March 31, 2003
HAPPY ALEX BEAM DAY!!!
HAPPY ALEX BEAM DAY!!!
WOW. Over 300 gigabytes of bandwidth this month. Good thing I get a deal on it.
RATS LEAVING THE SINKING SHIP?
A Royal Marine told of a grenade glancing off his helmet and another told of how an Iraqi colonel driving a car with a briefcase full of cash refused to stop and was shot dead. “I didn’t know what to do with the money so I gave it to the kids, bundles of the stuff,” the Royal Marine said.
If the colonels are bugging out, well. . . .
UPDATE: But there’s plenty of room at the Hotel California!
STEFAN SHARKANSKY HAS ARRIVED: He’s being savaged in The Guardian. Stefan, however, has the last word, noting suspicious similarities between the Guardian piece on protester Rachel Corrie and items published by the anti-semitic National Vanguard Network.
Corrie wasn’t a “peace activist” — she was just on the other side. Like, apparently, John Sutherland, author of the Guardian piece. You can read more about Sutherland’s shoddy and dishonest assault on the blogosphere, which conflates chat-board comments with blogging in order to sustain its thesis, here and here.
UPDATE: I wonder what Sutherland would say if someone gave him a shot of truth serum?
(Link via Judicious Asininity).
STEVEN DEN BESTE says that there are things we don’t need to know right now.
LATEST GALLUP RESULTS:
Public support for the war in Iraq remains steady at roughly the 70% level, little changed over the past week. . . .
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, shows 70% of Americans in favor of the war and 27% opposed, virtually identical to the support measured last week. . . .
Currently, 33% of Americans say the war is going “very well,” about the same as the percentage measured March 24-25. Optimism had been much higher two days earlier. The latest results suggest a stabilization of perceptions at the lower level.
Still, more than 8 in 10 Americans currently believe the war is going at least moderately well, about the same as last week. Relatively few Americans, 14%, believe the war is going either “moderately” or “very” badly, up slightly from the March 22-23 poll (8%).
Three-quarters of Americans, 74%, say the United States and its allies are winning the war, unchanged from March 24-25, though down 10 points from the poll two days earlier.
The public seems somewhat less excitable than the journalistic community.
UPDATE: Comparing one poll to another is always iffy, but this poll would seem to indicate that the British public is feeling quite positive too. Guess all that negative spin on the BBC isn’t working.
PETER ARNETT’S PHILOSOPHY OF JOURNALISM is explained over at Fraters Libertas.
TIM BLAIR is on a roll. I mean, even more than usual.
MORT ZUCKERMAN IS ALL OVER THE FRENCH:
This is all part and parcel of Saddam’s incestuous political and commercial relationship with the defense, business, and political elites of France that will undoubtedly be exposed after the war. As the Weekly Standard reported, Saddam threatened to expose what he saw as France’s betrayal in the 1991 Gulf War, saying, “If the trickery continues, we will be forced to unmask them, all of them, before the French public.”
The French fan dance with Iraq dates to the 1970s, when Chirac was the point man in selling nuclear reactors to Iraq, including the Osirak plant bombed by Israel in 1981. (The plant, incidentally, was known as the O’Chirac reactor.) It was Chirac who signed the treaty with Iraq allowing for the transfer of French nuclear technology and specialists. It was this same Chirac who lavished praise on Saddam as a “personal friend,” a “great statesman,” and who invited him to his home. And, yes, it was the very same Chirac who has led the French efforts to sell arms to Iraq, some $20 billion worth. Today, France remains Iraq’s biggest European trading partner. Those who believe the United States went to war against Iraq inspired by oil are looking in the wrong direction. Try Paris.
Seems that Zuckerman isn’t alone. David Carr has more dirt on oil money and French politics.
FROM EDWARD BOYD’S BLOG to Donald Rumsfeld’s ear. Well, yeah.
ROBERT FISK AND THE MAGIC ROADBLOCK: A true story, according to Tom Paine.
JOHN TABIN OBSERVES:
CULTURE WATCH: Just seen on the bottom of the CNN Headline News screen:
Gary Hart Cyber Campaign Starts blog on possible 2004 presidential bid
Delightful, isn’t it, that they felt no need to explain what a blog is?
Yes, it is.
BOY, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS GRAPHIC OF WHO SOLD WEAPONS TO IRAQ, that whole Security-Council thing sure gets easy to understand.
IS SADDAM STILL ALIVE? The Iraqi Ambassador isn’t saying.
LIFE DURING WARTIME: Bill Whittle has a new essay, offering some historical perspective that’s sadly lacking from, well, most everything you’ve been reading on the war.
HERE’S ANOTHER MILITARY BLOG (a Marine blog, actually) that you should be reading. Excerpt:
Umm Qasr is essentially a void now in the daily briefings of the Iraqi disinformation minister. His last mention of Umm Qasr was a vow that it would never fall into the hands of the “pirates” (arrrrrrrgh) and “gangsters” (mama mia!) of the coalition. This is essentially true, in that the coalition is devoid of either. American and British troops did take the city, though, and are in the process of… doing nefarious things like public works projects.
There has to be as many aid workers and civil engineers running around the coalition-occupied territory of Southern Iraq as there are fighting troops now. And the last I checked, the pirates of the Caribbean were not especially concerned with the welfare of those they invaded.
And I’m short a parrot, damn it.
I’d take up a collection to send one, but I don’t think the Corps would let it through.
And read LT Smash’s response to an Iranian emailer.
UPDATE: And there’s a lot of great stuff over at Sgt. Stryker’s today, starting with this post.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This is good, too.
A memorable performance, to be sure. It’s just that Moore gave the impression of having been somewhat miscast. He deserved an Oscar for alienation – a phenomenon best explained as dislike for, or hatred of, an individual’s society and its leaders. Alienated types tend to be relatively well-off and well-educated men and women who enjoy the freedoms and riches provided by Western societies and use their status to dump on politicians and, by implication, those who elected them.
Moore’s entertaining Bowling for Columbine makes some telling, if unoriginal, criticisms of the gun culture prevalent in parts of the United States. Above all, this is an exercise in alienation and, at times, self-hatred. The documentary says the US is responsible for most – if not all – of the world’s problems. Moreover, it kicks down most of Moore’s fellow citizens who appear – many of whom are of modest means and scant education. Action, as Moore mocks a black policeman. Laugh now, as he attempts to make a white, female clerical worker look foolish. What (alienated) fun. Only to be enjoyed by those who can afford to pay cash at the cinema door and/or who buy the book.
Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men (Penguin, first edition 2001, new edition 2002) is perhaps the alienated tract of our time. He refers to “the evils of America”, maintains that “we are now in a budding police state formerly known as the USofA” and describes Americans as “stupid and oppressed”. All this in the introduction. Later on Bush is depicted as both a “functional illiterate” and an “alcoholic” and the US is bagged as a nation which “goes out of its way to remain ignorant and stupid”. This last assertion is made in capitals for effect. How helpful.
Some members of the intelligentsia – and the super rich (like Moore) – enjoy wallowing in such self-hatred. Stupid White Men includes a chapter called “Kill Whitey”. This is from an author who expresses understandable concern at the high homicide rates in the US. Sounds bizarre. But not so to the American heartland, as the Oscars demonstrated. Moore’s alienated rage was applauded by a few members of the Hollywood tinsel town audience, although not by Oscar nominees and their guests who chose to remain silent. Not so those of lesser means, and status, who occupied what are termed the “cheap seats” who exhibited their disgust at such alienation – at a time when US forces are at war – by booing loudly.
To Moore I’d say — just try and lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Then maybe you’ll finally understand. . . . Hey, didn’t somebody already say that?
MAARTEN SCHENK has thoughts on unilateralism. And scroll up for the latest bizarre political happenings in Antwerp.
WORLD PEACE THROUGH SHARED POPULAR CULTURE? I’m not so sure that this works — but Gilligan’s Island couldn’t help but have a civilizing effect.
RUSSIANS AND IRAQI INTELLIGENCE: Interesting stuff via Oxblog.
BJORN STAERK WRITES:
Nowadays I’m focusing on the deeper, more fundamental conflict: American entrepreneurship vs. the European social welfare state. I think that is the root conflict that causes such a disparity of opinion between the US and Europe.
And, I think, Europeans feel threatened by the American model, especially as that model is the root cause for American wealth and power, and the European model has not been able to keep up.
Yep. Europe is governed by the New Class, and America’s model ensures that the New Class will always be comparatively marginalized.
THIS RARE FISKING BY JEFF JARVIS proves that the genre is alive and well, and that Jarvis saves his efforts for only the most idiotic of targets.
IS THE LATEST VIDEO BY “SYSTEM OF A DOWN” being blacklisted — or is the war just popular? I link, you decide.
UPDATE: Reader Kevin Heller offers an alternative theory:
Since I was up very late last night I can tell you that adult MTV (VH1) played Boom! by System of a Down last night between 2 and 3 am I’d estimate.
I think the reason it’s not getting play is because the song sucks, it was released on an album of throwaways and the video’s concept is passe/not original.
I am/was a huge fan of System’s prior albums — especially Toxicity which was the only album I listened to for months after 9/11.
Well, there’s always that. I actually kind of liked Toxicity. I don’t have it, but my brother does.
I DON’T BUY THE SARS-AS-BIOWEAPON CLAIM, but Bigwig makes the best case I’ve seen that it is, or will be, one.
THEY’RE CHANGING TACTICS, BUT IT’S TOO LATE: They’ve already lost the initiative in this war.
My column on the TV networks vs. the blogosphere, and why the “embedding” program was a stroke of genius by the Pentagon, is up early over at TechCentralStation.
UPDATE: They’re getting desperate: “Arnett, Rivera first in wave of suicide broadcasters.” Heh.
DE GENOVA UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has a lot more information about the Columbia University anti-war “teach in” where Prof. Nicholas De Genova called for an American defeat, and a “million Mogadishus.”
Though the other speakers weren’t in De Genova’s league, Drezner notes that we shouldn’t lose sight of what the self-described “mainstream anti-war” folks are saying, either.
All told, it’s a disgrace. But — in a way that Columbia isn’t likely to appreciate — it’s certainly educational.
UPDATE: Here’s a statement by Columbia President Lee Bollinger on De Genova’s remarks.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s a post, apparently by De Genova’s college roommate.
WHAT’S REALLY AMAZING IS THAT THIS STORY IS FROM REUTERS:
SHATRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Hundreds of Iraqis shouting “Welcome to Iraq” greeted Marines who entered the town of Shatra Monday after storming it with planes, tanks and helicopter gunships.
A foot patrol picked its way through the small southern town, 20 miles north of the city of Nassiriya, after being beckoned in by a crowd of people.
“There’s no problem here. We are happy to see Americans,” one young man shouted.
It’s especially impressive when you note this Arab News report:
“There are people from Baath here reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces. If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam. In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else.”
Different versions of that very quote, but with a common theme, I would come to hear several times over the next three days I spent in Iraq.
And the really big story, of course, is that you’re seeing stuff like this reported by Reuters and the Arab News. Bad news for Saddam in the propaganda war — if you can’t count on these guys, who can you count on? Peter Arnett?
UPDATE: Reader Michael Levy emails that people have their historical analogies wrong:
Some people compare this war to the Vietnam War (of course, they do that every time). But Iraq resembles Vietnam’s neighbor, Cambodia, at the height of the genocide. Even the Vietnamese regime was not so cruel–but if we had invaded Cambodia, we would have faced something similar to this.
THIS COULD BE A SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE SKIT: Arnold Kling imagines questions the press might ask at an Iraqi military briefing. Excerpt:
Your strategy of showing American prisoners and dead on TV, in order to destroy their will to fight does not seem to be working. Can you comment on reports suggesting that this has only made the American people angrier?
The government’s best hope for surviving this war is pressure from world opinion to stop the fighting. Can you explain how shooting civilians trying to flee Basra helps to mobilize world public opinion on our behalf?
Hmm. I wonder why Saddam isn’t standing in front of a bunch of reporters and answering questions like these? I guess it’s because (1) he’s dead or close to it; and (2) any Iraqi reporters who asked questions like these would be dunked in acid. D’ya think?
“IT’S NO FUN being called Saddam Hussein these days.” Nope.
RED AMERICA: More Knoxville roadside signs supporting the troops, in terms that would probably induce apoplexy at the BBC. There’s lots of god-talk in these signs, with “God Bless Our Troops” and similar variations being quite common.
You see this stuff at a lot of businesses, mostly small businesses. The “United We Stand” flag decals (where do those come from, anyway?) are very common, too, as are flags on cars, both the decals and window-flags.
Back after 9/11 there was a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about where people were flying flags and where they allegedly weren’t. I haven’t seen a whole lot on that lately, but it seems to me that the flags mostly haven’t come down, and I”ll bet there are just as many in a lot of “blue” states. I suspect that this really bugs the Nicholas De Genovas of the world, but I have to say that doesn’t bother me much.
AMIR TAHERI HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON RECONSTRUCTING IRAQ. You should read them.
THE FOG OF SARS: Blogging on the SARS outbreak is a bit like blogging on the progress of the war. You know that something is going on, but you’re pretty sure you aren’t getting the whole story, or even a very representative slice.
