Archive for March, 2003

March 27, 2003

DORIS LESSING WRITES on the disaster that is Robert Mugabe. A must-read.

March 27, 2003

LOTS OF NEWS ON THE SARS VIRUS over at Gweilo Diaries (plus a cool Jennifer Capriati item) and medpundit. Though this will probably turn out to be nothing serious, as many similar scares have, it’s starting to worry me a bit.

March 27, 2003

ALAN BRAIN WRITES that it’s Western Germany in 1945 all over again:

Coalition forces are now within 100 km of Baghdad, and still rolling forward. It’s virtually a replay of May, 1945 in Western Germany. Even with some of the original cast. Many conscripts who surrender at the first opportunity. Small pockets of Nazi – or in this case, Ba’athist – fanatics, who, knowing their own crimes, are prepared to fight to the death in ambushes. A populace going about their normal lives, just wanting for it to be all over, and deeply mistrustful of the Liberators. Some people who think “Saddam’s a bastard, but he’s our bastard.” Some people who are saying “Thank God you came when you did, what kept you?”.

I’d expect more of the same. When we get to Baghdad, there may be some street-clearing operations, if the opposition isn’t too high. Until recently I didn’t think there would be, but from all reports the Coalitions MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) doctrine and training are paying off, with far fewer civilian and friendly casualties than could reasonably have been expected. But more likely we’ll hold off, and let the Free Iraq Forces currently in training go in, identify who the Ba’athists are, and get the Iraqi populace to actively aid us.

This too is already happening – considerable support has been given on-camera by Iraqis pointing out where the Ba’athist Werewolves are holed up.

I hope he’s right. I think he is. Just read this:

Residents of the southern Iraqi city of Basra are helping coalition forces to arrest Iraqi militiamen, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, said in an interview.

“We are receiving a lot of help from Basra residents who are directing us to the positions of the Iraqi armed forces, to Baath officials and hideouts of Saddam’s Fedayeen,” Myers told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite network.

Stay tuned.

March 27, 2003

HERE’S A SPEECH BY DAVID GELERNTER, delivered at the Yale pro-war rally mentioned below.

March 27, 2003


AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands — The man accused of assassinating Dutch anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn has told judges he acted on behalf of the country’s Muslims. . . .

Van der Graaf, a father-of-one, allegedly confessed to the killing last November, saying he was worried Fortuyn was gaining too much power and posed a threat to “vulnerable members of society.”

Lots of Euros feel this way about the United States.

March 27, 2003

RANDOM OBSERVATION #1: Funny, isn’t it, that Osama bin Laden hasn’t released a statement — even a fuzzy tape recording — praising Saddam’s resistance and blasting the U.S. effort in Iraq. It’s like he’s not even alive, or something. . . .

Observation #2, from Nelson Ascher:

Before the war in Iraq there was much speculation about the possibility of a second front being opened, against Israel, either by the Palestinians, the Lebanese Hezbollah, or both. However, all of them seem to be lying low right now and none seems to be craving much attention. I’d say this is a good sign that even they agree that Saddam is not the favourite horse in this race.

Yeah. Possibly they figure that Israel will be able to retaliate against them without worrying about much world attention. And maybe it’s hard to recruit killers when Saddam’s financial support looks doubtful.

March 27, 2003


Near Basra, Iraq: British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein’s forces against allied troops near Basra.

At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden’s network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war.

It was believed that last night (Thursday) British forces were preparing a military strike on the base where the al-Qaeda unit was understood to be holed up.

A senior British military source inside Iraq said: “The information we have received from PoWs today is that an al-Qaeda cell may be operating in Az Zubayr. There are possibly around a dozen of them and that is obviously a matter of concern to us.”

If terrorists are found, it would be the first proof of a direct link between Saddam’s regime and Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

The connection would give credibility to the argument that Tony Blair used to justify war against Saddam – a “nightmare scenario” in which he might eventually pass weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.

Hmm. It was Tom Holsinger who suggested this, based on the tactics the “Fedayeen” were using. Looks like he might be right.

Looks like some other people, who said it was absurd to see a Saddam/Osama connection, might be wrong.

And looks like Austin Bay, who said that invading Iraq would smoke out Al Qaeda, is right, too.

March 27, 2003

MICKEY KAUS has a lengthy obituary for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Worth reading. Plus: Good news about welfare reform!

March 27, 2003

TONY ADRAGNA HAS more thoughts on liberation theology. Conclusion: “There is certainly room for justifying our instant war along the lines of the church’s theology on liberation. But, let’s be careful to distnguish this from what the Latin American authors taught.”

March 27, 2003

THE GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS: Good news — the French government finally seems to be getting some vague idea of how much damage Chirac’s chicanery has done to U.S./French relations. The bad news — they still can’t get it right:

With French-American relations severely strained over the conflict in Iraq, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France offered an olive branch to Washington today — but immediately declined to say explicitly who he hoped would win the war for Baghdad.

And even as he insisted that France stood ready for reconciliation with Washington, the French official delivered an impassioned attack on American plans to sideline the United Nations and assume the leading role in running post-war Iraq.

This, of course, is only going to make things worse. I thought the French were supposed to be sophisticated where diplomacy was concerned.

March 27, 2003


Do not believe any commentator who says that a rising surge of “nationalism” is preventing Iraqis from greeting U.S. and British troops in the streets with open arms. What is preventing them from rising up and taking over the streets of their cities is confusion about American intentions and fear of the murderous brown-shirt thugs known as the Fedayeen Saddam, who are leading the small-arms-fire attacks on American and British soldiers. The coalition forces have an urgent need to send clear and unmistakable signals to the people of Iraq that unlike in 1991, there is no turning back from the destruction of Saddam Hussein. . . .

The United States needs to understand that Iraqis do not get CNN. They have not heard constant iterations of how Saddam’s demise is imminent. More importantly, they have not seen it demonstrated. American forces so far have been content to position themselves outside southern Iraqi cities; they have only just began to disrupt Iraqi TV, which is Saddam’s principal tool of maintaining psychological control over Iraq; and, above all, they have not allowed Iraqis to go in and organize the population, a task which we are very eager to carry out.

Read the whole thing.

March 27, 2003

IRANIAN STATE-CONTROLLED MEDIA are taking a strongly pro-Iraqi, anti-American line. Iranian viewers aren’t buying the slant.

State television marks its war coverage with a logo reading “War of Dominance,” and broadcast media without fail call the United States and Britain the “aggressors” in their campaign to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

This is despite Iran’s official policy of “active neutrality” on the war.

“Some media coverage of the war gives the impression of defending (Iraq’s) Ba’ath regime,” Rajabali Mazroui, a pro-reform parliamentarian, was quoted as saying in a newspaper. “State media are not safeguarding our national interests.”

One analyst who asked not to be named said: “Iranian television has become like Iraqi television. Its reports about the war obviously take the side of the Iraqi regime.” . . .

Many viewers are tuning into Western radio and television instead. “Why should I watch Iranian television when it is trying to brainwash me with its one-sided coverage?” said Ali, a 33-year-old engineer. . . .

The (the official media) should not make our decisions for us. I want them to just offer straight facts,” said Abbaseh, a 38-year-old housewife,

The use of satellite dishes is officially prohibited in Iran but many Iranians ignore the ban.

