March 31, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 PM


Britain's Daily Mirror Hires Peter Arnett (The Associated Press, 3/31/03)
A British tabloid newspaper said Tuesday it had hired veteran reporter Peter Arnett, who was fired by American TV network NBC after he said the U.S.-led war effort in Iraq had failed.

"Fired by America for telling the truth," said the Daily Mirror in a front page headline, adding it had hired the "legendary war reporter" to carry on telling the truth.

"I am still in shock and awe at being fired," Arnett wrote for the newspaper, which is vehemently opposed to the war. "I report the truth of what is happening here in Baghdad and will not apologize for it."

With two of his colleagues apparently being held prisoner by the Iraqis, Mr. Arnett yesterday praised the exemplary co-operation the regime has given him and the members of his profession. In what sense was his statement true?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 PM


Raid finds al-Qaida tie to militants (Dafna Linzer and Borzo Daragahi, March 31, 2003, AP)
A U.S.-led assault on a compound controlled by an Iraqi-based extremist Islamic group has turned up a list of names of suspected militants living in the United States and what may be the strongest evidence yet linking Ansar al-Islam to al-Qaida, coalition commanders said Monday.

The cache of documents, including computer discs and foreign passports belonging to Arab fighters from around the Middle East, could bolster the Bush administration's claims that the two groups are connected, although there was no indication any of the evidence tied Ansar to Saddam Hussein as Washington has maintained.

There were indications, however, that the group has been getting help from inside neighboring Iran.

Kurdish and Turkish intelligence officials, some speaking on condition of anonymity, said many of Ansar's 700 members have slipped out of Iraq and into Iran -- putting them out of reach of coalition forces.

The officials also said a U.S. missile strike on Ansar's territory on the second day of the war missed most of its leadership -- which crossed into Iran days earlier.

U.S. officials said the government had reports some Ansar fighters could have made it into Iran and have been shuttling back and forth with fresh supplies.

According to a high-level Kurdish intelligence official, three Ansar leaders -- identified as Ayoub Afghani, Abdullah Shafeye and Abu Wahel -- were among those who had fled into Iran. The official said the three were seen being detained by Iranian authorities Sunday.

"We asked the Iranian authorities to hand over to us any of the Afghan Arabs or Islamic militants hiding themselves inside the villages of Iran," said Boorhan Saeed, a member of the pro-U.S. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. "We asked them about it Sunday, and still don't have a response."

So, when do Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Tom Daschle, etc., explain to us why it's wrong to be breaking up these camps?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:26 PM


Praying to survive: Iraqi deserter tells of desperation across the line (AP, 3/31/2003)
"The army knows I ran away. They could come and take revenge," he said in the central police barracks in Kalak, about 20 miles northwest of the Kurdish administrative center Irbil. "My only hope is that I'm not alone. There are so many deserters and those who want to run. They cannot attack all these families with a war going on."

War for this foot soldier was one of desperation. "We only prayed we'd stay alive long enough to get a chance to escape," Ali said through an interpreter....

"The spirit of the soldiers is very low," he said. "We were not really mad at the Americans. We just want to save our lives."

He and four other soldiers decided to run. But they had to pick their moment. Their unit and most others include Baathist agents given orders to execute any deserters, he said....

"The people know that any uprising against Saddam now would mean terrible things to them and their family. They force them to chant `Down with America,' but not everyone means it. Saddam's people are afraid for the future."

That's when he started to cry.

The war is terrible, but only because the evil of Saddam's regime makes it so. Many have likened the war to a giant hostage rescue. We are rescuing the civilian hostages, but many of the soldier-hostages are dying.

Totalitarian dictatorships survive because of 'divide-and-rule' tactics, coupled with the cowardice and lack of cooperative spirit among their populace. If a few soldiers could only band together, they could easily kill their Baathist minders. But they fear betrayal, and don't dare suggest even to their friends an attack on their captors. Courage and cooperativeness are the cultural prerequisites of freedom. Only the home of the brave, and the community of the associative, can hope to become a land of the free.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM


Russian Agents Are Meeting With Iraqis, Newspaper Says (The Associated Press, Mar. 31, 2003)
Russian intelligence agents are holding daily meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Friday and suggested they are interested in gaining control of Iraqi secret service archives if Saddam Hussein's regime falls.

The report, which said that the meetings include agents of the SVR, the foreign intelligence service, did not specify its sources. But the newspaper is believed to have well-placed contacts in military and intelligence spheres.

Telephone calls to the SVR press office were not answered Friday evening.

The newspaper said the archives could be highly valuable to Russia in three major areas: in protecting Russian interests that remain in a post-war Iraq; in determining to what extent the Hussein regime may have financed Russian political parties and movements; and in providing Russia access to intelligence that Iraqi agents conducted in other countries.

If they can get the files on what the French and Germans were up to for the past twelve years, Russia will be admitted to the EU by the end of the year.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:27 PM


Surprise, Mom: I'm Anti-Abortion (ELIZABETH HAYT, March 30, 2003, NY Times)
FOR her high school class in persuasive speech, Afton Dahl, 16, chose to present an argument that abortion should be illegal. She graphically described the details of various abortion techniques, including facts about fetal heart development.

"The baby's heartbeat starts at around 12 to 18 days, so it's murder to kill someone with a heartbeat," Miss Dahl said recently, recalling the argument she used in class in January. "I don't believe in abortion under any circumstances, including rape. I think it would be better to overturn Roe v. Wade."

Miss Dahl, a sophomore, attends Red Wing High School in Red Wing, Minn., a small city that is the home of Red Wing shoes and a town where a majority voted for Al Gore for president. Miss Dahl's abortion views are not something she learned from her parents: her mother, Fran Dahl, 47, maintains that abortion should be a woman's choice.

"Nowadays kids don't grow up knowing or being aware of what was going on when abortion was illegal," said Ms. Dahl, a former nurse. "It's not a choice that I would have taken personally, but for the future of women I want to see the right to an abortion maintained."

This contrast between mother and teenage daughter illustrates a trend noted in polls: that teenagers and college-age Americans are more conservative about abortion rights than their counterparts were a generation ago. Many people old enough to have teenage children and who equate youth with liberal social opinions on topics like gay rights and the use of marijuana for medical purposes have been surprised at this discovery. Miss Dahl was one of numerous students in her class who chose to make speeches about abortion, and most took the anti-abortion side.

"I was shocked that there were that many students who felt strong enough and confident enough to speak about being pro-life," said Nina Verin, a parent of another student in the class (whose oral argument was about war in Iraq). "The people I associate with in town are pro-choice, so I'm troubled--where do these kids come from?"

A study of American college freshmen shows that support for abortion rights has been dropping since the early 1990's: 54 percent of 282,549 students polled at 437 schools last fall by the University of California at Los Angeles agreed that abortion should be legal. The figure was down from 67 percent a decade earlier. A New York Times/CBS News poll in January found that among people 18 to 29, the share who agree that abortion should be generally available to those who want it was 39 percent, down from 48 percent in 1993. [...]

Some parents trace their teenagers' anti-abortion views to sexuality education programs that stress abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and disease, and in the process sometimes demonize abortion. Since 1996 the federal government has budgeted $50 million annually to "abstinence only till marriage" programs, which are taught in 35 percent of public schools in the country, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit group affiliated with Planned Parenthood. [...]

If today's teenagers and young adults maintain their views on abortion into older adulthood, and if succeeding waves of students are also conservative, the balance could tip somewhat in the America's long-running abortion war, some experts speculate.

It's unclear whether the shift will ever be substantial enough to change the centrist position of the majority of Americans of all ages: that abortion should be legal, but with restrictions. In Red Wing, the certainty of the youthful opinions of the students reminded their speech-class teacher, Jillynne Raymond, of an earlier generation's certainty--her own.

"Teenagers have strong opinions," Ms. Raymond, 41, said. "It's no different than the 70's when I was a teenager, but the difference is that the majority of speeches then were pro-choice. I wanted the right to an abortion as a woman. The focus then was not having the government tell me what to do with my body.

"Today," she said of her students, "the majority is pro-life."

Ms Raymond nearly gets to the unmentionable point in this whole discussion: the association of abortion in the minds of prior generations with their womanhood. Whether you accept the truth of the argument or not, feminism was premised on the notion that women had been an oppressed minority for thousands of years. The Woman's Movement therefore represented an assertion of power on their behalf. And what is the ultimate power in any society, the power so awesome that it is normally reserved only to the state itself?: the power of killing with impunity. Little surprise then that the newly empowered majority sought to demonstrate their newfound heft by demanding this final authority. And over whom would such a power be granted but over the most helpless members of society.

But now we find ourselves about a century into the process of women's liberation and the coming generations of young women have never known the "oppression" of which their mothers and grandmothers complained and feel themselves, with good cause, equal or superior to men. The idea that they need to be able to kill someone to prove themselves powerful must inevitably sound bizarre and so they look at abortion as simply a moral issue rather than an exercise in political claim-staking. Given that abortion had been the only realm in human affairs where women came down on the side of freedom over security, favored the powerful over the helpless, it was a certainty that once the artificial reason for advocating "freedom of choice" had passed, they'd tend back towards a position that the state should intervene to protect those who can't protect themselves. This trend will be greatly accelerated when it becomes more common knowledge that abortion is being used throughout the world to gender-select for male babies. The prospect that what began as an assertion of power is going to turn women into a genuine minority in the political sphere, presumably for the first time in human history, seems likely to kick out the last prop supporting the case for abortion among women.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM


Powell Warns Syria, Iran Not to Aid Terrorists (Peter Slevin, March 31, 2003, Washington Post)
In strong and accusatory language, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell called on Syria and Iran last night to stop supporting terrorists. He warned that Syria's leadership "faces a critical choice" and will be held responsible for help it gives to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Powell became the second Cabinet secretary in three days to warn the two countries, which the United States considers state sponsors of terrorism. On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld charged that Syria is shipping military supplies across its border to Iraq, calling the move a hostile act.

"Syria can continue direct support for terrorist groups and the dying regime of Saddam Hussein, or it can embark on a different and more hopeful course," Powell said in an address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. "Either way, Syria bears responsibility for its choices and for the consequences."

While President Bush named Iran to his "axis of evil" last year, Powell called on other countries that have closer relations with the country to pressure Tehran to withdraw its sponsorship of such groups as Hezbollah, a principal foe of Israel.

"It is now time that the entire community step up and insist that Iran end its support for terrorists," Powell told AIPAC, the country's most influential pro-Israel lobby.

Drawing a distinction favored by Bush between the Iranian leadership and activist citizens, he said the administration would "continue to support the aspirations of the Iranian people to improve their lives and live in peace and security with their neighbors."

The more aggressive language Powell and Rumsfeld used suggests a greater determination by the administration to play a role in the Middle East beyond Iraq, whose government Bush has pledged to remove by force. Powell's comments drew a standing ovation from his audience, but are likely to worry Arabs in the region already nervous about U.S.

After a year and a half of hearing how Colin Powell is the only brake on the hawks in the Bush Administration, it's pretty amusing to listen to him set up the next phases of the war on terror: heightened political pressure on Iran and Palestine to reform from within and preparations for the march on Damascus.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM


By Flouting War Laws, U.S. Invites Tragedy (Erwin Chemerinsky, March 25, 2003, LA Times)
On Sunday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld quickly invoked international law in condemning Iraq's treatment of American prisoners of war and its use of civilians as human shields. As soon as the Americans were shown on television, Rumsfeld denounced Iraq for violating the Geneva accords, which govern the treatment of prisoners of war.

But Rumsfeld's hypocrisy here is enormous. For two years, the Bush administration has ignored and violated international law and thus has undermined the very legitimacy of the treaties and principles that constitute the law of nations. Though we all hope, of course, for the quick and safe return of the American prisoners of war, the fact is that -- unfortunately -- Iraq and other nations may feel much freer today to violate international law in the way they treat war captives and the way they wage war.

One clear violation by the United States is taking place in Guantanamo Bay, where for the last 15 months the U.S. has held more than 600 captives in clear violation of international law.

Under the third Geneva Convention, those who were caught in Afghanistan are deemed prisoners of war if they were fighting for the Taliban. International law prescribes the way they can be questioned, how they are to be treated and when they are to be repatriated. The U.S. government has ignored all of these requirements.

Rumsfeld has asserted that those held in Guantanamo are "enemy combatants" and thus the rules for prisoners of war do not apply. International law draws a distinction between "prisoners of war," who were soldiers fighting for a nation, and "enemy combatants," who were not acting on behalf of a country; enemy combatants are accorded fewer protections than prisoners of war. Under well-established principles of international law, only those who fought for Al Qaeda and not the Taliban government are enemy combatants. The Geneva accords are clear that there must be a "competent tribunal" to determine whether a person is a prisoner of war or an enemy combatant.

This is nonsense. No one is going to accept "repatriation" of these guys. And if we did send them back to Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan or wherever, they'd most likely be executed--the Saudis hate them and the Afghans have nowhere to put them. We've no problem with that, but is this what the "humanitarians" want?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:14 PM


Why Iraq Might Be a Better Candidate for Democracy than You Think (Eric Davis, History News Network)
Americans share two misperceptions of Iraqi politics and society. One is that ethnic conflict is endemic to Iraqi society. Another is that Iraqis lack a tradition of civil society, cultural tolerance, and political participation. Both perceptions are contradicted by the historical record. These faulty premises lay behind Washington's unwillingness to support the Iraqi uprising of 1991, which came close to ousting the Ba'athist regime. It would be a great tragedy if the United States were to make the same mistake in 2003. [...]

An Arabic proverb states that, "The Egyptians write, the Lebanese publish, and the Iraqis read." Iraq has the capability to become one of the most advanced countries of the Middle East. It has a large and highly educated middle class, a tradition of a flourishing civil society (which can be documented in school history textbooks after Saddam and the Ba'ath are ousted), an agricultural sector whose potential is greatly underutilized, one of the world's great civilizational heritages (after all, history as we understand it began in ancient Mesopotamia), and a rich base of oil wealth, which can provide the resources for ambitious development projects. Once no longer at odds with its neighbors in the Gulf region, it will be able to cooperate with them to produce serious economic development. The demonstration effect of a functioning Iraqi democracy can have a salutary impact on neighboring authoritarian regimes.

What would an Iraqi democracy look like? Because Iraq is a multi-ethnic society, it would undoubtedly have a "rough and tumble" quality. However, countries like Italy also have such democracies and have remained relatively stable over time. To the riposte that Italian governments are constantly changing, Italians often respond that this only means that many people have access to governing the country. After all, they point out, Italy has one of the world's most prosperous economies and a strong civil society. Numerous Iraqi political parties will also vie for power in a post- Saddam Iraq. However, a federated country in which Iraq's main ethnic groups, the Sunni and Shi'i Arabs and the Kurds, as well as other minorities, can feel that their traditions are respected and not subject to state repression, and in which economic development assures every citizen a decent standard of living
will work to offset the strife that facilitated the rise of the Ba'ath Party. Taking democracy seriously in Iraq will go a long way toward winning the hearts of minds of Iraqis.

It's interesting how from one article or one interview to the next you get completely different opinions about the prospect for some kind of relatively stable and representative governance in Iraq after the war. We remain agnostic about Iraq's future, but certain it will be better than its Ba'athist present and immediate past.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:08 PM


Saddam's guerrillas will run out of supplies (Lawrence Freedman, March 30 2003, Financial Times)
A tank battle fought by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards last Thursday was described as the "biggest since El Alamein". It involved 14 British tanks taking out an equivalent number of Iraqi tanks, without losing any of their own.

The incident sums up much of what has been happening in this war. Iraqi sorties are often being crushed by superior force, but such episodes, including many more bothersome to the coalition, are being reported without much sense of proportion.

Alamein is an instructive comparison. Against the 8th Army of 195,000 men, the Afrika Corps had about 105,000. The ratio of tanks was two to one in Britain's favour (1,000 to 500). This single battle took as long as this war has so far lasted. [...]

Now that things are moving more slowly than originally hoped, comparisons are being made with Vietnam, as if the Americans face becoming bogged down for years in guerrilla warfare. The comparison is invalid. The problem for the Americans in Vietnam was not only that they were trying to defend a deeply unpopular regime against a wily enemy, but also that they never found an answer to the Communists' ability to stay supplied. North Vietnam itself was never invaded, but sustained by support from Russia and China. It used the famous Ho Chi Minh trail to get provisions through to the fighters in the south.

The Iraqis, by comparison, have no sanctuaries and no demoralised enemy from whom they can obtain weapons and ammunition. Eventually key units will be effectively cut off and unable to sustain themselves.

The issue with the Iraqi resistance is not its evident ability to cause frustration, but whether it can prevent reinforcements and the continuous resupply of coalition forces. That appears to be beyond its capabilities. Furthermore, many of its divisions defending Baghdad are pointing to the north, and will be difficult to redeploy safely.

Politically, this will remain a difficult war for the coalition to fight. The early traumas of street fighting in Baghdad could be severe, especially as the Iraqis will have stocked up for the defence. The key to success there, as in the wider campaign, will lie in the ability to isolate the defending forces, politically as well as physically, and to deny them fresh men and arms.

The drama of war lies in combat but the source of victory lies in logistics.

It's rather amusing reading all the journalists, like Sy Hersh, who would normally be contemptuous of the military but suddenly consider their word gospel. If you left war up to the generals they'd never fight because they'd always be waiting for one more box of ammo, one more platoon, one slightly more favorable weather forecast, etc., etc., etc..., something that would increase their advantage in some fashion, even if esoteric. That's all the Powell Doctrine really consists of is a desire to have the odds so overwhelmingly in your favor that the actual combat is almost superfluous.

As Mr. Freedman's article suggests, the war is unlosable on the ground, but we could do ourselves some damage by waffling around and bickering back in Washington. Gotta suck it up and go fight.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:25 PM


Korea's 'lucky' triplets seized (Melbourne, Australia Herald Sun, 3/30/2003)
ALL triplets in North Korea are being forcibly removed from parents after their birth and dumped in bleak orphanages.

The policy is carried out on the orders of Stalinist dictator Kim Jong-il, who has an irrational belief that a triplet could one day topple his regime.

This reminds me of Matthew 2:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem was with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet."...

Then Herod ... was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.

Those who believe mankind is making moral progress have a difficult case.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:17 PM


Offense and Defense (Seymour Hersh, New Yorker, 3/31/2003)
“It’s a stalemate now,” the former intelligence official told me. “It’s going to remain one only if we can maintain our supply lines.... The Marines are worried as hell,” the former intelligence official went on. “They’re all committed, with no reserves, and they’ve never run the lavs”—light armored vehicles—“as long and as hard” as they have in Iraq. There are serious maintenance problems as well. “The only hope is that they can hold out until reinforcements come.”...

The planner agreed, saying, “The only way out now is back, and to hope for some kind of a miracle"... “Hope,” a retired four-star general subsequently told me, “is not a course of action.”...

Scott Ritter ... noted that much of the bombing has had little effect or has been counterproductive. For example, the bombing of Saddam’s palaces has freed up a brigade of special guards who had been assigned to protect them ...

The New Yorker had a tough task writing a persuasive "we're losing the war" piece. They had to explain why, as we inflict casualty rates of more than 100-to-1 on the Iraqis, and steadily seize key targets such as airfields, highways, bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates, the Umm Qasr port, and oilfields, these apparent victories are actually defeats. The 'experts' willing to support this line for attribution were the likes of Scott Ritter.

My own view is that the war plan has been brilliant. Things have gone better than I dared hope. As we develop the airfields (Tallil, H2, H3, and others), re-open the Umm Qasr port, and open additional highways, we'll be able to step up the flow of supplies and press the battle more aggressively. It's not clear that more troops would help us, because right now we appear to be supply-limited, not force-limited, and water and food for additional troops would take the place of fuel and ammunition for the existing forces. Existing forces are steadily destroying the struts that keep the regime standing, and sooner or later the whole regime is going to crash, probably with as little warning as the Taliban fell. Working with half the forces may lengthen the war, but it's unlikely to increase our casualty count -- in fact, by easing logistical problems and avoiding heavy concentrations of forces, it probably reduces the risk of large casualties from ammunition-short forces or lucky WMD hits. We have no time constraints, and can afford to patiently weaken the regime until it falls.

March 30, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 PM


Will Baghdad Fight to the End? (MARK BOWDEN, 3/27/03, NY Times)
With Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard dug in on the outskirts of Baghdad and thousands of his most loyal defenders no doubt armed and waiting in the city's neighborhoods, he might be on the verge of delivering the "mother of all battles" he promised 12 years ago.

He has ceded the majority of his country to the rapidly moving American and British forces, but has left pockets of determined loyalists in cities large and small. These troops, many dressed in civilian clothing, will shoot at coalition forces from densely populated areas, daring return fire that might kill the very Iraqis whom President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain hope to liberate.

It is a strategy both cunning and cruel, and it may work. The outcome will depend in large part on the people of Baghdad, each of whom has a decision to make. What they decide could mean either a quick defeat of the regime or a protracted mess that would amount at best to a Pyrrhic victory for allied troops.

Saddam Hussein is betting that his people will rally around his crack troops. The allies are betting they will betray the dictator and flush out his enforcers. I'm afraid the odds at this point favor Saddam Hussein. Even those Iraqis eager to turn against the regime are still caught between the guns, and won't dare make a move until they are sure one side has the upper hand. Neighborhood by neighborhood, they will have to decide when it is safe to make their move.

If Saddam Hussein wins his bet, then coalition forces could face fighting reminiscent of the 1993 battle of Mogadishu.

To a certain extend you can understand the entire Ba'athist side of this war so far just by referring to Mr. Bowden's book, Black Hawk Down, which describes the type of battle that (along with Stalingrad) would seem to provide the archetype for what Saddamn is trying to achieve by these tactics, and his profile of Saddam, Tales of the Tyrant, which explains what he's trying to accomplish with his life. The latter is particularly interesting because, in a way that those who think him merely a secular figure have never comprehended, it depends on his delusion of being revered half a millenium from now in an Arabic-Islamic world:
If Saddam has a religion, it is a belief in the superiority of Arab history and culture, a tradition that he is convinced will rise up again and rattle the world. His imperial view of the grandeur that was Arabia is romantic, replete with fanciful visions of great palaces and wise and powerful sultans and caliphs. His notion of history has nothing to do with progress, with the advance of knowledge, with the evolution of individual rights and liberties, with any of the things that matter most to Western civilization. It has to do simply with power. To Saddam, the present global domination by the West, particularly the United States, is just a phase. America is infidel and inferior. It lacks the rich ancient heritage of Iraq and other Arab states. Its place at the summit of the world powers is just a historical quirk, an aberration, a consequence of its having acquired technological advantages. It cannot endure.

In a speech this past January 17, the eleventh anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, Saddam explained, "The Americans have not yet established a civilization, in the deep and comprehensive sense we give to civilization. What they have established is a metropolis of force ... Some people, perhaps including Arabs and plenty of Muslims and more than these in the wide world ... considered the ascent of the U.S. to the summit as the last scene in the world picture, after which there will be no more summits and no one will try to ascend and sit comfortably there. They considered it the end of the world as they hoped for, or as their scared souls suggested it to them."

Arabia, which Saddam sees as the wellspring of civilization, will one day own that summit again. When that day comes, whether in his lifetime or a century or even five centuries hence, his name will rank with those of the great men in history. Saddam sees himself as an established member of the pantheon of great men—conquerors, prophets, kings and presidents, scholars, poets, scientists. It doesn't matter if he understands their contributions and ideas. It matters only that they are the ones history has remembered and honored for their accomplishments.

It is incumbent on us to consider whether men who think this way--as Osama would seem to also and presumably many followers of both--have so convinced themselves of their superiority over the West and are so certain that episodes like the Battle of the Black Sea showed our true colors, that they are incapable of making rational decisions where the clash of our respective civilizations is concerned. What other conclusions can we draw from Saddam's apparent belief that he can win this war and Osama's apparent belief that he and al Qaeda would survive the aftermath of 9-11 but that they are divorced from reality? The length, scope, and lethality of the war on terror must depend on how widely this psychosis is shared in the rest of the Middle East.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 PM


The Two Essential Steps Needed to Turn Iraq into a Peace-Loving Country (Jonathan Dresner, 3-31-03, History News Service)
The disarmament of Iraq is our aim, we say. And surely even if there's some slippage between our public statements and true motives, reducing the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) seems like a good idea.

Previous inspections for WMD in Saddam Hussein's Iraq failed because the Iraqis refused to cooperate and the inspectors were too few and too weakly supported to overcome Iraqi resistance. But even if the inspections had succeeded in the short term, a high-cost, intrusive inspection program could not have continued indefinitely.

So now we're going to try something else: regime change through conquest. Forcing out Hussein and his loyalists should allow the United States and its coalition partners to eliminate Iraq's present WMD capacity. But disarmament is difficult to sustain, even with total victory. What's necessary is the creation of a social and political aversion to weapons of mass destruction in New Iraq like that which developed in Japan after World War II.

Japan today could easily produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in large quantities in short order, but it has not done so. The Japanese population is deeply opposed to such weapons, owing to its unique experience as the targets of the only nuclear weapons ever used in war and to its suffering from conventional bombing. As a result, Japanese politicians have found alternative methods of defense through alliance and diplomacy.

There are two principal components to creating a WMD-averse environment, both essentially psychological: a sense of the humanity of opposing forces or neighboring populations, and confidence that one's defensive situation is not desperate. The United States fostered this attitude in Japan after 1945 by demonstrating the inhumanity of WMD, by creating a popular democratic and antiwar constitution for Japan, by committing itself to defend Japan, by supporting economic growth and by working to promote regional stabilization and democratization.

The vast majority of the Japanese public still believes that WMD -- and aggressive wars -- are unacceptable, and Japanese political leaders work hard to maintain strong diplomatic relationships with the United States and with the other Asian nations.

Both of those elements are fundamentally lacking in Iraq and have been since before the first Gulf War. This leaves us the question of whether we can replicate the dramatic turnaround of Japan in Iraq.

Every once in awhile, if you're lucky, you stumble upon a column so obtuse it glitters with a gem-like quality of near perfect unreason. Here's the Hope Diamond.

Depite having noted the unique use of WMD on Japan, Mr. Dresner then argues that: "There are two principal components to creating a WMD-averse environment, both essentially psychological: a sense of the humanity of opposing forces or neighboring populations, and confidence that one's defensive situation is not desperate." Might he not better have considered the possibility that the singular factor that made the Japanese so averse to WMD was having two nuclear weapons dropped on them, several cities quite intentionally incinerated in systematic fire bombings, and the certain knowledge that the United States would be only to happy to keep up the process idefinitely against a Japanese people who most Americans had genuinely come to think of as sub-human. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, the prospect that one's homeland will be reduced to a charnel house concentrates the mind wonderfully.

We're not suggesting this lesson need be applied to Iraq, but it's a tad disingenuous to minimize it, is it not?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 PM


UN should have sanctioned attacks: poll (ABC au, March 30, 2003)
A new international poll suggests the majority of people from Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand believe the United Nations should have supported military action against Iraq. [...]

Of those surveryed, 61 per cent of Australians said the UN should have sanctioned the action, as did 81 per cent of Americans, 66 per cent of Britons and 50 per cent of New Zealanders.

It's probably appropriate to consider Canadians to be at least honorary Francophones at this point.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM


Arnett, On Iraq TV, Praises Treatment Of Reporters (Joe Flint, March 31, 2003, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
Veteran television correspondent Peter Arnett, who has been covering the war with Iraq for NBC News through an arrangement with National Geographic Explorer, went on Iraq's state television network and praised Iraq's treatment of journalists.

In a transcript of Arnett's comments during the interview, he seemed to praise Iraq's Ministry of Information, saying it has "allowed me and many other reporters to cover 12 whole years since the Gulf War with a degree which we appreciate and that is continuing today." [...]

Arnett's comments are sure to stir controversy since some media outlets, including CNN, Arnett's former employer, have been booted out of Baghdad. Also, two reporters from the Tribune Co.-owned (TRB) newspaper Newsday are missing after being expelled from Baghdad and the paper has said it believes its journalists are being held by the Iraqi government.

Mr. Arnett is a traitor to his adopted country, his profession, and simple human decency. For the second time in twelve years he's serving as a propaganda mouthpiece for our enemy in wartime. He is our Lord Haw Haw and should be tried and shot.

Iraq May be Holding Newsday Journalists (1010 WINS, Mar 30,

Two Newsday journalists who disappeared from Baghdad may have been detained by Iraq's government, the newspaper's editor said Saturday.

Reporter Matthew McAllester and photographer Moises Saman were last heard from Monday, and the newspaper has been unable to obtain information about their whereabouts from Iraqi officials, said editor Anthony Marro in a statement.

Journalists expelled from Iraq have told Newsday that security officials on Monday came to the Baghdad hotel where they were staying and questioned reporters. Some were taken from the hotel.

Posted by David Cohen at 6:40 PM


Coalition forces capture two Iraqi generals
In southern Iraq, British Royal Marine commandos captured five high-ranking Iraqi paramilitary leaders and a senior officer Sunday in a village southeast of Basra, said Capt. Al Lockwood, a British military spokesman.

"One of them is an Iraqi general," Lockwood said. "We are hoping very much that he will be able to assist us, now that he is no longer a member of the regime, to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime."

U.S. forces in western Iraq have captured another Iraqi general, who led them to a cache of weapons that included 26 surface-to-air, anti-aircraft missiles and six anti-aircraft guns, according to Central Command.

Hmm, we just happen to capture two generals we expect to help us with defeating their own army. Isn't it more likely that our negotiations, rumored since before the war began, are starting to bear fruit? If this wasn't a capture, then note how the press' scepticism plays into the administration's hand. Unwilling to suggest that the administration has done something right, they spread disinformation.
Posted by David Cohen at 4:57 PM


Have the Islamists decided to make their last stand in Iraq?

As Orrin has posted below, al Quada and Palestinian suicide bombers are converging on Iraq while Iran and Syria are most likely providing surreptitious support to the Iraqi regime. (And there goes the argument that the "secularists" and the fundamentalists can't make common cause.) The Saudi people are cheering on Saddam and the government is trying to broker a deal to end the war. It is an article of faith on the US right that Iraq is only the first step in a campaign to remake the entire middle east. Does the middle east agree?

The war in Afghanistan was a wake up call for many militaries around the world, from the Russians to, one has to imagine, the Iraqis, the Syrians and the Iranians. Although almost any other government in the region will have more of an air defense than the Afghans and the Iraqis, none can be under any misapprehension about their chances against the US. It is now clear that their functional allies in the UN cannot be depended upon to deter the US. Deciding to all hang together now against the chance that they will hang seperately later would not be their worst tactic.

This war would be horrible. There would be, I'm afraid, many dead Americans from terror tactics. There would be thousands upon thousands of dead Arabs and Persians, to which I am not at all indifferent. If the clash is inevitable, however, it would be better to have it now than postpone it. That is the biggest lesson we should take from Gulf War I.

Such a war would also put to rest some of the world's misunderstanding of the United States. We are a difficult people to understand, so I symphathize with the incorrect lessons learned by Osama, et al. Our toleration for dissenting speech, for example, is taken as a sign that we value talking over action; in fact, to borrow an observation from Solzhenitsyn, we barely value speech at all as we have so much of it. "Actions speak louder than words" might as well be our national motto. Similarly, our inexplicable reluctance to respond to the terror attacks of the last ten years -- which was, of course, disasterous -- is also misunderstood. It may be that the lines we draw at the America's borders are not obvious to those whose concern is the umma. One lesson of American history is that, when prodded, we are not overly concerned with who gets hurt. I've long suspected that the Israeli response to Palentinian terror tactics is the model of restraint compared to our response if similar tactics were tried against us. We might be about to find out. (Speaking of the Israelis: Do we really expect them not to take a hand if Palestinian terrorists are gathered in Iraq?)

Finally, we might also be able to put to rest, both in the US and abroad, one of the misreadings of Vietnam. It is true that a sufficiently bloody war, fought for a long time, without any direct threat to the US, will ultimately be unpopular. Too much is read into this. In the Iraqi war, let alone our war with the Islamists, American's are convinced that we are directly threatened. More importantly, this war is not likely to continue for years and, of course, like all wars we've fought since Hiroshima, it will only go on at all because we choose to let it. Also, once the war is perceived as over, we really don't pay too much attention to the lives lost or money spent (see, e.g., Afghanistan, Korea, Germany, Japan.)

If all of our enemies in the middle east do decide to ban together, this would be an unanticipated (?) expansion of the war. The President may not have been able to justify such an expansion to the country at his choosing. If it is forced upon us by the tactics of our enemies, we will take action and that action will be popular.

What sort of middle east will be left after this war is over? I would like to see a chain of democracies, more or less on the Japanese/Korean model, throughout the region. But so long as they're quiet, I'm not overly concerned.

More: Militants call Israel suicide bomb 'gift to Iraq', At least 49 injured in Netanya attack (CNN).

A suicide bomb that injured dozens in northern Israel Sunday was "a gift to the Iraqi people," according to a Palestinian militant group that claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bombing, which took place at a busy cafe in the coastal town of Netanya, injured at least 49, five of them seriously, Israeli police and ambulance services said. Ten Israeli soldiers were among the injured.

If our enemies see this as one seamless war, can we really afford to disagree with them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM


Iraqis Must Share in Their Liberation (Kanan Makiya, March 30, 2003, The Washington Post)
The United States is failing to make use of what should be its most valuable asset in this war: the many Iraqis who are willing to fight and die for their country's liberation.

Those who imply that a rising surge of "nationalism" is preventing Iraqis from greeting American and British troops with open arms are wrong. What is preventing Iraqis from taking over the streets of their cities is confusion about American intentions -- confusion created by the way this war has been conducted and by fear of the murderous brown-shirt thugs, otherwise known as Saddam's Fedayeen, a militia loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who control the streets of Iraqi cities and who are conducting the harassing attacks on American and British soldiers.

The coalition forces have not yet sent clear and unmistakable signals to the people of Iraq that, unlike in 1991, there will be no turning back before Hussein's
regime has been overturned. In order to do this effectively they must count on the Iraqi opposition, which has so far been marginalized. [...]

Hanging over the head of every Iraqi like a sword of Damocles is the memory of March 1991, when the uprising of the people of southern Iraq was
mercilessly suppressed -- with particular brutality in Basra. If Hussein came back from the grave after 1991, Iraqis are thinking to themselves, what
guarantees do they have that he will not do so this time? Phone calls that the Iraqi opposition has received over the past two days from sources in southern Iraq confirm this sense of ambiguity and hesitation. A group of rebels in Nasiriyah called the leadership of the Iraqi opposition in the north. They wanted to know what to do with a number of abandoned military vehicles they had found, including a tank and some armored personnel carriers. Should they sequester
them and turn them against the regime? The answer was no, they would be shot by coalition forces because they had not been given the special device necessary to be identified as friend, not foe. Such is the state of coordination between the opposition and the coalition forces.

No American or coalition soldier can quell the perfectly legitimate fears of ordinary Iraqis living in places such as Basra and Baghdad. Only other Iraqis,
attentive to the nuances of their own society and culture, can do this. Communication with Iraqis about such things cannot be reduced to an index card listing
rules of engagement. Only Iraqis can get messages distributed through the local social networks, and only Iraqis can reassure other Iraqis that they are truly
to be liberated this time.

Hussein's image and the images of his henchmen have been visible throughout the fighting. Hussein rules through his face, through his ubiquitous presence in
daily life. That is what his millions of larger-than-life wall posters are about. Every day that aired image reinforces an aura of invincibility. That is why Iraqi state TV must be put out of commission, permanently.

But eliminating his image is not enough. An alternative image must be projected -- and by Iraqis, not Americans. Give them the equipment inside Iraq to do
it immediately. The INC has been trying to get TV and radio belonging to free Iraqis on the air in Iraq since 2000. Members of Congress and other powerful
friends of the INC have proved helpless against the remarkable machinations of those who have fashioned entire careers around hobbling the INC as an
organization and fighting force in Iraq.

The coalition needs the Iraqi opposition -- Iraqis who can sneak into cities and help organize other Iraqis, who know how to communicate with their entrapped compatriots, who can tell them why Hussein really is finished, and who are able to root out his cronies when they try to melt away into the civilian population.

One cannot liberate a people -- much less facilitate the emergence of a democracy -- without empowering the people being liberated.

The veiled reference to "those who have fashioned entire careers around hobbling the INC" means the Arabists in the State Department who have consistently shown themselves opposed to anything that might destabilize the regimes of the Middle East. But, in case they haven't noticed, George W. Bush is embarked on a programn of systematic destabilization--in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Iran so far--and it's too late for them to save their dictator friends. Time to turn Mr. Makiya and his cohorts loose and let them fight for their own freedom.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM


Europeans have opted for the quiet life - but they are in for a big shock: The EU will remain politically impotent - my greater concern is that it will lose the economic game too (Hamish McRae, 19 February 2003, Independent)
The argument that [it] s right to prefer a quiet and comfortable life has been well made by Adair Turner, the former director general of the CBI, in a lecture at the LSE earlier this month. His argument is that if you allow for shorter hours worked, European productivity is not much below that of the US. GDP per head in the EU is lower, but that is largely because we choose to take more leisure. And our take-home pay is further reduced relative to the US because we pay for more of our services through the tax system rather than paying for them directly. (The UK, as usual, is somewhere in between the continental and the US models.)

"Europe" argues Adair Turner, "is making social choices which are rational and natural for human beings in mature, already rich, and peaceful societies." His main doubt is whether the world can be peaceful enough to sustain these choices - he hopes and believes it can be, but he acknowledges that this is debatable. His is a powerful argument which cuts to the very core of the clash between Europe and America, at the moment over the Middle East. But the division is not just about what should be done about Iraq. It is about what sort of society we want to live in.

Many of us would find it pretty tough to have to work in the US. Having only two weeks holiday a year would not go down too well. It would not be much fun to have to worry about the adequacy of one's medical insurance. And while it might be harder to find a job in much of continental Europe than in the States, at least when people lose their jobs in Europe (and for that matter the UK) there is usually a better cushion to tide them over than there would be in most US states.

But is the European model sustainable? Adair Turner has two caveats. One follows from Europe's ageing society: the implications for pensions and so on, the other is that point about global power.

It seems to me that the power game is already lost. It is very hard to see any set of circumstances where Europe collectively will be able to exert much military or even political power in the world over the next generation. In another quarter century, when the US population is expected to pass the EU one, the imbalance of power will become even wider. For the time being, the larger European nations can individually have some modest influence - Tony Blair really does have more influence over the US than most Britons would give him credit for - but the EU as a body is and will remain impotent. If we have not yet learnt that harsh lesson we soon will.

My greater concern is that Europe will lose the economic game too - its model is simply not sustainable. There are two broad reasons for believing that. One is the ageing point made by Adair Turner; the other, the implications of labour mobility - particularly of the highly-skilled - for high-tax, high-benefit societies.

The implications of ageing on the European social welfare model, where the current generation of working people pay the benefits of the current generation of retirees, have been so widely recognised that there is a danger of "pension fatigue" overtaking electorates. The core problem is that welfare systems that were developed at a time when there were more than four workers for every pensioner cannot function when there are fewer than two. (In the case of Spain and Italy, there will actually be fewer workers than pensioners when the present 20-somethings retire.)

But that is a known problem. Europe has not done much about it, but at least people are aware of the problem. Europe is much less aware of the problem created by the increased mobility of the highly-skilled - and the increased demand for such skills.

Setting aside the fact that productivity is an hourly measure, not one of how much a worker produces per calendar year, this piece also seems to lose track of the choosing "quiet" argument that it raises. Quiet, or what we here would call "security", is one of the two great human values that we've long argued drives all of human history. From socialism to atheism to pragmatism to theocracy and on, all are philosophies of governance that seek to minimize conflict and instill a sense of security in the populace. Freedom tends to be rather more tumultuous and to entail greater risks. The problem for Europe is that "quiet", or security, leads to a moribund society, which it's not all clear can ever produce sustained economic growth, whilst freedom and tumult, at least in the American model, lead to creativity and mobility. It appears that what Mr. Turner refers to as "rational choices" may in fact be suicidal, though a pleasant enough way to go. This is why it is so urgent that we break Britain away from the EU and save it from this fate.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM


Anglosphere: End of transnational illusion? (James C. Bennett, 3/23/2003, UPI)
So many times in the run-up to the second Gulf War President Bush's diplomatic skills were contrasted detrimentally to those of his father. The broad coalition and unequivocal U.N. backing for the first war was an example, according to this theory, of the right way to do things.

The unilateralist cowboy approach of George W., failing to gain the military aid of the French Foreign Legion and the blessing of that final U.N. resolution, critics claim, doom the current war to -- well, exactly what it isn't clear, but obviously something not nice. Not military defeat, certainly. But victory without the blessings of certain European intellectual quarters, which they assume to be an equally traumatic outcome.

It's worth considering, however, that exactly these features of the first Gulf War contributed to the need for its successor. In particular, the fatal pause before Baghdad and the survival of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein were to some degree the result of the broadness of the coalition, some of whose members preferred a strong leader in Iraq because of fear of its fragmentation.

In a larger sense, the first Gulf War, coming in the middle of the Cold War endgame, marked the opening of a period, which we are coming to understand was a transitory interlude, in which a certain vision of transnational order was thought to be possible and desirable. Sept. 11, 2001, began the closing of this period. The second Gulf War may come to be seen as the final act of that closure, the two wars thus serving as bookends for the period. [...]

The core of the coalition of the willing assembled to pursue the liberation of Iraq demonstrates the difference between broadly inclusive organizations and more limited ones that, because they share certain understandings of the world, are able to move more quickly and effectively. The task for the coming period is to construct a set of more permanent structures along similar lines to pursue important security, economic trade and development, and political goals.

American Jacksonians can learn from the second Gulf War that, unlike the universalist organizations they have come to despise, a more select group of nations can work together effectively increase their mutual security. American Wilsonians and their cousins, the British Gladstonians, can learn that the international order they crave will more likely grow from successful collaboration of more limited partners with strong civil societies and like assumptions than the morally compromised international bodies, which have tended to lower themselves to the lowest common denominator of morality, rather than raising, as they had hoped, the lower to a higher standard.

Britain, America, Australia and their allies have accomplished what is needed in Iraq, where a decade ago the broader coalition failed, with painful consequences for the Iraqi people and others. Now is the time to explore how to apply these lessons to the broader issues of international order.

The key question in this regard is whether Tony Blair and John Howard can lead the British and Australians respectively to the conclusion--which Mr. Blair himself may not yet share--that the Anglosphere is more important to the development and maintenance of a stable and democratic world order than the EU and the UN.

Operation Anglosphere: Today's most ardent American imperialists weren't born in the USA. (Jeet Heer, 3/23/2003, Boston Globe)

EMPIRE IS A DIRTY word in the American political lexicon. Just last summer, President Bush told West Point graduates that ''America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish.'' In this view, the power of the United States is not exercised for imperial purposes, but for the benefit of mankind.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, however, many foreign policy pundits, mostly from the Republican right but also including some liberal internationalists, have revisited the idea of empire. ''America is the most magnanimous imperial power ever,'' declared Dinesh D'Souza in the Christian Science Monitor in 2002. ''Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets,'' argued Max Boot in a 2001 article for the Weekly Standard titled ''The Case for American Empire.'' In the Wall Street Journal, historian Paul Johnson asserted that the ''answer to terrorism'' is ''colonialism.'' Columnist Mark Steyn, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, has contended that ''imperialism is the answer.''

''People are now coming out of the closet on the word `empire','' noted Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. ''The fact is no country has been as dominant culturally, economically, technologically and militarily in the history of world since the Roman Empire.'' Krauthammer's awe is shared by Harvard human rights scholar Michael Ignatieff, who asked earlier this year in The New York Times Magazine, ''What word but `empire' describes the awesome thing America is becoming?'' While acknowledging that empire may be a ''burden,'' Ignatieff maintained that it has become, ''in a place like Iraq, the last hope for democracy and stability alike.''

Today's advocates of American empire share one surprising trait: Very few of them were born in the United States. D'Souza was born in India, and Johnson in Britain - where he still lives. Steyn, Krauthammer, and Ignatieff all hail from Canada. (Krauthammer was born in Uruguay, but grew up in Montreal before moving to the United States.) More than anything, the backgrounds of today's most outspoken imperialists suggest the lingering appeal and impact of the British empire.

''I think there's more openness among children of the British Empire to the benefits of imperialism, whereas some Americans have never gotten over the fact that our country was born in a revolt against empire,'' notes Max Boot, currently afellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. ''But lots of people who are advocating pro-imperial arguments - such as Bill Kristol and me - are not Brits or Canadians.'' (Boot, who was born in Russia, moved to the United States as a baby.)

Imperialism is often seen as an expanding circle, with power radiating outward from a capital city like London or Paris to hinterlands. But a quick review of history shows that imperial enthusiasm doesn't emanate only from the center. Often, the dream of empire is nursed by those born on the periphery of power, precisely because empire would give them a place in a larger framework. Alexander the Great, for example, was born in Macedonia and went on to create an Hellenic empire. And France's greatest empire-builder was the Corsican Napoleon. [...]

The promotion of ''Anglo-Saxon unity'' was particularly attractive to transnational business leaders like the Canadian-born newspaper tycoon William Maxwell Aitken (later known as Lord Beaverbrook). In 1910 Aitken moved to Britain, where he used his newspapers, Daily Express and the Evening Standard, to argue for free trade and the strengthening of imperial ties. In recent years, Beaverbrook's ideas have been given new currency by another newly ennobled Canadian-born newspaper magnate, Conrad Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour.

While he has recanted his belief that the English-speaking provinces of Canada should join the United States, Black has been campaigning for the inclusion of the United Kingdom into the NAFTA trade accord. For Black, Britain's destiny is to be primarily an Atlantic power, not a European one.

Among conservative intellectuals, Black's dream of an Anglo-American concert of nations is part of a larger desire to strengthen ''the Anglosphere.'' Apparently coined by science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1995 novel ''The Diamond Age,'' the term has been popularized lately by journalists like James C. Bennett, who writes a weekly column covering ''The Anglosphere Beat'' for United Press International, and Andrew Sullivan, as well as by the English historian Robert Conquest. The proponents of an anglosphere want a loose and informal alliance of English-speaking peoples, modelled on the ''soft'' imperialism that governed Britain's relationship with dominions like Canada and Australia, not the ''hard'' imperialism of the Raj.

The enthusiasm for the old Pax Britannia has been bolstered by the revisionist scholarship of Scottish historian Niall Ferguson, whose new book ''Empire'' argues that the British Empire was a progressive force in world history that lay the foundations of our current global economy.

But the idea of a new American empire remains controversial on the American right, and not just among isolationists. Take the case of David Frum, the Canadian-born former Bush speechwriter who famously helped coin the term ''axis of evil.'' Though his writing shows touches of imperial nostalgia (among other thing, he has argued that Canada should jettison the nationalist Maple Leaf flag and return to the Union Jack), he rejects the imperial analogies drawn by writers like Max Boot. ''If `empire' means anything, it certainly does not describe what the US is proposing to do in Iraq,'' notes Frum. ''The big story, it seems to me, is the ascendancy of neo-Wilsonianism on the political right, not neo-imperialism.''

For Boot, that's just a language game. ''I don't think David and I disagree on any substantive point of foreign policy,'' Boot says. Another name for ''`hard' Wilsonianism,'' he points out, is liberal imperialism. After all, Wilson, who took over Veracruz, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, was one of our most imperial presidents. Boot adds: ''I prefer the more forthright if also more controversial term American Empire - sort of like the way some gays embrace the `queer' label.''

Mr. Boot's right here and the entire seeming discrepancy on the Right clears up if you just think of the new imperialism as cultural rather than territorial. The point is not to take over and admninister every corner of the globe but to have a forceful enough ideological message and muscular enough foreign policy to extend Anglo-American ideals throughout the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:26 AM


Mugabe 'runs amok' as world watches the war (Brian Latham and Basildon Peta, March 30 2003, Independent Online)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has unleashed a wave of terror on his political opponents in Harare's poverty-ridden townships while world attention is diverted by the war in Iraq.

Mugabe appears to be taking revenge on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for organising a successful two-day general strike last week - and also trying to intimidate MDC supporters planning further mass action.

Mugabe is also trying to prevent MDC voters from voting against him in two parliamentary by-elections in the Harare townships this weekend, the MDC believes.

The wave of violence appears to be derailing a tentative new peace initiative by President Thabo Mbeki.

A report by the independent Human Rights Forum tells of devastating violence against residents of the Harare townships, which are largely MDC strongholds.

"People taken by police for questioning were handed over to Zanu-PF youths and taken behind police stations where they were assaulted severely, using weapons such as baton sticks, chains, hosepipes and rifles.

"In most cases [the assaults involved] groups of between 20 and 50 individuals," reads the report.

The Human Rights Forum believes the new wave of violence is worse than that which preceded the June 2000 parliamentary general elections and the presidential elections in March last year. Its report details a horrific list of tortures, which include beatings, blindfolding, rape and electric shocks.

And according to the Human Rights Forum, the terror campaign is not aimed only at MDC supporters. Allegations of elderly parents and young children being blindfolded, taken to torture camps and then dumped in the bush have also surfaced.

One case study tells of a woman who was raped with the barrel of an AK47 while the rest of her family stood by helplessly.

The attack, carried out by 16 men in army uniform and four civilians loyal to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, continued with a savage assault on the woman's son, who was beaten and burnt with cigarettes before being dumped in the bush.

Others told of electric wires attached to their noses, ears and genitals and current switched on whenever they were asked a question.

You don't have to think that the Iraq war is "all about oil" to believe that if Zimbabwe had oil reserves we'd pay more attention to it. Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush should turn the world's full focus on Mugabe's reign of terror post haste and drive him from office by any means necessary.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 AM


French anti-Semitism reports surge (BBC, 27 March, 2003)
There was a dramatic rise in reported racist and anti-Semitic acts in France last year, according to the French Government's human rights watchdog.

The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) said there had been more than 300 registered instances of violence, and almost 1,000 cases of abuse or threats.

Two-thirds of them were anti-Semitic - six times as many as in 2001.

The CNCDH said the incidents, often blamed on young men of Arab descent, were largely connected with the escalation in the Middle East conflict.

The attacks on America of 11 September 2001 are also thought to have fuelled tensions.

It would be naive to think that French support for the PLO and Saddam Hussein is unrelated to historic French anti-Semitism and to a desire to assuage the anti-Semitic immigrant population.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 AM


Let the Hate Begin: There's no greater pleasure than the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. (RUSS SMITH, March 28, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
One spring day last year I was at Yankee Stadium, sitting in the loge section, when suddenly during the third inning a chant erupted from the upper deck: "Boston sucks, Boston sucks!" This is normal when the Red Sox play in the Bronx, but on this occasion the Yanks were slamming the hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

My two young sons, decked out in Bosox uniforms (we're diehard Boston fans but as Manhattan residents attend about 25 games at the stadium each season) were confused. My nine-year-old said: "Dad, are those guys too drunk to know what teams are on the field?" They'd endured the jibes of Yankee partisans before, but this commotion was just too taxing on their developing minds. It didn't help that it was soon followed by the inevitable "1918!, 1918!"--for some, the year that ended World War I, for others, the year the Boston Red Sox last won the World Series.

My baseball "facts of life" speech to the boys included the "Curse of the Bambino," Boston's astonishing choke against the Mets in the '86 World Series and, most painfully, Bucky Dent's cheap homer in the '78 one-game playoff for the American League East title that again left the Yanks victorious over the Sox.

The durable New York-Boston baseball feud is an anomaly today. Decades ago, before league expansion, before owners spent huge sums on free agents, before theme parks became more important than the game itself, there were legendary rivalries--famously, the Yanks and Dodgers of the 1950s, when they faced off in several World Series. The Giants and Dodgers created a riveting clash of fans, too, which survived even the move of both teams to California. But these rivalries died away, along with others, and attempts to gin up lesser pairings into an admirable viciousness--St. Louis and Kansas City? the Cubs and White Sox?--have always failed.

There is obviously something different about Boston and New York, making the competition bitter from the day Babe Ruth was sold to New York after the 1919 season. Both cities are unusually sports-centric, for one thing, with a rabid collection of journalists eager to stoke the emotions of lifelong fans. Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium were built before the Depression, in urban settings, and many spectators still use mass transit, often reading the tabloids, to reach the games. And the Sox and Yanks were part of the original eight-team American League, back when players traveled by train and fans listened to games on the radio.

All this tradition matters.

Baseball returns at an especially opportune moment this year. Because at a time like this it's reassuring to know that "tradition matters". As Terence Mann says, in Field of Dreams:
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

And consider that quote in conjunction with this one:
There are those who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American Dream.
-Archibald MacLeish

As we've seen in the bitter divisions over the current war on terror, not everyone in America shares the same dreams, not everyone cares for its traditions and the things it stands for, but enough of us still do and those who do tend to be especially wedded to the continuities in American life. Among those continuities are the belief that we have a special duty to make America a city upon a hill, that if we build it all mankind will come, and also a belief that the Yankees are the focus of evil in the modern world. Go Sox!
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM


Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First by Mona Charen (C-SPAN, March 30, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)
In Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First, Mona Charen holds liberals accountable and reveals the horrifying crimes that these liberals helped defend and cover up for the Communists. Meet the useful idiots:

Jane Fonda, Dan Rather, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson, and all the other liberals who were and are always willing to blame America first and defend its enemies as simply misunderstood. These are the liberals who flocked to Castro?s Cuba and called it paradise, just as a previous generation of liberals visited the Soviet Union and proclaimed its glorious future. They are the liberals who saw Communist Vietnam and Cambodia in fact, Communism everywhere as generally a beneficial force, and blamed America as a gross, blind, and blundering giant.

Now that the Cold War has been won, these liberals, amazingly, are proud to claim credit for the victory conveniently forgetting their apologies for the Communists and their spluttering attacks on Cold Warriors like Ronald Reagan.

But nationally syndicated columnist Mona Charen isn?t about to let them rewrite history.

In her shocking new book, Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First, she exposes:

-Prominent Clinton administration officials such as Madeleine Albright, Sidney Blumenthal, and Strobe Talbott who turned a blind eye to the Soviet Evil Empire, but who now want to be counted as Cold Warriors
-Media figures who clucked with praise for Communists and smirked with snide disdain for America including Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue, Bryant Gumble, and Katie Couric
-Professors who poisoned the academy with anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism at top universities such as Princeton, Brown, Columbia, and Georgetown
-Entertainerssuch as Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, Meryl Streep, Martin Sheen, and Ed Asnerwho used the megaphones of their fame to blame America first

It's your proverbial target rich environment.

-The Conservative Chronicle - Biography of Mona Charen
-ARCHIVES: Mona Charen (Jewish World Review)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM


Assyrians want Saddam out (DAVE NEWBART, March 30, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
"We want Saddam overthrown by any means,'' said Sam Dibato, 66, a retired geologist who fled Iraq two years ago when he learned he was going to be arrested on false charges. "We are not supporting war. We are supporting a free Iraq.''

