March 25th, 2004 - 9:04 am
A sign of the times:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in the Libyan capital of Tripoli Thursday for a historical visit to the country, the first trip to the North African country by a British prime minister since World War Two.
If you’ll recall, other events in Libya’s history under Ghadafy include:
A war with Chad.
The German disco bombing.
The “Line of Death” across the Gulf of Sidra.
The Pam Am Lockerbee bombing.
Attempted fighter strikes on Italy and US warships in international waters.
Stockpiled forbidden chemical weapons, and worked with the Soviets on nuclear weapons.
And since the Coalition liberated Iraq last April? From the same article:
August 2003 — The Libyan government officially accepts to takefull responsibility for Lockerbie and asks the United Nations to lift the 11-year sanctions as soon as Libya reaches accords with Britain and the United States. Libya also agrees to pay 2.7 billion US dollars to the relatives of the bombing victims after the sanctions are lifted.
Feb. 6, 2004 — British and US high-ranking officials hold talks with Libyan officials in London on dismantling Libya’s banned weapons programs, improving the US-Libyan relations and lifting US sanctions against Libya.
Feb. 9, 2004 — Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam visits Britain, the first Libyan foreign minister to travel to Britain after Gadhafi took office in 1969.
March 25, 2004 — British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits Libya, the first trip to the North African country by a British prime minister since World War Two.
It’s all just a big, fat coincidence. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.
March 25th, 2004 - 8:54 am
Larry Sabato looks into the future, and finds that, “Suddenly, the Senate battle has gotten much more interesting.”
As for the three open Republican [Senate] seats, Democrats have jumped out to an early lead in all of them. Our early-line guess is that the Democrats will win two of the three in the end, but a three-fer cannot be ruled out. Illinois is the Democrats’ best shot, followed by Colorado, with Oklahoma last but still very competitive. As always, we give a slight edge to just about any incumbent, whether a junior one (Lisa Murkowski) or a senior one (Tom Daschle). But both Murkowski and Daschle could be beaten, and they face tight contests.
Our loyal readers can add this up quickly: the GOP has an edge for control of the Senate, but it is not an overwhelmingly one anymore. Large gains for the GOP are now probably out of the question–unless Bush roars back in the fall. Even then, it’s hard to see the GOP total getting past 54 or 55.
Click and scroll for the latest on this Fall’s House and gubernatorial races, too. It’s gonna be a long, fun campaign season.
March 25th, 2004 - 1:10 am
After a long stretch of tiresome Catholic Boosterism which damn near made me give up on him, David Warren reminds me he’s still one of the clearest foreign policy thinkers in the business:
On the moral question, whether it was right for the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to order the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, there is no difference from the question whether it would be right to assassinate Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden co-founded Al Qaeda, Yassin founded Hamas. These are organizations which exist for the express purpose of killing people; Qaeda being committed to killing “Crusaders and Zionists” plus bystanders; Hamas more specifically Jews plus bystanders. The question is not whether one should do it, but how.
Read that last line again and smile.
March 25th, 2004 - 1:03 am
One Oregon county has come up with a novel solution to the gay marriage “problem” — nobody can get married there. Read:
In a new twist in the battle over same-sex marriage roiling the United States, a county in Oregon has banned all marriages — gay and heterosexual — until the state decides who can and who cannot wed.
The last marriage licenses were handed out in Benton County at 4 p.m. local time (7:00 p.m. EST) Tuesday. As of Wednesday, officials in the county of 79,000 people will begin telling couples applying for licenses to go elsewhere until the gay marriage debate is settled.
“It may seem odd,” Benton County Commissioner Linda Modrell told Reuters in a telephone interview, but “we need to treat everyone in our county equally.”
If Benton County were really smart, they’d also put a moratorium on divorces. The county could then become a haven for rich guys who didn’t get a pre-nup.
(Hat tip to Aaron C. for finding that gem.)
March 25th, 2004 - 12:35 am
I’m awfully glad Steve (no relation) Dunn is on our side. . .
March 25th, 2004 - 12:25 am
Sometimes, Tom Friedman nails it:
If Mr. Zapatero goes through with his troop withdrawal from Iraq, Islamist terrorists will attribute it to the Madrid bombing. This big picture will absolutely encourage them to try this tactic, perfected in Israel and now imported to Spain, in other European or U.S. elections
March 24th, 2004 - 9:38 pm
Was Richard Clarke a modern Cassandra
March 24th, 2004 - 9:15 pm
Don’t ask me what it is, just read it. Now.