“I bought a satellite receiver two days after the war started,” said Fariba, a teacher. “Before that I felt out of touch with the world.”

Heh. Of course, by taking a pro-Saddam line the increasingly-unpopular Iranian clerics are only boosting America’s reputation in Iran.

March 27, 2003

I JUST SPOKE TO A WOMAN FROM CNN who said that The Command Post is very popular in their newsroom today. I love that.

March 27, 2003

THE LEMON is a parody of The Onion — and this one is pretty funny.

March 27, 2003

CANADA’S HOUSE OF COMMONS HAS unanimously voted in favor of trying Saddam Hussein for war crimes:

The motion, adopted unanimously by the house of commons, parliament’s elected chamber, calls on the government to help “bring to justice Saddam Hussein and all other Iraqi officials responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity and war crimes – including through the formation of an international criminal tribunal.”

I suspect it’ll be a posthumous trial, but I appreciate the sentiment, which is a blow to Kofi Annan-style moral equivalence — one that is even more stinging coming from the Canadians.

March 27, 2003

I’M ALL FOR PATRIOTISM, and even for cyberwar against terrorism, but I’m not so keen on things like hacking Al Jazeera’s website.

Okay, so they’re a sleazy propaganda arm. But hey — so’s Reuters! And it’s just not the same as hacking, say, Al Qaeda or Taliban sites.

Am I wrong about this? I don’t think I am.

March 27, 2003

DANIEL DREZNER writes that Michael Ledeen (see post below) is being too hard on the European Union. He’s right as far as he goes — but Ledeen’s really writing about French diplomacy, not EU diplomacy (even though France is using Turkey’s desire to enter the EU), so that I think this is apples-and-oranges to some degree.

March 27, 2003

WHY LIBERATION THEOLOGY supports liberating Iraq.

Well, yeah.

UPDATE: Tony Adragna has more.

March 27, 2003

COMING INTO WORK today I saw the headline on the local paper, and it seemed like one of those things you expect to see in an old newspaper, the kind you might find in a closet at your grandparents: “PARATROOPS OPEN NEW FRONT IN NORTH.”

But it’s today. Of course, one way you know it’s today is you can see the same headline on their webpage, and what’s more, if you go there you’ll see that the Knoxville News-Sentinel is linking to Howard Owens’ Ventura Star warblog. I wonder how many papers are doing that now?

March 27, 2003


One other thing Mugabe shares with Hitler . . . he and others in his government are free to move as they want across Europe.

With the help, of course, of the French.

March 27, 2003

A PRO-WAR RALLY AT YALE got a good deal of coverage. There’s even video. Go here (click on “Pro-War Rally at Yale”), here, and here.

March 27, 2003

THERE’S NOW A GERMAN FRIENDS OF AMERICA SITE, which Fredrik Norman will soon be adding to his Friends of America Network.

March 27, 2003

HERE’S A STORY on the Patriot Act debate that I moderated yesterday, in case you’re interested.

March 27, 2003

EVER NOTICE HOW IRAQI IMMIGRANTS DON’T SEEM AS PESSIMISTIC as, well, a lot of people who have never been to Iraq? Here’s another piece, from Singapore’s Straits Times of all places, sounding that theme:

I AM half Iraqi and residing in Singapore, and I would like to inform all your readers that nine in 10 Iraqis welcome the American invasion of Iraq. The 1/10 are linked to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The invasion should be seen through the eyes of the Iraqi people. Whether there is war or no war, Iraqis are dying.

Allow me to recap Saddam’s murderous 24 years in power. . . .

This reduced a once rich and proud nation to misery and poverty. So, where does it all end?

I quote my father: ‘We Iraqis need an electric shock; we, an intelligent and cultured people, allowed a thug to rise to power and lead Iraq from one disaster to another. If the electric shock comes in the form of an American invasion, then so be it.’

To all those who are anti-war, I suggest that they go to Iraq and experience life in Saddam’s Iraq.

They will soon change their view and understand why Iraqis await the day when they are rescued from the evil regime.

Meanwhile, Susanna Cornett has much, much more on this theme. She also thinks that the Iraqi immigrant communities around the world will have a lot to offer the reconstruction effort in Iraq. That’s certainly how things are going in Afghanistan.

March 27, 2003

STEVEN DEN BESTE has some thoughts on why antiwar protests are so offensive and lame — even though it seems counterproductive for them to be that way. Interesting theory.

March 27, 2003

YESTERDAY THE SUPREME COURT HEARD ARGUMENTS in Lawrence v. Texas, the Texas sodomy case. Not surprisingly, Andrew Sullivan has a lot to say. He also points us to this account of the oral argument, by Dahlia Lithwick. Breyer’s comments are quite amusing.

I’ve written on this before — you can read my column from December here, in which I point out that state supreme courts have been reversing sodomy laws right and left, without significant controversy, under their state constitutions, and suggest that the Supreme Court could learn a lot from those opinions. You might also want to read this amicus brief written by Boston University law professor Randy Barnett and the Institute for Justice, and this law review article that Dave Kopel and I wrote a couple of years ago, which discusses the state sodomy decisions at considerable length.

Me, I’m pro-sodomy. And, in the rather unlikely event that I’m ever before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ll dare ’em to make an issue of it.

UPDATE: Eric Muller has a rather Freudian observation regarding a comment of Justice Scalia’s at oral argument yesterday. [That’s twice you’ve referred to “oral” argument in this sodomy case. — Ed. Not you, too! Sheesh! Back to Kausfiles, where you belong.]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Clayton Cramer takes a rather different view of these issues than I do.

March 26, 2003

ANATOLE KALETSKY writes in the Times about who has won and lost from diplomacy. Big losers: Germany, Russia, and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Michael Ledeen writes that Turkish non-cooperation, which may well cost American lives, was the result of French threats:

The leaders insisted on a disciplined “no” vote because of pressure — some would call it blackmail — from France and Germany.

The French and German governments informed the Turkish opposition parties that if they voted to help the Coalition war effort, Turkey would be locked out of Europe for a generation. As one Turkish leader put it, “there were no promises, only threats.”

One can describe this behavior on the part of our erstwhile Old Europe allies only as a deliberate act of sabotage against America in time of war. . . .

I think that when the events of the past few months are sorted out, we will find that French actions constitute the diplomatic equivalent of chemical and biological warfare.

Monsieur Chirac has stopped at nothing to try to prevent the defeat of Saddam Hussein, no matter how many American lives it cost.

And, more often than not, the Germans tagged along for the ride.

Damning stuff — and when you read these two items together, it really does look as if we’ve faced betrayal every bit as big as some bloggers have been saying for months.

March 26, 2003

WHY FRANCE, GERMANY, AND RUSSIA are opposing us. An interesting analysis from a surprising source.

Jacob T. Levy, meanwhile, writes in The New Republic on why Australia and Poland are our friends.

March 26, 2003

CINDERELLA HAS TRANSLATED an interview with Pascal Bruckner from Le Figaro. It’s well worth reading in its entirety, but here’s an excerpt:

LF:Is Europe currently in the process of leaving history, as Robert Kagan, a man close to the American administration, claims?