The mostly older men are part of Chicago's Assyrian-American community, which numbers nearly 100,000. Members of the community are holding a rally today at Warren Park in support of the U.S. troops. Organizers said they canceled the annual Assyrian New Year's parade scheduled for next week because of the war.

Like Dibato, thousands of Assyrians--who boast of being some of the oldest Christians in the world--have been persecuted and killed by Saddam Hussein's Baath party. Despite their religious beliefs, the men said using force to oust Saddam is the only option to save their country. They say that even knowing that innocent civilians have died and more will die because of the war. But they believe more people would perish if Saddam remained in power.

"He is cutting the ears off the people, cutting the tongues, killing people to stay in power,'' Dibato said.

That includes 10 members of Dibato's extended family, who disappeared from a village in northern Iraq in 1988 and are thought to have been burned alive when Saddam accused them of opposing his regime. Dibato was forced to leave when he was accused of the same. His mother, two daughters and two brothers remain in Iraq.

The men believe most in Iraq shares their feelings about Saddam but are too afraid to speak out. But they also think many Iraqis aren't convinced the United States will back them if they rebel, considering they were abandoned following the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"They don't trust anybody, not Saddam Hussein, not the American government,'' said Khoshiaba Jaba, 50.

One wonders if the Administration has considered putting the President on TV to demand the Ba'athist regime's "unconditional surrender". It would have the advantages of tying this war to WWII, making it clear that we consider victory inevitable and imminent, and helping to convince Shi'a, Assyrians, etc., that we're in it until the end...this time.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM


Kurds, Americans battle suspected terrorist positions (BORZOU DARAGAHI, March 30, 2003, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Kurdish guerrillas working with U.S. special forces attacked well-trained Islamic militants allegedly linked to al-Qaida-- an operation that one Kurdish
leader said left at least 120 militants dead and dealt "a very serious blow" to terrorism.

Heavy machine gun fire and bombardment were reported Saturday around the northeastern city of Halabja near positions of the Ansar al-Islam extremists, who have been under
sporadic attack by U.S. forces for a week.

Barham Salih, prime minister of the Sulaymaniyah-based Kurdish government that is a U.S. ally, told The Associated Press the attack on the militants was important in the war against terror. He added that many of those killed were Afghan Arabs who had fought and trained in Afghanistan.

"It was a very tough battle," said Salih. "You're talking about a bunch of terrorists who are very well-trained and well-equipped."

On Friday, thousands of Kurdish rebels swept through Ansar's stronghold, dislodging many of the militants from mountain villages they controlled.

Seventeen Kurds and between 120 and 150 Ansar militants were killed, Salih said.

Two suspected al-Qaida militants were also killed in a separate shootout earlier this week near Halabja, about 50 miles southeast of Sulaymaniyah, Kurdish officials said.

The war on terror regimes is the war on terrorism is the war on terror.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 AM


The Palestinian morning after (Khaled Abu Toameh, Mar. 20, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
"[US President George W.] Bush insists that the regime change in the Arab world should start in Ramallah," says a senior PA official. "He wants to get rid of all Arab leaders who refuse to dance to American and Israeli music."

Indeed, the US, with the help of the European Union, United Nations and Russia, has already forced Arafat into accepting the idea of sharing his "bedroom" with another Palestinian leader. Palestinians who have worked with Arafat for the past four decades say the move is tantamount to forcing the Palestinian leader to dig his grave with his own hands.

"Bush is trying to bury Arafat alive, and that's not fair," complains one official. "Now, he is trying to bury Saddam Hussein in a more brutal manner. What's going on here? Has the man gone mad?"

Saddam is the only Arab leader whose posters are raised together with those of Arafat during demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By all accounts, he is the second most popular Arab leader among the Palestinians after Arafat.

He is admired in the refugee camps and villages mainly because he is the only Arab leader who defied Israel and made good on his promise to launch Scud missiles at Tel Aviv during the first Gulf War. The rest of the Arab leaders are usually condemned for only paying lip service to the Palestinian issue instead of sending their armies to fight Israel.

The Iraqi dictator's popularity skyrocketed during the current intifada when he started paying thousands of dollars to the families of Palestinian victims, including suicide bombers [see box]. Once a week, Saddam's representatives in the tiny Arab Liberation Front hold a ceremony in the Gaza Strip or West Bank to hand out checks to Palestinian families. Hence by losing Saddam, the Palestinians would not only lose a major political and military ally, but a significant financier.

"The downfall of Saddam's regime is going to be a major loss for the Palestinians," says a university lecturer from an-Najah University in Nablus. "It will send home the message that unless Uncle Sam is happy with you, you have no room in this world. This is a very serious matter because it gives Bush the power to decide who's good and who's bad. This applies also to the Palestinians, who will have to choose leaders favored by Bush and [US National Security Adviser] Condoleezza Rice.

"I believe that the defeat of Saddam will only complicate the situation because it will increase bitterness and frustration not only in the Palestinian street, but also throughout the Arab world. The Arabs will go around with the feeling that their dignity has been badly hurt. This creates a strong desire for revenge."

PALESTINIANS HAVE different opinions as to the post-Saddam era. While some believe that Washington is expected to focus its efforts on finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, others say that the US would need several more years to rid itself of the quagmire in Baghdad and therefore won't have time for the problems here.

In any case, the Palestinians are fully aware that they would have to play the American card after the war is over. Senior Palestinian officials in Arafat's entourage are openly talking about the possibility that a triumphant Bush, who in their eyes represents an administration that is 100 percent biased toward Israel, would try to impose a solution that only a few Palestinians would accept.

"We have red lines that no Palestinian leader, not even Arafat, can cross," explains a senior official. "These include, first and foremost, the right of return for the refugees and a full withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including Arab Jerusalem. Any attempt to impose a solution that does not include these factors will be doomed to failure. Even the most moderate Palestinian leader wouldn't dare cross the red lines. An enforced solution would only lead to more anger and violence in the Palestinian street."

It's hard to see how crushing the heroes of radical Islam can possibly be a bad thing. It should help to drive home the idea that Islamicism is an abyssmal failure and has no future. As for imposed statehood, that's the best option available right now, but it's not going to include the right of return nor all of the territory they want. It could though include much of what they're asking including much of Arab Jerusalem and a pullback of Israeli settlements.

-Facing reality: There Will Never be a Palestinian Democracy (Barbara Lerner, 3/27/03, National Review)

srael's Natan Sharansky is one of the intellectual godfathers of President Bush's new "democracy first" approach to the Palestinian question. Sharansky's influence is hard to miss. His influence on the views of his countrymen is another matter. Twenty-nine months of suicide bombings, shellings, and machine-gun attacks aimed at civilians have decimated the ranks of Israelis who still believe a Palestinian state could ever be anything other than the same old terror-warriors, with new and more lethal powers. When I interviewed Sharansky in Jerusalem on February 12, his political party had just lost two of its four seats in Israel's 120-member parliament, but his faith that democracy was the answer remained unshaken.

Natan Sharansky has a big Russian soul, but he carries it on a small frame, and slumps in his seat. When I sat at his soon-to-be-vacated desk in Israel's Ministry of Housing and Construction, I had to scrunch down to be at eye-level with him. When I forgot, I would find myself looking instead into the eyes of his mentor, Andrei Sakharov, in a large photo above Sharansky's head. The man once known as Anatoly wants it that way. He believes the principles he and his fellow Soviet freedom fighters went to prison for are universal principles - as real and right in the Middle East as they were and are in what was once the Soviet Union. He also believes that in the terror war, as in the Cold War, appeasing tyrants can never bring lasting peace - only the spread of democracy can. And he believes, too, that democracy is for everyone, that neither Arabs nor Palestinians are exceptions to the rule.

I offer up the Israeli everyman's objection at the outset: Polls show that 80 percent of Palestinians approve of suicide bombings. Anyone they elect will be a murdering thug. "Of course," Sharansky explodes. "It's primitive to think democracy is about elections. It's not. It's about freedom. Freedom is the key." First, he explains, you have to free people from the all-pervasive fear that is the sine qua non of all tyrannies. Give people the freedom to express themselves, to say what they really think, over time - without the fear that government goons will come and get them. That's the start of the democratization process. Elections are at the other end. They come last, after people have experienced what it's like to live free, because that - not elections - is what democracy is about. Once people know freedom, Sharansky argues, they vote to keep it. And because rulers in a democracy can't ignore what majorities vote for if they want to stay in office, they have powerful incentives to respect freedom at home and to pursue peace abroad. For tyrants, the situation is quite different. Freedom is their nemesis, and to negate it they need to demonize enemies, both at home and abroad - justifications for their brutal, suffocating control. [...]

But it's unrealistic, I think, to expect anything like democracy in the southern half of the Middle East any time soon - and a dangerous illusion to expect a Palestinian democracy ever.

-Laundering Abu Mazen: A Holocaust revisionist, a conspiracy theorist, and a promoter of terrorism. (Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, 3/19/03, National Review)
Mahmoud Abbas, known by his nom de guerre Abu Mazen, has been tapped by PLO leader Yasser Arafat to be the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Merely the fact that he has been selected by arch-terrorist Arafat to take on the mantle of authority should already give pause to those committed to fighting terrorism. In fact, anyone involved with the corrupt, duplicitous terrorist organization called the PLO - Abu Mazen is the head of its executive committee - should by now be considered unfit to lead anything but a prison-work detail. Beyond his senior position in the PLO, however, Abu Mazen is also a Holocaust revisionist, a conspiracy theorist, and a promoter of terrorism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 AM


Rain can't halt pro-U.S. rally on the Hill: 4,000 gather to support Iraq operation (Paula McCooey, March 30, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)
Supporters of the war in Iraq grabbed their opportunity yesterday to voice their approval of the U.S.-led coalition forces' efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from office and liberate the Iraqi people, while a smaller crowd rallied for peace outside the U.S. Embassy.

Nearly 4,000 supporters of the U.S. and coalition forces weathered the rain to relay their opposition to Prime Minister Jean Chretien's decision to exclude Canada from the 45 nations listed as allies.

Signs piercing the sea of red, white, and blue read "God Bless America" and "Shame to Chretien."

The ralliers, many of them more senior than their "peace" opponents, stood before the Peace Tower to hear words that validate their convictions.

"We have to stand by the people of operation Iraqi Freedom," Debbie Jodoin told the crowd.

Ms. Jodoin, a member of an anti-Liberal group "Free Dominion," organized the rally. Strong backers of Free Dominion and the pro-war rally included members of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties, as well as personalities such as CFRA talk show host Lowell Green.

Mr. Green stood with his hand on a boy's shoulder in front of the soaked crowd.

"I want to introduce to you to Ahmed," he said, as the crowd cheered.

"Ahmed is an Iraqi who had to flee his own country. And with God's will and the allies of the coalition, Ahmed may soon be able to go back to his own land and live in freedom."

The ralliers responded by yelling "free Ahmed."

Ontario Conservative Ottawa-West Nepean MPP Gary Guzzo said speakers and citizens alike were standing on the parliamentary lawn to differentiate "what is right and what is wrong in this world."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the coalition forces who are today in danger, protecting our freedom, and our thoughts and prayers are more importantly with the captured soldiers and we hope and pray for their safe return," Mr. Guzzo said, emphasizing his approval of Ontario Premier Ernie Eves' and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's support of the war.

Thank goodness...Mr. Martinovich had to be feeling lonely.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 AM


Saddam sacks commander of air defenses (AP, 3/29/2003)
Saddam Hussein has fired his commander of air defenses as U.S.-led forces claimed control of 95% of Iraq's sky, the British government said Saturday.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said Saddam had sacked his cousin, Musahim Saab al-Tikriti, and replaced him with Gen. Shahin Yasin Muhammad al-Tikriti.

The spokesman also said new, unspecified intelligence indicated that U.S. and British bombing may not have been to blame for explosions in two marketplaces in Baghdad this week.

British officers say Iraqi general captured (The Associated Press, 3/30/03)

A general from Saddam Hussein's army has been captured in southern Iraq and is being pressed to provide strategic information, British officers said Sunday. An Iraqi official said 4,000 Arab volunteers have arrived, eager to carry out more suicide attacks against U.S. and British forces. [...]

Group Capt. Al Lockwood, a British spokesman, said an Iraqi general was captured in the besieged city of Basra - the highest-ranking Iraqi prisoner of war thus far.

"We'll be asking him quite politely if he's willing to assist us to continue our operations against the paramilitary forces in Basra," Lockwood said.

Lockwood also said Royal Marine Commandos killed a Republican Guard colonel who apparently was sent to Basra to strengthen the resolve of the defense forces, who are encircled by British troops.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 AM


Islam vs. Democracy (Martin Kramer, January 1993, Commentary)
For most of the 1980s, those who saw Islamic fundamentalism for what it is saw groups as violent and dogmatic as any in the world. These were people who mixed nostalgia with grievance to produce a millenarian vision of an Islamic state - a vision so powerful that its pursuit justified any means. Angry believers invoked this Islam when they executed enemies of the revolution in Iran, assassinated a president in Egypt, and detonated themselves and abducted others in Lebanon. Their furious words complemented their deeds. They marched to chants of "Death to America" and intimidated all opponents with charges of espionage and treason. They did not expect to be understood, but they did want to be feared, and feared they were, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Yet their violence failed to overturn the region. While fundamentalists did seize the state in Iran, in most Arab countries they lurked about the edges of politics. They were often dangerous, and always fascinating, but they posed no mortal threat to the established order.

By the decade's end, however, many of these same groups had managed to transform themselves into populist movements, and even win mass followings. They did so by riding a huge tide of discontent, fed by exploding populations, falling oil prices, and economic mismanagement by the state. While governments fumbled for solutions, the fundamentalists persuaded the growing numbers of the poor, the young, and the credulous that if they only returned to belief and implemented God's law, the fog of misery surrounding them would lift.

"Islam is the solution," ran the fundamentalist slogan. What that meant, no one would say. The treatises of those billed as first-rate theoreticians seemed vague, by design. Here and there, fundamentalists organized model communities. Although billed as successful experiments in self-reliance, they were actually Potemkin mosques, built and supported with money from oil-rich donors. Fundamentalists also organized Islamic investment banks, which were supposed to prove that market economics could flourish even under the Islamic prohibition of interest. The most extensive experiment in Islamic banking, in Egypt, produced Islamic financial scandal in fairly short order.

But most of new followers read no theory and lost no money. They stood mesmerized by the rhetorical brilliance of men like the Sudan's Hasan al-Turabi, Tunisia's Rashid al-Ghannushi, and Lebanon's Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah. These preachers did not intone musty Islamic polemics against the unbelievers. Often they sounded more like the tenured Left, venting professorial condemnations of the West's sins.

Indeed, many of them issued from the academy. Turabi, schooled at the University of London and the Sorbonne, had been a professor of law and a dean; Ghannushi, a teacher of philosophy. They had overheard the West's self-incrimination, uttered in Left Bank cafés and British and American faculty lounges. This they reworked into a double-edged argument for the superiority and inevitability of Islam, buttressed not only by familiar Islamic scripture but by the West's own doomsday prophets, from Toynbee onward. These wise men of the West had confessed to capital crimes: imperialism, racism, Zionism. If they felt the tremors of the coming quake, could Muslims not feel them? Those who listened long enough to words pumped from pulpit amplifiers did begin to feel a slight tremor, and the mosques filled to overflowing.

A great deal of solid scholarship on these movements appeared during the 1980s, making it difficult to view them benignly. Their theories of jihad and conspiracy, embedded in wordy tracts, received critical scrutiny. True, Edward Said, Columbia's part-time professor of Palestine, presented a contrary view in Covering Islam, a book which bemoaned the Western media's treatment of Islam. The book was much admired by the Islamic Jihad in Beirut, prolific deconstructionists (of U.S. embassies) who circulated it among Western hostages for their edification. But the violence of the fundamentalists made them a difficult sell, and when in 1989 they filled the streets to demand the death of Salman Rushdie, they bit the hands even of those few Western intellectuals who had tried to feed them. As the decade closed, Islamic fundamentalism could count on few foreign friends.

While Islam's fundamentalists demanded the death of Rushdie, a longing for democracy (and capitalism) swept across Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union. Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, rulers took fright at the scenes of revolution from Romania and East Germany, and proceeded to initiate tightly controlled experiments in political pluralism. At the time, the architects of these experiments had no sense of the fundamentalists' appeal; they thought that the openings would work to the benefit of parties advocating liberal reform.

It was the fundamentalists, though, who led the dash through the newly opened door. The first of a succession of surprises had occurred in Egypt's parliamentary elections in 1987, when a coalition dominated by the fundamentalist Muslim Brethren emerged as the biggest opposition party in a contest gerrymandered to assure victory for the ruling party. The fundamentalists also outdistanced all other opposition parties in the 1989 elections for Tunisia's parliament, although a winner-take-all system gave every seat to the ruling party. That same year, the fundamentalists nearly captured the lower house of Jordan's parliament, in that country's first general election since 1967. Then, in 1990, the fundamentalists swept the country-wide local elections in Algeria.

Given these successes, almost overnight fundamentalist movements became the most avid and insistent supporters of free elections - an unpatrolled route to the power that had hitherto eluded them. Liberal Arab intellectuals, who had lobbied for democratic reforms and human rights for much of the 1980s, now retreated in disarray, fearful that freer press and elections might play straight into the hands of fundamentalists.

For Western theorists of democracy, it was as if the Arabs had defied the laws of gravity. Few admitted the bind as frankly as Jeane Kirkpatrick, who said:

"The Arab world is the only part of the world where I've been shaken in my conviction that if you let the people decide, they will make fundamentally rational decisions. But there, they don't make rational decisions, they make fundamentalist ones."

Most theorists, however, refused to be shaken. In order to synchronize the Arab predicament with the march of democracy, they developed a convenient theory - the theory of initial advantage.

The fundamentalists, according to this theory, enjoyed an advantage in the first stage of democratization: they knew how to organize, to stir emotions, to get out the vote. But "as civil society is enlivened," announced one political scientist, "it is only natural that the influence of the Islamist groups will be challenged." Then their appeal would fade, once the people enjoyed a full range of options. In the privacy of the voting booth, the voters would become rational actors, and elect liberals and technocrats who proposed serious answers to the crisis of Arab society.

This is why the failure of the Iranian Revolution and the theocracy it created is so important, because it serves as a warning to others that the answer to Islam's problems do not lie down the road of fundamentalism. If Iran can reform itself from within and move in a more Westerly direction, as it is trying to do now, it will establish a vital precedent.

Then, though, questions arise as to whether a revolutionary period is inevitable in the rest of the Middle East--is this a necessary phase that the states will all or almost all pass through, just to get it out of their systems?--and, more importantly, will countries that did not have long experience of a pro-Western liberalizing dictator like the Shah (or like Attaturk in Turkey) be able to shuck off the revolution as quickly as Iran has? Support for freedom, constitutionalism, liberation of women, etc., predates the Revolution in Iran and has apparently remained strong. Is there any reason to believe that a nation like Egypt--after it descends into its fundamentalist epoch, as surely it will--which seems to have few of these foundations upon which liberal democratic society is built, can develop them during a period when Islamic fundamentalism reigns? It seems at least somewhat dubious.

And it is here that Iraq comes in. For the new Iraq to succeed it will require a constitution that diffuses political power, a secular government, a free market economy, an independent judiciary, vibrant mosques and churches, a depoliticized military, and myriad social and community organiztions. Can all of these things be developed before it submerges into chaos or fundamentalist enthusiasms? Can it serve as an example of how democratic institutions might be built and revolution avoided? Here too it's necessary to be skeptical. But we have to help both Iran and Iraq make the efforts, don't we?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:29 AM


Town becomes horrific battleground: Hundreds of Iraqis reportedly die in`chaos you cannot imagine' (NBC NEWS, March 29, 2003)
The suicide bombing that killed four U.S. soldiers Saturday happened just outside a dusty town that saw hundreds of Iraqis literally drive themselves into U.S. positions during a four-day battle that started with a swirling sandstorm and ended with nightmarish scenes.

WHEN U.S. tanks from the 3rd Mechanized Infantry first rumbled into this town on the Euphrates river on Wednesday, irregular Iraqi forces set up sniper nests up and down the main street, opening fire from doors, windows, market stalls and patches of open ground.

A crimson sunset painted the street red and visibility fell to less than 15 feet as a swirling sand and dust storm kicked up when the guerrilla units attacked.

U.S. officers said fighters in minivans, pick-up trucks and cars drove straight at the oncoming tanks. Others took to canoes, rowing down the river and trying to fix explosives to the main bridge in this town about 80 miles south of Baghdad.

But the guerrilla-style forces were vastly outgunned by the tanks of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, and hundreds of Iraqis have died in this town over the last four days. [...]

"It was mad chaos like you cannot imagine," said the tank unit's commander, who identified himself as "Cobra 6" as he did not want friends and neighbors back home to know what he had been through.

Missile Strike Kills 200 Iraqi Paramilitary Fighters (Fox News, March 29, 2003)
U.S. warplanes firing laser-guided missiles destroyed a two-story building in the Iraqi city of Basra Friday, killing some 200 Iraqi paramilitary fighters, the U.S. military said.

The attack targeted the Saddam Hussein loyalists who British officials say have clamped down on a restive population in Basra.

Earlier Friday, the paramilitaries -- known as "Saddam's Fedayeen" -- had fired mortars and machine guns on about 1,000 Iraqi civilians trying to leave the southern city, British military officials and witnesses said.

British forces surround the city -- Iraq's second-largest, with a population of 1.3 million -- and want to open the way for badly needed humanitarian aid. But they have yet to move in, facing what would likely by tough street-by-street resistance from the militiamen.

Friday night's airstrike went after what Central Command called "an emerging target." The pair of F-15E Strike Eagles fired laser-guided munitions fitted with delayed fuses -- meaning they penetrated the building before detonating to minimize the external blast effect. The Central Command statement said a church 300 yards from the two-story building was undamaged.

The statement did not say how it was known that 200 paramilitaries were holding a meeting.

US Helicopters Kill 50 Elite Iraqi Troops -Officer (Reuters, March 29, 2003)
U.S. helicopters attacked units of Iraq's elite Republican Guard on Saturday, killing at least 50 Iraqi soldiers and destroying some 25 vehicles, a senior officer said.

"We fired 40 missiles and we had 40 hits. We had a confirmed kill of at least 25 vehicles including tanks, armored personnel carriers and trucks, and at least 50 dead," Major Hugh Cate told Reuters.

As scary as these suicidal attacks are to us, and as much scarier as they must be to the men facing them, nothing much has changed in warfare since General Patton said: "Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." The ultimate fact of these attacks is nothing more that dead Ba'athists.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:24 AM


Fatah sending suicide bombers to Iraq (Khaled Abu Toameh, Mar. 30, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
Hundreds of Palestinians living in Lebanon have been sent to Iraq to carry out suicide attacks against American and British soldiers.

Col. Munir Maqdah, one of the top commanders of the Fatah movement in Lebanon, said his men were already in Baghdad, prepared to launch suicide attacks. Another group of Fatah suicide bombers are due in Iraq shortly, he added.

Fatah, the largest faction of the PLO, has several thousand militiamen in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps. Most of the Fatah gunmen continue to receive their salaries from the PLO.

Maqdah, a former senior officer in Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's elite Force 17, is based in the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon. Although he belongs to Fatah, Maqdah has openly challenged Arafat by criticizing him for signing the Oslo accords with Israel.

This is the first time that a senior Fatah official has announced that his men have decided to join the fighting in Iraq. Palestinian sources said the Fatah volunteers entered Iraq through Syria.

Maqdah told the Nazareth-based A-Sennarah weekly that Fatah has decided to "strike at American interests all over the world."

"Resisting the American aggression on Iraq supports the Palestinian people and the intifada," he added. "What is happening in Iraq is the battle of the Palestinian people first and the Arab and Muslim nation second."

One doubts this appears anywhere on the "road map".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 AM


A Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam (R. W. APPLE Jr., October 31, 2001, The New York Times)
Like an unwelcome specter from an unhappy past, the ominous word "quagmire" has begun to haunt conversations among government officials and students of foreign policy, both here and abroad.

Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia. For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable. Today, for example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed for the first time that American military forces are operating in northern Afghanistan, providing liaison to "a limited number of the various opposition elements."

Their role sounds suspiciously like that of the advisers sent to Vietnam in the early 1960's, although Mr. Rumsfeld took pains to say of the anti-Taliban forces that "you're not going to send a few people in and tell them they should turn right, turn left, go slower, go fast." The Vietnam advisers, of course, were initially described in much the same terms, and the government of the day vigorously denied that they were a prelude to American combat troops.

In the most famous such denial, Lyndon B. Johnson vowed that he would not send American boys in to fight the war for Vietnamese boys.

Despite the insistence of President Bush and members of his cabinet that all is well, the war in Afghanistan has gone less smoothly than many had hoped. Not that anyone expected a lightning campaign without setbacks; indeed, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld have often said the effort would be long and hard. [...]

At least at first, American public opinion would present no problem. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows that a majority of Americans are prepared to accept the deaths of several thousand American troops there, although there were the first suggestions that many Americans think that the war is not going too well.

Bush's Peril: Shifting Sand and Fickle Opinion (R. W. APPLE Jr., March 30, 2003, NY Times)
Though the scion of a family steeped in politics and public service, George W. Bush remains a young president who came to the White House with relatively limited knowledge of the world and its ills. Yet for two years he has ridden high in public esteem, thanks to confident leadership after Sept. 11 and a surer political touch than his detractors give him credit for.

Is his luck about to turn in the winds and sands of Iraq? [...]

For the moment, Mr. Bush seems secure. People like him. None of his possible Democratic opponents loom as a major threat, not so far.

Still, for presidents, especially for wartime leaders, political capital can drain quickly from the White House account. After the guns fall silent, voters' eyes turn elsewhere, often to social and economic needs. It happened to Winston Churchill late in World War II, and as this president remembers better than most, it happened to his father, too.

Mr. Apple better get to work on his Syrian and North Korean quagmire stories. Actually, all he really has to do is swap out the names, eh?

Back Off, Syria and Iran! (MAUREEN DOWD, March 30, 2003, NY Times)

We're shocked that the enemy forces don't observe the rules of war. We're shocked that it's hard to tell civilians from combatants, and friends from foes. Adversaries use guerrilla tactics; they are irregulars; they take advantage of the hostile local weather and terrain; they refuse to stay in uniform. Golly, as our secretary of war likes to say, it's unfair.

Some of their soldiers are mere children. We know we have overwhelming, superior power, yet we can't use it all. We're stunned to discover that the local population treats our well-armed high-tech troops like invaders.

Why is all this a surprise again? I know our hawks avoided serving in Vietnam, but didn't they, like, read about it?

"The U.S. was planning on walking in here like it was easy and all," a young marine named Jimmy Paiz told ABC News this weekend with a rueful smile. "It's not that easy to conquer a country, is it?"

We will conquer the country, and it will be gratifying to see the satanic Saddam running like a rat through the rubble of his palaces. But it was hard not to have a few acid flashbacks to Vietnam at warp speed.

-Iraq and the Lessons of Lebanon: 'Don't Forget to Leave': Israel's experience in Lebanon - an ambitious invasion that turned into a draining quagmire - is a cautionary tale for the American war in Iraq. (ETHAN BRONNER, 3/30/03, NY Times)
-As a Quick Victory Grows Less Likely, Doubts Are Quietly Voiced: After 10 days of watching smart bombs, sandstorms and stiff resistance from the Iraqi regime, a capital that usually embraces a president at war is beginning to show fissures. (DAVID E. SANGER, 3/30/03, NY Times)

March 29, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 PM


Dozens of volunteers crossing Syrian border into Iraq to join fight against allied troops (Ze'ev Schiff, 28/03/2003, Ha'aretz)
Syria is granting free passage across its border with Iraq to volunteers who wish to join the fight against the U.S. and British forces. Thus far, dozens of volunteers, primarily Palestinians from the refugee camps in Lebanon, have crossed over into Iraq through Syrian-controlled border posts.

The passage of volunteers with Damascus's consent has given rise to the theory that the U.S.-fired missile that struck a Syrian bus traveling in Iraq was an intentional attack on a busload of such volunteers. The bus left Damascus on Sunday and was hit by the missile some 50 kilometers inside Iraqi territory. The missile strike left five people dead and dozens injured.

Speaking on the subject, the Syrian military analyst, Hitham al-Kilani, said in an interview on Al Jazeera, on 24 March, that "the Syrian border was opened to Syrian, Arab and Muslim volunteers wishing to reach Iraq and participate in the fighting against the American invasion." [...]

Syria's active support for Saddam Hussein has been particularly evident in recent months, with Damascus even purchasing military equipment on behalf of the Iraqi army. The equipment was reportedly delivered from its country of origin to the Syrian port of Latakia and then carried on trucks to Iraq. The purchases were made from a number of East European countries, and the equipment included engines for Russian-made tanks and aircraft. Also purchased were tank carriers, probably from Germany.

It seems more and more plausible that the bus attack was a message to Assad.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:52 PM


Defendents in trial lend helping hands (February 4, 2003)
A pair of helpful defendants lent District Attorney Bruce Roberson an unexpected hand, or actually a show of hands, last month during their trial for aggravated assault and robbery at district court in Perryton.

The female victim was tearfully testifying that she had been beaten and robbed by two men.

The district attorney listened intently.

"And are the two perpetrators of this terrible crime present in the courtroom today?" Roberson asked.

Both defendants immediately raised their hands.

"Here, your honor."

The French juror asked for more proof.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM


Thousands Across Mideast Protest, Urging Holy War Against Allies (NEIL MacFARQUHAR, March 29, 2003, NY Times)
Protesters took to the streets by the thousands across the Middle East today after Friday Prayers, with calls for a holy war against the American and British forces in Iraq ringing out from minarets throughout the region.

One of the most remarkable demonstrations was in the Iranian capital, Tehran, where tens of thousands of marchers turned out in a government-organized rally to denounce the war against Iraq even though President Saddam Hussein is still reviled in Iran for starting the 1980-88 war between the two countries.

Demonstrators in Tehran chanted both "Death to Saddam" and "Death to America." They also shattered windows in the British Embassy, pelting the building with stones while shouting for its closing.

"Will bombs and the use of force bring democracy and freedom?" asked Ayatollah Muhammad Yazdi, delivering the Friday sermon broadcast on Iranian television. "It will definitely not." [...]

Even Kuwait, which Iraq invaded in 1990 and which the allies have used as a jumping-off point for the war, heard harsh criticism of the Americans in some mosques.

"America does not want freedom for the Iraqi people," said Saleh Jawhar, a Shiite cleric who also called Americans evil. "It wants to install its puppets and subdue Muslims until we become a voice for America." He conceded, though, that Iraq would obliterate Kuwait if American forces withdrew.

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." Sometimes, these folks make you want to imminentize the Eschaton. Then you read something like the following and are brought back to yourself, Haunting Thoughts After a Battle (STEVEN LEE MYERS, March 29, 2003, NY Times):
WITH THE THIRD INFANTRY DIVISION, in central Iraq, March 28 - It troubles him, now that the battle is over. Sgt. Mark N. Redmond remembers shouting "qiff," Arabic for halt, but they did not halt. The Iraqi fighters just kept coming.

Sergeant Redmond's unit spent three days and nights fighting for the bridge at Kifl, a village on the Euphrates River about 75 miles south of Baghdad. By any military definition - the territory seized, the number of enemy killed, the mission accomplished - the unit's fight ended in victory. After victory, though, comes rest. And with rest comes reflection.

"I mean, I have my wife and kids to go back home to," he said, sitting atop a box of rations back at his base camp, whiling away a lull as unexpected as it was appreciated. "I don't want them to think I'm a killer."

The fighting around Kifl subsided today, officers here said, as it did around much of Najaf, the holy city on the Euphrates that the Third Infantry Division struggled to encircle in an unexpectedly fierce battle that began late Monday night when Sergeant Redmond's unit - Troop C, attached to the First Brigade of the Third Infantry - first crossed the river.

The division's commanders said today that the withering effects of an expanding armored ring around the city, coupled with airstrikes and artillery barrages, had at last halted Iraq's efforts to reinforce Najaf, though the situation in the city itself remains unclear.

By tonight, there was still no complete count of the enemy who died there, though soldiers and officers said there were scores, at least. And for some, like Sergeant Redmond, the memory remained haunting.

"They just came up to us," he said, describing irregular Iraqi militiamen who began fighting as soon as Troop C crossed the two-lane bridge over the Euphrates. "It seemed to me they were trying to test us, but it was suicide." [...]

The brigade's Graves Registration Team began to fan out across the village and its surroundings to collect the remains of Iraqi fighters, which they packed in black bags along with any personal items that might help identify them.

"Basically we did the same thing with the Iraqi dead that we would have done with American dead," said Capt. Andrew J. Valles, the brigade's civil affairs officer.

From the manner in which the Ba'athists are pursuing this war it would be easy for our troops to descend into a fury of hatred and murder. That they do not is a testimony to them and to the superiority of the culture they are fighting for, as witness this:

Shoeless enemy: Marine Lance Cpl. Marcco Ware carries an Iraqi soldier who was shot three times while trying to ambush a convoy of the 3rd Battalion, Fifth Regiment, in central Iraq. The attack left one Marine and about 40 Iraqis dead.

It is a great privilege to be a fellow citizen of men like Lance Cpl. Ware, Sgt. Redmond, Capt. Valles, and all the rest who continue to demonstrate the very best of which our civilization is capable. Who can doubt they will leave Iraq a better place than they found it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:21 PM


Facing Up to North Korea (Joshua Muravchik, March 2003, Commentary)
[T]he fix we are in is the fruit of a long pattern of appeasement and of North Korea?s canny manipulation of our illusions and fears. Once we discovered that Pyongyang was indeed building a nuclear reactor, we spent five or six years getting it to sign the NPT, then another seven years securing its signature to a "safeguards" agreement, then three more vainly trying to induce it to abide by that agreement. We finally abandoned the effort in favor of a "framework," which eight years later it admitted it had been disregarding all along. At the core of this pathetic tale was our reluctance to consider that the goal of the North Koreans' nuclear-weapons program was to possess nuclear weapons-an that diplomatic and economic incentives to avert this goal might be of no avail. In place of a frank recognition of this reality, we substituted our vain hopes that North Korea?s rulers could be softened by concessions, and that what they really wanted was economic aid, political legitimacy, and "respect."

How, then, do we get out of the fix? [...]

Ultimately, the world is likely to be safe with North Korea, as with Iraq, only through the demise of its current government. In 1994, we believed that the Kim dynasty was likely to fall of its own dead weight, just as we thought that Saddam Hussein would fall in 1991 after his humiliating defeat in the "mother of all battles." Predicting the fall of dictators is clearly a chancy business. In the hope of opening fissures in the closed polity of North Korea, a group of neoconservative intellectuals, including Max Kampelman, R. James Woolsey, and Penn Kemble, have suggested adding human-rights issues to the diplomatic agenda. A fine idea; but the only way to assure regime change in North Korea is through military action.

But war, we have been told by numerous analysts as well as implicitly by the Bush administration, is "unthinkable." The North Koreans have hundreds of thousands of soldiers and thousands of artillery pieces arrayed in and around the DMZ. Their shells can reach Seoul. Any war would mean the deaths of many thousands of South Korean soldiers and civilians, and many of the 37,000 American troops stationed on the front lines. This is not even to mention whatever harm the North might manage to inflict with its nuclear devices.

Horrible, war would be. But to say that it is unthinkable is once again to hide our head in the sand. Pyongyang itself suffers under no such illusions and no such inhibitions. For its part, it insists that economic sanctions will be taken as an act of war, implying that it would respond with military strikes. Indeed, far from having viewed war with us as unthinkable, the North has calculated its demands on us over the years-that we remove our tactical nuclear weapons, that we persuade the South Koreans to forswear nuclear weapons of their own, that we cancel joint military exercises with Seoul-precisely in order to weaken our ability to resist its own military power. These demands we have systematically granted.

Not only does the North's belligerence leave us no choice but to "think" about war, we cannot exclude the possibility of initiating military action ourselves. Part of the cause of our present predicament is that we ruled out the use of force at earlier points in this saga-when, however painful, it would have been less costly than today. And today it may be less costly than a few years from now, when North Korea will have dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles (it has tested one that could reach Alaska) or when it will have shared them with al Qaeda and others.

IS THERE anything to be learned from the appalling choices we find ourselves facing? The New York Times editorialized in January that Pyongyang's confession had "blown apart the Bush administration's months-long effort to portray Saddam Hussein as uniquely dangerous." The implication was that the North Korean menace spoke against the policy of disarming Iraq by force. What it really did was the opposite. It illustrated how such threats grow ever worse if they are not dealt with resolutely. Contrary to those who airily put their trust in "containment," it gave us a glimpse into how much more dangerous the world would be if we allowed Iraq to join North Korea in the nuclear club. Since appeasement has only emboldened the North Koreans, perhaps making an example of Saddam Hussein may take some of the wind out of their nuclear sails.

In short, our experience with North Korea confirms anew the folly of appeasement and the frailty of "parchment barriers"-not to mention the wisdom of missile defense. Above all, it points up the error of lowering our guard. Since the cold war ended, we were living in something of a fool?s paradise. All of the conflicts in which we were embroiled after the fall of Communism-Kuwait, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo-were minor in comparison to our decades-long tussle with the Soviet empire. Although the issues were real, the dangers were always contingent, and we enjoyed a wide margin for error. Accordingly, we progressively reduced the size of our military and our spending on weapons until we abandoned, first in practice and then in doctrine, the capacity to wage wars simultaneously on two fronts. The result was, and is, that our ability to confront North Korea is constrained by our mobilization around Iraq-a fact that by itself helps to explain the brazenness of the North Koreans.

With the fall of the Soviet empire, as Francis Fukuyama eloquently explained more than a dozen years ago, no ideology remained to rival our own. Neither was there any foe on the horizon that could hope to vanquish us. Modern weapons, however, endow even a minor power with the capability of wreaking terrible damage, and of killing Americans in larger numbers than Hitler or Tojo. That such weapons can be fielded by North Korea, a country so miserable that infinitely more of its people are eating grass than are shopping at "Wal-Marts," underscores how far removed we are from the old calculus in which military potency derived from industrial might.

The ideological competitors with democracy and capitalism have indeed faded. But these were mostly phenomena of the 20th century. What has remained is something older and deeper: the atavistic impulses of self-aggrandizement and nihilism. How else to classify the motor force behind the dynasty-Communism of the Kims, the Baathism-cum-Islamism of Saddam, the twisted preachings of bin Laden? When there are no longer powerful men like these, then we may truly begin to speak of the end of history. Until then, the preservation of all we hold dear will require unillusioned clarity, vigilance, courage-and, it is to be feared, sacrifice.

This, I think, has to be the bedrock of our national security posture: that we will no longer tolerate the combination of political primitavism and weapons of mass destruction. Containment no longer suffices, if it ever did, when we can not count on a policy of mutual assured destruction to reign in our enemies. At a minimum, regimes like those in Iraq and N. Korea should be deposed and disarmed. This requires the application of military force, not negotiations. The one unlearnable lesson of international negotiations is that at the point you sit down at the table, one side has already lost. No more losses.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:05 PM


Iraqi Vice President Predicts More Suicide Attacks on G.I.s (Wall Street Journal, 3/29/2003)
At a news conference, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan threatened more suicide attacks and identified the bomber as Ali Jaafar al-Noamani, a father of several children. A detailed statement would be issued later, he added.

"This is just the beginning. You'll hear more pleasant news later," Mr. Ramadan said.

Asked whether suicide bombings will now be used regularly by the Iraqi military, Mr. Ramadan said, "It will be routine military policy. We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will follow the enemy into its land."

I don't get it. How can Iraq be promising suicide attacks on our own land, i.e. America, if it has no connections to international terrorism?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:57 PM


U.S. POWs held by Saddam's inner circle (Washington Times, 3/29/2003)
Seven American prisoners of war have been taken from southern Iraq to Baghdad and are under the direct control of people close to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

One Pentagon official said the expectation is that Saddam's regime will use the captives to score propaganda points by putting them on Iraqi television or forcing them to do an interview with the Arab-language Al Jazeera television network, based in Qatar.


Victims of Success (Jed Babbin, National Review Online, 3/29/2003)
Reports earlier today of Marines finding the bodies of four of their comrades in shallow graves near An Nasiriyah may confirm [Iraqi brutality] yet again. It is unlikely that the Iraqis would bury enemy dead unless they have something to hide. These may be more murdered POWs. We must never forgive, or forget, Iraqi war crimes.

Marines Find Remains of 4 Soldiers Lost in Iraq Ambush
(New York Times, 3/29/2003)
The bodies of four American soldiers were found by Marines on Friday in a shallow grave in the battle-worn town of Nasiriyah, near the Euphrates River.

U.S. Military officials said they believe the four were executed by Iraqi paramilitary forces after being seized in an ambush on Sunday....

On Friday, a Marine unit found the four bodies in a freshly dug grave near a house in the northeast corner of the town of al-Jazeera. An Army official said the four bodies were clothed in U.S. military uniforms.

Finding the POWs has become one of the top tasks for Delta Force and other special forces. Godspeed, fellas.
Posted by David Cohen at 12:02 PM


Protesters Arrested In Northampton (Siobhan Skye Rohde, Daily Hampshire Gazette)

You will all be horrified to hear that the main intersection in Northampton, Massachusetts was blocked for fifteen minutes yesterday in order to stop the war. The war, when last heard from, had not yet stopped. When will the madness end?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM


Relations with U.S. doomed until PM goes: MP 'Things won't change until our leadership changes,' Pratt says (Jack Aubry, March 29, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)
Damaged Canada-U.S. relations can not be repaired until Prime Minister Jean Chretien is replaced, says the Liberal chairman of the Commons defence committee.

Nepean-Carleton MP David Pratt said relations have now fallen to a level not seen since Richard Nixon referred to Pierre Trudeau as that "a--hole" in the early 1970s and John F. Kennedy and John Diefenbaker sparred over Cold War missiles in the early 1960s.

"I don't think things will change until our leadership changes," Mr. Pratt said bluntly. [...]

[M]r. Pratt said it is important that Canada "patch this up just as quickly as we can."

He said one way to do that is for Canada to join the coalition of the willing if the Iraqis use chemical or biological weapons in the war.

There's something almost criminal about the way Germany, France and Canada are practically hoping that Saddam uses chemical weapons so they can get out of the amoral corner they've painted themselves into. How many dead Allied troops and/or Iraqi civilians is it worth just so that they can avoid saying they were wrong? And why doesn't Saddam attacking Kuwait with scuds count as a use of WMD? If Saddam hit Canada with missiles would they not come grovelling to us for help?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:52 AM


Bombs Can't Bust Saddam Bunker, Builder Says (Reuters, 3/28/2003)
The German architect of one of Saddam Hussein's main bunkers in Baghdad said on Friday the Iraqi leader can survive anything short of a direct hit with a nuclear bomb if he stays within its four-feet-thick walls.

"It could withstand the shock wave of a nuclear bomb the size of the Hiroshima one detonating 250 meters away," said Karl Esser, a security consultant who designed the bunker underneath Saddam's main presidential palace in Baghdad.

U.S.-led troops will also find it hard to fight their way in through its three-ton Swiss-made doors, Esser told Reuters in an interview....

Esser said he had no qualms about having helped to protect a dictator likened to Hitler.

"It's not just one person getting protection, it's several people, it's the palace staff as well. I just see it as an achievement of bunker technology," said Esser.

Mr. Esser is proud of his handiwork -- after all, it continues two German traditions, engineering excellence and the support of murderous tyrants.

Europe's gathering crisis is moral at its roots. They are drowning in selfishness. They pursue only their own profit, whether it be measured in money or leisure or comfort. Any profitable deed can be justified, no matter how vicious the consequences. Any burden is too great to bear, be it children or armed conflict or the duties of religion. Action is warranted only to postpone the costs of narcissism. But the bill is growing, and it will sooner or later come due. On that day, Europeans will find they have few friends. The evildoers they have aided will turn on them in contempt; the erstwhile friends they have betrayed will mourn their decay but not, ultimately, their passing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM


Email traffic patterns can reveal ringleaders (Hazel Muir, 27 March 03, New Scientist)
By looking for patterns in email traffic, a new technique can quickly identify online communities and the key people in them. The approach could mean terrorists or criminal gangs give themselves away, even if they are communicating in code or only discussing the weather.

"If the CIA or another intelligence agency has a lot of intercepted email from people suspected of being part of a criminal network, they could use the technique to figure out who the leaders of the network might be," says Joshua Tyler of Hewlett-Packard's labs in Palo Alto, California. At the very least, it would help them prioritise investigations, he says.

Hence, the Total Awareness program, which "civil libertarians" got ditched.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM


Ukrainians: Revoke famine denier's Pulitzer (Natalia A. Feduschak, 3/29/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
"It has become a world action," said Tama Gallo, executive director of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of
America, a New York-based group that began the effort to have the prestigious prize awarded to Walter Duranty in 1932

Mr. Duranty, who was the Times' Moscow correspondent from 1921 to 1934, won the Pulitzer for a 1931 series of reports
about Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's five-year plans to reform the economy.

His stories appeared in the Times before the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933, which left 5 million to 10 million dead.

Western historians now generally agree that the famine was the result of Stalin's industrialization effort and an
attempt to break the will of the independence-minded Ukrainian people.

In his 1932-1933 dispatches, Mr. Duranty denied that a famine was occurring in Soviet Ukraine, although he has been
quoted in several books as privately telling friends he had never seen such misery.

That "now" may be the saddest three letter word ever to appear in newsprint. However, the idea of revoking the Pulitzers of every apologist for the Soviet Union who's won one at the Times really may go to far. Who'd be left, Red Smith?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:37 AM


U.S. Teams Seek to Kill Iraqi Elite: Covert Missions Target Hussein's Inner Circle (Dana Priest, March 29, 2003, Washington Post)
U.S. covert teams have been operating in urban areas in Iraq trying to kill members of President Saddam Hussein's inner circle, including Baath Party officials and Special Republican Guard commanders, according to U.S. and other knowledgeable officials.

The covert teams, from the CIA's paramilitary division and the military's special operations group, include snipers and demolition experts schooled in setting house and car bombs. They have reportedly killed more than a handful of individuals, according to one knowledgeable source. They have been in operation for at least one week. [...]

As conventional U.S. and British forces have encountered fiercer than expected Iraqi resistance, the CIA and the Pentagon's covert units are under increasing pressure to fire the "silver bullet" that will kill Hussein and bring down his government, thereby bringing the ground war to a quick conclusion. The agencies have stepped up a fierce psychological operations campaign to rattle key members of Hussein's government in an effort to get them to turn on the Iraqi leader.

The covert teams are just one feature of the largely invisible war being waged in Iraq by the CIA's and Pentagon's growing covert paramilitary and special operations divisions.

CIA units and special operations teams are also involved in organizing tribal groups to fight the Iraqi government from the north. They are secretly hunting for weapons of mass destruction and missiles sites, and are looking to interrogate Iraqi defectors and prisoners of war. The CIA, the National Security Agency and foreign intelligence services cooperating with the agency are helping to identify "leadership" targets; the homes, offices and other sites inhabited by the officials who make up the government's infrastructure.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:34 AM


Two cathedrals, two world views (John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, 3/28/2003)
Anyone who knows the Catholic world must realize that the present anti-war chorus from church leaders is a better index of the force of John Paul II’s personality than of any genuine consensus on the Iraq conflict. Under the papal banner are grouped Catholics with very diverse ideas about the causes of this war, its rights and wrongs, and what its implications are for global geo-politics.

Example: Italy’s left-leaning Catholic Action movement is marching under the slogan “no to the war, yes to peace”; the right-wing Communion and Liberation movement says “no to the war, yes to America.”...

These divisions were transparent in two public events in Rome on Monday evening, March 24. All one had to do was to move across town, from the Basilica of the Holy Apostles to the Cathedral of St. John Lateran, to move in two different Catholic worlds.

Holy Apostles was the site of a Mass commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the murder of El Salvador’s fabled Archbishop Oscar Romero, long a hero to progressive Catholics....

The rainbow peace banner, along with a sky-blue United Nations flag, was carried at the head of the offertory precession during the Mass to bring up the gifts.... The first prayer at the Mass was a meditation which, among other points, stated that the Church “repudiates” the war....

[The Lateran hosted] a lecture on “Work, Solidarity, Liberty: A Global Society in a Humanistic Key?” by Cardinal Diogini Tettamanzi of Milan. The event was part of a series called “Dialogues in the Cathedral” sponsored by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope’s vicar for the Rome diocese and John Paul’s personal choice as president of the Italian bishops’ conference....

I bumped into Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University and a trusted Vatican advisor. Fisichella was one of the primary contributors to the 1998 papal encyclical Fides et Ratio. Fisichella, an auxiliary bishop of the Rome diocese, is also considered the “chaplain” of the Italian parliament.

Fisichella, whose English is exceptionally good, is a long-time friend of the United States. He was the main celebrant at last December’s Immaculate Conception Mass at the North American College, the feast that also marks the foundation of the American seminary in Rome during the pontificate of Pius IX.

Fisichella told me that “this direction we are moving in, of isolating the United States, is terrible.” He said that in Italy there are forces “manipulating” the anti-war humor of the moment to grind ancient ideological axes against the United States and against the West....

Ruini struck a similar note in an address earlier in the day to the Italian bishops’ conference. He called for “constant discernment … in order that the commitment to peace not be confused with markedly different objectives and interests, or polluted by arguments that are really based upon conflict.”

To those with ears to hear, it’s clear what kind of “pollution” Ruini had in mind — a secular leftist peace movement that shades off into opposition to the Atlantic alliance.

Ruini later made an explicit plea for solidarity with the United States....

There are signs that the Vatican, especially in the Secretariat of State where the diplomatic heavy lifting is done, is becoming sensitive to the risk that its peace message could be construed as an ideological choice against the U.S.-led coalition.

Well they should be sensitive, because an ideological choice is apparently what it was.

As I pointed out earlier, the Vatican's anti-war stance has few roots in the Christian tradition, and is arguably contrary to tradition. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Vatican stance is dividing the Church. Moreover, the divide is clearly along ideological lines. The Church's left is not only turning away from tradition, but sacralizing the United Nations. The "peace" they seek is not genuine peace, as the Church has always understood it, but passivity on the part of the West in the face of continued violence from Saddam and his terrorist allies. Their beloved "peace" is merely perpetual warfare.

In light of this ideological divide within the Church, it is hard to understand why the Vatican took such an aggressive stand on an issue about which, tradition says, duly constituted public authorities are the appropriate and best-informed decision-makers. Church officials are creating a deep muddle in the moral theology of war and public governance, and they are going to be increasingly embarrassed by it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


A final shock scene in the video of AOLTIMEWARNER recording artist Madonna's upcoming release -- is that of the singer throwing a grenade in the lap of President Bush!

"It is not me being anti-Bush, it's me being ironic and tongue in cheek," Madonna explains to NBC's ACCESS HOLLYWOOD this weekend.

"My kind of wish for peace and my desire to sort of turn a weapon of destruction, which is a grenade, into something that is completely innocuous."

Madonna uses a Bush look-alike in the final scene of AMERICAN LIFE. The "president" picks up the lit grenade that Madonna throws --and lights his cigar with it!

The image is "my wish to find an alternative to violence to war and destruction," the singer says.

Of course, anyone who cares about personal hygiene would much prefer to have a grenade than a disease vector like Madonna in their lap.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM


Students want out of Muslim culture class (DARLA L. PICKETT, 3/26/03, Blethen Maine Newspapers)
Some students at Madison Area Memorial High School are objecting to studying the Arab and Muslim culture and religion while the United States is at war with Iraq.

About three dozen students have signed a petition that calls for seniors to be given the option to take alternative assignments in the senior English class project, according to 18-year-old senior Richard Poulin, who circulated the petition. [...]

"I'm a Christian," Poulin said. "How come we can't sit down and study why we worship what we do, but we can sit down and study what another country does?" [...]

School Administrative District 59 Superintendent Anthony Krapf said the school board and teachers must follow educational guidelines.

"It's up to us to follow the adopted curriculum," Krapf said. "As a public school we must prepare students to go out into different types of culture - because our job is to help the students, these young adults, to fit in and understand other cultures."

You'd be hard pressed to find a situation that better sums up the problem with public education in America: Western civilization is at war with at least a radical interpretation of Islam, yet the schools won't teach our kids about their own civilization and want to sensitize them to that of the enemy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


Remaining true to history (THOMAS ROESER, March 29, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times)
All arguments against the war--including mine--are moot now. The decision has been made, and our job is not to nurse misgivings but to win in Iraq.

Compared to what occurred 62 years ago, the anti-war movement in the United States is scanty and timorous. In 1941, it was of enormous influence. The ''America First'' movement was based in this city, and its rallies featured the hero Charles Lindbergh and Sears Roebuck tycoon retired Gen. Robert Wood, among others. The movement extended throughout the nation and included young John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. But Dec. 7 brought an end to all that. The issue became a ''time for unity.'' As indeed it should be today, as our troops are engaged in the struggle in Iraq. [...]

One job remains uncompleted now that we are resolved to win this war. It involves the senior senator from South Dakota, Tom Daschle, who has said that the death of a single soldier would be the fault of President George W. Bush.

Daschle should resign as Senate minority leader. No one should lead a party who is so insensitive to the demands of national unity. Whether or not Daschle steps down or his party removes him, any additional words from him should be regarded as irrelevant. What is important now is that we triumph and show the world that Iraq's chamber of horrors will not stand.

Mr. Roeser, though well-intentioned, apparently doesn't get the difference between "America First" and "Me First".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM


Terror team tried to sneak into Texas through Mexico (JAMES GORDON MEEK, 3/29/03, NY DAILY NEWS)
An Iraqi terror team armed with millions of dollars tried to get smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico to Crawford, Tex. - the site of President Bush's ranch, a law enforcement source said yesterday.

The alarming attempt to infiltrate the country occurred this month, the source said.

It is not known what the Iraqis planned to do in Crawford, but Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate Bush's father, the former President George Bush, in 1993.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM


Columbia professor's anti-U.S. military call (AP, 3/29/03)
A Columbia University professor told an anti-war gathering that he would like to see "a million Mogadishus" -- referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that killed 18 American servicemen.

At Wednesday night's "teach-in" on the Columbia campus, Nicholas De Genova also called for the defeat of U.S. forces in Iraq and said, "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military." And he asserted that Americans who call themselves "patriots" are white supremacists.

De Genova's comments about defeating the United States in Iraq were cheered by the crowd of 3,000, Newsday reported. But his mention of the Somali ambush -- "I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus" -- was largely met with silence.