That said, this graph of cases and deaths is interesting. The number of cases continues to climb, but not the number of deaths. I think that means one of the following: (1) The outbreak started, or at least was first noticed, in an unusually vulnerable population; or (2) the virus is becoming less deadly; or (3) the reporting is wrong, and the number of deaths is actually greater now, or the number of cases was actually greater earlier. Which is it? Beats me.
HEY — thanks to all the people who hit the PayPal and Amazon Honors buttons over the weekend. I appreciate it.
BRITISH PUBLIC OPINION has shifted in favor of the war, and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is whining about the reception she got on the Question Time program:
As I walked in, people in the front rows were already hissing and hooting to undermine me. Geoff Hoon got massive applause immediately afterwards. Obviously delighted, he looked 10 years younger suddenly. . . .
Now I think Question Time has become much better since it started to allow more assertive challenges from audience members – the old reverence has gone and an excellent thing too. Panellists should be able to deal with the cut and thrust of hot exchanges. But when it tips over into the Jerry Springer mode the programme loses its stature. . . .
In the middle of my very first answer, a Kurdish lady launched herself at me. She says she is a victim of terrible torture, rape, and punishment by Saddam’s inhumane forces. I had already watched her on several recent programmes. I said I was very sorry that she had suffered so much but that I was still anti-war. So she harangued, saying I was “clueless”. Her husband has emailed me to say that his wife believes “not being willing to get rid of Saddam by any means necessary makes a person a Saddam supporter”. I told her she was emotionally blackmailing me and, even though many people were outraged at this, I would say it again. Neither she nor the baying warmongers showed a flicker of pity for the dead and dying of Iraq.
As Ms. Brown shows not a “flicker of pity” for Saddam’s victims. Her comments about rudeness on Question Time are hilarious, though. Consider this story from September 14, 2001:
In the highly-charged atmosphere of the BBC studio, Phil Lader, the former US ambassador to Britain who was on the panel, appeared to fight back tears as he was shouted down while trying to tell the audience of his sadness.
Presenter David Dimbleby struggled to control the shouting as some members of the audience claimed the US was ultimately responsible for the deaths of its own nationals as well as of Britons.
I don’t recall Ms. Brown — who probably thought Lader got what he deserved — complaining then. In fact, she wrote a column approving it, and defending the BBC against critics who thought the show was cruel and anti-American. Sauce for the goose, Ms. Brown.
Like so many of the antiwar left, she’s very, very thin-skinned. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it. Well, get used to it, Ms. Brown. There’s more coming.
UPDATE: A reader points out this sentence from Ms. Brown’s Sept. 17, 2001 column linked above: “As it happens, I support any military action to get rid of the Taliban and Saddam and I want to see justice.” I wonder what changed her mind?
A BUNCH OF PEOPLE have been begging me to post the email address of Columbia professor Nicholas De Genova, who called for America’s defeat in Iraq and said that he’d like to see “a million Mogadishus.”
I don’t see the point. I doubt that a flood of hatemail will change his opinions. But if you want to express your dismay at his comments, and suggest that it reflects badly on Columbia, you might want to contact:
Lee C. Bollinger, President
email: [email protected]
Personally, I rather doubt that Columbia would be as respectful of De Genova’s free speech if he had called for “a million Matthew Shepards” or “a million Emmett Tills.” Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think so.
(Via Blogs of War).
“Let them try not showering for a week, sleeping out in the desert, living through sandstorms, being under fire — I don’t see these people out there. All they do is criticize.”
A soldier? Nope. An embedded reporter, complaining about “armchair
generals journalists” who criticize the coverage.
MUBARAK SAYS THE WAR will create 100 bin Ladens.
Really? 100 wealthy Saudis who finance terror against the United States?
Well, that would certainly justify seizing the oil and killing a lot of rich Saudis, wouldn’t it? Something for the Sauds to keep in mind, anyway.
THEY’RE NOT FOR PEACE, THEY’RE JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE:
Led by Muslims, Paris peace rally again turns anti-Israeli
But French Arab teenagers from the poor suburbs chanted slogans pledging war and martyrdom in the name of both Palestinians and Iraqis and against Israel. ‘‘We are all Palestinians, we are all Iraqis, we are all kamikazes!’’ chanted one group, no older than 14 or 15, from the suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse. Others chanted: ‘‘We are all martyrs! Allahu Akbar! God is more powerful than the United States.’’
Both boys and girls wore the Palestinian scarf known as the kaffiyeh. One Moroccan-born man stepped on an image of the Israeli flag. Another French Arab pointed to a group of protesters from a Jewish student association and said: ‘‘They are targets. They are not welcome here, because of what they did to our Palestinian brothers.’’
I’d say “anti-Israel” is putting a pretty generous spin on it.
NICK DENTON WRITES: Don’t take Baghdad — just partition Iraq. Sure, the Turks and the Saudis and the Iranians won’t like it — but that’s not a bug, it’s a feature!
I don’t actually favor Nick’s approach. But it does illustrate an important point: Saddam has Baghdad, but we’ve got all the parts of Iraq that we care about already — all the places that have oil, or from which he can threaten surrounding countries with missiles, etc. What’s more, every day we’ve got more soldiers and more materiel in place, and he’s got fewer soldiers and less materiel. Saddam thinks that time’s on his side, but it’s not.
IT’S NOT A WAR, IT’S A HOSTAGE CRISIS: And among the hostages are not only the entire Iraqi civilian population, but the Iraqi army.
CAROL JOHNSON writes that Steven Den Beste isn’t critical enough of Amnesty International.
I got a lot of emails on this yesterday, and I didn’t post on it because I didn’t think it was really news. Arnett has been desperate to rejuvenate his career since the “Tailwind” debacle, and he’s always been too chummy with the Iraqi government. In a way, this, or something like it, was inevitable. The big “news” part is that this wasn’t as obvious to NBC and Explorer as it was to, well, everyone else.
WORTHWHILE CANADIAN POLL:
Ottawa — Support for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s handling of the Iraq war plunged in the past week, with opinion split virtually evenly outside Quebec, where antiwar sentiment is strongest, a new Globe and Mail/CTV poll suggests. . . .
Pro-coalition rallies were planned for today in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Red Deer, Alta., and in Calgary and Vancouver tomorrow. American flags are flying off the shelves in many western cities.
But here’s the really interesting part:
Approximately 47 per cent of respondents agreed Canada “turned our back” on the Americans, while 51 per cent disagreed. In Quebec, only 36 per cent agreed that the decision amounted to a failure to support the U.S. at its time of need, while 51 per cent of those in other provinces agreed.
Still, two-thirds of poll respondents said Mr. Chrétien’s stand has shown Canada is an independent player on the world stage.