PB: Europe is characterized by the desire to leave history for good, including its own history. One of the most obvious signs was its passivity in the face of the Yugoslavian crisis, which it only emerged from in 1995, in Sarajevo, then in 1999, in Kosovo, thanks to American intervention. In 1999, in the Kosovo affair, Europe was so insistent that NATO strikes on Serbia and Montenegro should be kept to a minimum that the American general responsible for operations exclaimed: “No more interventions with partners like this!”

He is, however, somewhat pessimistic regarding Iraqi reconstruction even though he supports the removal of Saddam.

March 26, 2003


The Arab press — hysterical in every sense of the word — is in a lather over civilian casualties in Iraq. America will pay the price sooner that it thinks. There are no limits to American injustice and highhandedness. Despite its power and tyranny America will not win because it has no humanitarian values. And that was before the missiles went astray this morning, apparently killing as many as 15 people. Hell, 15 dead: that’s a quiet day in the Arab world. Even imagining the United States was targeting civilians, its efforts are laughable compared with Saddam — 5,000 dead in the chemical attack on Halabja in one day — or Assad — 30,000 shelled to death in Hama — or pretty much any other Arab ruler. Arab governments — and their press and public — should first practice moral judgment on themselves and eachother, before turning their outrage on the United States. And, before they complain about a new hectoring colonialism, they should first show they’re capable of governing themselves by some means other than torture and massacre.

Let’s put that one in the Arab News!

And those guys really, really don’t want to see what the results will be if the United States ever decides to pursue a “no limits” strategy rather than the almost absurdly careful approach it’s following now. One can only imagine how, say, Syria — or, hell, France — would be acting if it possessed a similar degree of power.

Meanwhile Michael Totten has a post on how things are actually going on the humanitarian front.

March 26, 2003

STRATEGYPAGE lists the top ten myths of the Iraq war:

4-The United States armed Saddam. This one grew over time, but when Iraq was on its weapons spending spree from 1972 (when its oil revenue quadrupled) to 1990, the purchases were quite public and listed over $40 billion worth of arms sales. Russia was the largest supplier, with $25 billion. The US was the smallest, with $200,000. A similar myth, that the U.S. provided Iraq with chemical and biological weapons is equally off base. Iraq requested Anthrax samples from the US government, as do nations the world over, for the purpose of developing animal and human vaccines for local versions of Anthrax. Nerve gas doesn’t require technical help, it’s a variant of common insecticides. European nations sold Iraq the equipment to make poison gas.

You’ll have to go there for the other nine.

March 26, 2003



Regime Change At CNN ‘On Track,’ Rumsfeld Says

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon today that the U.S. has succeeded in removing Connie Chung from the airwaves, a primary objective of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“To those critics who would say that this campaign isn’t moving quickly enough, let me say this: it’s only been a week and we’ve already gotten Connie Chung’s show cancelled,” Rumsfeld said. “Goodness gracious, I’d say we’re on track.”

Secretary Rumsfeld reminded reporters that regime change at CNN was the ultimate goal of the military campaign in Iraq, and that the removal of Ms. Chung from the schedule “goes a long way” towards achieving that goal.

Read the whole thing.

March 26, 2003

I WAS ON “MORNING EDITION” THIS MORNING, along with Mickey Kaus and some other folks, talking about war rhetoric. You can stream the audio here — just scroll down to the “war rhetoric” story.

Blogging will be light for a while. I’m moderating a debate over the Patriot Act and wartime civil liberties here between CATO’s Tim Lynch and Heritage’s Paul Rosenszweig. I’ll be appropriately neutral, but you can get some idea of my feelings here.

In the meantime, there’s The Command Post and The Agonist — though the latter seems to be down at the moment.

Also, Austin Bay’s columns have been collected on the Iraq War Diary page. And this comment on racism from Eugene Volokh is extremely apt. See you later.

Oh, and read this post on what freed Guantanamo detainees say about conditions there. It’s not beer-and-skittles, but it’s hardly inhuman, either.

UPDATE: Still not really back, but I’ve got a few observations on Iraqi reconstruction over at and Daniel Drezner has good posts on de-Ba’athification and on how various dictators around the world are taking advantage of the war to violate human rights in their own countries. And here’s something interesting about internal dissent at the BBC over slanted war coverage.

March 26, 2003

CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES is over at Shanti Mangala’s place this week. Check out the wide variety of posts from a wide variety of bloggers you might otherwise have missed.

March 26, 2003


Look. These are the coffins of six members of the United States Air Force. They did not die as a result of enemy fire. They died while attempting to transport Afghani children to a US medical facility for treatment. That is what the United States does. To all those who say, “…but what about Afghanistan? We haven’t fixed it yet…” and other such whining, I say: screw you. Six brave airmen died trying to make life better for children and their families who were brutalized under a tyrannical theocratic regime. Show me any other nation that does this as a matter of routine, 99% of the time without any press or media attention.

It ain’t the French. (Via James Rummel).

March 26, 2003

PHILIPPE DE CROY spots more poll spinning, this time at The New York Times:

NYT SPIN WATCH. Today’s New York Times has an article titled “Opinions Begin to Shift as Public Weighs War Costs.” It’s a report of a new poll the newspaper has run. Given the headline, what would you expect such an article to say? The implication, it seems to me, is that support for the war is declining as the costs of it become more evident. But as you read the article, you see that it focuses instead on (a) public perceptions about how well the war is going and how soon it will be over; and (b) whether support for the war is the same among blacks and whites. It is made very clear that opposition to the war among the former group runs high. And there is mention that opinions about the war generally are in “flux” in part because “many Americans say they remain unsure of Mr. Bush’s rationale for the conflict.” Okay, okay, but what about the basic overall question of whether Americans are supporting the war?

Not to worry; that question is discussed as well — in the eighteenth and last paragraph of the story: “Support for Mr. Bush and the war remains high. By 70 percent to 24 percent, Americans believe that the United States did not make a mistake getting involved in Iraq.”


I’m shocked, shocked to find such things going on at the Times of all places.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs has some thoughts on this, too.

March 26, 2003

AUSTIN BAY HAS A NEW COLUMN up. I don’t know why they don’t have him on CNN et al., in place of the many talking-heads they do have — he makes a lot more sense.

March 26, 2003

PEOPLE KEEP SENDING ME LINKS to an alleged “GRU site” featuring Russian analysis. I wasn’t very impressed when I looked at it, as much of it sounds suspiciously like stuff I heard at the beginning of the Afghan war from the same kinds of sources. Anyway, Jurjen has a pretty convincing post on why they’re, ahem, not reliable.

He’s got a lot of other interesting posts, too. Just keep scrolling.

March 26, 2003


March 26, 2003

ISRAELI EXPERTS say that there is so much disinformation about that it is impossible to assess the actual progress of the war. That’s my sense, too. Best quote:

Most of those interviewed agree that, paradoxically, despite the unprecedented media coverage of the war, including the many correspondents who are embedded in fighting units, nobody knows what is really happening in Iraq. Yossi Peled, former GOC Northern Command, thinks the U.S. has shown great skill in its control of the media. “You have lots of television crews in the field, yet as someone watching TV you have no overall picture.”

Military historian Prof. Martin van Creveld goes further: “Everyone is lying about everything all the time, and it is difficult to say what is happening. I’ve stopped listening. All the pictures shown on TV are color pieces which have no significance.”

“There is a lot of disinformation,” he concludes. “Every word that is spoken is suspect.”