(A tip of the martini glass to Jeff Goldstein.)
March 24th, 2004 - 3:43 pm
Afghanistan isn’t a real country, and never has been. It’s simply a place on the map where other nations aren’t, filled up with various nationalities, tribes, and sub-tribes.
Whoever was in charge in Kabul was usually considered the recognized government, but if his writ extended beyond the capital and his own tribal area, it was usually through a combination of bribes and threats. And, occassionally — as in the Soviet and American invastions — with outside assistance. As a rule, however, the local warlords ruled locally, no matter what Kabul said.
Now we learn that some of Afghanistan’s warlords are. . . American soldiers:
Using techniques developed and used with great success as far back as World War II, Special Forces A Teams are operating in remote Afghan valleys, and forming their own small armies by hiring local Afghans to help catch any Taliban or al Qaeda who might come through. U.S. troops have hired armed Afghans in the past, but from local warlords. This did not work too well. The warlord who supplied the troops had their own agendas. This included not getting any of their lads killed, and being open to bribery from the opposition. All of this is considered traditional in the Afghan scheme of things. A warlord becomes a warlord by having enough money to pay troops, some way to raise more money to keep paying them, and enough battlefield sense to keep down friendly casualties. Any warlord who misses too many payrolls, or gets too many of his guys killed, finds that no one wants to follow him anymore. A warlord without gunmen is no longer a warlord.
The Special Forces understand all this, and now they are, well, behaving like warlords. Special Forces troops have been establishing contacts throughout the southeastern Afghan border area over the last two years. So when a dozen Special Forces troops show up with guns and money, they are not treated as enemies.
Read the whole thing.
March 24th, 2004 - 3:27 pm
Alex Knapp wants to know why this isn’t getting more play:
We have obtained a document discovered in Iraq from the files of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). The report provides new evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The 1993 document, in Arabic, bears the logo of the Iraqi intelligence agency and is labeled “top secret” on each of its 20 pages.
The report is a list of IIS agents who are described as “collaborators.”
On page 14, the report states that among the collaborators is “the Saudi Osama bin Laden.”
The document states that bin Laden is a “Saudi businessman and is in charge of the Saudi opposition in Afghanistan.”
“And he is in good relationship with our section in Syria,” the document states, under the signature “Jabar.”
So do I.
March 24th, 2004 - 2:40 pm
Roger L. Simon on child suicide bombers.
March 24th, 2004 - 1:17 pm
Unless some serious military communications advances are made — and quickly — by allies, soon they’ll be more of a hindrance to us than a help.
Joe Katzman has the full report at Winds of Change.
March 24th, 2004 - 1:11 pm
Bavaria will no longer subsidize lederhosen purchases.
No, I am not making this up.
March 24th, 2004 - 11:42 am
Richard Clarke then:
And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we’ve now made public to some extent.
And the point is, while this big review was going on, there were still in effect, the lethal findings were still in effect. The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.
So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda.
Richard Clarke now:
Richard Clarke said on “60 Minutes” last night that (a) Bush ignored al Qaeda from January to early September 2001, despite being warned a major attack on the U.S. was imminent.
Will the real Richard Clarke please stand up?
UPDATE: Went over to the Instaman, only to find he’d posted damn near the exact same thing two hours ago. Some days, you just can’t win. Then again, everybody is going to be on this story today.
March 24th, 2004 - 11:12 am
Is it too early to start endorsing candidates for President — for 2008?
March 24th, 2004 - 1:01 am
Is Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ really so popular? Maybe not, according to Eden at Just One Bite:
We walked past people giving away tickets to The Passion of the Christ as we went in [to see Dawn of the Dead]. Is the media noting that the ridiculously high box office figures for this movie are being generated with almost empty theatres? I’ve been to the movies a few times in recent weeks, and every single time, a church group has bought out a showing of The Passion and is giving away free tickets. Dante stopped to have a discussion with one of the church volunteers as he went in, but I just politely told the man who stopped me that I wanted to see something with a little less bloodshed and violence.
Melissa and I haven’t been to a movie since we saw that Meg Ryan boxing flick a couple months back. Anyone else have any anecdotal evidence to back up Eden’s story?
March 24th, 2004 - 12:18 am
Every single word.
Twice, if you’ve ever written “Amerika” unironically.
March 24th, 2004 - 12:10 am
Needed a break. Took one. All better now.
Sometimes, you just don’t have anything to say. Oh, if there’s a deadline you can’t skirt and a paycheck involved, you can always force something. But a blog? I do this for fun. The day it stops being fun, I’ll close up shop.
