|the talking dog|
|APRIL 2003 POSTINGS|
Well, Democratic Veteran Jo Fish writes in to tell me I &^%$ed again; Jo is NOT in San Diego, at all, but in Ohio. JO WAS in San Diego as an aviator, but now...Ohio. Otherwise, no complaints. Yet.
Jo is also kind enough to suggest the newest member of the dog run:
Brief Intelligence Weblog, the work of Tiger Lily, who I understand has a boyfriend
who is a Marine Corps sniper. Needless to say, I won't
be pissing off Tiger Lily! TL's take is to the left of,
ahem, me; the blogroll is solid left gold, and the
positions are supported by both fact and energy.
Certainly, the perspective on matters military that
would blow the *&&^ out of some of the guys on CNN
(except General Clark, for whom Tiger Lily would like
you to vote...I'm with the program!)
Let's give a big dog run welcome to...
the work of blogger Jo Fish (not, that is NOT a game to
be played with your new deck of Iraqi-villain playing
cards...or is it?) who, I'm surmising, is a veteran of
the United States Navy and resides in sunny San Diego,
on the Left Coast, and except for two links, has a
blogroll (which is cleverly called the Fish Pond!)
devoted to us political feller' travelers. The posts
convey the appropriate tone of righteous indignation and
moral outrage -- not quite bomb throwing -- but
compelling and passionate, dare I say it, persuasive
And from Democratic Veteran, one of the two "conservative" links (the other already being on our dog run) we give you:
is the work of pseudonymous conservative blogger Tacitus
(named after Roman orator Cornelius Tacitus). Tacitus
does not whine, or name-call; he lays it out and tells
it like it is, from a cogent, sensible,
factually-detailed perspective (whose only problem is
that I often disagree with it), something I'd like to
see more of in blogging. Hence, Tacitus appears as a
"token rightie" on many lefty blogs, and a mainstay of
many, many more blogrolls everywhere else. The blogroll
leans right, but not exclusively, and consists of
The Unseen Editor and I have been discussing "big changes" coming soon, perhaps for May Day (no, that's tomorrow; seems too soon...) or Cinco de Mayo or something. Well, when we make them, they will be obvious, and will make you all love the site, and tell all your friends, and join my secret army of followers...
Well, the Cogent Provocateur proves cogent and provocative with this piece called "Operation Desert Snipe". A brilliant, detailed discussion of the snipe hunt for WMDs, now playing in a theater near you (if you happen to be near Iraq). (Thanks to our friends at Unqualified Offerings for the link).
Not deterred in the least from yesterday's suicide bombing that killed at least 3 at Mike's Place on the boardwalk in Tel Aviv, Fearless Fosdick Bush (no wait, Dick is Cheney...I'm so confused) has delivered the "road map for peace" to both Israeli PM Sharon and new PA PM Abu Mazen. I fear we are looking at "Tenet to Mitchell to Oslo" all over again, but there is a possibility, albeit a weak one, that there will be consequences to the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Finally, I made a snide notation on somebody's comment string (most likely Matt Yglesias) that yesterday's incident where 15 Iraqis were killed by American soldiers was not going to be the last of its kind in this "Intifada on the Tigris" and I said it wasn't going to be the last of its kind THIS WEEK. I don't enjoy being right about this, but 2 more demonstrators were killed (and over a dozen wounded) at...you guessed itÖFallujah, in a second day of clashes there.
When our national leadership stops patting itself on the back for "winning", it might want to consider the fact that significant expense in blood and treasure remains to be expended. As the Israelis will tell you (and as some Marines based in Beirut in the '80's might also tell you), a prolonged occupation in the Middle East...sucks. And a prolonged occupation in the Middle East (some politely suggest 5 years, the length of our post-war presence in Japan) seems to be what we just bought ourselves.
Any occasion seems to cause the Palestinians to break out the fireworks; today's (as always, in the horrifying and inhuman form of a suicide bomber) killed at least 3 and wounded at least 40 in Tel Aviv, near the American embassy.
Yasir just keeps telling us that you can keep him locked in Ramallah, but you can't stop him from facilitating THIS sort of thing, until he is absolutely removed. Saddam, or no Saddam, itís the same old Middle East as far as Yasir and his homies are concerned.
Good to see that Sharon's stepped up repression and the Liberation of IraqTM are paying dividends vis a vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Oh wait, they're not.
Its a day just chock full of stuff happening in the Middle East: Abu Mazen has just been confirmed by the Palestinian Legislative Council as its new prime minister along with his proposed cabinet. This is a step in the right direction. I will express cautious optimism, and hope that there really is a "new Middle East" in which positive developments are more than just a fantasy.
Intifada on the Tigris? At least 15 Iraqi civilians (I guess they're ALL civilians now) opened fire on a U.S. Army (82nd Airborne Division) position in a school in Fallujah, Iraq, protesting and demanding that the Army withdraw from the school. As is customary, the Army fired back and a gun battle ensued for hours, with 15 Iraqis dead and more wounded. I really have no further comment, other than suggesting that those who insist we "won the war", "it was easy" and "aren't we just the best damned country?" consider carefully the implications of the necessarily prolonged police and stabilizing action we have just bought ourselves. As I said before, today, Iraqis killed, tomorrow more, maybe the next day, Americans. Who knows? Are we now manufacturing the next generation of terrorists? Perhaps.
In what I consider good news, it was announced that the American presence in Saudi Arabia will be greatly reduced as operations at the Prince Sultan Airbase there are moved to Qatar. One collateral benefit of the Iraq war is the reduced need to be as close to the Saudis, or to base our people there. The Saudis really do run a horror show themselves that certainly rivals the Taliban in its nastiness, and the less we have to do with the Saudi regime the better, IMHO, even if itís just a force reduction.
But for the fact that the White House has recently been given itself plaudits for its prowess at LYING, I would also consider this story of the President assuring Iraqi-Americans in Dearborn, Michigan (one of them key swing states Karl is so concerned with) that we will not impose a government on Iraq, but allow the Iraqi people to select their own, to be good news. A flat-out American puppet government in Iraq would, ultimately, be a disaster, the poster child for movements opposing American imperialism everywhere. On the other hand, a truly democratic government of the Iraqi people may not be as pro-American as we would like. This will call for finesse and skill, something that has not been shown in getting us to this point.
One of General Garner's most important missions in the transitional administration will be winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and persuading them somehow that their interests lie in forging a modern, Western-leaning state, rather than some sort of Iranian-style theocracy, or another classic Arab-world dictatorship.
It seems difficult to persuade people living under generations of one form of tyranny or another to suddenly embrace modernity in not a generation, but a matter of months, but that's what has to happen. Let me repeat that: that's what HAS to happen.
On the off chance he is around to accept them, birthday congratulations would seem to be in order on the occasion of the 66th birthday of...Saddam Hussein. Indeed, still being around at all would warrant congratulations, in his case, as the United States military ultimately mandated that 65 was to be his retirement age, probably permanently. Not the kind of celebration Saddam's used to, I suppose. Representing the United States at the region's festivities is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
A dollop of free ice cream right now, as the duties of a deposition call.
Remember those 55 gallon drums found in Northern Iraq that allegedly tested positive for being a mixture of sarin, mustard gas and whatever other Bush Administration WMD fantasies-in-a-drum you might want? Yup. Further testing proved that the initial assessment was incorrect -- these drums do NOT contain nasty WMDs -- or anything else of note.
Either Saddam hid his WMDs really, really well, or he actually had disarmed prior to the war, making our military action, while morally laudable, quite possibly, illegal. Recall that the inspectors were there to VERIFY that Saddam's Iraq had actually disarmed of chemical and bio-weapons. We ain't found any yet. Time will tell. Or maybe it won't.
Let me be among the last to comment on THIS story from ABC News whereby White House officials "confided privately" (as if such were possible) that the Bush Administration was well aware that it was grossly overstating fears of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to gain a "legal" and more importantly, domestic political justification, for a smackdown of Iraq (thanks to Media Whores Online for the link). The actual reason for the Saddam smackdown was (according to the unnamed White House sources speaking privately) surprise, surprise, September 11th, and the perceived reality that the Middle East had changed and two messages had to be sent: (1) the United States was not the pussy that bin Laden played it to be based on responses to WTC I, embassy bombings, the Cole, etc.; and (2) the Arab Middle East was capable of having a liberal democracy, and Iraq was the best candidate for it.
September 11th was perceived as an opportunity of a unique nature by the Bush Administration: a political opportunity to avenge Papa Bush by achieving the one thing he always wanted and never got: a second term. How? By using 9-11 as an opportunity to play to the crowd, Roman gladiator style, Bush could play the defining moment (that Bill Clinton, paraphrasing CALIGULA, wished HE had when HE was President) into that intangible, "leadership". Papa Bush lost this, by playing the wimp in refusing to finish off Saddam, that, believes the Bushies, and not the miserably failed economy, cost Papa. (Of course, going back on the "no new taxes" pledge is probably also at the forefront of their thinking.)
So, Dubya asserts his leadership. "Leadership" in passing the USA Patriot Act, locking up non-citizens (and occasionally citizens) purely on whim, rolling back this nation's traditions of welcoming immigrants with arbitrary detentions and deportations, increased domestic surveillance, and a myriad of other measures that no one in their right mind thinks will enhance security, though they will clearly increase inconvenience and actually hurt our economy (travel and tourism is down, largely because our "security" concerns make it much harder and inconvenient to enter our nation, even from many "friendly" countries).
And what better "leadership" role could their be than commander in chief? The Afghan "war" (if you call a deployment a fraction of what we sent to Kosovo a "war") went wonderfully, but too fast. Too many opportunities to quickly forget the commanding presence of our President's "leadership". (That, and we seem not to have gotten EITHER bin Laden or Mullah Omar, but mind your own damned business.) No, by early '02, we were in a position to declare victory in the Afghan theater, and let the country go back to its slumber. Over two years to the election, a mid-term coming, and "leadership" might be forgotten. UNACCEPTABLE.
Well, hunting down bin Laden would be boring -- more "law enforcement" than "war" -- not much action for a "leader". Something else was needed. Lots of candidates, of course (I might start with the Saudis, for example, although even I could come up with about 300 problems with that, even without the REAL reason of unnatural ties between the Bush family and the Sauds). But Iraq was perfect in every way. It would take very little to convince most of the American people that Saddam Hussein himself was operating (via remote control) the aircraft used on 9-11. And so, as of last summer, the war drums began beating, and were played magnificently for the benefit of not merely the "leader", but the leader's entire PARTY (coupled with a fortuitous plane crash, the second of its kind in two years). So the Party of the Wimp managed to play itself as the Party of the Leader (as in Dear Leader or Great Leader), and the other party as just "too soft", and the Grand Old Party scored big in mid-terms. It was also helped by feckless members of the now minority party, some with the cojones to later argue against the war, while voting for its authorization, almost proving the Leader's point that they ARE too soft, more afraid of offending their constituencies than their consciences.
So, Iraq it was. This COULD be played absolutely straight: Saddam's continued presence in the Middle East presented a continued destabilizing force keeping the Saudis and Kuwaitis off balance (and forcing us to base troops there) and helping to allow the Iranians and Syrians to sponsor terrorism; plus there were arguable links between Saddam and the attacks on the World Trade Center, the FIRST attack, however, back in '93. Or it could be played a la Kosovo: Saddam presents a threat to HIS OWN PEOPLE, the Kurds and Shiites, and must be removed as a humanitarian measure.
But these reasons were not perceived as consistent with "leadership": too complicated. Saddam has bad shit that he will give to terrorists -- nice, basic, understandable. THAT'S what we'll go with.