As reader Michael Nunnelley, who sent this link, observes, being an “independent player” would seem to be the main driver of Chretien’s policy.
ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO writes Daniel Drezner. The defeat of Ansar Al-Islam isn’t getting enough attention, he says.
SPENT THE AFTERNOON IN THE RECORDING STUDIO — the real one, not the computer-based one at my house. Doug “InstaLawyer” Weinstein has been working on a demo tape for his band, The Verdicts, and wanted some help and another set of ears. Various triumphs ensued:
1. Unaccountable difference in levels between left channel and right channel tracked down to loose jack in patchbay; tightened and fixed. Finding this in the time it took was a triumph — even in our little studio, there are so many wires and connections that tracking down a bad one is a real job.
2. Flabby sounding kick drum tightened up with EQ. Not “more bass” which is what you might think, but a boost at 350 hz, which captures the crack of the beater striking the drumhead. Most of the sound of a kick drum is at low frequencies, but the beater-sound is what gives it definition and helps it cut through the mix.
3. Somewhat lonely sounding lead vocal on “Wonderful Tonight” brightened up by using a combination of delay and pitch-shifting to generate the illusion of female singers in the background. There are gadgets you can buy that do this, but I just reprogrammed a general-purpose effects box. It worked surprisingly well: subtle, but effective.
4. Request to give a trumpet solo “more shimmer” met by putting a very slight Leslie (rotating-speaker, somewhat akin to a tremolo) effect on the trumpet, and feeding that into its own reverb.
Okay, “triumph” is too strong a word, but still a very successful afternoon. I haven’t done that sort of thing in a while, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it. And, unlike computer music (or blogging) it doesn’t contribute as much to RSI.
PUNDITWATCH IS ON HIATUS:
Punditwatch is not going to grasp at the ether of pundit speculation and opinion on this war until enough time has passed to make it informed speculation and opinion. I trust David Brooks and Mark Shields to tell me who’s up and who’s down in the political arena. I don’t trust them to tell me where a war is and where it’s going after only 10 days.
Punditwatch will return when the fog of war lifts.
I know how he feels.
RALPH PETERS WRITES:
On one level, Arabs know that Saddam Hussein is a monster. They know he has killed more Arabs than Israel ever could do. Saddam has been the worst thing to happen to Mesopotamia since the Mongols razed Baghdad. But Arabs are so jealous and discouraged that they need to inflate even Saddam into a hero. They have no one else.
Try to understand how broken the Arab world must be, how pitiful, if the celebrated Arab “triumph” of this war is the execution of prisoners in cold blood and the display of a few POWs on TV.
We would be foolish to descend to their level and gloat. The world would be better off were Arab civilization a success. We all should pray that the Arab world might, one day, be better governed and more equitable, that Arab peoples might join us in the march of human progress, instead of fleeing into reveries of bygone glories.
Indeed. Read the whole thing, to see why Iraq matters.
WARBLOGFOGVERGNUGEN: Suman Palit has coined the term.
STEVEN DEN BESTE is rather critical of Amnesty International’s biased approach. He’s got a lot of links.
MAX BOOT WRITES ON THE NEW AMERICAN WAY OF WAR:
Watching images of the bombing of Baghdad brought to mind another American bombing campaign 58 years ago. On March 9, 1945, more than 300 B-29 Superfortresses attacked Tokyo. Their napalm bombs and magnesium incendiaries turned 16 densely packed square miles into an inferno. An estimated 84,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed, making this one of the deadliest days of warfare ever.
The enormity of the destruction is almost impossible to comprehend today, because the American armed forces fight so differently now. The new way of war emphasizes precision and aims for minimal casualties on both sides. This approach represents a considerable advance, but it also brings its own set of problems.
Although air strikes on Baghdad have intensified, leading to what Iraqi officials claim are more than 70 civilian casualties, the city is hardly being pounded into rubble. Electricity and other services remain. In the war’s early days, Baghdad residents even stood on their balconies to watch bombs and missiles pummel their city — secure in the knowledge that only a handful of government buildings would be hit.
This is a bit reminiscent of the first Battle of Bull Run in 1861, which drew as spectators the crème de la crème of Washington society. It is almost as if the United States has left behind the total war of the 20th century and returned to an earlier time of more limited combat, when columns of professional soldiers marched toward each other across open fields and civilians were hurt only by accident.
Boot’s not entirely sure that this is a good idea.
CAROL RICHARDS SAYS she protested Vietnam, but this war is right.
SARS UPDATE: U.N. politics may be trumping health concerns in the region:
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) When a deadly flu-like virus began spreading through Asia earlier this month, a group of Taiwanese doctors sent an e-mail to the World Health Organization asking for help in investigating the mysterious bug.
No one responded. No investigators from the U.N. agency visited. . . .
WHO is apparently waiting for permission from the People’s Republic of China. Odd.
REMEMBER NORTH KOREA? Looks like some pressure is being brought to bear:
BEIJING – For three straight days in recent weeks, something remarkable happened to the oil pipeline running through northeast China to North Korea – the oil stopped flowing, according to diplomatic sources, temporarily cutting off a vital lifeline for North Korea.
The pipeline shutdown, officially ascribed to a technical problem, followed an unusually blunt message delivered by China to its longtime ally in a high-level meeting in Beijing last month, the sources said. Stop your provocations about the possible development of nuclear weapons, China warned its neighbor, or face Chinese support for economic sanctions against the regime.
Such tough tactics show an unexpected resolve in Beijing’s policy toward Pyongyang, and hint at the nervousness of Chinese leaders about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and North Korea’s tensions with the United States.
With the Bush administration asking China to take a more active role, Beijing’s application of pressure could convince North Korea to drop its demands for talks exclusively with the United States – a demand that Washington rejects. . . .
“We can’t afford to shield North Korea any longer,” Zhu Feng, an international security expert at Beijing University, said in an interview last month. “There is increasing recognition here if North Korea is finally armed with nuclear weapons, it will be a big threat to China.”
Very interesting. And what surprises me is how long it’s taken the Chinese to realize that nobody, but nobody wants a regime as kooky as North Korea’s on their border, armed with nuclear weapons. Read the whole story, which is chock-full of interesting stuff.
UPDATE: How kooky? This kooky:
ALL triplets in North Korea are being forcibly removed from parents after their birth and dumped in bleak orphanages.
The policy is carried out on the orders of Stalinist dictator Kim Jong-il, who has an irrational belief that a triplet could one day topple his regime.
Sheesh. If I were the Chinese, I’d be worried, too.
THE NATIONAL GUARDSMAN WHO CHANGED HIS NAME TO “OPTIMUS PRIME” now has a weblog. This seems to me to be a moment of deep cultural significance.
