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.
posted at 08:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JUDICIAL WATCH IS GOING AFTER CHIRAC: You can read the complaint here. Here's an article summarizing things.
posted at 08:52 PM by Glenn Reynolds
WHY OIL IS BAD for national economies, and democracy.
posted at 08:51 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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."
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?
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.
posted at 01:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 01:05 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 09:42 AM by Glenn Reynolds
PEJMAN HAS MOVED, to a new URL, and with a much easier to read design. He says he was inspired by Gary Hart.
posted at 09:38 AM by Glenn Reynolds
DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ: David Adesnik wonders why liberals aren't more enthusiastic about it.
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.
posted at 09:28 AM by Glenn Reynolds
March 28, 2003
HOW'S THE WAR GOING? I've got a post on the subject over at GlennReynolds.com -- and check out Will Femia's look at how Big Media and weblogs are doing.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
posted at 04:18 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
"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.
posted at 10:44 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 10:29 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 10:14 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
posted at 09:35 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
posted at 09:07 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 06:38 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS has a lengthy obituary for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Worth reading. Plus: Good news about welfare reform!
posted at 06:19 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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."
posted at 06:18 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
posted at 04:32 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I JUST SPOKE TO A WOMAN FROM CNN who said that The Command Post is very popular in their newsroom today. I love that.
posted at 04:28 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE LEMON is a parody of The Onion -- and this one is pretty funny.
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.
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.
posted at 02:10 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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?
HERE'S A STORY on the Patriot Act debate that I moderated yesterday, in case you're interested.
posted at 08:28 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.]
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.
posted at 09:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
WHY FRANCE, GERMANY, AND RUSSIA are opposing us. An interesting analysis from a surprising source.
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.
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.
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.
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.
posted at 07:41 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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 GlennReynolds.com 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.
posted at 11:45 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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.
posted at 09:30 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 09:11 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 09:03 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THEY'RE NOT ANTIWAR -- THEY'RE JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE: A continuing series.
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).
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.
posted at 11:29 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 11:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I'LL BE ON BBC RADIO 5 in about twenty minutes, at roughly 10:50 Eastern.
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.
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.
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.
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?)
posted at 08:42 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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).
posted at 07:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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?"
"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.
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.
posted at 03:25 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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 -- 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.
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.
posted at 08:05 AM by Glenn Reynolds
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?
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.
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.
posted at 09:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 08:49 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 07:26 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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?
Keep it up, Joe, and I might vote Democratic next time.
posted at 06:20 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 06:18 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
posted at 04:03 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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).
posted at 03:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
posted at 03:51 PM by Glenn Reynolds
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.
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.
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?
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?
VIRGINIA POSTREL responds to those doom-laden reporters who say that the war is going to be longer than "some people" expected:
Who are these "some Americans" who expected a war shorter, and with fewer casualties, than the L.A. riots? . . .
Yes, we're all more optimistic than we were before the Persian Gulf War, which began with post-Vietnam fears of tens of thousands of Americans dead and years of brutal fighting. But optimism is merely relative. And "less than three months" is not "less than three days."
What we saw today was that this is a real war. Nasty, brutal, and we can only hope, short. All we've been promised is victory—and that's a promise, among other things, to persist when things get tough.
Indeed. It seems to me that it was the media who were declaring the war won on Friday night, only to declare it lost by Sunday. We saw the same kind of thing with Afghanistan, of course.
UPDATE: People seem to get this. Antiwar protests in Britain are shrinking, according to this report:
The turnout was smaller than last month's rally by about 1 million people, a diverse gathering that included many first-time protesters. By contrast, Saturday's crowds consisted largely of the leftist and Muslim groups at the core of the antiwar movement.
Turnout was down worldwide. But mostly, I'm just happy to see Big Media notice who's at the "core" of the antiwar movement. Meanwhile, Blair's rising in the polls:
After weeks of declining public approval, Prime Minister Tony Blair's image has improved among Britons, according to a poll reported Saturday. The ICM Research poll found 56% believed Blair's dogged support of the Bush administration's confrontation with Iraq had been "about right," while 26% thought he had been "too firm."
A few weeks ago, only about a third of those Britons polled backed the government's Iraq policy, including sending 45,000 troops to the Persian Gulf.