Plus, I understand that this reason had the advantage that many in the defense establishment actually believed it to be true (or at least said that they did). This is the part that confuses me, of course. The Bush Administration is now letting it be known that it would rather be thought of as bald-faced LIARS than of simply being, or even guessing, wrong. Honestly, itís OK with me: we had intelligence (here it is!) that showed WMDs; we didn't share it with Blix because he kept leaking it to Iraqis, who would move it and frustrate the inspections. OK. Fine, our intelligence was wrong. It happens. Too bad. We still managed to topple one of the worst dictators in history. BUT NOOOOOOO.
We get stories of Saddam moving or destroying his WMDs on the eve of war, which are not only illogical, but the movement destruction on such a scale should have left SOME evidence of same. The President has telegraphed that WMDs aren't going to be found, ever. He and his people have now decided that "Leadership" means that a perception of outright deceit is preferable to the "weakness" of admitting an honest mistake (even one that had a great collateral benefit, so far, of course).
Maddening? Well, infuriating. The worst part is that the little *&^% is likely to play this into the coveted second term (he is already preparing to campaign on the backs of 9-11 victims, by launching his reelection sprint 9-11-04). Itís been said that nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. We'll see if that includes elections.
Oh hell...more blog reviews. You KNOW you want it...
High Desert Skeptic is a brand new blog by Roger, who I'm guessing lives in the high
desert (which usually means somewhere in the
Far West). Roger has assembled a group of lefty
superstars on his blogroll (including...you know who),
and his posts are pure southpaw high heat (what else
would you expect?). Roger is a fireballer, and he hits
the strike zone consistently.
Well, its Saturday night. Mrs. TD and I took Baby TD to a friend's 3rd birthday party, and needless to say, we are exhausted! I could put my two cents in one some of the more popular blog memes, like the homophobic statements recently of Senator Santorum, or perhaps comment on the likely murderer-of-his-wife-and-child Scott Peterson, but then, why would you read ME for that? No...I know what you want...more...blog reviews!
So...we have an Agonist and an Agnostic, so now we will add...
is the work of one Radley Balko (Bradley Ralko?), a
freelance writer living in Alexandria, VA, working for
Fox News and the Cato Institute; a libertarian, he lives
with a Sharpei/Lab mix (and you all know what THAT
means). Radley's blogroll leans a bit to the right of
his commentary, which I would describe as "classic
libertarian government-skeptical"; too many so-called
libertarians are just closet righties, but Radley
strikes me as the real deal.
Notes from the Lounge comes to us from Julian Sanchez, a freelance writer for the Cato
Institute living in greater D.C. Julian is another
straight-out libertarian (who studied philosophy and
poli. sci. at dear old N.Y.U.). The blogroll is short,
but eclectic and inclusive in orientation, as are the
posts. A government skeptic, and proponent of individual
rights, Julian's posts are crisp and defensive of
liberty (wherever possible!)
The Perpetual Three Dot Column, or Jesse Walker's eponymous blog, is the work of Mr. Walker, an
associate editor of Reason magazine. Mr. Walker
produces an intellectually fascinating blog, focusing on
the underlying facts which form the basis of the memes
that the rest of us spout off about, from a distinctly
libertarian (or even out and out, dare I say it, honest,
non-judgmental) perspective. The blogroll features many
intellectuals (a good many I have, ahem, never heard of)
and promises fascinating reading. Reading for people who
want to now higher truths, rather than to enforce their
To paraphrase that smarmy kiss-ass Tim Russert, if its Saturday here at the talking dog, itís Pravda!. This week, our friends at Pravda give us a HEADLINE that might be more appropriate for The Onion, but in substance, the article is dead on: while our 4-year-old in chief (and his "grown-up" enablers) ponder appropriate revenge against those who dissed HIM -- not our nation or its policies -- but the BUSH FAMILY, reality will soon set in, and one of those countries otherwise deserving of payback for their UN stand, Russia, will have to be reconciled with the United States NOW in the mutual battle to capture Osama bin Laden (who, lest we forget, seems to be alive). While Pravda has it right, the Administration's remarks this week, such as Colin Powell's suggestion that France will STILL be subject to payback (even though France has introduced a UNSC resolution to lift Iraq sanctions, allowing the open sale of Iraqi oil, albeit conditionally), are shall we say, not constructive.
This article sets out some of the problems new PA premier-designate Abu Mazen (just one of his names!) faces, mostly from a Yasir Arafat not keen on yielding his autocratic role in PA politics and running his Fatah protection racket. Well, George W. Bush has indicated he would meet with Mazen in Washington after he is confirmed (he has yet to meet Arafat), and get things moving on that road map for peace. Well, maps are written on paper. IMHO, that's all the road map will be, a piece of paper, until Mr. Arafat is removed from a position to interfere with Palestinian affairs of state, one way or another.
Why do I love Pravda? "It's all the economy, you silly", as this piece tells us in its wonderful re-translation of the Clintonian mantra that toppled George Bush I in '92. Pravda suggests that the dichotomy between successful war president and miserable domestic economy president may just be deja vu all over again. We'll see, of course. Everyone keeps misunderestimating Dubya (or at least the brilliant machine around him) -- frequently a mistake.
And so, writing here in Brooklyn, proud borough of Oceania's most important city, from discussing matters Eurasia, we now jump over to East Asia , where the People's Daily is quite rightly obsessed with matters SARS, as there appear to be nearly 3,000 reported cases in China now. Chinese bureaucrats screwed this one up, but they seem to be moving rapidly to take the appropriate steps to control a possible pandemic.
Speaking of contagious diseases and China, the People's Daily reports that a key official suffering from something even worse than SARS -- the now loathsome condition of being French -- as French Prime Minister Raffarin met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing, to discuss their mutual interests (interests which may now include, more than ever, counterbalancing the United States).
So, there you go. No need to comment on the explosion in Baghdad at an American-controlled ammunition dump that killed at least 6 Iraqis and wounded lots of others, and promptly generated some protests. This, boys and girls, is what those of us who RIGHTLY protested against this war were protesting against: not the fireworks that killed a coupla thousand civilians, not even the immediate anarchy that led to looting of irreplaceable antiquities and symbols of Iraqi culture for which we will take shit for generations. NO. THIS PART. An annoying, painful occupation, in which low level shit will keep happening, over and over. Today itís Iraqis. Tomorrow it will be Americans. The next day... Kind of like what is happening at a much lower level in our rather quiet war in Afghanistan, with a tiny fraction of this deployment. We'll see how long, politically, we can keep this up. We can, of course, cut and run, wash our hands, be content to have removed "The Guy Who Tried to Kill My DadTM", and watch as a second oil-rich Shiite-cleric dictatorship forms in the region. Or, we can stay and spend the blood and treasure necessary to get the place in order.
Anxious times (well, we won, but I'M still anxious...what's wrong with me?) call for...more blog reviews! Today, I'm delighted to go down unda' for...
She Sells Sanctuary
is the product of a Sydney, NSW, Australia-based
blogger, the lovely Gianna, who tells us she and her
super-cool hippy-dippy journalist dad and typist mum
emigrated from Germany to Australia in the early 70's.
She in turn has migrated from Melbourne to Sydney, and
now works as an administrative assistant in Australia's
largest city. The blog touches on progressive politics,
and matters international, Australia, cultural, and,
Gianna. The cool blogroll features many sites I
recognize, and many I don't (but now feel compelled to
In one of yesterday's posts, I noted my quibbling with New York State Governor George Pataki's interesting political stand whereby he favors cutting state school funding (by about 4%) rather than a relatively modest income tax increase (7/10 of 1% on income OVER $100,000), which has gotten the Unseen Editor's dander up, lest I have become a pure doctrinaire liberal. The basis of my position is simply that the governor has asserted that such a tax increase -- this one -- will "hurt New York by costing it jobs and economic growth". My point is that this is nonsense. No single individual or company will make a decision on whether or not to do business in New York based on such a small difference in tax rates; New York is already perceived (rightly) as a high tax, high expense area to do business. On the other hand, a perceived weakening of public schools (and likely program cuts would be after school activities, music and art, PRE-SCHOOL PROGRAMS) WOULD affect the decisions of many people on whether to live, work, or do business in a state with perceived weak schools (especially one ALREADY perceived as high tax and high expense). I hope that clears it up for everybody!
Let's hear it for the BBC, which has kindly given us this "who's who in post-war Iraq". Apparently, our esteemed Secretary of Defense has not read it too carefully, because he states that Iraq will NOT (under any circumstances?) be led by clerics in the manner of Iran. This, of course, conflicts (rather glaringly) from President Bush's statements that the IRAQI PEOPLE will decide amongst themselves how they are governed. The fact is, if they vote for Mullahs, or even the local Taliban, that would, of course, be the choice of the Iraqi people, would it not? Itís one thing to "restore the legitimate government" (such as in Kuwait), but this is a harder process.
I'm reminded (too much) of Tom Lehrer's "Send the Marines", specifically, this paragraph:
For might makes right
OK, time for another blog review (Why? I don't know).
Path of the Paddle,
or "Canoe" as it sometimes shows up on blogrolls, is the
work of Ikram Saeed, with tagline "As Canadian as
possible, under the circumstances". The fascinating
focus of the blog seems to be matters Canada and matters
Middle East (as reflected in the small blogroll,
featuring blogs concentrating in...matters Canada and
matters Middle East!). Ikram's perspective is, well,
pretty damned sensible. We could use FEWER people like
that in Canada (they're ALL so damned sensible, damn
them) and more of them in the Middle East (where
sensible is a dirty word).
Tariq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister and its most familiar figure internationally besides Saddam Hussein before the war (when the Information Minister dubbed "Comical Ali" did the spokes-personing), is now in American custody.
Elsewhere in the Axis of EvilTM, talks with North Korea taking place in Beijing ended a little early. And North Korea confirmed it HAS nuclear weapons. This is, apparently, not a surprise. Having just finished reading an article about North Korea, whose Dear Leader's birthday, February 16th, is the same as my friend "Mr. Naughty", I am beginning to fear that maybe astrology IS fate. North Korea has built its entire nation around its paranoia against the United States and fear of our attack; leave it Dubya to play into that. I fear the "negotiators" we are sending may be doing the same. Itís tough, because there are 20,000,000 human beings imprisoned by the regime in the North, and more than that living in South Korea, and over 100,000,000 in Japan, let alone a lot of Chinese and some Russians, all within easy range of North Korean nuclear weapons (assuming California IS NOT). This one will take a fair amount of finesse: our precision-guided GPS munitions will not get us through this one.
One of my many loyal readers tells me he thinks I don't cover "local interest" stories enough; my pleas that I have an international readership did not impress him.
Well, here's a story that concerns my own beloved home county, the County of Kings, where Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson seems to be in a %^*$load of trouble for having allegedly participated in a scheme to facilitate divorce actions, for the right price. If these allegations check out, this would likely land Justice Garson in the same place as former Justice Victor Barron: incarceration. In Brooklyn, we don't tolerate corruption, we seem to insist upon it.
And one of these days, maybe someone will get me started on our beloved governor, and why George Pataki thinks that it is anathema to raise taxes seven-tenths of 1%, that is to say, $700 per $100,000 ONLY on income OVER $100,000. The governor would rather cut school aid -- SCHOOL AID -- by 4% across the board. It seems pretty clear that, with stands like this, the governor is probably not going to run for another term.
If only we could convince Governor Pataki's friend in the White House that similar priorities at the national level also reflect a poor choice of priorities. Not likely.