MICKEY KAUS is asking a lot of questions about strategy that are also being asked by others. I don’t know the answer to these questions, and I’ve refrained from this kind of speculation because I think it’s largely meaningless in the absence, of, you know, actual facts. But his post offers a nice central repository of the “what’s Rumsfeld’s hurry?” school of thought.
Kaus also asks:
But I’m still skeptical about the Iraqi claims that two U.S. missiles have now struck crowded marketplaces and killed dozens. Why do these errant missiles always fall in crowded marketplaces and kill dozens? Why don’t they ever fall in back alleys and kill one or two people?
The answer appears to be that they’re errant Iraqi SAMS rather than errant U.S. missiles. A reader adds:
For the last few days, I’ve been wondering how come Bob Fisk hasn’t been jumping up and down waving bits of metal with “Raytheon” printed on it. Surely the Iraqis have enough of the stuff lying about the place by now…
Heard Iraqi caller to BBC phone-in yesterday (not some sort of coalition media shill, his English was lousy and he didn’t “project” as the saying goes); he said that from calls to Baghdad, the locals all believe that the Saddam regime is behind these attacks.
UPDATE: Well, ask and you shall receive. Fisk is jumping up and down, and may even be right, sort of — though if it’s American it’s a HARM missile that was probably fired at an Iraqi mobile radar placed in the market area. Tim Blair has more.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Blair has even more here.
JIM BENNETT WRITES on why the “Anglosphere” concept is more about peace than war. He also has some comments in response to Jacob T. Levy’s recent piece in The New Republic.
JIM TREACHER HAS SO MANY FUNNY POSTS that I can’t figure out which one to link to. So just go read ’em all.
SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE BLOGGERS. You kind of want to make fun of a series like this, but it’s actually good.
REVERSE-ASYMMETRICAL WARFARE: Edward Boyd has a suggestion.
AN EMAIL FROM THE FRONT that’s worth reading.
After little more than a week, is this war coverage in trouble? Already questions are being raised about whether the media’s plan was fatally flawed. Several analysts are surprised that, despite overwhelming dominance of the air, television and radio divisions have so quickly repeated the mistakes of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the ground, rapidly advancing columns become stalled in Vietnam-style quagmires around the second paragraph.
He has a lot of eminent retired military guys critiquing the journalists’ strategy, too.
WHY OIL IS BAD for national economies, and democracy.
AZIZ POONAWALLA has some interesting observations regarding asymmetric warfare. In a not-unrelated note, Fred Kaplan says the war is vindicating Van Riper. I think it’s a bit early to say that, but the piece is worth reading.
Meanwhile, this story says that Saddam has sacked his air-defense commander for doing more damage to Baghdad than the allies have. The usual skepticism toward, well, everything is appropriate here, of course, but it’s interesting.
AN EDITOR OF THE COLUMBIA POLITICAL REVIEW, which has an interesting group blog that I don’t think I’ve seen before, is distancing himself from Prof. Nicholas De Genova’s remark that he’d like to see the United States lose in Iraq to the tune of a “million Mogadishus.” What’s interesting, though, is that the real anger is reserved for Nader supporters.
This post from the same blog, however, betrays muddled thinking, or at least writing:
It’s amazing to me how quickly conservatives forget the first amendment when attacking their ideological opponents but cling to it staunchly whenever a conservative academic makes remarks that draw criticism. DeGenova may not be an enlightened political thinker (his comments were both ridiculously inflammatory and uninformed, and are worthy of much criticism), but the day Columbia starts making hiring and firing decisions based on a person’s politics is not a day we should look forward to.
“The First Amendment” is not actually a synonym for “free speech,” which is what the writer here presumably actually means. Not being the government, Columbia isn’t directly bound by the First Amendment. But principles of free speech should bar firing De Genova — though as someone else commented, it’s doubtful that Columbia would be as enthusiastic about De Genova’s free speech rights if he had called for “a million Matthew Shepards.”
And as for the part about dreading the day when politics start affecting Columbia’s hiring and firing decisions, well, the most charitable thing I can say is that it reveals a charming naivete.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Actually, Columbia’s President is wrong. Columbia U. does not protect free speech. They have a draconian hate speech code that prohibits hate speech on campus. So it seems that by their own rules, they SHOULD fire De Genova for what he SAID (just as they could legally punish anyone who called for a million matthew sheperds). I’d love it if someone put this question to Bollinger.
Interesting. I’m not very familiar with Columbia’s speech code. Neither, I’d bet, is Columbia’s President, Lee Bollinger, who is a pro-free-speech guy, generally.
THOUSANDS OF CANADIANS SHOWED UP at a pro-America rally in Ottawa. Follow the link for a story and pictures.
MATTHEW YGLESIAS: Too smart and honest to be a pundit? I link, you decide.
NELSON ASCHER WRITES:
I don’t know how the antiwar Europeans will react to Anglo-American-Australian victory, but one thing is sure: they won’t identify with it and from this to a feeling of also having been defeated is just a small step. Their sense of impotence after so many protests might be overwhelming. I wouldn’t be too surprised at seeing the Western European psyche beginning [to] resemble, in many significant ways, the Arab one.
Worrisomely plausible: the same mix of entitlement, infatuation with an imagined grand history, and impotent fecklessness in the present. It fits well with this column by Steven Glover in which we learn:
A friend of mine said to me the other day that he hoped lots of Americans were killed because the United States would be brought down a peg or two. I suspect there are many people, otherwise decent and enlightened, who would like this war to be prolonged and bloody. They may even in a twisted sort of way want lots of Iraqi civilians to be killed because their deaths will vindicate the anti-war arguments. If we did not care about our reputations, if we did not in our silly, selfish way wish always to be shown to be right, we would all ardently hope for the war to be ended as soon as possible with as few deaths as possible, and with Saddam Hussein safely under lock and key. This is, in truth, what every person and every journalist should wish for, whatever their opinions on the war. But I am not sure it is what the Daily Mirror or John Pilger or the (admittedly brilliant) Robert Fisk of the Independent wants. One feels that, whatever happens, they and their sometimes less openly anti-war colleagues in the media will continue to say that the war is not going as well as the allies expected, and they will declare a successful outcome to be deeply unsatisfactory. The war will go on in the newspaper columns and on the airwaves long after the last shot has been fired, as journalists fight to show that they were right.
As Iain Murray comments: “It is saddening to think that these people probably think they are behaving ‘ethically’. They aren’t, and this needs to be pointed out time and time again.”
Indeed it does. Even in Tennessee.
DOESN’T THIS MEAN THAT THE UNITED STATES CAN TARGET ARAFAT NOW?
