the war is going just from glancing at the television -- they used to be showing maps of Iraq, but now they're showing maps of Baghdad.

In a related development, try not to be shocked but a German investigation suggests a Saudi government link with Al Qaeda:

GERMAN OFFICIALS SAY the terror suspects may have had a highly placed friend: a top diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin. Sources say Muhammad J. Fakihi, chief of the embassy’s Islamic-affairs branch, met frequently with the suspected terrorist cell’s leader, Ihsan Garnaoui, at Berlin’s Al Nur mosque—a notorious haven for Islamic extremists. The Germans confronted the Saudis and threatened to declare Fakihi persona non grata. “We don’t do that unless the evidence is very grave,” says a German official. Four days after the arrests, Fakihi left Germany and was supposed to have returned to Saudi Arabia. But, NEWSWEEK has learned, he never showed up. Now the Saudis want him for questioning, and officials are uncertain of his whereabouts.

Hmm. I know what I hope happened, and I know what I think happened, but I wonder what really happened?

COLLIN MAY has a lengthy and interesting essay on European politics and economics. His permalinks, unfortunately, are broken, but go here and scroll down.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH HAS BEEN WATCHING THE BBC. He says that Andrew Sullivan is right about BBC bias and mendacity in war coverage -- and in coverage of American politics.

Jeff Jarvis, meanwhile, offers a righteous Fisking of the BBC. And coming from a major TV guy like him, it's especially devastating.

YES, I've blogged less than usual this weekend, and that trend is likely to continue today. It's been a rough couple of weeks around the InstaPundit household -- not one, but two surgeries and cancer scares for close family members (both turned out OK, thankfully), plus assorted other items. Now the weather is really nice, and I've got a good friend from high school in town.

Yesterday, we saw my brother's band play at "Volapalooza," an outdoor concert on the UT campus, then visited various drinking establishments. I need to do more of that. My advice to you is to enjoy the good weather, too, if you've got it.

EDDIE VEDDER'S ON-STAGE ANTICS have gotten far less attention than the Dixie Chicks' anti-Bush comments. Eric Olsen looks at what might account for the different responses.

Meanwhile, Al Barger finds himself deeply moved by Vedder's artistic statement.

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