Blair's personal approval rating also has climbed, by 11 percentage points to 40%. The shift reflects the apparent tendency to close ranks with the government once troops are in combat. Only 13% of those polled advocated an immediate end to the war, while 82% wanted the coalition to finish what it had started in Iraq.
Seems that ordinary people are less excitable than the media.
posted at 11:22 AM by Glenn Reynolds
LOTS OF GOOD POSTS over at SgtStryker.com today. I've decided that I'm not going to try minute-by-minute newsblogging at the moment, because it's being done so well there, and at The Command Post.
I'm following Josh Chafetz's lead here. I'm always saying that the Blogosphere is smarter than I am -- so let it do the work!
UPDATE: Oh, and don't forget The Agonist, currently posting that:
CNN just announced that Greek antiwar advocates have tried to bomb an American bank and an American restaurant in Athens.
They're not "antiwar," CNN. They're just on the other side.
posted at 11:08 AM by Glenn Reynolds
GOOD NEWS/ BAD NEWS: Good news -- Pakistan gets a female prime minister. Bad news -- China taken over by fundamentalist Islam.
Alternative explanation: The Agence France Presse caption to this photo, "(AFP Photo) - Pakistan PM consults China on Iraq (Mon 24 Mar, 12:27 PM)" is pathetically wrong and no one has noticed.
DRIVING INTO WORK I noticed some signs along Kingston Pike that seem to offer support for the war effort. This one, from an outfit that sells fresh seafood, is pretty straightforward: "Bombs bursting in air for freedom." No doubt this sentiment would horrify the folks at the BBC.
The "support the troops" motif was somewhat more common. Here's an example of a hardware store that's selling at cost to military families, and encouraging others to do the same nationwide. Well, I hope that this gets the message out -- it's certainly a nice thing to do.
This sign doesn't really relate to the war at all, except, I suppose, in the fevered "crusader" slogans of some Islamists and BBC talking heads. But although I found the message a bit muddled, theologically speaking, I thought it was funny enough to include here.
I'll keep my eyes open for interesting signage. You do the same.
Yeah, this Saddam speech is crap. If this had been taped today, or live, he would've mentioned the captured U.S. soldiers.
Jesus, they gave their names on Iraqi State TeeVee today. If you were Saddam and people doubted you were alive, wouldn't you mention the U.S. soldiers caught today? . . .
"You say no, you die. That simple," Kadhim said. "They say, 'OK, you free to go.' They take you outside and shoot you. Or just shoot you right there."
Kadhim said whenever a rebel against the regime entered the prison system they were very unlikely to ever emerge from it. Or if they did emerge, they were likely to become victims of a delayed but cruel surprise.
"If you get out of prison without a shot (from a needle), you lucky," Kadhim said. "They give you a shot, and you go home. You die one month, two months later from the shot they give. Just like that. You die."
Kadhim's story is not unlike that of thousands of refugees who have fled Iraq to escape the ruthlessness of Saddam.
Funny, where are all those Europeans who criticize the United States for the death penalty? I guess they think that Iraqi lives are less valuable. At least, less valuable when they're killed by Saddam. (See below). There's also this:
Maybe now the Iraqi people will have a new idea," he said. "They just want it to be over with Saddam. I think America will give my country freedom. If I were there, I would tell them that the Iraqi people are not their enemy. Some Arab countries are your enemy, but the Iraqi people aren't. I can't tell you which Arab countries. I would have big trouble."
Kadhim's friend, Qasim (who asked that his last name not be used because of the possibility of retribution against his relatives in Baghdad), said the truth about Saddam, is a thousand times worse than anyone can imagine.
And, sadly, this:
Qasim said he is glad American soldiers have returned to Iraq, he does not think they will be as welcome as they would have been in 1991 had they gone on to Baghdad.
"We had a revolution then," he says. "Saddam would not have lasted two hours if the American troops had come."
The old adage "If you strike at a king you must kill him" is being proven again. We should have gone all the way in 1991. Bush Sr. wimped out because of the fear of ugly pictures of dead Iraqi soldiers on TV.