Shahak says that until now the Americans have managed to conceal their true battle plan. “Do you know what the Americans have planned? I don’t. They also never said (what they were planning to do). How do you topple a regime in 48 hours? In a week? Seventeen days? If we don’t want to make fools of ourselves, we should wait patiently. It would just be arrogant to judge from what we see on TV.”

What’s been frustrating about the television coverage is exactly what Van Creveld describes: lots of information, none of it adding up to a very useful big picture. Which, I suspect, is the point. (Via The Command Post).

March 26, 2003

ANTI-AMERICANISM, “New Class” sensibilities, and the media: My TechCentralStation column is up.

March 25, 2003


I don’t what I expected when I first started blogging, sending ones and zeros out into the darkness. Thank you letters from soldier’s wives were not anywhere on the horizon, I know that. Nor was hate mail, for that matter, though when it came it was much less of a surprise than the e-mail above.

Read the whole thing, from a guy who’s a lot more of a power-hitter than he admits.

March 25, 2003

TED BARLOW is unhappy with the idea of Barbara Bodine as an important administrator in postwar Iraq. I don’t know much about her, but he’s got a lot of links — though many of them don’t really seem to suggest that she’s as bad as his post suggests, and some cut the other way. Ditto some of the comments to his post. So if you go there, read everything.

I genuinely have no opinion on her suitability or not for the job, but I do think that — although at one level it seems premature to be talking about postwar stuff when the war is just starting — the postwar follow-through is likely to be at least as important as the war. My MSNBC post for tomorrow is on that. I think that a lot of us — me included, sometimes — are spending a lot of time reading minute-by-minute reports that are fragmentary and often wrong, and not enough time thinking about the big picture.

UPDATE: Several readers seem to think that Gen. John Abizaid, who interestingly is a favorite of Aziz Poonawalla, will really be calling the shots on Iraqi reconstruction. Stay tuned.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Hobbs likes Abizaid, too, and has some more information on him.

March 25, 2003

I’LL BE ON BBC RADIO 5 in about twenty minutes, at roughly 10:50 Eastern.

In the meantime, watch this Canadian debate on the war. The one big loser is Chretien.

UPDATE: I’m on hold right now. They called me and said “hello, Salam!” But apparently Salam Pax won’t actually be on — they’re having an impersonator read from his weblog or something. We’ll see.

ANOTHER UPDATE: It went well enough, I think. I was uncomfortable doing a show that mentioned Salam, but the producer told me that they’ve already done that a number of times, so I guess it’s not making anything worse — and I don’t think my presence made any difference anyway. But Salam, if you’re reading this, you’ve developed an awfully high profile lately. You might want to drop out of sight for a while. It’ll be over soon enough (well, not soon enough), and you can blog then. People will still care.

I hope that some of the first journalists into Baghdad once this is over will track Salam down and interview him. Once this is over.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Al Barger says we don’t need to worry about Salam.

March 25, 2003


Iraqi troops fired artillery pieces horizontally into crowds of their own people last night after a civilian uprising in Basra, the second city.

Watching British troops encircling the city of 1.3 million inhabitants said there were “horrific” scenes. One officer said: “We have seen a large crowd on the streets. The Iraqis are firing artillery at their own people. There will be carnage.”

The French are still defending him. And they’ll probably try to blame the U.S. and Britain for the slaughter. But they want a piece of the action once Saddam’s gone.

Screw ’em. We ought to help the new Iraqi government extradite Chirac as a war criminal.

UPDATE: On the bright side, several readers note, the fact that they’re demanding a piece of the action makes clear how the French think things will go. Heh. Yeah, Saddam wouldn’t appreciate that, would he? Me, I feel about the French the way Joe Lieberman feels about the U.N.

March 25, 2003

A NICE INFOGRAPHIC of the war to date. (Via Jeff Jarvis’s warblog).

March 25, 2003

MIKE CAMPBELL REPORTS that Canadian voters want better relations with the United States.

March 25, 2003

THE FRENCH CONNECTION: Gregg Easterbrook writes:

Saddam’s professional army is now fighting like it doesn’t plan to give up–exactly as the French fought in the early days of the Nazi attack in 1940. And that makes perfect sense: Saddam’s professional army doesn’t yet have to give up because it still has men and materiel. But every day it will have less of both, while every day the United States has more, as more forces enter the region. France in 1940 went from determined resistance to collapse almost without warning. This may still happen to Iraq, just not the in 48 or 72 hours that commentators foolishly predicted.

Read the whole thing.

March 25, 2003

IRAQI TROOPS have set the oil trenches around Baghdad on fire.

Perhaps this isn’t to keep us out, but to keep Iraqis in — as with the earlier Hussayn, Mohammed’s grandson, who lit a flaming trench to cut off his own retreat. (He died shortly thereafter, I recall. But isn’t he a Shi’a hero?)

March 25, 2003

ANICK JESDANUN discovers the price of reading weblogs: time. Heh.

On the other hand, this article by Gary Mullinax quotes me as saying something I never said. At least, I don’t remember it, it doesn’t sound like me, and it doesn’t show up in my site search.

I’ve emailed him.

UPDATE: He’s quoting Jonathan Last — it’s just clumsily worded so that it sounds like he’s quoting me. Here’s where I linked Last’s piece. Kind of weird that he quotes Last at such length, and in such a way, in a piece about blogs.

March 25, 2003

EGYPTIAN DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST Saad Eddin Ibrahim has been acquitted. This is good news.

(Via Hesiod).

March 25, 2003

I GUESS WE’RE JUST CONTRARY: Best quote on blogs and war this week is this one from Nick Denton:

“It’s standard Weblog style when everybody’s enthusiastic to say, `Wait a minute, war is ugly,’ ” said Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker, a Weblog devoted to New York news. “So when talking cable heads start to get gloomy, the Weblogs’ natural tendency is to say, `Well, it was always going to be difficult.’ “

Yep. (Via Reid Stott, who has lots of stuff worth reading).

March 25, 2003

TIM BLAIR has the last word on the Dixie Chicks: “Commercial reality is a bitch-stomp corrective to the anti-war artistic elite. Who knew their price was so low?”

Ouch. No wonder so many people fear him.

March 25, 2003


“JUST 38 PERCENT [OF AMERICANS] SAID THE CONFLICT WAS GOING WELL ON MONDAY,” says the first paragraph of an Associated Press story, citing a Pew poll. Uh, no. As the story says about ten paragraphs down, that’s the fraction who said the conflict was going very well.

The Pew summary of the poll seems to say that 41% said it was going fairly well; there’s a bit of ambiguity in how the summary describes this, but I think that’s what they’re saying. Thus, about 80% think it’s going well — in the sense of fairly well to very well — and “[o]nly 8% went as far as to say the war effort was not going well.” Surprisingly, none of this made its way into the AP story.

For shame.

March 25, 2003

H.D. MILLER writes on “The Moral Idiocy of James Carroll,” whose Boston Globe op-ed today has achieved what Miller calls a “trifecta of fecklessness.”

Personally, I think Miller is being overkind.