Hmmm. We won the war (keep repeating that!) A resulting lull in traffic...best get back to my particular claim to fame...you all know what I think about most things...MORE BLOG REVIEWS!
Carl With a K,
"political hipster, urban socialite", tells us he may
live in Hollywood, but is no starving waiter, is the
work of KARL (get it?), who tells us he is a political
professional (like that OTHER Karl), 25 or thereabouts,
and gives us, well, progressive politics (Karl likes
Howard Dean), and more progressive politics. A proud
member of the vast left wing conspiracy from the Left
Coast (blogroll to match).
How to celebrate the seeming acquiescence of Yasir Arafat with PA prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas' selection of a new Palestinian cabinet? Exactly: fireworks. Sadly, in the Palestinian context, that means a suicide bombing, which has left an Israeli security guard dead, and at least ten wounded at a train station in central Israel. The bomber was believed to be from Fatah (code name for Arafat himself) and the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade (I certainly believe it).
It's been about a month since the last fatal suicide bombing, but the message from Arafat (as I read it) to the incoming PA premier (as well as to Israel and the world) seems pretty unmistakable: you got what you wanted, buddy, so now don't expect any help from me or my homies. This ALSO says to me that the grand vision of neo-con hawks that the removal of Saddam Hussein was somehow a lynchpin in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis was, like their visions of Iraqi WMDs (and perhaps curing the common cold), hyperbole. Saddam or not, for Yasir, it seems to be business as usual. [Some solace might occur if Yasir decides to hang it up soon, as he is, after all 6 or 7 years older than Saddam was at the time of his death/disappearance. Then again, Arafat is 6 or 7 years YOUNGER than Fidel Castro. Apparently, being a corrupt old tyrant is, absent the occasional assassination or "regime change", often helpful to longevity.]
And it seems we are moving full speed ahead toward some stabilizing over in Baghdad, as General Garner is proposing to have Iraqi government ministries, staffed by Iraqis, open by the end of next week. Let's all hope that this is a precursor of continued good news on the rebuilding front.
A tough day of work related activities has delayed my posting for the day. Take a peek at the Carnival of the Vanities over at Kitchen Cabinet.
Just as we thought things had calmed down in the Middle East, amidst a massive outpouring of religion from our former friends the Iraqi Shiites, the President NOW sees fit to move on the next member of the Axis of EvilTM, Iran, at least rhetorically. (The other remaining Axis member, North Korea, meets with U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing, which, had you been reading me regularly, you would have learned was coming last week as reported by the People's Daily).
Dubya just can't help but talk tough. Maybe tensions with Iran will cool (just as they seemingly have with Syria). Who knows? I sure as hell don't. The enemy of my enemy may be my friend...but what happens when we knock off our mutual enemy? With respect to a bunch of Shiites, I suppose we're about to find out...
A hearty mazel tov to J. Fielek who some of you may recognize as the proprietor of the Blog of Xanadu, we give you a brand new blog:
Man Meets Baby
comes to us from J. Fielek of the
Blog of Xanadu. The new blog lets us read about the
story of the Fieleks' new baby, quite literally as he or
she develops. This is the sort of "happy stuff" we'd
all like to see more of in the blog world, and I'm
damned glad to see it here. Go. Share the joy. NOW!
I am shocked, SHOCKED, I say, to hear that Hans Blix contends that the United States undermined the work of United Nations weapons inspectors. As long-term readers (both of you) know, I have had, shall we say, mixed feelings about the work of Dr. Blix and company, but overall, it was President George W. Bush on or about 12 September 2002 who took it upon himself to appear before the United Nations and demand the resumption of weapons inspections. Saddam Hussein seemed to enjoy playing games with the inspectors, and the inspectors proved to be able enablers.
But, after setting the inspection process in motion, it was President George W. Bush whose government systematically (according to Dr. Blix) undermined the work of those inspectors, largely so that, politically, war drums could be beaten, and ultimately, war it was. Of course, the stated casus belli had been Iraq's failure to come clean on its WMDs. Over a month since hostilities, and a fortnight since the apparent fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, not one jot of evidence has been found that Iraq has any Ė ANY Ė of the chemical, biological or nuclear weapons feared. Further, there is a theory out there that this may mean, without Saddam's tight grip, terrorist organizations have had an easier opportunity getting their hands on the bad stuff than if the Saddam Hussein regime remained in place.
Although WMDs have not been located, American forces HAVE managed to locate a cache of...cash. American currency in the range of $600,000,000 has been discovered. This should be just about enough to pay Bechtel's contract.
Gee, it seems that we had a Monday morning just last week.
Well, whoever thought that crushing Iraq first would be a good way to get North Korea off the schnide (admittedly, I didn't think it was all that good an idea) seems to have been vindicated, as North Korea seems ready to talk to South Korea, a sign that tensions are down. Meanwhile, the President has softened the tone on Syria, which leads one to conclude that Syria must be playing ball. Well, George W. Bush can add his own slogan to the lexicon; there was Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick". We'll be working on Dubya's slogan for a while (speak inarticulately, carry a big shtick?) as I'm sure we can come up with something better (feel free to e-mail me with good slogans.)
General Garner is off to Baghdad, Saddam might be alive, the Palestinians are having a feud over their cabinet... Just another manic Monday!!!
Happy Easter! Another beautiful Sunday here in Brooklyn. Perhaps we'll go plant shopping.
At around a month past the start of hostilities, itís time for the CNN-style hagiographies (for those who don't know, that means "blow jobs") of the American military and its war planning and execution.
Let me just say this: absent some really obvious fuck-ups (looting of the national museum and library, assassination of key religious leaders, delays in restoration of infrastructure services), this has all gone swimmingly. Relatively low numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties, around 100 American military deaths (mostly at our own hand), and for the most part, we have left Iraq largely there. Saddam and a regime that just looks nastier and nastier the more we learn of it, ousted (the man himself presumably dead, even if he does keep popping up in pictures). Hurray for the good guys.
If we do the reconstruction as well as we did the deconstruction, we will have accomplished something monumentally great and wonderful, and may well "transform the Middle East". If we DO NOT (and the President has, thus far, asked Congress for virtually NOTHING to rebuild Iraq, shades of Afghanistan), then we can think of this as job security for future American construction workers, rebuilding American cities destroyed by future terrorists, that is. It really IS that stark and simple.
And, because itís a nice day and I SHOULD be outside with my young daughter, itís time for MORE BLOG REVIEWS!
As promised (by me) to the Ice Queen, the remaining portions of the blog roll of the Ice Queen not already part of the dog run...
The War Parties Diary
is the work of Dhalia Moore, a Torontonian party (and
blogging) animal, who tells us that his mission is to
give us "War is in. Who's wearing what? Who's going
where? Who's hot and who's not? Details to follow." The
details do, indeed, follow. Itís hip, itís happening,
is the work of Crabby, a Torontonian blogger (I guess)
who mixes details of her life (including her
self-deprecating humor) and her poetry for a most
interesting personal log/blog. Her tagline: Because I
said so. She would have a future in American politics,
would that she lived here.
Sister Staceypatrick Explains It All For You comes to us from blog-world superpower
Ontario, whose tagline is ďRamblings and ravings from
the not-so-hallowed mind of a scarcely-devout
individual.Ē She takes us through details of her own
life (with "the Father"), and drifts in and out of
progressive political discussions. No blogroll (yet?).
One post is so good (3-27-03), that in a rarity, I will
reproduce it in its entirety: ďThought for the Day:
ĎYou know the world is
going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the
best golfer is a black guy, The Swiss hold the America's
Cup, France is accusing the US of arrogance, and Germany
doesn't want to go to war.íĒ
Itís been a while, and some of you, I'm sure, are de-toxing bad over it, so, your time is now. MORE BLOG REVIEWS:
Food for Thought
is the delicious intellectual and political banquet
served up by MC Masterchef, and is a relatively recent
addition to the blog world menu. The food world conceit
is just the appetizer for deliciously laid out political
commentary that seems to geared to my peculiar
culinary-political tastes. Nice links section to fellow
travelers, AND various do-gooder orgs.
One Man's Opinion is the work of One Man a/k/a Dustin M. Wax o.k. whoever he (or
she) REALLY is. What he (or she) writes is some
diabolically clever good-guy agitprop (wait a
minute...can the good guys produce agitprop?) A solid
lefty blogroll, most of whom are already dog run
denizens (and the rest will be soon), and in one
opinion, over the plate commentary from a left-handed
Its Saturday morning again (looks like a nice one here in Brooklyn), so itís time for our brief peep at... Pravda. We'll look at this article noting that the motivation for the United States to attack Syria (if any, as the article thankfully in my view concludes it won't happen) is that Israel wants it to. Of course, the article also notes that Israel wants to look hawkish, without actually expecting the United States to do that which it asks. Who knows? If we DO finally turn on Syria, just between us, it will be for motivations that will not likely be made public.
In a report I haven't seen elsewhere, NATO will, commencing in the late summer, be placed in charge of Afghan peace-keeping operations. Pravda hints at the provocative nature of NATO operating so far outside of its usual area of operation. I don't know what to make of it, other than, I would like to see corroboration from, say, our government.
And Iraq's neighbors have stated that production of oil by the occupying force (that would be the United States) would be illegal until the U.N.S.C. lifts sanctions against Iraq. Can you say, "com-pe-ti-tion?" One of my original premises for believing (wrongly) that this war might not take place was that it was in the Saudi national interest (the only national interest near and dear to the hearts of George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush) to keep Iraq boxed in and not producing oil at its full potential. Just keep repeating: this isn't about oil, this has NOTHING to do with oil, this was always about liberating the Iraqi people, etc.
And from Eurasia, we move over to East Asia, where the Chinese People's Daily reports that Ahmed Chalabi has already taken himself out of the running to be interim regent of Iraq. Good move. Chalabi found his support was weaker than he thought. Being front and center in a place where assassination attempts will be likely amidst years of score settling seems, at a personal level, to be a bad idea. Of course, if not him, then who?
And the People's Daily reports a Chinese government spokesman as saying that direct U.S.-D.P.R.K. (North Korea, of course) will take place "soon", hosted by Beijing. Query whether having direct bilateral talks IN CHINA makes this the "multilateral" talks the United States government insisted were necessary? One thing is clear: the Iraq experience has changed the landscape on both sides, everybody has to play ball now. Kim Jong Il has seen the light: the Bush Administration is now even ornerier and more mercurial than HE is. Best to have those talks!
Finally, as a construction lawyer by trade, I should note (at least in passing) the no-bid award of a $680 million reconstruction contract in Iraq, to be borne by the United States taxpayer, to the fabulously-well-connected-in-GOP-circles Bechtel Corporation, based in body (though not in spirit) in San Francisco. Bechtel is just about the largest construction company IN the United States, and does an awful lot of gigantic public jobs, and I have no doubt, is absolutely qualified to do this relatively (in the context or rebuilding Iraq) small project ($680 million would barely be enough rehabilitate one of New York City's bridges, let alone an entire country the size of California). Few of Bechtel's contracts, however, have been awarded in as murky and suspicious a manner as this one.
The Bush Administration long ago gave up the premise of even trying to make things LOOK good, having discovered that the American people don't seem to care anymore. Actually, the Bush Administration is COUNTING on this.
A happy Good Friday to those to whom it applies, and a Zissen Pesach to those to whom that applies.