Of course, Saddam's behavior makes that sort of thing less likely this time around. But the last ten years, in which Saddam's tyranny grew far worse despite alleged international supervision, make these worries of Nick Denton's cogent:
Saddam as Ceausescu
The appearance of armed irregulars, still loyal to Saddam, parallels the resistance of Ceausescu's secret police, the Securitate, even after most of the army had turned on the Romanian dictator. But, as this account of the 1989 revolution explains, it's not as simple as regular army good, secret police bad. Lessons from the Romanian example: the deposition of a tyrant with multiple security forces is a mess, because there is no one military leader who can undercut the dictator; resistance can appear more organized than it is; they usually hide out in party headquarters and police buildings, rather than houses; watch out for snipers; and beware of over-reaction. Oh yes: you may have to kill the dictator on camera, and put a stake through his heart, before his loyalists finally give up, and ordinary citizens can finally feel free. One final guess: the worse the dictatorship, the less joyful the revolution. The inhabitants of Bucharest were so crushed by decades of harsh dictatorship, that they emerged suspicious of eachother, credulous of rumor, disorientated by the truth, seething with recrimination, and bitter, bitter, bitter. There will be nothing velvet about the Iraqi revolution.
I hope Nick's wrong about this. But if he isn't, it's yet another reason to avoid half-measures in the future.
As near as I can tell, it's a parody of Stalin: one person killed by America is a tragedy. A hundred thousand killed by Saddam, or a million by Pol Pot, are a statistic. But even the statistics are lies, as Leo points out, and the press tend to accept them uncritically:
A New York Times article ("Flaws in U.S. Air War Left Hundreds of Civilians Dead") relied heavily on the findings of workers with Global Exchange, which the times identified as "an American organization that has sent survey teams into Afghan villages." In fact, Global Exchange is a hard-left, antiwar, pro-Castro group whose numbers on war victims should never be taken at face value. Many groups on the left repeatedly insisted that civilian deaths were scandalously high. But that's what they say during every war. Typical headlines included "Civilian Casualties Mount in Afghanistan" (the World Socialist Web Site) and "U.S. Raids Draw Fire for Civilian Casualties" (Common Dreams News Center).
The most publicized analysis came from Marc Herold, a professor of economics and women's studies at the University of New Hampshire, who claims that between 3,700 and 4,000 Afghan civilians died in the war. Herold, an antiwar leftist, says the U.S. military is mostly white and willing to drop bombs on populous areas, thus "sacrificing the darker-skinned Afghans." Admirers credited Herold with meticulous and original analysis of many sources during 12- to 14-hour days on the Internet. Some people loved Herold's numbers because they were said to show that the United States killed more innocent people in Afghanistan than Osama bin Laden killed in New York. But several analysts accused Herold of questionable and ideological treatment of the numbers: double counting, confusing combatants with noncombatants, and, in the words of one commentator, "blind acceptance of deliberately inflated Taliban accounts."
Other less publicized estimates of civilian deaths in Afghanistan are far lower than Herold's.
And why, I wonder, are they "less publicized?"
UPDATE: Here's more on Marc Herold's, ahem, flawed methodology.
posted at 08:55 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I'LL BE POSTING LATER -- in the meantime, go read Andrew Sullivan on Saddam's strategy -- and on the allies he's counting on in the West. This column by Ralph Peters is worth reading too.
posted at 08:09 AM by Glenn Reynolds
March 23, 2003
I SPENT THE AFTERNOON buying a new (environmentally friendly!) lawn mower and mowing my lawn. Then I read a book and had a nice dinner. I'm taking the rest of the evening off in an effort to stay sane amid all the war hysteria. I'm also taking a moment to think of our troops, who don't have that luxury.
I'll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the Command Post, which should be here now (at least, the new URL of www.command-post.org is working for me; if it doesn't work for you try this one instead), and the many fine blogs linked below. Oh, and don't miss this piece by Howard Kurtz on weblogs and war.
And if you want to help out some service people, Operation Uplink lets you donate calling cards so that they can stay in touch with the folks at home.
See you tomorrow.
posted at 08:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds
WHEN YOU HEAR CLAIMS OF "CIVILIAN DEATHS" keep in mind this post from the BBC Warblog:
One of the problems in the fighting in Umm Qasr has been that some of the conscript army appeared to surrender, but then disappeared.
It's thought they then took off their uniforms, became civilians, but kept their guns. And so they were effectively acting as a guerrilla force which makes it very hard for conventional armies to fight that because they don't want to risk killing civilians.
Soldiers out of uniform, of course, are war criminals. I eagerly await the European protest marches regarding this practice.