I agree with Mr. De Genova. This is a war of Western (therefore largely, but certainly not exclusively, white) supremacy over primitivism and we should keep it up for as many Mogadishus as it takes. Mogadishu after all was not a tactical loss--though the deaths of 18 American men is always a terrible thing, they did complete their mission and killed thousands of Somalis--but a strategic one--because we then bolted the country rather than face another such incident. By the end of a million Mogadishus there'd hopefully be no one left to fight and any question about our willingness to vindicate Western Civilization would be laid to rest. Of course we'd mourn the loss of 18 million Americans, but folks are always hailing the sacrifices of the Soviets in WWII, who spent 20 million lives to fend off Hitler. If the war on terror requires something similar of us are we unwilling to win it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM


U.S. Forces Out of Vietnam; Hanoi Frees the Last P.O.W. (Joseph B. Treaster, 3/29/73, The New York Times)
The last American troops left South Vietnam today, leaving behind an unfinished war that has deeply scarred this country and the United States.

If this was not the low point in American history, then this surely was: Senate Rejects Vietnam Aid Rise (John W. Finney, May 7, 1974, The New York Times). Yet few Americans have ever come to grips with the fact that the supposedly artificial South Vietnamese government and unwilling people fought on for over two years after we bugged out and a year after Ted Kennedy pulled the rug out. Regardless of whether you think we should ever have been there in the first place or how you think we conducted ourselves once there, you can't help but be ashamed that we not only refused to help defend them from the North but even refused to help them defend themselves.

If the Shi'a of Iraq are slow to rise and the Ba'athist believe they can win just by making the war bloody enough, much of the blame lies with ourselves, because the lessons of Vietnam (and of the Battle of the Black Sea, which Saddam seems to have gone to school on) are that we're an uncertain ally and a squeamish foe. Such is the price we continue to pay for the victory of the anti-war forces as regards Vietnam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:56 AM


Evidence links Moussaoui to possible second attacks (John Solomon, 3/29/03, Associated Press)
U.S. authorities have gathered detailed evidence in southeast Asia that links accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui with the Sept. 11 hijackers and planners as well as a broader al-Qaida plan for a second wave of attacks, according to foreign and American officials and intelligence documents.

The evidence, according to those familiar with it, reinforces U.S. authorities assessment that al-Qaida began shifting some operational planning and fund-raising to southeast Asia well before the 2001 attacks and that Moussaoui was part of a terrorist plot that was broader than the suicide hijackings in New York and Washington.

A key link, the officials say, is a captured Malaysian chemist named Yazid Sufaat who authorities believe hosted both the hijackers and Moussaoui in Malaysia at different times in 2000 and provided Moussaoui with fake papers to make his way to the United States.

The evidence and timelines have led authorities overseas and here to explore whether Moussaoui and Sufaat "were tasked to set up a network to prepare for the second wave of attacks after Sept. 11," one senior foreign intelligence official in southeast Asia said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.

The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, has also told U.S interrogators since his capture a month ago in Pakistan that Moussaoui was supposed to prepare for a second wave of attacks that were to follow Sept. 11.

Given all that we know, it still seems likely that Mr. Moussaoui, had he not been in custody, would have been the 20th hijacker on 9-11. But, whatever the case, the folks who have been complaining about the weakness of the circumstantial evidence linking him to al Qaeda have some soul searching to do.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 AM


Iraq latest: At-a-glance: BBC News Online charts the latest developments in the Iraq conflict. (Saturday, 29 March, 0930)
A suicide bomber has killed five Americans soldiers in an attack near the city of Najaf in central Iraq, US military officials say.

So the analyst on the BBC was asked if this was to be expected: "Only if you believed the Americans when they said there were Iraqi links to terrorism.

Q: "Might it support the Administration's case in that regard?"

A: "No, only Americans will believe this is terrorism, because they wish to. But this is nothing unusual--suicide bombings have been used in Sri Lanka and by the Kamikazes in WWII."

March 28, 2003

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:10 PM

ATROCITY WATCH PT 2 (via Volokh Conspiracy):

Iraqis greeting invaders being shot (Shyam Batia,, 3/29/2003)
Civilians who greet US and British troops are being executed on President Saddam Hussein's orders, according to a former chief scientist of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Hussein Shahristani.

The most recent outrage was carried out in the small town of Khidr, between Nasiriyah and Samawa, where some families were accused of cheering the US soldiers who drove through their locality, Dr Shahristani who is now chairman of the Iraq Refugee Aid Council, told

Their executions started as soon as the US soldiers left, the scientist, who is now based in Kuwait, said.

"These [coalition] troops pass through local towns and villages and do not stop for long enough to clean up Saddam's terror apparatus.

"When they depart, the civilian families are left to the mercy of Ba'ath party officials and the thugs in charge of Saddam's fidayeen militia.

"Those Iraqis who refuse to serve on the frontline are also being shot," he said.

Dr Shahristani said he had been informed of the killing of a tribal leader, Rahim Karim, who was late by five minutes for a meeting with Saddam's cousin and local governor, Aly Hasan Al Majeed.

Karim had come to discuss how members of his tribe could be mobilised for frontline duty, but Majeed lost his temper and had him shot.

Soon, we have to begin systematically going through towns and villages, working with the local citizenry to identify the regime's agents, and killing or imprisoning them.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:30 PM


More Evidence (Jed Babbin, National Review Online, 3/27/2003)
There are apparently two versions of the tape shown by Al Jazeera. The second, shown over and over on Egyptian TV, shows both the murder of American POWs and the desecration of their bodies. Though the tape has been shown over and over in the Middle East, congressional requests for access to it have so far been denied. One source told me that some of what he saw reminded him of the murder of Danny Pearl. The public doesn't need to see all these tapes. But more people in government do, and they need to tell the press. The lack of public reaction to these horrors troubles me greatly. Maybe it's because there's so little knowledge of any of the details.

The networks are too busy telling us that the war's going badly to thoroughly report Iraqi atrocities. It's important that we understand our enemy; because terror attacks and more conflicts lie ahead of us, and we have to know there is no alternative to victory.

Marines Out to Avenge Blood of 'Executed' GIs (New York Post, 3/25/2003)
THE Marines at this chopper base near the Iraqi border are seething with rage and talking revenge over the treatment of American POWs - paraded on TV and some possibly executed.

"OK, they want to play that way. We can play that way," vowed one enraged pilot.

Marine after Marine had the same message - many of them warning that there would be "no second chances for those Iraqis now."...

"We want to help these people and look what they're doing to us," said more than one shocked Marine....

During an air raid yesterday ... one Marine's muffled swearing was heard above the din.

Repeating the sneering nickname used for Saddam Hussein, he kept saying, " 'So damn' insane, 'so damn' insane. I'm going to come up there myself and kill you."

There are times, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, when righteous anger is good -- otherwise God would not have created us capable of this emotion. This is one of those times. Cold, relentless anger.

One caveat: our guys have to know who their enemy is. They have to know that most Iraqis are terror victims just as we are.

Go get 'em, guys. Keep the pressure on.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 PM


Iraq: U.S. Missile Kills 58 in Baghdad (HAMZA HENDAWI, 3/28/03, Associated Press)
Iraq's information minister said at least 58 people were killed Friday in a crowded market in northwest Baghdad by what local officials called a coalition bombing.

The market was strewn with wreckage and there were bloodstains on a sidewalk. Crowds of mourners wailed and blood-soaked children's slippers sat on the street not far from a crater blasted into the ground.

The U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was looking into the report. Iraqi officials have blamed U.S. forces for explosions at another market that killed 14 people on Wednesday. The Pentagon had denied targeting the neighborhood.

What the heck, the last one they blamed on us worked so well they decided to do it again, even down to using a marketplace.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 PM


-ESSAY: Not in our name: this is a left-wing conflict and Conservatives should not support it (Peter Hitchens, 3/29/03, The Spectator)
There is nothing conservative about war. For at least the last century war has been the herald and handmaid of socialism and state control. It is the excuse for censorship, organised lying, regulation and taxation. It is paradise for the busybody and the nark. It damages family life and wounds the Church. It is, in short, the ally of everything summed up by the ugly word "progress".

If you're a policy wonk, this war nearly justifies itself simply by the delightful spectacle of the conservative Hitchens brother opposing it and the Marxist Hitchens supporting it.


ONE IS a sadistic playboy who rapes 12-year-old girls and tortures friends for amusement.

The other is a methodical, ruthless enforcer who kills for political power, then has his victims buried in mass graves.

They are Saddam Hussein's infamous sons - two evil brothers with blood on their hands.

The Brutes of Baghdad.

Well, as Peter Hitchens has said: "as far as I am concerned Conservatism depends entirely upon the family and family values."

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 6:26 PM


Bus attack a suicidal new tactic (Sydney Morning Herald, 3/28/2003)
United States troops say they are dealing with a new tactic from Iraqi soldiers - a willingness to use civilians in suicide attacks to halt the American advance.

As coalition soldiers drove through a dust storm on Wednesday afternoon, fighters believed to be from Saddam Hussein's Baath Party drove a bus, the passengers still aboard, into a Bradley fighting vehicle.

The brief and vicious firefight left the road littered with bodies, all Iraqis, and wrecked vehicles. Small-arms fire cracked and popped overhead even as medical personnel attended the Iraqi wounded.

US commanders said they expect suicide attacks to become more commonplace as coalition forces move toward Baghdad.

"They have decided on suicide missions to get at us," said Charlie Company commander Captain Jason Conroy, 30. "We need to be really careful about any civilian vehicles approaching us."

He said the 7th Cavalry had lost two Abrams tanks to attacks by civilian fuel tankers. "They are just running the trucks into the tanks and exploding them. They could do the same with cars loaded with [munitions]."

Among the Iraqis captured in Wednesday's battle was one who appeared to be wearing an American-style desert camouflage uniform.

No tactic is too depraved for Saddam's regime. Careful, guys, and God bless.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 PM


Deporting a woman to torture? (Uwe Siemon-Netto, 3/24/2003, UPI)
Has Canada indirectly condemned an Iranian woman to be persecuted, tortured or even killed because of her conversion from Islam to Christianity?

The Canadian authorities ordering her deportation back to her homeland on April 24 do not believe this will happen in Iran, even though the U.S. State Department declared last year: "The (Iranian) government does not ensure the right of citizens to change or renounce their religious faith. Apostasy, specifically conversion from Islam, can be punishable by death."

Sylvie Duval, examiner for the Canadian Government's Pre-Removal Risk Assessment, denied that a nurse from Tehran seeking asylum in Montreal would face much peril if sent home.

"There is no serious reason to believe that her life would be endangered or that she might fall victim to torture or other cruel punishments," Duval concluded in a 15-page summary. This differed significantly from the view on which U.S. immigration appeals boards base their decisions in similar cases.

Attorney Patti Lyman, who handles asylum cases for Just Law International, a Virginia-based firm, told United Press International Monday of Board of Immigration Appeals decisions stating that a convert to Christianity "is more likely than not to be persecuted in Iran."

"By definition, a Muslim convert (to Christianity) meets the standard convention against torture and will more likely than not be subjected to torture," she added.

Since it doesn't affect the National Health service, Canadians don't care, eh? At least American conservatives fought to keep Elian Gonzales here.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 PM


House Approves National Day of Prayer (AP, Mar 27, 2003)
The House passed a resolution Thursday calling for a national day of humility, prayer and fasting in a time of war and terrorism.

The resolution, passed 346-49, says Americans should use the day of prayer "to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings and to learn how we can do better in our everyday activities, and to gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our nation."

Under the resolution, President Bush would issue a proclamation designating a specific day as a day of "humility, prayer and fasting." [...]

A similar resolution approved on March 17 said it was the sense of the Senate that that day should be a national day of prayer and fasting.

What about Jefferson's wall, we hear them whine....
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:46 PM


A Bad Remake of Vietnam? (Eleanor Clift, 3/28/03, Newsweek)
Nearly every prediction about this war has proved wrong. Americans were led to believe it would be over in a weekend, that U.S. air power would "shock and awe" the enemy, that Iraqi troops would lay down their arms and civilians would welcome us as conquering heroes. Instead we're embroiled in a conflict that looks like a bad remake of Vietnam with an enemy that fights in civilian dress. The bravado of a week ago is gone. "It's out of our hands," sighs a White House aide. In an echo of Vietnam, military leaders say they are hamstrung by the rules of engagement. [...]

Congress will vote every penny for the war, but Democrats dealt the White House a blow when they teamed up with a handful of moderate Republicans to cut Bush's proposed tax cut from $727 billion to $350 billion. It's a pyrrhic victory because when the Senate bill is reconciled with the more generous House version, most of the money will almost certainly be restored. Democrats are clueless about how to challenge Bush. Voting for half a massive tax break instead of the whole thing isn't a winning message. "WE'RE SLIGHTLY MODERATING THE ADMINISTRATION'S EXCESSES doesn't fit on a bumper sticker," says a Democratic aide. GOP moderates aren't faring much better. If past history is any guide, they will capitulate and Bush will get what he wants.

The Vietnam comparison is inane, but she's the first pundit we've seen who writes sensibly about the Democrats' illusory tax cut "victory".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:36 PM


Rumsfeld Warns Syria on Iraq Equipment (MATT KELLEY, 3/28/03, Associated Press)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned Syria on Friday to stop sending military equipment to Iraqi forces, a charge that Mideast nation called "absolutely unfounded."

Rumsfeld said he had "information that shipments of military supplies have been crossing the border from Syria into Iraq, including night vision goggles."

"We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government accountable for such shipments," he told a Pentagon press conference. He didn't say what the other equipment was, and several senior Defense Department officials said they didn't know.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bouthaine Shaban rejected Rumsfeld's statement as "unfounded and irresponsible."

"He only brings problems for his country and humanity at large," she told Britain's Channel 4 television in a telephone interview from Damascus. "It is an absolutely unfounded, irresponsible statement, just like his statements that brought his country and the allied countries into a terrible war, unnecessary war on Iraq."

Syrian President Bashar Assad has described the military action against Iraq as "clear occupation and a flagrant aggression against a United Nations member state."

Aware of an imminent opening on the Axis of Evil, Syria is making its bid to be added.

N.B.--Hey, Mr. Murtaugh, note how we're already doing the spadework for a future Tonkin-like episode with Syria?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:30 PM


Kerry tries to clarify Southern campaign strategy to colleagues (Nedra Pickler, 3/28/2003 , Associated Press)
Presidential candidate John F. Kerry has been passing notes on the Senate floor, assuring his Southern Democratic colleagues that he plans to compete in their home states.

The Massachusetts senator distributed verbatim text of remarks he gave earlier this month at a fund-raiser in California when he was asked about his chances in the conservative-leaning South.

Kerry slipped the note, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, to a few colleagues Wednesday while the Senate deliberated the budget. He was prompted by a story Monday in The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., titled, ''Kerry might have written off the South,'' that referred to his speech.

''Al Gore proved that you can get elected president of the United States without winning one Southern state - if he had simply won New Hampshire or West Virginia or Ohio or Colorado or a number of other states,'' Kerry said at the fund-raiser. ''We are the leaders. Democrats have to stop looking at the small solution that the country is compartmentalized in that way.''

The prospective nomination of John Kerry risks not only handing the election to George W. Bush but driving Democratic numbers in Congress to lows not seen since before the Depression.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:36 PM


And Now, the Good News: The administration should have prepared the country better for the cost of war, but at least this war will be won, and won decisively. (Michael O'Hanlon, 3/28/03, NY Times)
Last week's euphoria over a quick start to the invasion of Iraq has now been almost entirely overtaken by gloom. Pentagon officials are on the defensive when discussing their war plan; images of sandstorms and black-masked Iraqi irregulars and American prisoners of war fill TV screens here and abroad; the looming battle for Baghdad has made many feel a deep sense of foreboding.

Perhaps the Bush administration deserves it. It did not begin to emphasize the potential for a difficult war until hostilities began. Pentagon advisers like Richard Perle and Kenneth Adelman have been promising a cakewalk to Baghdad for 18 months; in the late 1990's, Paul Wolfowitz, now the deputy defense secretary, argued that a small American force fighting in conjunction with the Iraqi opposition could quickly overthrow Saddam Hussein.

But despite this week's proof that war is not always easy, the invasion is not going badly.

Maybe cakewalk means something different to different people, but it seems fair to judge the current campaign against a couple of prior "cakewalks": the First Iraq War and the Afghan War. The first lasted only about thirty days and the second lasted about two months, if you consider it to have begun on 9-11. Here in the Second Iraq War we're in the second week. Certainly many of us thought that Saddam and his regime were so despised that, particularly after the decapitation strike, the Ba'athists would have trouble maintaining the regime. we underestimated how much more the benighted people of Iraq fear Saddam than just hate him. In some sense, we failed to believe our own rhetoric, failed to reckon with the willingness, even eagerness, of Saddam loyalists to kill the Iraqi people themselves if they wouldn't fight. The Ba'athists are as bad as we said, so we were wrong about how likely it was that people would or could defy them. This has indeed slowed a conflict that seemed like it could end in a week. Still, if it ends within the next two weeks or so it will surely qualify for cakewalk status, won't it?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:08 PM


Hearts and Minds (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 3/28/03, NY Times)
Americans should be able to find common ground, for all sides dream of an Iraq that is democratic and an America that is again admired around the world.

There is no evidence that the doves care about the former, that the hawks care about the latter, or that Iraqi freedom is compatible with America being admired in France.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:02 PM


N Korea solution possible, says envoy (Andrew Ward, March 27 2003, Financial Times)
North Korea fears it could be the next target of US military action after Iraq but a diplomatic solution to the communist country's dispute with Washington is within reach, according to the United Nations envoy who held talks in Pyongyang earlier this week.

The solution to the North Korea crisis can be detailed in two words: regime change.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM


Military Strategy Update (Laura Knoy, 03/28/2003, The Exchange)
We'll look at the military's war plan on the battlefield in Iraq: what's working, what's not, and what we learned from the first Gulf War. Laura's guests are Daryl Press, assistant professor of Government at Dartmouth College [], and William Martel, professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College []

Good discussion includes one of our local stars: Daryl Press, whose piece on urban warfare from the Times we discussed below. And more reasonable guests produce a less hysterical reaction to a bloodthirsty question from the Right-Wing Whacko of the Upper Valley (about 31 minutes in).
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:21 AM

THANKS FOR NOTHING (via Rantburg):

I refused to help Bush: PM (Hindustan Times, 3/27/2003)
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday told the media how George Bush thrice sought his help in the war on Iraq, and how he refused the American President.

"The US President George Bush has spoken to me three times saying that India must help the USA as Sadaam Hussein had left him with no option but to go for the attack," he told journalists after a dedication programme of the Chakara Nala Patni Watershed Management Plan prepared by the Deendayal Research Institute run by Nanaji Deshmukh here.

Vajpayee told Bush that India believed war was not a solution to any problem and so could not help. India is also trying to consolidate the support of many countries to prevent escalation of the battle between US and Iraq, Vajpayee said.

India's hostility to the U.S. has always puzzled me. Our common language, shared democratic values, and commercial ties, I would have thought, would unite us with India more than with other countries of the region. But it hasn't worked out that way.

Just as India's socialist ideology is in retreat, its Hindu nationalism is rising and may deepen the ideological gap that divides us.

I hope that the U.S. and India can grow closer, but this may prove to be one of those friendships that just never develops.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 AM


Medic made famous in photo enlisted after 9-11 (Robert Hodierne, March 27, 2003, Air Force Times)
The war in Iraq is only a week old and one photograph has already become an icon: A young, grimy soldier in full battle gear, a look a deep concern on his face, carrying a wounded Iraqi child to safety.

The photograph has been on newspaper front pages around the world and broadcast on most American television networks. The military brass has mentioned it when briefing the press.

The soldier in the picture, Pfc. Joseph P. Dwyer, 26, is still in the field, about 80 miles outside Baghdad with his outfit in the 3rd Infantry Division. [He was misidentified by a superior in the field and in the original caption.] Until today, he hadn’t a clue that he was famous. His reaction when he found out?

He laughed.

And couldn’t stop laughing. He was both amused by this and embarrassed.

“Really, I was just one of a group of guys. I wasn’t standing out more than anyone else,” he said in a telephone conversation during some rare down time.

Dwyer has lived the past six years in Wagram, N.C., where his parents moved after his father retired as a New York transit policeman. Dwyer grew up in Mt. Sinai on New York’s Long Island. His three older brothers are New York City policeman. One brother lost a partner when the Trade Center towers collapsed.

“I mean everyone lost someone, a lot of good people,” he said. Dwyer was sure that he had lost someone, too; he believed that his brother had been killed. “I thought he was gone.”

But when he talked to him the night of Sept. 11 and learned his brother was safe, “I knew I had to do something.”

Two days later, Dwyer enlisted in the Army to become a medic.

“It was just what I could do at the time,” he said.

An almost perfect metaphor for America: we're attacked; he wants to do something; he ends up saving a child of our enemy. We fight that one day soon an Iraqi version of Pfc. Dwyer may return the favor for another oppressed people somewhere in the world.

British troops attempt to rescue civilians under fire (NICOLE WINFIELD, March 28, 2003, ASSOCIATED PRESS)
And, at our sides, thanks to Tony Blair and Ian Duncan Smith, the nation that birthed us and, thanks to John Howard, our Australian brothers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM


Seeing blacks in lead boosts confidence (MARY MITCHELL, 3/27/03, Chicago SUN-TIMES)
While getting dressed for work, I noticed that the man on TV standing at the podium taking tough questions from cranky journalists was a black man.

I almost poked myself in the eye with a makeup brush.

This is huge. As huge as Secretary of State Colin Powell taking questions from members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the State Department budget on Wednesday.

As huge as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's role was in shaping America's policy toward Saddam Hussein.

Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy director of operations at the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar, is the man whose words must reflect the truth about this war. [...]

He is the kind of leader that is critical to the military today.

African-American soldiers account for more than 35 percent of the Army's troops. Half the Army's enlisted women are black. In fact, African-American soldiers represent 21 percent of all military branches, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Many of these men and women did not expect to go to war. For most of them, the military was a refuge or a second chance.

At a time like this, blacks should not be tearing these people down, they should be holding them up for people like Jacqueline Atkins.

Although Atkins has exchanged e-mails with her son, Dequan Atkins, 25, she hasn't seen him since he enlisted in the Navy four years ago.

As far as she knows, her son could be in Iraq because he is stationed on a U.S. Naval ship. What she does know is that she really doesn't want him "over there."

"He got himself in the Navy. He was running with the wrong crowd. He made the decision. But he had to do something or he had to get out of the house," she said.

Now she is confused about why young men like him are involved in a war.

"I don't think they should be over there. There are people here who are homeless and people here who are suffering," Atkins said.

There won't be any peace for these mothers until their sons and daughters come home.

But leadership from honorable people such as Powell, Rice and Brooks should give them hope.

Try re-reading this one with "white" substituted for "black" and "Bush", "Rumsfeld", "Franks" substituted for "Powell", "Rice", "Brooks", so that the gist becomes: it's okay, though they'd be justified in opposing it otherwise, for white men to support the war, because white men are running it. Now tell me what mainstream publication would run the column?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:56 AM


I was intrigued by Nelson Ascher's March 24 post at Europundits suggesting that the European and Arab mindsets were converging:
I don’t know how the antiwar Europeans will react to Anglo-American-Australian victory, but one thing is sure: they won’t identify with it and from this to a feeling of also having been defeated is just a small step. Their sense of impotence after so many protests might be overwhelming. I wouldn’t be too surprised at seeing the Western European psyche beginning resemble, in many significant ways, the Arab one....

Actually, it is the two psyches, the European and the Arab, that are on the move, a convergent move.... I also think (though this would need factual research) that the pro-Palestinian European left's influence on the Arab masses, giving legitimacy to anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism, has been at least as decisive as the rather cruder propaganda one finds in the Arab press and the mosques. It is easy to note that, when speaking in Western languages, the Arabs use the left's anti-Zionist vocabulary and are conscious of politically correct conventions. Thus, it is not a simple matter of Europeans influencing Arabs or vice-versa, but rather a case of two convergent mentalities discovering through anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism lots of common ground as well as what Goethe would have called their "elective affinities".

I have always felt there were strong affinities between all philo-tyrannic ideologies. In his brilliant The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek pointed out that in the post-WWI era Nazis and Communists united to drive out all that was liberal, and recruited members from among each other's ranks. They only turned upon one another once liberalism was defeated and the question was who would rule. The European left and the Islamofascists may be uniting in a similar fashion today.

The observation of Muslim-European convergence, particularly in France, is appearing elsewhere:

Hating "l'Oncle Sam" (Christopher Caldwell, Weekly Standard, 3/31/2003)

Chirac ... has long been something of a hero in the Arab world.... Palestinian families have begun to name their newborn boys "Chirac." When he visited Algeria early this month, crowds estimated at over a million turned out to acclaim him. And a new book that arrived in Paris bookstores last week--"L'Orient de Jacques Chirac," written by the Egyptian journalist and literary critic Ahmed Youssef--compares Chirac to Alexander the Great and Aladdin. Indeed, Youssef meekly expresses his hope that he might serve as Cicero to Chirac's Caesar, or Stendhal to his Napoleon....

French public opinion has come into sync with the opinion of its Arab immigrants and their children. On such matters as American militarism and the Middle East, its poll numbers resemble those of an Arab country. When the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) asked citizens whether they approved of the American attacks on Iraq, the answer was Non, by 87 percent to 12 percent. Voters do approve of Chirac's position by 92 percent to 8 percent. Under such circumstances, Muslims feel themselves much more part of the country.

I do not think this is just a temporary war-driven phenomenon. Iraqi citizens are united with American soldiers to drive out Saddam, but they are clearly suspicious of us and believe our interests will diverge at some point. There seems to be no such suspicion in the Muslim fondness for Chirac.

France abandoned Christianity long ago. Will it embrace aspects of modern Islam? It is possible that France will soon be the world's most powerful Arab nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM


Al-Qaida fighting alongside Saddam's forces: British interrogators say POWs reveal members of bin Laden's group in Basra (, March 28, 2003)
Captured Iraqi soldiers have told British military interrogators that members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network are fighting alongside Saddam Hussein's forces against U.S. and British troops near Basra.

Specifically, the Iraqi POWs claim that about a dozen al-Qaida members are in the town of Az Zubayr, coordinating grenade and other attacks on coalition positions, according to a Scotsman report carried in several papers, including London's Financial Times.

"The information we have received from POWs today is that an al-Qaida cell may be operating in Az Zubayr," a senior British military source inside Iraq said in the report. "There are possibly around a dozen of them and that is obviously a matter of concern to us."

If true, and it's far too preliminary to say that it is, the folks, at least here in the U.S., who opposed the war are going to have some big time back-pedaling to do. Even they concede the need to wipe out al Qaeda and if they were an impediment to that, there'll be a cost to pay at the polls.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


Pacifist says 'I was wrong' (Rev. Ken Joseph Jr., March 27, 2003, United Press International)
I was wrong. I had opposed the war on Iraq in my radio program, on television and in my regular columns -- and I participated in demonstrations against it in Japan. But a visit to relatives in Baghdad radically changed my mind.

I am an Assyrian Christian, born and raised in Japan, where my father had moved after World War II to help rebuild the country. He was a Protestant minister, and so am I.

As an Assyrian I was told the story of our people from a young age -- how my grandparents had escaped the great Assyrian Holocaust in 1917, settling finally in Chicago.

There are some 6 million Assyrians now, about 2.5 million in Iraq and the rest scattered across the world. Without a country and rights even in our native land, it has been the prayer of generations that the Assyrian Nation will one day be restored.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Iraq with supplies for our Church and family. This was my first visit ever to the land of my forefathers. The first order of business was to attend Church. During a simple meal for peace activists after the service, an older man sounded me out carefully.

Finally he felt free to talk: "There is something you should know -- we didn't want to be here tonight. When the priest asked us to gather for a Peace Service, we said we didn't want to come because we don't want peace. We want the war to come."

"What in the world are you talking about?" I blurted.

Thus began a strange odyssey that shattered my convictions. At the same time, it gave me hope for my people and, in fact, hope for the world.

George W. Bush should put him on the air for a national address.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM


Al-Jazeera Web Site Faces Continued Hacker Attacks (Reuters, March 27, 2003)
Hacker attacks continued to plague the Web site of Arab satellite TV network al-Jazeera on Thursday, as cyber-vandals replaced the news site with a stars-and-stripes logo saying "Let Freedom Ring".

Both the Arabic site, at (, and the English-language version at ( could not be accessed Thursday. Users who tried to log onto the site found a message that read, "Hacked by Patriot, Freedom Cyber Force Militia" beneath a logo containing the U.S. flag.

"This broadcast was brought to you by: Freedom Cyber Force Militia," the site said. "God bless our troops!!!"

Libertarians and civil libertarians--the former are broadly of the Right, the latter of the Left--never sound more foolish than when they insist on the absolute nature of rights that were never intended to be ends in themselves but merely means to a greater end. Thus we have a right to freedom of the press not because there's anything intrinsically worthwhile in a free press but because the Founders, in their wisdoom, understood it to be important for a competing institution to be able to hold the State accountable. This is one of the means they created of ensuring that our own government does not become too great a threat to our freedom, that freedom which allows us to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice and all the rest.

But the press too is an institution and can become a threat to our freedom and when it does so it is appropriate to deal with it accordingly. To do otherwise it to elevate the means above the ends. And where, as in the case of al-Jazeera, you have a press that--whether directly or indirectly--serves the purposes of terrorists and terror states with whom we are at war, the suggestion that they are entitled to full freedom is simply absurd. It is comparable to complaining that patriots were shredding Der Angriff during WWII. We should, in fact, make al-Jazeera a military target, just as would any other enemy propaganda operation in time of war.

The willingness to accept risks to the very existence of the Union in order to fetishize subsidiary rights that it protects, but which it need protect only where they perfect the Union, is an almost suicidal instance of putting the cart before the ass. If folks succeed in protecting al-Jazeera from interference at the cost of letting it spread the lies of Osama and Saddam until the Arab world is whipped into a homicidal frenzy and we end up in an ever widening war, who will thank them for their actions?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM


See men shredded, then say you don't back war (Ann Clwyd, 3/18/03, Times of
"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein's youngest son] personally supervise these murders."

This is one of the many witness statements that were taken by researchers from Indict (the organization I chair) to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This account was taken in the past two weeks.

Another witness told us about practices of the security services towards women: "Women were suspended by their hair as their families watched; men were forced to watch as their wives were raped . . . women were suspended by their legs while they were menstruating until their periods were over, a procedure designed to cause humiliation."

The accounts Indict has heard over the past six years are disgusting and horrifying. Our task is not merely passively to record what we are told but to challenge it as well, so that the evidence we produce is of the highest quality. All witnesses swear that their statements are true and sign them.

For these humanitarian reasons alone, it is essential to liberate the people of Iraq from the regime of Saddam. The 17 UN resolutions passed since 1991 on Iraq include Resolution 688, which calls for an end to repression of Iraqi civilians. It has been ignored. Torture, execution and ethnic-cleansing are everyday life in Saddam's Iraq.

Kind of puts the deaths of civilians--as collateral damage--into perspective doesn't it? Whether the opponents of war choose to accept the responsibility or not, to be pro-peace is to be pro-shredder.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM


Roy Jenkins would have been so proud to hear Tony tell Gordon where to go (Mary Ann Sieghart, March 28, 2003, Times of London)
At Roy Jenkins’s memorial service in Westminster Abbey yesterday, shafts of sunlight streamed over the heads of a congregation containing pretty well every surviving political figure from the second half of the 20th century. Three former prime ministers shared the front pew of the quire. The only notable absentee, the man who was supposed to give the address, was Tony Blair, the adopted political son of Lord Jenkins of Hillhead.

In normal circumstances, the current Prime Minister would not have dreamt of missing such an event. He was fond of Jenkins, and saw him as his mentor, his father figure. It was therefore particularly poignant that a council of war — that most adult of tasks — had drawn Mr Blair to Washington.

For the Prime Minister, in the past few months, has grown up immeasurably. He seems to have undergone the transformation that many men, particularly oldest sons, experience when their father dies. John Mortimer describes the process in Clinging to the Wreckage: “Sudden freedom, growing up, the end of dependence, the step into the sunlight where no one’s taller than you and you’re in no one’s shadow.”

When Mr Blair won power, he seemed like a boy pretending to be a man. He had no experience of even the lowest rung of ministerial office. It didn’t help that the youngest premier for more than a century looked even younger than he was.

As experience has taken the place of innocence, a new Blair has emerged.

Mr. Blair has yet to shed the one disastrous aspect of his mentor's legacy: Mr. Jenkins' dangerous attachment to a unified Europe. If he can do so--and what better impetus could there be for chucking internationalism than the despicable behavior of its institutions in the current crisis?--and if he can fully embrace the meaning behind his Third Way rhetoric, reducing the role of government in peoples' daily lives, then he stands to be one of the truly historical men of British history, a savior in some sense, rebuilding national sovereignty after too many years of transnationalism and rebuilding social capital after too many years of Das Kapital. As Ms Sieghart says, pursuing such visions runs the risk of losing him the support of his own party, but we've long argued that Mr. Blair is destined to achieve such great things--and avoid the dire fate of continental Europe (see below)--only by becoming the leader of the Tories or of a goodly portion thereof in a third party. Hasten the day.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 AM


Europe shrinking as birthrates decline (Mark Henderson, March 28, 2003 , Times of London)
EUROPE’S population will continue to decline for decades even if birthrates improve significantly, researchers have calculated.

Trends towards smaller families and later motherhood mean that there are too few women of childbearing age to reverse the decline in the near future, according to an Austrian study. The year 2000 marked a turning point, with the population’s “momentum” becoming negative; there will be fewer parents in the next generation than in this one. [...]

They show that Europe’s population could decline by as much as 88 million people if present trends continue for another 15 years. The population of the European Union was about 375 million in 2000.

The decline made Europe the scene of a significant social experiment, Dr Lutz said. “Negative momentum has not been experienced on a large scale in world history so far,” he added.

The truly astonishing thing about this is that the Europeans were trying to do this and it was only by the Grace of God, the genuis of the Founders, the determination of conservatives, and the good sense and character of the American people that we've avoided a similar fate. The experiment, advocated by our own Left too, was a rational effort to control population and it has worked. But now come the unintended consequences that they were warned about but refused to listen to. Here are a few:

(1) At a time of rising animus towards Muslim immigrants, Europe will be increasingly dependent on ever greater immigration just to fund the retirement and health systems of the aging "European" population. Yet, over time, as the immigrants become the majority and the tensions keep torquing up, who seriously thinks will they pay the extortioniate tax rates that the elderly require of them? (I don't know the similar numbers for Europe, but: in 1935, there were 37 workers for every retiree. Today, the number of workers per retiree is 3.4 and falling. What is a system that requires recent immigrants to support elderly natives but a form of modern slavery?) And as these societies reach that tipping point, where "Europeans" perceive that their nation is about to become predominantly Islamic, imagine the potential for even genocidal violence that will exist. The argument that Germany and France are too advanced to exterminiate a hated minority refutes itself.

(2) Given the adaptability of humans it is, of course, possible that Europe will surprise us all, but consider that we have no, or few, examples of societies being able to maintain a healthy and growing economy while their populations declined. Folks have come up with all kinds of explanations for the fact that the American economy has so outperformed those of other Western countries in recent decades. But perhaps the easiest explanation is that their growth has slowed--in the case of Japan it's reversed--as their populations have first stabilized and then headed into real decline. Meanwhile, the U.S. which experienced unimagined economic growth during the '90s--sufficient even to pull Europe along somewhat in our wake--also experienced an unexpected population surge and is now predicted to be in for a doubling of its population over the coming century. Suffice it to say, it seems at least imprudent for Europe to count on an ability to defy human history.

(3) It has been possible in recent decades for Europeans to imagine that they were done with war forever. America protected them after WWII and asked nothing in return--in fact transferring money to them--both directly (in things like the Marshall Plan) and indirectly, by covering defense costs--which helped them restart and artificially prop up their welfare states. The fall of the Soviet Union brought dreams of an href=>End of History, which might see all the nations of the world tend toward pacific liberal democracy. Here was a future which would require neither the young men nor the expenditures of public money that make national defense and war possible. And so, there are no young men and those monies are spent on social programs for the aging.

But, 9-11 at least deferred the dream that History was at an end. The Islamic world may well end up reforming toward liberal democracy, but it looks like we're in for some number of years of bloodshed first. Worse, the reluctance of Europe to shed blood--its own or that of others--and the seeming eagerness of America to do so in their stead, has led to a quite acrimonious break between the parties who were already drifting away from each other as Europe declined and America continued to rise in economic affluence and military power. So now the Europeans talk of developing their own defense apparatus and some kind of standing military, but at a time when they are utterly incapable of either funding or manning such a force.

In the cold gray light of dawn, for all the Franco-German chest-beating, they face a choice between accepting--openly or with a grudging wink and a nod--the status of American client-states or of shredding the social contract that has defined their welfare states and thereby causing massive disruptions (imagine telling a 58 year old Frenchman, one year away from retirement and working a 35 hour week, that you're adding five hours to his workweek and six years to his retirement age?). Or, they could just roll over and play dead, hoping the danger passes but unable to control their circumstances at all. It's a menu of unpleasant choices.

(4) European Civilization, like Islamic Civilization, was once great but now finds itself eclipsed and in decline. As with Islam, it's easy enough to see how to rectify the situation, but much harder to do. Where Islam must relax the death grip that religion has on governance and the economy, Europe must abandon the statism that has atomized society and must restore religion, civil society, community and family so that they can provide the social network to replace transfer payments from the government. In effect, both must become more like us--though we too face problems similar to Europe's if we aren't vigilant. But, understandably, both abhor the idea. Still, look at the psychic damage that the Muslim world's inferiority complex has caused it and imagine what lies ahead for Europe as it sinks into similar despondency and rages against the dying of the light (though, luckily for us, unless old ladies take up the hobby, there'll be no suicide bombings--they can't spare the young men).

I hope none of this sounds triumphalist, for I regret the passing of Europe, as well as the continuing self-inflicted agony of Islam, and would like nothing better than a revival, a reawakening, a renaissance, a reformation, what have you. But I fear that Kipling long ago wrote the epitaph:

Recessional (Rudyard Kipling)

GOD of our fathers, known of old--
   Lord of our far-flung battle-line--
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies--
   The captains and the kings depart--
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

Far-call'd our navies melt away--
   On dune and headland sinks the fire--
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
   Or lesser breeds without the Law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
   In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
   And guarding calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

March 27, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 PM


China readies for future U.S. fight (Willy Wo-Lap Lam, 3/24/03, CNN)
The Iraqi war has convinced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership that some form of confrontation with the U.S. could come earlier than expected.

Beijing has also begun to fine-tune its domestic and security policies to counter the perceived threat of U.S. "neo-imperialism."

As more emphasis is being put on boosting national strength and cohesiveness, a big blow could be dealt to both economic and political reform.

That the new leadership has concluded China is coming up against formidable challenges in the short to medium term is evident from recent statements by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

Hu indicated earlier this year Beijing must pay more attention to global developments so that "China make good preparations before the rainstorm ... and be in a position to seize the initiative."

Wen also pointed out in the first meeting of the State Council, or cabinet, last Saturday the leadership "must keep a cool head."

"We must boost our consciousness about disasters and downturns -- and think about dangers in the midst of [apparent] safety," he said. [...]

Chinese strategists think particularly if the U.S. can score a relatively quick victory over Baghdad, it will soon turn to Asia -- and begin efforts to "tame" China.

It is understood the LGNS believes the U.S. will take on North Korea -- still deemed a "lips-and-teeth" ally of China's -- as early as this summer.

These developments have prompted China to change its long-standing geopolitical strategy, which still held true as late as the 16th CCP Congress last November.

Until late last year, Beijing believed a confrontation with the U.S. could be delayed -- and China could through hewing to the late Deng Xiaoping's "keep a low profile" theory afford to concentrate almost exclusively on economic development.

"Now, many cadres and think-tank members think Beijing should adopt a more pro-active if not aggressive policy to thwart U.S. aggression," said a Chinese source close to the diplomatic establishment.

He added hard-line elements in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had advocated providing weapons to North Korea to help Pyongyang defend itself against a possible U.S. missile strike at its nuclear facilities. [...]

What is China doing to forestall the perceived U.S. challenge?

Firstly, the CCP leadership is fostering nationalistic sentiments, a sure-fire way to promote much-needed cohesiveness.

While not encouraging anti-U.S. demonstrations, Beijing has informed the people of what the media calls "increasingly treacherous international developments."

This explains what analysts including Beijing scholars considered the unexpectedly virulent official reaction to the start of the Iraq war. [...]

The corollary of boosting national cohesiveness could be the suppression of dissent, particularly politically incorrect views expressed by "pro-West" intellectuals.

The warning and punishment that party authorities recently meted out to several Beijing and provincial publications may augur a relatively prolonged period of ideological control in the interest of promoting "unity of thinking."

On the economic front, the authorities may play up the imperative of concentrating resources to boost China's "economic security" and "energy security." [...]

It is instructive that in his 90-minute long interview with the international media last week, Wen was quite reticent about boosting economic reform such as the liberalization of state-owned enterprises.

In accordance with the theory of "the synthesis of [the needs of] war and peace," civilian economic projects in areas including infrastructure may be planned will the requirements of the defense forces in mind.

Good. We should have done them at the time of Tiananmen Square, though one would note how self-destructive all of the counter-measures they're taking are. Apparently the one thing they haven't studied is why the USSR fell.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 PM


Defense Adviser Perle Resigns (Walter Pincus and Christopher Lee, March 27, 2003, Washington Post)
Richard N. Perle, a key figure inside the Bush national security team who has been dogged by conflict of interest allegations, resigned today as the unpaid chairman of an influential Pentagon advisory board but intends to stay on as a member.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who announced the move in a written statement late this afternoon, praised the 61-year-old Perle as a "man of integrity and honor" who has a "deep understanding of our national security process."

"I am grateful for his willingness to continue to serve on the board," Rumsfeld wrote.

Perle, a former assistant defense secretary under Ronald Reagan, has been the subject of several published reports describing his ties to companies that have business before the Defense Department.

He drew fire, in particular, for agreeing to represent Global Crossing, a telecommunications business that sought his help in overcoming the Pentagon's national security objections to the firm's proposed sale to a foreign firm controlled by investors from China and Singapore. Under the arrangement, Perle was to be paid a $125,000 retainer and would earn another $600,000 if the deal was approved by a government review panel that includes Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the New York Times reported last Friday. [...]

Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a government watchdog group, agreed. And he said the advisory board's ethical failings reach beyond Perle.

At least 10 of the panel's 31 members are executives or lobbyists with private companies that have tens of billions of dollars' worth of contracts with the Defense Department and other government agencies, according to a report to be released by the center Friday.

"The problems of the Defense Policy Board run much deeper than Richard Perle," Lewis said. "To the public it looks like you have folks feathering their nest. . . . I'm shocked and awed by audacity of who has been selected and who is serving on this board. There really is a tin ear when it comes to ethical appearance considerations."

The panel, which meets at least quarterly, brings together academics and former government and military officials to advise Pentagon officials on a wide range of strategic issues and defense policy matters. Agendas from recent meetings list discussions on Iran, North Korea and the Pentagon's controversial Total Information Awareness initiative.

Members of the board are appointed to one-year terms, are unpaid and serve as special government employees. They are covered both by federal ethics laws and regulations known as the Standards of Ethical Conduct, which, among other things, prohibit financial conflicts of interest and using one's public position for private gain.

Mr. Perle is too smart and has been around Washington too long not to have known that he had to be purer than Caesar's wife or his enemies would get to him. Still, there's no accusation in any of this that he did anything wrong, only that the appearances are bad, and it's hard to see how you could have a board like this--which maybe we shouldn't--without putting guys on it who have inherent conflicts of interest. Who is there that can advise the President on Defense matters but has no ties to the Defense industry?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM


Kurdish fighters ready to link with US and challenge Iraq: 1,000 US troops arrived by air in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq Wednesday night. (Cameron W. Barr, March 28, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
US and British forces may be disappointed with their welcome in the rest of Iraq, but the US paratroopers who have dropped into Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq are surrounded by a population happy to see them.

The 1,000 members of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade who arrived at an airstrip here Wednesday night are part of a widening "northern front" that may soon complement the US-led advance in southern and central Iraq.

Until now, the US presence in the Kurdish zone has consisted primarily of scores of Special Forces and intelligence operatives who have kept their activities secret and shirked media attention. The more-or-less open presence of the paratroopers seems to indicate that the US will assemble at least a limited invasion force to enter the parts of Iraq controlled by President Saddam Hussein. [...]

In the town of Harir, set in the hills above the airstrip where the paratroopers landed, residents are delighted to welcome the US troops. "From the [1991 Kurdish] uprising until now we have waited for them to come," says Taha Hussein Hamadameen, who owns a teashop in Harir. "They come to free us from this oppression," he says, referring to Hussein's regime.

A former Kurdish militia member, or pesh merga, Mr. Hamadameen is ready to come out of retirement. "If they distribute rifles, we are ready to go to the front ... we will go in front of them."

Given our past betrayal, they're better allies than we deserve. Time to redeem ourselves and justify their faith.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM


French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin gave a talk at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies in his first visit to Britain since the outbreak of war.

During a question and answer session at the end of his speech he refused to answer the question: "Who do you want to win the war?"

That pretty much sums it up. France can't differentiate between us and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Of course, Americans can no longer differentiate between France and a fistula, so one suppose we're even.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 PM


'Veggie Tales' soup it up with silly humor (Leslie Gray Streeter, March 27, 2003, Palm Beach Post)
The way Phil Vischer sees it, the key to making children's entertainment positive without being unbearably dull comes down to making an apple taste like a Twinkie.

"You assume that everything that is good for you is boring. Which one do the kids want? They need the apples, but they want the Twinkies," says 36-year-old co-founder and president of Illinois-based Big Idea Inc., from which sprang the Veggie Tales series.

There's no sure recipe for making biblically based entertainment, well, entertaining. Vischer and co-founder Mike Nawrocki's list of ingredients include Old Testament stories, a dash of Monty Python, a little bit of Meatloaf, equal parts silliness and sweetness and limbless vegetables that sing and dance.

It seems an incongruous mix at best, but the combination has made Veggie Tales wildly popular with preschoolers and adults, conservative Christians and people of other faiths or no faith.

If you're not hip to Veggie Tales, especially if you have kids, you're really missing the boat. Here's an especially amusing tune, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
Narrator: "Joining Larry are Pa Grape and Mr. Lunt, who together make up the infamous gang of scalliwags, the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything!"

Larry, Pa, Mr. Lunt: "We are the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything! We just stay home and lie around. And if you ask us to do anything, we'll just tell you ..."

Larry: "We don't do anything!"

Pa: "Well, I've never been Greenland and I've never been to Denver, and I've never buried treasure in St. Louis or St. Paul, and I've never been to Moscow and I've never been to Tampa, and I've never been to Boston in the fall."

All: "'Cuz we're the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything! We just stay home and lie around. And if you ask us to do anything, we'll just tell you .."

Mr. Lunt: "We don't do anything. And I never hoist the mainstay and I never swab the poop deck, and I never veer to starboard 'cuz I never sail at all, and I've never walked the gang plank and I've never owned a parrot, and I've never been to Boston in the fall."

All: "'Cuz we're the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything! We just stay at home and lie around. And if you ask us to do anything, we'll just tell you .. We don't do anything!"

Larry: "Well, I've never plucked a rooster and I'm not too good at ping-pong, and I've never thrown my mashed potatoes up against the wall, and I've never kissed a chipmunk and I've never gotten head lice, and I've never been to Boston in the fall!"

Pa: "Huh? What are you talking about? What's a rooster and mashed potatoes have to do with being a pirate??"

Mr. Lunt: "Hey, that's right! We're supposed to sing about pirate-y things!"

Larry: "Oh ..."

Pa: "And who ever kissed a chipmunk? That's just nonsense! Why even bring it up? Am I right? What do you think?"

Mr. Lunt: "I think you look like Cap'n Crunch!"

Pa: "Huh? No I don't!"

Mr. Lunt: "Do too."

Pa: "Do not!"

Mr. Lunt: "You're making me hungry."

Pa: "That's it, you're walkin' the plank!"

Mr. Lunt: "Says who?"

Pa: "Says the captain, that's who!"

Mr. Lunt: "Oh, yeah? Aye aye, Cap'n Crunch!"

Larry: "And I've never licked a spark plug and I've never sniffed a stink bug, and I've never painted daisies on a big red rubber ball, and I've never bathed in yogurt and I don't look good in leggings ..."

Pa: "You just don't get it!"

All: "And we've never been to Boston in the fall!"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 PM

MEDIA 101:

Shaab blasts: What happened? (BBC, 27 March, 2003)
The world's media continues to focus on the controversial explosions which, according to the Iraqi authorities, caused the deaths of at least 14 civilians and injured 30 more in northern Baghdad on Wednesday.

But it is still not clear exactly what caused the blasts in a shopping street in the Shaab district.

The Iraqis say the coalition forces have been targeting civilians in their bombing.

The US - which says it is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties - has not admitted responsibility for the deaths.

Our correspondents in Baghdad who visited the scenes of devastation and spoke to eyewitnesses were unable to find an obvious military target in the area.

This is an interesting example of how the institutional demands and structures of the press tend to shape a story in unfortunate ways. There are really only two possibilities here: it was either Iraqi ordnance or ours. If it was ours it was accidental and this kind of collateral damage is inevitable even in a high-tech war. It would be appropriate for us to be sorry, but not ashamed. However, the media have now framed the story in such a way that were definitive proof to come to light that it was our missiles that caused the blasts it would be a "gotcha" moment, which would be wielded like a weapon itself and freighted with far more meaning than it deserves. We should have declared that "while there are some inconsitencies with what we now know, we are perfectly willing to assume for the sake of argument that it was ours and we take full responsibility". Then just play coy when the press asks about the inconsistencies and they'll go nuts trying to prove it wasn't ours.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:24 PM


Fortuyn killer 'acted for Muslims' (CNN, 3/27/03)
The man accused of assassinating Dutch anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn has told judges he acted on behalf of the country's Muslims.

Volkert Van der Graaf, 33, said during his first court appearance in Amsterdam on Thursday that Fortuyn was using "the weakest parts of society to score points" and gain political power.

Van der Graaf, who is charged with premeditated murder, pleaded guilty to illegally possessing firearms and sending Fortuyn threats before carrying out the attack, the Associated Press reports.

Although he allegedly confessed to the killing, under Dutch law prosecutors must present their case to a panel of judges. There are no jury trials in the Netherlands.

"(The idea) was never concrete until the last moment, the day before the attack," the news agency reported Van der Graaf as saying.

"I saw it as a danger, but what should you do about it?" he said. "I hoped that I could solve it myself."

Given the evil totality of Mr. Fortuyn's views, his violent death was almost inevitable, and not clearly tragic, while Mr. Van der Graaf seems too unstable for us to accept anything he says as having much meaning. All these statements can do is foment more hatred of Dutch Muslims.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:10 PM


Syria's mufti calls for suicide attacks (News 24, 27/03/2003)
Syrian mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro, the country's top Muslim religious authority, called on Thursday for suicide bombings against the US and British troops in Iraq.

"I call on Muslims everywhere to use all means possible to thwart the aggression, including martyr operations against the belligerent American, British and Zionist invaders," he said in a statement, a copy of which was faxed to AFP.

"Resistance to the belligerent invaders is an obligation for all Muslims, starting with (those in) Iraq," the mufti said. [...]

Separately, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad predicted the United States and Britain would never be able to bring Iraq under their full control and would face "popular Arab resistance", in an interview published on Thursday in Lebanese daily As-Safir.

Bashar al-Assad should be made to join his Ba'athist pal Saddam Hussein in Hell.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:32 PM


Bush's Grand Strategy: Iraq is one move in a bigger game. (Jeffrey Bell, 03/24/2003, Weekly Standard)
THE FOCUS for the past six months on obtaining United Nations approval for the invasion of Iraq has obscured a simple, logical American strategy based on a clear premise. The premise is that the mass civilian killings of 9/11 triggered a world war between the United States and a political wing of Islamic fundamentalism, sometimes called Islamism.

This world war would not be happening on the scale it is were it not the case that the rise of Islamism is part and parcel of a convulsive upheaval destabilizing the billion-member world of Islam as well as neighboring countries and--at least potentially--countries with Islamic minorities. In a war of such reach and magnitude, the invasion of Iraq, or the capture of top al Qaeda commanders, should be seen as tactical events in a series of moves and countermoves stretching well into the future.

If this premise is true, then just about everything the Bush administration is doing makes sense. So do the actions and announcements of our various adversaries and non-well-wishers in this far-flung war.

The most shocking thing about 9/11 was the willingness of Islamists to carry out indiscriminate mass killing of noncombatant Americans. The attacks that day laid bare the desire of our enemies to obtain weapons of mass destruction to inflict vastly greater destruction on our country and people.

The day after 9/11, there existed four deeply anti-American rogue states, clearly open to helping Islamists achieve the mass murder of Americans. They were Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. The invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 removed one of these four regimes. The coming invasion of Iraq will remove a second.

Is it any wonder that the two remaining anti-American rogue states are doing everything in their power to race toward clear-cut possession of nuclear weapons?

This is the big picture that the Democrats in particular have not processed yet. They think it's all over when Baghdad falls and they can get back to the prescription drug boondoggle.
Posted by David Cohen at 3:30 PM


U.S. envoy walks out as Iraqi speaks (

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations walked out of a debate on the Iraqi war Thursday after Iraq's ambassador accused the United States of trying to exterminate the Iraqi people. "I did sit through quite a long part of what he had to say but I'd heard enough," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said.
First of all, good for Negroponte. Second of all, from where does the UN's vaunted moral authority come?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:22 PM


A breathtaking achievement (Mike Dewar, 3/29/03, The Spectator)
More than anything else we need to recognise that the military achievement to date has been breathtaking. The fact that within six or seven days virtually all of southern Iraq is now under allied control (control, not occupation); that the western desert is also under the control of British, US and Australian special forces; that an armoured thrust is within 20 to 30 miles of the capital; and that there are sufficient forces in northern Iraq to protect the Kurdish population, is a feat of arms that will be recorded in military history as a classic example of offensive armoured warfare, on a par with Guderian’s blitzkrieg armoured thrust through the Ardennes into northern France in 1940.

Remember, too, that there has never been a war when a coalition has so willingly and thoroughly hedged itself about with self-inflicted constraints: the imperative to cause the minimum number of civilian casualties; to target only military or regime assets; and, perhaps most importantly, to achieve the military aim with the least amount of allied casualties. There have been remarkably few casualties: some hundreds of civilians and mercifully few coalition troops. It is astonishing that the first British fatality in combat was announced only last Monday when some 45,000 British servicemen had been engaged in battle on land, sea and air for five days.