Well, SOME repercussions for a bad thing we done: three White House cultural officials have resigned in protest over the failure to take better precautions to protect the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad; there was also damage at a museum in Mosul and the Iraqi National Library. Fair is fair: no one is saying that we could have a war with no collateral damage or no civilian casualties, and only people who just aren't credible would argue that the Saddam Hussein regime was superior even to the current anarchy (just today, Kurdish forces found what appear to be mass graves resulting from the charming Saddam Hussein regime's killings of Kurds in the 1980's), BUT, this particular museum looting event was hardly a surprise. Apparently, few or NO measures whatsoever were taken to guard against the looting of these museums and the loss of these treasures of antiquity to ALL MANKIND, while extensive precautionary efforts were made regarding matters petroleum.
In less rarified news from Baghdad, thousands (apparently) took to the streets to denounce the American occupation of their city and nation. This only highlights just how imperative it is that we restore electricity and telecommunications services to these people so that they have something else to do besides going out protesting, and looting. And many people would like to hear that their family and/or friends are o.k.; in blogland, that means you know who, silent since 24 March, around which time phone service went down in Baghdad.
And in what some are contending is a sign that Syria is tightening its grip on Lebanon so that it can better focus on matters to its east rather than Lebanon, Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri (on how many other blogs will you see THAT name?) named a new 30-member cabinet. As I said, Syria is not a nice place and it is led by a not nice ophthalmologist dictator son of the former dictator. BUT...Syria has cooperated in the War on TerrorTM; admittedly, I wouldn't have ASKED for its cooperation, but our esteemed government did. Syria even helped us out by voting for UNSC 1441 (the purported "legal basis" of our current invasion of Iraq). Colin Powell says we won't invade or attack Syria, though other voices in Washington say different things.
In my gut, I think Syria is a nasty dictatorship that sponsors and hosts more terrorist groups than just about anyone else, is incorporating Hizbollah elements into ITS OWN ARMY, is occupying one neighbor and perpetually trying to destabilize its other, is developing and stockpiling its own chemical and bio-weapons, and is certainly not our friend. BUT, it is in the United States' interests to have an orderly world. As messy as Syria is, toppling it would just lead to (IMHO) too many unpredictable consequences.
And besides, at the end of the day, regardless of what we do or don't do with Syria, Osama will still be out there.
In a little prosaic break from the action-packed war news, we'll step back a bit and take a look at what the Pentagon says the war has COST: $20 BILLION, and counting. Throw in 100 lives (so far), and take a guess at future costs, military, reconstruction, and human, and make your own assessments as to whether this was and will be "worth it". Again, regardless of what color scheme Tom Ridge favors (and New York City has NEVER gone off orange alert since 9-11), if the goal was to "make America safer from terrorism", I respectfully submit that we have not. On the other hand, in the ultimate triumph of newspeak, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" has, unbelievably, amounted to exactly that. The Iraqi people have been liberated from a tyrannical regime. We could have done a better job of limiting anarchy in the immediate aftermath (we do seem to be improving rapidly on that score) but there you go.
I get the feeling (optimistic, really) that Colin Powell's announced visit to Syria signals that the bellicose talk is, well, TALK, and that Colin is not going to deliver an ultimatum. For the kazillionth time, Syria is not a nice place, Bashar (or Beshar, I can never make up my mind) Assad is not a nice man, and Syria (and Lebanon, which has been under Syrian control for years) would certainly be better off under liberal, democratic regimes. But, Syria DID cooperate in that War on TerrorTM thing, and in the first Gulf War, and...
Given that I'm now 40 years old and my only child is a girl, maybe the United States should re-impose an (all-male) draft so that we could make it a policy of "liberating" every oppressed people in the world, easier ones first, of course. Well, actually, as satisfying as that would be to some, I think the downside of the extremely high human and economic costs, and the likely backlash make that a really bad idea; that's why, in theory, we impose this "national interest" thing to war and peace calculations. Saddam Hussein, in theory, threatened world oil supply stability (and "he tried to kill my Dad"), threatened his neighbors, and of course, kept his people in a house of horrors. Neither Mugabe nor Kim Jong Il, for example, sit on oil, and while removing Mugabe would be relatively cheap and doubtless good for Zimbabweans and removing Kim would be good for North Koreans, don't look for either anytime soon. Mugabe threatens Zimbabweans mostly. Kim Jong Il threatens his own people, and not one, but two critical strategic allies. But taking Kim on directly, just because of sheer proximity, he might end up destroying one of those allies and severely damaging the other; hence, the cost of direct action against North Korea is deemed too high.
Iraq had the right combination: nasty leader, oil, easy smackdown. Syria? Just doesn't fit the bill (no big time oil); it threatens Israel and sponsors terrorists against Israel, but is in no sense an existential threat to Israel (by itself, anyway). Iraq was a unique opportunity.
So...itís on to the "reconstruction". Well, let's just say, it won't be as easy as the war. Sure, the President vows that we will ensure the Iraqi people have a bright future. He is, logically, calling for the end of UN sanctions. Certainly, the Saddam Hussein regime, being gone and all, is no longer in violation of resolutions calling for it to disarm. On the other hand, with sanctions in place, the U.N. Security Council, via the Oil for Food program, actually controls the disposition of Iraqi oil. So, all the more important to make nice-nice to our traditional friends France and Russia, particularly if we want the Security Council to help us out on this (this wasn't a war about oil, remember?) Lots of issues.
I heard vague reports proposed by some Pentagon officials suggesting that the bulk of American troops could be largely gone from Iraq in, oh, 18 months (when a "free and fair election" can be scheduled in Iraq). Of course, as I recall, there will be another election somewhere else at about that time...if I could just remember where...
I have just received an urgent CNN bulletin (AP reports here) -- America can breathe easier, as we are lowering our alert status from Code Orange to Code Yellow. Mr. Chekhov, plot a course for...Damascus?
I'll say this for the Bellicose Bushies: slow news days are now a thing of the past.
Abu Abbas, on the lam for nearly two decades since the murder of Leon Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro cruise ship that he helped orchestrate to "advance the Palestinian cause", was picked up by American forces in Baghdad. Italy, which has sentenced him to life imprisonment, has asked for his extradition. My understanding was that Abbas' presence in Baghdad was an open secret, although he had been a minor figure in the terrorism game for a long time. Presumably, his capture will help rhetoric about Saddam Hussein's links to "terrorists", but I do not believe Abbas was linked to al-Qaeda. Still, the capture of a murderer at any point to face justice must be construed as constructive.
In just plain unconstructive news, a U.S. commander has admitted that U.S.A. forces did kill some Iraqi civilians at a demonstration in the city of Mosul. This is not an auspicious start to formation of a new Iraqi government, as a preliminary meeting near the ancient City of Ur took place yesterday for that purpose. Chairing that meeting was DOD official Zalmay Khalilzad (who once tossed me out of his International Politics colloquium back at the old alma mater on the ostensible grounds that it was oversubscribed).
We're looking at the beginning of the hard part. The 24-hour cable-driven American attention span could survive the month-long military campaign. But the "reconstruction" part will take a lot longer, a few years for the more optimistic, decades for the less optimistic. We will need an awful lot of troops there to "stabilize" the area, for a good long while too. We got ou'selves some issues.
THIS is why those who favored the war but failed to calculate THESE costs are fools and knaves. Because the military part, while exciting, and obviously necessary for "regime change" (I concede that I won't accept the premise that Saddam could have been displaced any other way, short of a lucky special operations assassination) was but a small component of the big can of worms. We're only a couple of DAYS into this, and we ALREADY have issues associated with the sacking of the national library and museum, the loss of government records necessary for reconstruction, food and medicine distribution, electricity, water, telephone and other communication services still down, clerics are being assassinated and our troops feeling compelled to fire on mobs. To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, "Lucy, we got some stabilizin' to do".
If not done right, we will be buying ourselves (or, perhaps, have already bought) our own version of the West Bank and Gaza (certainly for our troops and personnel there, and conceivably, a backlash may involve terrorist strikes here). Not coincidentally, Israel has completely sealed off those areas during the Passover holiday. To be blunt, I personally don't want to have to live in a place like that; most Americans thought the purpose of this Iraqi operation was to make us SAFER from terrorists. Fools and knaves?
American income tax returns are due today. Certainly a gorgeous day (temperatures here approaching 80 degrees F) for such an auspicious event.
Today near Nasirya, American officials will be hosting a "get together" among various Iraqi constituencies and representatives of the American regency, including presumably putative regent General Jay Garner. Some Iraqis are boycotting the event, contending that even a short term interim Iraqi government should be managed by...Iraqis. Expect many meetings of this nature in the next few months, as Iraq will be reconstructed on a more or less "ad hoc" basis. If we do a really good job of it, it might become a model for future reconstructions, such as in...
Syria? Seemingly out of nowhere, without even having restored water and electricity to large parts of Iraq, the Bush Administration's bellicose rhetoric has suddenly turned toward Syria. The United States has been urged to cut out this tough talk by the usual suspects. At least one Iraqi general (who switched sides during the war) "confirms" that Syria is indeed harboring fleeing members of the Saddam Hussein regime, and there are further intimations regarding Syrian WMDs.
Unlike singleton Iraq, Syria is a "two-fer". Since Lebanon is a virtual vassal state of Syria, a military strike against Syria designed for "regime change" will topple BOTH countries; assuming we can promptly install a pro-Western puppet regime in BOTH places, we will have removed just about all of the significant countries committed to Israel's imminent destruction save Iran (which I hear may ALSO be harboring Iraqi fugitives and WMDs, particularly if we , ahem, don't find them in Syria), except for Saudi Arabia, and well, there's not much we can do about them, I'm afraid.
Well, all we can say about Beshar Assad (son of the late dictator Haffez Assad) is that he's probably not as bad as Saddam Hussein. Damascus is famous for hosting more terrorist groups than Branson, Missouri hosts tacky country and western acts. I certainly railed against including Syria (along with, ahem, Saudi Arabia) in our "anti-terror coalition" way back right after 9-11. But I understand that Syria has provided some level of cooperation (unlike, ahem, Saudi Arabia). So now, shall we turn on what was our "coalition partner", and do a smackdown? I daresay our "coalition of the willing" against Iraq won't likely hold together (that means Britain, Australia, and Poland) for an attack on Syria. I find myself perplexed by these developments.
Syria, along with Iran, heads the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorism; of course, that terrorism is invariably directed at Israel, rather than the United States, but you get the idea. Had the war against Iraq really been about the threat of a state supplying al-Qaeda with WMDs, Syria would certainly be a candidate for "regime change". But we selected Iraq, for a whole cartload of stated reasons, none of which have proven justified, and a whole cartload of unstated reasons which are...unstated.
I don't know; we have a large deployment in the region; it would not be a major logistical stretch to turn the deployment slightly to the West and march toward Syria.
I guess we still have some diplomatic chips and international goodwill left. No point in leaving THEM on the table!
As horrible a week weather-wise as we had last week here in the Big City, it looks like this week may be gorgeous; we had a glorious sunny weekend, followed by a glorious sunny day today, highs in the mid-60's. A day I won't say thank God its Monday.
Kudos to my brother Fred a/k/a The Rabid Dog for correctly surmising that the Iraq war was on a thirty-day script; somehow, in the darkest moments of potential quagmire, he knew. (Also, his market prognostications are pretty good too, though on that, caveat emptor). We are now at Day 26, with every major city now secured, and mopping up "pockets of resistance", although I may have spoken too soon regarding Tikrit, as a battle is ensuing there. Still and all, with Baghdad and the rest of Iraq fallen, it shouldn't be much longer before Tikrit falls as well. And so, we can turn to the larger issues of Iraqi reconstruction and sweetheart unbid contracts, and where we will next take our road show...Syria perhaps? North Korea apparently has gotten the message, and South Korea now reports that North Korea is "a bit more flexible" in the ravings of its spokespeople. (Pause for orgiastic cries from neo-con hawks.)