UPDATE: CNN is now reporting that Iraqis have executed American prisoners of war. I eagerly await the demonstrations over that, too.
About 30 Iraqi troops, including a general, surrendered today to US forces of the 3rd Infantry Division as they overtook huge installation apparently used to produce chemical weapons in An Najaf, some 250 kilometers south of Baghdad. . . .
It wasn't immediately clear exactly which chemicals were being produced here, but clearly the Iraqis tried to camouflage the facility so it could not be photographed aerially, by swathing it in sand-cast walls to make it look like the surrounding desert.
Stay tuned, but this looks like another Blix embarrassment, following upon the Scuds that weren't supposed to be there.
UPDATE: A couple of readers say that MSNBC is reporting (on TV) that this story is false. I can't find anything about it on the website at the moment. As I said, stay tuned.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This story from Fox, this story from ABC news, and this story from Agence France Presse say that there was a chemical weapons factory found. I suppose that could change, but for now the story seems reasonably credible.
posted at 01:43 PM by Glenn Reynolds
LOTS OF STUFF AT THE COMMAND POST. Also, I've been remiss in not mentioning The Agonist earlier, but when I tried to visit his site it was down.
UPDATE: Note: The Command Post is now here instead of at the above link, because of -- hold your breath at this improbability -- some sort of Blogger/Blogspot glitch.
Bush has gotten the most flak for, in essence, placing too much stock in the U.N., not too little. Like his father, he thought it could become an effective collective-security organization once it was freed of Cold War constraints. This approach worked in the first Persian Gulf War, because his father was confronting a clear-cut case of aggression -- Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. But not even Bush pиre could have gotten U.N. approval for regime change in Baghdad.
That's why he didn't try. His son did -- and nearly succeeded. His mistake was becoming a little too ambitious. Not satisfied with U.N. Resolution 1441, which passed unanimously in November, Bush unsuccessfully sought a second resolution (or, more accurately, an 18th). Now, like every U.S. president since 1945, he has embarked on military action without explicit U.N. authorization. . . .
It's true that acting "unilaterally" -- actually with a substantial "coalition of the willing," in Bush's words -- increases distrust of U.S. power. But it's far from clear what the consequences are. Will France and Germany stop fighting al Qaeda? Refuse to continue helping to rebuild Afghanistan? Torpedo the free-trade treaties they have supported? All possible, but all unlikely, because they didn't undertake these actions as a favor to Washington -- it's in their self-interest to promote trade, stamp out terrorism and foster peaceful development in war-torn lands.
Political scientists warn of "bandwagoning" against a hegemon, and they might see some evidence of this in the U.N. debate, where France, Russia and China ganged up on the United States. But only one of these nations -- China -- is making an effort to challenge U.S. power, and then only in one region. France and Russia, along with the rest of Europe, are doing little or nothing to build up their military capabilities. If they were serious about taking on America, they would be forming a military alliance against us. No one imagines this will happen.
Why not? Because for all their griping about the "hyperpower," our fair-weather friends realize that America is not Napoleonic France or Nazi Germany.
Two Jewish youths were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after being stabbed in Paris by individuals who had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. . . .
One young man was stabbed and lightly wounded after a group of men noticed his yarmulke. He was taken to the hospital for treatment. The attackers are believed to have been immigrants from North Africa.
They're just the enemy.
UPDATE: Reader Khalid Yukub emails from Britain and sends this link, with the suggestion that it somehow parallels the story above. I can't read the Arabic, but it has a picture of what I assume is supposed to be a dead Iraqi civilian killed by Americans. After the Baby Milk Factory episode in the last war, I can hardly swear to its accuracy -- and, statistically, a dead Iraqi civilian is far more likely to have been killed by Saddam than by Americans. But assume it's what it purports to be, a dead Iraqi civilian.
War is hell. Civilians get killed. The United States is trying hard -- far, far harder than any Arab nation ever has -- to avoid killing civilians in the course of war. Nonetheless, it still happens. To suggest that somehow that sort of thing is the same as deliberately targeting someone for stabbing because of his religion is -- well, it's typical, is what it is.