March 25, 2003


The bombs have begun to fall on Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers have shot their officers and are giving themselves up to the Americans and the British in droves. Others, as in Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr, are fighting back, and civilians have already come under fire. Yet I find myself dismissing contemptuously all the e-mails and phone calls I get from antiwar friends who think they are commiserating with me because “their” country is bombing “mine.” To be sure, I am worried. Like every other Iraqi I know, I have friends and relatives in Baghdad. I am nauseous with anxiety for their safety. But still those bombs are music to my ears. They are like bells tolling for liberation in a country that has been turned into a gigantic concentration camp. One is not supposed to say such things in the kind of liberal, pacifist, and deeply anti-American circles of academia, in which I normally live and work. The truth is jarring even to my own ears.

If you want to understand the perceptual chasm that separates how Iraqis view this second Gulf war from how the rest of the Arab-Muslim world views it–or from how these antiwar elites here in Cambridge or, dare I say, in Turtle Bay or Paris or Berlin view it–then you must begin with the war that has already been waged on the people of Iraq by their own regime. Then you will know, horribly, how the explosion of a JDAM can sound beautiful. For Iraqis, the absence of this new American-led war is not the presence of peace.

Read the whole thing.

March 25, 2003

JIM DUNNIGAN HAS SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS on where the war is going, why Iraqi TV is still on the air, and what the Big Media folks aren’t getting.

UPDATE: Read this, too. And there’s a great roundup, as every day, over at Winds of Change.

March 25, 2003


Portland Fire Bureau officials Monday ordered U.S. flags removed from downtown fire engines, concerned that their presence might provoke dangerous confrontations with antiwar demonstrators. . . .

“Protesters have threatened our personnel and are burning flags in the street,” the memo said. “We do not want extremists attacking our apparatus or our personnel.”

Want to see more political violence in America? Then just keep rewarding it this way. Once people figure out that it works, you’ll see a lot more.

UPDATE: Portland has backed down. Let’s hope Iowa does the same.

March 25, 2003

HERE’S A NICE, CLEAR SURVEY ARTICLE ON NANOTECHNOLOGY by Kelly Hearn in the Christian Science Monitor. It mentions a lot of new nano-products that I didn’t know about.

March 25, 2003

UPRISING AGAINST SADDAM? There are a number of reports of one in Basra. Stay tuned. Here’s more.

UPDATE: Here’s a new AP story on Basra.

March 25, 2003

A THIRD GUILTY PLEA in the Lackawanna Al Qaeda case.

March 25, 2003

JUST IN CASE THE WAR ISN’T ENOUGH, here’s something to worry about:

The World Health Organisation mulled global travel restrictions as the incidence of a deadly respiratory disease escalated in Hong Kong and Singapore quarantined more than 700 people to contain its spread. . . .

As 25 more new SARS cases were reported in Hong Kong, the WHO head office in Geneva said a meeting planned on Tuesday will determine if there is need to impose travel restrictions to stem the spread of SARS, which manifests itself as a form of pneumonia.

Though it will probably turn out to be nothing major, this bothers me — particularly as I suspect that, through a combination of deliberate cover-up and simple underreporting, there are a lot more cases than we know about.

UPDATE: A friend who does business in China emails:

I cancelled my trip to Guang Dong, China, scheduled for the first week of April, because of SARS. I always fly into Hong Kong, then take a train or boat up to our factories in mainland China. I figured it wasn’t worth the risk. It’s funny that the illness is labeled SARS, and Hong Kong is called SAR.

This, of course, is why the Chinese have been downplaying it.

March 25, 2003


“The war in Afghanistan, the one (Bush) should never have declared, has run into trouble. Just a few weeks into it and it’s obvious that the United States is fighting blind. The enemy is unknown, and the enemy’s country is terra incognita. We have virtually no one we can trust who can speak the languages of the people involved. With all our firepower and our technical assets and our spy satellites, it looks like we don’t know if we’re coming or going. …

“We are mapless, we are lost, and we are distracted by gusts of wishful thinking. That our high command could believe the Afghani peasantry or even the Taliban would change sides after a few weeks of bombing! This is fantasizing in high places. …

“Moreover, as hellish as the Taliban are, it appears that the ordinary people of Afghanistan prefer them to the brigands and bandits with whom we’ve been trying to make common cause … .”

Nicholas von Hoffman, November 14, 2001, quoted over at The Corner.

March 25, 2003

TIM BLAIR is handing out freedom beanies.

March 25, 2003


March 25, 2003

HERE’S A NICE ARTICLE on journalist warblogging by Hiawatha Bray. There’s also one on military bloggers in the Wall Street Journal today, by Matthew Rose, but it’s subscriber-only.

UPDATE: Here’s another by Dan Gillmor, and one by beloved-of-the-blogosphere Alex Beam.

March 25, 2003


In just five days all this has been achieved! And while the most grisly parts of the campaign still lie ahead, all the worst fears have gone unrealized, so far.

More, still, could have been achieved, in this very short time, had the Americans and their allies not been playing to the most exacting moral rules ever devised for warfare. They are restricted by, for instance, a general order not to engage any target at all — including snipers and saboteurs within towns — unless they have a clear sight of it. They allowed, for instance, a dozen Republican Guard to fire rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at Apache helicopters from the roof of a building in one location south of Baghdad, entirely unmolested, because the helicopter pilots, who could have taken them out in a few quick keystrokes, couldn’t be sure of avoiding “collateral damage” to civilians who might be lurking in the building below. Giving the benefit of the doubt to surrendering soldiers cost most of the U.S. Marine casualties so far, in a single incident near Nasiriyah, as a suicide ambush was mounted under cover of white flags.

Even media folks are starting to notice. As Sgt. Stryker reports in the post I link below:

Dan Abrams of MSNBC is pissed. It’s kind of wierd to see a television anchorman displaying frustration and disbelief at certain things going on. The whole thing about the Iraqis dressing in civilian clothes and shooting from protected sites has really stuck in his craw. First he hammered Gen. Trainer about it, and the General explained LOAC and all that good stuf, but Abrams just wasn’t buying it. I tlooked to me that he just wanted to blurt out, “Why can’t we blow up that mosque, if they’re killing Marines?”

Then he had a retired JAG on and hammered him about the same thing. And then I heard something I thought I’d never hear an “objective” journalist say, and I paraphrase, “So our guys have to check with lawyers before they fire back? So we have these self-imposed rules that lawyers impose on our troops and the government imposes on itself and now Marines are dead because of it.” That last line was a statement, not a question. The JAG guy’s trying to explain about PR and the rest of it, but Abrams was on a roll. “Those Arab TV networks are going to show us supposedly targeting and killing civilians no matter what we do while we follow the Rules of War.” It was nothing short of astonishing to hear that. I don’t know what prompted all this. Perhaps he saw the tape of the Americans executed and exploited on TV. Who knows? But man, it was something to see.

That last is the question, isn’t it? It’s one thing to be merciful and careful above-and-beyond-the-call. But if we’re going to get no credit for it, is it worth the cost in American lives? The powers-that-be think it is. May they prove to be right.

March 25, 2003


Porphyrogenitus is less impressed.

March 25, 2003

I GOT ABOUT 600 EMAILS yesterday, just to the InstaPundit account. If you’ve sent me something, and I haven’t responded, well, sorry. I try to dip into the flood, but I just can’t keep up.

March 25, 2003

SOMEBODY VANDALIZED THE ROTC OFFICE at the University of Iowa. But the response seems to me exactly wrong:

An act of vandalism against a symbol of the U.S. military on the UI campus over Spring Break prompted leaders Monday to stop requiring cadets to wear uniforms to class.