Itís impressive that the reason a Republican would never suggest going to war, and indeed, would propose that we tar and feather any Democrat who suggested it, is, in fact, the only surviving reason for THIS war: for humanitarian purposes. We would NEVER have freed the Iraqi people for the sake of freeing the Iraqi people; that we did so merely as a by-product of whatever other political reasons we had for undertaking this war is a happy coincidence for them. It becomes a bizarre accident of history that those who lost their lives on September 11th may have helped to liberate the people of Iraq.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction, or as I prefer to call them, "RBS (Really Bad Stuff)" was neither used against our troops, nor even found. Administration talk that such weapons may have been moved to Syria is doubly ominous, especially when coupled with the other tough talk aimed at Syria. Itís particularly ominous given this Administration's track record on matters of... telling the truth. Similarly, the Administration failed to show any links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The international audience will treat all of this a bit differently than the more forgiving domestic audience.
Which takes me to my point. I would love to be hard on the Bush Administration (and, as you know, I consider the failure to secure the Iraqi National Museum and Iraqi hospitals from looters to be the height of irresponsibility), but I have to hand it to them for freeing the Iraqi people from one of the most horrible governments ever to exist; Bill Clinton would never have done that (too risky!). Fortunately, the war went well, with relatively low casualties for the size deployment and the magnitude of the mission. Fortunately, as in we were LUCKY. It could have been far worse all around.
But opposition to this war was NOT based exclusively on the combat part of the war being some kind of a Vietnam-like quagmire; indeed, that was only a small part. Opposition was based on the fact that CLEANING UP after the war would involve committing extensive American forces for years (if not decades), where they will be subject to pot-shots and perhaps even our own version of Beirut-on-the-Tigris. Further, we have now created a justification and precedent for other international players to engage in "preemptive war", particularly troubling since we have not yet proven that WE had a legitimate basis to do that here (a problem not present with a "humanitarian" action). America benefits from an orderly world; since World War II, we have determined that even at the cost of our having to be the world's primary stabilizing force, the cost was worth the alternative of international chaos. We may have just chucked all that.
As with the first Gulf War, we may well have created a bizarre dynamic which led to a decade plus of anti-American terrorist activities, which included not only 9-11, but the Cole, Khobar Towers, the embassy bombings, and the first World Trade Center attack, which in short, will make America less safe from terrorist attacks than it would have been without this war. I certainly do not believe America will be any MORE safe.
In a metaphor the President would understand, I would say we had a very good first inning (and picked up a lot of Iraqi fans). That doesn't mean we were right to play this game.
It was pointed out that I have left out a key member of the Brooklyn vast left wing conspiracy, and that it was my duty to immediately rectify this. I promptly give you...
is the blog of Park Slope Brooklyn's own Teresa Nielsen
Hayden, who blog aficionados will immediately recognize
as related (by marriage, as well as by business
partnership in the sci-fi publishing game) to Patrick
Nielsen Hayden, proprietor of the blog
Electrolite. Making Light's tagline is "Language,
fraud, folly, truth, history, and knitting. Et cetera."
While Teresa's politics are compatible with Patrick's
(and mine), the blog is, well, less political (though by
no means are politics not discussed, deftly and in
detail), but matters of language, culture, and other
assorted potpourri are discussed as well. The blog roll
fits this general potpourri, interesting stuff, of and
for interesting people.
Somewhere today we crossed 40,000 on the hit meter. Go figure. Thanks to all of you who still keep reading me. I'll try to be worth the trouble.
In actual real world, meaningful good news, seven American Prisoners of War were rescued, discovered on the Bahdad to Tikrit road, apparently all in generally good condition.
Hopefully, given Tikrit's more or less bloodless fall, it looks like other than diehards in the "pockets of resistance", the major heavy lifting is now over, and the tasks of securing Iraq, stabilizing it, and starting the process of our occupation and regency are upon us. Here's hoping for the best.
Yesterday, I took Baby TD to what the Unseen Editor terms "the most boring museum in the world", New York's American Museum of Natural History. Mrs. TD reminded me that some of the exhibits are the same as when HER father first saw them, before World War II. Boring or not, museums are places of continuity.
And that is why I am incredibly troubled by the clearly deliberate decision of President George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld to decide to not even REMOTELY give a shit about the dismemberment of the world's greatest collection of antiquities from Mesopotamia (you know, the cradle of civilization, which Iraq and some oil happen to be sitting on). Hence, the easily stoppable looting of the Iraqi National Museum. We secured the oil fields; I understand we even secured the oil ministry in Baghdad.
But somehow, in this war to "liberate the Iraqi people", we couldn't be bothered to "secure" a few other things, like the main symbol of the cultural heritage of the Iraqi people. Of course, we also couldn't be bothered securing or re-supplying stupid things like HOSPITALS; this story of the scenes of medieval horrors WE, that's US, the United States of America, just created and inflicted on other human beings, as recounted in Electrolite, will make you want to cry and scream with rage at the same time.
For the kazillionth time: "winning" this war was always going to be easy part. We won. Hurrah and hozah. FOR THE MOMENT, the Iraqi people are "liberated", although, no one of good will who might have supported this war of aggression anticipated that this would mean liberated from all forms of order. Having spent American political capital and goodwill like a drunken sailor to get this far, Dubya got his statue toppling photo op. This is nice, but what matters is the aftermath of this war, what sort of Iraq we are left with, and the Iraqis are left with. This is the one that will bite us in the ass in the months and years to come.
Let's just say that it is more than a little troubling that our anti-intellectual president who rails against the cultural elite at home and harped on about saving the "wealth of Iraq of the Iraqi people", didn't have the fucking vision to decide that "wealth" meant anything more than oil wells. This, boys and girls, is the fastest way imaginable to "lose the peace".
This whole thing is as troubling as the destruction of the giant Buddhas at Bamoyen by the Taliban; perhaps worse: the Talibans acted with malice, we with but reckless negligence (Negligence is WORSE than malice? Since when?óed.). It is a loss to all humanity, and one easily stoppable, if our leadership just gave a shit about anything besides money and power. This does not make me proud to be an American.
Itís a Saturday morning again (thank the ceremonial deity). As is my custom until I do something else, itís time to see what our comrades at Pravda have to say. Ramiro da Silva, the United Nations humanitarian representative for Iraq right now, insists that the lawlessness and anarchy (aren't they the same thing?) in post-war Iraq is "more dangerous" than the military action. [Obviously, this confirms my impression that National Palestine Radio (NPR) and the New York Times and many others are playing this angle for the same impression that Fox plays the "celebrations" for theirs.]
The U.S. military, well ahead of our political leaders, is already taking steps to quell the looting and restore (or impose) order such as with curfews. Again, only the most hardened of leftists (or the typical EU or UN bureaucrat) would assert that a few days of anarchy is worse than the Saddam Hussein regime. We self-proclaimed progressives lose credibility if we say anything other than, ďwe should not undermine the GREAT THING we have just done by allowing chaos to overshadow the toppling of the Baathist Butchers.Ē
On this theme, Pravda gives us this report on the tri-lateral talks in St. Petersburg (the one in Russia) between Pooty-Poot, Chirac and that German guy, the outcome of which seems, well, indeterminate, including issues on those three countries Iraqi debt. I assume they will eventually make nice-nice with Washington. Or at least someone HERE will make nice-nice overtures to them. For the kazillionth time, the United States needs an orderly world, and the Chinese and Japanese excepted, France, Russia and Germany are the most important players in the world, and we need to be on good terms with them to ensure an orderly world.
Meanwhile, we'll jump from Eurasia to East Asia, where the Chinese People's Daily gives us this analysis of the strategic implications of the war for Iraq, which it perceives (surprise, surprise) as a well-calculated plan for American global domination. Given that itís now been almost a month, we have crushed Iraq and have taken every major city save Tikrit, and the American and British forces have yet to find that elusive cache of WMDs that supposedly justified this war, this argument may well gain resonance as time goes by. And maybe rightly so.
So here we go again. We are accused of imperialism anyway, but why was it necessary to ASSIST that argument through rhetoric more consistent with a four-year-oldís tantrum than with the most powerful nation in the world? There is a reason for diplomatic double-speak; while the President's straight talk (in short sentences with single syllable words) MAY play well domestically, his job ALSO includes things besides being reelected: it includes advancing the interests of THIS country. Not just the Saudi royal family, or the Bush royal family and its friends, but THIS COUNTRY. Right now, the United States may have just accomplished more for human rights by toppling Hussein than we have done in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti combined, but that was NOT our stated reason for doing this. Instead, we went on a "self-defense" posture (Saddam and WMDs), which so far, looks to be false. Indeed, it looks to have been absolutely fabricated. This too will undermine the great gift we have just given to the Iraqi people.
I don't know. As we deal with more troubling problems (Iran, North Korea, O- fucking-SAMA) we will need MORE international cooperation, not less.
We're not off to a good start.
The Unseen Editor continues to forward me subtle little messages regarding my stand vis a vis the war, i.e., that I (or at least "liberals") seem to be rooting for Murphy's Law to kick in now, and for bad stuff to happen with the occupation to prove them right. Progressives (including bloggers), listen carefully: I would rather be wrong about this. I personally THINK -- not hope -- that things will get worse from now, as I THINK (not hope) that we have just bought our own version of the West Bank, and we will do a half-assed and "incomplete job", a la Afghanistan. Look, failure to finish the job in '91 led directly to bin Laden, Ramzi Youssef, etc. I am bringing up a child in this City, for God's sake. If Bush fucked this up, the recriminations will hit close to home -- MY HOME -- and that is unacceptable (pure personal Republican-type thinking: my family's well-being trumps my ego on this). So, I'm glad we won the war, I'm glad we won it easily, and I hope we win the peace just as easily. Let Bush have the credit, he did this. Iraq is free. Good. That is all.
As I seem unable to come up with a segue, let's just say that California blogger Ezra Klein wants you! Actually, Ezra is looking for a few good men and women to man the Gary Hart campaign offices. Check it out if this is of interest to you. And good luck, to Senator Hart. He'll need it. The Senator has a blog, BTW, so feel free to log on.
Watching pictures of all the looting, I wondered if perhaps we shouldn't make restoring phone and Internet service to Iraq a priority, not just so we can hear from Salam Pax again, but so that Iraqis can restore their economy themselves. By selling the looted tchotchkes on eBay, we can bring billions of dollars into the Iraqi economy in a few days (minutes, by PayPal!). Just a thought.
Now on to blog reviews...
comes to us from Austin, TX based blogger Kriston
(that's a male name in this case), who proudly takes his
place at the podium of the vast left wing conspiracy.
GP links to the goodies (nice, short, lefty blogroll,
formatted on TOP of the blog, for now), and promises to
be yet another smart voice for the good guys.
is the work of Houston blogger (and photographer, and a
good one, if his site be any guide) Michael Hatley.
Michael is a computer maven and ex-infantryman, now in
college, happily married to his second wife (his first
marriage to his ex-wife, Bitch -- good dog name --
didn't work out). Michael's blog comments on the events
of the day and his life in measured tones, I would guess
progressive, but skeptical, a fascinatingly grown up way
to look at the world, not always found in blogging. The
blogroll leans left, but is fair and balanced (assuming
anyone can say that anymore with a straight face).
is less a blog than a multi-contributor site exploring
the links between media and society. It has a national
and a Twin Cities edition, and it has extensive links
(leaning to the "progressive"), and it has innumerable
posts contributed from numerous sources, again, in what
I would call a "progressive" view of the news.