Of course the capture of Baghdad is not going to be easy. Only three US divisions will be attacking six Republican Guard divisions in prepared positions. Such odds go against all the rules of war. There are going to be more casualties and we will need to learn to accept the unexpected . One thing, however, is certain: the coalition is going to win.

There needs to be a little more faith. Servicemen expect accurate and intelligent reporting. Yet if one watches the television, listens to the radio or reads either the broadsheet or tabloid press, one might be forgiven for forming the impression that things are going badly astray. Is this the result of media prejudice, political correctness, or just plain ignorance? I don’t know. But, if the media are not going to get egg on their faces, they need to change their tune.

Does anyone else notice that if you watch TV--especially press conferences--they scare the bejeezus out of you, but if you read, it looks like we're doing fine, though not moving quite as quickly as we hoped? And isn't it odd that the "imbeds" think things are going well but the correspondents and anchors back home act like we're about to run up the white flag.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:55 PM


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Support the War (Bryan Francoeur)
Well, this is a day late and a dollar short, but seeing as the peace activists in San Francisco have expressed their desire to follow the teachings of Ghandi and King by rioting and destroying private property, (here's betting they're not Libertarians) I figured I'd send this anyway.

In 1991, the US promised Iraqi rebels and resistance fighters that if they revolted against Saddam, we would support them. They revolted and we let them dangle and as many as 50,000 Iraqi civilians died in the first year after the war as Saddam put down the revolts. We didn't get involved in Iraq back then because there wasn't a UN blessing for it, the French weren't behind it, there wasn't a coalition for it, the "Arab Street" was against it - does this sound familiar? We broke a promise to the Iraqi people and they have suffered for twelve years. Now we have the opportunity to make things right. The US has given a lot of people the shaft in its history and it's incredibly difficult to atone for these things. We can't go back in time and prevent FDR and California Governor Earl Warren from interning Japanese-Americans and we can't go back to the 1860's and prevent the Supreme Court from allowing the Jim Crow laws to be inacted. But in this one case in our history, we have the opportunity to atone for a national sin and to make things right for a people that we've grievously wronged. No other country can take responsibility for this.

Is this war really all about oil? I don't know, but I would suggest that the burden of proof rests on the accusers, rather than the accused. To echo the cry of the anti-war protesters, "Where's the smoking gun?" If you really, really want to believe that George Bush is the nefarious head of a super-secret cabal of oil magnates who have manipulated world events to their own evil purposes then you will find evidence that fits your purpose and be damned with common sense and contradictory evidence. Common sense such as: If the Bush Administration was really so hot to get Iraq's oil, why wage a war that is going to cost more money than will be gained from oil production? Contradictory evidence like: If the Bush Administration wants the oil so bad and doesn't care who has to die to get it, why not just press the UN to drop the sanctions and cut a deal with Saddam? We could leave him in power, he can kill as many Iraqi civilians as he pleases, and the Bush Administration gets the oil and the bonus of the blessings of the anti-war left (who want the sanctions lifted) and the French (who want Saddam left in power). Of course all of this proves nothing; I can't prove a negative. It's up to the "No Blood for Oil!" folks to come up with some hard evidence to support their case. Not a nebulous connection of dots; any five-year old can easily demonstrate that dots can be connected to form any pattern one chooses. I keep asking myself, "If the No Blood for Oil types are correct, then Bush is committing treason. Do I really believe that a sitting president is fomenting war and putting American troops in harm's way merely to line his pockets? Or is it more likely that he is merely trying, as all other presidents have before him, to do the right thing for his country as he perceives it?" Occam's Razor favors the latter and not the former.

Some folks are saying that this military action is unconstitutional. Evidence to support this lies in much-wrangled over interpretations of the Constitution and goes way back to the old arguments on whether or not the South should have been allowed to secede from the Union. They say that only Congress can declare war, but I have three little words for them: "War Powers Act." Passed in 1973 during the closing days of the Vietnam War, the War Powers Act gives the President 90 days to send troops anywhere he damned well pleases before he asks Congress for authorization. President Bush wisely asked Congress for authorization back in November before any troops were sent. Congress gave its authorization and so this is a done deal. The President is not required to declare war before he sends troops anywhere. Ask Truman, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton; they all sent troops
overseas without a formal declaration of war. Now, the Constitutionality of the War Powers Act is something that can certainly be debated; the Constitution is one of those funny documents that, like the Bible, can be interpreted to mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. But that doesn't change the fact that the War Powers Act has been in force for 30 years and is, right now, the law of the land. Don't like it? OK, that's fine that's your right. Call your Congressman and start the ball rolling to get it repealed. Just don't forget that the War Powers Act was enacted to prevent decade-long quagmires like the Vietnam War, and without it, the Constitution is silent on the President's authority to use the military without Congressional authority. One more point on the Constitutionality of the current conflict: I think it's pretty funny that most of the same people who encourage an extremely liberal interpretation of the Constitution are the same people who are up in arms over this conflict being "unconstitutional." Well, gang, that sword cuts both ways. If you're going to encourage a strict, by-the-book interpretation of the Constitution, that also means a strict, by-the-book interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Electoral College and other lefty boogeymen. Also a strict, almost Libertarian interpretation means no Civil Rights Act of 1964, no EPA, no Social Security, no National Endowment for the Arts and none of the other feel-good federal programs of the last 75 years. This would be, of course, a Libertarian utopia, but I'm betting that the anti-war Libertarians and Buchannanites would have an ideological clash with the anti-war Leftists and Naderites on this topic.

I'm continually amazed at the peace activists who claim they want to save Iraqi civilians. A historical analogy would be if the isolationist America Firsters of the 1930's had claimed that they wanted to keep the US out of European affairs because of concern for the fate of German Jews. If the modern incarnation of the America Firsters really had the welfare of the Iraqi people at heart, they would want them to be free. Instead, what seems to be happening is that the peace activists subscribe to the idea that "war should be avoided at all costs" except that they do not think about what the phrase "at all costs" actually means. If more people die under the peace than would die under the war, does that still mean that war should be avoided? What the peace activists really want is to be able to say that their hands are clean. Iraqi civilians dying by the millions under the boot of a brutal tyrant thousands of miles away don't make the news and are very easy to forget. Iraqi civilians dying by the hundreds on our nightly news and caused by our own weapons cause uncomfortable feelings of guilt. Well, friends and neighbors, sometimes doing the right thing feels bad. Yes, we have all seen enough episodes of MASH to know that war is bad. But there are worse things than war, and screwing these people over again right when they need our help most is one of them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:36 PM


Aid shipment to hungry Iraqis called propaganda (MARK MacKINNON, Mar. 26, 2003, Globe and Mail)
The International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned the arrival of the first aid shipments into southern Iraq — and a possible future route for Canadian aid — as a propaganda exercise.

Three trucks of aid arrived in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan yesterday afternoon, which led to chaos as hungry crowds mobbed the trucks chanting "Food! Food!" while unidentified workers tossed relief packages into the crowd. The whole episode unfolded in front of rolling television cameras, while armed American soldiers stood watch.

Mui'n Kassis, the head of communications for the ICRC in Jordan, said he was appalled as he watched the scene on television. "That was disgusting; that was propaganda," he said, shaking his head angrily.

He said he didn't know who co-ordinated the aid shipment, which came overland via Kuwait, although news reports said it was the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, an affiliate of the ICRC. Mr. Kassis said whoever organized it seemed more interested in appearances than in those they were supposed to be helping.

"We have to think about the dignity of the recipients in these situations," he said.

So, let's see if we have this straight--he's denouncing his own organization, worrying about the "dignity" of people who are starving to death, and calling the dangerous attempt to feed them propaganda? Disgusting indeed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:27 PM

STAR SEARCH (via John Resnick)

Stand Up for America Rally Speech (Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman)
I'm here tonight because men and women of the United States military have given their lives for my freedom. I am not here tonight because Sheryl Crowe, Rosie O'Donnell, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Jane Fonda or Phil Donahue, sacrificed their lives for me.

If my memory serves me correctly, it was not movie stars or musicians, but the United States Military who fought on the shores of Iwo Jima, the jungles of Vietnam, and the beaches of Normandy.

Tonight, I say we should support the President of the United States and the U.S. Military and tell the liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippy, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and music and whine somewhere else.

After all, if they lived in Iraq, they wouldn't be allowed the freedom of speech they're being given here today. Ironically, they would be put to death at the hands of Sadam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden.

I want to know how the very people who are against war because of the loss of life, can possibly be the same people who are for abortion? They are the same people who are for animal rights but against the rights of the unborn.

The movie stars say they want to go to Iraq and serve as "human shields" for the Iraqis. I say let them buy a one-way ticket and go.

No one likes war. I hate war! But the one thing I hate more is the fact that this country has been forced into war-innocent people have lost their lives - - and there but for the grace of God, it could have been my brother, my husband, or even worse my own son.

On December 7, 1941, there are no records of movie stars treading the blazing waters of Pearl Harbor.

On September 11, 2001; there are no photos of movie stars standing as "human shields" against the debris and falling bodies ascending from the World Trade Center. There were only policemen and firemen - -underpaid civil servants who gave their all with nothing expected in return.

When the USS Cole was bombed, there were no movie stars guarding the ship - - where were the human shields then?

If America's movie stars want to be human shields, let them shield the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles, or New York City, let them shield the lives of the children of North Birmingham whose mothers lay them down to sleep on the floor each night to shelter them from stray bullets.

If they want to be human shields, I say let them shield the men and women of honesty and integrity that epitomizes courage and embody the spirit of freedom by wearing the proud uniforms of the United! States Military. Those are the people who have earned and deserve shielding!

Throughout the course of history, this country has remained free, not because of movie stars and liberal activists, but because of brave men and women who hated war too. However, they lay down their lives so that we all may live in freedom. After all -- "What greater love hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friend," or in this case a country.

We should give our military honor and acknowledgment and not let their lives be in vain. If you want to see true human shields, walk through Arlington Cemetery. There lie human shields, heroes, and the BRAVE Americans who didn't get on television and talk about being a human shield -- they were human shields.

I thank God tonight for freedom - - those who bought and paid for it with their lives in the past - - those who will protect it in the present and defend it in the future. America has remained silent too long! God-fearing people have remained silent too long!

We must lift our voices united in a humble prayer to God for guidance and the strength and courage to sustain us throughout whatever the future may hold.

After the tragic events of Sept. 11th, my then eleven-year-old son said terrorism is a war against them and us and if you're not one of us, then you're one of them.

So in closing tonight, let us be of one accord, let us stand proud, and let us be the human shields of prayer, encouragement and support for the President, our troops and their families and our country.

May God bless America, the land of the free, the home of the brave and the greatest country on the face of this earth!

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:14 PM


U.S. Failed To Get A Fatwa Legalizing War On Iraq (Islam Online, 3/27/2003)
The U.S. government has been unable to find any Muslim American organization to issue a Fatwa, a religious ruling, ascribing legality to the war against Iraq....

The Muslim American anger continues to simmer, although it has not boiled over into the streets because of the intimidating laws [such as the USA Patriot Act]....

CAIR warned against an indefinite occupation of Iraq because it will fuel anti-American sentiment.... “Such an occupation could quickly turn into a political and military quagmire.”

They have a point. Surely we need a fatwa to go to war just as much as we need permission from the UN and the International Criminal Court and the Belgian judicial system.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:14 PM


Kim Jong-il Scarce, Conjectures Plentiful (Kim In-gu, 3/28/03, Chosun Ilbo)
The North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has not appeared in public for 43 days, observers said, triggering speculation that he putting his country in a war posture. Mr. Kim was absent from the Supreme People's Assembly meeting on Wednesday; his last public appearance was Feb. 12 at the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang. Experts on North Korea say Kim's withdrawal is deliberate and that North Korea has gone into a semibelligerent state since the outbreak of the Iraqi war. Sixty-one other top-level officials were absent from the assembly meeting.

One expert, Cho Myung-chul at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, who was a professor at Kim Il Sung University before defecting to the South, said that the 61 absentees would be commanding officers and that it seemed North Korea was in a state of war. Another North Korea expert said that North Koreans would take Kim's absence from the assembly meeting to mean that they are under an emergency situation.

Experts pointed to other signs that Pyongyang is getting unsteady: that excluded from the meeting were the cabinet minister's report and mention of this year's budget, and that the government is selling loans to the public for the first time in its existence. Also, Pyongyang hiked its military spending as a ratio of the budget by 0.5 percentage points this year, to 15.4 percent, and has told the public to increase its preparedness.

We are apparently prepared to destroy the N. Korean nuclear facitilities and missile installations, and should do so immediately, before it's too late.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM


U.S. Mongolian Diplomat Resigns Over Iraq (MICHAEL KOHN, 3/27/03, Associated Press)
A senior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia has resigned in protest over Washington's decision to wage war in Iraq and U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Korea.

Ann Wright, who as deputy chief of mission was the embassy's second-in-command, also criticized the "unnecessary curtailment of civil rights" in the United States since Sept. 11.

"I believe the administration's policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place," she said in a resignation letter addressed to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

We're sure Ms Wright is a fiine public servant and a decent enough person, but it seems unlikely that we assign our best people to the Mongoloid desk.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:55 AM


The triple war (David Warren, 3/27/2003)
[A key front of the war is the] almost invisible airborne and special forces campaigns, in which British, Australians, Poles and others, including local forces, not yet acknowledged, have been playing very important roles, seizing and destroying or disabling the Iraqi regime's most lethal military and terror assets, and hunting for the "leadership targets"....

The Pentagon planners have, thus, enlisted the media without their full knowledge in exhaustively covering what I suspect may be a series of feints. And Saddam's remaining loyalists, cut off from most of their own sources of information in the field, are obliged to focus their attention only on what they can see -- more and more exclusively through the eyes of the media....

[The coalition] is using tactics much like those which were so successful in Afghanistan. Indeed, the overall strategy in Iraq is beginning to resemble the Afghan one ...

They take out the struts upon which the regime is supported, and seem to make no dramatic progress until the moment when suddenly the whole thing comes down, almost simultaneously in many different cities.

Special-ops guys are having disproportionate effect (Jed Babbin, NRO, 3/27/2003)
[Iraqi leaders] don't want to go out [of their bunkers], because they--and the Saddam Fedayeen--are being outfought inside Baghdad. A small--how small I didn't even ask--bunch of special-ops guys are doing their job exceedingly well. Which is to say that for their small number, they are having a disproportionate effect on the enemy. That's a polite term to describe the work of the scout-sniper. Reconnaissance is always the prime mission, and locating targets for immediate and later strikes is very important. But if we can kill a few Fedayeen every time they stick their noses above ground, pretty soon they won't want to. A suppressed sniper's rifle can drill you from several hundred yards away or across the street, and the guys near you won't know where it came from.

When the war is over, we will likely learn that special forces and the Iraqi resistance working with air power were the heart of the war effort.

The IO Options (Martha Brant, MSNBC, 3/26/2003)
Every day coalition forces are bombarding Iraqi cities and towns with leaflets, nearly 30 million of them since October and counting. The latest message: Stay Home!

THEY WANT CIVILIANS off the roads and bridges. With Iraqi paramilitary troops dressing as civilians and, in some cases, using them as human shields, it is even more imperative that the United States get that message out.

The more civilians stay home, the easier it is to take out the bad guys.

All in all, the war seems to be going fabulously well.

MORE: Help Iraqis Arise (William Safire, New York Times, 3/27/2003)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:47 AM


President Rallies Troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa: Remarks by the President to Socom and Centcom Community (President George W. Bush, Macdill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida, 3/26/03)
Our entire coalition has a job to do, and it will not end with the liberation of Iraq. We will help the Iraqi people to find the benefits and assume the duties of self-government. The form of those institutions will arise from Iraq's own culture and its own choices. Yet, this much is certain: The 24 million people of Iraq have lived too long under a violent criminal gang calling itself a government.

Iraqis are a good and gifted people. They deserve better than a life spent bowing before a dictator. The people of Iraq deserve to stand on their feet as free men and women -- the citizens of a free country.

This goal of a free and peaceful Iraq unites our coalition. And this goal comes from the deepest convictions of America. The freedom you defend is the right of every person and the future of every nature. The liberty we prize is not American's gift to the world; it is God's gift to humanity.

The Army Special Forces define their mission in a motto, "To liberate the oppressed." Generations of men and women in uniform have served and sacrificed in this cause. Now the call of history has come once again to all in our military and to all in our coalition. We are answering that call. We have no ambition in Iraq except the liberation of its people. We ask no reward except a durable peace. And we will accept no outcome short of complete and final success.

The path we are taking is not easy, and it may be long. Yet we know our destination. We will stay on the path -- mile by mile -- all the way to Baghdad, and all the way to victory.

Thank you, all. And may God bless America.

This is the President of whom Paul Berman says the following:
[Q:] So you think the way he's presenting this war to the world is really where he's gone wrong.

[A:] Yes, it has been wretched. He's presented his arguments for going to war partly mendaciously, which has been a disaster. He's certainly presented them in a confused way, so that people can't understand his reasoning. He's aroused a lot of suspicion. Even when he's made good arguments, he's made them in ways that are very difficult to understand and have completely failed to get through to the general public. All in all, his inarticulateness has become something of a national security threat for the United States.

In my interpretation, the basic thing that the United States wants to do -- overthrow Saddam and get rid of his weapons -- is sharply in the interest of almost everybody all over the world. And although the U.S. is proposing to act in the interest of the world, Bush has managed to terrify the entire world and to turn the world against him and us and to make our situation infinitely more dangerous than it otherwise would have been. It's a display of diplomatic and political incompetence on a colossal scale. We're going to pay for this.

[Q:] Then what is it that the public doesn't understand? What hasn't he been able to get across?

[A:] One thing he hasn't gotten across is that there is a positive liberal democratic goal and a humanitarian goal here. Iraq is suffering under one of the most grotesque fascist tyrannies there's ever been. Hundreds of thousands, maybe a million people, have been killed by this horrible regime. The weapons programs are not a fiction. There's every reason to think that Saddam, who's used these weapons in the past, would be happy to use them in the future. The suffering of the Iraqi people is intense. The United States is in the position to bring that suffering to an end. Their liberation, the creating of at least the rudiments of a liberal democratic society there, are in the interests of the Iraqi people and are deeply in the interests of liberal society everywhere. There are reasons to go in which are those of not just self-interest or self-defense, but of solidarity of humanitarianism, of a belief in liberal ideals. And Bush has gotten this across not at all.

If you can tell how Mr. Bush is failing to meet Mr. Berman's standards you're wiser than I.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 AM


Liberal senator: 'Screw the Americans':Laurier LaPierre ready to quit over disputed quotation in Senate transcript (Jack Aubry and Robert Benzie, March 27, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)
A Liberal senator has been thrown into the firestorm of shaky U.S.-Canada relations after the Senate's Debates quoted him shouting "Screw the Americans" during a Senate sitting this week.

The quote was attributed to outspoken Senator Laurier LaPierre, who has expressed anti-American sentiments in the past, in the official transcript of Tuesday's Senate sitting. Opposition MPs and senators were quick to jump on the quote as another example of the Liberal government's strong anti-Americanism.

Mr. LaPierre told the Senate yesterday that he had been misquoted in the transcript and that he had in fact shouted: "So did the Americans." But his attempt to correct the Debates, which requires unanimous consent, was blocked by opposition members who said they wanted to listen to a tape of the sitting first.

A shaken Mr. LaPierre said he would offer his resignation to Prime Minister Jean Chretien since "his honour" was being challenged by the opposition members.

Honour? Would he know honour if it bit him on the auss?

Some Liberals want Cellucci censured:Chretien insists Canada is not anti-American (Joan Bryden, March 27, 2003, The Ottawa Citizen)

Prime Minister Jean Chretien insisted Wednesday that his government is not anti-American even as some Liberal backbenchers called on him to censure or expel U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci for publicly denouncing Canada's refusal to participate in the war on Iraq.

Mr. Chretien's assurances that Canada-U.S relations have not been damaged by the Iraq crisis were further undermined by American officials, who disclosed that the White House authorized Mr. Cellucci's unusually blunt remarks.

Mr. Cellucci's expression of "disappointment" in Canada and his hints of economic retaliation were deemed warranted after Mr. Chretien last week failed to rebuke Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal for levelling personal criticisms at President George W. Bush.

Mr. Dhaliwal told reporters that Mr. Bush let down the world by failing to act like a statesman, an affront that American officials said should have been immediately repudiated by Mr. Chretien.

The ambassador's remarks continued to reverberate on Parliament Hill yesterday. While Mr. Chretien and most of his Liberal caucus tried to downplay the significance of Mr. Cellucci's intervention and the extent of the rift between the Canadian and American administrations, several government backbenchers said the ambassador stepped over the line of diplomatic protocol.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 AM


Iraqi opposition leader Chalabi rejects British assertions linking Israel with Iraq (Douglas Davis, Mar. 27, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
Leader of the opposition Iraqi National Congress Ahmad Chalabi has emphatically rejected British assertions that hostility toward the coalition forces is an expression of anger over the West's supposed "double standards" in its approach to Iraq and Israel.

"This is science fiction," said US-backed Chalabi, who is Washington's choice to head a future administration in Baghdad. "The Iraqis are stuck between the allied bombs and Saddam's repressive apparatus.

"The issue of Palestine is not the reason why they have not demonstrated. It is fear of Saddam and that the coalition has told them to do nothing."

In an interview from the northern Iraq town of Dokan, published in London's Daily Telegraph on Thursday, Chalabi was also critical of the proposal by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the UN should play a major role in post-war Iraq.

"The UN is too weak to deal with de-Ba'athification, the destruction of weapons of mass destruction and the dismantling of Saddam's security services," he said.

"The UN would be hamstrung. Iraq is far too big and important."

He noted that "the UN's record on Iraq has been abysmal and the Iraqi people has little confidence in the UN."

Instead, Mr Chalabi wants allied troops to remain until a referendum, followed by elections, to establish democracy and independence.

You ever notice how the Palestinian situation is the most important issue in the Arab world...until, that is, any other nation's own self-interest is at stake, then it's Pale...who? That's why we believe that fostering internal reform and giving Arabs (including Palestinians) a stake in the improvement of their own societies will serve to defuse much of the violence and hatred currently directed at Israel.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM


Scorecard for the War: To know whether the allied forces are winning, there are six things one could watch out for. (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 3/26/03, NY Times)
(1) Have we occupied Baghdad--without leveling the whole city? [...]

(2) Have we killed, captured or expelled Saddam? [...]

(3) Have we been able to explain why some Iraqi forces are putting up such a fierce fight? [...]

(4) Have we won this war and preserved the territorial integrity of Iraq? [...]

(5) Has an authentic Iraqi liberal nationalist emerged from the U.S. occupation to lead the country? [...]

(6) Is the Iraqi state that emerges from this war accepted as legitimate by Iraq's Arab and Muslim neighbors? [...]

(1) Obviously, otherwise we could have just MOABed it.

(2) Duh?!?

(3) Who cares as long as they're dead?

(4) Yes and no. There's no such thing as Iraq and there's going to be a Kurdistan, whether independent or federated within Iraq is merely a matter of aesthetics.

(5) We can't guarantee a post-Saddam Iraq will be a liberal nation, only that it will be more liberal than it is now.

(6) If we were by some chance to achieve #5, isn't the real question whether that Iraq and we accept the anti-liberal regimes in the rest of the Arab world? Why would we let Syria determine the legitimacy of Iraq instead of vice versa?

Posted by David Cohen at 9:04 AM


One rule for them (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

A friend living in England sent me this article and asked what I think.

Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the virtues of international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded in front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the Geneva convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them". . . .

This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this enthusiastic convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the defence department, responsible for a series of crimes sufficient, were he ever to be tried, to put him away for the rest of his natural life.

His prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, where 641 men (nine of whom are British citizens) are held, breaches no fewer than 15 articles of the third convention. The US government broke the first of these (article 13) as soon as the prisoners arrived, by displaying them, just as the Iraqis have done, on television. In this case, however, they were not encouraged to address the cameras. They were kneeling on the ground, hands tied behind their backs, wearing blacked-out goggles and earphones. In breach of article 18, they had been stripped of their own clothes and deprived of their possessions. They were then interned in a penitentiary (against article 22), where they were denied proper mess facilities (26), canteens (28), religious premises (34), opportunities for physical exercise (38), access to the text of the convention (41), freedom to write to their families (70 and 71) and parcels of food and books (72). . . .

It is not hard, therefore, to see why the US government fought first to prevent the establishment of the international criminal court, and then to ensure that its own citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction. The five soldiers dragged in front of the cameras yesterday should thank their lucky stars that they are prisoners not of the American forces fighting for civilisation, but of the "barbaric and inhuman" Iraqis.

Here is my response:

First, this is not "an illegal war against a sovereign state." Security Council resolution 687 explicitly authorizes action by member states to enforce all current and future resolutions concerning Iraq. As no one seriously claims that Iraq is not in breach of these resolutions, the action is justified under the UN charter. As far as picking and choosing is concerned, every permanent member of the Security Council has waged an external war without UN approval. Most recently, the US did so in Kosovo, along with France and others, to protect the Muslim population against the Serbs.

Nor is the United States "seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its attempts to run the world." What bugs the left is three particular treaties, two of which the US never ratified. Kyoto, in its current form, was rejected while being negotiated by the Senate during the Clinton Administration without a dissenting vote. Nonetheless, the other nations refused to amend it to make it acceptable. The ABM treaty specifically allowed the signatories to cancel it on six months' notice. The Russians seem to care about this a lot less than the Europeans. The ICC is plainly unconstitutional as applied to US nationals and the other signatories refused to address this concern. Interestingly, France sought -- and was granted -- some of the same concessions the US was not given.

As for the Geneva Conventions, he's just smoking dope. He starts off by ignoring the possibility, raised by the tv pictures, that some of the captured US soldiers were executed after they surrendered. Next, the distinction between legal and illegal combatants is not as ambiguous as he implies and, sensibly, it does not turn on whether the war is "legal" under international law. There is a specific test. Among other things, illegal combatants don't wear uniforms and don't answer to a command structure. There is no question but that the captured al Queda fighters are not legal combatants. Nor is there any requirement that the "competent authority" be either judicial or civilian. Military tribunals, answerable to the President, are perfectly appropriate under both international law and the Constitution. More to the point, photographs of unidentified AQ fighters were released to show how they were being treated. They were not humiliated. The other rights he mentions are not applicable, though some are being respected. The food they are given is kosher, you should excuse the expression. They have access to US Army Imams. They are given some exercise, though not a lot. Finally, I have no idea why he thinks hostilities have ended. We're still actively engaged fighting AQ in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

As for Doran's documentary [alleging American complicity in Afghan atrocities], it has been vastly oversold. Here is a snippet from an interview with Doran by the World Socialist Web Site (found via Travelling Shoes):

WSWS: Is there any other evidence, apart from the testimony of these witnesses, on the involvement of the American military in the deaths of these 3,000 prisoners?

JD: Absolutely not. The reason the story has been released early is that I received a warning from Mazar-i-Sharif that the graves in the desert were being tampered with. All the evidence is in the graves, and it is essential that those graves are not touched! [....]

WSWS: Is there any evidence to point to the participation of American soldiers in shooting victims in the desert?

JD: I have absolutely no evidence that American troops were involved in the shooting that took place in the desert. . . .

Dostum is an evil guy, but the evidence that he acted with the help of Americans is almost nonexistent. I am, however, perfectly willing to offer Monbiot a deal. He can choose whether to spend some time as a prisoner of the US Army, or he can go wandering through Iraq ahead of the US Army.

MORE: The article, found via Instapundit, gives what seems like a pretty good overview of conditions at Guantanamo, even if the headline does oversell the evidence of beatings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM


Allies Adapt to Setbacks: While the campaign has not produced the swift victory for which the Bush administration clearly hoped, the American military is moving to adapt. (MICHAEL R. GORDON, 3/27/03, NY Times)
The Iraqis threw the allies a curve ball by deploying thousands of fedayeen and paramilitary forces in southern Iraq to engage in guerrilla-style hit-and-run attacks. Indeed, the Iraqis are not shrinking from the fight: columns of vehicles carrying more paramilitary forces were heading south tonight from Baghdad to join the fray, according to American officials. Later, much fighting, including a fierce clash at Nasiriya that resulted in casualties on both sides, was reported.

The allies, however, are now countering by putting off the battle of Baghdad for at least some days and focusing their efforts on attacking the paramilitary groups in and around Najaf, Nasiriya, Samawa, Basra and other southern and central Iraqi cities.

With the limited ground forces the Bush administration has allocated for the initial phase of the campaign and the need to take care of threats in their rear, the United States military can hardly do anything else.

The planning and preparations for the drive to Baghdad, however, are very advanced. The next phase of the campaign is to take the fight to the Republican Guard divisions that are on or approaching the outskirts of the Iraqi capital and then begin ground attacks against key strongholds in Baghdad itself.

There seems to be no doubt among American commanders that this battle will take place relatively soon and that their forces will ultimately prevail.

"We have achieved several of our strategic objectives, the first of which was to seize the oil fields before destruction for the Iraqi people," said Maj. Gen. William Webster, the deputy commanding general of the allied ground command. "The enemy adjusted. The conditions changed. And we are staying on the balls of our feet."

The ultimate goal of the allied invasion is the overthrow of Mr. Hussein and his government. But there are also several important secondary objectives.

One was to seize Iraq's oil fields to ensure that they were not set aflame, either as a means of obscuring the battlefield or as an act of vengeance, by retreating Iraqi forces.

Indeed, intelligence reports that just seven of the oil wells in the Rumaila oil fields were on fire triggered last Thursday's land attack, a ground assault that in contrast to the 1991 Persian Gulf war, began before the air strikes began in earnest.

Besides ensuring that very few of the oil wells were set alight, allied warplanes and special forces also have been successful so far in preventing Iraq from launching Scud missiles at Israel, also a considerable undertaking and one that is a high priority given the United States desire to keep Israel out of the war.

The allies have not been able to stop the Iraqis from firing surface-to-surface missiles at American forces in Kuwait, including some aimed at the land war command center here. But the Patriot antimissile batteries deployed by the allies have shot down the vast majority of the missiles, while the remainder have fallen harmlessly in the desert or the Persian Gulf.

In terms of the invasion itself, allied forces have penetrated deep into Iraq and have managed to get across the Euphrates River. The key port of Umm Qasr has been taken.

The main focus now is eliminating the fedayeen and other paramilitary groups in southern Iraq or at least reducing them to the point where they become a mere nuisance, not a major threat.

Because our press is so hysterical and so many of the opinion-making class in the West oppose the war, these rather miinor setbacks are being conflated into catastrophe, when, as Mr. Gordon says, much has already been accomplished, we're adapting quickly to a fluid situation, and the final results are in no doubt.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM


How to Take Baghdad (DARYL G. PRESS, March 26, 2003, NY Times)
Recent history suggests that well-equipped armies, especially if their soldiers are taught to exercise initiative, can seize urban areas at surprisingly low cost. In 1967, Israeli soldiers defeated the approximately 6,000 Jordanian troops who held East Jerusalem; 200 Israelis were killed. The following year, American marines fought roughly 4,000 North Vietnamese soldiers south of the Perfume River as part of the battle to retake the city of Hue; 38 marines died in the fighting. And in 1989 the United States Army fought against approximately 5,000 Panamanian Defense Forces for control of Panama City; 23 Americans were killed in action.

The fatality ratios are especially revealing. In Jerusalem the Israelis lost three men for every 100 Jordanians deployed to defend the city; in Hue the ratio was one marine for every 100 enemy soldiers killed, wounded, captured or driven away. In Panama the fatality ratio was half that suffered by the marines at Hue.

What do these numbers suggest for a battle in Baghdad? To estimate coalition losses one must first estimate how many Iraqis might fight. The Iraqi fedayeen militia has at most 40,000 men. The paramilitary Special Republican Guard has another 20,000. Add several thousand more from the palace guard and the intelligence services, and the combined forces in Baghdad would total about 65,000 men.

In addition, Mr. Hussein might pull one or two Republican Guard divisions into Baghdad, adding 10,000 to 20,000 troops to his defenses.

With their technological advantages, coalition forces in Baghdad should perform at least as well as the Marines in Hue; the poorly trained Iraqis can be expected to fight less effectively than the North Vietnamese did. Depending on how many Iraqis resist, total coalition deaths might be in the 400 to 800 range. However, if the Iraqis perform as poorly as the Panamanians, coalition fatalities would be only half as high. But if the Iraqis are as skillful as the Jordanians were in 1967--which seems unlikely because the Jordanians at the time were the best soldiers in the Arab world--then coalition losses could rise to between 1,000 and 2,000 dead.

Even if a battle for Baghdad "only" claims several hundred coalition lives, it would be terrifying for the combatants and horrifying to watch on television. Coalition infantry companies that are ordered to clear well-defended buildings, or that are caught in ambushes, will pay dearly. And the number of injuries will be several times higher than fatalities. Soldiers will be taken prisoner.

While images from the battle are likely to shock us, they are also likely to inflame much of the world. Civilians will be caught in the crossfire. Images of the dead will be broadcast around the world. The Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank last spring, portrayed by the world's press as a massacre, claimed the lives of fewer than 30 noncombatants. An assault on Baghdad will be far worse.

We're increasingly of the opinion that such a level of lethality may be just what is required at this moment in time. First, because Islamicists must be shown, in the most brutal fashion possible, that they are on the wrong side of history and must accept either reformation or death on our terms, not theirs. Second, and most unfortunately, because they must see that we are willing to accept casualties ourselves and inflict casualties on them. It's not enough to show that they can't win; we also have to show that we have the will to win.

Allied blockade of Baghdad is best (John Keegan, March 26, 2003, Chicago Sun Times)

The Americans shrink from street fighting precisely because tanks and armored vehicles are of limited use in cities. What is true for them is, however, is also true for the Iraqis. If they decide to withdraw their tanks from the countryside to shelter them in the city, they are effectively taking them out of the battle altogether.

If that analysis is correct, then it may be to the allies' advantage for the Iraqis to avoid battle outside Baghdad and to withdraw the Republican Guard armor into the city, both of which would effectively be self-neutralizing moves.

The moves would absolve Franks of the need to send American troops into the streets, at least in the immediate term.

They could wait outside, imposing a blockade and watching to see how long resistance would continue. Frustration at the allied refusal to engage in street fighting might provoke Saddam into launching forays, which would prove costly to him.

On the other hand, the allies cannot allow this war to drag on. Protraction will have a depressing effect on the markets and on economies in general, while fueling the anti-war movement.

Franks needs an outcome without serious delay and that increasingly seems to mean that he needs more troops, quickly.

Whatever the truth of differences of opinion in the Pentagon last year between supporters of a "light" and "heavy" war, and whether there is indeed a "Rumsfeld doctrine" vs. a "Powell doctrine," the truth has to be faced that the allies are trying to capture a country the size of California with one heavy division, one airborne division, and a U.S. Marine force or roughly two light divisions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM


Blair plan for Iraq at odds with U.S. (David R. Sands, March 27, 2003, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
A central point of contention in the Camp David discussions is expected to be Mr. Blair's proposal that the United Nations take a prominent role in the oversight of Iraq after the downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

U.S. officials have been vague about the constitution of a postwar administration in Iraq. But there is deep skepticism in the administration about including the United Nations after the failure of the Security Council to approve a second resolution sought by Washington and London explicitly authorizing the war.

At a London press conference yesterday before leaving for Washington, Mr. Blair said, "I can assure you that it is our desire to make sure the United Nations [is] centrally involved" in the Iraq reconstruction project.

Nile Gardiner, a visiting fellow in Anglo-American security policy at the Heritage Foundation, said Mr. Blair runs a risk if he presses the point too hard.

"I think Blair might be underestimating the tremendous opposition to going down the U.N. route again inside the Bush administration," Mr. Gardiner said.

Mr. Blair also has been far more outspoken than Mr. Bush in urging a renewed international effort to revive peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, in large part to mend fences with Arab states.

Mr. Bush's Rose Garden pledge two weeks ago to release the Middle East "road map" — a phased peace plan drafted by the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia — was widely seen as a gesture to Mr. Blair.

The British prime minister, answering questions in Parliament yesterday, insisted, "There is no difference between us at all on the basic principles" in the Middle East peace process.

If Mr. Blair has not been weaned from his multilateralism by the complete failure of international institutions over the past six months, then our interests diverge.

George & Tony – friends forever? (Pat Buchanan, March 24, 2003, Creators Syndicate)

Even conservatives who prefer that the cousins across the pond choose Tory leaders find much to admire in Tony Blair. He is arguably America's best friend.

One of the things that makes Mr. Buchanan so likable is that he's so easily wooed back to the conservative mainstream when the rubber hits the road. Thus he too has gone dewy eyed for Tony on the basis of the aid he's giving us for a war Mr. Buchanan "opposes". But he's right in the rest of the column that there are tougher times ahead for the Special Relationship if Mr. Bush has to choose between Britain or Israel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM


Time for Muslim world to prove the West wrong (David D. Perlmutter, March 27, 2003, Jewish World Review)
As a college professor, I regularly conduct a class exercise to illustrate that the "national character" of peoples isn't genetically fixed.

I pick out an inoffensive coed with a Scandinavian name and ask her if, when she passes by a prosperous-looking town, she feels compelled to burn it down, kill the inhabitants and steal their cattle. Usually, the reply is a chuckled "No!" I comment that her predatory Viking ancestors would be displeased with her lack of bloodlust.

Now, many commentators tell us that the Iraqi people (and, by implication, all Muslims and Arabs) are intrinsically unable to sustain a participatory democracy and a civil society. The postwar aims of the United States and the world – even those who oppose the second Persian Gulf War – must be to prove them wrong.

The prescription for a transformation from a nation governed by genocidal tyranny must be drastic and immediate. In a world of proliferating madmen and weapons of mass destruction, we can't wait a millennium or even a generation. [...]

It is fair to say the pre-Gulf War II Saddam Hussein was a minor military threat to his neighbors. Ironically, a democratic, civil-minded Iraq would be a moral threat to the ruling castes of many Middle East and Near East theocracies, kingdoms and tyrannies. The temptation for those players to try to sabotage the rule of law in Iraq will be great. The United States must make the costs of such adventurism unacceptable.

In such strategies, almost everyone has a role to play, not just the Marines, Iraqi-Americans and the White House. For example, the many millions in the West who have taken to the streets opposing the war have assured us that they are doing so for humanitarian reasons – such as saving the children of Iraq from the fallout of battle. After the war is over, they can prove the sincerity of their concerns by directing time, energy and money to helping rebuild the country for those children.

An Iraq that is saved by its own people and by the good will of foreign soldiers and citizens isn't a fantasy but a necessity. If a postwar Iraq fails, and if we fail a postwar Iraq, we will condemn the region and the world to many more wars with no hope of a positive outcome.

But the $64,000 question is does the Arab world want peace, prosperity and democracy more than it hates the West. The jury is still very much out.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:50 AM


I know Principal Flutie would have said, 'Kids need understanding, kids are human beings.' That's the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.
--Principal Snyder ('The Puppet Show' - Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:23 AM


Iraqi Soldiers Say It Was Fight or Die (New York Times, 3/27/2003)
[T]he Iraqi private with a bullet wound in the back of his head suggested something unusually grim. Up and down the 200-mile stretch of desert where the American and British forces have advanced, one Iraqi prisoner after another has told captors a similar tale: that many Iraqi soldiers were fighting at gunpoint, threatened with death by tough loyalists of President Saddam Hussein.

Here, according to American doctors and Iraqi prisoners, appeared to be one confirmation. The wounded Iraqi, whose life was ebbing away outside an American field hospital, had been shot during the firefight Tuesday night with American troops. It was a small-caliber bullet, most likely from a pistol, fired at close range. Iraqi prisoners taken after the battle said their officers had been firing at them, pushing them into battle.

"The officers threatened to shoot us unless we fought," said a wounded Iraqi from his bed in the American field hospital here. "They took out their guns and pointed them and told us to fight."

If we could communicate enough with the Iraqi soldiers, we might be able to persuade them to fight their officers rather than us. Fighting us is certain death, and they greatly outnumber their officers. As Orrin suggests in TURN 'EM LOOSE, the length of this war is going to depend on how long it takes Iraqis to turn on their terror masters.

March 26, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 PM


Resolution at U.N. human rights body avoids condemning Cuba (JONATHAN FOWLER, March 26, 2003, Associated Press)
A resolution presented Wednesday to the top U.N. human rights body does not include a condemnation of Cuba's record, a rare move that immediately drew protests from rights campaigners.

The activist groups charged that just last week Cuba arrested scores of dissidents, accusing them of conspiring with American diplomats in Cuba to encourage opposition to the communist government.

The annual meeting of the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission has censured the communist island for its lack of democracy and free speech every year over the past decade except 1998.

But in wording that will likely draw U.S. protest as well, the draft measure produced by Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay simply asks Cuba to accept a visit by a U.N. monitor appointed earlier this year by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. [...]

A spokesman for the U.S. mission to U.N. European offices in Geneva said only that the United States supported the efforts of the sponsoring nations to address the human rights situation in Cuba.

"The United States needs a resolution against Cuba like a fish needs water," Perez Roque, the foreign minister, told reporters in Geneva last week.

Washington is running out of ways to justify its 40-year-old embargo against Cuba, which most other nations oppose, he said.

It should not be necessary to explain a praiseworthy revulsion.
-Mark Helprin, Chanukah in the Age of Guys and Dolls
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 PM


Lessons on how to oust Hussein: Kurds who fought in the 1991 uprising say involving them and encouraging civilian revolts are key. (Cameron W. Barr, March 27, 2003, The Christian Science Monitor)
Kurdish strategist Noshirwan Mustafa, standing at a conference table in his book-lined study, points out Iraqi troop deployments marked in red on a glassed-over map of the country.

He traces with his finger the arc of the US-led advance toward Baghdad, admiring how American forces have largely bypassed Iraqi troops around Basra. "I think the war is going very well," he says.

But a week into the fighting, Mr. Mustafa is critical of other aspects of the US battle plan, asserting that the US has allowed the Iraqi leadership to maintain internal communications, has only belatedly targeted the country's mass media, and so far has neglected the "political dimension."

"Until now, the Iraqi population has no [reason for] confidence that this is a permanent change of the political system," Mustafa says.

Mustafa, a gray-haired eminence in the Kurdish movement, was the architect of the Kurds' 1991 uprising against the regime of President Saddam Hussein, which culminated in their seizure of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

The Kurds only held Kirkuk for eight days, in part because the US declined to prevent Mr. Hussein's forces from crushing their rebellion, but their experience seems to offer lessons that might be useful today.

Mustafa recounts how the Kurds determined that the regime's power was centered in four key institutions in every collective camp, town, and city in northern Iraq: the branch of the ruling Baath Party, the local offices of the Iraqi intelligence, military intelligence, and security services.

As they did in other towns and cities in 1991, the Kurds targeted these four institutions in Kirkuk. "If you can crush them," Mustafa says, "you can control the cities."

The idea of letting the Kurds, Shi'ites and other opposition groups take up arms has several advantages, including their greater knowledge, their willingness to be ruthless in ways we can't be, and the long term spiritual benefit of their having contributed to their own liberation.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:47 PM


Iraqis Fire on Aid Queue (SkyNews, 3/26/2003)
[T]roops had established a strong but not yet secure foothold in the town - a known Iraqi militia base - and were to begin distributing aid to its people.

The troops were greeted by cheering crowds of several hundred people as they arrived western edge of the town, he said.

But before any food or water could be handed out, snipers opened fire and two mortars shells fell into the crowd.

The civilians scattered to escape a hail of bullets and mortar rounds which followed in quick succession and the relief effort was abandoned.

We're not fighting a nation, we're fighting a band of terrorists.

I hope we have enough Arabic speakers to get help from the local populace in rooting out these thugs.

MORE: Marines discover Iraqi 9/11 Mural (CNN, 3/26/2003)

MORE: Iraqi paramilitaries using human shields (SkyNews, 3/26/2003)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 PM


War Could Last Months, Some Military Officers Say (Thomas E. Ricks, March 26, 2003, Washington Post)
Despite the rapid advance of Army and Marine forces across Iraq over the past week, some senior U.S. military officers are now convinced that the war is likely to
last months and will require considerably more combat power than is now on hand there and in Kuwait, senior defense officials said today.

The combination of wretched weather, long and insecure supply lines, and an enemy that has refused to be supine in the face of American combat power has led to a broad reassessment by some top generals of U.S. military expectations and timelines. Some of them see even the potential threat of a drawn-out fight that sucks in more and more U.S. forces. Both on the battlefield in Iraq and in Pentagon conference rooms, military commanders were talking today about a longer, harder war than had been expected just a week ago, the officials said.

"Tell me how this ends," one senior officer said today.

James Fallows was on NPR today comparing Iraq to Vietnam. It sounded familiar, A Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam (R. W. APPLE Jr., October 31, 2001, The New York Times):
Like an unwelcome specter from an unhappy past, the ominous word "quagmire" has begun to haunt conversations among government officials and students of foreign policy, both here and abroad.

Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia. For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable. Today, for example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed for the first time that American military forces are operating in northern Afghanistan, providing liaison to "a limited number of the various opposition elements."

Their role sounds suspiciously like that of the advisers sent to Vietnam in the early 1960's, although Mr. Rumsfeld took pains to say of the anti-Taliban forces that "you're not going to send a few people in and tell them they should turn right, turn left, go slower, go fast." The Vietnam advisers, of course, were initially described in much the same terms, and the government of the day vigorously denied that they were a prelude to American combat troops.

In the most famous such denial, Lyndon B. Johnson vowed that he would not send American boys in to fight the war for Vietnamese boys.

Despite the insistence of President Bush and members of his cabinet that all is well, the war in Afghanistan has gone less smoothly than many had hoped. Not that anyone expected a lightning campaign without setbacks; indeed, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld have often said the effort would be long and hard.

Within two weeks, if not on first reading, Mr. Apple's column looked idiotic, Eyewitness: The liberation of Kabul: The Northern Alliance moved in at dawn (John Simpson, 13 November, 2001, BBC)

Hopefully it won't take two weeks to make Mr. Fallows and Mr. Ricks seem as silly, but if it does or if it takes months, so be it. Let it last: "Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

-The making of a hawk: From Kuwait to Kosovo to Kabul, American firepower has been on the right side of history. The odyssey of a former dove. (David Talbot, Jan. 3, 2002, Salon)
-Blundering Into Afghanistan: The Great Game has repeatedly foiled the great powers. (David Greenberg, September 20, 2001, Slate)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 PM


-OBIT: Robert Frost Dies at 88; Kennedy Leads in Tribute (The New York Times, January 30, 1963)

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874. Here's his poem, The Trial by Existence:

Even the bravest that are slain
Shall not dissemble their surprise
On waking to find valor reign,
Even as on earth, in paradise;
And where they sought without the sword
Wide fields of asphodel fore'er,
To find that the utmost reward
Of daring should be still to dare.

The light of heaven falls whole and white
And is not shattered into dyes,
The light forever is morning light;
The hills are verdured pasture-wise;
The angle hosts with freshness go,
And seek with laughter what to brave;--
And binding all is the hushed snow
Of the far-distant breaking wave.

And from a cliff-top is proclaimed
The gathering of the souls for birth,
The trial by existence named,
The obscuration upon earth.
And the slant spirits trooping by
In streams and cross- and counter-streams
Can but give ear to that sweet cry
For its suggestion of what dreams!

And the more loitering are turned
To view once more the sacrifice
Of those who for some good discerned
Will gladly give up paradise.
And a white shimmering concourse rolls
Toward the throne to witness there
The speeding of devoted souls
Which God makes his especial care.

And none are taken but who will,
Having first heard the life read out
That opens earthward, good and ill,
Beyond the shadow of a doubt;
And very beautifully God limns,
And tenderly, life's little dream,
But naught extenuates or dims,
Setting the thing that is supreme.

Nor is there wanting in the press
Some spirit to stand simply forth,
Heroic in it nakedness,
Against the uttermost of earth.
The tale of earth's unhonored things
Sounds nobler there than 'neath the sun;
And the mind whirls and the heart sings,
And a shout greets the daring one.

But always God speaks at the end:
'One thought in agony of strife
The bravest would have by for friend,
The memory that he chose the life;
But the pure fate to which you go
Admits no memory of choice,
Or the woe were not earthly woe
To which you give the assenting voice.'

And so the choice must be again,
But the last choice is still the same;
And the awe passes wonder then,
And a hush falls for all acclaim.
And God has taken a flower of gold
And broken it, and used therefrom
The mystic link to bind and hold
Spirit to matter till death come.

'Tis of the essence of life here,
Though we choose greatly, still to lack
The lasting memory at all clear,
That life has for us on the wrack
Nothing but what we somehow chose;
Thus are we wholly stipped of pride
In the pain that has but one close,
Bearing it crushed and mystified.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM


Former Sen. Moynihan Has Died (Martin Weil, March 26, 2003, Washington Post)
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the scholar and senator, the orator and author, whose intellectual and political leadership did much to shape national policy on the major issues of his time, died today, his successor, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on the Senate floor.

The cause of death was not immediately announced but Sen. Moynihan, 76, had been ill for several months. This month he had been hospitalized at the Washington Hospital Center after an emergency appendectomy.

A Democrat, Sen. Moynihan represented New York in the Senate for four terms. He decided not to seek reelection in 2000.

Throughout his 24 years on Capitol Hill, he was one of the most trenchant and memorable voices in the ongoing national debate on such issues as national security and Social Security, as well as on welfare reform and family matters.

Beyond that, he gained honor, recognition-and often ignited controversy-in many roles: Harvard teacher and lecturer, ambassador to India and to the United Nations, adviser to presidents.

He was an advocate of renewing and preserving cities and their downtown buildings, winning renown in Washington as a champion of restoring Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the U.S. Capitol. His use of the phrase "benign neglect" to characterize an approach to racial policy that he was advocating set off a firestorm that smoldered for years

A blend of the ivory tower and the big city streets, he combined gifts and qualities that were in many ways unique in American public life: a propensity to lecture fellow senators on sometimes abstruse topics and a proven ability to win the votes of an often fractious and fragmented constituency on election day.

An orator with an easy mastery of statistical fact and telling anecdote, he was a pungent phrasemaker, formidable in debate. In diagnosing the nation's social ills, he warned in an oft-repeated phrase, that America was "defining deviancy down." [...]

Throughout his career he maintained a vigorous interest in protecting the long-term vitality of American society by shoring up Social Security and reforming welfare.

But he was also notable for his opposition to aspects of the welfare reform measures passed during the Clinton administration.

He expressed the fear that it penalized helpless children, and when it was signed he said: "Shame on the president." [...]

Speaking in August, 1980, at the Democratic National Convention that renominated Jimmy Carter, he warned that the "Soviet empire" had begun again to expand, extending influence into Central America while bolstering its nuclear forces in a manner that was "mad and relentless."

The next year, the first year of the Reagan administration, he expressed his opposition to cuts passed by the Senate Budget Committee. "We have undone 30 years of social legislation in three days," he complained.

As that last quote reminds us of Mr. Moynihan's desertion of the very ideas that he made famous once he got to the Senate, the following profile reminds us of his promise, Moynihan of the Moynihan Report (THOMAS MEEHAN, July 31, 1966, NY Times):
The degree of fame that Moynihan has attained recently stems mainly from the fact that he is the author of a much-discussed Government paper entitled "The Negro Family: The Case For National Action," now commonly referred to as the Moynihan Report, in which he urged that the Federal Government adopt a national policy for the reconstruction of the Negro family, arguing that the real cause of the American Negro's troubles is not so much segregation, or a lack of voting power, but the circumstance that the structure of the Negro family is highly "unstable and in many urban centers. . .approaching complete breakdown." This is so, stated Moynihan, because of the increasingly matriarchal character of American Negro society, a society in which a husband is absent from nearly 2 million of the nation's 5 million Negro families and in which, too, some 25 per cent of all births are illegitimate. Moreover, Moynihan pointed out, children, especially boys, who grow up in fatherless homes tend not to adjust to this country's essentially patriarchal society, particularly when their problems are complicated by poverty and racial prejudice.

"From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles," wrote Moynihan a few months ago, enlarging on his report for the Jesuit magazine, America, "there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future--that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, disorder. ..are not only to be expected, they are very near to inevitable. And they are richly deserved."

Here having warned of welfare dependency, when the opportunity came to end that dependence, he voted to maintain it. Similarly, having coined the phrase "defining deviancy downward", he found himself incapable of voting for Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Mr. Moynihan was by all accounts a genial man and he did raise some issues in provocative ways. But, unfortunately, he left the heavy lifting on those issues to others and thereby squandered much of his four terms in the Senate, falling back often on the most purely partisan position. No Senator ever did less with more.

-Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Retrospective: With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times
-Pat Moynihan, RIP (Steven Hayward, No Left Turns)
-Clinton's Democratic Support Slips Further (CNN All Politics, 9/06/98)

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) said on ABC's "This Week" program that he thinks if Clinton perjured himself in the Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit about an affair with Monica Lewinsky, it would constitute an impeachable offense, even without additional evidence of obstruction of justice.

-More Moynihan Malarkey (Jonathan Chait, June 1, 2000, Slate)

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:33 PM


Former Sen. Moynihan dies - New York Democrat known for intellect (CNN, 3/26/2003)
Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat from New York who enjoyed a reputation as an intellectual giant among his peers, died Wednesday after battling an infection stemming from a ruptured appendix. He was 76.

Moynihan came from a generation that is already fading from memory, so foreign is it from modern sensibilities. It was a generation that spoke often of "roots," and seemed to think it was the greatest of catastrophes to be uprooted. Moynihan was always Irish Catholic, but being a Democrat seemed as much -- perhaps more -- a part of his identity as Irishness and Catholicism. To Moynihan, it was almost unthinkable that a working-class boy would not be a lifelong Democrat.

Moynihan did influential work in sociology and public policy, and his research prepared the way for welfare reform. But as so often happens, the more powerful Moynihan became, the less he led. In the 1980s, Moynihan's ideas on welfare reform found a receptive audience in the Reagan administration and the Republican side of Congress, and Moynihan often mused in the press whether he should follow his conscience and vote with Republicans, or stick with his fellow liberals out of party loyalty. Party loyalty always won.

I suspect that Peggy Noonan will have a fine obituary online at tomorrow, and I look forward to reading it. May God bind up all Senator Moynihan's wounds; may he rest in peace.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 PM


For centuries, we've been 'liberating' the Middle East. Why do we never learn? (Robert Fisk, Belfast Telegraph)
Once more, we, the West, were going to protect the Middle East from tyranny. Anthony Eden took the same view of Egypt, anxious to topple the "dictator" Gamal Abdul Nasser, just as Napoleon had been desperate to rescue the Egyptians from the tyranny of the Beys, just as General Maude wanted to rescue Iraq from the tyranny of the Turks, just as George Bush Junior now wants to rescue the Iraqis from the tyranny of President Saddam.