Hundreds of Palestinians living in Lebanon have been sent to Iraq to carry out suicide attacks against American and British soldiers.
Colonel Munir Maqdah, one of the top commanders of the Fatah movement in Lebanon, said his men were already in Baghdad, prepared to launch suicide attacks. Another group of Fatah suicide bombers are due in Iraq shortly, he added.
He just took the other (losing) side in this war, I think. What, do they use lead pipes on the West Bank?
GUESS WHERE THIS APPEARED:
Contrasting British servicemen and women with the appeasers, it is hard not to laugh. Are these two sides even the same species, let alone the same nationality? On one hand the selflessness and internationalism of the soldiers; on the other the Whites-First isolationism of the protesters. Excuse me, who are the idealists here? And is it a total coincidence that those stars most prominent in the anti-war movement are the most notoriously “difficult”and vain – Streisand, Albarn, Michael, Madonna, Sean Penn? And Robin Cook! Why might anyone believe world peace can be secured by this motley bunch?
Anti-war nuts suffer from the usual mixture of egotism and self-loathing that often characterises recreational depression – an unholy alliance of Oprahism and Meldrewism in which you think you’re scum, but also that you’re terribly important, too. For instance, what about the loony who offered to be crucified on live TV if George Bush promised not to invade Iraq? “Send your troops home and take me,” she wrote to the White House, adding later, “I don’t want to appear as some nutter.” Similarly, there are the human shields – now limping homewards after being shocked to discover, bless ’em, that Saddam wanted to stick them in front of military installations as opposed to the hospitals and petting zoos that they’d fondly imagined they were going to defend.
Follow the link. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway. Why, it’s almost something you might read here.
SARS UPDATE: MedPundit responds to Michael Fumento’s post downplaying the risk and notes (scroll up one post from the one this link goes to) that one WHO physician, an otherwise healthy 46-year-old, has died from it.
AUSTIN BAY looks at the limitations of wargaming in predicting wars, and also makes a risky prediction. And there’s this observation:
The Pacific island campaigns in WWII provide a historical example. Once organized Japanese resistance ceased and the allies had an island’s airfields and ports operating, the brass would declare the place “secure.” Infantry regiments would withdraw to refit for the next amphibious assault. The “major operation” was over– but tell that to the Navy SeaBees on the “secure island” who would scrap with snipers for months after the front had officially moved forward.
In Iraq the fedayeen’s low-level resistance could flicker for months. That’s one reason US Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki says peacekeeping in post-Saddam Iraq will require more ground troops.
Guerrillas need popular support, but the Iraqi people fear the fedayeen. British troops report civilians are telling them where the paramilitaries hide. The population isn’t protecting the fascists. That suggests pro-Saddam holdouts may use guerrilla tactics but they’re death squads, not a guerrilla force.
No, I’m not going to tell you his prediction. You’ll have to follow the link for that.
PEJMAN HAS MOVED, to a new URL, and with a much easier to read design. He says he was inspired by Gary Hart.
DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ: David Adesnik wonders why liberals aren’t more enthusiastic about it.
LEE HARRIS writes on the allure, and illusions, of cosmopolitanism.
BLOGCRITICS RADIO is now featuring music by Elliptical, Eric Olsen’s band. Check it out.
The beauty of the DMCA is that you almost have to use indie bands who’ll give you permission. So if you’ve got something that’s worth listening to, let ’em know!
A PEACE ACTIVIST SAYS “I WAS WRONG:”
Beginning that night and continuing on in the private homes of relatives with whom I stayed little by little the scales began to come off my eyes.
I had not realized it but began to realize that all foreigners in Iraq are subject to 24 hour surveillance by government `minders` who arrange all interviews, visits and contact with ordinary Iraqis. Through some fluke either by my invitation as a religious person and or my family connection I was not subject to any government `minders` at any time throughout my stay in Iraq.
As far as I can tell I was the only person including the media, Human Shields and others in Iraq without a Government `minder` there to guard.
What emerged was something so awful that it is difficult even now to write about it. Discussing with the head of our tribe what I should do as I wanted to stay in Baghdad with our people during their time of trial I was told that I could most help the Assyrian cause by going out and telling the story to the outside world.
Simply put, those living in Iraq, the common, regular people are in a living nightmare. From the terror that would come across the faces of my family at a unknown visitor, telephone call, knock at the door I began to realize the horror they lived with every day.
Over and over I questioned them `Why could you want war? Why could any human being desire war?` They’re answer was quiet and measured. `Look at our lives!`We are living like animals. No food, no car, no telephone, no job and most of all no hope.`
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Steven Levy writes on warblogging and leads off with Sean-Paul Kelley and The Command Post.
Meanwhile, Power Line compares an article in the Washington Post by reporter Alan Sipress with one that Sipress wrote during the Afghan war and finds surprising similarities. Or maybe not-so-surprising similarities:
Sipress is one of the loudest of the “this is turning out to be more difficult than we thought” chorus. Really, though, his own experience should warn him against getting too hysterical. On November 9, 2001, Sipress wrote an article in the Post titled “Vajpayee Says U.S. Wasn’t Ready for War”, in which he quoted, with obvious approval, the Indian Prime Minister who said that “the United States had not been adequately prepared for the [Afghanistan] campaign;” “it appears the Taliban are well entrenched;” “the U.S. military campaign has suffered from a lack of adequate intelligence;” and “the campaign [will] continue to move slowly” because “it appears America was not prepared for this kind of war.”
Kabul fell four days later.
Heh. Rand Simberg has sympathy for the press.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s Mark Steyn’s take on how it’s going:
In so far as the enemy has a strategy, it’s to use their own people as hostages. The ‘pockets of resistance’ in the southern towns have been able to make mischief because they blend in with the local populations. They know that Washington and its allies are concerned above all to avoid casualties among Iraqi civilians and, indeed, among your typical Iraqi conscripts. In other words, everything the Baath regime does is predicated on the moral superiority of their foe. If things were the other way round, if Iraq invaded Vermont and some diehard Yankees holed up on the outskirts of White River Junction and started firing on Saddam’s forces as they attempted to advance up the valley, the Republican Guard would think nothing of levelling the entire downtown area and everyone in it. Who’s going to complain? There’s no Baghdad ‘Not In Our Name’ movement.
So Harold ‘Poems R Us’ Pinter may think the Yanks are itching to massacre thousands of innocents, but the behaviour of the Baathist nutters suggests they know better: they assume Western decency.
His bottom line:
Well, speaking as someone not privy to the entrails of the Reuters chicken, let me go out on a limb here: the Anglo-Aussie-American forces will win. And the way they win will have tremendous implications for the years ahead.