Authorities are looking for a person who smashed two glass doors at the Reserve Officer Training Corps office in the South Quadrangle building and spray-painted such slogans as “Stop U.S. military research” and “Fuck all wars” on four other UI buildings between March 20 and 21, UI police records show.

“I am not concerned for the safety of the cadets, but I worry that their uniforms may provoke attention from a person who is looking to aim his antiwar sentiments at someone,” said Lt. Col. Carol St. John, a professor of military science.

I think they should wear their uniforms every day. It’s funny to me that a University that would never respond to racist speech by asking minority students to “try not to be so noticeable” would respond to this kind of behavior in such a meek fashion.

(Via David Hogberg).

UPDATE: Hogberg has looked into how the University handled an earlier incident involving only threats, but no actual vandalism or violence. The University’s response was rather more forceful. Hogberg asks: “Why the different responses? Wouldn’t have something to do with campus politics, would it?”

Maybe someone should ask them.

March 25, 2003


French politician Edith Cresson has become the first former European Commissioner to be charged with corruption during her time in office.

A Belgian investigating magistrate has charged Ms Cresson, a former French Prime Minister, with counterfeiting and personally benefiting from EU contracts, say judicial officials.

The charges follow an inquiry into allegations made by Belgian Euro-MP Nelly Maes in 1999, which accused Ms Cresson of operating a fraudulent training scheme.

I’m willing to predict that she won’t be the last.

March 25, 2003


EXPERTS are examining suspected Scud missiles discovered by British soldiers searching a chemical plant outside Basra.

A number of the grey-painted rockets, about 23ft long, were found in the Dirhamiyah petro-chemical plant close to Iraq’s second city.

The discovery has raised suspicions that Saddam Hussein was planning to arm the missiles with chemical warheads. British officers say it is difficult to find an innocent explanation for storing missiles in a chemical plant.

The find comes a day after soldiers with the Black Watch discovered a cache of weapons, including two Russian al-Harith anti-ship cruise missiles, at the Az Zubayr civilian heliport south of Basra.

No doubt Blix will be on the case, as soon as the war is over.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Perron emails that these aren’t likely to be Scuds, because they’re too short. Here’s a link to a paper on Scuds that shows all the variants are considerably longer. He suggests that they’re likely Frogs. Such weapons would, I believe, be within the range limitations of the sanctions, though of course the chemical-weaponry aspects would be a violation.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile the chemical weapons plant reported in Najaf, mentioned earlier, turns out to be a bust.

March 25, 2003


SO now an Australian cameraman has been killed by people most Australian commentators and many politicians said did not exist – members of Iraq’s al-Qa’ida connection. . . .

The revelation of the war is the extent to which the US-led coalition forces will go to avoid Iraqi civilian and even military casualties. Instead of relentlessly pounding a position with air power before they approach it, US-led forces, emphasising mobility and the psychological dimension of what they are doing, go near to a town and then try their hardest to convince the Iraqi forces to surrender, which spares their lives and their futures.

On the road to Baghdad the allies simply swept past many towns, leaving relatively small forces behind to isolate the town and negotiate the Iraqi surrender.

This is unlike any previous war and involves the coalition forces putting themselves at extra risk to try to avoid killing Iraqi soldiers unnecessarily, or destroying infrastructure that will later be needed for reconstruction.

It shows how different this is from total war and even from the first Gulf War.

There are real dangers in this approach, but no one can now doubt the real efforts of coalition forces to avoid civilian and military casualties.

(Via Tim Blair).

March 25, 2003

JUST HEARD A STORY ON NPR — rather a lot like this one from the Los Angeles Times — about Iraqi-Americans calling their relatives in Iraq and being asked “when are you (meaning American troops) coming?” As in the LAT article, the story noted that Iraqis were previously afraid to say anything that might be construed as critical of Saddam, but that now they aren’t.

March 25, 2003

RALPH PETERS WRITES that the war is going well:

March 25, 2003 — THE war in Iraq yesterday was a story of the dog – or many dogs – that didn’t bark. Iraqi forces remained unable to launch significant counterattacks. Irregular forces failed to mount serious threats to our rear area. Regime officals continued to wave their arms and tell us that now we’ve really made them mad. And allied forces continued to move toward Baghdad.

We lost at least one Apache attack helicopter, probably to an aircraft malfunction. But what no one at home got to see was the destruction our strikes left amidst the Medina Division of the Republican Guards – despite the Iraqis positioning many of their combat vehicles in civilian neighborhoods. . . .

Yeah, I’m being cocky today. Because I’m sick of being told how brilliant our enemies are and how our troops are going to get whupped up on by some Kmart Hitler. Might I pause in my literary endeavors to point out that, while our troops are approaching Baghdad, Iraq’s Republican Guards are still quite a distance from Washington, D.C.?

He’s not cocky throughout, and offers some legitimate worries, but he also offers a lot of useful perspective. Meanwhile John Keegan writes:

Wars do not usually obey Hollywood timetables. Progress can be slow and setbacks frequent. The Falklands, a short war by historical standards, lasted a month from the first landings to the Argentine surrender.

In Iraq the allies have done astonishingly well, having advanced nearly 300 miles since crossing the start line. This is one of the fastest advances ever achieved, surpassing that of the British liberation army in the dash from the Seine to Brussels in 1944. They have also secured the vital bridges at Nasiriyah, taken the Faw peninsula, captured Umm Qasr and isolated Basra.

Keegan is, however, worried that we don’t have enough troops on the ground, for which he blames the Turks, whose on-again off-again intransigence has produced the troop shortage as the Fourth Infantry has to go through the Suez and around to the Gulf before it can do any good. (Unless this is the mother of all deception operations. . . nah. Though it would explain otherwise somewhat incoherent behavior of the Turks.) I can’t help but think, though, that Tommy Franks knows how many troops he has, and what he faces, better than the rest of us do. And the rap on him has always been that he’s too conservative, not that he’s some hell-for-leather adventurer. I’ll spare you any armchair-generalship on my part. We’ll see, soon enough.

UPDATE: This analysis by Austin Bay is — as always — worth reading.

March 25, 2003

JAMES MILLER WRITES on America’s free rider problem.

March 25, 2003

WHY THE RUSH TO BAGHDAD? I’ve been wondering about this. There are obvious advantages to speed, of course, but we’re moving very, very fast. I wonder if part of the reason is that we don’t think that the Iraqis — burned, as I note here by the failure of the United States to go on to Baghdad in 1991 — will trust us to go the distance unless we, well, go the distance.

Remember the old saying: if you strike at a king, you must kill him. You certainly can’t leave him as king. That’s something we need to keep in mind.

March 24, 2003

THIS ARTICLE says that Americans are likely to support the war more in response to casualties, as long as they think President Bush means to stick it out. That does seem to be what the polls are showing.

“A few years ago, it was conventional wisdom that the American people would tolerate no casualties in war,” said James Burk, a sociologist at Texas A&M University in College Station. “My own research and the research of others has pretty well demonstrated that the American public is tolerant of casualties as long as the casualties are incurred in pursuit of a mission that they think is reasonable. The public will be patient as long as the casualties don’t seem to be the result of carelessness or incompetence.”

The public did not support, for example, President Jimmy Carter’s botched attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran because it was seen as ill-conceived and halfhearted, Burk said.