And always, these Western invasions were accompanied by declarations that the Americans or the French or just the West in general had nothing against the Arabs, only against the beast-figure who was chosen as the target of our military action. "Our quarrel is not with Egypt, still less with the Arab world," Anthony Eden announced in August of 1956. "It is with Colonel Nasser."

So what happened to all these fine words? The Crusades were a catastrophe in the history of Christian-Muslim relations. Napoleon left Egypt in humiliation. Britain dropped gas on the recalcitrant Kurds of Iraq before discovering that Iraq was ungovernable. Arabs, then Jews drove the British army from Palestine and Lloyd George's beloved Jerusalem. The French fought years of insurrection in Syria. In Lebanon, the Americans scuttled away in humiliation in 1984, along with the French.

And in Iraq in the coming months? What will be the price of our folly this time, of our failure to learn the lessons of history? Only after the United States has completed its occupation we shall find out. It is when the Iraqis demand an end to that occupation, when popular resistance to the American presence by the Shias and the Kurds and even the Sunnis begins to destroy the military "success" which President Bush will no doubt proclaim when the first US troops enter Baghdad. It is then our real "story" as journalists will begin.

It is then that all the empty words of colonial history, the need to topple tyrants and dictators, to assuage the suffering of the people of the Middle East, to claim that we and we only are the best friends of the Arabs, that we and we only must help them, will unravel. Here I will make a guess: that in the months and years that follow America's invasion of Iraq, the United States, in its arrogant assumption that it can create "democracy" in the ashes of a Middle East dictatorship as well as take its oil, will suffer the same as the British in Palestine. Of this tragedy, Winston Churchill wrote, and his words are likely to apply to the US in Iraq: "At first, the steps were wide and shallow, covered with a carpet, but in the end the very stones crumbled under their feet."

Someone wiser than we will have to explain why it's arrogant to liberate Arabs from a brutal dictatorship, but somehow humble to dismiss the possibility of their ever governing themselves. If Mr. Fisk is right in all he says here, we may as well find out quickly because the combination of primitive violent culture and high tech weapons can not be allowed to stand. We hope and believe he's wrong.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:40 PM


In God We Trust...Canadians Aren't So Sure (CLIFFORD KRAUSS, March 26, 2003, NY Times)
The French Canadian writer Yann Martel has acknowledged that he rearranged chapters in the Canadian edition of his new novel, "Life of Pi," because he feared that Canadians would be offended by its religious content.

"America is a very religious, almost puritanical country," he told Publishers Weekly last year. "In Canada, secularism is triumphant, and to talk noncynically, nonironically about religion is strange."

Mr. Martel's comments have been much quoted of late as a sign that in at least one vital respect, Canadian and American societies are moving in opposite directions despite their common language and geographical proximity.

In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington, only 30 percent of Canadians said religion was very important to them, compared with 59 percent of Americans. Twenty-one percent of Canadians said they attended religious services regularly in another survey taken in 2000 - about half the rate for Americans (although still a bit higher than the rate for most of Western Europe).

The statistics would be far more skewed if it were not for the growing number of devout Muslim, Sikh and Hindu immigrants to Canada. In Mr. Martel's city of Montreal, which is crowned by a giant illuminated cross atop Mount Royal, to commemorate the piety of its founder, Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve, church attendance is plummeting so fast that at least 18 churches in the last three years have been boarded up and abandoned or converted into condominiums and, in one case, even a pizza parlor. Meanwhile, rural churches are closing across the western prairies.

"This is a society where religion no longer wields cultural authority," Marguerite Van Die, a theology professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, wrote recently.

Hence, it's a dying nation, with a dwindling population, no serious conservative movement, no sense of a national purpose other than to prop up the Health Care system it has nearly sacralized, no future.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 PM


Troops urged to avoid 'mark of Cain': Combat leader's words draw tears (Peter Almond, March 24, 2003, Chicago Tribune)
Tim Collins, a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel in the British army, has become a media hero, famous not for deeds performed in battle in Iraq but for words delivered to his men before they moved against the forces of Saddam Hussein.

Collins, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, addressed his troops at their camp in Kuwait. His words, which reportedly had many of his men close to tears, left admirers calling to mind President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the "band of brothers" speech by William Shakespeare's Henry V character before the 1415 Battle of Agincourt.

According to a pool report, Collins told his men:

"The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As they die they will know that their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.

"There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive, but there may be some among us who will not see the end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow.

"Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you are ferocious in battle, remember to be magnanimous in victory. It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly.

"I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they can go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.

"If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer . . . .

"We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. ... Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread lightly there."

Reportedly, Collins said the conflict was vital if the West was to curb the threat of Muslim fundamentalists, but he made clear that his men were to respect Iraqi culture and religion.

"You will see things that no man could pay to see and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis," he told his troops. "You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing."

No wonder they were upset when some of our guys planted an American flag.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 4:00 PM


Best War Blogs (Forbes, 3/26/2003)
[B]loggers are now going to war. Not all of them like it, although many are cheering.

In choosing the best of the best, we excluded "meta-blogs" like and Warblogging, which are essentially compilations of other blogs, many of them opposed to the war.

We were careful that the five we've selected represent a diversity of opinions.

Forbes also does Best Tech Blogs, Best Media Blogs, Best Economics Blogs. Somehow they overlooked Orrin again. Question for commenters: what category could they add in which Brothers Judd Blog would land in the top 5?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:33 PM


Sex symbol in the White House (Telegraph, 3/25/2003)
He's currently working hours the rest of us have nightmares about, but there is consoling news for Ari Fleischer. The balding White House spokesman, Spy hears, has females the length and breadth of the States a-swoonin' with his no-nonsense specs and straight bat denials.

You don't believe me? OK, well here goes with some comments on the new Ari Fleischer internet fan site: "Some people don't understand how a hot blonde 24-year-old NYC girl could have such a major crush on Ari Fleischer - but I DO!!" writes one groupie. "I think it is so cool the way he can walk into a room full of press sharks and completely control the room and never ever flinch."

Yeah, Ari's OK, but what about bloggers who fearlessly face their monitors and completely control their living rooms?


US defeat in Iraq 'inevitable' (News24, 3/26/2003)
The United States does not have the military means to take over Baghdad and will lose the war against Iraq, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said.

"The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we can not win," he told private radio TSF [in Lisbon Tuesday evening]....

"Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost," Ritter added.

I wonder if he's still getting Iraqi money.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:48 PM


Since, as Rod Dreher recently noted, for the left, "every war is Vietnam", let's look at how Vietnam has led directly to our current state of affairs. Reading this recent post by The Volokh Conspiracy, and watching the protestors last night, I figured I'd discuss a geopolitical theory that I'm surprised I didn't post yet (and because this a blog, this is going to be grossly simplified--I'm just trying to connect the dots, not paint a detailed landscape): how Vietnam is related to our current war on terrorism.

On TV last night, I saw a guy in his late 40s or 50s (he looked trim, clean shaven, with a nicely cut shock of graying hair) asked by an interviewer, "why are you here"? He replied, "Well, we made a difference during Vietnam, and I think we're making a difference now."

As for the latter, it's hard to say how--except, as Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds have recently noted, making your cause look distinctly bad to the rest of the country. As to the former, yes, you may have made a difference, but it wasn't the one that you think.

Its possible to tie 9/11 all the way back to Vietnam if you wanted to...

As Mr. Driscoll points out, what made a difference was Congress cutting off funding to our S. Vietnamese allies, who it's easy to forget hung on until 1975, even though we betrayed them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM


US raid 'may have caused deaths' (BBC, 3/26/03)
A bombing raid in Baghdad may have caused civilian casualties, the United States central command has acknowledged.

It said the US-British coalition used precision-guided weapons to target Iraqi missiles and launchers on Wednesday.

However the missiles were placed in a residential area less than 100 metres (300 feet) from homes, the US central command said in a statement.

Iraqi officials say at least 14 people were killed in a busy residential area of northern Baghdad during an air raid on the city.

The reality is that if we were trying to take out Iraqi missile positions, the civilians are acceptable collateral damage.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:41 PM


Senate Votes to Reduce Bush's Tax Cut Plan (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, 3/26/03, NY Times)
Capitalizing on concerns about the costs of war in Iraq, Senate Democrats won a vote today to reduce President Bush's proposed tax cut by half, a rare political defeat for a wartime president.

The vote, 51 to 48 with three Republicans breaking ranks and voting against the president, complicates the prospects for enactment of the main element of his economic program, a $726 billion tax cut over 10 years.

The Senate's action showed the willingness of Democrats, even during a war, to challenge the president head-on over domestic priorities. And it was evidence of unease within the president's own party about cutting taxes in the face of rising budget deficits and the unknown cost of disarming, occupying and rebuilding Iraq.

Senator George V. Voinovich of Ohio, one of the Republicans who voted to limit the tax cuts, said: "I happen to believe that we'll have to have troops in there for one year or two years. You're going to at least probably have to spend $2 billion a month next year or next budget just to provide security there."

Both Bill Frist and the media biffed this one. Frist should have kept the Senate in session this weekend, as the White House asked, to get the Budget done with the full cuts. However, amendment will add back some tax cuts and then the conference committee--and here's where the November wins matter--which will be GOP dominated, will crank the actual cut back up at least over $500 billion. That's more than anyone thought the President could get when he made his initial proposal and a big, big victory, particularly given the mammoth cut of 2001.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 AM


English-only students do better on state test: Number of proficient speakers tripled after Prop. 227 passed (Nanette Asimov, March 26, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle)
Five years after voters approved English-only classrooms across California, the popular ballot measure seems to be working.

The number of students who speak English well despite having learned a different language at home tripled last year.

Thirty-two percent of California students learning English -- more than 862, 000 -- were able to speak it "proficiently" as measured by the California English Language Development test in the fall of 2002.

The rate was just 11 percent in fall 2001. About 1.8 million students took the test for the first time that year.

State schools chief Jack O'Connell announced the test results Tuesday, offering the first measurable evidence of whether students were making progress in English.

"These results are very exciting for our state," O'Connell said, noting that California had more students learning English than any other state -- about one in four. "Public education is on the right track."

Like Welfare Reform, a case where when you raise your expectations of people they rise to meet them. Let any willing immigrant with a clean background come, but require much of them--we'll not be disappointed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 AM


Republican Guard heads toward U.S. troops; British brace for fight for Basra (DAVID CRARY, 3/26/03, Canadian Press)
A large contingent of Iraq's elite Republican Guard, including 1,000 vehicles, headed Wednesday toward U.S. marines in central Iraq - an area that already has seen the heaviest fighting of the war.

Intelligence officers with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said the Iraqi forces were headed south from Baghdad on a route that avoids advancing U.S. army forces and leads them directly to the marines who have been fighting in recent days around Nasiriyah. The intelligence officers said about 3,000 Republican Guard troops were spotted in one town along Highway 7 and 2,000 more at another.

What would they be thinking? Nothing could make our job easier than for them to come out and fight us.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM


This war is showing the world who we really are (Tony Blankley, March 26, 2003, Jewish World Review)
The American personality might be characterized as an easygoing, sentimental, fair-minded ruthlessness.

We tie yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree at the same moment we dispatch a wing of B-52s to carpet-bomb the enemy. No murderer in the world gets as many appeals from his conviction as an American murderer. But when we have finished being fair (about the same length of time that a French murderer has to spend in prison before being released), we fry him.

More recently, to show our gentle side, we have taken to killing our murderers with a painless lethal injection. Even amongst our law-abiding citizens, we shock the Europeans with both our generosity and ferocity. We provide for every kid with a pulse to go to college, and then let them sink or swim in the workplace. American workers are lucky to get two weeks of vacation a year, and if an American is out of work, he is, after a few months, out of luck.

In 1996, we repealed the right to welfare payments. Poor people in America have the choice of going to work or going to hell. A few nitwit school boards have outlawed dodgeball: but for most Americans dodgeball is a way of life -- and we aim at the head. Europeans, on the other hand, only permit a fraction of their students to go to college, but then coddle their lazy population with lifetime-guaranteed maintenance and a month and a half of vacation for those who choose to work. Americans consider it a compliment to be called a cowboy. The French take it as an insult.

The current war with Iraq will bring out all these aspects of our national personality. We started by spending six months asking nicely for Saddam to obey the law. When he refused, we asked nicely for our friends to help us enforce the law. When many of them refused, we appealed to their sentiment -- after all, we had helped them out for most of the last century. But when we found out they had a lump of coal where a heart ought to be, we still politely told them we would do it ourselves.

Nothing so clearly defines who we are as when a Tony Blankley, an Andrew Sullivan, a Christopher Hitchens, a Youssef Ibrahim, or a Fouad Ajami refers to "we Americans".
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:01 AM


How Blair Defused The Anti-War Movement (Nader Hasan, Wall Street Journal Europe, 3/26/2003)
[A]s fighting in Iraq intensifies, all of Britain seems to be falling in behind the prime minister....

The "Stop the War Coalition" and other anti-war groups in Britain were always more enthusiastic about opposing U.S. imperialism and less concerned with the welfare of the Iraqi people. At the demonstrations and on the talk-show circuit, U.S. hegemony took center stage and denunciations of Washington always received the most rousing applause. The climax of the Feb. 15 demonstration was a speech delivered by U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, who gave an impassioned critique of a U.S. government trying to "divert attentions from problems at home to a war no one wants."...

We preferred to demonize U.S. President George W. Bush rather than appeal for sympathy for the children of Baghdad and Basra.

Mr. Blair understood that the British opposition to the war was more about sticking it to the Yanks and less about the perils of war. Over the past month, he has repeatedly attempted to downplay the American-ness of this war, declaring that he was "truly committed" to disarming Iraq and that "if the Americans were not doing this, I would be pressing for them to be doing so." Mr. Blair knew that by staking his credibility and career on the rightness of this war, he was turning the war into a British domestic issue. No longer was the war only a U.S. war; it was also Mr. Blair's war. By imbuing the war with a distinctly British flavor, the prime minister deflated an anti-war movement that was ostensibly built around the mantra of anti-Americanism.

Mr. Blair did not stop there. In light of the opposition's inability to articulate the plight of the Iraqi people, he cunningly turned the tables and seized the humanitarian argument for the pro-war camp. Borrowing from Mr. Bush's rhetoric, he told us (with solemn conviction) that this war was about "liberating" the people of Iraq. Sure, a few hundred civilians would die from wayward bombs, but in the end, Iraq would be free from a barbarous dictator. Mr. Blair had no qualms about claiming to care about a people whose misery he had neglected during his tenure as prime minister....

If the anti-war movement had wanted to remain relevant, it should have re-examined its stance and shown that lifting sanctions, not making war, was the way to liberate Iraq. It didn't and it is too late now, as war has begun. The movement showed it could make noise, but Mr. Blair's quieter, reasoned delivery won the argument.

Mr. Hasan, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, is a former member of the Stop the War Coalition.

Mr. Hasan is one of the good left: a decent person who genuinely want to save lives and make the world better, but who disagrees with us regarding methods. It is well that he sees the faults in anti-American hatred and efforts to demonize opponents, and that he prefers reasoned argument to sloganeering. Now, if he can only learn that the Iraqi people are better off liberated by war than unliberated under sanctions, he'll be well on his way to conservatism.
Posted by David Cohen at 9:53 AM


Focus: Israeli military experts assess the U.S.-led invasion (Amnon Barzilai,

There's not usually much point in reposting something that's been up on Instapundit, but this article on Israeli military experts makes a point that can't be overemphasized:
There has never been a war with such a high level of disinformation about what exactly is happening on the battlefield as the present conflict in Iraq, according to Israeli researchers and senior military officers. . . .

According to Shahak, Israelis are "frustrated that the Iraqi regime has still not collapsed, which would suit us. You don't hear such frustration expressed in the U.S. over the pace of the campaign. [Ha - dgc] I didn't think that it was possible to win a war like this and bring about the collapse of a regime within three days. I would counsel patience. The Americans are very determined to go all the way." . . .

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

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

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

Shahak says that until now the American's have managed to conceal their true battle plan. "Do you know what the Americans have planned? I don't. They also never said (what they were planning to do). How do you topple a regime in 48 hours? In a week? Seventeen days? If we don't want to make fools of ourselves, we should wait patiently. It would just be arrogant to judge from what we see on TV."
The embedded correspondents give us the impression that we know each little thing that happens. But this is misleading. From NPR this morning, for example, I know about a Marine who, though a trumpeter in a Marine band when stateside, is providing perimeter security in Iraq. I know that between the sand and rain last night, the lack of visibility, and the resulting sense of being alone in enemy territory, he was miserable. This is good reporting and gives me a sense of what it's like to be a Marine in Iraq, but it tells me nothing about the war. If I know little about this particular Marine detachment, I know nothing about the many Special Forces teams in Iraq (including, reportedly, in Baghdad) and, by the way, what ever happened to the rumored division attacking from the west?

For example, right now there are reports of a large column of Republican Guard heading south from Baghdad, skirting the advancing army units, towards "Marines, who are worn from intense fighting around Nasiriyah." CentCom is denying the report, albeit somewhat ambiguously (there are no "significant movements" of troops leaving Baghdad). What could be going on here? Does the column exist? Are they marching in good order or are they fleeing? Could they be defecting? Have they already been decimated by air support? We have no idea and may never know, even though we think we've got up-to-the-minute information.

Recent military history is full of arm chair generals making fools of themselves. About one week into the first Gulf War, Dick Cheney held up a newspaper at a press conference. The headline was "War Drags On." The moaning in Afghanistan as the Taliban was crumbling is fresh in our memories. Right now, all we can do is trust the professionals to know what they're doing. We don't have nearly enough information to act upon. Patience and prayer is all we have to offer now.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM


Strike action tells Lula the honeymoon is over (Raymond Colitt, March 25 2003, Financial Times)
Metalworkers in Sao Paulo are to begin an indefinite strike--on Wednesday--to demand wage increases amid growing indications that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's honeymoon is coming to an end.

With 20,000 workers of a 750,000-strong union picketing on Wednesday, it is the first large-scale industrial action since Mr Lula da Silva, himself a former Sao Paulo metalworker and union leader, took office on January 1.

Although the strike is primarily directed at employers, it reflects growing dissatisfaction with the new government over high unemployment and inflation. The Sao Paulo metalworkers' union, which belongs to the opposition Forca Sindical union federation, usually renegotiates wages in November but is claiming that consumer price increases have already eroded the last increase. "With that kind of inflation, we couldn't wait," said Eleno Jose Bezerra, the union president.

The strike comes after growing criticism in recent days that the Lula da Silva administration, despite good intentions, is moving too slowly to tackle key social and economic problems.

While the government has earned plaudits for its fiscal and monetary austerity, critics say too many meetings and discussions are holding up tax and social security reforms and hampering its flagship anti-famine project.

"The government has the right analysis of what this country needs . . . but administratively it is still stumbling on many issues," Horacio Lafer, the head of Fiesp, the influential Sa~o Paulo industry federation, said this week.

Only Nixon can go to China, but what happens when he doesn't do much once he's there?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:05 AM


Oil for Iraqis, Not the French (Wall Street Journal editorial, 3/26/2003)
A good place for the U.S. to start rebuffing ... European conceit would be to throw over the side the U.N.'s corrupt oil-for-food program.

U.N. Security Council members have been haggling this week over the fate of that program and the $40 billion said to be sitting in its escrow accounts....

But while Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed a resolution that would give him interim authority over the program and allow him to start the flow of humanitarian supplies, France and Russia have declared they will block anything acknowledging that the status quo has changed. Jacques Chirac says he will "not accept" any resolution that "would legitimize the military intervention" and "give the belligerents the powers to administer Iraq."

As usual, the French and Russian position has more to do with commercial interests than any principled opposition to "legitimizing" the use of force. Oil-for-food has been a giant racket whereby Saddam has rewarded the firms of friendly countries with U.N.-approved contracts and kept most of the food for his Baathist allies.

The U.N. is notoriously corrupt - third world elites routinely join the U.N. bureaucracy poor and go home wealthy, after living it up at New York's finest restaurants - but the oil-for-food program created an entirely new kind of corruption. First, the U.N. got to skim off "expenses" from a flow of cash that approached $10 billion a year for much of the 1990s, bathing the U.N. in virtually limitless cash. Second, Saddam got to negotiate all the contracts for both oil sales and goods purchases, and he routinely paid above-market prices while directing deals to the companies of France, Germany, and Russia -- and what he received in return, we do not know.

Now, the French are apparently trying to use their U.N. powers of veto over the disposition of the $40 billion in escrow to obtain a continuation of Saddam-era contracts. (See here for signs of French confidence.) Meanwhile, Kofi Annan apparently wants authority to spend the whole $40 billion himself, not just $1 billion or so in "expenses."

During the run-up to the Iraq war, the U.N. failed to show it could play a positive role in international events. If it withholds the $40 billion escrow accounts from the Iraqi people, the U.N. will show that it plays a negative and obstructionist role. I think the Bush administration can reasonably take a hard line in these negotiations.

I assume they have good intelligence on Kofi Annan's Swiss bank accounts, and will soon have proof of French and Russian collaboration with Saddam. I expect they will negotiate by publicly making nice while privately threatening to expose malfeasance and to suspend U.S. contributions to the U.N. I expect they'll succeed in getting the $40 billion to its rightful owners, the Iraqi people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:44 AM


From yesterday's New York Times (Paul Cella, , March 25, 2003)

Friend Paul Cella noted a fact about one of our casualties that somehow seems especially poignant. Where else but America have so many successive generations fought, and died for the same ideal: "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments: rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the universe."

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:32 AM


Roh Justifies Decision to Send Troops (Chosun Ilbo, 3/26/2003)
President Roh Moo-hyun said Wednesday that the government's decision to send troops to Iraq is in line with its plan to deal wisely with the nuclear crisis on the peninsula and secure peace. "The decision was made based on strategic and practical reasons," he said. "Logic or justice was not the top consideration."

Speaking at the commencement ceremony for the 3rd Military Academy, President Roh said, "When Korea-U.S. relations are steadier, it will be possible to solve the nuclear problem and improve relations between the North and the United States."

Roh promised that no war here disapproved by South Korea would occur, and said that Korea-U.S.-Japan relations must be strengthened. "Because of practical reasons like these, the government decided to send troops to the Iraq war," he said.

Roh asked for the public's understanding, saying, "Peace on the peninsula was given top priority in making the decision."

In other words, if we won't help the U.S., why should the U.S. help us?

Roh doesn't sound very gung ho, but as Harry points out, we'll need infantry in the months ahead to keep the country secure, and all help is appreciated. Thanks, Korea.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:26 AM


British forces support Basra 'uprising' (Guardian, 3/26/2003)
After a series of setbacks, and with the advance on Baghdad delayed by sandstorms, the invasion forces were badly in need of some positive developments yesterday.

It's a quagmire!
The first success of the day - which came just at the right moment for prime-time television news in the UK - was a claim by the British military that a "popular uprising" against Saddam Hussein's regime had broken out in Basra....

Until now, Shia organisations in southern Iraq have been very wary of getting involved in the war. In 1991, the US encouraged them to rebel but then abandoned them to their fate at the hands of Saddam's merciless men.

Given the reluctance of the native population to rebel, it's quite plausible, as I noted yesterday, that the uprising was initiated by a Shiite militia that had trained with U.S. and British troops in Qatar for just this purpose. If so, the uprising would have begun at evening Iraq time, 5 p.m. in Britain, when night gives the allies their greatest advantage.
In Nassiriya yesterday, US officers said they had found 3,000 chemical protection suits and large quantities of nerve gas antidote at a hospital which had been used as a base by Iraqi soldiers fighting the invasion. This is being interpreted as evidence that Iraq may be prepared to use chemical weapons.

However, the "antidote" - atropine - also has routine medical uses for treating heart patients and some respiratory conditions.

Yes, 25-year-old Iraqi soldiers often need to treat themselves for heart conditions.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:14 AM


Resistance by Militia Is Delaying Baghdad Battle, Officers Say (NY Times, 3/26/2003)
Allied forces have shifted the focus of their land campaign in Iraq to concentrate on defeating the fedayeen and other militias serving Saddam Hussein in the south before beginning the battle for Baghdad, senior officers said tonight....

"We will go to where the enemy is," a senior American military official said tonight....

The British moves came amid reports of rebellion in the Shiite-dominated city and harsh reprisals by security forces loyal to Mr. Hussein's government.

A woman who waved to British forces on the outskirts of the city was later found hanged, an American officer said, and the Iraqis moved D-30 artillery in place to shell rebellious residents....

The turn of events in Iraq is likely to raise questions about the influence of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on military planning. Mr. Rumsfeld had rejected the doctrine of overwhelming force promulgated by Colin L. Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the current secretary of state.

The Times's incessant efforts to portray a rift between Rumsfeld and Powell grow tiresome. I'm sure Rumsfeld and Powell both want the bastards who hanged that woman drawn and quartered.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:43 AM


BBC's own man blasts his bosses over 'bias' (TREVOR KAVANAGH, 3/26/03, The Sun)
THE BBC was last night sensationally condemned for “one-sided” war coverage — by its own front line defence correspondent.

Paul Adams attacks the Beeb for misreporting the Allied advance in a blistering memo leaked to The Sun.

And he warned the BBC’s credibility is at risk for suggesting British troops are paying a “high price for small victories”.

On Monday, he wrote from US Central Command in Qatar: “I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering ‘significant casualties’.

“This is simply NOT TRUE. Nor is it true to say — as the same intro stated — that coalition forces are fighting ‘guerrillas’.

“It may be guerrilla warfare, but they are not guerrillas.”

Adams’ memo was fired off to TV news head Roger Mosey, Radio news boss Stephen Mitchell and other Beeb chiefs.

It adds stunning weight to allegations that BBC coverage on all its networks is biased against the war.

In one blast, he storms: “Who dreamed up the line that the coalition are achieving ‘small victories at a very high price?’

“The truth is exactly the opposite.

“The gains are huge and the costs still relatively low. This is real warfare, however one-sided, and losses are to be expected.”

In related news, night follows day.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:34 AM


Baghdad Empties, but Fills With Foreboding (JOHN F. BURNS, March 26, 2003, NY Times)
Even Iraqi loyalists, at least at the level of common men and women, say privately that, this time, the long years may be up. But they, and other Iraqis who do not support Mr. Hussein, have found themselves in something like an accord in recent days over the nightmare than could lie ahead.

In one family today, among professional, middle-class people who have long yearned for a freer Iraq unburdened by sanctions and repression, there was one obsessive concern. It was similar to the one that mesmerized this and similar families after President Bush gave Mr. Hussein and his two sons an ultimatum last week to quit Iraq within 48 hours, or face war.

Then, it was how long Iraqis had to wait for the first American airstrikes and the ground assault from Kuwait. Today, with the invaders more than 300 miles closer to Baghdad, the question was the same: How long would America take to close its account with Mr. Hussein?

The family members, fearful of being described in any way that could make them identifiable, said that they were scared to death by the success that Iraqi irregular troops, among them the most fanatical of his zealots, have had in delaying and harassing the American troops on their drive up the Euphrates River valley.

If similar groups make a fight for Baghdad, as most Iraqis believe they will, the family said, the new freedoms they had hoped to celebrate could come at too high a price in shattered Iraqi lives. [...]

But much more than that, they said, they feared what might befall Iraqis like themselves if, faced with continued stiff resistance by Mr. Hussein's troops, Mr. Bush did what his father did at the end of the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and decided that a settlement was preferable to a long and grisly campaign to topple Mr. Hussein.

"That is our nightmare," one of the men said, "and we ask, `What will Mr. Bush do to help us then?' "

Even before the war, Iraqis had begun to borrow from an imagined future, speaking out, here and there, as though new freedoms had already arrived. After the conflict started, this continued for a few days, encouraged by the fact that Mr. Hussein had disappeared from view after the American attempt to kill him with the cruise missile attack that began the war before dawn on Thursday. But then, on Monday, he reappeared with a lengthy television speech calling for Iraqi militiamen to "cut the throats" of the Americans, and the old anxieties were back in full measure, all over town. [...]

If it is a conundrum how Mr. Hussein has maintained his power in a capital where the government appears to have just about shut down, the answer lies in the pattern that American troops ran into on their drive north from Kuwait.

Although the Iraqi leader has always had iron control of the government and the army, the heart of his power has lain outside the formal institutions of the state, and especially in the shadowy network of irregular militia units and security agencies that report to members of his family. It is those elements that have now become crucial to sustaining his power.

In the neighborhoods of Baghdad, Iraqis have been observing for weeks the dispersal of those militias with strong personal loyalties to Mr. Hussein. Heavily armed, and often traveling in white pickup trucks, those men — from the militia formations of the ruling Baath Party, from fanatical groups of fedayeen, or martyrs for God, who wear black coveralls and black face masks, and from the private armies of tribal leaders who have sworn fealty to Mr. Hussein — are likely to be among the last groups to desert him, Iraqis say. For similar reasons, they have been the shock troops of the Iraqi leader's resistance, so far, to the American troops advancing from the south.

One of the things you keep seeing repeated by the Iraqis limns one of the oft-dimissed reasons that we had to fight this war--to convinvce the Arab world that we're serious. Many have belittled this line of reasoning as mere machismo, but if you read about Osama bin Laden you discover the genuine, and largely justified, contempt he had for America's vaunted power, because the First Iraq War, Somalia, and a host of unanswered terrorist attacks had shown we'd not use that power if it meant killing and being killed. The determined pursuit of this war against Saddam could go a long way to dispelling that notion, though it will be important to follow this victory, no matter how expensive, with an equally resolute confrontation with N. Korea and/or another Middle Eastern terror state--preferably Syria--and/or a joint operation with India to remove Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 AM


Iraqi TV Goes Off Air; U.S. Troops Repel Iraqi Attack (Fox News, March 25, 2003)
Coalition aircraft hit the Iraqi TV station in Baghdad, knocking the state-run TV off the air, U.S. officials told Fox News.

The state-run TV signal was lost after 4 a.m. after large explosions were heard in and around Baghdad. The pre-dawn raid came after a several-hours-long lull in allied bombing.

U.S. military officials told Fox News they were optimistic Iraq's state TV was down for the count. The channel could not be seen in Baghdad after the raid, but satellite transmissions continued with periodic breakups.

U.S. officials also told Fox News that the station's proximity to the Ministry of Information, which also houses foreign media and is located a block away, raised concerns about collateral damage. But the TV station was a necessary target, they said, because it was believed the facility was being used as a meeting place by regime leadership and may have played a dual military/civilian role.

Fox is also reporting that taking the TV off the air was a presidential level decision. Apparently there's some concern that they were using it to broadcast coded messages and anger that they were broadcasting their own violations of the Geneva convention.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 AM


7th Cavalry inflicts heavy casualties in running battle (USA Today, 3/25/03)
The fighting began at 8:30 p.m. Monday local time (12:30 p.m. ET Monday) when about 200 Iraqi troops ambushed the 500-vehicle convoy at night along the western bank of the Euphrates.

Red tracers arched back and forth as the Iraqis, dug in a hundred yards back on each side of the road, traded fire with the U.S. troops. The U.S. forces poured high-explosive shells into the Iraqi positions, and the Iraqis responded with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, hitting two U.S. trucks and a Humvee.

The encounter ended soon after squadron commander Lt. Col. Terry Ferrell ordered his soldiers to fire howitzers at the Iraqis. The radio crackled with taut voices barking grid references, then six orange fireballs blossomed over the Iraqi positions. A pair of A-10 Warthog jets delivered the final blow, dropping bombs, then strafing the enemy position.

That was just the start.

Just before midnight local time (about 4 p.m. ET) in the streets on the edge of Al Faysaliyah, just west of the Euphrates, the Iraqis attacked again.

Dozens of Iraqi militiamen hit the convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The convoy dispersed up side streets, but the leading elements headed for a bridge that seemed to offer an avenue of escape.

The bridge held up under the first five vehicles but buckled under the 70-ton weight of an Abrams tank, plunging the tank into a gulch. The crew escaped uninjured, but Ferrell had no choice but to turn all 500 vehicles in the convoy around to find another route.

In the darkness and confusion, with Iraqis continuing to fire on the convoy, two more tanks and a fuel truck rolled into ditches. Of the three tanks that had fallen into ditches, Ferrell managed to put two back on the road, but he had to abandon the other tank and the fuel truck. The squadron then retraced its way through the town, knocking out Iraqis, some firing rocket-propelled grenades.

Once out of town, the convoy continued pushing north toward Baghdad. A few hours later, as dawn approached, U.S. soldiers spotted Iraqis armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades about 1,000 yards from the road on each side.

The fight was on again.

With his convoy strung out for many miles behind him and his troops weary from almost 10 continuous hours of combat, Ferrell called in airstrikes. Within minutes, two more A-10s dropped eight 500-pound bombs and raked the Iraqi positions with cannon fire, setting two tree lines ablaze.

"It looks like 'Apocalypse Now,'" Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Keehan, Ferrell's senior enlisted tactical air controller, said with a look of pride.

The troops watching the burning tree lines could now see buildings among the trees. A man came running from one house, waving a white cloth and screaming that his family had been hurt.

He was told to bring his family to the road, where a medical team patched up a 4-year-old boy, a pregnant woman and two men, one in his late teens, the other in his 30s. All had shrapnel in their legs.

Maj. Todd Albright, a doctor, predicted a full recovery for all the victims except one man who would probably lose a foot. The family was driven away in an Iraqi ambulance.

Ferrell gave his troops two hours to catch their breath. He estimated his squadron had killed 150 Iraqi militia troops — not including those killed by the A-10s — with no casualties among his own soldiers.

To a sickening degree, this war is really just a question of how many Iraqis Saddam will take with him.

March 25, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:32 PM


Bloody uprising in Basra (Martin Bentham with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 26/03/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Iraqi troops fired artillery pieces horizontally into crowds of their own people last night after a civilian uprising in Basra, the second city.

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

Last night Maj Gen Robin Brims, commander of the British forces surrounding Basra, was making plans to move tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade into the city centre today to help the rebels and try to prevent slaughter.

British commanders were cautiously optimistic about a sudden collapse of the Iraqi regime in Basra. Maj Gen Peter Wall, deputy British commander in the Gulf, said that although the uprising seemed to be in its "infancy" the allies were planning to exploit the situation. [...]

Western intelligence officials said the trouble started when Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of Saddam Hussein's closest aides, who is in charge of the south, ordered the execution of a Shi'ite Ba'ath Party leader.

The rebels were later observed by British troops. The Army said its artillery spotting equipment also picked up Iraqi weaponry being fired at short range at targets within Basra.

British artillery targeted the Iraqi emplacements, and the Ba'ath Party headquarters, home of pro-Saddam forces within the city, was destroyed by laser-guided bombs from US aircraft.

Later British forces took "significant action" against mortars and artillery pieces in Basra. An official said: "They have all been destroyed."

Tank commanders from the Black Watch battle group, part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, had been urgently seeking permission to intervene. But British commanders decided to wait for daylight.

One officer said: "If we were to go in darkness that is not a good time to be able to identify civilians and distinguish them from people fighting for Saddam. That is not an easy task in daylight but it will be much easier than when it is dark and difficult to see clearly."

The decision to delay intervention disappointed the troops, with several expressing frustration that they were unable to go to the immediate assistance of the protesters.

That's "Chemical" Ali, for those of you who don't recognize the name Ali Hassan al-Majid. He led the gassing of Kurds in Halabja. Men like him are why there was never any alternative to regime change.

Shiites Rise Up Against Saddam (AP, March 25, 2003)

In a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera television, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed al-Sahhaf denied any uprising in Basra.

"The situation is stable," he said. "Resistance is continuing and we are teaching them more lessons."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he had not seen reports of an uprising in Basra, but was aware that fedayeen guerrillas loyal to Saddam were infiltrating the city.

Rumsfeld said he was "reluctant" to encourage uprisings explicitly. "I guess those of us my age remember uprisings in Eastern Europe back in the 1950s when they rose up and they were slaughtered," he said. "I am very careful about encouraging people to rise up. We know there are people in those cities ready to shoot them if they try to rise up."

But he added: "Anyone who's engaged in an uprising has a whole lot of courage and I sure hope they're successful." [...]

"The humanitarian situation in Basra is difficult, and very, very tense," said Muin Kassis of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in neighboring Jordan.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Basra residents by telephone were unsuccessful, but international relief agencies had satellite-phone contact with aid workers in the city and expressed deep concern about the fate of trapped civilians.

"It's very alarming, very critical," said Veronique Taveau of the U.N. humanitarian office for Iraq.

War is critical you stupid cow!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 PM


Weaknesses and moral inconsistency led us to war: International alliances must be rebuilt so the world does not fragment again (Rowan Williams, March 25, 2003 , Times of London)
The decision to embark on military operations in Iraq last week produced something unfamiliar in our politics: the sense of the genuinely tragic — by which I mean not the sad or the catastrophic, but the awareness of desperately constrained choices, profound moral risk, the knowledge of the cost of what we do, even when we do it from conviction.

I heard an excellent line tonight, though I didn't hear who it's credited to: when good and evil oppose one another it's merely melodrama; when good opposes good then it's tragedy. The great flaw of the Left (which sadly includes the Churches) as regards their arguments on the war is that they do view it as a tragedy. This is because they--and it's particularly odd for the Church--no longer have access to the idea of evil. In every conflict they see only opposing goods, though some of the parties may be misunderstood or may be behaving badly at the moment. In America, evangelical churches and other conservative denominations are displacing the older liberal mainline churches in large part because of this demoralization. This has much of the character of a Third Great Awakening, reinvigorating American society with a religious moralism that many thought would never be seen again after the '70s and which is thoroughly moribend in the rest of the West. From this phenomenon derives the vast and growing split between America and Europe on issues like war, abortion, capital punishment, homosexuality, adultery, welfare, and a host of other political/social issues. It also makes it extremely improbable that America and Europe can be reconciled in the long run. The very bases of our societies are becoming too different.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 PM


Pope cites peace movements in opposing war (AP, Mar 25, 2003)
The vast antiwar movement in the world shows that a "large part of humanity" has repudiated the idea of war as a means of resolving conflicts between nations, Pope John Paul II said in a message released Tuesday.

Yes, and when the part that slaughters its own people and invades its neighbors repudiates violence we can all sit around and sing Kumbaya. Although, one would expect a theologian not to be eagerly anticipating the end of evil as an aspect of mankind.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 PM


Thank God for the death of the UN: Its abject failure gave us only anarchy. The world needs order (Richard Perle, March 21, 2003, The Guardian)
Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The "good works" part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions.

As free Iraqis document the quarter-century nightmare of Saddam's rule, let us not forget who held that the moral authority of the international community was enshrined in a plea for more time for inspectors, and who marched against "regime change". In the spirit of postwar reconciliation that diplomats are always eager to engender, we must not reconcile the timid, blighted notion that world order requires us to recoil before rogue states that terrorise their own citizens and menace ours. [...]

In the heady aftermath of the allied victory, the hope that security could be made collective was embodied in the UN security council - with abject results. During the cold war the security council was hopelessly paralysed. The Soviet empire was wrestled to the ground, and eastern Europe liberated, not by the UN, but by the mother of all coalitions, Nato. Apart from minor skirmishes and sporadic peacekeeping missions, the only case of the security council acting during the cold war was its use of force to halt the invasion of South Korea - and that was only possible because the Soviets were not in the chamber to veto it. It was a mistake they did not make again.

Facing Milosevic's multiple aggressions, the UN could not stop the Balkan wars or even protect its victims. It took a coalition of the willing to save Bosnia from extinction. And when the war was over, peace was made in Dayton, Ohio, not in the UN. The rescue of Muslims in Kosovo was not a UN action: their cause never gained security council approval. The United Kingdom, not the United Nations, saved the Falklands.

This new century now challenges the hopes for a new world order in new ways. We will not defeat or even contain fanatical terror unless we can carry the war to the territories from which it is launched. This will sometimes require that we use force against states that harbour terrorists, as we did in destroying the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The most dangerous of these states are those that also possess weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is one, but there are others. Whatever hope there is that they can be persuaded to withdraw support or sanctuary from terrorists rests on the certainty and effectiveness with which they are confronted. The chronic failure of the security council to enforce its own resolutions is unmistakable: it is simply not up to the task. We are left with coalitions of the willing. Far from disparaging them as a threat to a new world order, we should recognise that they are, by default, the best hope for that order, and the true alternative to the anarchy of the abject failure of the UN.

Mr. Perle has been advising George W. Bush for a good four or five years now, yet people continue to believe that the President failed to understand the meaning of his own actions when he held the UN to its own purported standards and showed it incapable of meeting them. Oh, to be underestimated...
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:46 PM


Dr.Chalabi addresses Iraqi people (Iraqi National Congress, 3/25/2003)
Dr Ahmed Chalabi addressed the Iraqi people from Northern Iraq on the arabic language of Radio Sawa, which is widely listened to throughout Iraq. He spoke shortly after the announcement of the Coalition action to liberate Iraq saying:

“The hour of liberation has come. Your dark night is coming to an end.”

Iraqis may one day remember Dr. Chalabi as the French remember de Gaulle or the Poles Lech Walesa.
Posted by David Cohen at 8:59 PM


Mickey Kaus asks "Would an invasion by the U.N. have been less resented by Iraqis? I'd say clearly yes. It's a higher-order power. And nobody's resented like the U.S. is resented." I respect Kaus, although I find his dithering schtick incredibly annoying. (I don't think that not being able to make up your mind is quite the selling point for a professional opinionater that he thinks it is.) But what could he possible mean by calling the UN a higher order power?

From the context, he seems to be saying that the UN is, or is seen to be, superior to the US government. A US/Iraq conflict is a conflict of equals -- if I'm not reading too much into a casual comment -- but the voice of the UN is the voice of moral authority. I just don't understand this point of view, which is fairly common in the leftish commentariat these days. The whole point of the UN is that, with the exception of the five permanent members of the Security Council, all de jure regimes are equal. In fact, the Syrian ambassador reminded the UN just today that Iraq is still a full member, entitled to the respect due all UN members. As has been remarked many times, the UN is a gentleman's club for dictators, giving them at least the forms of respect, a podium before the world and some say in world affairs. It is not at all democratic because it does not particularly value democracy over other governments, other than in the empty words that mark the homage vice pays to virtue.

The UN is a tool of foreign policy; our's, France's and even Iraq's. It is a wrench for use on nuts of a particular size. The nut of regime change was simply too big for it, but you don't stop changing the tire because one of your wrenches refuses to help. In fact, it was pretty clear from the start that the UN was not the right tool to use. It was designed so as not to interfere in the internal affairs of its members. Many of the members, and a few of the permanent members, have a strong interest in maintaining that noninterference directive (Chechnia, anyone? Tibet?). Those members will make sure that the UN never makes a practice of regime change. Would the Iraqis prefer to be invaded by the UN? I think the question is moot, but in a few weeks we'll be able to ask them, no thanks to the UN.

The UN structure was developed in a much different world, one just coming out of WWII and entering the Cold War. The UN was designed for that world and does not fit very well into the modern world. It is not a higher order power; it is not a power at all. It is a somewhat obsolete tool that the President thought might still have some use left in it. But if we conclude it has finally become useless, we should not hesitate to abandon it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM


Lucky Break for Jordan (Arnaud de Borchgrave, 3/21/2003, UPI)
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

On reading this story, John Resnick writes:
Information's free flow is a great treasure of true liberty. Merely forming and voicing an opinion is NOT what makes free speech so valuable. The protected right itself is surely sacred, but it is powerless or even harmful without truth (e.g. yelling "fire" in the crowded theater or words from the Iraqi "Information" minister). Like all rights, free speech exists in a tenuous vacuum unless counterbalanced by a correlative responsibility.

Mindless slogan chanting, while clearly free speech, is indicative of exercising a right in the absence of its responsibility. One could argue that it is freedom - but only for personal freedom's sake. It surely is not freedom for truth's sake. It's like running an engine on dirty or improper fuel.

Freedom to form and voice an opinion based on access to unimpeded information or that which would lead to deciphering the truth -- now THAT's liberty's treasure at its fullest.

In Iraq's case, there are surely 100's of thousands if not millions who would trade their oil for truth. They know the only way to operate their burgeoning engine of free speech is on truth's cleanest fuel. After all, they've lived under the antithesis for generations. They embrace anybody who will listen with the truth about the evil oppression in their country rather than stories of untold oil riches that could be plundered.

In the end, as from the beginning, fully embracing the Truth is the only way to real freedom - physically and spiritually.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32, KJV)
We pray without ceasing for Victory: Swift, Clean, Decisive and Liberating

John Resnick

Unfortunately, this also is true:
And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.
-John 3:19-21

Look at the folks cited in various posts below--Ron Brownstein, James Carroll, Martin Indyk--presumably all decent men personally, who are apparently incapable of accepting that our cause is right at all or that it is right without UN approval. Like the peoples of France, Russia, Canada, Germany, the Arab World, etc., we too are all too close as a society to falling in love with the darkness and ignoring stories like the one above and like this one, Son of Saddam: As Iraq's top Olympic official, Uday Hussein is accused of the torture and murder of athletes who fail to win (Don Yaeger, 3/24/03, Sports Illustrated).

But, for the nonce, it is a great honor to be a citizen of one of the few countries that are taking our responsibilities as seriously as our rights, fighting against the darkness, and hopefully helping the Iraqi people to find their voices, speak the truth, and see the light after a long, long night.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:41 PM


France Seeks Big Role in Post-War Iraq (AP, 3/25/2003)
France is drawing up plans to win French companies access to lucrative oil and reconstruction contracts [in postwar Iraq], officials said Tuesday....

Officials in Paris say French firms' experience in working in Iraq would be an advantage....

Munier said he believes American companies will have difficulties in Iraq because of widespread anger against the U.S.-led bombing campaign.

"I don't see how American executives can work when their lives will be at risk," he said. "There will be such hatred toward Americans."

Munier criticized French companies for negotiating with American companies for a piece of their businesses in Iraq, saying that such "collaboration" would damage the image of French business among Iraqis.

Chortle, chortle, giggle.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:24 PM


In Iraqi Desert, Marines Pitch
A Busy Pit Stop for Helicopters
(Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2003)
"Food, water, sleeping bags -- we don't really ask for a whole lot more than that," says Lt. Antonelli. In less than an hour, only a few white landing pads remained.

But Cpl. Justin Palmer, of Tracy, Calif., points out one more essential: baby wipes. The moist, disposable cloths are the only means of bathing for troops without access to showers, and are especially welcome at this sandy outpost where the labor is strenuous and the constant exposure to fuel adds to the mess. Asked what he'd like to say to the people back home, Cpl. Palmer immediately replies: "Please send more baby wipes."

I'm not sure how to send baby wipes, but David found a number of other ways to help.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 PM


The Russians Love Their Children Too (Kevin Whited, Reductio ad Absurdum)

Friend Kevin Whited comments on an essay by former assistant Secratary of State Martin Indyk which, I kid you not, contains the following sentence:

It's too late to salvage the Security Council consensus that would have legitimized this war against Iraq.

Ready, aim, fire...

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:11 PM


First Basra, Then Baghdad (Debka, 3/25/2003)
Franks counteracted by throwing into the arena a secret weapon, a 3,000-man opposition Shiite militia organized by Majid al-Khoei, the 34-year old son of Ayatollah Khoei, the legendary spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiites. The militia, trained and funded by the US war command, waited in Qatar for the signal to go into action.

Monday night, March 25, the Shiite militiamen reached the southern outskirts of Basra ...

This sounds like a plausible explanation for the Shiite "uprising."


Iraqis shoot into crowd (International Herald Tribune, 3/26/2003)
Major General Peter Wall, the second in command of British troops, confirmed the reports but said the situation was not yet fully understood.

"I'm confirming that there are events in Basra," Wall said. "We don't know what has spurred them, we don't know the scale, we don't know the scope of it. We don't know where it will take us."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:01 PM


High Court Won't Rule on Terror Surveillance (Dan Eggen, March 25, 2003, Washington Post)
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene yesterday in an ongoing argument over the proper boundaries for federal surveillance of suspected terrorists, rebuffing an attempt by civil liberties advocates to challenge the Bush administration on the issue.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Arab American groups had asked the high court to consider whether the government had gone too far in permitting information gathered with secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to be used in criminal prosecutions.

The justices declined to allow the groups to intervene in the case, but they did not issue a decision on the merits of either side.

The ACLU had taken the novel step of filing an appeal on behalf of people who did not know they were being monitored in an attempt to bring the case before the high court. The organization said it was disappointed but not surprised by the justices' decision to reject that effort.

"It was an unusual case because there was no one able to appeal the government's power to spy on ordinary Americans," said Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director. "We are not going to give up on our many different attempts to challenge these new spying powers."

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft praised the decision and defended "the government's lawful actions to detect and prevent international terrorism and espionage within our borders.

"Civil libertarians" have challenged nearly every action that Mr. Ashcroft's Justice Department has undertaken and have routinely portrayed him as an extremist. Yet, he's racked up an almost uninterrupted series of wins in court. If the justice system sides with him almost every time, then who really are the extremists here?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:35 PM


Popular support held back by suspicion, fear and patriotism (Richard Beeston, March 25, 2003, Times of London)
OPPRESSED by decades of brutal dictatorship, Iraq's Shia Muslim city of Basra was supposed to rise against Saddam Hussein and greet US and British soldiers as liberators.

But nearly a week into the campaign, there is little evidence so far that the coalition forces are welcome in the southern Iraqi capital, and even fears that they are regarded as invaders by locals.

Although no major population centre has yet been captured and secured by American and British forces, anecdotal evidence suggests that ordinary Iraqis have decidedly mixed views about the war, and regard the new arrivals with deep suspicion.

The view was confirmed at Safwan, scene of one of Saddam's most brutal purges in 1991, and the first settlement reached by British and American forces. Although some villagers clapped and cheered at the sight of the first coalition armour, others demanded to know why the troops had come. One asked: "Are you going to steal our oil?" [...]

The Americans and British are blamed for failing to overthrow Saddam after the Gulf War in 1991 and allowing him brutally to suppress uprisings by Shias and Kurds.

Kurds clap as coalition bombards enemy lines (Anthony Loyd, March 25, 2003, Times of London)
[T]he US-Kurdish relationship is strained by differences regarding Kirkuk. The Kurds see the oil-rich city, Iraq's fourth-largest, as a traditional Kurdish settlement and thus a primary war objective. Turkey fears that Kurdish control of such a vital economic asset would provoke separatist unrest among its own Kurdish population. The Americans want to assuage both parties for the short-term war effort.

Mullah Sheikh, a senior commander of the peshmerga guerrillas in Chamchamal, said: "We are being told that Kirkuk may not be an objective until after Baghdad is encircled. This is an American idea, not a Kurdish one."

Others were even more derogatory, despite yesterday's airstrikes. "The Americans are being slowed in the south for the same reasons they are delayed in the north," Saddiq Ahmad, 34, of the communist opposition in Chamchamal, said. "They have embraced no Iraqi opposition into their war, so the people of al-Nasiriyah see them only as a foreign army and will not rise up to help them, just as the people of Kirkuk see the Americans.

"We are hearing reports from the media that our peshmerga are to operate under US command, but so far few commanders on the ground are being told to co-operate."

You can't blame them. Time for Poppy to go on TV, apologize for betraying their respective uprisings twelve years ago, and urge them to believe is son is a far different man.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:28 PM


The Moral Idiocy of James Carroll (H.D. Miller, March 25, 2003, Travelling Shoes)

He Who is Sensibly Shod chastises the insufferable James Carroll for essentially declaring Saddam Hussein's Iraq morally equivalent to George W. Bush's Washington.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:17 PM


Bush Displays Tenacity and Obstinacy (Ronald Brownstein, March 24, 2003, LA Times)
Blair was just as focused as Bush on disarming Iraq but showed more genuine interest than Bush in building international cooperation to combat the threats of terrorism and weapons proliferation.

Bush, in his address, was dismissive of nations that resisted the war. "These governments share our assessment of the danger," he said, "but not our resolve to meet it."

Blair recognized that the conflict between the United States and Europe over Iraq draws on deeper currents: Europe's failure to understand how dramatically the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have "changed the psychology of America," and America's failure to recognize the fear in Europe and elsewhere that the U.S. now intends to flex its muscle without much regard for the views of others.

To heal the breach, Blair offered Bush good advice. The best way to reduce resentment of America's preponderant power, he suggested, is to channel that power into an international system of shared responsibilities and common priorities.

Confronting Iraq, Blair argued, should be part of "a larger global agenda," with new initiatives "on poverty and sustainable development, democracy and human rights" and an international effort to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace. In words that seemed to be aimed at Bush and French President Jacques Chirac, Blair offered the U.S. and Europe a guidepost for reconciliation: "Partners are not servants, but neither are they rivals."

McCain had some equally wise counsel for Bush on the home front. In a statement on the Senate floor, McCain made a point that should be obvious. With the federal budget already groaning under massive deficits and the nation facing unknown costs from the war-- plus the costs of helping rebuild Iraq while strengthening our defenses against terrorist attacks at home -- this is no time for the huge additional tax cuts Bush has proposed.

"No one," McCain said, "can be expected to make an informed decision on fiscal policy at this time ... with the near, mid- and long-term costs of defending this country unknown."

All evidence suggests Bush isn't listening much to Blair or McCain. The White House is still pressing Congress for a tax cut of at least $725 billion. And the administration is drawing plans to maximize American, rather than international, control over a post-Hussein Iraq.

Such obstinacy, amid persuasive criticism, is the flip side of Bush's commitment to defanging Iraq. The rapid progress of U.S. forces through the Iraqi desert seems almost a physical manifestation of Bush's determination to impose his will. But so do the suspicion of America abroad and the mounting deficits at home.

Mr. Brownstein just doesn't get it. Tony Blair was, of course, wrong. The international community--at least the Franco-German and Arab branches--was never serious about taking on Saddam, which is why there'd been twelve years of inaction. Nor is there any reason to believe that it is in Britain's best interest to get mired in the EU and it sure as heck isn't in Americva's interest to see Britain, our best ally, destroy itself that way.

Meanwhile, even after the tax cut the budget defecits are negligible in historic terms and should be considered separately from the question of the war. Mr. McCain pushes things like scrapping the tax cuts because journalists like Mr. Brownstein lap it up, not because it would be good for the economy, which could use a stimulative shot in the arm.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:17 PM


Somali leader 'seeks Iraq victory' (BBC, 3/25/03)
The president of Somalia's transitional government has condemned the United States-led attack on Iraq as naked aggression.

Abdulkassim Salat Hassan said he was praying for an Iraqi victory.

Somalia has denied repeated accusations that it is harbouring members of the al-Qaeda network.

Time to finish the Battle of the Black Sea. There are a bunch of Rangers who wanted to settle the score then.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:24 PM


U.S. allows broadcasts to continue Pentagon wants to use networks to keep eye on enemy leadership (Dave Moniz, 3/25/03, USA TODAY)
Six days into the war against Iraq, the United States has yet to knock Iraqi TV off the air.