Read the whole thing, as they say. And read Stephen Green’s thank-you to Britain — which is a lot more than just a “thank you.”
And, finally, David Adesnik rates the questions from yesterday’s Bush/Blair press conference and calls them “confrontational — and predictable.” Yep. They’re like sophomores, showing off for freshmen.
OKAY, ONE MORE: Read this bit of archival press criticism from Toren Smith.
BELOW, I refer to Prof. De Genova as a Holocaust denier, of sorts (he doesn’t deny it happened, he just thinks that through some sort of historical mumbojumbo the Jews have turned into the bad guys). But Tom Perry thinks De Genova is a Holocaust promoter for wishing for a “million Mogadishus:”
Obviously this is a dumb thing to say, and Columbia University must be a silly place. Just for a moment, let’s pretend de Genova meant it.
18 American soldiers died, and 73 were injured in the Battle of Mogadishu. Thus, De Genova would like to see 18 million American soldiers killed, and 73 million injured. That would account for everyone in the armed forces and most of the American militia, of which De Genova is a member.
Where do you want your bullet, doc?
Moving on, we find that De Genova would like to see approximately 750 million little brown foreigners mowed down by American machine guns. This is a conservative estimate, but it should be sufficient to take care of any problems we have with people in the Middle East. See, the great thing about American military defeats is, we always win!
Can do, chief!
Back in reality, we ask what de Genova was thinking. The answer: he wasn’t. Thinking is, like, passe, and so is meaning what you say.
Kind of sad, isn’t it, when a guy who goes by the handle “dipnut” is able to think and talk rings around a Columbia professor?
Sad — and, nowadays, utterly typical.
UPDATE: Here’s a firsthand account of the event, while Sarah Maserati wonders if Columbia would be defending De Genova’s free speech rights if he had called for a million Matthew Shepards. Some questions answer themselves, don’t they? But, see, to the folks at Columbia gay people are people. American soldiers are just oppressors.
Justin Katz has some further thoughts.
SAUDI ENVOY’S MYSTERY DEATH: I’m going to take a flyer and say that it was connected to the insurgency there.
IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY, go read Phil Carter’s blog. He has interesting observations on logistics, and a lot more.
Russian President Putin says that the war in Iraq has pushed the world into its most serious post-Cold-War crisis.
I think that it was the attacks on Washington and New York in September of 2001 which pushed the world into crisis. The only difference is that the US recognized that fact. Most of the rest of the world have been in denial about it ever since.
THE CNN BIT seemed to go okay, though it’s always hard to tell from in front of the camera. When you do these things, you don’t usually get a monitor, which means you’re sitting in a darkened room, with bright lights in your eyes, squinting (or, rather, trying not to squint) at the camera while tiny voices talk in your ear. You can’t see the graphics, you can’t tell what the host is doing, you can’t tell when you’re on the screen and when you’re not, etc., etc. The photo on the right, which I snapped while I was waiting to go on, is a typical view. I did manage to get a plug in for Kevin Sites’ blog, though, which probably won’t please the suits at CNN. (By the way, Xeni Jardin informs me that there’s a Kevin Sites blog fan-group discussion board now. Instead of the Scud Stud, he’s the Blog Stud!)
It’s a beautiful day here, as you can see from this image I snapped on the way back to the office, and I’m going to go enjoy it a bit. I’ve spent too much time huddled in front of a computer lately, and both body and soul need some sunshine. Back later.
THAT’LL BE ALL FOR ME FOR A WHILE: In the meantime, check out The Command Post, SgtStryker.com, The Agonist, StrategyPage, Steven Den Beste, and the many other fine weblogs linked to the left and below.
The CNN thing is supposed to air about 12:15. Like all TV, that’s subject to change at the last minute.
UDPATE: Read this piece, too. I agree that the biggest danger is an artificial timetable, and I’m happy to see that Bush and Blair seem determined to avoid one.
And read this account of aid and comfort from Columbia:
“The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military,” Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University told the audience at Low Library Wednesday night. “I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus.”
That kind of thing is an embarassment and a disgrace to the academic profession. Columbia should be ashamed. Even Eric Foner was embarrassed. And the people who said that Andrew Sullivan was being hysterical when he warned of a “Fifth Column” of academics and journalists who would actively root for America’s defeat owe Andrew an apology. Another one.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this piece by Eugene Volokh, which seems to expose De Genova as a Holocaust-denier, more or less. Why am I not surprised? Like a lot of people who say they’re “anti-war,” he’s really just on the other side. And lest anyone accuse me of “McCarthyism” for pointing that out, let me note that he says so himself.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Lou Dolinar forwards this suggestion, whcih actually came from a friend of his:
POWER TO THE PEOPLE — THE IRAQI PEOPLE
I’d like to share with you an idea that would help win the war in Iraq…and more importantly, help win the hearts and minds of its people — which we’ll need for lasting peace:
Our government should announce — soon — that the new postwar Iraqi administration will “personalize” the nation’s oil revenues by establishing an Iraqi national investment trust — The Iraqi People’s Freedom Trust — that will receive a major share — say, 50% — of all future Iraqi oil earnings.
The rest can go to central government and federal regional governments on some per capita basis.
Each Iraqi — man, woman or child — would be eligible for a personal investment account in the trust once they register as citizens of New Iraq. This is actually a fairly straightforward administrative issue to handle — given modern computing capacity, ID systems etc.
Funds in the trust may be invested in New Iraq government bonds, domestic equities, venture capital investments in Iraq or international markets. But legal ownership will be vested in each individual Iraqi — not the tribe, clan region, power-broker etc. Any Iraqi over age 21 may withdraw funds or borrow against their balances — for any reason at all.
The core models here are the Singapore Provident Fund and the existing system by which all Alaskan state citizens receive an annual check, representing their share of that state’s oil revenue.
The effect — immediately — would be to establish irrefutably that the U.S. is NOT waging this war to somehow steal Iraqi oil — but rather to return this resource to the benefit of the Iraqi people themselves — directly. One person at a time.
It would give all Iraqis a clear sense of the profound policy difference between liberators and corrupt thieves like the Ba’ath regime who have exploited, stolen and misused oil revenues in way that infuriate ordinary Iraqis — and endanger the world.
It would give the new state administration of free Iraq an immediate, directly appealing way to register citizens — and voters — and to reward their loyalty.
By ensuring that all Iraqis will have access — on reaching adulthood — to significant sources of money — it would spur entrepreneurship, revitalize the whole economy, distribute real resources to the most remote and poor regions of the country and create a very strong interest among all ethnic and confessional groups and tribes in ensuring their nation’s future stability.