A cold, rainy day here in the big city. Itís mid-April, I realize that April showers bring Mayflowers and hordes of oppressive Anglos to these shores...never mind. The war news continues to be pretty good, as the White House "officially" says "ding dong the regime is gone". Well, good riddance to the Saddam Hussein regime, assuming that it is not holed up in Tikrit for one last Wagnerian hurrah. The Unseen Editor is kind enough to send me this Eason Jordan editorial from The New York Times on yet another nasty angle to the former Iraqi regime.
This is why I tried to say that even those (such as myself) who took the trouble to PROTEST the war should realize that it wasn't as if there was any reason to SUPPORT the Saddam Hussein regime; many protestors more or less couldn't contain themselves, insisting that George W. Bush was somehow the same, or worse, than Saddam Hussein. The issue was, and still is, this: while the liberation of the Iraqi people itself is a laudable goal, and we should be justly pleased to have APPARENTLY delivered it, assuming we do not ALSO "win the peace" and make that liberation actually "stick", and the Iraqis revert to some kind of new dictatorship or worse, some kind of Taliban situation, THIS WILL NOT HAVE BEEN WORTH IT. Further, part of the price of "winning the peace" will HAVE TO BE a long-term American military presence.
For those idiots fond of noting how wonderfully our post-war occupations of Germany and Japan were, I note that it is 58 years since VE and VJ Days, and we still have large numbers of troops in BOTH COUNTRIES. More relevantly, itís been over a dozen years since the fall of the Soviet Union, and we still have large numbers of troops in BOTH COUNTRIES. So, be prepared to see American forces spend a while in Iraq. Hell, we've been in the rest of the Gulf the last dozen years too! The occupation and clean-up will be costly, will doubtless cost more American (and Iraqi) lives, and will, without doubt, cost a fortune. As his father did with Gulf War I, I believe that the cost of Dubya's Operation Iraqi Freedom will have adverse economic effects for a long time. Oh, did I mention the likely terrorist reprisals? We'll have those too. It violates America's lightning fast attention span, but the fair measure of this war should be taken in years, perhaps even a decade's time. [Note: we can win this war even without a firm knowledge of Saddam's disposition, because Saddam is no longer in control if Iraq. In the War on TerrorTM, we MUST KILL Osama bin Laden (I don't even think capturing is good enough), because as long as he breathes, he continues to be a threat, specifically, that he will continue to be the J.P. Morgan of terrorism, and arrange funding and logistics for further terrorist actions.]
Let me say this: right now the Iraqi people have reason to rejoice. The American people do too. I will swallow my pride and say that this military action was a noble endeavor; regardless of the fact that our policy makers invaded Iraq for the wrong reasons or fraudulent reasons or even INSANE reasons, the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime, by itself, is a good thing. It may very well have been the most evil regime currently on Earth, but it was certainly an evil regime for the people who lived in Iraq.
I'm certainly amused to see my fellow travelers at The New York Times and National Palestine Radio (NPR) highlight the looting and the revenge killings and the current anarchy, which I assume our Marines, Rangers, MPs, etc. will largely quell in the next couple of days as the last pockets of resistance are finished off. I understand the need of my fellow "progressives" to do this, Rule I: Bush gets no credit for anything. But I think we all cost ourselves some credibility if we do not just say this: "Look, I'm glad this went well, I'm glad the Iraqi people are rid of Saddam Hussein, Bush took quite a chance, and it looks like he did it right, so good for him, and good for the United States."
Yes, I was right to oppose the war, and I would oppose it again, even if I knew "this" would be the outcome. But I'm glad it went well, and I think we should rejoice for the Iraqi people.
What time is it? Perhaps its time to consider the prophetic words of Unqualified Offerings, to wit, "I hope you like the Middle East, America. It's yours now." Itís also time for a blog review (lately, I have been reviewing blogs that favor a political perspective I am not necessarily in full agreement with; the dog run is a vast tent). Welcome to:
is the work of
Oakland, California blogger Raymond, who ORIGINALLY
comes to us geographically and politically from Texas
(not the liberal part). This is a new blog, and Raymond
weaves personal anecdotes into local, national and world
affairs in an engaging way; though I disagree with a
healthy part of what Raymond writes, I still want to
read more. The blogroll hasn't been born yet; the blogs
cited by Raymond in his comments so far run the gamut,
perhaps an eclectic in the making?
While there is, rightly, a degree of jubilation in Baghdad over the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime (while many Arabs outside Iraq are UNHAPPY about these developments) the Middle East does its best to remind us that it CONTINUES to be the Middle East, as Palestinian gunmen manage to infiltrate an Israeli ARMY BASE in the West Bank, killing two soldiers and wounding nine others, before the assailants were themselves killed.
Meanwhile, the race to oil rich Kirkuk appears to have been won by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces (rather than American forces proper), and Turkey is eyeing developments carefully; we had best get a significant U.S.-U.K. presence there, lest the Turks decide to intervene (as they periodically threaten).
I will say this: the war phase of the war has gone only slightly less swimmingly than we were promised. This does not surprise me, though, for rhetorical purposes, I was and remain willing to highlight the human and material costs of this exercise, which will be paid for the next several years, if not decades. Perhaps by the weekend, Rummy can start taking credit for the war plan again.
The fun part, the putting together a post-war Iraq, while not taking more casualties than we did in the war proper (which, to be fair, is a ways from over, as Tikrit has not yet fallen, and there remain "pockets of resistance", and indeed, the whereabouts of Familia Hussein remains a mystery) awaits. Let's all hope we do a good job of it.
Interesting, but one would think that there would be more of a celebratory mood in general, at least here in New York, the City on which Saddam ordered the 9-11 atrocities. Oh WAIT!!! Just because 55% of the American people believe it, doesn't make it true, I keep forgetting that. (Of course, neither the war, nor the warmongers, were really very popular here in New York, so this comes as no surprise.)
Anyway, amidst people who SHOULD be celebrating, such as Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, there is a realization that while the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime (if not the Husseins themselves) is welcome, there is urgent work to be redone in rebuilding Iraq fast before it becomes the sort of den of warlordism redux that Afghanistan has become. Amen to that, Brother Ahmed.
I suppose in a rare show of historical RESPONSIBILITY, the GOP Congressional assholes are proposing to make the extra-constitutional eavesdropping and surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act "permanent". Forty-one Democrats in the Senate proved that they have an awful lot of power. Ladies and gentlemen, you owe this President and the majority nothing but your scorn and your obstruction. Go! Perhaps in minority, the senior senator from South Dakota can show the cojones woefully lacking as majority leader. Let's hope.
Anyway, the hell with my pussy-ass liberal commentary. I know what you want. More blog reviews. This evening, we will attempt to give you the entire blogroll (at least, the part not already in the dog run) of the Hillbilly Sophisticate, which has ten members, five of which are already on the dog run.
Aunt Lowey's Handy Dandy Blog
is a proud product of blogging West Virginia, although
presumably the part near
as Aunt Lowey is a big fan of that city's teams.
Miscellaneous thoughts, links, rants and cool stuff is
the tagline, and Aunt Lowey disappoints not. Come on
down for some down home country blogging. The blogroll
leans left, and leans FUNNY.
is the work of Dave Ryan and Ry Rivard, both high school
journalists from Braxton County, West Virginia. They
call their work a "publication", as everyone is sick of
"blog". The focus is the goings on in their corner of
the world, though they concede they have to leave it
from time to time, as not much happens there! Cool
pictures, random stuff, small town
eponymous blog is, well, in Rachel's OWN WORDS: "Rachel
is a 30-year-old gun-totin' capitalist oppressor college
student with two jobs, two dogs, and no kids. If you
take offense to that, kiss my ass. Don't mess with
Texas, because that's where Rachel lives with John,
where they like to make fun of liberals and play with
guns." Actually, this is one of the best "truth in
advertising" taglines I have seen -- the blog is largely
just that: "Did you see what this liberal asshole just
wrote?" sort of stuff. The blogroll is, naturally, what
I consider hard-ass right wing, though, there you go.
While not my cup of tea, this is a very popular blog.
Steven den Beste links to her. What else can I say?
is the work of Rob a/k/a Acidman. For those who like
their bad-ass right wing politics poignant and FUNNY, go
right here. You have found what you are looking for! IF
you want to read OTHER right wing blogs, Acidman gives
you a pretty definitive list of those too.
Who Would Buy That
is the work of Drue Miller and Shauna Wright and is a
"specialty site", designed to put all of the interesting
crap that's available on auction sites across the
internet in one place, so that the offending item and
its purchasers can be mocked! What a great idea!
This week's Carnival of the Victories...er, Vanities that is, is up at Solonor's Inkwell here. Go forth and click!
In Victory photo-op news, large statues of Saddam Hussein are being toppled in Baghdad as American forces continue to roll through, consolidating further control of the Iraqi capital. While no one can be sure that the recent bombing strike wiped out Familia Hussein, since that time, it appears that Iraqi resistance has been dissipating rapidly; soldiers are finally being greeted with rose petals, and the looting and paybacks are starting. We'd best be careful at this very point, lest the Iraqis, suddenly freed not only from tyranny but seemingly from ALL forms of order, inflict far more damage on themselves than coalition forces did in the course of the war.
Fears of Saddam Hussein's chemical and bio-terror weapon arsenal unleashed on coalition forces may have been justified, but such weapons were not used, nor have they yet been discovered in meaningful quantities. But then, this war was about getting the guy who most Americans believe ordered the 9-11 terror attacks: Saddam Hussein.
In my humble opinion, the President has achieved HIS photo-op dreams (like Dad had the fall of the Berlin Wall on his watch, and the takedowns of all those Lenin statues). So now itís back to the domestic agenda: tax cuts (your TD is optimistic that Kaptain Karl will take control of the ship-of-state back from the neo-con hawks now). As one GOP operative put it regarding the domestic program (I'm paraphrasing heavily from something I read in The New Republic), if Granny gets her pills and the economy picks up in '04, we win.
Well, this does appear to be a good day for the American military, nonetheless (do you not think itís an even better day for the Iraqis?óed.). I say we go out and celebrate with a big tax cut, and a SUPER-SIZE order of Freedom Fries.
Just when you thought it was safe to walk around the streets of Tel Aviv or Haifa or New York (just kidding!), Ariel Sharon and the boys have decided to raise the stakes, by having Jewish settlers move in to Palestinian neighborhoods that heretofore had not had such Jewish settlers since the 1967 War. Condi Rice called Sharon to object to this.
One wonders if Labour participation in this government might have quelled the desire for such provocative (and in my humble opinion, counterproductive, if not just plain DUMB) acts. My gut feeling: probably not. Now that it seems extremely unlikely that Iraq will launch nasty rockets at Israel, it seems time to just keep things stirred up, because things were just TOO DAMNED CALM IN THE MIDDLE EAST ANYWAY.
While the reports of the demise of the Hussein family swirl around and around, and we close in on the post-war occupation phase, some lessons from prior Middle East adventures might come to mind. Like Lebanon.
On cue, a bomb exploded in a McDonald's in Beirut, at a time calculated when the restaurant would be full; fortunately, only three were wounded, none killed, as there was an apparent malfunction in the device that prevented a larger explosion.
Also of interest, Israel has indicted an officer and a soldier in the deaths of Palestinians killed in the recent uprisings. This is unusual by Israeli standards, though not unprecedented, but reflects the dangers of an ongoing occupation.
As we fish around to see if we killed Saddam (and the Unseen Editor wonders why we chose to drop bombs rather than dispatch troops to MAKE SURE WE GOT SADDAM, I wonder too), we get some friendly reminders from our friends the Middle East that long-term, large-scale occupations in that part of the world still really suck.