UPDATE: Khalid emails:
I'm not suggesting that there is a direct parallel between the attack on the Jewish youth and the killing of the Iraqi civilian, although both attacks are on innocent people and are indeed illegal and immoral. I'm suggesting that your coverage, in general, focuses more on the suffering (or jubilation) of some people more than others. Violence you agree with is downplayed and/or justified, while violence you (often rightly) disagree with is highlighted to bolster your black-and-white view of the world.
Uh, no. "Both attacks" are not illegal and immoral. Collateral damage in a war is neither, though it is unfortunate and the United States has made unprecedented efforts to avoid it -- far more than against Germany in World War II despite lame claims that this is a "racist" war. It's not remotely comparable to deliberately stabbing someone because he's wearing a Yarmulke. (And the original email sure seemed to suggest that to me).
As to whether my presentation reflect my beliefs -- you bet it does. I also go out of my way to offset the biases of mainstream media, who swallow Iraqi propaganda rather uncritically (as with the "Baby Milk Factory" episode).
What I find interesting is that any act of violence by the United States seems always to be condemned, while almost any act of violence by third world thugocracies is excused. If recognizing that is a "black and white view" then so be it.
If Saddam, or Osama, had the power that the United States enjoys, how would they be exercising it? And yet that difference is seldom recognized.
It's Jew-hatred, plain and simple, Glenn. Don't let him distract you with trying to get you into moral arguments. These two young Jewish men did nothing. "Immigrants from North Africa" stabbed one, tried to break into a Jewish building to stab more, and instead beat the hell out of the next Jew to exit the building.
She goes on to say that Khalid's guilty of the same kind of sentiments. Well, I don't know Khalid. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt here. The war has everyone on edge, and his comments may reflect that. I don't want to see innocent people killed, and I don't see any evidence that Khalid does, either. I think it's worth making clear, however, that although some Muslims seem determined to see this as a war against Islam, it's not. I don't want it to be, and I don't think anyone much in America does. Certainly Bush has gone out of his way to make that clear, as he did with his visit to a mosque right after 9/11. And those Muslims who want to turn it into one don't have the best interests of Muslims, or anyone else besides themselves, at heart.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Another email from Khalid makes clear that he condemns the stabbing above, as I thought. Unlike rather a lot of my anti-war emailers, he has managed to be quite civil, too, which I appreciate. The email from the "peace" movement has never been especially pacific, and it's gotten a lot worse lately.
DENVILLE -- Holding signs that read "Honk if you hate Saddam" and "Honk if you support our troops," about 50 boisterous but orderly Denville middle school students held a pro-war rally Friday on Main Street.
The spontaneous demonstration began when students, on their way home from Valleyview School after a half-day, picked up cardboard and started scrolling their feelings on the makeshift signs.
Slowly, more children joined in and, by 1:30 p.m., the students had seized the corner of Broadway and East Main Street -- to the delight of the multitude of passing motorists honking horns around them.
"Too many people are against the war," said 14-year-old Zac Walsh, one of three students who organized the rally. "We wanted to show our support for it."
Here's a list of pro-liberation rallies, most with pictures. I haven't seen much reporting on these, though I understand that Ashleigh Banfield covered one yesterday.
UPDATE: Here are pictures from a pro-America demonstration in Knoxville. Looks roughly comparable to the anti-war demos here in terms of size, but I didn't see it.
ON TO BAGHDAD:Friendly fire seems to be the biggest danger so far, and I suspect that there's a systematic problem in communications involved -- though it may be just that the absence of other fire makes it seem so conspicuous. Here's a UPI story too.
UPDATE on Friendly Fire: Apparently, the British plane didn't have a working IFF system. Why the hell not?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner emails:
Sometimes the IFF/SIF goes out in-flight. There are no backups. In addition, there are times when you want to turn off your IFF/SIF to avoid giving the enemy a chance to interogate it themselves. I don't know what they're doing in Iraq. In many cases, most of them peacetime, IFF/SIF is not strictly needed. In this case it was sorely needed. I'm wondering what AWACS was doing during all of this.
posted at 08:07 AM by Glenn Reynolds
BILL HERBERT HAS SOME THOUGHTS ON PRESS FREEDOM, and he wonders why Reporters Sans Frontieres aren't complaining about Baghdad's expulsion of journalists.
Meanwhile Susanna Cornett points out security issues with embedded journalists -- and, surprise, the French are involved.
UPDATE: Randy Paul sends this link indicating that they're at least criticizing Castro for his crackdown on journalists in Cuba.