The Bush administration clearly understands that the American people are more “defeat phobic than casualty phobic,” said Peter D. Feaver, associate professor of political science at Duke University.

The article also includes the obligatory quote from Charles Moskos, who immediately makes clear that he doesn’t know what’s going on:

Charles Moskos, a sociologist at Northwestern University, said support could start to dissipate quickly unless the nation’s elite are also sending their children to war.

If Moskos had read this piece instead of recycling Vietnam-era quote-mongering, he’d know he’s behind the curve:

Here’s a report about the earlier casualties.

The first is the U.S. pilot killed in the mid-air collision of the two helicopters, U.S. Navy Lt. Thomas M. Adams.

“He’s one of these amazingly clean-cut, all-American kids,” said his aunt, Elizabeth Hansen of La Jolla. “He’s the kind of kid that if you had a very special daughter, you would hope that she could snag him. He was just amazingly bright, funny and kind.”

Adams’ lineage can be traced to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, his aunt said.

* * *

Adams’ late grandfather, Richard Croxton Adams, helped found Grossmont Bank and Heartland Savings and Loan. His grandfather, who moved to San Diego from Cleveland in 1948, helped rebuild the Old Globe Theatre and the Aerospace Museum after they were destroyed by arson.

Of course, you won’t find this on CNN. But isn’t an expert like Moskos supposed to know things that aren’t on CNN?

March 24, 2003

DAGH NIELSEN has a roundup of U.K. front pages. I favor the Daily Star’s. . .

March 24, 2003

LOTS OF STUFF AT WINDS OF CHANGE — and via email I hear that Tom Holsinger thinks that the “Fedayeen Saddam” are really Al Qaeda in drag. He notes that their M.O. of phony surrenders, suicide attacks, and murder of prisoners sounds like Al Qaeda. Interesting theory. (And this Mark Steyn column compares the P.O.W. footage to the Danny Pearl video).

Daniel Drezner thinks that Ba’athist resistance is a good thing, even if it drags out the war.

March 24, 2003

CNN MENTIONED SALAM PAX — and gave his URL. This isn’t cool.

More reason to hope the troops get to Baghdad soon, and keep Saddam’s goons busy in the meantime.

March 24, 2003


Is It Just Me?

Or is the press coverage this weekend reminiscent of the coverage of Tet? It was a US victory that was reported as a disaster, because the assumption was that the Viet Cong weren’t capable of mounting an offensive.

It’s not just you, Rand. I wonder why they’re spinning it this way. I mean, it shouldn’t be beyond the resources of Big Media to do the sort of comparison with Gulf War I casualties that we humble bloggers can do.

March 24, 2003

THIS STORY from the Financial Times says that “no chemical weapons have been found” at the plant in Najaf. Meanwhile this more recent story from Deutsche Welle says that UN inspectors are going to go inspect it as soon as possible. Huh?

Among the possibilities: The absence of chemical weapons onsite doesn’t mean it’s not a chemical weapons plant. Or, the UN inspectors, as usual, are going where the weapons aren’t. Or the reports are just confused — somewhere I saw a suggestion that the U.S. is deliberately downplaying it for obscure tactical reasons having to do with Saddam’s greater willingness to use chemical weapons once he’s proven to have them. Beats me. As I said originally, stay tuned.

UPDATE: A reader notes a tidbit in this story:

On the least visible front of the war, in western Iraq where no journalists are “embedded” with the U.S. Special Forces who parachuted in and took control of two airfields, Myers said the troops “found a huge arms cache, millions of rounds of ammunition and some documentation that needs to be exploited.”

This was “some papers” that will be examined by units looking for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, he said. “We have people set up to do that very, very quickly, because it might save thousands of lives if we can find out exactly where and what they have.”

Hmm. I can imagine a connection here, but, well, stay tuned.

UPDATE: And while you’re tuned, this post is worth reading. Then there’s this report, which should only be read after the prior link.

March 24, 2003

READER DANIEL MCCARTHY SENDS THIS LINK to a table showing aircraft losses in Gulf War I. And these are fixed-wing aircraft (of which, I believe, we’ve lost none to enemy action), not helicopters. He notes:

According to this site, by day 6 of Gulf War I, we had lost 19 fixed wing aircraft. My back of the envelope calculations puts that at 29 aircrewmen POW/KIA through 6 days. As of day 6 of the Iraq War, we had lost 1 aircraft to enemy fire,1 to friendly fire and 3 to accidents. All but one are helos.

Interesting. The one fixed-wing aircraft was the British Tornado lost to friendly fire. Tragic, but not enemy action.

March 24, 2003

ASPARAGIRL IS PROFILED IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: It’s a great piece, entitled A feminist decries pacifists’ ‘rubbish’.

March 24, 2003


March 24, 2003

THIS NBC POLL shows increasing support for Bush and the war:

Sixty-two percent of those questioned said the war was proceeding about as expected, while 25 percent said it was going better than expected. Only 10 percent said it was going worse than expected, though the poll was conducted just as reports about the fiercest day of fighting in Iraq were just beginning to reach viewers in the United States.

Fifty-four percent of respondents also said that resistance from Iraq’s military force was “about as expected,” while 31 percent said it was not as tough as expected and 10 percent said it was tougher than expected.

That’s consistent with the poll below, though not with the tone of the TV coverage. I guess Americans have developed an immunity to media hysteria. (Remember the shark-attack hype from Summer 2001?) As Ralph Peters wrote this morning:

As long as the American people keep their perspective – which they will – it really doesn’t matter how many journalists lose theirs.


March 24, 2003

YOU’D THINK that interest in the Dixie Chicks fiasco would have died down by now. But this BlogCritics item has over 200 comments, and they just keep coming.

Will the Dixie Chicks become the symbols of friviledge for the decade?

March 24, 2003

JOE LIEBERMAN says that the United Nations hasn’t earned the right to have a say about Iraq reconstruction.

Keep it up, Joe, and I might vote Democratic next time.

March 24, 2003

LISTENING TO NPR on the way home, it occurred to me that when the big war story is that one, count ’em, one helicopter was shot down, the war can’t be going that badly, despite the efforts of some to spin it that way.


Just a little context on the opposition. Really, they are just a bunch of armed thugs. The only reason the Fedayeen is able to cause the trouble they are is because our troops are being so careful to not harm innocents. Understand, the Fedayeen’s tactics are designed to take advantage of our superior morality. Saddam’s evil will lose out, the clock is ticking.

Yep. Will our efforts to spare Iraqi soldiers’ and civilians’ lives win us more respect, or less? Interesting question.

March 24, 2003

AT THE OSCARS, it was suggested that we should look to Frida Kahlo as a guide on the war. Eugene Volokh delves into what that would mean.

March 24, 2003

AND THE GOOD-TIMING AWARD IN PUBLISHING GOES TO. . . The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for its People, the Middle East, and the World, by Joseph Braude. It just showed up in my mailbox today, and it’s supposed to be out this week.

I haven’t read it yet, but it’s got blurbs from James Woolsey, Nat Hentoff, and David Landes, among others.

March 24, 2003

WHAT DO IRAQIS THINK OF THE WAR? Call them on the phone and ask!

As Iraqi Americans reach out to their relatives in Baghdad and Basra, in Kirkuk and Irbil, some are hearing words they never thought possible: Iraqis are speaking ill of Saddam Hussein.