The Unseen Editor is kind enough to provide us this additional link on the possible demise of the Hussein family, specifically the targeting of same.
NBC News is reporting that there is a high likelihood that Saddam Hussein and his two charming sons Qusay and Uday have been killed in a targeted bombing of a Baghdad residential neighborhood.
Coming less than 24 hours after the reported death of "Uncle" Chemical Ali, it looks like the entire cast of "My Two Sons" may have bought it. If true, it seems unlikely the war will go on much longer, seeing as we just achieved the stated objective of regime change.
I just pumped my fistÖfeels good! From the Great White North (in this case, the Adirondacks), and with thanks to Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged, we give you:
The Sacred and Inane,
from Lake Placid, New York blogger Carpeicthus (which
I'm guessing means "seize the icthus"...or
perhaps...seize the fish?) S and I joins the great vast
left wing conspiracy, though the political commentary is
interspersed with a cartoon mood indicator, and other
amusing graphics, as well as the goings on in our
narrator's life. The blogroll is a short and sweet lefty
all star team.
The Unseen Editor forwards me this article from Reason by Brian Doherty. Apparently, the President feels weighed down by his obligation from God. Worse yet, this may impact on his 5-K time!!!
Obviously, if the President were a TRUE believer, instead of a fucking MORON, he would recognize that God ALSO gave him the STRENGTH to deal with the can of worms he was opening.
He would realize that, while greatly flawed, what he and his people did in Afghanistan, quickly convening a massive convention of AFGHANS to form their OWN provisional government, was, while far from perfect, the best of a wide variety of bad options. He would be on the phone even as we speak with a whole variety of Iraqi dissidents, exiles, and locals to do the same RIGHT NOW to minimize the American regency to a few weeks, preferably even a few DAYS. Somewhere lies an Iraqi Karzai, best to dump this all on HIM.
It's SNOWING here in the Big City, in this, the little winter that could. I'd like to say that we could be sure this was the LAST snow storm of the season, but...
More exciting news keeps rolling in from Iraq. "Chemical Ali" appears to be dead, as British sources state that the body of General Ali Hassan al-Majeed appears to have been found in Basra, where al-Majeed was placed in charge of Iraqi defenses. He was, of course, widely credited with being the official principally responsible for the use of chemical weaponry during the massacre of the Kurdish citizenry of the town of Halabja, lo 15 years ago. If he really HAS been killed, I daresay, he will not be missed.
British forces continue to make inroads toward conquering Basra. Up in Baghdad, U.S.A. forces continue to storm in and out, with reports of Iraqi casualties in the thousands, U.S. casualties in the handful. A C-130 cargo plane landed at the newly renamed Baghdad International Airport, now firmly under American control, and it certainly does appear that Baghdad is effectively surrounded.
For those keeping score, the "war" started on the evening of March 19th, an hour or so behind schedule, but that's hardly material with these things. That would make this day 19 or 20, and it would certainly seem that by Day 30 (the time for which the President asked that this fiasco be FUNDED), military matters should be well in hand. Unless, of course, some maniac decides to turn next on Syria or Iran, in which case, all bets are most assuredly off. Interestingly, we are nearly three weeks in, Baghdad is under assault, Basra should fall soon, and the Iraqi side has chosen not to use its vast arsenal of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, nor has it deployed even a single starship. What's up with that?
Well, given that Iraq is STILL holding back its vast arsenal, I say itís time we passed an even bigger, more regressive tax cut than the President is proposing, so that the soldiers and reservists all have jobs when they come home (actually, Ari Fleischer said that; the beauty of regressive tax cuts is that they are useful for all purposes!)
Itís a damned good thing that polling shows that most Americans forgot completely about the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" angle, and are perfectly content to buy the "Saddam ordered the September 11th attacks" line. And now, if we can only shut that damned Chirac and that annoying Putin up, we can let those lucrative sweetheart reconstruction contracts to Halliburton and Bechtel in peace!
NOT a slow news day, as British troops storm Basra, an intense battle is taking place in the Baghdad outskirts, and a dozen or so Kurdish fighters were killed in a friendly fire incident. There was never any doubt, of course, that the vastly superior American and British forces would eventually defeat the sanctions-starved and otherwise problematically inferior Iraqi forces. The issue was when and at what cost. It remains unclear if the feared "house to house" fighting for Baghdad awaits.
One thing that may well await is...Iran. A kind reader sends us Amir Taheri's piece in the National Review regarding internal disagreement in Iran (among mullahs) regarding, well, everything, but in particular, how to deal with developments in Iraq. There are the "confrontationists" we are all familiar with, who call for, among other things, using their Hizbollah (and to some extent Hamas) allies to open all-out war against Israel, and otherwise be pains in the ass, and there are the "accommodationists", led by power-challenged President Khatami (himself a junior mullah) who think that a deal had better be made with the United States, lest IRAN become NEXT on list of "regimes in need of change".
Well now. Let's step back for a minute and ponder Iran. A vast Shiite Muslim nation consisting mostly of Persians rather than Arabs with a huge oil wealth. It has a huge proportion of its population who was born AFTER the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and, with contact with the West and the United States more or less illegal since that time, has a VERY favorable view of the West.
On the other hand, just as North Korea saw that being placed in the "Axis of EvilTM" was a REALLY BAD THING, it saw its best option as "we better get a bomb", and has made great inroads on developing the capacity for nuclear weapons. Also, did we mention that the mullahs who run the place are religious fanatics who hate us, very much like bin Laden, but being Shiites rather than Sunnis are, well, not likely to be invited to Eid Al Fatr festivities by bin Laden.
Oh yes. In the interest of getting Rummy's (and Perle's and Wolfowitz's) rocks off, we could certainly turn our rolling war a bit to the east and head for Tehran, and secure the IRANIAN oil fields. Most of the world is already pissed at us about Iraq anyway, right? Of course, Osama would be happy, because this WOULD be his great war of West vs. the Islamic world. Lotsa new potential suicide bombers might come out of this!
Well, there we have it. Or do we?
Pop quiz: will our $100 billion wing ding (and 100 or so American lives so far, plus a coupla dozen Brits and a coupla thousand Iraqis) in Iraq make the United States safer vis a vis terrorism? Correct! It will make absolutely no difference; despite what the majority of American people now believe according to polls, the Saddam Hussein regime had little to no relationship with al-Qaeda or 9-11. I won't even play "doctrinaire liberal" and say we will "add to the cadre of suicide bombers". I will say, long-term, if we get troops OUT of Saudi Arabia, we may take some steam out of al-Qaeda long term recruitment Ė MAY Ė but otherwise, no discernible difference. None. al-Qaeda. Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Different.
Question Two: Assuming we are willing to spend, say double what we have just spent in Iraq (blood and treasure) and turn on...Iran...will it make the United States, which I define as Brighton Beach to the Bronx, any "safer"? Correct again, probably the same answer as Iraq! Just as secular Iraq had little interest in sharing the means of its OWN destruction with the Wahhabi Nazi lunatic bin Laden, neither does Shiite Iran.
Fact: the danger to us is al-Qaeda. Specifically, the REAL threat against us still breathes, bin Laden (remember, the guy who taking dead or alive -- the evil doer -- the evil one -- was the most important mission in the history of the universe, the guy who is still alive and in....nuclear armed Pakistan), and he is in...nuclear armed Pakistan. THAT, boys and girls, is the REAL THREAT TO THIS COUNTRY. Musharraf's control hangs by dental floss.
Taking out Iran and Syria may be very good for Israel (assuming Israel still exists, would we were to try this lunacy, oops, I told you what I think!), or it may more likely be a FUCKING DISASTER. There would be not much point in every terrorist group from Damascus to Detroit not trying to take their best, last shot, if we were to engage in anything like this. I DO think that this kind of rolling world war MAY lead to a substantial increase in terrorism against Israel, and possibly against the United States. But it will not make the United States SAFER. Not even a little.
Oh yeah. Wasn't that the point of this whole exercise? To make the United States safer? Whether or not we "go all Shiite" on the Shiites in Iran, we will have spent a fortune in money, gotten brave men and women killed or maimed, shot our wad diplomatically, undermined our world standing like never before, set a precedent for aggressive wars that will come back to bite us in the ass, and not have achieved even a nickel's worth of a safer "homeland".
Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
A dismal day here in the big city; personal mandatory chores (that can only be done on Saturday when both Mrs. TD and I work all week), and I took Baby TD to the movies. I say we look away from Operation Just Because and look right at...some more blogs! Put your hands together for...
Alas, A Blog
is the work of the mysterious cartooning and blogging
genius, Ampersand. Ampersand interjects thoughtful,
extensive treatments of issues of the day, including
theoretical bases for doctrinaire lefty positions
(you'll feel better A., if you just do what the OTHER
SIDE does, and just say "I'm right, nyah!"), but you
won't often get this depth of treatment elsewhere. The
blogroll is extensive and left-heavy, though the loyal
opposition (you know what I mean) is represented as
is the eponymous blog of Gene Healy, a D.C. area
lawyer-working-for-a-think-tank who tells us, and SHOWS
US, that he is a bad-ass, all-the-way libertarian, not
the "neo-lib" Randian, not the "the free market is
neither free nor fair enough to rule out serious
governmental intervention libertarian" stuff you get,
well, HERE. No, Gene's the real thing, and the posts
reflect it, in an amusing, intriguing, at times even
self-effacing way. Compact blogroll leans to similar
is the work of blogger Chris, and has as its tagline
that famous Chinese curse that I am so fond of. Chris
does not disappoint, with passionate posts reminiscent
of campus activism supporting power to the people and
standing up to the man; the blogroll is duly reflective
of the left. Interesting reading...
is a blogging deity of progressive political blogging
(after an extensive lefty blogroll listing, there is one
-- ONE! -- righty blogger); the site features the
electoral college calculator, perpetual polling data,
and hard-hitting daily assaults on our power structure.
This is a major, high traffic blog, for damned good
Itís Saturday again. After another long work week, its time to kick back and...
Look at Pravda to find news about goings on in OUR House of Representatives: such as a bill by Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Fantasyland) to outlaw the awarding of post-war Iraqi reconstruction contracts to French, German, Russian or Syrian companies. The Senate scotched that particular amendment, and asked for an extra serving of Freedom Fries. Let the vindictiveness fly; there are excellent arguments to keep the UN role minimized (mostly, inefficiency and corruption in that body), but pique at not voting for our pet Tony Blair fig-leaf resolution isn't one of them. Of course, the UN would involve something like 80% of cost to be borne by OTHER COUNTRIES; right now, the American taxpayer is looking at a hefty tab if we do this right (or, under Dubya's methods, the American taxpayer starting in 2009).
Then, over in Beijing, the People's Daily reports that China and Russia are having ongoing talks regarding the Iraq war situation. This kind of reminds me of some of the problems we, as Americans are up against. Remember back oh...two years ago? That spy plane incident, where an American spy plane was bumped by a cowboy PRC pilot (who died in the accident), and the plane and crew were held by China? We screwed around for weeks over how to word an "apology"? A simple phone call could have solved it, BTW.
BUSH: Pooty Poot?
Naturally, that phone call never took place, because, alas, our current President is just not up to it. He's not up to anything approaching "statesmanship". Itís all about childish one-upsmanships and paybacks, at the personal and the international level.
If these guys don't clean up this act, we're in for a bumpy ride. The post-war Iraq situation is going to require finesse and skill and smarts...far more so than winning the mismatch called "the war". As always, let's hope we're up to the job, and this ISN'T all an excuse to let more contracts to presidential cronies.