Defense officials and military experts say the Pentagon made a calculated decision to keep Iraq's state-run network running so it could monitor broadcasts and follow the activities of Saddam Hussein and Iraq's political leadership.

U.S. officials also feared civilian casualties if they destroyed transmitting equipment, defense officials say.

On Monday, a Pentagon official said the United States would eventually take over Iraq's TV network once Saddam is removed from power to keep the Iraqi people informed of developments.

Another possible factor in the decision: The Bush administration wants as little damage to the country's infrastructure as possible because the United States will have to foot the bill for rebuilding Iraq.

Why take them out if we're going to have to them up again this weekend?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:13 PM


Syria Claims U.S. Missile Strike Deaths (Associated Press, Mar. 24, 2003)
A U.S. missile hit a passenger bus on the Iraqi side of the border as it carried Syrian civilians fleeing the war, killing five people and wounding 10, Syria's official news agency reported Monday.

The bus was transporting 37 passengers when it was struck by the air-to-surface missile Sunday near the border of the two countries, the agency reported. Syrian officials refused a request by The Associated Press to go to an area near the site Monday.

A U.S. Central Command spokeswoman had no information on the report. She said, however, that U.S. forces do not target civilians and that they fire very carefully, using precision-guided missiles against military targets.

The Syrian agency said the wounded were taken to a Syrian hospital near the border and the dead were sent to a hospital outside the Syrian capital, Damascus. Officials reported relatives had retrieved the bodies.

Reading between the lines of a couple different reports, it sounds like this was actually a bus full of volunteers who wanted to fight for Saddam, headed from Syria to Iraq, and we likely bombed them on purpose to send a message to the Syrians to stop it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:08 PM


First Stop, Iraq: How did the U.S. end up taking on Saddam? The inside story of how Iraq jumped to the top of Bush's agenda—and why the outcome there may foreshadow a different world order (Michael Elliott and James Carney, March 23, 2003, TIME)
"F___ Saddam. We're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room.

A year later, Bush's outburst has been translated into action, as cruise missiles and smart bombs slam into Baghdad. But the apparent simplicity of his message belies the gravity at hand. Sure, the outcome is certain: America will win the war, and Saddam will be taken out. But what is unfolding in Iraq is far bigger than regime change or even the elimination of dangerous weapons. The U.S. has launched a war unlike any it has fought in the past. This one is being waged not to defend against an enemy that has attacked the U.S. or its interests but to pre-empt the possibility that one day it might do so. The war has turned much of the world against America. Even in countries that have joined the "coalition of the willing," big majorities view it as the impetuous action of a superpower led by a bully. This divide threatens to emasculate a United Nations that failed to channel a diplomatic
settlement or brand the war as legitimate. The endgame will see the U.S. front and center, attempting to remake not merely Iraq but the entire region. The hope is that the Middle East, a cockpit of instability for decades, will eventually settle into habits of democracy, prosperity and peace. The risks are that Washington's rupture with some of its closest allies will deepen and that the war will become a cause for which a new generation of terrorists can be recruited.

F___ them too. Bring it on.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM


Democrats' Deja Vu: By welcoming antiwar and anti-Bush vitriol, the party is again losing its bearings (David Frum, March 24, 2003, LA Times)
Has there ever been a president who worked harder than Bush to conciliate and befriend his opponents? He appointed a Democrat, Norman Mineta, to his Cabinet, and put another Democrat, John DiIulio, in charge of his signature faith-based initiative. He signed a bill that affixed Robert Kennedy's name to the Justice Department building; renominated Clinton judges whose nominations had lapsed when President Clinton's term ended; compromised his education bill to accommodate Democratic ideas; and rarely, if ever, criticized any Democratic officeholder.

Yet all this symbolic and substantive bipartisanship has done Bush no good. Joe Lieberman, the would-be Mr. Nice Guy of American politics, said in December that Bush had made Washington "more partisan" than ever before. Bush, the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne reported in January, "has become a deeply polarizing figure, winning near-universal support within his own party while sowing deep resentment in the opposition."

"Resentment" isn't the half of it. In a Feb. 12 speech on the Senate floor, West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd damned Bush as "reckless and arrogant." In December, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry accused Bush of "making a conscious decision to ... dominate the discussion with Iraq" in order to divert attention from the nation's economic difficulties. Ted Kennedy -- whom Bush courted and lavishly praised in 2001 -- on March 4 accused Bush of rushing into an "unnecessary war."

As Kennedy's words suggest, leading Democrats are now stepping beyond criticism to lend aid and comfort to the antiwar movement in the United
States and Europe. By adopting the movement's rhetoric, they blur the distinction between the mainstream Democratic Party and the far left. It's important to understand that today's antiwar movement is a very different beast -- more ambitious and more sinister -- than the antiwar movement of the 1960s.

I attended the first of the big antiwar marches in London in October 2002 and was struck by the prevalence of radical Muslim groups and chants. All that was missing were the facsimile suicide-bomber belts.

Now, the antiwar movement is turning to more direct action. In Europe, Italian antiwar protesters have blocked train stations in an effort to halt the transport of military equipment; here in the United States, the protesters are tying up traffic and trying to shut down cities.

The Democratic Party nearly destroyed itself in the 1970s and '80s by inviting in the anti-Vietnam radicals of the '60s. In the '90s, moderate Democrats vowed never to repeat the previous generation's mistake: Bill Clinton chose Al Gore as his running mate in 1992 very largely because Gore was one of the few Democratic senators to have cast a vote in favor of the Gulf War resolution. Gore, in turn, selected Lieberman as his running mate on the strength of Lieberman's reputation as a foreign-policy hawk.

The Democrats' hatred of Bush, though, is leading them to forget this painfully earned wisdom and revert to the bad habits of the recent past.

This essay does a disservice to the Democrats, who are not just adopting this radical anti-war position because they hate George Bush, but because the party's sacred domestic programs are threatened by the maintenance of a serious military capability and the expenses of war and the party's core belief, in security, is incompatible with the fight for the freedom of others. The critics cited are correct: the war is, in fact, polarizing, reckless, arrogant, unnecessary, and the road to war has indeed been dominated by the President. It is a war of his choosing, waged on the basis of certain ideals--"[F]reedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity."--that the GOP believes in and the Left does not. We happen to be arrived at a moment in time--because of 9-11--when Americans
are willing to march under the banner of freedom, but such moments tend to be fleeting. In the long term, the Kerrys & Deans are likely on the right side politically, though hopefully that's the wrong side of history.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:07 PM


No 'Baghdad Bloodbath' (Ralph Peters, New York Post, 3/25/2003)
Once our forces are ringing Baghdad ... the world is going to witness the first post-modern siege....

Once the last die-hard Saddamites are corralled in Baghdad (and, perhaps, in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, a city that just brings out the nuclear side of my character), we're going to work 'em like history's biggest cat batting around a blind, three-legged mouse.

Allied special operations forces - already in Baghdad - will be prowling the hallways and alleys, taking direct action against the regime's remaining supporters, collecting information for precision strikes and working with the growing Iraqi resistance.

As David Warren noted, the Iraqi resistance will have saved many allied lives.

MORE: Uprising in Basra(BBC Reporters' Weblog, 3/25/2003)
There is a popular uprising in the city of Basra.

People are rising up against the ruling Ba'ath regime, we are being told by military intelligence officers there that they have had enough.

Iraqi soldiers in the city are actually firing mortar rounds on their own people.

God bless the Iraqi people.

MORE: Don Rumsfeld says that the main fighting is between Saddam's Fedayeen secret police, wearing civilian clothes, trying to kill Iraqi soldiers who want to surrender.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 PM


WINNING BIG (RALPH PETERS, March 24, 2003, NY Post)
[W]e've taken casualties and American soldiers have been captured - doesn't that mean we're in trouble? No. I wish it were otherwise, but, in any war - especially one of this magnitude - soldiers die, suffer wounds, or fall into enemy hands. We cherish every servicemember and mourn every loss. But, to be frank, our losses thus far are remarkably low, given the scale of our enterprise.

We may lose considerably higher numbers of casualties before this war is over. But I can promise you that our military commanders are relieved by the low level of our losses to date.

Are the Iraqis really trying to lure us deep into their country so they can spring a trap on our forces? The Iraqis have no choice in the matter. Our troops go where they want to go.

Yes, the Iraqis are probably planning a large military confrontation, an operational-level ambush, close to Baghdad - while forces remaining in our rear area attack our supply lines. They may even have left some of the bridges across the Euphrates standing on purpose.

If so, it was a grave error. If those Republican Guards divisions confront our forces, they simply will not survive. Even if their plan includes the use of chemical weapons.

Thus far, our troops have performed magnificently, seizing an ever-growing list of airfields, bridges, roads, oil fields and other critical infrastructure, enabling us to maneuver swiftly and freely, while preserving the backbone of Iraq's economy for its people. And we prevented an ecological catastrophe, although those on the left will never credit us for doing so.

Even if the Iraqis have some ambitious master plan they still believe they can spring on us, they never expected to lose so much of their country so quickly. They are reeling; any plan could only be executed piecemeal, at this point.

After less than four days of ground operations, the Iraqis have lost control over half their country, they have lost control over most of their military, and allied forces are closing in on Baghdad.

But what about the "Battle of Baghdad"? Will it be a bloodbath? Haven't the Iraqis already lured us into urban warfare in the south? No. The Iraqis haven't lured us into anything. We have consistently imposed our plan and our will upon the enemy. While there have been some incidences of urban combat to date, with friendly casualties, our forces are far better prepared for such encounters than are the Iraqis. The Marine Corps, especially, has been training intensively in urban environments.

We are not going to be lured into a "Stalingrad" in Baghdad. Ignore the prophets of doom, who have been wrong consistently. As this column has steadily maintained, we have time, but Saddam doesn't. If we have to sit in a ring around Baghdad for several weeks while the last resistance is dismantled in innovative ways, then that's what we'll do.

Grave dangers lie ahead. Only a fool would underestimate them. But this war is not being run against a clock. The counsel that we must all be patient and let our troops do their jobs remains the best a former soldier can offer.

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

One notion that seems especially odd is that those forces most loyal to Saddam, those Republican Guards and Special Republican Guards, are the best fighting forces in Iraq and will represent heightened danger. Is Saddamism really an indicator of worth?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:43 PM


Morocco offers US monkeys to detonate mine (UPI, 3/24/2003)
The weekly al-Usbu' al-Siyassi reported that Morocco offered the U.S. forces a large number of monkeys, some from Morocco's Atlas Mountains and others imported, to use for detonating land mines planted by the Iraqis.

Doesn't sound like the kind of offer we'd accept, but, hey, we appreciate the thought.


Sea Lions, Porpoises Deployed to Protect US Military (ABC News, 1/30/2003)

K-Dog the Minehunter (This is London, 3/25/2003)
With a camera strapped to his fin, the bottle-nose dolphin is one of about 100 dolphins and sea lions helping to clear shipping lanes in the Gulf to ensure a safe passage for vessels.

Seems to me there's a movie script in here somewhere.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM


Under-pirate division (Jayson Stark, ESPN)
Meanwhile in Bradenton, the Pirates also have played a couple of exhibitions against college teams this spring. In one of them, they were held to four hits and one run in a four-inning stint by Duquesne walk-on freshman Bob Hartle -- a guy who had actually been cut from the team last fall.

Hartle, whose fastball peaked at 75 mph, told the Beaver County Times' John Perrotto: "I'd like to tell you I fooled them, but I don't think they were really used to my speed."

Well, after that spectacle, pitcher Salomon Torres was determined that he wasn't going to get embarrassed in a charity game against Manatee Community College. So he used his whole repertoire in two shutout innings.

"Guys were getting on me for throwing those college kids too many curveballs," Torres said. "Hey, I'm trying to make the club. I'd throw curveballs for my little 18-month-old daughter if she stepped into the batter's box:"

Roger Angell tells the story of visiting Bob Gibson and watching him thrash his young daughter in checkers. Mr. Angell asked him if he always won. Mr. Gibson said yes. Mr. Angell asked why not let her win one. "She'll win when she can beat me."
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:11 AM


Shields & lances (David Warren, 3/25/2003)
The larger question of human shields is still under debate. My own view is the one I think will prevail: that allied armies should more-or-less ignore such people, in the selection of targets. For the use of such cover is itself among the illicit weapons of the terror regimes, who will abandon the weapon only when it ceases to work. Those who agree to be used as shields, can hold themselves to account for their fates; those who had no choice are tragically unlucky.

Life is unfair, as my mother so often said. The innocent suffer for the sins of the guilty. We cannot allow the taking of hostages to render the guilty immune from punishment. This is tragic for the hostages, but it must be so.
[A]s we shall soon learn, many of the most accomplished of Saddam's defenders behind the lines are, indeed, members of Al Qaeda, Hamas, and other terrorist groups who have received training in Iraq. We are unlikely to hear much about this, or about the capture of biological and chemical weapons sites, until the war is over (despite several interesting independent reports). This is because the allies are still benefiting from Saddam's hesitation to use weapons that may immediately cost him the support of his few remaining foreign friends.

The left has been a real asset to us. They have given Saddam hope that we may abandon the war; and so he has curled up in Baghdad and defends like a porcupine. This has allowed us to capture much of the country, obviate many dangers, and greatly weaken his regime. The period of greatest danger now approaches. As we begin to prod the porcupine, the Iraqis may conclude that we will fight to the end and so too must they. One Palestinian terrorist was killed when Saddam's leadership bunker was hit on the first night of the war; there are surely many more, and they may have carried some of Iraq's worst weapons to Israel.
[T]he general population ... has greeted invading forces with wary enthusiasm wherever they have appeared, and open enthusiasm wherever they have clearly prevailed. I have now seen several accounts of Iraqi civilians, voluntarily risking their lives to help allied soldiers locate Saddamite gunmen in concealed positions. The Iraqis themselves are, alas thanks to media attitudes in the West, America's most unsung allies.

It is the brave cooperation of Iraqis behind enemy lines that may enable this war to be won without great bloodshed. The CIA has clearly made connections -- most impressively, the bodyguard who gave us Saddam's sleeping quarters on the first night of the war. Let us hope they have many more.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 AM


Best moment from today's Centcomm briefing: someone asked if the GPS jammers were causing us problems. The briefer could barely contain his amusemt as he responded that we'd actually used a GPS weapon to destroy one of the jammers, than ended with" Ironic, eh?"

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:04 AM


Republican Guard Scatters, Moving Into Civilian Areas (Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2003)
Pentagon planners once dreamed Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard might lay down arms rather than fight superior U.S. forces. But now two divisions of his army's elite -- roughly 20,000 Iraqi troops -- await the Americans on the approaches to Baghdad from the south.

To make the confrontation more complicated, those troops are dispersing. The U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq pledging to spare its citizenry of hardship and death as much as possible -- a pledge the Republican Guard is taking to heart.

"They're not in their final fighting position," one senior U.S. military official in the region says. "They're either mixed into civilian areas or they're dispersed to areas where there's religious shrines or antiquities or things like that."...

Amatzia Baram, a professor and former Israeli army battalion commander who has studied Iraq's military for years, says the Guard will take advantage of U.S. pledges to limit civilian deaths and is prepared to fight a war in populated areas. "Their tanks are not as good as American tanks but they'll hide their tanks behind houses," he predicts. "The soldiers will be inside houses. They know this is America's weak point." He added U.S. forces should expect them to use chemical weapons....

The Special Republican Guards and the Special Security Service are based in the capital of Baghdad itself.... Analysts say Special Republican Guard troops have the closest ties to Saddam Hussein, and the best pay and perks. Gen. Kamal Mustafa, believed to be the head of the Special Republican Guard, is related by marriage to Mr. Hussein. These troops are living with their families in Baghdad, which may give them more of an incentive to defend it.

One defect of visibly promising to avoid civilian casualties is that it tempts the enemy to use human shields and makes civilian casualties more likely. We should absolutely strive to minimize civilian casualties, but we should avoid advertising this commitment. Best, in most negotiations, to leave the other side in uncertainty.

Saddam is working hard to assure that we cannot win the war without taking many civilian lives. He hopes we will decide that victory is not worth it. His hope is vain.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:27 AM


Cherry's rant not a hit in Canada (The Sporting News, March 24, 2003)
Don Cherry's pro-American rant on the war in Iraq wasn't a hit with Hockey Night In Canada viewers nor apparently with the CBC itself.

"The CBC does not feel Hockey Night In Canada is the appropriate place for discussion on the war in Iraq," CBC spokeswoman Ruth-Ellen Soles said Monday. [...]

It started with Cherry commenting on Montreal Canadiens fans booing the American national anthem last Thursday before a game against the New York Islanders.

Cherry, wearing a tie emblazoned with U.S. colors, apologized on behalf of Canadians, saying that "years of pride went down the drain" with Habs fans' behavior.

Cherry also went at it with MacLean over the war in Iraq, chiding the Canadian government for its "lack of support to our American friends."

"I hate to see them go it alone. We have a country that comes to our rescue, and we're just riding their coattails," Cherry said.

MacLean stood firm that it was Canada's right not to go.

"Why attack Iraq if they haven't attacked you?" MacLean said.

Other than overstating "years of pride", what's the big deal? What's more important, the war, and Canada's cravenness, or a hockey game?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


Democracies and double standards (Bret Stephens, Mar. 20, 2003, Jerusalem Post)
"You are one of us. We expect from Israel more than we expect from Cambodia or Colombia."

So said Giancarlo Chevellard, the European Union's ambassador to Israel, in answer to a question I asked him last May with respect to the EU's failure to insist on the end of Syria's occupation of Lebanon. It was a telling remark, an honest one, and one that gets to the heart of much of what currently informs "world opinion" - meaning that segment of the public who think, with greater or lesser sophistication, that the world has more to fear from George Bush than it does from Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.

"This crowd has the fear part down cold," writes New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd of the Bush administration's effect on the world. In a "news analysis," her colleague David Sanger observed that "Mr. Bush's speech [on Monday] almost certainly confirmed some of the world's worst fears about George Bush's America: that when the United Nations will not bend to its will, when the allies will not go along, Mr. Bush will simply break away and pull the trigger." And then there was syndicated cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Ted Rall: "By launching an illegal, unsanctioned invasion of a sovereign nation," he wrote, "the US has abandoned its moral standing. We are, by definition, a rogue state."

SO HERE'S the US, about to end a regime that puts dissidents feet-first through plastic shredders and uses their corpses for fish food, and it stands accused of abandoning its moral standing. A while back, when the US was air-dropping food and medical supplies into Afghanistan, Britain's Guardian saw fit to ponder the questions: "Who asked Mr. Bush to 'save civilization'? Which bits of the planet does Mr. Bush term uncivilized? Some would say Afghanistan; others might nominate west Texas."

No doubt, if the US succeeds in installing a progressive regime in Baghdad, Bush will be accused in some quarters of installing an American puppet.

"Pardon the sardonic giggle," writes Nicholas von Hoffman in the New York Observer, "it arises from the thought that George W. Bush, the unelected president, is going to teach democracy to the Iraqis." Presumably, if Bush were to go to Baghdad personally to hand out Oreo cookies to Iraqi orphans, he'd be seen as a shill for Nabisco.

It's entirely appropriate to hold superior societies to a higher standard, so long as that means that we are not only forbidden the basest behaviors but expected to act out of the highest ideals. For precisely the same reasons that we must wage war as morally as possible, we must, to be moral, wage some wars, must even invade and civilize some places. We shpuld expect more of ourselves, but that requires not just that we don't do some things but that we do others.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:29 AM


Meanwhile, a Cold War Festers (Frederick Kempe, Wall Street Journal Europe, 3/24/2003)
I'd done it a dozen times before, rushing at the last minute to catch the high-speed train from Paris to Brussels, then paying on board. I knew the routine: I bowed before the French conductor, mumbled something about bad traffic, and appealed to his ultimate authority.

This time, however, the conductor wouldn't let me pass. An American woman behind me showed even more agitation that I did at being turned away. She wanted the man's name so that she could lodge a complaint with his superiors.

"George Bush," he spat. He turned his back on her and climbed aboard the departing train.

A few days earlier, I had a similarly unsettling experience on a German TV talk show. The Social Democratic president of the German parliament, Wolfgang Thierse, refused to let me interrupt his practiced rhetoric against U.S. policy in Iraq with a question. He called me a "fanatic" for trying to do so. The studio audience egged him on, applauding each successive attack on Washington more enthusiastically....

I sense among many Europeans a desire to see America fail and even smug self-satisfaction at some of the weekend's bloody setbacks. It's telling that perhaps the most popular American in Germany is Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker whose Bush-bashing is always a runaway best seller. My German schoolteacher-friend Gerhard Stockheim now greets me with the title of Mr. Moore's latest book: "Hello, you stupid white man."...

A senior German diplomat says only Americans dare talk and think about such far-fetched Utopian notions as remaking the Middle East. Perhaps that is the smartest of America's smart bombs -- the continuing American belief in their country's ability to create a better world. Yet he also worries about a mean streak in this administration that will make it look for ways to punish those that have opposed it rather than new ways to win them over.

I argued in the Berman thread below that the French-German view is neo-Hobbesian. They see a state of nature as prone to irreconcilable conflict that makes life nasty, brutish, and short; with Hobbes they see the best outcome as mutual submission to a unitary authority (the 'social contract'); failing that, the important thing is to avoid violence by agreeing to a least-common-denominator solution I'll call the 'social truce.'

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM

THE AGONY OF PAUL BERMAN (via Kevin Whited and Evelynne):

Bush is an idiot, but he was right about Saddam: Paul Berman, one of the most provocative thinkers on the left, has a message for the antiwar movement: Stop marching and start fighting to spread liberal values in the Middle East. (Suzy Hansen, March 22, 2003, Salon)
On Sept. 11, Paul Berman, political and cultural critic and author of "A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968" watched from his roof as the World Trade Center towers collapsed. That day, Berman says, he "woke up" to the threat of what he calls Islamic totalitarianism. Berman lives in Brooklyn, just around the corner from the Al Farooq mosque on Atlantic Avenue where a Yemeni cleric was recently convicted of funneling $20 million to Osama bin Laden.

During the last year and a half he has picked his way through the Islamic bookstores in his neighborhood, hunting down volumes by Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian intellectual whose "In the Shade of the Qur'an" is the groundwork for Islamic fundamentalism. Berman finds Qutb's analysis of the "hideous schizophrenia" of modern society "rich, nuanced, deep, soulful, and heartfelt." Qutb's work also convinced Berman that in Islamism we face a threat
not unlike such 20th century totalitarian movements as fascism and communism. Berman feels similarly about Baathism, the nationalist ideology of Iraq's ruling party.

In fact, Berman believes that Islamism and Baathism emerged from the same great rift in liberal society, the First World War. "Terror and Liberalism," Berman's bracing new book, suggests that just as liberal-minded Europeans and Americans doubted the threats of Hitler and Stalin, enlightened Westerners today are in danger of missing the urgency of the violent ideologies coming out of the Muslim world.

The argument put forward by Berman, who is one of the most elegant and provocative thinkers to emerge from America's New Left, will both infuriate and engage those on all sides of the political spectrum. In a recent interview with Salon, Berman insisted that while he does not support the Bush administration -- actually, he detests how President Bush has handled the case for war and warns "we will pay for it" -- he thinks it was also
dangerous for the antiwar movement to ignore the threat that was posed by a ruthless Iraqi regime that killed a million people and threatened the stability of the world. [...]

[Q:] It seems that you are more critical of what Bush says -- how he presents the war on Iraq -- than what he's actually doing.

[A:] Well, I thought I was criticizing what he's doing.

[Q:] You do think there are reasons for going to war, though.

[A:] Yes.

[Q:] So you think the way he's presenting this war to the world is really where he's gone wrong.

[A:] Yes, it has been wretched. He's presented his arguments for going to war partly mendaciously, which has been a disaster. He's certainly presented them in a confused way, so that people can't understand his reasoning. He's aroused a lot of suspicion. Even when he's made good arguments, he's made them in ways that are very difficult to understand and have completely failed to get through to the general public. All in all, his inarticulateness
has become something of a national security threat for the United States.

In my interpretation, the basic thing that the United States wants to do -- overthrow Saddam and get rid of his weapons -- is sharply in the interest of almost everybody all over the world. And although the U.S. is proposing to act in the interest of the world, Bush has managed to terrify the entire world and to turn the world against him and us and to make our situation infinitely more dangerous than it otherwise would have been. It's a display of diplomatic and political incompetence on a colossal scale. We're going to pay for this.

[Q:] Then what is it that the public doesn't understand? What hasn't he been able to get across?

[A:] One thing he hasn't gotten across is that there is a positive liberal democratic goal and a humanitarian goal here. Iraq is suffering under one of the most grotesque fascist tyrannies there's ever been. Hundreds of thousands, maybe a million people, have been killed by this horrible regime. The weapons programs are not a fiction. There's every reason to think that Saddam, who's used these weapons in the past, would be happy to use them in the future. The suffering of the Iraqi people is intense. The United States is in the position to bring that suffering to an end. Their liberation, the creating of at least the rudiments of a liberal democratic society there, are in the interests of the Iraqi people and are deeply in the interests of liberal society everywhere. There are reasons to go in which are those of not just self-interest or self-defense, but of solidarity of humanitarianism, of a belief in liberal ideals. And Bush has gotten this across not at all.

[Q:] Do you believe Bush has such motives?

[A:] It's not right to utterly dismiss these motives. A lot of people look at Bush and sneer a little too easily and think that these motives cannot possibly have anything to do with him or his policies. This is a mistake too.

In Afghanistan, everybody sneers at the achievements of the United States and its allies because we see the warlords in the provinces, we see the extreme suffering, we see all the things that haven't been done. But what has been done has really been quite magnificent. A hideous tyranny was overthrown, a new government was established in more or less the way that any liberal democrat would advise: Afghans were consulted from around
the country, more or less democratic councils led to the forming of a new government with a new leader for Afghanistan who is not a warlord or a corrupt figure or a friendly religious fanatic but who is in fact a man of modern liberal democratic ideals.

Bush announced that the war in Afghanistan was going to be fought on behalf of women's rights. Everybody deeply laughed at that and for reasons I can understand because in the United States Bush has not been a promoter of women's rights. Still, the result of the war was in fact that women's rights in Afghanistan have made a forward leap larger than anywhere in the world in history. From a certain point of view this has been the first feminist war in all of history.

He's unable to do that partly because the man is fatally inarticulate and he's also unable to do that, I'm sure, because he's confused ideologically about whether he's really in favor of the do-good aspect of his program or indifferent to it. [...]

[Q:] I want to be clear on something. Do you support this military invasion?

[A:] I can certainly imagine how the whole thing can be done better. Bush is probably the most inept president we've ever had in regard to maintaining foreign alliances and presenting the American case and convincing the world. He's failed in every possible way. The defeat and overthrow of Saddam Hussein is in the interest of nearly the entire world and although it is in the interest of nearly the entire world, nearly the entire world is against Bush. That situation is the consequence of Bush's ineptness.

At the same time, I think that getting rid of Saddam is in our interest and in the interest of Iraq and in the interest of the Arab world. Saddam is a mad tyrant.

So I wish Bush had gone about it differently. But now that the thing is getting under way, I fervently hope it goes well. And I think that the attitude of everyone with the best of motives who have opposed the war, should now shift dramatically. The people who have demanded that Bush refrain from action should now demand that the action be more thorough. The danger now is that we will go in and go out too quickly and leave the job half-done. The position of the antiwar movement and of liberals should be that the United States fulfill entirely its obligations to replace Saddam with a decent or even admirable system. We've done this in Afghanistan but only in most halfhearted way. We should now do more in Afghanistan and do a lot in Iraq. The people who've opposed the war should now demand that Bush do more.

Kevin Whited pointed this one out to us--the third in a trio of pieces where Paul Berman allies himself to
George W. Bush ideologically but declares the President unfit intellectually to lead the argument. Here, on the other hand, is part of Mr. Bush's speech at AEI:
The first to benefit from a free Iraq would be the Iraqi people, themselves. Today they live in scarcity and fear, under a dictator who has brought them nothing but war, and misery, and torture. Their lives and their freedom matter little to Saddam Hussein — but Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us.

Bringing stability and unity to a free Iraq will not be easy. Yet that is no excuse to leave the Iraqi regime's torture chambers and poison labs in operation. Any future the Iraqi people choose for themselves will be better than the nightmare world that Saddam Hussein has chosen for them.

If we must use force, the United States and our coalition stand ready to help the citizens of a liberated Iraq. We will deliver medicine to the sick, and we are now moving into place nearly 3 million emergency rations to feed the hungry.

We'll make sure that Iraq's 55,000 food distribution sites, operating under the Oil For Food program, are stocked and open as soon as possible. The United States and Great Britain are providing tens of millions of dollars to the U.N. High Commission on Refugees, and to such groups as the World Food Program and UNICEF, to provide emergency aid to the Iraqi people.

We will also lead in carrying out the urgent and dangerous work of destroying chemical and biological weapons. We will provide security against those who try to spread chaos, or settle scores, or threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq. We will seek to protect Iraq's natural resources from sabotage by a dying regime, and ensure those resources are used for the benefit of the owners — the Iraqi people.

The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet, we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government, and all citizens must have their rights protected.

Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own: we will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more. America has made and kept this kind of commitment before — in the peace that followed a world war. After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies, we left constitutions and parliaments. We established an atmosphere of safety, in which responsible, reform-minded local leaders could build lasting institutions of freedom. In societies that once bred fascism and militarism, liberty found a permanent home.

There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken. The nation of Iraq — with its proud heritage, abundant resources and skilled and educated people — is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom.

The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East. Arab intellectuals have called on Arab governments to address the "freedom gap" so their peoples can fully share in the progress of our times. Leaders in the region speak of a new
Arab charter that champions internal reform, greater politics participation, economic openness, and free trade. And from Morocco to Bahrain and beyond, nations are taking genuine steps toward politics reform. A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.

It is presumptuous and insulting to suggest that a whole region of the world — or the one-fifth of humanity that is Muslim — is somehow untouched by the most basic aspirations of life. Human cultures can be vastly different. Yet the human heart desires the same good things, everywhere on Earth. In our desire to be safe from brutal and bullying oppression, human beings are the same. In our desire to care for our children and give them a better life, we are the same. For these fundamental reasons, freedom and democracy will always and everywhere have greater appeal than the slogans of hatred and the tactics of terror. [...]

I've listened carefully, as people and leaders around the world have made known their desire for peace. All of us want peace. The threat to peace does not come from those who seek to enforce the just demands of the civilized world; the threat to peace comes from those who flout those demands. If we have to act, we will act to restrain the violent, and defend the cause of peace. And by acting, we will signal to outlaw regimes that in this new century, the boundaries of civilized behavior will be respected.

Protecting those boundaries carries a cost. If war is forced upon us by Iraq's refusal to disarm, we will meet an enemy who hides his military forces behind civilians, who has terrible weapons, who is capable of any crime. The dangers are real, as our soldiers, and sailors, airmen, and Marines fully understand. Yet, no military has ever been better prepared to meet these challenges.

Members of our Armed Forces also understand why they may be called to fight. They know that retreat before a dictator guarantees even greater sacrifices in the future. They know that America's cause is right and just: liberty for an oppressed people, and security for the American people. And I know something about these men and women who wear our uniform: they will complete every mission they are given with skill, and honor, and courage.

Much is asked of America in this year 2003. The work ahead is demanding. It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. It will be difficult to cultivate liberty and peace in the Middle East, after so many generations of strife. Yet, the security of our nation and the hope of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time.

We go forward with confidence, because we trust in the power of human freedom to change lives and nations. By the resolve and purpose of America, and of our friends and allies, we will make this an age of progress and liberty. Free people will set the course of history, and free people will keep the peace of the world.

One wonders how many more times Mr. Bush would have to explain the point of the war on terror so eloquently and how much more he'd have to achieve how much faster than the liberalization of Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq, which have all begun in just the eighteen months since 9-11, to demonstrate his seriousness to Mr. Berman. Far be it from us--skeptical about Freud as we are--to psychoanalyze someone and I've no idea what Mr. Berman's life story is, but he certainly seems to be a classic case of someone caught in the grip of the love that dare not speak its name--that's right; a reflexively liberal youngster who finds to his own horror that as a grown-up he's tending conservative. [Here, for example, is his positive but resistant review of Philip Roth's American Pastoral, in which Mr. Roth himself implicitly joined the VRWC.] Well, not to worry, many have faced the same realization and come through okay. One day we'll all look back on these incoherent fulminations against the President and laugh at the lingering immaturity they demonstrated. In the meantime, someone please teach Mr. Berman the secret handshake and give him his Fox News coffee mug.

David Horwitz seems to have issues with Mr. Berman.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:51 AM


Al-Jazeera has a new English-language news service. They don't seem to have invested much money in Web hosting, though. I haven't been able to get through.

HERE'S WHY: Al-Jazeera Site Experiences Hack Attack (Washington Post, 3/25/2003)

March 24, 2003

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:40 PM


US: Iraq Set To Use Chemical Weapons (CBS News, 3/24/2003)

U.S officials tell CBS News Correspondent David Martin that the Iraqis have drawn a red line on the map around Baghdad, and once American troops cross it, the Republican Guards are authorized to use chemical weapons.

ALSO: Search For Chemical Weapons (CBS News, 3/24/2003)
Forces entered battle expecting to face chemical or biological weapons but so far have seen none. But, as American troops approach Baghdad, there's speculation that Saddam Hussein may be preparing to finally use chemical weapons.

CBS News Correspondent Phil Ittner reports that Army doctors who treated some Iraqi prisoners of war, believed to be some high-ranking Iraqi officials, found Cipro pills among the Iraqis’ personal possessions.

Cipro is meant to ward off the effects of a biological attack from several toxic agents, foremost among them, anthrax.

Sandstorms and the need to bombard the Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad may delay the main battle until the weekend, but soon coalition forces will approach and surround the city. At that point the Iraqis may unleash their biological and chemical weapons. May God protect and preserve our troops.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 PM


Resolves: What Lincoln Knew About War (Paul Berman, 02.21.03, The New Republic)
Today, we are living through not just a military crisis but something of a political crisis within the larger liberal democratic world, trans-Atlantically. Robert Kagan has written a subtle and brilliant book on this theme called Of Paradise and Power, and I don't want to try to characterize his whole complicated argument here. I wish only to point to Kagan's view that, in the United States, people tend to suppose that we inhabit a "Hobbesian" world filled with nasty and brutish types who need to be stoutly clubbed from time to time, whereas, in Western Europe, people tend to picture themselves inhabiting a "Kantian" world, in which lions and lambs lay down in perpetual peace according to international law or can be lured into doing so.

This idea seems to me almost entirely wrong. The modern European idea does not seem to me Kantian. It seems to me Tocquevillean. It is a liberal democratic idea of a sort that cannot conceive of wielding power. It assumes that liberal democracy can only follow the path of a Sweden or a Switzerland or a Florentine Republic--the liberal democracy of virtuous and admirable countries that cannot possibly defend themselves, except by being inoffensive. In the European idea, power is imperial or nothing--the power of brutal empires, such as the Europeans themselves used to administer. Kagan writes that Europe has chosen to emphasize a nonviolent approach to world events today because the Europeans do not enjoy an option of doing otherwise. But the opposite is true. The Europeans (as Kagan acknowledges in a somewhat contradictory remark), with their 400 million people and their $9 trillion economy, could make themselves extremely powerful. They do not choose to do so. It is because they wish to be liberal democrats. And liberal democracy, in their concept, is a compromise, a mediocrity. It is, by definition, a negotiation--a good thing, but, as Tocqueville took pains to show, not entirely a good thing. And, because the Europeans cannot conceive or accept the notion of liberal democracy as a revolutionary project for universal liberation, they cannot imagine how to be liberal democrats and wield power at the same time. They simply cannot imagine how an exercise of force might bring about political revolutions in remote corners of the world--cannot imagine this, even though the experience of their largest country, Germany, offers a superb and vivid example.

In the United States, on the other hand, a great many people--not everyone, but many--naturally assume that every country, all over the world, will eventually embrace liberal democracy. In American eyes, the revolutions of 1989 were, at bottom, not at all surprising--they were the kind of revolutions that Americans have spent 200 years impatiently expecting to see. And, if the Eastern European revolutions of 1989 have not yet spread to still further regions of the world--if liberal democracy has not yet swept the Arab world and sundry zones within the larger Muslim world--why, that is only a matter of time, and we Americans ought meanwhile to show a little solidarity and do what we can to help, as we have done so effectively on behalf of the benighted Europe of yore. This view of world affairs is not Hobbesian. But neither is it Tocquevillean. It is Lincolnian.

In one respect Kagan seems to me on the mark. His idea about Hobbesian Americans and Kantian Europeans does express the way in which two specific groups of people see the Atlantic divide. The first of those groups includes a great many Europeans who picture the United States as Hobbesian precisely because, like Tocqueville, they cannot imagine how a liberal democracy could wield power; and, since the United States does wield power, its behavior must owe to a nasty brutishness that is not at all liberal and democratic. (And, to be sure, sometimes they are right.) The second group of people who share Kagan's perspective are the American partisans of foreign policy "realism," whose own doctrinal principles insist on a variation of the old Symbolist slogan about "art for art's sake," except this time in a political version: power for power's sake. These people know perfectly well that liberal democratic motives have driven U.S. foreign policies in moments of the past and that liberal democratic motives still drive portions of U.S. policy; but they cannot really integrate these two insights--their belief in power for power's sake with their observation about the idealist impulses of some of their fellow citizens. And so, the realists bow piously toward the liberal democratic idea; and then, once the services have concluded, they go on prattling about power for power's sake.

And here we stumble on a peculiar tragedy of our present moment. The United States has come under military attack, requiring military responses. But, as in the Civil War, the revolutionary responses of liberal democratic ideals are likewise required, and not in a small degree. For the ultimate goal of our present war--the only possible goal--must be to persuade tens of millions of people around the world to give up their paranoid and apocalyptic doctrines about American conspiracies and crimes, to give up those ideas in favor of a lucid and tolerant willingness to accept the modern world with its complexities and advantages. The only war aim that will actually bring us safety is, in short, the spread of liberal outlooks to places that refuse any such views today. That is not a small goal, nor a goal to be achieved in two weeks, nor something to be won through mere military feats, though military feats cannot be avoided.

In each of the greatest crises of its past, the United States has known how to summon its most radical ideals and to express them in ever deeper versions to ourselves and to our enemies--as Lincoln did; as Woodrow Wilson did; as Franklin Roosevelt did two times over, first against the fascists and then, at the end of his life, in sketching a few preliminary notions for the impending cold war. But, on these themes, our present White House has turned out to be incoherent.

Here's Mr. Berman again, echoing George W. Bush's argument but insisting that Mr. Bush is unfit to make it. This seems a weird theme that's developing as the better Left realizes it shares some common causes with conservatives but resists accepting Mr. Bush's leadership. We'd just reiterate that the radical American ideal is nowhere being expressed better today than it is by the President, State of the Union (George W. Bush, 1/28/03):
Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.

We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know -- we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 PM


An American Craftsman: Everything Sam Maloof touches - every chair, every table, every cabinet, every rafter, every molding, every window, every door, every latch - reveals his genius (Walt Harrington, March 2003, This Old House)
Sam Maloof made a world. In a citrus grove now surrounded by malls and houses, in a wood shop where he hand-built furniture that is now revered as art, in the home he crafted one room at a time as he could afford the lumber and where he has lived the last half century, almost every minute of every day, with the wonder of his life - his wife, Alfreda - Sam Maloof made a world. He nurtured his lemons and oranges and figs, planted walnut and sycamore trees that started as cuttings the size of his thumb and eventually grew to engulf the grounds. He tore down a chicken coop and built a shop that always smells of sweet, fresh wood. He tore down a shack and built a house that, like a piece of modern sculpture, has no front or back. In the kitchen, he laid bricks without mortar so that each step makes the music of wind chimes. Then he moved on to the living room, Freda's study, the skylit tower, the guest room with a loft, the balcony overlooking the grove. The house ultimately came to 7,000 square feet - 26 rooms that unfold like a pyramid's secret chambers adorned with handmade redwood doors, windows and jalousies, two dozen wooden door latches that resemble flying fish or bones or tusks, jagged-edged walnut dogboards nailed to the wall like abstract art, Douglas fir rafters with mortise-and-tenon joints at their peaks, window frames joined with dovetails, even toilet seats handmade from English oak and black walnut. Outside the grove, cars and trucks groan and spew and honk in stagnant air while, inside the grove, birds are always singing and a breeze is always rustling the trees. The question everyone wants answered is: Would Sam Maloof's craftsman genius have blossomed if he had not first created this world in which to live and work? In other words, did his genius create this place, or did this place create his genius?

"Oh, I don't know," Sam says. "What do you think, Freda?" Sam and Freda are puttering around their house in Alta Loma, California, at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. She is tidying the kitchen. He is giving a tour of the house and the 100 handmade chairs and tables, desks and settees, coffee tables, beds and dressers that decorate it, of the woodshop, of the 6 acres of lemons, peaches, pears, apricots, figs and avocados that sit like an island in a sprawling suburban sea. But this island, like Atlantis, is about to disappear forever, to be buried not underwater but under concrete, a new section of the nearby Foothill Freeway. Because Sam's house and workshop are on the National Register of Historic Places, they will be moved to a scraggly citrus grove a few miles away and turned into a working museum. Sam will design and help build a new house on the new grounds for himself and Freda.

"It's sort of scary sometimes," Sam says of his success and fame, which have seemed almost to overtake him in recent years. His furniture is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery, the White House and the homes of former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. A dining room set he sold for $3,000 about 25 years ago resold recently for $150,000. One of his new high-backed rockers today sells for $18,000. "Sam's furniture embodies intangible qualities that transcend the sensory delights of sight and touch," Jonathan Fairbanks, curator of American decorative arts and sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, has written. Sam is hailed today not as a furniture maker but as an artist. Yet for all his success, Sam, at 82, is too militantly modest to take credit. And Freda, at 86, is too down-to-earth to think Sam - or anyone, for that matter - can deserve the world-renowned stature he has achieved.

"God's been very good to us," Freda says. "I'd say I was lucky," Sam says, "but I worked doggone hard." [...]

People have described him as an artist, but he prefers to be known simply as a woodworker. "It's an honest word," he says. "And that's what I am: a woodworker."

Doing what Sam loved - creating about 50 pieces of furniture a year for 50 years - has made him one of the most respected craftsmen in the country. His chairs have the curving grace of a parabola, the embracing comfort of loving arms and the tactile sensuality of supple skin. They look and feel like living creatures, not pieces of wood connected by dowel and glue and joint, but single, seamless waves of wood. Sam once watched as the blind bluesman Ray Charles caressed a piece of his furniture and announced that it had "soul." Sam likes that story because soul is a place beyond words, where hand, head and humanity blur. "You can't have soul without sincerity," he says.

How many of the things in your house have soul or were made with sincerity?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:18 PM


Stories, yarns, legends ... these are the stuff of community identity. (Mark Randell, 25/2/03, Online Opinion)
"Man is a seeker of the Agent." This notion, cribbed from John Fowle's superb book, The Aristos, is a succinct summary of the reason for the emergence of religion in the human mind.

We are seekers of the reason for why we are here, on this ball of dirt in a vast, seemingly empty universe. We are seekers of meaning - "what does it all mean?"

The latter question, as one philosopher notes, is most likely to be asked by children, the mad, the anguished, the ironic, and the damned. It is a question we all routinely push to one side as we occupy ourselves with the family, the business, the bills, the lawn, the local.

The local - no, not the pub, but our local 'area of operation' - is the primary locus of our sense of meaning. It's where we build our most treasured meanings, since meaning is not something received 'from out there' but something we make, something we construct.

If you - as cognitive scientists do - build a 'neural network', a primitive set of connected, artificial neurons, it will take in what data you choose to give it and seek to categorise that data in some way; it will try to make understandable patterns from the data. "Which is what you would expect," I hear you cry, "seeing that's why you built the thing in the first place."

Well, yes, but neural networks are simply an impoverished imitation of a brain, with all its billions of interconnected neurons. The brain is a pattern-seeker, a pattern-builder par excellence, and it evolved that way - we didn't build it.

Human brains run on meaning. All those neurons need nutrients, in the form of information, data to work on, patterns to find. We desperately need to put a meaning to things, to things that happen, things that we see, things that we experience. Most of the time, we put meaning to things by telling stories. We weave our stories in order to make sense of where we are, what we are, who we are.

So, we work our way outwards. We build our local meaning - in family, close relationships, home. We make wider meaning and stories about our place in a community - our relationships with others who work and live nearby - and we make our richest stories about 'ultimate meaning', first causes, prime movers, in order to put some pattern we can handle into the strangeness of our human condition, marooned here on our blue planet between the lost garden of Eden and some mythical promised land.

The richest of these stories have a compelling sense of 'rightness' - they match our pattern sense, they fire the 'God' neuron in our brains. They are, however, stories. They are worked on by generations, refined, passed on, passed down, handed over. But they are stories, built by humans, people seeking meaning.

Is it any wonder then that those "progressive" societies in the West that have abandoned religion, community, neighborhood, family and opted instead for a one to one relationship of the individual to the state have ended up thinking that life has no meaning? Is it any wonder that their arts and culture have become so barren and that they depend on Hollywood to tell them stories? Is it any wonder that having inherited brains that seek patterns, and patterns with a sense of "rightness" at that, but having tossed aside those patterns, so many in the West feel a sense of wrongness in their lives? The question we face is not whether our religious beliefs are based merely on stories, but what we replace those stories with and what effect it will have if we replace them with nothing or with stories that dissatisfy. Based on what we see in most of the West the result seems to be a kind of soul-gnawing neuroses, a corrosive sickness unto death, that we may not fully comprehend, and which they certainly don't, but which we recognize and are repelled by when it's most graphically on display, as in the current crisis.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 PM


Stirrings of Arab Reform (Jackson Diehl, March 24, 2003, Washington Post)
The Bush administration's embrace of a democratization strategy for the postwar Middle East has triggered a torrent of scorn from the region's traditional political and intellectual elites, not to mention regional experts at the State Department and CIA. Less noticed is the fact that it has also produced a flurry of political reforms, quasi-reforms and grass-roots initiatives in countries across the region.

Two days before the war began last week, the Palestinian legislative council dealt a major blow to the autocracy of Yasser Arafat, rejecting his attempt to limit the powers of a new prime minister. This happened by a democratic vote after a noisy democratic debate -- which in turn came a few days after President Bush called for a strong prime minister in a Palestinian democracy.

The next day an Egyptian court finally ended the prosecution of the country's leading pro-democracy activist, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who had twice been sentenced to prison on trumped-up charges -- and whose last conviction prompted the Bush administration to freeze aid to Egypt. Two weeks earlier, Gamal Mubarak, would-be heir to his father, Hosni, as president, announced a plan to end trials of civilians in the security courts in which Ibrahim was sentenced, and proposed an independent national council to monitor human rights.

A week before Mubarak spoke, King Abdullah of Jordan, who has not allowed an election since taking office four years ago and who dissolved parliament in 2001, set a date for parliamentary elections. He chose June 17, thereby ensuring that as the postwar political discussion gets underway, Jordan will be able to point to its own democratic exercise.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has been urging Western journalists to take note of an "Arab Charter" floated by ruling Crown Prince Abdullah, which calls for "internal reform and enhanced political participation in the Arab states," and a related petition by 104 intellectuals calling for the direct election in Saudi Arabia of a consultative council, an independent judiciary and freedom of speech and assembly. In January, on Abdullah's order, a host of senior Saudi officials met with a visiting delegation from Human Rights Watch -- the first time a Western human rights group had been allowed to visit the country.

So what does this all amount to? Not, to be sure, a sudden outbreak of democracy or radical reform. It may all be cosmetic. But it does show that Arab governments, and to some extent their peoples, have absorbed the idea that political change is coming after the war, and are trying to anticipate it. This means, in turn, that the postwar era is likely to offer the United States an opportunity to promote real change, provided it acts effectively.

This is the moment when Mr. Bush will have to lean on Ariel Sharon to settle the Palestinian problem, one way or another, either by imposing a state or by returning to the negotiating table with a credible proposal. The former would be the superior solution for Israel, but the latter is more likely.

Power to the New Prime Minister (Dennis Ross, March 24, 2003, Washington Post)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 PM


The Other Bush War (Abner Mason, 03/24/2003, Tech Central Station)
The volume of commentary on the Bush administration's policy to lead the effort to disarm Iraq has overshadowed the other global fight President Bush has decided to lead, the war against HIV.

President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is a humanitarian relief effort of a scale never before attempted by any leader, of any nation, to benefit people of other nations. Given the magnitude of the devastation this epidemic has caused, and the continued threat it poses, a commensurate response is required.

But no matter how desperate the need is for a relief program of the scale Bush has proposed, there is no inexorable law that guarantees the existence of a nation with the resources and political leadership to provide it. This is a time when some people are anxious about the worldwide dominance of US power and wealth, particularly as exercised by the Bush Administration. But for those of us who understand the importance of waging a real war against HIV, and the risk associated with continued delay, we are grateful for America's wealth, generosity and political leadership.

AIDS is a monumental human tragedy. More than 60 million people have been infected with the deadly AIDS virus - 20 million are already dead. More than half of the 40 million people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa. If effective action is not taken soon in India and China, we could see a repeat of the African tragedy. Worldwide, if current rates of infection continue, 45 million more people will become infected by 2010. In the hardest hit regions of the world, decades of economic progress have been reversed, 14 million children have been orphaned and food production has plummeted causing famine. In addition to the human suffering involved, destabilization of this magnitude is a threat to the national security of nations around the world.

The AIDS epidemic is an international crisis that demands an effective response. President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is such a response. Bush proposes to spend $15 billion over five years to fight the epidemic in 14 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Fifty percent of people infected worldwide live in these countries. The major focus of the plan is to provide life saving anti-retroviral treatment to people who need it. The Plan aims to provide this treatment to 2 million HIV infected people, prevent 7 million new infections and to care for 10 million infected people and AIDS orphans. In addition, $1 billion would go to the recently created Global Fund for AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis. Bush's Secretary of Health and Human Services has recently accepted the Chairmanship of the Fund - signaling renewed U.S. commitment to its success.

Just as the imbalance of our power vis-a-vis terror states may impose a moral obligation on us to dispose of them, so too does our inordinate wealth mean that where we can intervene to (possibly) save millions, we must. (Notice that we don't hear Old Europe and the UN complaining about our unilateralism here and demanding to be included.) But we should also be brutally frank and make it clear that this is an avoidable epidemic that people brought down on themselves by their behavior, whether through sexual promiscuity and aberrant practices or by sharing of needles in both licit and illicit circumstances.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM


Bush confronts Putin on Iraq arms (BBC, 24 March, 2003)
US President George W Bush has complained directly to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Russian companies have been selling military equipment to Iraq in breach of UN sanctions.

The White House says it has "credible evidence" that Russian companies had sold military equipment such as satellite-jamming devices, anti-tank missiles and night-vision goggles to Iraq, despite Russian denials.

In a phone conversation with Mr Bush, the Russian president said he would look into the allegations immediately, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said

Let's see, what arms could the Chechens use....?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 PM


The answers to the great questions of life are not found in religious texts. (Rosslyn Ives, 3/3/03, Online Opinion)
The ethics and values we try to live by are an extension of the way we understand the world and our place in it. The humanist recognition that humans have evolved naturally, are all of the same species, and will live only once, gives rise to the ethics and values of equality, fairness and justice. Instead of trying to lead a good life to appease an imagined God, or get to heaven, a growing number of people try to lead a good life by recognising our responsibility for the wellbeing of all humanity and of other life forms. These people draw on human wisdom which shows that acting with compassion, empathy and tolerance, settling disputes by talk rather than violence, and being prudent and restrained will lead to the most peaceful, just and socially productive outcomes.

It is those who cling to the certainties of established religion that cause the most havoc in today's troubled world: the Catholic and Islamic resistance to family-planning programs, the Palestinian/Israel conflict, terrorism inspired by fundamentalist beliefs, religion-based conflict, and the US belief that god is on their side. In contrast, modern humanism rests on the open-mindedness of science and the desire to use human capabilities to develop a more just and equitable world.

One could hardly caricature rationalist secular humanism as effectively as she defends it. The idea that because humans were created by nature, share a species, and are mortal necessarily leads to an ethos of equality, fairness and justice is nothing but a mystical assertion of faith. The same can be said for every species yet none practice that ethos, why should humans? Why should humans not accept the limitations of that ethos in their interactions with other species? How explain that those states which have been based on secular rationalism and have sought equality--Revolutionary France, the USSR, Nazi Germany, Maoist China, Cambodia, etc.--have been the most murderous in human history? Doesn't human wisdom thus teach us that secular rationalism leads to genocide? If the fact that you only live once is of such importance, how can family planning/abortion be justified--by what right can we terminate those lives? And note that her insistence on access to abortion is just one more example of the genoicidal nature of secular rationalism.

None of these questions can be answered except by a blind assertion of faith in the ethos she's plucked from thin air--and so we see, once again, the delightful irony that none are so constricted by a close-minded faith as those who deny it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 PM


Left in Stalin's shadow: Christopher Hill was an open Marxist apologist. That makes him an unlikely mole (Nick Cohen, March 9, 2003, The Observer)
At the beginning of the Second World War, George Orwell gave the young Christopher Hill a stinking review of the sort that no author forgives or forgets. Writing in the New Statesman, Orwell tore into the historian who was to become a great and generous interpreter of seventeenth-century English radicalism - and Master of Balliol to boot. Hill's best work was to come. In 1940 Orwell's fury was provoked by his juvenilia, The English Revolution: 1640, a book with a fair claim to be the most simplistic Marxist version of history published in Britain in the twentieth century.

Orwell identified a persistent fault of the far Left. Like those who give a knowing wink and insist that the war against Iraq is 'all about oil,' Hill and his comrades were too 'cocksure'. They wrote off 'religion, morality, patriotism [as] a sort of hypocritical cover-up for the pursuit of economic interest' when they insisted that the Parliamentarians' war against Charles I could be reduced to a battle between the rising class of capitalists and the dead weight of the feudal monarchy.

'A "Marxist" analysis of any historical event tends to be a hurried snap judgment based on the principle of cui bono?, something rather like the "realism" of the saloon-bar cynic who always assumes the bishop is keeping a mistress and the trade union leader is in the pay of the boss,' Orwell continued.

Such reasoning was a hopeless guide. 'Long after Hitler came to power official Marxism was declaring that Hitler was of no importance and could achieve nothing. On the other hand, people who had hardly heard of Marx but who knew the power of faith had seen Hitler coming years earlier.' [...]

Hill never gave up his Marxism, but left the Communist party in 1957. He went on to rescue the histories of the Levellers, Diggers, Ranters and Fifth
Monarchists from obscurity. More than any other historian in the twentieth century, he showed how ordinary people developed ideas of democracy, socialism, secularism and women's emancipation as soon as civil war destroyed censorship and political control and allowed them the space to think and argue.