We’re not talking small money here. Once its oil facilities are repaired and production is ramped up, Iraq can earn $50 billion a year from its oil. 50% of that would be about $1,000 a year per person…and funds would accumulate for young people to even more significant sums — until they came of age… I would suggest to you that such a proposal, properly structured and publicized, would have the kind of impact — in Iraq and on world opinion — that Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation did on the domestic politics — and nternational diplomacy — of our own Civil War. It would be the same kind of profoundly moral — and revolutionary — stroke.
I cannot, by God, think of a sharper, clearer bolt from the blue that would clarify what it means to “liberate” this country. And it is very hard to think of any long-term downside to this proposal.
I don’t have to tell you that centralized government control over oil and its revenues elsewhere in the world has very often been a spur to horrendous corruption, rent-seeking, and capital flight.
There’s a reason why many people refer to oil as “the Devil’s Excrement.” I believe we could turn that manure into fertilizer.
Fascinating. I’m not sure that it’s our oil to dispose of in this fashion, but I’d be interested in hearing what you think.
BBC CHIEF DENIES BIAS — while speaking at a meeting of “Media Workers Against the War.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Violent hate crimes quadrupled in France in 2002 to the highest level in a decade, with more than half the assaults aimed at Jews, a national study has found. . . .
In the report, the committee said 193 of 313 attacks were against Jews in a “real explosion” of anti-Semitic violence. Last year, the group reported 32 acts of anti-Jewish violence.
Hopefully, the explosion of antisemitism in Europe has peaked. We’ll see.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE: Roscoe Shrewsbury emails:
On the one hand, the Anti-American Class has been saying all along that Iraq is no threat to anyone; on the other, they are now crowing with trembling, barely-suppressed glee, that Iraq is far more formidable than anyone had supposed.
Yes, I’ve noticed that myself.
GARY HART IS BLOGGING.
STRATEGYPAGE has a daily roundup on the war. Here’s a bit from today’s, which is worth reading in its entirety for the kind of perspective that the TV coverage lacks:
The pundits are already making comparisons to Vietnam, but there are some important differences. The main one being that Saddam’s government is a brutal dictatorship that is unpopular with most of the population and that there are no nearby nations providing support for Saddam’s followers. Even the Iraqi government admits that it is cut off and not able to hold out for a long time. Saddam’s major weapon is media manipulation and turning himself into a heroic Arab folk hero, bravely fighting off the evil Western crusaders. The reality is different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reinvent yourself via the media. Madonna has done it several times. . . .
After one week of operations, U.S. forces have suffered 22 killed in combat, six dead in accidents (including two killed by a soldier attacking other soldiers in Kuwait). Seven troops are prisoners and 17 are missing. By historical standards, these are record lows in casualties for troops actively campaigning against an armed enemy.
Read the whole thing.
IS ALAN COWELL DEFENDING WAR CRIMES in advance? The Scrutineer thinks so, and makes a pretty damning case. Excerpt:
Apparently Cowell finds nothing illegal, let alone “dishonorable,” in faking surrender or disguising yourself as a woman so that you can more easily kill an enemy who spares your life to avoid committing a war crime. Allied commanders may “see” such tactics as dishonorable, but I guess they’re just biased.
Well, it certainly couldn’t be the Times, could it?
UPDATE: I wonder what Cowell would think if — as a “ruse of urban warfare” — we sent a bunch of special forces types in disguised as journalists. Sounds as if it might work:
A French TV crew got lost, while traveling with an American combat unit, and simply drove into Baghdad (where they found a hotel room and decided to stay for the attack on the city.)
Sure, a “ruse” like that would probably put journalists’ lives at risk, but hey — this is “urban warfare” and all bets are off. Right?
UPDATE: A reader suggests that this is too hard on Cowell, because he doesn’t come right out and defend the behavior of the Saddamites. No — but it’s all a matter of balance. If the United States were engaging in flagrant violation of the laws of war, would he maintain such a detached tone? I don’t think so.
JAMES LILEKS ISN’T HAPPY WITH THE TV COVERAGE:
TV is useful for pictures – I get the feeling sometimes this should be called Operation Stock Footage – and it’s useful for seeing retired military people draw lines on maps. . . .
The details never seem to filter into the TV reports – for all the embeddedness of the reportorial faction, I’ve yet to see a big smashing battle. The more you watch the more you realize how little you’re seeing.
Jason Kottke wrote something similar the other day:
I’ve had the TV on all afternoon, watching it while I work. Right now, I’m watching tiny pixelated people moving around on the deck of an aircraft carrier. This scene imparts absolutely no information, knowledge, or perspective to the viewer.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cranky says he hates the coverage — but, of course, he hates everything. And — at a more professional level — Martin Van Creveld says that “all the pictures shown on TV are color pieces which have no significance.”
I agree, and I’ve barely watched it. There’s more, and better news on the web. And this view transcends whether you’re pro-war or anti-war, as the quotes above illustrate. They’re just not doing a very good job.
UPDATE: Bryan Preston has some further thoughts.
MICHAEL FUMENTO writes that SARS is being overhyped. I hope he’s right.
“British forces have made significant discoveries in recent days which show categorically that Iraqi troops are prepared for the use of such horrific weapons.
“I want to make it clear that any Iraqi commander who sanctions the use of such weapons of mass destruction is committing a war crime and will be held personally responsible for his action.”
“Paperwork and other equipment” had been found in the command post search, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce said.
Meanwhile this report notes that “a woman believed to be one of the Iraqi regime’s top biological weapons scientists was seen in a televised meeting with President Saddam Hussein, U.S. officials said. It is not yet known, however, when that taped meeting took place.” Let’s hope it was an old tape. But there’s also this report of chemical weapons being readied.
Hey, I thought he didn’t have those?
IS THE BBC ENDANGERING SALAM PAX? Sounds like it.
I’m supposed to be on CNN later talking about warblogs, and I had talked them out of featuring Salam. Like it matters, when it’s been all over the BBC World Service, with lots of personal details. If he turns out to have been killed by Saddam’s goons, I’m going to very publicly blame the BBC.
UPDATE: A couple of people ask when I’m going to be on CNN. Looks like 12:15 EST, but there’s some sort of White House event that may kill it. Stay, er, tuned.
One person also asks why I’m slamming the BBC when I’ve linked to Salam myself. That’s a fair question. But what I haven’t done is release a lot of identifying details that have never been published online. The New Yorker did that, but took it off their website pretty quickly when people complained. Apparently, though, the BBC World Service — which is sure to be carefully monitored by whatever’s left of Iraqi intelligence services — repeated those details and maybe some more. My feelings on linking to Salam are that when you put stuff on the web, you expect for people to read it. He’s a big boy, and knows the risks better than we do. But putting up information that he hasn’t seen fit to make public seems to me to be crossing a line.