They’re criticizing him out loud, on the telephone, seemingly undeterred by fear of the Iraqi intelligence service and its tactics of torture for those disloyal to the Baath Party regime. . . .

“I was shocked,” said Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, Mass., that promotes interfaith and interethnic understanding. “It’s very dangerous. All the phones are tapped. But they are so excited.” . . .

As war unfolds, Iraqis who came to the United States in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are glued to the news, some staying up until nearly dawn to watch the latest developments. Some are thinking about returning to Baghdad to help in the country’s reconstruction.

Others are upset by antiwar protesters they believe have been duped by Iraqi propaganda. They are eager to celebrate the end of a regime whose abuses they recount with personal grief and pained memories.

Read the whole story, which is very consistent with what former human shields are reporting about Iraqi sentiment. Then there’s this, from an Iraqi-American who escaped Saddam:

“I’m so disappointed with the left,” said Darweesh, who considers herself a liberal. “They are in complete denial because it doesn’t fit into their equation of the Mideast. But Saddam is an Arab leader who has killed more Arabs than Israel ever has.”

The antiwar protesters, she added, are “very condescending. They are supposed to be for human rights, but the suffering of the Iraqi people just doesn’t exist for them. They deny us our stories.”

Yes, they do.

March 24, 2003

HERE’S ANOTHER INTERESTING BIT from the poll I mention below:

The survey found that the protests at home and abroad have done little to affect public opinion on the war-if anything, they have deepened support among those who already favored using military force against Iraq.

Seven in 10 said the anti-war rallies have not changed their opinion on the conflict. One in five-20 percent-said the protests have made them more likely to back the war, while 7 percent said it has increased their opposition to the conflict.

But not much sign of a move to “crush dissent:”

Six in 10 agreed that the demonstrations were a sign of a healthy democracy, while fewer than four in 10 said opponents should not demonstrate against the war because it was better for the country to appear united. Only one in six said such protests should not be permitted. . . .

Overall the survey suggests that few Americans have attended anti-war demonstrations (2 percent) or rallies in support of the war effort (1 percent).

Interesting stuff.

March 24, 2003

UDAY HUSSEIN, torturer of Olympic athletes? Well, yeah. TalkLeft notes that a complaint to the International Olympic Committee has brought no action (um, aren’t the French influential there?) and suggests bringing Uday before the International Criminal Court.

I think, however, that you’ll need a spatula to do that.

March 24, 2003

THESE MUSLIM TERRORISTS in India just killed more people than the entire Iraqi Army has managed since the war began.

Yeah, I know, they’re not strictly comparable, but it does add some perspective. Here’s more.

And James Morrow has some other comparison numbers, and points to this poll suggesting that Americans aren’t as easily panicked as the media:

More than seven in 10 Americans currently back the president’s decision to go to war, unchanged from the start of the campaign. Seven in 10-71 percent-approve of the way he is handling the situation in Iraq, up six percentage points from three days ago and higher than at any time in the past seven months. And Bush’s overall job approval rating was unchanged at 68 percent.

The survey found that eight in 10 Americans believe the campaign is going well, although only about a third said it was going “very well” for the United States. Even opponents acknowledged that the invasion seemed to be accomplishing its goals: 63 percent of those against the war also said it was going well for allied forces.

Overall, two in three said the war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction was progressing about as they had expected-and more Americans (19 percent) said the conflict was going better than they anticipated than those who thought it was going worse (10 percent). . . .

Despite reports Sunday of fierce fighting and growing allied dead or wounded, half of those interviewed said that the number of U.S. military dead and wounded so far in the war were about what they expected them to be. One in four said casualties were greater than they initially thought and an equal proportion said the losses were smaller than they had anticipated.

Interesting. They must read Lileks.

March 24, 2003

THIS FRENCH WARSHIP suffered from a daring chicken-feather attack sponsored by the U.K. Sun.

March 24, 2003


The BBC (about which I will say more later) is reporting that the mood at CentCom is morose and dispirited; I get the impression that Tommy Frank has retired to his bunk in tears, and most of the officers are are 24-hour suicide watch. Ten Marines dead. No one expected that. The plans called for zero casualties, after all. This changes everything. Rip up the war plan.

At Normandy ten men died every second. Up and down the coast. All the damn day long.

Apparently, Tommy Franks isn’t watching the BBC. Then there’s this report:

While the fighting has become fiercer than expected in parts of the country, our unit has made rapid headway.

In one instance a U.S. army vehicle ran over a pile of machine guns abandoned on the roadside.

For many kilometres, civilians and soldiers were lined up, waving and blowing kisses at the passing vehicles holding U.S. Marines. Many begged for food. Each U.S. vehicle had been given two boxes of ready-to-eat rations suitable for Muslims. Some people came back for seconds, hiding the food they had already collected.

For their part, the U.S. troops were amazed at the Iraqi soldiers’ behaviour.

“Canteens, grenades, abandoned positions — they even left the Iraqi flag in place before they retreated,” said 1st Sergeant Miguel Pares, a New Yorker from Spanish Harlem and the top enlisted man in Bravo company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

“I wanted that flag so bad but we had to continue moving along.”

Guess 1st Sgt. Pares hasn’t been watching The Beeb either. Or maybe he has, and that’s why he’s “amazed.” Meanwhile, despite the negative coverage, coalition forces are somehow only sixty miles from Baghdad. This is a war that’s going badly?

March 24, 2003

CLAYTON CRAMER WRITES on the costs of waging war by moral means. It’s a point that seems under-appreciated.

March 24, 2003

HERE’S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE FROM THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE on French and German state television and its efforts — often unsuccessful — to match government positions:

Whatever the ephemeral nature of being right for a moment or two in a war of continuous and instant changes – the Allies’ problems were misunderstandings “not misinformation or disinformation” said BBC’s man in Doha, Nick Gowing – the French studios seemed committed to a wish or a will to assert that most everything on the American side was going awry.

This version of the French Touch meant at least one comic collision between a field reporter’s version of events and the editorial line in Paris, and one occasion when another station explained away a rival’s images of Iraqi civilian misery.

On the main midday news on Saturday, the private broadcaster TF1, after reporting that the Americans falsely announced they held the port at Umm Qasr, Claire Chazal, a news presenter, called in a report from Jean-Claude Ferey, who was there. Uhh, he said, no doubt about it, they’re in Umm Qasr. But it’s the British not the Americans. And, Ferey explained, he had just talked to the commander, who said they’re going to avoid engaging in Basra, and let it fall when it was time.

TF1 viewers also got a closeup shot of a child with a bandaged head screaming with fear in Baghdad hospital. At virtually the same moment, France 2’s audience saw a much wider angle showing the child in a hospital room filled with newsmen, lights, and microphones and the station’s reporter – beware of reporters actually on the scene – saying that the child was screaming in terror at the commotion in what was an Iraqi propaganda set up.

The Iraqis’ report of only three dead after the first night of bombing almost seemed to enrage a man called Patrick Hesters commenting early Saturday evening from the set of France 3, another state-run network which began its noon to 2 p.m. segment on Friday, after the first American raid, with footage of anti-war demonstrations.

Read the whole thing. I wonder how much anti-American sentiment worldwide is the product of slant at state-controlled or -subsidized media operations?

(Via Judicious Asininity).