As I pondered an Iraqi sitcom, "My Two Sons" (featuring the younger sadists Qusay and Uday being raised by their "Uncle Chemical Ali"), I thought, man, if I'm thinking of this, this Operation Just Because is wearing. At least we're winning again; actually, Bruce Ralston of Flit is on the job, and tells us how, from a military strategy point of view, he expects this to be over roughly when I do from my pop political point of view, in maybe 5 or 6 weeks. But, the hell with that. Let's welcome:
is the work of master lefty blogger Quiddity. This is
the blog world equivalent of a PowerPoint presentation
of the correct (i.e., liberal) point of view, featuring
colorful charts, tables, pictures, and some of the most
poignant, hard-hitting commentary you will find. The
blogroll leans non-existent.
Is Saddam alive or not? Saddam's TV address today seems to have been made since the war started (referencing shooting down an Apache helicopter) and it seems to hint that "something big" will happen tonight. U.S. forces appear in control of Baghdad's airport, and are otherwise pretty close to the Iraqi capital. Iraqi officials have said that WMDs will not be used, but the attack will be "not conventional". Perhaps a lot of suicide bombers (like the man and pregnant woman of last night for example; how horrible is THAT?)
Well, here we go. It looks like the Battle of Baghdad may be brought to us, even if it appears to some that the smarter move might be to encircle the city and wait for sufficient reinforcements to arrive to be able to take Baghdad with overwhelming force.
Then again, maybe this "big thing" is all a big Saddam Psy-Op. No way to tell. Certainly, it looks like U.S. forces have advanced very close to Baghdad with not all that much resistance. As bad as the war seemed to be going on last Sunday's talk shows, by this Sunday, President Rumsfeld (sorry Karl) may start taking credit for the "genius in the flexibility" of the war plan. (The national figurehead was giving a pep talk at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina. That seems like an excellent place to get in a hard workout or two.)
Operation Just Because, ladies and gentlemen. It'll be here all week. We've booked it through the end of April, we'll see if it gets held over past then.
Boy, this Operation Just Because is no picnic...so welcome...
a group blogging effort that tells us its mission is to
find the perfect blog post, and then disband. "A News
and Opinion Journal of Shiftless Chatter", BP takes us
through several points of view, all with the same sorta
merrily left wing, mockin' authority (the current one!)
point of view, and a nice group on the blogroll.
Enough of Operation Just Because, already. Let's give you what you REALLY WANT (more blog reviews!). Put your paws together for:
Busy Busy Busy
is the work of (pseudonymous?) Santa Monica blogger and
computer maven Elton Beard, who gives us the benefit of
a multimedia show (at least lotsa pictures) as he busily
takes us through the news of the day (great lefty
blogroll) with his inimitable barb (and wicked LEFT
hook). Posts tend to be pleasing in both length and
content, perfect for us busy, busy, busy people. Value
is added to memes already in play.
comes to us from Houston area blogger (and computer
maven) Rob Humenik, and keeps coming at us, with lefty
bon mots, and that pleasant lib-lib (liberal
libertarian) aura wafting over the blog. The blogroll
is lengthy, and...listing left. Taglined "The Big Lots!
of blog punditry", come down and get your Texas sized
portions of blog wit and wisdom!
Apparently, while the audience's eyes are glued to the happenings in Iraq, particularly as American forces close to "within sight of Baghdad", military activities against a suddenly re-grouping Taliban contingent seem to be intensifying over in that other place...Afghanistan, I think its called.
What's your point TD? Do you have one? Or are you gonna make some snide movie reference again? Blogs are a statement of "raw feeling", and you often get mine without too much reflection, and sometimes, without adequate reflection. Further, there is evidence that the successful rescue of P.F.C. Lynch was NOT THE FIRST TRY, and we lost 9 dead and 8 missing Marines in a previous attempt. Link via Atrios. Damn it all. Why must we lose such courageous people this way? War really sucks.
Oh yes, my point. Simple one, really: we ALREADY WON the war in Afghanistan, at least to the extent that we routed the Taliban (without finishing them off, capturing Mullah Omar, capturing Osama, etc.), and have put in an interim government with which we can do business, and that, while shaky, has things at least better than they were (MUCH better, if you ask me). AND we won that war largely with proxies, so the "outside invader" resentment factor, if any, would be much lower than in...Iraq. In post-war Iraq, we will need a much bigger effort than we gave in Afghanistan, and our personnel will likely be subject to comparable or possibly greater post-war nastiness in Iraq than in Afghanistan, and it does not appear that the Bush Administration is taking that obligation seriously (as demonstrated by the relative lack of seriousness it seems to be taking things in...Afghanistan, at least as measured in men and money.)
So, obviously, since when one (correctly) dismisses the "Saddam will give WMD's to terrorists" or the "Saddam-al-Qaeda links" arguments as the shams and lies that they are, and realizes that the ONLY benefit on the cost-benefit ledger of this war is making life better for the Iraqi people by ousting the horrible Saddam Hussein regime, then this becomes the ballgame, now doesn't it? If we just replace Saddam with another dictator (albeit a more pro-Western one) this will have been a huge waste, won't it? WON'T IT?
Sometime TD vice-presidential running mate Bruce Moomaw writes in with these three articles from Slate here, here and here, for the simple proposition that the war itself, though ongoing and fascinating to participants of our national sport of couch-potato-ing, will be over pretty soon, one way or another. The post-war occupation won't be so fast, or so "easy". Some are saying we are buying our own version of the West Bank and Gaza.
Ominous talk of turning our troops and fighting Iran next is not a good sign, either: the neo-con inspired "rolling world war" suggested by John Smith of the Lincoln Plawg is sure to make the world an even more dangerous place.
I personally don't think things will be quite THAT bad, but if we do not pour significant money and effort into rebuilding and securing post-war Iraq, including a significant military presence until the place is stabilized, we will be building resentments for generations that may yet sow the seeds for more terrorists to be motivated to attack American interests (like...Midtown). But is the Bush Administration (whose priority to date has been decimating our national budget through give-aways to the country club class) up to this challenge? Let's just hope it is. God help us if it isn't.
Mrs. TD offers a bon mot: the "Decapitation Strike" of last week may have had a "Chimera Effect" -- perhaps we can call it the "Karbala Chimera Effect" -- to explain why despite possibly having achieved our sole mission, the war goes on. Simply, we may have killed the one-headed monster Saddam Hussein (or perhaps all three heads, Saddam, Qusai and Uday), and a thousand or more heads have sprung up in their stead.
Evidence? With thanks to Brad DeLong, who picks up a Gregg Easterbrook article that Ann Garrels of National Palestine Radio (NPR), one of two American reporters still in Baghdad, reports that at official government press briefings, the ministers were NOT bowing and scraping and saying "Blessed be Saddam, victory will be ours"...but just "victory will be ours". The logical conclusion is that...Saddam and sons are dead, or these guys would be AFRAID not to praise Saddam in every sentence.
Why aren't the Iraqis surrendering? Maybe they are afraid of reprisals against THEM by the Iraqi people, if they end this too early. Who knows? Or maybe, we have killed the head, but the body won't die.
Then again, maybe Saddam is alive, and this is just one of HIS psy-ops. The Karbala Chimera Effect. Yet another Chimera.
(Along with this only semi-non-sequitur from Mike Finley, on how he believes that rumors of war opponents spitting on returning veterans are...yet another chimera, or more accurately, a big, fat, self-serving rightwing lie. We can oppose this war and the President and his policies, and still "support the troops".)
I guess I should say nice things about Steven Den Beste more often. Maybe not.
Also in the "I guess" department, we have some dramatically good news out of the Iraqi front: POW PFC Jessica Lynch, 19 years old, blonde, pretty, from West Virginia was rescued. I'm sure her family is grateful, as are all Americans. (Kicking this around with the Unseen Editor, I inquired as to "Which POW was rescued?"...he responded: ďThe cute chick. Of course.Ē)
Who knows how this war is going? After a "slow week", advances seem to be afoot, as US troops close to within...25 miles of Baghdad?
Obviously, it was a bad weekend...Rummy went on all the talk shows and tried to pawn off the apparent under-deployment of men and equipment to "General Franks' brilliant plan", after gloating and taking all credit the previous weekend. In modern warfare, embedded journalists are little more than mouthpieces for the Pentagon (though some at least TRY for objectivity, too many don't), and the machine is always on "spin cycle". We call this "the fog of war".
Still, obviously, our troops train for this, and this is a welcome occurrence and all, but does the rescue of PFC Lynch remind one eerily of a certain film? Or is that just me...
Well, every once in a while, I go through the dog run, and realize that I should update certain of my reviews, so we give you:
is the work of Uber-blogger Steven
den Beste. To call SDB a genius is just not sufficient
justice to this site. He is every bit as good a blogger
as he thinks he is: the posts are well-worth the intense
intellectual effort necessary to digest them. SDB has
convinced ME that war is good, and that we need to give
not just Arabs, but Asians, Europeans, Mexicans and
Canadians a big smackdown. SDB uses links sparingly; if
he links to someone or something, it is because they are
the best site in the known universe.
The time for debate is over. Itís about time we all stopped this belly-aching, self-absorbed, unpatriotic dissent, and fell into line behind our President, who really is doing his best for the country. Though we may disagree with him (why, I couldn't say) at these most pressing moments -- we're at war, for God's sake -- and itís time we put the Constitution on the shelf for the higher goal of defeating those who might stockpile weapons of mass destruction if they had any. Iraqis, Saudis, who cares! They ALL attacked us on 9-11, so somebody has to pay! Our soldiers killed unarmed Iraqi women and children? They should have armed themselves, I guess.
Thank God for our free American press that toes the line and does what the Pentagon tells it to. And that goes double for you, Arnett, even if some pussy British paper wants to hire you after your anti-patriotic diatribe to Iraqi TV. Why can't you be more like that nice Aaron Brown, and tell us about your favorite restaurants and how good your tennis game is and HOW GOOD OUR FIGHTING MEN ARE, especially and including our COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF? Probably, because you're a pussy foreigner, that's why.
Fortunately, for a rare change, all of the news today is good. Osama bin Laden has been captured by Pakistani ISI agents in conjunction with CIA and FBI operatives working in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province. In a videotape, which was released on Al Jazeera (link unavailable in light of recent hacking incident), bin Laden acknowledges, in perfect English, that he has been treated well by his captors, that he was responsible for the September 11th attacks, the attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya, the embassy bombings, the Cole attack, the Khobar towers attack, the first World Trade Center attack, the attempted assassinations of George H.W. Bush (under contract from Saddam Hussein) and George Wallace, and the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and William McKinley. Bin Laden also provided the names and addresses of all al-Qaeda operatives around the world, and said he was very sorry for all the trouble he caused.
Relying on the information provided by bin Laden, American soldiers discovered 100 tons of hidden chemical and biological agents and intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering them, along with a hydrogen bomb factory, all 70 miles south of Baghdad in the town of Sloof Lirpa.
Take that de Villepin, you big French pussy, we now have CLEAR PROOF of bin Laden's complicity with Hussein and Hussein's WMD programs. I would say that's a wrap on this one.
Further, over in Israel, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat has announced that he, and the rest of the PA leadership, will be converting to Judaism, and are urging all Palestinians to do the same. As Jews, Palestinians will be eligible for Israeli citizenship; Arafat believes that HE will be able to form a coalition government with the Labour and Meretz parties.
I say we get into Baghdad, and mop up as fast as
possible, and build statues of, and write songs about,
our glorious commander in chief.
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