The most moderate of the radical groups were the Levellers. All they wanted was democracy.

We used several of Mr. Hill's texts in college and it always seemed absurd that we'd rely on a Marxist, but his work on groups like the Levellers is indeed worthwhile. The Levellers' Agreement of the People is an especially fascinating document as regards the rise of democracy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:03 PM


The uncertainty of war (Clifford Orwin, March 21, 2003, National Post)
[W]ill this bold action inaugurate a new epoch? Is it "the first war of the 21st century," the harbinger of things to come?

Well yes, it's bound to be, but the harbinger of what things? We simply can't know. It all depends on the costs and ripples of the enterprise, long term as well as short term, economic and political as well as human. It depends on whether America succeeds or fails, as well, of course, as on the reactions of others to those successes and failures. America will win the war, but no one can deny that it could lose the peace. To go to war is to roll the dice not least because the unintended consequences of victory can be as unpleasant as the anticipated ones of defeat or inaction. The American tendency to withdraw from the world always lurks besides its tendency to assert itself in it, and no one can say at this point which of these the outcome of this war will strengthen.

The implications for Canada are clearer, simply because we have abdicated all responsibility in the matter. Never has our role in the world been less significant than it is today. When even pacifist Japan supports an American military action, our failure to do so is egregious. Perhaps we should replace the beaver as our national symbol with the horsefly. Having dismantled our military, we combine complete parasitism on the United States with a nasty tendency to sting it. We'll burrow in its hide, as smug as ever and as well-defended. Jean Chretien is betting that this is what Canadians want.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chretien, Mr. Chirac, and Mr. Schroeder have bet right--their peoples are content to hide behind the U.S. and Britain while protecting their own social welfare systems at any cost.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:55 PM


Iraq's David and Goliath tactics (Jonathan Marcus, 3/24/03, BBC)
There is no doubt that the Iraqi armed forces are playing a weak hand with some skill.

The David vs. Goliath fallacy is a pet peeve, so if you'll indulge me, please check out this short essay.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:26 PM


U.S. troops begin attacking Republican Guard forces (MATT KELLEY, March 24, 2003, Associated Press)
U.S. helicopters have begun attacking Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard forces arrayed around Baghdad, a Pentagon official said Monday.

Asked about ground forces, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, "We have not gotten into direct firefights with Republican Guard forces." The Army's Third Infantry division moved to within 50 miles of the Iraqi capital.

He said that thus far in the war, 2,000 precision-guided weapons have been used against the Iraqis.

"All of the pieces are falling into place," McChrystal told a Pentagon briefing.

Like many an armchair general, I had no clue how long it would take just to move our troops as far and as fast as we did--which, as Tom Ricks of the Washington Post said on Diane Rehm today, was one of the historic feats in military history--but supposed they'd be there by last night. Looks like we're there tonight instead and now we'll see how many Iraqis have to die before the "men of the mustache" feel that honor has been satisfied.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:49 PM


A reckless path (Paul Craig Roberts, March 20, 2003, Washington Times)
"We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."
--U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, U.S. representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, Aug. 12, 1945.

Will Bush be impeached? Will he be called a war criminal? These are not hyperbolic questions. Mr. Bush has permitted a small cadre of neoconservatives to isolate him from world opinion, putting him at odds with the United Nations and America's allies.

What better illustrates Mr. Bush's isolation than the fact that he delivered his March 16 ultimatum to the U.N. concerning Iraq from an air base in the Azores, where there was no prospect for massive demonstrations against his policy. Standing with Mr. Bush against the world were Britain and Spain.

The U.S., once a guarantor of peace, is now perceived in the rest of the world as an aggressor.[...]

Mr. Bush and his advisers have forgotten that the power of an American president is temporary and relative. The U.S. is supposed to be the world's leader. For the Bush administration to pursue a policy that sets the U.S. government at odds with the world is to invite comparisons with recklessness that we have not seen in international politics since Nikita Khrushchev tried to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. Is Saddam Hussein worth this much grief?

The comparison is apt, though accidental. John F. Kennedy imposed a blockade on Cuba--which is an act of war--simply because it was taking steps to defend itself with WMD. Is Mr. Roberts suggesting that JFK should have been impeached for this? Probably not.

N.B.--We, on the other hand, would have supported his impeachment for leaving the Castro regime in place when given a perfect pretext to remove it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:16 PM


U.S. Public Support Remains Strong for War Effort: 54% of Americans Believe U.S. Will Sustain 'Significant' Casualties (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, March 24, 2003, Washington Post)
A total of 580 randomly selected Americans were interviewed Sunday. A separate subsample of 69 African Americans also were interviewed, which brought the total of blacks who participated in this survey to 103. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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

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

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

Don't look at me--I still think the two best days of 1970 were Kent State and the hard hats in NYC beating up the peace protestors.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:34 PM

IT'S A WONDERFUL COUNTRY (via Real Clear Politics):

Without U.S., world portrait would be bleak (Richard Benedetto, USA Today, 3/24/2003)
In "It's a Wonderful Life," a suicidal George Bailey (James Stewart) is given a chance by his guardian angel to see what his hometown would have been like if he had never lived there....

What would the world be like if there were no United States to lead?

In this latest case of Iraq, you could rest assured that Israel would be no more. And all of Europe and Japan would be oil-starved, their economies in shambles, their citizens hunkered down against constant terrorist threats.

But hey, we wouldn't have any war.

As Orrin posted yesterday, despotism is not peace. It is the U.S. military which is bringing peace to Iraq. John Stark was right: Live free or die.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:49 PM


Polish elite troops see first action in Iraq (Reuters, 3/24/2003)
Polish commandos have seen their first action of the Iraq war ...

A Defence Ministry spokesman said "GROM" (Thunder) special forces had joined operations in the Gulf port of Umm Qasr, where resistance by Iraqi forces was continuing. Prime Minister Leszek Miller said no Polish casualties had been taken so far.

"These operations are regarded as highly professional and highly effective. Our soldiers are earning very high marks," Miller told public radio.

God bless Poland.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:39 PM


'All the peasants were cheering us, even the soldiers' (National Post, 3/24/2003)
DEEP INSIDE SOUTHERN IRAQ - The triumphant road to Baghdad is littered with discarded combat boots and army uniforms, even hand grenades, as men from the Iraqi military throw away anything that could identify them as combatants....

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

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

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

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

"All the peasants were cheering us, even the soldiers. They gave us the thumbs-up, they blew us kisses. I couldn't believe all the boots that were lying on the road. The soldiers just left them there."...

We have seen no resistance to speak of and no hostility -- simply, ordinary people standing by the road and, as we drove, increasing numbers of Iraqi soldiers.

"Praise be to Allah," many of them shouted, relieved at being finally delivered from more than two decades of Saddam Hussein's tyranny.

"I wasn't surprised at the reception we got," Sgt. Pares said.

"It is what I expected here. Whatever the world thinks of what we are doing, the Iraqi people view us as a force that is freeing them.

"I saw a lot of kids and I started to think of my own kids back at home. God Bless America for giving our children a chance. These kids were so thin. They sure didn't get their share of Iraq's oil money."

As past generations remembered the liberation of Paris, ours may remember the liberation of Iraq. God bless America, and God bless our troops.

LIBERATION (Jonathan Foreman, New York Post, 3/24/2003)

[N]othing could bring home the rightness of this campaign in Iraq - and the deluded wrongness of the peace movement - like the sight that greeted the 54th Engineer Battalion (and this writer) yesterday morning in a string of small towns on Route 8 near the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.

In village after dusty village, the people - most presumably Shiites - rushed out to greet the troops. They lined the highway: portly older men, teenage boys, little girls in brightly colored pajamas, waving, giving the thumbs-up sign and smiling.

Bravo Company's Sgt. Roy Lee Brown III (32) of Hackensack, N.J., said, "This gives me a real good feeling. It's the first time I've ever been deployed that I've seen people so happy that we're here."

I want to see the Iraqi people on TV.

Best of the Web Today has good liberation stories.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:05 PM

WHO'S FIGHTING (via Judicious Asininity):

Specially Trained Iraqi Guerrillas Leading Resistance (WJLA News, 3/24/2003)
Specially trained paramilitary guerrillas and Saddam Hussein's security forces are leading the stiffest resistance to the U.S.-led invasion, trying to keep Iraqi soldiers from surrendering and organizing battlefield tricks that have inflicted casualties, U.S. and British officials said Sunday.

Members of the Fedayeen Saddam are suspected of having organized battlefield ruses using civilian clothes and cars and fake surrenders of Iraqi soldiers that drew in U.S. forces to be attacked in places like An Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr, the officials said.

The Fedayeen are elite inner-circle soldiers totaling about 15,000 that report directly to one of Saddam's sons....

Officials said the Fedayeen and Saddam's personal security force, known as the Special Security Organization, have been behind the stiffest resistance coalition troops have encountered as they raced from Kuwait through the south toward Baghdad.

"The majority of the resistance we have faced so far comes from Saddam's Special Security Organization and the Saddam Fedayeen," said Peter Wall, chief of staff to the British military contingent in the the U.S.-led coalition. "These are men who know that they will have no role in the building of a new Iraq and they have no future."

These groups are the equivalent of the Gestapo and SS. They deserve no mercy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM


Orthodox Jew attacked outside crowded Berlin cafe; received no assistance from onlookers (The Associated Press Mar. 24, 2003)
An American Jew in traditional Orthodox dress was assaulted by four men late Sunday afternoon on the capital's main shopping boulevard, police said Monday.

One of the assailants swung at the 21-year-old rabbinical student, striking him in the face, and another threw an object at him, police said. The men, described as Middle Eastern in appearance, have not been identified or detained.

The student was not hurt, but was shaken up by both the incident and the fact that no one at a crowded outdoor caf where the attack took place intervened, said Rabbi Yedudah Teichtal, who runs a rabbinical school in Berlin where the young man has been studying for about six months.

"You always have wild people, you always have people who are uncontrollable. What was really shocking was that no one responded when he wanted to call the police," Teichtal said.

When the student, who was wearing a traditional Fedora hat and black suit, asked to use one man's mobile phone, he responded, "I didn't see anything," according to Teichtal.

Wait a few years when it's the Germans these youths are beating...
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM


Uganda pledges support for war in Iraq (Sapa-AP, March 23 2003)
The Ugandan government has publicly declared its support for the US-led war in Iraq and said it will provide any support needed.

The "Cabinet, sitting under the chairmanship of (President) Yoweri Museveni, decided to support the US-led coalition war against Iraq," Foreign Minister James Waphakabulo said in a statement released late pn Saturday.

"Cabinet also decided that if the need arises Uganda will be ready to assist in any way possible."

It was not clear what support Uganda, a poor East African nation, could offer the US-led coalition.

The government supports the war because the "potential link between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction poses a very serious threat to international peace and security," the statement said.

Museveni, who seized power in 1986 after leading a five-year bush war, is regarded as a US ally and the United States is the second largest bilateral donor to Uganda.

Uganda is the third African country to publicly support US military action against Iraq, following Horn of Africa countries Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Ethiopia has granted US aircraft over-flight rights and access to its air bases.

A predominantly Christian nation in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has two main air bases, one outside the capital Addis Ababa and the other 320km to the east in Dire Dawa.

Eritrea, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, has offered the United States the use of Assab and Massawa ports - both of which are on the Red Sea - but it is not known whether this has been accepted.

Uganda--with its successful promotion of abstinence to combat AIDs and support like this for the war--and Ethiopia are examples of how the spread of Christianity is transforming even some of the previously most hopeless portions of the Third World and bringing them into the Western World.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM


Senior Iraqi tipped off CIA about Saddam (News 24, 23/03/2003)
A senior Iraqi official tipped off the CIA, telling Washington where Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would be sleeping on the eve of the war, Newsweek magazine reports.

After months of US intelligence groundwork, the magazine quoted an unnamed "knowledgeable intelligence source" as saying Delta Force, the secret commando group, "managed to tap Saddam's underground phone lines in Baghdad.

"The real break came when the CIA managed to recruit an asset, a senior Iraqi official in a position to know Saddam's greatest vulnerability: where he sleeps each night," the news weekly added in its report due on news stands on Monday.

"Saddam, who had stayed alive and in power for more than three decades by never sleeping in one place for long, had to trust at least a few bodyguards. He made the rare mistake of relying on one henchman who was more afraid of the United States than he was of Saddam Hussein," the report says.

"The Iraqi official 'weighed the balance of fear,' a senior administration official told Newsweek. "The Iraqi turncoat told his intelligence handlers that on the night of March 19, Saddam, probably accompanied by his sons Uday and Qusay, was sleeping in a bunker beneath a nondescript house in a residential area of Baghdad."

"At the CIA, Director George Tenet got the tip shortly before 23:00 Baghdad time ... Tenet raced to the Pentagon, bursting in on Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as he met with his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz. The air war - the astonishing first wave of "shock and awe," hundreds of warheads raining down on Baghdad - was scheduled to begin the next night. But here was a chance to end the war before it even began. If Saddam and his henchmen could be killed in a "decapitating strike," hundreds and maybe thousands of lives could be saved.

Tenet, Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff chair General Richard Myers went to meet President George W Bush, who "considered but rejected the argument that Saddam be given until 03:00 (SA time) to respond to the ultimatum that he leave Iraq or face the consequences."

'Let's go'

NPR is reporting that Saddam addressed the Iraqi people this morning, though one can't help notice that he praised the 51st, which surrendered last week and didn't mention the fighting around Nassariyah or the American POWs.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM


Construction Paper: Why liberals need an affirmative position on Iraq (Nick Penniman and Richard Just, March 2003, American Prospect)
Millions of people will soon be freed from a yoke of cruelty and dictatorship. One might have expected liberals to use this moment to cheer the prospect that the war's aftermath could lead to a better life for Iraqis, as well as for those Arabs, Israelis, Turks and Kurds who have for more than two decades lived under the threat of attack by Saddam Hussein. One might have expected liberals to begin making the case for a lengthy and serious rebuilding of Iraq -- a process that is hugely complicated and that no one knows whether the Bush administration will commit to wholeheartedly. But neither of these things has happened. Instead, on the brink of the ouster of a dictator who is the very embodiment of illiberal values, too many liberals are on the sidelines throwing beer cans at the proceedings.

It's time for progressives to make an eleventh-hour effort to correct this mistake. Some may continue to criticize this administration's treatment of its allies, but such criticism is no substitute for pushing a set of progressive ideas for a new Iraq. Chiding the president for allocating funds to rebuild Iraqi schools while allowing American public schools to languish -- as we have heard some liberals do -- is not a foreign policy; it is the absence of a foreign policy. Any fair-minded liberal should admit that Iraqi rebuilding and American domestic priorities are not mutually exclusive; both carry a strong moral imperative and both are clearly in our country's national interest.

In order to carve out for themselves a constructive position on Iraq, liberals will have to reclaim the optimism that once animated the progressive spirit but seems now to be a casualty of the build-up to war. Since September 11, progressives have become infected with a reflexive dread on questions of foreign policy -- first, dread of an imaginary quagmire in Afghanistan, now dread of instability in Iraq, dread of Hussein's demise leading to increased terrorism and dread of what other Arab leaders might think if, God forbid, our actions put pressure on their regimes to liberalize or reform.

Well, we have news for our progressive friends: Dread isn't going to fly with the majority of American voters -- and it isn't progressive. In two months, U.S. forces will have liberated Iraq from Hussein's rule. How will a temperament of permanent dread look then? Imagine the line George W. Bush will land over and over again on the campaign trail: "For those who said we couldn't plant the seed of democracy in the Middle East, I say, 'Never doubt the resolve of the American people.'"

Optimism is an invaluable political commodity in America, and it is nearly impossible to win elections without it. Right now Bush has it, and liberals don't. Consider the recent history of presidential elections. In 1976, Jimmy Carter offered a moral vision of American life that stood in stark contrast to the perceived dirtiness of Nixonian politics; in its own way, Carter's implicit promise to American voters was a powerful sort of optimism. Four years later, his moralism came to be seen by voters as a kind of self-righteous negativism, and one that America could never be worthy of. So Ronald Reagan -- despite an agenda that was anything but moderate or mainstream -- won over those voters by sunnily conveying that the United States was meant for great things in the world. In 1992, Bill Clinton triumphed by using a similar optimism to speak to the economic aspirations of the middle-class. (Remember "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow"?) And since 9-11, Bush has won over many moderates with his confident message that Americans are a resilient people who will not just survive terrorist strikes but exhibit bravery in preventing future ones.

American progressives need to reclaim their sense of optimism on foreign policy. And if they are looking for some inspiration to escape the temperamental and political corner they have painted themselves into, then they need look no farther than their own history. From the American Revolution to the New Deal to the civil-rights movement, the crusading spirit of liberalism is decorated with victories won on behalf of democracy and the common good.

Unfortunately for liberalism, the authors are peddling a falsehood. The Left is fueled not by a vision of the common good but by a promise of individual security, hence the advocacy of a massive social welfare state and the fundamental disinterest in freedom generally, but especially when the extension of freedom threatens personal security, either physical or financial, and even more so when the freedom under consideration is that of foreigners. Circumstances happen to have placed Woodrow Wilson and FDR in the Oval Office at the time of WWI and WWII, but neither entered the war until American lives came under attack and neither demonstrated much interest in liberty broadly, being content to leave the Soviet Union in place, though Wilson did at least launch some desultory attacks. Meanwhile, Truman set the tone for the liberals' prosecution of the Cold War by
accepting containment theory, which essentially made the U.S. and U.S.S.R. co-guarantors of the capitivty of the peoples of Eastern Europe. Liberals did get us involved in the Korean and Viatnam wars, but only as defensive actions, practically guaranteeing that we'd not win them but also that they'd not widen and invoilve us in a wider war for freedom. Since Vietnam The Left has opposed every military action we've undertaken, with the exception--to some degree--of Bill Clinton's aerial campaigns in the Balkans and the war in Afghanistan immediately after the 9-11 provocation. Meanwhile, the Scoop Jackson wing of the party which did support the idea of waging wars of liberation has migrated to the Republicans where they are known as neo-conservatives.

Take a look at what President Bush has proposed for our war on terror and it's easy to see why the Left can not support it. It's one thing to go after actual terrorist organizations, but the cost in dollars that could be spent on domestic social programs and the risk to Americans lives here and broad make it absurd to believe that the Left would ever come to grips with a campaign that eventually contemplates removing Yassar Arafat, Saddam Hussein, the mullahs in Iran, Kim Jong-il, and Bashar Assad from power and that will carry American troops from the Philippines to Colombia to combat indigenous guerilla/terrorist movements. A diversion of funds to such a vast, almost boundless, military campaign would threaten things like Universal Health Care and is, thus, anathema.


The anti-American century (Amotz Asa-El, March 23, 2003, Jerusalem Post)

AMERICA became what it is thanks to its prudent handling of three challenges: tolerance, development, and power. In each of these categories America looms ominously as a stark reminder of another European power's grand historic failure.

The first case in point is Germany. No country in human history has welcomed penniless immigrants, tolerated diverse faiths and accommodated political refugees as America has. Originally, Germany had the potential to be just as prosperous, inviting and inspiring, but it chose a course that led elsewhere. When a surrendered Germany finally embraced American-style pluralism, it was far too late in the day to come coupled with American-style greatness. That hurts.

Then comes Russia. There, the tragedy lay in the mishandling of the frontier. As de Tocqueville noted prophetically more than a century before the Cold War began, the US and Russia were both blessed with vast landmasses that begged pioneering, but while America would be developed by initiative from below, Russia's would be by decree from above.

And indeed, when America had entrepreneurs build new towns, highways, and factories from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Russia killed its peasantry and littered its hinterland with gulags.

In recent years, when a bankrupt Russia's vast frontier finally met private enterprise, America's frontier had long been established as the world's breadbasket and tool shop. That too hurts.

Finally there is France. Here, the great shame lies in the failure to lead the world. Having sought so much and accomplished so little in numerous misadventures from Gen. Kotuzov's Moscow to the FLN's Algeria, France's imperial experience has been a disastrous continuum of ill-fated conquests; the US, though fought a lot, did less conquering and more inspiring.

In 1940, Time magazine founder Henry Luce's essay "The American century" saw the New World coming to dominate the old. Subsequent decades have vindicated Luce, as history became rife with airplanes, satellites, spaceships, movies, jeans, automobiles, sneakers, PCs, fast food, pop, jazz, rock, and spectator sports that had "Made in USA" written all over them.

And that, apparently, hurts America's detractors most; so much, in fact, that if it were up to them ours would be declared the anti-American century.

What's most interesting about these three historic successes of the United States is their essential similarity. Immigration, wide economic development, and cultural hegemony have all been made possible by the fact that to be an American is to accept a set of universalist ideas--that Men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalianable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" and that governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed"--that are accessible to anyone and therefore end up being widely dispersed both within our society and throughout the world. And what's peculiar about this, particularly for a nation that supposedly has no sense of its past, is that those ideas are the product of our Founding over two hundred years ago. On Booknotes tonight, Bernard Bailyn mentioned how unique the Federalist Papers are, not just because we still read them but because they've grown in importance the further we get from the time they were written. This is because we remain connected to our past and to the universal ideas of Westen Civilization in a way that Russia, Germany, and France no longer do. In their varying degrees of experimentation with Statism all have abandoned the faith that liberty conveys blessings, so it's no wonder that we find our interests diverging nor is their bitterness at us for keeping the faith and thereby reaping the blessings much of a surprise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM


Blair must find the courage to turn his back on the EU (David Frum, 24/03/2003, Daily Telegraph)
It's tough to see through the dust clouds that swirl about the allied tank columns on the road to Baghdad - but tougher still to see our way out of old habits of mind. The critics of the war against Saddam have been right about one thing: this war will overthrow and transform the status quo in the Middle East.

But there is another status quo that is also being overthrown and transformed - the status quo of the transatlantic relationship between America and Europe. And no country on Earth will have to make bigger and more difficult choices in the aftermath of this transformation than Britain. [...]

[T]he existing structures of multilateralism now stand condemned in American eyes. Jacques Chirac's opposition to American policy went beyond dissent, which Americans will always accept, to outright sabotage - pressuring former French colonies, for example, to follow France's orders against America.

After this stunt, it would be a careless American president indeed who ever took an important security decision to any body in which the government of France wielded a veto.

If Britain tries to revive such multilateral bodies, it will fail. And even if it somehow succeeded, what would Britain gain? When did it become a British interest to seek to increase French political influence?

Instead, Britain should work to develop and renovate institutions that offer the Anglo-American alliance multilateral legitimation - without a veto for governments that fundamentally oppose that alliance's purposes and values.

What would such institutions look like? They might look like Nato: a council of like-minded allies to face common security threats across the globe.

As the Iraq war demonstrates, this council already exists: it includes America and Britain, Australia and Japan, and other countries as well who recognised the threat from Iraq and were prepared to take action - and who also already recognise the even greater threats taking shape in east Asia.

The council lacks a name and a building and a chairman, but it exists and takes decisions. And Britain matters much, much more inside this council than it ever has or could at the UN or even within the EU.

"Like-minded" is the key element here. You can't leave American national interests subject to the veto power of countries that are opposed to human freedom, like China and France.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM


Russia to ask UN to rule on legality of Iraq war: FM (AFP, Mar 21, 2003)
Russia and other countries will ask the United Nations (news - web sites) to rule whether the US-led war on Iraq is legal, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov revealed.

"With other states, we will put this question before the UN's legal department. It is very important that these arguments (about the legality of US actions) are confirmed," he told the State Duma lower house of parliament.

"This is the only way that we can use them as a strong weapon," Ivanov added.

It's long past time for the President to call his friend Mr. Putin and mention that he'd be perfectly willing to lead the call for an independent Chechen state if the Russia's don't get back in line.


3 Russian Firms' Deals Anger U.S. (Washington Post, 3/23/2003)

The United States delivered a protest to the government of President Vladimir Putin yesterday for refusing to stop Russian arms dealers from providing illegal weapons and assistance to the Iraqi military.

Bush administration sources said one Russian company is helping the Iraqi military deploy electronic jamming equipment against U.S. planes and bombs, and two others have sold antitank missiles and thousands of night-vision goggles in violation of U.N. sanctions....

"The stuff's there, it's on the ground and they're trying to use it against us," said a well-placed U.S. official who requested anonymity. Of the Russians, the official said, "This is a disregard for human life. It sickens my stomach."...

The Bush administration reserved its highest-level efforts for halting the delivery of the jamming devices, which officials said sell for thousands of dollars apiece and can interfere with global positioning equipment important to aircraft navigation and ground forces. Guided bombs also use the technology ...

Administration officials became infuriated last week when they learned that Aviaconversiya personnel are now in Iraq "showing Iraqis how to use them and how to fix them," said the official. The Russians "sure as hell should have been able to stop these guys."

Some countries -- France, Russia, Turkey -- are burning bridges with us. They'll soon wish they had those bridges, rather than a few million dollars of Saddam's money or a few extra dead U.S. soldiers -- the two things they gain by arming Saddam.

MORE (PJ): Moscow Denies Supplying Iraq With Weapons (FoxNews, 3/24/2003)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


Kofi Annan on Sesame Street (BBC, 7 December, 2001)
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has appeared on children's TV show Sesame Street, and said diplomats could learn a thing or two from its characters.

Annan guest-starred on the long-running show to help teach children how to resolve conflict.

He is only the third politician on the show in recent years - first ladies Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton have also appeared.

Annan stepped in when puppet character Elmo and his friends argued over who would get to sing the alphabet song.

In the end he persuaded them all to join in.

Afterwards he said it was "wonderful to reach out to young people" and hoped that he showed children "the spirit of the UN, a spirit of understanding, sharing and working together".

He said some politicians needed to be more like the characters in the show: "Elmo and his friends will tell us, it's the way they are, they tell it straight.

"Keep it simple and it brings you back to earth. I think that is very important, we all need that."

The Security Council was apparently stunned when the French ambassador demounced Mr. Annan's unilateral intervention in the dispute and demanded that Hans Blix be given more time to search Elmo for weapons.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:07 AM


For war news I find Rantburg indispensable. Founded by former CIA analyst Fred Pruitt, it now has numerous posters from multiple countries, most with military or intelligence backgrounds, who often find stories I would never otherwise reach.

Instapundit has just recommended The Command Post, which looks good.

Any other recommendations?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 AM


SOS for Saddam surgeon (DAVID WOODING, 3/24/03, The Sun)
SADDAM Hussein’s henchmen last night pleaded with Russia to find them a top surgeon to save the tyrant’s life.

They sent an SOS to Moscow as their leader lay badly wounded at a secret hideaway in Baghdad.

Saddam is believed to have suffered abdominal injuries when cruise missiles scored a direct hit on his bunker on Day One of the war last Thursday.

British intelligence chiefs say that he was hauled from the rubble and whisked away in an ambulance hours after the sudden strike that launched Operation Iraqi Freedom.

They are convinced he underwent a major operation and a blood transfusion. And at one stage thought he may be dead.

But last night experts at GCHQ listening station in Cheltenham intercepted a message which suggests he is still alive — but in need of treatment the Iraqis cannot provide.

Coalition forces will reach Baghdad tomorrow at which time it will be appropriate to reveal to the people of the city, over the television broadcasting towers that we've left in place, that they need no longer fear the tyrant. Hopefully removing the fear of reprisals will hasten the surrender.

March 23, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM


In a moment nearly surreal, the BBC just had a report from the Academy Awards where Michael Moore asked what lesson we taught the children of Columbine this week: "That violence is a legitimate way to solve problems". Then they announced that child rapist Roman Polanski had just won the Best Director award. What lesson did Mr. Moore and his friends teach the children of Columbine tonight?

Posted by David Cohen at 7:26 PM


The following list of charities serving members of the armed forces is taken from a DOD faq:
  • Donate to "Operation USO Care Package" at
  • Support the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services at
  • Volunteer at a VA Hospital to honor veterans who bore the lamp of freedom in past conflicts.
  • Support families whose loved ones are being treated at military and VA hospitals through a donation to the Fisher House at
  • U.S. troops deployed to the Persian Gulf region and other overseas locations can now receive personal messages from family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues and supporters via the pages of "Stars and Stripes" as well. "Messages of Support," a daily section that debuted March 17, gives family and friends of deployed service members a chance to pass their greetings, words of encouragement and announcements free of charge. "Messages of Support" can be e-mailed to "Stars and Stripes" 24 hours a day at, are limited to 50 words or less and will be printed on a first-come, first-run basis. "Stars and Stripes" reserves the right to screen and edit all messages and to omit any determined inappropriate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:23 PM


BOOKNOTES: To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders by Bernard Bailyn (C-SPAN, March 23, 2003, 8 & 11 pm)
With these character sketches of key figures of the American Revolution and illuminating probes of its circumstances, Bernard Bailyn reveals the ambiguities, complexities, and uncertainties of the founding generation as well as their achievements.

Using visual documentation portraits, architecture, allegorical engravings as well as written sources, Bailyn, one of our most esteemed historians, paints a complex picture of that distant but still remarkably relevant world. He explores the powerfully creative effects of the Founders’ provincialism and lays out in fine detail the mingling of gleaming utopianism and tough political pragmatism in Thomas Jefferson’s public career, and the effect that ambiguity had on his politics, political thought, and present reputation. And Benjamin Franklin emerges as a figure as cunning in his management of foreign affairs and of his visual image as he was amiable, relaxed, and amusing in his social life.

Bailyn shows, too, why it is that the Federalist papers polemical documents thrown together frantically, helter-skelter, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in a fierce political battle two hundred years ago have attained canonical status, not only as a penetrating analysis of the American Constitution but as a timeless commentary on the nature of politics and constitutionalism.

Professor Bailyn concludes, in a wider perspective, with an effort to locate the effect of the Founders’ imaginative thought on political reformers throughout the Atlantic world. Precisely how their principles were received abroad, Bailyn writes, is as ambiguous as the personalities of the remarkably creative pro- vincials who founded the American nation

BOOK SITE: To Begin the World Anew (Borzoi Reader)
-REVIEW & LINKS: The Peopling of North America by Bernard Bailyn (Brothers Judd)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:11 PM


Many US casualties in Nassiriya battle; Footage of American POWs, including woman, shown on Iraqi TV (, 23-03-2003)
On Sunday afternoon, the Qatar-based television al Jazeera broadcast Iraqi TV, showing a videotape of at least 10 US POWs, including one female soldier, and a room with some 15 bodies of US troops. The live broadcast included also a footage of a battle field area in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriya with additional corpses of US soldiers as well as struck military equipment.

The videotape has also shown how the Iraqis investigate the American POWs. The prisoners were questioned on air and gave their names, military identification numbers and home towns.

Asked why he came to Iraq, one captive replied "I come to fix broke stuff." He was asked by the interviewer if he came to shoot Iraqis. "No I come to shoot only if I am shot at," he said. "They (Iraqis) don't bother me, I don't bother them."

Another prisoner, who said he was from Texas, said only: "I follow orders." A voice off-camera asked "how many officers" were in his unit. "I don't know sir," the man replied.

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force conceded that there were American soldiers missing, but said that there were fewer than 10 troops unaccounted for in southern Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned Sunday it was possible that Iraqi forces had taken U.S. prisoners, saying there were unaccounted soldiers and journalists in the combat zone.

He noted that under the Geneva Conventions governing prisoners of war, "It's illegal to do things to POWs that are humiliating to those prisoners."

Earlier, it was reported that U.S. Marines battled for control of Nassiriya, taking "significant" casualties in a fight to open a route north to Baghdad, military officials said.

Reuters quoted military officials as saying the Marine battalion spearheading the fight had suffered significant casualties in the battle.

A total of 11 U.S. soldiers were captured after taking a wrong turn, and 50 military personnel have been wounded in the massive firefight in Nassiriya, ABCNEWS reported Sunday.

Unfortunately, if you bypass towns to drive forward rapidly, you leave the possibility of some rearguard actions like this.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:02 PM


Cruise missiles found in hidden bunker (Sydney Morning Herald, March 24 2003)
British troops outside Basra have discovered cruise missiles and warheads hidden inside fortified bunkers as part of a massive arsenal abandoned by Saddam Hussein's disintegrating southern army.

Cases of rockets, giant anti-shipping mines and other ammunition are piled from floor to ceiling in dozens of bunkers at what is marked on maps as the Az Zubaya Heliport.

The most disturbing find was two Russian-made Al-Harith anti-shipping cruise missiles, each 6m long and 1m in diameter, and nine warheads, hidden in two enormous reinforced concrete bunkers.

Another missile, as yet unidentified, was found still crated up at the rear of one of the bunkers.

Some of the boxes are clearly marked with the names of British manufacturers.

The scale and possible implications of the weapons find took British forces by surprise and raised fresh questions about the extent of the Iraqi war machine and the ability of weapons inspectors to cope with the task of scouring such a vast country for prohibited ordinance.

The discovery of the missiles - date-marked 2002 - came as British troops from the Black Watch Regiment fought to secure the area around Iraqi's second city, Basra, in preparation for the capture of the city.

The vast complex, surrounded by chainlink fence and barbed wire, stands to the southwest of the town, defended by a network of earth works and with tanks and other armoured vehicles dug in to the surrounding area.

But the defenders have fled after coming under attack from coalition forces.

Outside the perimeter fence are about 40 bunkers packed with a mixture of RPGs and other ammunition. Inside, 22 larger fortified bunkers contain larger weaponry including the Al-Harith missiles.

The missiles, with Al-Harith 2002 stencilled in red paint on the side, and covered with cyrillic writing, were housed in 20-m-long concrete bunkers, 8m high, buried under earth and protected by sliding steel double doors 30cm thick.

Painted grey, the missiles have two wings, each about 60cm in span and three tail fins of a similar size. There was no indication of the nature of the warheads fitted and experts have been called in to examine the find.

Also housed inside the reinforced bunkers were what appeared to be large anti-shipping mines, 1m in diameter, and a host of other munitions.

On one box, written in English, were the words: "Contract AS Navy. 5/1980 Iran."

Corporal Steven Airzee said: "The initial sight was a shock. We were trying to figure out what they were. You have to wonder whether the weapons inspectors have been there because they looked pretty big."

If only he'd had a little more time, Hans Blix would surely have found them.

US TROOPS CAPTURE CHEMICAL PLANT (Caroline Glick Mar. 23, 2003, Jerusalem Post)

About 30 Iraqi troops, including a general, surrendered today to US forces of the 3rd Infantry Division as they overtook huge installation apparently used to produce chemical weapons in An Najaf, some 250 kilometers south of Baghdad.

One soldier was lightly wounded when a booby-trapped explosive went off as he was clearing the sheet metal-lined facility, which resembles the eery images of scientific facilities in World War II concentration camps.

The huge 100-acre complex, which is surrounded by a electrical fence, is perhaps the first illegal chemical plant to be uncovered by US troops in their current mission in Iraq. The surrounding barracks resemble an abandoned slum.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly which chemicals were being produced here, but clearly the Iraqis tried to camouflage the facility so it could not be photographed aerially, by swathing it in sand-cast walls to make it look like the surrounding desert.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:54 PM


To the Arabs, This Crusade Too Will Fail: Time is a mighty force. But a new Saladin would hasten the process. (James Reston Jr., March 23, 2003, LA Times)
In the West, it is hard to grasp why events that happened nearly a millennium ago still dominate Arab perceptions of Europeans -- and, by extension, Americans. There were five principal Crusades in medieval times, stretching over 200 years, and all aimed at "liberating" Christianity's holiest sites from Muslim control. And though each was unique, they had one thing in common: In one way or another, they were all failures.

This is a primary reason Arabs are drawn to this ancient lore. Memory is long in that part of the world, and resentment runs deep. Many Arabs put great faith in a mysterious process they call "the forces of history." Western armies may commit aggression in the sands of the Middle East. They may kill many Arabs, and they may stay for years, even decades. But ultimately they will leave or become absorbed. [...]

In crusades, the war can never be separated from its long and tedious aftermath. In their view of history, Arabs know the Americans will want to go home as quickly as they can. They will not want to bankrupt the American treasury, nor will they want to stay for decades. They will tire of their American crusader kingdom.

Of all the crusades, the third Crusade of Richard the Lionhearted, from 1187 to 1192, most passionately captures the imagination of the Arab world. It is a story not of oppression but of Arab triumph. It had a great Arab hero, Saladin, the defender of the faith and the lance of jihad. Memorials to him dot the Middle East today, from the heroic equestrian statue in Damascus to his colossal palace in Cairo. It was Saladin who crushed the Crusader army in 1187 at the Battle of Hattin. Until his death a few years ago, Syrian President Hafez Assad displayed an epic painting of the Battle of Hattin in his presidential office. Proudly, he would take Western visitors over to it. One day, he would say, a new Saladin will arrive on the scene.

It is doubtful that an American occupation of Iraq, no matter how long it lasts, will erase from the Arab mind the heroics of Saladin or the obligation of jihad or the carnage of the first Crusade and replace it with the democratic principles of Jefferson.

The most troubling thing, if you combine informed essays like this with the one below by Paul Berman, is the possibility they raise that the only way for the West to rid Islam of its totalitarian and murderous aspects will be to crush it as thoroughly as we did fascism in WWII, to demonstrate, once and for all, that the "forces of history" are centrifugal as regards Islam, rather than centripetal. What we may now be determining is just whether Islam can reform before such devastation becomes inevitable. Because radical Islamicism will have to be dealt with either internally or externally and internally would be much the preferable option.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM


EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: Tragedy at Camp Pennsylvania (Jim Lacey, March 23, 2003, TIME)
TIME's Jim Lacey has been traveling with the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. Over two weeks ago, they had set up camp in northern Kuwait just 20 miles south of the Iraqi border. Then the drama began:

It was 1:45 Sunday morning when I was awakened by the first blast—a boom 10 times louder than a car backfiring. Ten seconds later there was a second blast, and then soldiers started screaming, "Get out! Get out!" Someone had slipped two hand grenades into the tent housing more than a dozen of the brigade's officers. One woman in my tent, which was 10 yards away from the explosion, yelled, "I'm hit." A piece of shrapnel from the grenade had lodged in her leg.

I ran out of my tent into total chaos.

We're supposed to be making Saddam wonder who's loyal to him, not having to wonder who amongst us is loyal.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM


Terry Lloyd killed in Iraq ITV News, 23 Mar 2003)
There is now sufficient evidence to believe that ITV News Correspondent Terry Lloyd was killed in an incident on the Southern Iraq war front yesterday.

It is believed his body is in a Basra hospital, which is still under Iraqi control.

Two members of his team, Fred Nerac and Hussein Osman, are still missing and currently there is no information on their whereabouts or condition.

The ITN team came under fire, apparently from Coalition forces, outside Basra. Iraqi ambulances took a number of dead and injured from the area into Basra and it is believed that Terry Lloyd's body was among the dead.

The fourth member of the team, cameraman Daniel Demoustier, was injured in the incident but was able to get back to US and British lines. He reported afterwards seeing Iraqi ambulances retrieve dead and injured.

Demoustier said that the legacy he believes Terry would want to leave from this tragic incident is that the spirit of free reporting in war zones should continue.

Just as it is necessary to curse the excesses of the press, it is necessary to honor the bravery of the folks like Terry Lloyd who are bringing us this story at great and even lethal danger to themselves. I'm certain I'd be terrified in a war zone, but at least if you're a soldier you've got a gun and some minimal sense of influence over your fate. Imagine being there with nothing but a pen and a pad? They too are heroes.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 PM


Family grieves for Marine, questions need for invasion: Casualty: Kendall D. Waters-Bey's death prompts criticism of U.S. motives in the attack on Iraq. (Tom Pelton, March 23, 2003, Baltimore Sun)
Nakia Waters and two of her sisters stood on the concrete porch of their parents' brick rowhouse in Baltimore yesterday, laughing about their memories of knock-down pillow fights and all-out water-gun duels with their brother, Kendall D. Waters-Bey, a Marine who was one of the first U.S. casualties of the Iraq war.

But tears started streaming down Waters' cheeks when they began to talk about whether their brother died for a good cause. All three said they are angry at President Bush for sending their brother to die in what they regard as an unjust and pointless war.

"This war is all about oil and money," said Waters, 26, wiping the tears away. "But he [Bush] has already got oil and money. It's about greed. ... He ought to send his daughters over there to fight. See how long they'd last over there."

Their brother, a 29-year-old staff sergeant who supervised the maintenance of combat helicopters, was one of four U.S. Marines and eight British commandos who died Thursday when their CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter crashed and burned south of the Iraqi town of Umm Qasr.

Another of Waters-Bey's sisters, Sharita Waters-Bey, 23, said she was unmoved when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expressed his condolences during a televised press conference.

"That was just a show. They don't care. If they really cared, they [Bush or Rumsfeld] would call or send something. They wouldn't go on national television to express that to us," she said. "They don't know what we're going through as a family."

While several politicians praised Waters-Bey's sacrifice in fighting for freedom, those words rang false among neighbors up and down the block of Northeast Baltimore rowhouses where Waters-Bey grew up.

Many in this stable, hardworking community north of Morgan State University agree with Waters-Bey's sisters, who believe their brother died for oil prices.

One can only imagine and sympathize with their pain and regret what they're going through. And it is a disturbing practice of the media to track down families for immediate reactions to the loss of loved ones. But what they're saying--and I believe it is their father that NPR has been playing a clip from saying" "Mr. Bush, you took my son"--cheapens the noble sacrifice that their brother made. Staff Sergeant Kendall D. Waters-Bey is a hero, who died serving a grateful nation in the cause of freedom, and deserves to be remembered that way, not as some pitiable victim of the gas companies.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:43 PM


Iraqis greet advancing Marine units as liberators (James W. Crawley, March 23, 2003, San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE)
Marines driving deep into southern Iraq were greeted by Iraqi civilians yesterday who waved and gave the advancing force a "thumbs-up."

"That was awesome," Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Keeler said. "They were waving at us, honking their horns . . . I really felt like a liberator."

Three days into the war, Marines passed by small villages set around cultivated fields and encountered increasing numbers of civilians and surrendering Iraqi soldiers as they moved closer to the fertile Euphrates River valley. [...]

"They seemed happy we're here, or they were just hungry," said Cpl. Adam Brown, a light armored vehicle driver with the recon battalion. "I think I saw definite joy in their faces."

Many of the Iraqis carried yellow plastic bags containing humanitarian daily rations that U.S. troops were given to hand out to refugees and surrendering soldiers.

"They all know what the yellow bag is," said Ramage, who with the other crewmen on his vehicle tossed the rations to women and children along the highway.

Peace Marchers Rally Across United States (AP, March 23, 2003)
Anti-war activists marched again Saturday in dozens of cities, marshaling well over 100,000 in Manhattan and sometimes trading insults with backers of the U.S.-led war on Iraq. War backers rallied too, often by the thousands, with American flags and chants of ``USA!''

In Chicago, some of about 800 troop supporters came within 20 feet of a small group of anti-war activists outside a federal building. As the protesters shouted ``killers, killers, killers,'' a military backer yelled back ``idiots, idiots, idiots.'' Later, about 500 anti-war protesters marched around the same building.

Carrying peace signs and wearing costumes, demonstrators in New York spanned 30 blocks as they marched down Broadway toward Washington Square Park. Unofficial police estimates put the crowd at more than 125,000; United for Peace and Justice, the march organizers, estimated the crowd at more than 250,000.

"I believe if you really want to show `shock and awe,' you should show love and justice,'' said marcher Bob Edgar, an officer at the National Council of Churches.

Who's showing greater love for the people of Iraq: Mr. Edgar who's marching to try and keep them under Saddam's thumb or Cpl Brown who's risking his life to free and feed them?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM


The Philosopher of Islamic Terror (PAUL BERMAN, March 23, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
[Sayyid Qutb -- the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda, their Karl Marx] wrote a book called
''Milestones,'' and that book was cited at his trial, which gave it immense publicity, especially after its author was hanged. ''Milestones'' became a classic manifesto of the terrorist wing of Islamic fundamentalism. A number of journalists have dutifully turned the pages of ''Milestones,'' trying to decipher the otherwise inscrutable terrorist point of view.

I have been reading some of Qutb's other books, and I think that ''Milestones'' may have misled the journalists. ''Milestones'' is a fairly shallow book, judged in isolation. But ''Milestones'' was drawn from his vast commentary on the Koran called ''In the Shade of the Qur'an.'' One of the many volumes of this giant work was translated into English in the 1970's and published by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, an organization later widely suspected of participation in terrorist attacks -- and an organization whose Washington office was run by a brother of bin Laden's. In the last four years a big effort has been mounted by another organization, the Islamic Foundation in England, to bring out the rest, in what will eventually be an edition of 15 fat English-language volumes, handsomely ornamented with Arabic script from the Koran. Just in these past few weeks a number of new volumes in this edition have made their way into the Arab bookshops of Brooklyn, and I have gobbled them up. By now I have made my way through a little less than half of ''In the Shade of the Qur'an,'' which I think is all that exists so far in English, together with three other books by Qutb. And I have something to report.

Qutb is not shallow. Qutb is deep. ''In the Shade of the Qur'an'' is, in its fashion, a masterwork. Al Qaeda and its sister organizations are not merely popular,
wealthy, global, well connected and institutionally sophisticated. These groups stand on a set of ideas too, and some of those ideas may be pathological, which is an old story in modern politics; yet even so, the ideas are powerful. We should have known that, of course. But we should have known many things.

[A]s the Pan-Arabists went about promoting their revolution, Sayyid Qutb went about promoting his own, somewhat different revolution. His idea was ''Islamist.'' He wanted to turn Islam into a political movement to create a new society, to be based on ancient Koranic principles. Qutb joined the Muslim Brotherhood, became the editor of its journal and established himself right away as Islamism's principal theoretician in the Arab world. [...]

Readers without a Muslim education who try to make their way unaided through the Koran tend to find it, as I have, a little dry and forbidding. But Qutb's
commentaries are not at all like that. He quotes passages from the chapters, or suras, of the Koran, and he pores over the quoted passages, observing the prosodic qualities of the text, the rhythm, tone and musicality of the words, sometimes the images. The suras lead him to discuss dietary regulations, the proper direction to pray, the rules of divorce, the question of when a man may propose marriage to a widow (four months and 10 days after the death of her husband, unless she is pregnant, in which case after delivery), the rules concerning a Muslim man who wishes to marry a Christian or a Jew (very complicated), the obligations of charity, the punishment for crimes and for breaking your word, the prohibition on liquor and intoxicants, the proper clothing to wear, the rules on usury, moneylending and a thousand other themes.

The Koran tells stories, and Qutb recounts some of these and remarks on their wisdom and significance. His tone is always lucid and plain. Yet the total effect of his writing is almost sensual in its measured pace. The very title ''In the Shade of the Qur'an'' conveys a vivid desert image, as if the Koran were a leafy palm tree, and we have only to open Qutb's pages to escape the hot sun and refresh ourselves in the shade. As he makes his way through the suras and proposes his other
commentaries, he slowly constructs an enormous theological criticism of modern life, and not just in Egypt.

Qutb wrote that, all over the world, humans had reached a moment of unbearable crisis. The human race had lost touch with human nature. Man's inspiration, intelligence and morality were degenerating. Sexual relations were deteriorating ''to a level lower than the beasts.'' Man was miserable, anxious and skeptical,
sinking into idiocy, insanity and crime. People were turning, in their unhappiness, to drugs, alcohol and existentialism. Qutb admired economic productivity and
scientific knowledge. But he did not think that wealth and science were rescuing the human race. He figured that, on the contrary, the richest countries were the
unhappiest of all. And what was the cause of this unhappiness -- this wretched split between man's truest nature and modern life?

A great many cultural critics in Europe and America asked this question in the middle years of the 20th century, and a great many of them, following Nietzsche and other philosophers, pointed to the origins of Western civilization in ancient Greece, where man was said to have made his fatal error. This error was philosophical. It consisted of placing an arrogant and deluded faith in the power of human reason -- an arrogant faith that, after many centuries, had created in modern times a tyranny of technology over life.

Qutb shared that analysis, somewhat. Only instead of locating the error in ancient Greece, he located it in ancient Jerusalem. In the Muslim fashion, Qutb looked on the teachings of Judaism as being divinely revealed by God to Moses and the other prophets. Judaism instructed man to worship one God and to forswear all others. Judaism instructed man on how to behave in every sphere of life -- how to live a worldly existence that was also a life at one with God. This could be done by obeying a system of divinely mandated laws, the code of Moses. In Qutb's view, however, Judaism withered into what he called ''a system of rigid and lifeless ritual.''

God sent another prophet, though. That prophet, in Qutb's Muslim way of thinking, was Jesus, who proposed a few useful reforms -- lifting some no-longer necessary restrictions in the Jewish dietary code, for example -- and also an admirable new spirituality. But something terrible occurred. The relation between
Jesus' followers and the Jews took, in Qutb's view, ''a deplorable course.'' Jesus' followers squabbled with the old-line Jews, and amid the mutual recriminations,
Jesus' message ended up being diluted and even perverted. Jesus' disciples and followers were persecuted, which meant that, in their sufferings, the disciples were never able to provide an adequate or systematic exposition of Jesus' message.

Who but Sayyid Qutb, from his miserable prison in Nasser's Egypt, could have zeroed in so plausibly on the difficulties encountered by Jesus' disciples in getting out the word? Qutb figured that, as a result, the Christian Gospels were badly garbled, and should not be regarded as accurate or reliable. The Gospels declared Jesus to be divine, but in Qutb's Muslim account, Jesus was a mere human -- a prophet of God, not a messiah. The larger catastrophe, however, was this: Jesus' disciples, owing to what Qutb called ''this unpleasant separation of the two parties,'' went too far in rejecting the Jewish teachings.

Jesus' disciples and followers, the Christians, emphasized Jesus' divine message of spirituality and love. But they rejected Judaism's legal system, the code of Moses, which regulated every jot and tittle of daily life. Instead, the early Christians imported into Christianity the philosophy of the Greeks -- the belief in a spiritual existence completely separate from physical life, a zone of pure spirit. [...]

Qutb's story now shifts to Arabia. In the seventh century, God delivered a new revelation to his prophet Muhammad, who established the correct, nondistorted
relation to human nature that had always eluded the Christians. Muhammad dictated a strict new legal code, which put religion once more at ease in the physical
world, except in a better way than ever before. Muhammad's prophecies, in the Koran, instructed man to be God's ''vice regent'' on earth -- to take charge of
the physical world, and not simply to see it as something alien to spirituality or as a way station on the road to a Christian afterlife. Muslim scientists in the Middle Ages took this instruction seriously and went about inquiring into the nature of physical reality. And, in the Islamic universities of Andalusia and the East, the Muslim scientists, deepening their inquiry, hit upon the inductive or scientific method -- which opened the door to all further scientific and technological progress. In this and many other ways, Islam seized the leadership of mankind. Unfortunately, the Muslims came under attack from Crusaders, Mongols and other enemies. And, because the Muslims proved not faithful enough to Muhammad's revelations, they were unable to fend off these attacks. They were unable to capitalize on their brilliant discovery of the scientific method.

The Muslim discoveries were exported instead into Christian Europe. And there, in Europe in the 16th century, Islam's scientific method began to generate results, and modern science emerged. But Christianity, with its insistence on putting the physical world and the spiritual world in different corners, could not cope with scientific progress. And so Christianity's inability to acknowledge or respect the physical quality of daily life spread into the realm of culture and shaped society's attitude toward science.

As Qutb saw it, Europeans, under Christianity's influence, began to picture God on one side and science on the other. Religion over here; intellectual inquiry over there. On one side, the natural human yearning for God and for a divinely ordered life; on the other side, the natural human desire for knowledge of the physical
universe. The church against science; the scientists against the church. Everything that Islam knew to be one, the Christian Church divided into two. And, under
these terrible pressures, the European mind split finally asunder. The break became total. Christianity, over here; atheism, over there. It was the fateful divorce between the sacred and the secular.

Europe's scientific and technical achievements allowed the Europeans to dominate the world. And the Europeans inflicted their ''hideous schizophrenia'' on peoples and cultures in every corner of the globe. That was the origin of modern misery -- the anxiety in contemporary society, the sense of drift, the purposelessness, the craving for false pleasures. The crisis of modern life was felt by every thinking person in the Christian West. But then again, Europe's leadership of mankind inflicted that crisis on every thinking person in the Muslim world as well. Here Qutb was on to something original. The Christians of the West underwent the crisis of modern life as a consequence, he thought, of their own theological tradition -- a result of nearly 2,000 years of ecclesiastical error. But in Qutb's account, the Muslims had to undergo that same experience because it had been imposed on them by Christians from abroad, which could only make the
experience doubly painful -- an alienation that was also a humiliation.

That was Qutb's analysis. In writing about modern life, he put his finger on something that every thinking person can recognize, if only vaguely -- the feeling that human nature and modern life are somehow at odds. But Qutb evoked this feeling in a specifically Muslim fashion. [...]

His deepest quarrel was not with America's failure to uphold its principles. His quarrel was with the principles. He opposed the United States because it was a liberal society, not because the United States failed to be a liberal society.

The truly dangerous element in American life, in his estimation, was not capitalism or foreign policy or racism or the unfortunate cult of women's independence.
The truly dangerous element lay in America's separation of church and state -- the modern political legacy of Christianity's ancient division between the sacred
and the secular. This was not a political criticism. This was theological -- though Qutb, or perhaps his translators, preferred the word ''ideological.''

The conflict between the Western liberal countries and the world of Islam, he explained, ''remains in essence one of ideology, although over the years it has appeared in various guises and has grown more sophisticated and, at times, more insidious.'' The sophisticated and insidious disguises tended to be worldly -- a camouflage that was intended to make the conflict appear to be economic, political or military, and that was intended to make Muslims like himself who insisted on speaking about religion appear to be, in his words, ''fanatics'' and ''backward people.''

''But in reality,'' he explained, ''the confrontation is not over control of territory or economic resources, or for military domination. If we believed that, we would play into our enemies' hands and would have no one but ourselves to blame for the consequences.''

The true confrontation, the deepest confrontation of all, was over Islam and nothing but Islam. Religion was the issue. Qutb could hardly be clearer on this topic.
The confrontation arose from the effort by Crusaders and world Zionism to annihilate Islam. The Crusaders and Zionists knew that Christianity and Judaism were
inferior to Islam and had led to lives of misery. They needed to annihilate Islam in order to rescue their own doctrines from extinction. And so the Crusaders and
Zionists went on the attack. [...]

Qutb's vanguard was going to reinstate shariah, the Muslim code, as the legal code for all of society. Shariah implied some fairly severe rules. Qutb cited the Koran on the punishments for killing or wounding: ''a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear.'' Fornication, too, was a serious crime because, in his words, ''it involves an attack on honor and a contempt for sanctity and an encouragement of profligacy in society.'' Shariah specified the punishments here as well. ''The penalty for this must be severe; for married men and women it is stoning to death; for unmarried men and women it is flogging, a hundred lashes, which in cases is fatal.'' False accusations were likewise serious. ''A punishment of 80 lashes is fixed for those who falsely accuse chaste women.'' As for those who threaten the general security of society, their punishment is to be put to death, to be crucified, to have their hands and feet cut off, or to be banished from the country.''