So what’d I miss? Here’s today’s Big Story:
After years of delay caused by inadequate intelligence, the U.S. government decided just one day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that it would try to overthrow the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan if a diplomatic push to expel Osama bin Laden from the country failed, the independent panel investigating the attacks reported Tuesday.
The plans were reported in May 2002 by MSNBC.com and NBC News, but the details and precise timing were revealed for the first time in the new report released Tuesday by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
The report alleges that the Clinton and Bush administrations moved slowly against the al-Qaida terror network in the years before the attacks, partly because they lacked detailed intelligence that would have allowed a military strike and partly because they preferred to explore diplomatic alternatives. As a result, bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders were able to elude capture repeatedly.
If the Bushitler crowd hates the President now, how about if he’d attacked Afghanistan without “provocation?” Somehow, in their minds, the 1993 WTC attack, the African embassy bombings, and the suicide strike on the USS Cole weren’t quite provocative enough. Hell, for some of them, not even 9/11 was enough. Afghanistan, they told us
March 18th, 2004 - 12:42 pm
Has al Qaeda’s Number Two been captured?
March 18th, 2004 - 9:27 am
Now this is interesing — Germans are less optimistic about their future than Iraqis are.
March 17th, 2004 - 2:40 pm
Oh, screw it. Do I really want to blog on an afternoon like this?
(Click for the full-size pics.)
March 17th, 2004 - 1:51 pm
Had no internet the first part of the day, and now my neighborhood has no water.
“Scheduled maintenance,” the bored lady from Colorado Springs Utilities told me. So I asked her why they couldn’t tell me in advance. “But we usually do!”
Back once I look at the news.
March 17th, 2004 - 12:03 am
I don’t have anything rant-worthy tonight, but John Dvorak does. Read the about latest outrage from Microsoft:
It was only after I upgraded my main computer to Office 2003 that I discovered that, for some inexplicable reason, Microsoft had erased one of my favorite programs
March 16th, 2004 - 1:20 pm
Kenneth R. Timmerman, in today’s New York Post:
in documents I obtained during an investigation of the French relationship to Saddam Hussein, the French interest in maintaining Saddam Hussein in power was spelled out in excruciating detail. The price tag: close to $100 billion. That was what French oil companies stood to profit in the first seven years of their exclusive oil arrangements – had Saddam remained in power.
Now that’s real money. I wonder how much of it was going to come in the form of kickbacks?
March 16th, 2004 - 12:44 pm
Europe has only begun to surrender!
It cannot be very long now before some slaughter occurs on the streets of London or Rome or Warsaw, as punishment for British and Italian and Polish membership of the anti-Saddam coalition. But perhaps there is still time to avoid the wrath to come. If British and Italian and Polish troops make haste to leave the Iraqis to their own “devices” (of the sort that exploded outside the mosques of Karbala and Najaf last month), their civilian cousins may still hope to escape the stern disapproval of the holy warriors. Don’t ask why the holy warriors blow up mosques by the way
March 16th, 2004 - 12:19 pm
Also from Iran:
The Islamic regime forces have pulled back from the demonstrators in several Iranian cities, such as, Tehran, Abadan, Shiraz, Bookan, Babolsar, Khoram-Shahr, Sannandaj, Bandar Abbas and Zahedan. It seems that fearing a general uprising while millions of Iranians are in the streets of all Iranian cities, has forced the regime to take such unprecedented decison or to be waiting for a specific moment to start the crackdown.
In All these cities fires have been set and many residents have throwned pictures of the regime’s leaders and its founder, Rooh-Ollah Khomeini, in fire while chanting and dancing under the eyes of the powerless forces of the Islamic republic. Astonishingly, the regime forces haven’t even intervene when several plainclothes men were identified and arrested by maverick Iranian freedom fighters or that masked youth have thrown on them incendiary devices.
What’s going on this evening has never been seen and the night is just at its start and will be very long for the regime.
March 16th, 2004 - 12:18 pm
The Islamic republic regime’s anti-riot units and plainclothes men have opened the charge, at this time 21:35 local time, against the demonstrators in southern Tehran, Esfahan’s Tchahr Bagh and the city of Mashad by using knives, clubs and chains. Unconfirmed reports are stating about the use of plastic bullets in Esfahan and the Sadeghieh square of Tehran.
Several have been badly wounded during the attacks but fierce resistance is being made by thousands of young Iranians, male and female, who are opposing the attacks by the use of all available tools and especially Molotov cocktails which were made for such eventuality.