But Qutb refused to regard these punishments as barbarous or primitive. Shariah, in his view, meant liberation. Other societies, drawing on non-Koranic principles, forced people to obey haughty masters and man-made law. Those other societies forced people to worship their own rulers and to do as the rulers said -- even if the rulers were democratically chosen. Under shariah, no one was going to be forced to obey mere humans. Shariah, in Qutb's view, meant ''the abolition of man-made laws.'' In the resurrected caliphate, every person was going to be ''free from servitude to others.'' The true Islamic system meant ''the complete and true freedom of every person and the full dignity of every individual of the society. On the other hand, in a society in which some people are lords who legislate and some others are slaves who obey, then there is no freedom in the real sense, nor dignity for each and every individual.''

He insisted that shariah meant freedom of conscience -- though freedom of conscience, in his interpretation, meant freedom from false doctrines that failed to
recognize God, freedom from the modern schizophrenia. Shariah, in a word, was utopia for Sayyid Qutb. It was perfection. It was the natural order in the universal.
It was freedom, justice, humanity and divinity in a single system. It was a vision as grand or grander than Communism or any of the other totalitarian doctrines of
the 20th century. It was, in his words, ''the total liberation of man from enslavement by others.'' It was an impossible vision -- a vision that was plainly going to require a total dictatorship in order to enforce: a vision that, by claiming not to rely on man-made laws, was going to have to rely, instead, on theocrats, who would interpret God's laws to the masses. The most extreme despotism was all too visible in Qutb's revolutionary program. That much should have been obvious to anyone who knew the history of the other grand totalitarian revolutionary projects of the 20th century, the projects of the Nazis, the Fascists and the Communists. [...]

It would be nice to think that, in the war against terror, our side, too, speaks of deep philosophical ideas -- it would be nice to think that someone is arguing with the terrorists and with the readers of Sayyid Qutb. But here I have my worries. The followers of Qutb speak, in their wild fashion, of enormous human problems, and they urge one another to death and to murder. But the enemies of these people speak of what? The political leaders speak of United Nations resolutions, of unilateralism, of multilateralism, of weapons inspectors, of coercion and noncoercion. This is no answer to the terrorists. The terrorists speak insanely of deep things. The antiterrorists had better speak sanely of equally deep things. Presidents will not do this. Presidents will dispatch armies, or decline to dispatch armies, for better and for worse.

But who will speak of the sacred and the secular, of the physical world and the spiritual world? Who will defend liberal ideas against the enemies of liberal ideas? Who will defend liberal principles in spite of liberal society's every failure? President George W. Bush, in his speech to Congress a few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, announced that he was going to wage a war of ideas. He has done no such thing. He is not the man for that.

Philosophers and religious leaders will have to do this on their own. Are they doing so? Armies are in motion, but are the philosophers and religious leaders, the
liberal thinkers, likewise in motion? There is something to worry about here, an aspect of the war that liberal society seems to have trouble understanding -- one more worry, on top of all the others, and possibly the greatest worry of all.

Though this piece is invaluable, that last seems untrue. Most modern religious leaders and philosophers of the West are uniquely unsuited to wage the war of ideas because they themselves no longer believe in the value of Western Civilization. George W. Bush, on the other hand, seems toi understand precisely what is at stake here and why we must and will win the clash. Consider just the closing of his last State of the Union:
Many challenges, abroad and at home, have arrived in a single season. In two years, America has gone from a sense of invulnerability to an awareness
of peril; from bitter division in small matters to calm unity in great causes. And we go forward with confidence, because this call of history has come to the right country.

Americans are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves. America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.

Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.

We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know -- we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

This combines both a certainty that the Western (now American) way is right with an understanding that what we mean by that is that Man must be free to govern himself, that God gives us freedom, rather than a comprehensive codebook to dictate our every behavior. Compare this idea to this one from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini:
The fundamental difference between Islamic government, on the one hand, and constitutional monarchies and republics, on the other, is this: whereas the representatives of the people or the monarch in such regimes engage in legislation, in Islam the legislative power and competence to establish laws belongs exclusively to God Almighty. The Sacred Legislator of Islam is the sole legislative power. No one has the right to legislate and no law may be executed except the law of the Divine Legislator. It is for this reason that in an Islamic government, a simple planning body takes the place of the legislative assembly that is one of the three branches of government. This body draws up programs for the different ministries in the light of the ordinances of Islam and thereby determines how public services are to be provided across the country.

This is a recipe for totalitarianism and is marred by a grotesque hubris, that we can know the mind of God as it concerns every little detail of our lives.

Here, on the other hand, is the summons that Mr. Bush offered us in his Inaugural Address:

We have a place, all of us, in a long story--a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.

It is the American story--a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.

The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.

Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws. And though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.

Through much of the last century, America's faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.

Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.

While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.

We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.

I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves who creates us equal in His image.

And we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.

America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.

Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.

America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.

Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small.

But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.

We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.

America, at its best, is also courageous.

Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defending common dangers defined our common good. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire us or condemn us. We must show courage in a time of blessing by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations.

Together, we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives.

We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent. And we will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working Americans.

We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.

We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.

The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.

America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise.

And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love.

And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls.

Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities. And all of us are diminished when any are hopeless.

Government has great responsibilities for public safety and public health, for civil rights and common schools. Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government.

And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor's touch or a pastor's prayer. Church and charity, synagogue and mosque lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and in our laws.

Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do.

And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side.

America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.

Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life not only in options, but in commitments. And we find that children and community are the commitments that set us free.

Our public interest depends on private character, on civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.

Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times has said, every day we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy are done by everyone.

I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well.

In all these ways, I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.

What you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort; to defend needed reforms against easy attacks; to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.

Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson: ``We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?''

Much time has passed since Jefferson arrived for his inauguration. The years and changes accumulate. But the themes of this day he would know: our nation's grand story of courage and its simple dream of dignity.

We are not this story's author, who fills time and eternity with his purpose. Yet his purpose is achieved in our duty, and our duty is fulfilled in service to one another.

Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today, to make our country more just and generous, to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.

This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.

God bless you all, and God bless America.

Compare his recognition that we are fallible with Mr. Khomeini's certainty that he can legislate for God. Note the emphasis, over and over again, on human freedom and the universality of the values we ourselves embrace. Note too the emphasis on our responsibility to and compassion for one another and to the rest of the world. Most of all, note the degree to which his vision of America and the ideas it stands for is imbued with spirituality. What other liberal leader, what religious figure, what philosopher, has demonstrated a greater understanding of what our side represents in the war of ideas than this?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM


-ESSAY: I Am Iraq (MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, March 23, 2003, NY Times Magazine)
Recently, 14,000 ''writers, academics and other intellectuals'' -- many of them my friends -- published a petition against the war, at the same time condemning the Iraqi regime for its human rights violations and supporting ''efforts by the Iraqi opposition to create a democratic, multiethnic and multireligious Iraq.'' But since they say that ''the decision to wage war at this time is morally unacceptable,'' I wonder what their support for the Iraqi opposition amounts to. One colleague refused to sign the petition because he said it was guilty of confusion. The problem is not that overthrowing Saddam by force is ''morally unjustified.'' Who seriously believes 25 million Iraqis would not be better off if Saddam were overthrown? The issue is whether it is prudent to do so, whether the risks are worth running.

Evaluating risks is not the same thing as making moral choices. It is impossible to be certain that improving the human rights of 25 million people is worth the cost because no one knows what the cost will be. Besides, even if the cost could be known, what the philosophers call ''consequential'' justifications -- that 25 million people will live better -- run smack against ''deontological'' objections, namely that good consequences cannot justify killing people. I think the consequential justifications can override the deontological ones, but only if the gains in human freedom are large and the human costs are low. But let's admit it, the risks are large: the war may be bloody, the peace may be chaotic and what might be good in the long run for Iraqis might not be so good for Americans. Success in Iraq might win America friends or it might increase the anger much of the Muslim world feels toward this country.

It would be great if moral certainty made risk assessment easier, but it doesn't actually do so. What may be desirable from a moral point of view may be so risky that we would be foolish to try. So what do we do? Isaiah Berlin used to say that we just have to ''plump'' for one option or the other in the absence of moral certainty or perfect knowledge of the future. We should also try to decide for ourselves, regardless of the company we keep, and that may include our friends, our family and our loved ones.

During Vietnam, I marched with people who thought America was the incarnation of imperial wickedness, and I marched against people who thought America was the last best hope of mankind. Just as in Vietnam, the debate over Iraq has become a referendum on American power, and what you think about Saddam seems to matter much less than what you think about America. Such positions, now as then, seem hopelessly ideological and, at the same time, narcissistic. The fact is that America is neither the redeemer nation nor the evil empire. Ideology cannot help us here.

In the weeks and years ahead, the choices are not going to be about who we are or whose company we keep, or even about what we think America is or should be. The choices are about what risks are worth running when our safety depends on the answer. The real choices are going to be tougher than most of us could have ever imagined.

The title of Mr. Ignatieff's essay reminds us of one of Ronald Reagan's greatest speeches, one that was unfortunately overshadowed by the controversy surrounding it. In May 1985 at Bitburg, he said the following:
Twenty-two years ago President John F. Kennedy went to the Berlin Wall and proclaimed that he, too, was a Berliner. Well, today freedom-loving people around the world must say, I am a Berliner, I am a Jew in a world still threatened by anti-Semitism, I am an Afghan, and I am a prisoner of the Gulag, I am a refugee in a crowded boat foundering off the coast of Vietnam, I am a Laotian, a Cambodian, a Cuban, and a Miskito Indian in Nicaragua. I, too, am a potential victim of totalitarianism.

Of course Reagan's greatness lay in his refusal to accept, as JFK and others had, the necessity of living with the Wall. Containment of the Soviets made victims of us all and implicated us in the maintenance of totalitarianism. Mr. Reagan instead demanded that we confront totalitarianism and that the Wall be torn down. Today we can truly say that we are all potential victims of terrorism and terror regimes and we must not accept this victimhood either.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:23 AM


Perle's Plunder Blunder (MAUREEN DOWD, 3/23/03, NY Times)
The pre-emption doctrine prefers ad hoc coalitions, allowing an unfettered America to strike at threats and potential threats. At A.E.I., Mr. Perle boasted that far from going it alone, the Bush administration had a coalition of "more than 40 countries and . . . growing." (Including Micronesia, Mongolia and the Marshall Islands,
all of them.)

This contempt for our coalition partners is a strange theme that the anti-war folks keep hitting on. They seem to genuinely despise the people of other countries; no wonder they don't care about Iraqis.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 AM


The Western Front (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, March 23, 2003, NY Times)
French officials insist that their dispute with the U.S. was about means, not ends, but that is not true. It was about the huge disparity in power that has emerged between the U.S. and Europe since the end of the cold war, thanks to the vast infusion of technology and money into the U.S. military. That disparity was disguised for a decade by the softer touch of the Clinton team and by the cooperation over second-order issues, such as Kosovo and Bosnia.

But 9/11 posed a first-order threat to America. That, combined with the unilateralist instincts of the Bush team, eventually led to America deploying its expanded power in Iraq, with full force, without asking anyone. Hence the current shock and awe in Europe. As Robert Kagan, whose book "Of Paradise and Power" details this power gap, noted: "We and the Europeans today are like a couple who woke up one day, looked at each other and said, `You're not the person I married!' "

Yes, we have changed. "What Chirac failed to understand was that between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the twin towers, a new world was created," said Dominique Moisi, a French foreign policy expert. "In the past, the Americans needed us against the Soviets and would never go so far as to punish France for straying. But that changed after 9/11. You have been at war since then, and we have not, and we have not integrated that reality into our thinking [and what that means] in terms of America's willingness to go it alone. We have fewer common interests now and more divided emotions."

Mr. Friedman seems about to make the key point, concerning our differing ends, but then misses it. Our end in this episode has been to contain the threat posed by Saddam. France's has been to contain America.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 AM


America just wants to cut to the chase, watch the fireworks and move on to the next showdown (Aaron Hicklin, 23 March 2003, Sunday Herald)
WE ARE fighting in Iraq, apparently, because the soldiers are bored. We could have waited a little longer, perhaps, but they've been hanging around long enough, and frankly they want to get back home, have some real chow, and watch Friends.

Those soldiers are not the only ones. Sometimes you get the feeling the whole of America just wants to cut to the chase, watch the fireworks and move on to the next showdown. At Fox and CNN, where news isn't news unless it's 'breaking', the stress of sustaining the coverage has been killing them. Hans Blix and Colin Powell just didn't cut the mustard, and all those endless Security Council meetings!. If only everything in life could be as perfectly scripted as last October's sniper attacks in Washington: one death every two or three days, just enough to hold the public's fickle attention, and then a gripping finale. All over within three weeks. Next.

Not really over, of course, just the fun part. John Lee Malvo, the 17-year-old co-defendant in the case is having his constitutional rights trampled so that attorney general John Ashcroft can have him executed, but that's not news. That's tedium. Like anthrax. Remember that? It closed down the Capitol in October 2001, and terrified America, but it was only interesting when it was scary. The perpetrator was never caught, despite the biggest operation in FBI history. For all we know, the attacks were a government plot to justify attacking Iraq. Probably not, but you can see how conspiracies begin. If the FBI with all its resources couldn't find the culprit, perhaps it was because it didn't want to.

Well, that's responsible journalism, eh?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


Saddam believes he can win even when staring defeat in the face (Andrew Cockburn, March 22, 2003, Times of London)
IN QUIETER times, Saddam Hussein starts the day with a digest of the foreign press. Right now, he may be too busy to read international speculation about his possible demise in the raid on Wednesday night, but he would certainly regard any suggestion that he is finished with derision.

The former hitman from Tikrit has never shown any sign of caving under pressure, still less turning tail, and there is no reason to believe that he will change now.

"He's keeping his nerve," one Iraqi opposition activist said disappointedly after watching Saddam's post-raid television broadcast. "He did not ask for this fight, in fact he made every concession he could to avoid it. But now it has been forced on him, he will fight to the end."

Well, except for the plane he had on the tarmac in 1991 so that he could flee if we headed for Baghdad. Sadly, the lesson that Saddam and Osama learned from the first Iraq War is that we in the West weren't serious about waging war on terror. We and the Iraqi people are paying a high price for that today.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM


Chinese babies found in luggage (BBC, 3/22/03)
Police in south-western China have discovered 28 baby girls packed into nylon suitcases and stacked on the luggage rack of a long-distance bus.

The police, acting on a tip-off, found them at a highway toll gate in Binyang, Guangxi province.

One of the babies - some of whose cheeks were mottled with cold - had died by the time the discovery was made on Tuesday evening.

The Beijing Morning News newspaper published the story on Saturday and it has since been confirmed by police.

Police said the youngest of the babies were only a few days old and the eldest were no more than three months. Most were "fine", they said.

They had been taken to a nearby school where nurses were taking care of them.

The newspaper suggested the infants may have been drugged to stop them crying.

"They had been on the bus for four or five hours before they were found," a police man told news agency AFP.

The babies, some packed two or three to a suitcase, were stacked on the luggage rack, on the back seat and along the sides of the bus, which was bound for an eastern province.

Sometimes you wonder why God spared Noah.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 AM


Friend Paul Cella has a piece at Tech Central Station, Whither Burke?:
[S]ome conservatives imagine the role of America today as imperial, with a reformulated noblesse oblige, to democratize rather than civilize, animating it. I think this wild idea dangerous, impractical and largely divorced from reality; but even if it were advisable, do we really think that the country could undertake to implement it, with ruthlessness and perseverance? We have not that strength; it is imprudence to think so; the British imperialists, who failed as much as they succeeded, were made of sterner stuff than us. We cannot even get control of our own immigration policy where it concerns immigrants from countries full of our enemies. We can hardly educate our own children. For us, it is controversial to demand that school children be taught English; or to question the wisdom of that tedious old refrain about a certain religion of peace, which nevertheless inspires and countenances bloody mayhem on the occasion of a beauty contest. These are the symptoms of a profound spiritual loss of nerve; one of the more brazen symptoms of which is that hubris which gives rise to the notion that a nation ashamed of its own institutions and traditions, its own founts of inspiration, its own ideals as they developed organically out of a matrix of reason and faith, its own school of experience and inherited wisdom--that a nation ashamed of all these things, can nonetheless successfully export them to those resentful masses who long for our demise.

I share his concern about whether the nations with which we are at war can be democratized before they are civilized and am willing to accept the charge of cultural imperialism for believing that they are not today civilized in the Western sense. Meanwhile, however, on the latter point, it must obviously seem hypocritical for me to argue on the one hand that we should not have fought WWII or the Cold War because as a democracy there was never any chance of our fighting them with the "ruthlessness and perseverance" that they required, but, on the other, to argue that we should fight the war on terror and specifically on Islamicism/pan-Arabism. What, after all, makes it any more likely that we'll behave seriously this time? Look at the craven behavior of our democratic "allies" in France and elsewhere and at the protests in our streets and it does seem difficult to argue that we'll persevere for any considerable amount of time in the current struggle.

However, it is here that 9-11, the first WTC bombing, Khobar Towers, the African embassy bombings, the Cole, etc. enter the picture. For the brutal reality is that either Nazism or Communism could have taken over every each of European soil and never represented much of a threat to our liberties here in America. Either form of anti-human despotism might have slaughtered hundreds of millions of Europeans without ever directly implicating our own self-interest in their defeat. And, so long as we built and maintained a strong defensive force, we might have remained isolated until these evil empires crumbled under their own weight. But we live in a far different world today, one where suicide bombers put us all at risk and create a clear self-interest in taking on this ism, Islamicism, in a way that it was never "necessary" to combat Nazism and Communism. And, unfortunately, there seems little doubt that whenever our enthusiasm for the current war flags a new incident will come along to restore our will to fight. There may be lulls in the war, especially after a major action like the Iraq War, but they'll surely be followed by new terrorist attacks that begin the cycle all over again. The Osamas of the world are not done with us and so we can not be done with them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 AM


Now Bush's doctrine of war will be put to the test: Will pre-emption survive the war on Iraq? (Martin Woollacott, March 21, 2003, The Guardian)
Doctrine, it is said, never survives the battlefield unscathed. The strikes aimed at killing Saddam Hussein probably cannot be counted as a true example of that proposition, since the theory of precision weapons does lay down that they are only as good as the intelligence which provides the target, coupled with the speed with which fire is brought to bear.

But they certainly represent the first of the tests of the American and British armed forces, their governments and their doctrines of war at every level, which this conflict will bring. Such doctrines go all the way from the smallest unit in the desert to the command staffs, and beyond them to governments pondering, as they will as soon as the violence ends, what will be the best course, whether military or non-military, in conflicts to come.

President Bush's ultimatum on Monday cited the new national security strategy, first outlined in January 2002, to the effect that, in an age when weapons of mass destruction are increasingly available, waiting to act after the enemy has "struck first is not self-defence, it's suicide". Critics have pointed out that the new doctrine blurs the distinction between pre-emption, which implies an imminent threat, and prevention, which implies more distant dangers.

The doctrine, as so far advanced, also tends to stress military rather than non-military solutions, and unilateral rather than multilateral decisions about the seriousness of threats. Although it does not neglect containment and deterrence, it pushes them down the list. Taken to the extreme, it would seem to allow one country, the US, to attack others at will if it deems them to represent a future rather than a present threat - and it might also encourage other countries to take pre-emptive action of the same kind in their neighbourhoods.

The administration repudiates such sweeping interpretations and seems genuinely convinced that this is a big idea which justifies the Iraq war and will be a key to action for years to come. Much of the rest of the world disagrees, either on the general principle, or on its application to Iraq, deeming the doctrine cover for other motives. In the most immediate sense that doctrine will be tested as it becomes clear what Iraq does possess in the way of weapons of mass destruction.

For the doctrine to be justified to any extent, there must be evidence that Iraq does have substantial stocks, and, equally important, that evidence must not take the form either of the effective use of such weapons against our troops or their transfer to terrorists who could use them in our home countries. The stocks, and any information on serious continuing weapons programmes, would show a degree of real threat, which would go some way to justifying the doctrine in principle. Even if the stocks are very substantial, that would not prove, of course, that the Iraqi regime planned to use them or could not have been deterred by means short of war. But it might nevertheless change the minds of many people across the world.

The completion of the military campaign without such weapons - assuming they exist in some quantity - being effectively used or transferred, would justify the doctrine at the level of execution. It would in other words show that the US had developed the military means to deal with an enemy, or at least this particular enemy, without its action leading to disaster rather than disarmament. To develop the capacity to paralyse an enemy and the speed and flexibility to get in sufficiently close to inhibit the use of weapons of mass destruction has been a preoccupation of reformers inside and outside the American services throughout the 90s. Major-General Robert Scales (author of Yellow Smoke, a new book on such requirements) stresses the weight of firepower, and the speed and especially the cunning of manoeuvre. The British military theorist of the 30s, Basil Liddell Hart, who advocated the "indirect approach", slicing through the enemy to cut up his nervous system, is an inspiration for such officers. What Scales calls the "new American style of war" has to be both fast and indirect, for the consequences otherwise could be horrendous.

Such wars now demand not just victory but the right kind of victory.

Mr. Woollacott is mostly right here, except that he fails to reckon with the fact that containment--or appeasement or whatever we choose to call the twelve years of diplomatic footsie with Saddam--has been a disaster. If we accept the number that is bandied about, that 1.5 million Iraqis have died as a result of the UN sanctions, it's obvious that one hell of a lot would have to go wrong with this war before it becomes a worse option than the "peace" has been.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:52 AM


US soldier admits role in deadly Kuwait grenade attack (AFP, 3/23/03)
A soldier with the US Army's elite 101st Airborne Division has admitted carrying out a grenade attack that killed a member of his unit and wounded a dozen others.

"I'm told he admitted doing it," Time Magazine reporter Jim Lacey, who is embedded with troops from the unit in the northern Kuwait desert, told CNN television early Sunday.

Military officials said the unidentified soldier hurled an undetermined number of grenades Saturday into a heavily guarded US military camp in the northern Kuwait desert.

Lacey said family members of the injured soldiers were being notified early Sunday.

The suspect is a sergeant attached to an engineering unit and has "an Arabic-sounding last name," Lacey said.

This is terrorism of an exceptionally effective kind because it sows doubts--hopefully illegitimate--about the loyalty of Muslim soldiers generally. But it would be helpful if the next announcement from an Arab-American civil rights organization deplored this kind of thing rather than leaping directly to fretting about potential backlash.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 AM

Why Colin Powell Should Go (BILL KELLER, March 22, 2003, NY Times)

The famous hardheaded definition of war is "the continuation of politics by other means." In the real world, though, war is the failure of politics. This war - undertaken at such cost to America's own interests - is specifically a failure of Colin Powell's politics.

Even if you believe that this war is justified, the route to it has been an ugly display of American opportunism and bullying, dissembling and dissonance. The administration has neglected other lethal crises around the world, alienated the allies we need for almost everything else on our agenda and abandoned friends working for the kind of values we profess to be exporting.

When the last insincere whimper of diplomacy failed this week, I happened to be in Pakistan, where those who speak up for the values we espouse live with death threats from Islamic zealots. As America moved on Iraq, it was heartbreaking to hear the despair of these beleaguered liberals. They are convinced that their cause - our cause - will now be suffocated by anti-Americanism, not because we are going to war but because of the way we are going to war.

Let's hope they are wrong, and let's hope the war is a quick success, and let's hope President Bush can regain the good will that accrued to America after Sept. 11. But on the battleground of ideas - on the issue of how America uses its power - Mr. Powell seems to me to have been defeated already. When the war is over, when his departure will not undermine the president during a high crisis, he should concede that defeat, and go.

It must be a need to stay on the good side of Howell Raines that causes Mr. Keller, who's capable of writing rather perceptive and intelligent essays, to also issue deeply silly ones like this. He seems here to be profoundly confused about the difference between means and ends. Diplomacy is merely the former, not the latter. So the end that Colin Powell was seeking was the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. He made a good faith effort to achieve this end through diplomacy. He failed, but there is no shame in this. When he realized that putative allies like France and Germany and enemies like Syria and China would not allow diplomacy to accomplish the goal, he decided to continue the politics by other means: war. His political vision remained unchanged; all he's done is adjust how it will be realized and it looks like he's headed for success, not failure. It would be asinine to resign.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 AM


For Sunnis, Shias, Kurds and Turks, when war stops, the trouble starts (David Pryce-Jones, 23/03/2003, Daily Telegraph)
Iraq's exiled democratic politicians know what needs to be done to avoid a repeat of the old endless cycle of violence. Ahmed Chalabi, the President of the Iraqi National Congress, has built a coalition of religious and ethnic leaders. He has even got Hakim al-Bakr on board. Chalabi is going to host the constitutional conference in which Iraqis will decide what political constitution they will adopt: a parliamentary democracy, a presidential democracy, or even a constitutional monarchy, are all possibilities. Whatever constitution the conference decides upon will be put to a popular vote before it is ratified.

Once that has happened, a new, democratic Iraq should be safely on its way. But it will take about two years to get to that point - and it is in those two years that Iraq is liable to split itself apart, as the totalitarian apparatus of the Ba'ath Party is destroyed, and perhaps 40 of Saddam's top henchmen are tried for their crimes (including men such as Ali Majid, or "Chemical Ali", who gassed Halabja).

There is only one force that has the power to guarantee that disputes in Iraq are resolved without violence. That force is the American army. American military power can prevent Iraq from sliding into anarchy, as it has prevented civil war from breaking out in Afghanistan since the removal of the Taliban regime, protecting Mohammed Karzai - who is committed to peaceful politics - from the warlords, who are not.

The Americans can ensure that only peaceful procedures are used in Iraq. But to do so, they will have to use their power subtly, indeed almost invisibly. It would be a terrible blunder if the Americans try to act as an adjudicator in Iraq's religious and political disputes, deciding who will get which of the spoils of war. If the Americans start to be perceived as meddling in Iraq's internal politics, the result will undo any possible good that might have come from removing Saddam.

A benign America, one that acts only to prevent the fanatics or the bloodthirsty in Iraq from wresting control from the politicans committed to non-violent procedures, would be profoundly appreciated. An imperial America would be the fastest way to turn Iraq into a fanatically anti-American country generating terrorists faster than the West Bank.

My old teacher, Professor Elie Kedourie, who was born in Baghdad, insisted that "You must always keep your eye on the corpses." The Americans have done so during the war. They must continue to do so once the war is over. For if they do not, the number of bodybags could be higher than anyone has imagined.

No matter what they end up with, so long as it's representative, will be an improvement, so we can't get hung up on making them too "democratic".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:13 AM


What happens if Dubya's bus to Baghdad goes past its stop? (Gerald Warner, 23 Mar 2003, Scotsman)
It has taken a major war to alert many non-American observers to how little they know about George W Bush. Ignorance, of course, has never been a problem for leftist commentators. They take pride in keeping their prejudices unsullied by embarrassing, politically incorrect facts. It is an axiom on the left that Dubya is a moron, a Texan cowboy who is driven by an extreme right-wing ideology, with a penchant for nuclear war. Does that fashionable description ring any bells? The same was said of Ronald Reagan, whose modest legacy includes the global collapse of communism, after he precipitated the implosion of the Soviet economy by forcing the evil empire to match his Star Wars programme.

People who buy into the Bush/cretin thesis would do best to paint their faces and join the 10-year-olds on the picket lines. We are at too critical a moment in history to abandon intelligent geopolitical analysis in favour of grudge-driven sloganising. The objective fact is that George W Bush is surrounded by some of the most brilliant people to have served in any American administration. Indeed, the real danger may be the reverse of the liberal/leftist canard: the presidential team may be too cerebral for its own - and the world’s - good.

Politics, ideally, should be conducted by intelligent people. That is not a luxury we have enjoyed recently in this country, as witness l’affaire Clare Short - that surreal moment of farce, when Armageddon briefly wore motley. Yet there is an important distinction between government by the intelligent and by intellectuals. Arguably, the most formidable armoured column that is spearheading the present conflict is the invasion of the Oval Office by think-tanks. Dubya is a traditional American cultural conservative who likes to cut taxes, limit big government, encourage citizens’ personal responsibility, reinforce family values and prioritise the defence of the United States against aggression.

Yet even that last principle does not quite explain why he has a quarter of a million troops toiling through the Iraqi desert. This American intervention can only represent that phenomenon beloved of university examiners: a watershed in history. It is not so long since commentators were babbling about "the end of history", the successor buzz words to "glasnost", "perestroika" and the rest of Gorbachev’s turgid nonsense. The message blowing out of the sandstorms between Basra and Mosul is: kiss goodbye to the New World Order - here comes the New American Century. [...]

After the unsatisfactory outcome of the First Gulf War, the US Defense Department drew up a revanchist document which proposed a hyperpower role for America, as universal arbiter of human affairs. Dubya Pere, deeply embarrassed by this charter for imperial expansion, quietly binned it. Its philosophy resurfaced, however, in a report published by a powerful think-tank called Project for the New American Century, in September 2000.

Its authors included Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy defence secretary in the Dubya administration; John Bolton, now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security; and Dov Zakheim, undersecretary of defence and Pentagon chief financial officer.

Conspiracy theorists will get no joy from this coterie: there is no secrecy and their programme is aggressively in the public domain. Saddam is history. Kim Jung-il - by all means read short stories, but don’t get hooked on any serials. Iran? Well, one of their locker-room on dits is that nerds can take Baghdad, real men want to go to Tehran. Beyond those modest ambitions, the orchards of Syria beckon seductively... By an irresistible logic, the ultimate target must be China - probably not as a military objective, but to be absorbed into the global imperium of motherhood and apple pie by a process of economic and cultural osmosis.

Now hold on just one moment, fellas! Some of this Napoleonic stuff is getting kinda scary. Especially since Dick Cheney and Donald (Dr Strangelove) Rumsfeld are country members of the club. There is a danger that the ambitions of certain neo-conservative elements within the present administration may play into the hands of propagandists, by conforming to the leftist caricature of Republicans. Dubya is one of the sanest men this side of Alpha Centauri, but his Special Republican Guard is starting to frighten the children.

The distinction Mr. Warner draws is an excellent one and we should be dubious about intellectuals of the Right just as much as those--far more numerous--of the Left. The neocon intellectuals' notion that the product of these wars will be democratic revolution in the Middle East seems very much like the utiopianism of which we often accuse liberals. However, there's an intelligent case for taking down the very worst government around, particularly if they're actively trying to develop WMD. Democracy would be a pleasant bonus, but realistically, at least in the short term, we can't expect much more than disarmament and improved government.

March 22, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 PM


Peace demonstrators in France stab 2 Jewish boys (THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 23, 2003)
According to the Jewish Agency, Anti-American demonstrators attacked and wounded two young boys Saturday. The boys were participating in an educational activity of the Hashomer Hatsa'ir youth movement, taking place nearby.

The Jewish Agency called on the French government "to assume its responsibility for the security of its Jewish citizens, and to prevent violence against Jews or anti-Semitic acts under the guise of pacifist protest".

Perhaps peace means something different to them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM


Special forces in Baghdad as Saddam's armies reel: Iraqi troops pull back for final showdown á Thousands surrender in battle for Basra á US forces advance to within 100 miles of capital (Ed Vulliamy, Kamal Ahmed, Paul Harris, James Meek, and Rory McCarthy, March 23, 2003, The Observer)
American special forces were reported to be in Baghdad as thousands of elite troops still loyal to Saddam Hussein prepared for a final bloody showdown in the Iraqi capital.

The prospect of coalition forces fighting street by street for control of the city emerged after thousands of Saddam's troops withdrew to the city following a day of sweeping advances by US and British soldiers pushing north from Kuwait. [...]

Earlier American Brigadier-General Vincent Brooks said the US military had entered the capital, and Pentagon sources told The Observer that intelligence paramilitary forces were also inside the city.

The sources said the role of the special forces was to 'help locate targets and monitor defence preparations'. However, they refused to comment on whether the infiltrators planned assassinations or direct engagement with the Iraqi forces.

The infiltration dovetails with US concerns that Saddam is preparing what they call the 'Stalingrad Factor' to defend the capital, seeking to establish an iron ring of defences, possibly involving the deployment of chemical and biological weapons.

The sources said the paramilitary forces were from the CIA, and 'may be' involved in talks between the US, represented by Iraqi dissidents and Kurdish leaders, and Saddam's Republican Guard.

US State Department sources said contacts had 'intensified' in the past 24 hours 'with regard to mass surrenders and surrenders higher up the chain of command'. [...]

In an attempt to put a quick end to the war, the US has been negotiating with Iraqi military commanders using third-country intelligence connections, Iraqi defectors and even straightforward telephone appeals from American officers, according to US and Iraqi opposition officials.

The aim is to persuade the Iraqi military to stage a coup against Saddam or surrender en masse. 'We're trying to get the message across that it's time to give up,' said a State Department official. Across the southern portion of the country, Iraqi army regulars were surrendering to anyone they could find in a military uniform; some even tried to surrender to reporters.

US intelligence officials said there was now a high volume of back-channel communications with officials inside Iraq. American military officers were trying, often by telephone, to coax their Iraqi counterparts into surrendering.

We don't want to kill them and they, presumably, don't want to die; let's hope they have sense enough to surrender.

Aerial Pounding Intended to Push Iraq's Government TowardBrink: The airstrikes the U.S. military carried out were intended to destroy Saddam Hussein's ability to control his forces. (MICHAEL R. GORDON, 3/22/03, NY Times)

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:29 PM


'US SOLDIER ATTACKS TROOPS' (SkyNews, 3/22/2003)
An American Muslim soldier is understood to have carried out a grenade attack on a US military camp, injuring16 soldiers.

A second man, who is not a soldier, is thought to be held....

[Sky correspondent Stuart] Ramsay watched as the suspects were held....

"Two men are being held, one of which is a Muslim soldier who is an engineer," Ramsay said.

"It appears he was hiding in a barrack where the attacks happened. A second man, who we believe is not an American soldier, is being held by the military."...

He said fears about the Muslim soldier's behaviour had been raised in recent days by colleagues.

"In recent days they were concerned about his behaviour and were not going to send him up to the front when the soldiers were going to be deployed."

Debka is reporting that two hired Kuwaiti interpreters also participated in the attack and escaped. I wonder why none of the U.S. media are yet reporting that the perpetrator is Muslim?

U.S. Soldier Held for Another's Death in Grenade AttackRick Atkinson, , March 23, 2003, Washington Post)

One soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was killed and 13 were wounded this morning when two hand grenades were thrown into the 1st Brigade technical operations center at Camp Pennsylvania in central Kuwait, U.S. Army officials said.

A U.S. soldier assigned to the brigade was in custody, the officials said. The soldier who was killed was not idenfitied.

Army sources said that soldiers from the 1st Brigade had loaded their vehicles and were preparing to move from Camp Pennsylvania when the grenades exploded at about 1:21 a.m. local time in the operations center, which is in a closely confined tent and usually manned by a couple dozen staff officers.

A soldier guarding a convoy of engineer vehicles was found to be missing, as were four grenades from the convoy's ammunition supply.

Roughly an hour after the grenade attack, a missile alert sounded and the missing soldier was discovered in a protective bunker. The soldier was arrested and was in the custody of the military police at Camp Pennsylvania.

Posted by David Cohen at 6:09 PM


Mathew 4:8. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

In this post, OJ asks:
if it is the case that we can rid peoples of such [evil] regimes and manifestly improve their lives, even save their lives, with such minimal impact, has the moral obligation now clearly shifted . . . to one where we must embrace war because of the suffering and death it so clearly relieves? . . . Isn't the hard question that confronts us all today, but the peace party in particular, whether we behaved decently and responsibly towards fellow human beings when we left the Iraqis to Saddam's mercies in 1991? . . . May we not be in the midst of an unusual and as yet unrecognized epoch in our affairs where war is not the worst but the best option available to us and to captive peoples? Which do we place a higher value on, as a society, our peace or human freedom? And can we love our society if we choose the former?
OJ is making three implicit claims:

1. All governments should be judged against the American values: liberty, consent of the governed, the rule of law and security of property. To the extent a government is subject to these values, it is good. To the extent it traduces them, it is evil.

2. We, as Americans, and our government, each have a moral obligation to promote these virtues.

3. This moral obligation includes an obligation to use our military supremacy to overthrow governments which most widely diverge from these values, if they cannot otherwise be reformed and if it can be done without more than a few thousand civilian or US military deaths.

This is an extraordinarily tempting prospect for me. Everyone should be able, as their birthright, to live an American life. Not only would they be better off, but we would be better off as well. Through enhanced trade, we would be richer. As one nation in a liberated world, we would be safer. And, without jinxing our luck, it is possible that the cost of these little wars of liberation would be low. The net cost of the Iraq war will likely be less than one percent of our GDP. One hundred military casualties (which G-d forbid) would raise the risk of dying on active duty by 7 in 100,000, or about .007 percent. This is about the risk the average American runs of dying in a fall each year, and significantly less than the number of people, per 100,000, killed by medical malpractice. (See this web page for statistics on military deaths.) So what's the problem? Why do I think that this devilish vision has been sent to tempt us and must be abjured?

OJ's first precept, which would be controversial even among Americans, and dismissed as simplisme outside the US, is one in which I believe strongly. We are right and they are wrong, and I feel no relativistic pull to recognize their different values, which doubtless come from their sophisticated culture and long history.

OJ's second precept is attractive, but ultimately unconvincing. From the British, we Americans have inherited the implicit belief that foreigners will always be with us. One feels sorry for them, of course, but there you have it. Our role is to be the shining city on the hill. Here is how it is done, if you have the strength to do it. We may be morally obliged not to prevent others from attaining these American rights -- something we have not been altogether successful at -- but it has never been part of our American ethos that we must go forth and assist others.

OJ says that this is a moral obligation; but OJ and I both believe that morality is fixed, not a malleable tool of human logic. So what is the source of this moral duty? There are any number of authorities to whom each side of this debate can appeal. But this comes down, in the end, to the question Cain asked of G-d, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain asks this question of G-d in order to avoid confessing to his brother's murder. He asks it, presumably, because he thinks that G-d will agree and, indeed, G-d does not disagree. We are not our brothers' keepers. We are not to envy them, or covet their possessions; we may not murder them; but equally we cannot control them or subvert their own responsibility for their lives. I welcome the opportunity that we are giving to the Iraqi people to start over in freedom. I am agnostic about their ability to keep it. I am certain that we are not the guarantors of that freedom.

(Might Christians come to a different conclusion? They might, as there are almost as many Christianities as Christians, but that is not my understanding of orthodox Christian doctrine. These matters, as far as I can see, come under those things of Caesar's that may be rendered as Caesar commands. The meek are blessed through meekness, they do not need the I Marine Expeditionary Force to bless them. Christians are rewarded in the next world, not in this world and can come to their reward as easily (maybe even more easily) under Saddam Hussein as under the Constitution.)

Even if we have no obligation to act to rescue other people from their government, shouldn't we do so if the cost is small? This is a red herring. The cost is small in Iraq due to the first Gulf War, 10 years of sanctions, Iraq's limited ability to strike at its neighbors (that is, it's not North Korea), thirty years of Ba'athist party socialism and, I'm sorry to say, Arab culture. This is a fairly rare combination.

But, even so, the answer is no. Great cost or many deaths, both among our soldiers and the civilian population, might deter us from a war that is otherwise in our interest, but the obverse will never be true. This is, in part, a slippery slope argument. I can't distinguish between OJ's argument and the argument that we should annex Nigeria. The Nigerians would be better off -- who can deny it -- and we would profit be controlling their oil. Or perhaps we should change the Mexican regime. Walking from San Diego to Tijuana convinced me of the importance of the legal regime in creating wealth. Wouldn't we be better off with an Americanized, wealthy Mexico?

But in the end, these arguments, puissant though they are, might not stop me from agreeing with OJ. Apart from the slippery slope argument, apart from the sanctity of even a small number of lives, apart from our historical understanding of our place in the world, apart from our security from terror, apart from the Bible, I am left with my conservative belief in the imperfectability of man and the limits of human logic.

We cannot see the consequences of our actions. The most meticulous logic can be undone by the happenstance of events. We call ourselves democrats and speak of establishing an universal democracy, but if we truly trusted democracy, Al Gore would be president. We must act in the world, but we should only act when forced to do so. That requires that we only act when our own interest compels us to do so; that it will then usually be, as far as we can see, also in the interest of those we act upon is just gravy.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:23 PM


Gulf War Slide Show (Durham Herald-Sun, 3/22/2003)

Why is this pro-war demonstrator dressed up like General Custer? I suppose it could be said that Americans won that battle, but General Custer surely lost. Next thing you know, people will dress as Benedict Arnold.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:52 AM


The other America (Edward Said, Al Ahram Weekly, 3/20/2003)
I recall many times during the 20 years that I knew Yasser Arafat well, trying to explain to him that [America] was a complex society with all sorts of currents, interests, pressures, and histories in conflict within it and that far from being ruled the way Syria was, for instance, a different model of power and authority ought to be studied. I enlisted my late friend, the scholar and political activist, Eqbal Ahmed ... but all to no avail.

Arafat can't imagine any kind of government except absolute dictatorship. Can't say I'm surprised.
Most people throw up their hands in despair like disappointed lovers: America is hopeless, and I don't ever want to go back there, they often say, though one also notices that green, permanent residence cards are much in demand, as are university admissions for the children.

America truly is culture shock for Arabs. The barriers of language and culture are always difficult for immigrants to overcome; and it is not surprising that, with return flights to the home country so inexpensive, many return, and then blame their failure on the host country. But secretly, they know: America is the future, and I should try again, or my children should.
The difference between America and the classic empires of the past is that ... this one [operates] with an astonishing affirmation of its nearly sancrosanct altruism and well-meaning innocence....

America is the world's most avowedly religious country. References to God permeate the national life, from coins to buildings to common forms of speech: in God we trust, God's country, God bless America, and on and on. George Bush's power base is made up of the 60-70 million fundamentalist Christians who, like him, believe they have seen Jesus and are here to do God's work in God's country....

All of those things converge around an idea of American rightness, goodness, freedom, economic promise, social advancement that is so ideologically woven into the fabric of daily life that it doesn't even appear to be ideological, but rather a fact of nature. America=good=total loyalty and love. Similarly there is an unconditional reverence for the Founding Fathers, and for the Constitution, an amazing document, it is true, but a human one nevertheless. Early America is the anchor of American authenticity. In no country that I know does a waving flag play so central an iconographical role.

This much is well said.
[T]he consensus operates in a sort of timeless present. History is anathema to it, and in accepted public discourse even the word 'history' is a synonym for nothingness or non-entity, as in the scornful, typically dismissive American phrase, 'you're history.' Otherwise history is what as Americans we are supposed to believe about America (not about the rest of the world, which is 'old' and generally left behind, hence irrelevant) uncritically, loyally, unhistorically.

Said hits upon a truly important cultural difference, but he doesn't get the point. Arab culture has a long memory; it is full of grudges; offenses are neither forgiven nor forgotten. It is typically Arab for Osama bin Laden to explain his terror in terms of vengeance for the loss of Andalusia to the Spaniards.

America, by contrast, has an essentially Christian spirit which emphasizes forgiveness. "Forgive us our trespasses, Lord, as we forgive those who trespass against us" -- this is our daily prayer. In the Christian vision, relationships are continually renewed in the present, constantly rededicated to love and affection. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord" -- we are to renounce all grudges. We let old offenses slip into history, and we are rightfully scornful of those who do not. It is, to us, weakness in the Arabs that they clutch their history tightly, and never let it go.

America [is] embroiled in a serious clash of identities whose counterparts are visible as similar contests throughout the rest of the world. America may have won the Cold War, as the popular phrase has it, but the actual results of that victory within America are very far from clear, the struggle not yet over.

This is quite true. The Soviet Union fell but the contest between philo-tyrannic ideologies and freedom was barely interrupted.
Cultures, specially America's, which is in effect an immigrant culture, overlap with others, and one of the perhaps unintended consequences of globalisation is the appearance of transnational communities of global interests, as in the human rights movement, the women's movement, the anti-war movement and so on. America is not at all insulated from any of this.... There is hope and encouragement to be gained from that view.

Globalization strengthens my hope that American values will triumph in the rest of the world, as it gives Said hope that leftist values will triumph in America. We shall see.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:51 AM


While coming up with a detailed response to the Judd Doctrine (my short response is vade satanas) I came across this web page listing and classifying all active duty military deaths by year from 1980 through 1999. I find the numbers fascinating.

Over those 20 years, active duty deaths from all causes plummeted, from 2391 (116.6 per 100,000) in 1980 to 761 (54.9 per 100,000) in 1999. Accidents (411, down from 1577) and illness (126 v. 401) fell particularly sharply. At this point, there are almost as many self-inflicted deaths (110 in 1999) as deaths from illness. I was also surprised to see that, during those 20 years, there were only four years without any deaths from hostile action. The Marine Corp is the most dangerous service (70.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1999), the Air Force the least dangerous (32.4 per 100,000). There is a lot of fascinating information here (the Air Force is also the least suicidal service) and if you're at all interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend it.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:46 AM

WSJ TAKES HARRY'S SIDE (via Arts and Letters Daily):

Past Mideast Invasions Faced Unexpected Perils (Wall Street Journal, 3/19/2003)
From Napoleon's drive into Egypt through Britain's rule of Iraq in the 1920s to Israel's march into Lebanon in 1982, Middle East nations have tempted conquerors only to send them reeling.

Little wonder that even many Arabs who revile Saddam Hussein view the prospect of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with trepidation. "Unless the Americans are far more subtle than they've ever had the capacity to be, and more subtle than the [colonial] British, it's going to end in tears," predicts Faisal Istrabadi, an Iraqi-born lawyer in Michigan who has worked with the State Department on plans to rebuild Iraq's judiciary. "The honeymoon will be very brief."

Again and again, Westerners have moved into the Mideast with confidence that they can impose freedom and modernity through military force. Along the way they have miscalculated support for their invasions, both internationally and in the lands they occupy. They have anointed cooperative minorities to help rule resentful majorities. They have been mired in occupations that last long after local support has vanished. They have met with bloody uprisings and put them down with brute force.

"We tend to overlook a basic rule: that people prefer bad rule by their own kind to good rule by somebody else," says Boston University historian David Fromkin, author of a 1989 classic on colonialism's failures in the Mideast called "A Peace to End All Peace."...

With the passion of a convert to nation-building, he spoke movingly of confronting totalitarianism, of spreading "God's gift" of liberty "to each and every person," and of how "Iraqi lives and freedom matter greatly to us."

Napoleon proclaimed a similar new era of equality and respect for "true Muslims" as he marched into Cairo in 1798, killing a thousand members of Egypt's ruling caste. He was accompanied by 100 French scientists, researching an encyclopedia and spreading European "enlightenment" to bemused Egyptian intellectuals.

"Peoples of Egypt, you will be told that I have come to destroy your religion," said Napoleon as he entered Cairo. "Do not believe it! Reply that I have come to restore your rights!"...

Resentment grew as hundreds of unveiled women paraded around town with the French interlopers, flouting Islamic ideals of modesty. "One saw low-class women mixing with the French because of their liberality and their liking for the female sex," wrote Egyptian historian Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti.

Months after the French arrival, Islamic clerics stirred a mob to rebellion, killing 300 Frenchmen. In revenge, the French bombarded Cairo. French troops stormed the city, killing 3,000 Cairenes and ransacking the chief mosque of al-Azhar on horseback. "The people of Cairo were overwhelmed with disdain, abasement at the despoiling and looting of wealth by the French," Mr. al-Jabarti observed.

The French left within three years.

Fairly typical that the French promised "liberté" but brought sex, looting, and violence, and then left. The relevance of French experience to American action would be hard for me to see, even if the two experiences were contemporaneous.

Much has changed since the early 1800s: notably, the rewards to freedom. Even the most advanced nations in 1800 grew at 0.5% per year, meaning that for the average adult, living in a static society would cost the average 40-year-old 5% of his lifetime earnings -- hardly a factor that would weigh against cultural preferences. Now, advanced nations grow at 3% per year, and developing nations like Iraq can easily grow at 10% per year. This means that being in a dictatorship like Iraq or Iran, rather than a free society, will cost the average 40-year-old 65% of his future earnings, and the average 20-year-old 90% of his future earnings. Today, the cost of living in a socially and politically backward country is immense, especially for the young.

Non-economic factors have changed too: the value of freedom is much more clear after two centuries of experience; and modern business, more than commerce of a hundred years ago, provides a cultural training that supports freedom.

I believe that, if we are tenacious, Arab freedom will flourish. I hope President Bush works hard to prove the skeptics wrong.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM


-AUDIO INTERVIEW: with Youssef M. Ibrahim, Expert on Energy and the Middle East (Fresh Air, March 21, 2003, NPR)
He is group editor at Energy Intelligence, a company that publishes news and provides data and analysis about international energy issues. Ibrahim is also a senior fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, Ibrahim was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, and Tehran Bureau Chief. He also covered energy for The Wall Street Journal.

This is a joyously cynical look at the politics of oil, America, and the Arab world. Much that he says will be disagreeable to you, but all will be thought provoking.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 AM


When did Despotism become Peace? (Sean Peck)
The liberation of the Iraqi people has begun, after the slaughter of 2 Million Iraqis, countless wars and aggression against his neighbors, decades of abject oppression of the most fundamental human rights, untold violations of the Geneva Convention and UN Resolutions, the end of Saddam and his regime of terror is at hand.  US and British forces once again bring liberty to the oppressed. 

One would think after the untold death and oppression of the late 19th and early 20th century the lessons of appeasement would be learned.  One would also think the complete and total failure of communism would also be widely universally accepted.  Fortunately in America largely these lessons have been learned, our troops have had to mop up the messes, including the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF CORPSES, created by these failed ideologies.  Europe doesn’t care about the clean up their failed policies, because its been a long time since they have had to clean them up, that’s a job they leave for us Yanks.

Sadly much of the world has not learned this lesson and it appears that the nations that have learned the least about dealing with despots are the same nations that created the 3 antichrists of Europe.  The nations that unleashed Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin upon the world have been the most vociferous advocates of leaving Saddam and his regime in power. 

I guess in a way I can see their side, I mean, why worry about Saddam slaughtering 2 million, after all, their past leaders butchered nearly 200 Million, É. I guess in the face of that, what is a paltry 2 million souls?  What is cutting out the tongue of those who speak against the dictator in the face of the Gulags and Concentration camps?  What is raping a 4 year old girl, or gouging out her eyes, in front of her parents in comparison to this?  What is rounding up those who oppose you and making them disappear in the face of French collaboration with Hitler’s Holocaust?  At least the Iraqis rounding up those souls who will die, are doing so at the orders of another Iraqi, not a German.  What’s to care about Saddam’s desire to control a few desert countries in the middle east?  When your actions have destroyed CONTINENTS.  I guess to the nations who unleashed these horrors upon the world, Saddam is just a want to be.

Had a nice e-mail conversation this week with someone who is going to be talking to a group of third through fifth graders about the war and wondered how to approach it. We decided the best way is to place it in a continuum of American struggles for freedom. Ask the kids about wars they presumably have already heard of--Revolution, Civil War, WWII--and get them to tell you what each was about--liberty, ending slavery, stopping fascism... And then tie this war, for the freedom of the Iraqi people, into those prior fights. Help them see that war for liberty is sometimes preferable to a despotism-ridden peace. Here in NH, you could even remind them that our state's motto is based on John Stark's, and our, preference for one over the other: "Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils."
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 AM


Sun man sees surrender (The Sun, 3/22/03)
PHOTOGRAPHER Terry Richards, 52, has been with The Sun since 1980 and has previously covered the Afghan war.

This time Terry, of Essendon, Herts, joined 40 Commando Royal Marines on HMS Ocean and followed their attack on Al Faw in Southern Iraq. Here is his amazing report and pictures.

IRAQI troops shot their own commanders with Kalashnikov rifles — so they could surrender.

I overheard a Marine reporting to an officer what the captives had admitted to him. And I don’t blame them for it.

Not when you have just witnessed the awesome sight of 40 Commando Royal Marines capturing a key oil refinery — and seen doomed Iraqi fighters crumble at their gunposts.

Faced with the astonishing firepower and determination of these elite Marines, even hardened soldiers would crack.

As for this poorly-equipped Iraqi force, it takes just two hours for Our Boys to blast a devastating hole through their shattered morale.

Scores of demoralised men with fear in their eyes and white flags waving above their heads capitulate under a barrage of bullets at the Al Faw refinery.

Hopefully the beginning of a trend--it would be very healthy for Iraqis themselves to start dispatching their oppressors.

MORE (PAJ): Conscripts shoot their own officers rather than fight (Times of London, 3/22/2003)

IRAQI conscripts shot their own officers in the chest yesterday to avoid a fruitless fight over the oil terminals at al-Faw. British soldiers from 40 Commando’s Charlie Company found a bunker full of the dead officers, with spent shells from an AK47 rifle around them.

Stuck between the US Seals and the Royal Marines, whom they did not want to fight, and a regime that would kill them if they refused, it was the conscripts’ only way out....

Two [prisoners] were a general in the regular Iraqi Army and a brigadier. They came out from the command bunker where they had been hiding after 40 Commando’s Bravo Company fired two anti-tank missiles into it. With them was a large sports holdall stuffed with money. They insisted that they had been about to pay their troops, to the disbelief of their captors.

These were the men who had left their soldiers hungry, poorly armed and almost destitute for weeks, judging by the state we had seen them in, while appearing to keep the money for themselves....

Every time you turned around, a new trickle of silhouettes emerged from the horizon walking slowly towards us. One Marine joked: “Oh no. They’re surrendering at us from all sides.”

The Iraqi soldiers know their friends from their enemies.

March 21, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:53 PM


Unauthorized Entry: The Bush Doctrine: War without anyone's permission. (Michael Kinsley, March 20, 2003, Slate)
[S]ince the end of World War II, the United States has at least formally agreed to international constraints on the right of any nation, including itself, to start a war. These constraints were often evaded, but rarely just ignored. And evasion has its limits, enforced by the sanction of embarrassment. This gave these international rules at least some real bite.

But George W. Bush defied embarrassment and slew it with a series of Orwellian flourishes. If the United Nations wants to be "relevant," he said, it must do exactly as I say. In other words, in order to be relevant, it must become irrelevant. When that didn't work, he said: I am ignoring the wishes of the Security Council and violating the U.N. Charter in order to enforce a U.N. Security Council resolution. No, no, don't thank me! My pleasure!!

By Monday night, though, in his 48-hour-warning speech, the references to international law and the United Nations had become vestigial. Bush's defense of his decision to make war on Iraq was basic: "The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security." He did not claim that Iraq is a present threat to America's own national security but suggested that "in one year or five years" it could be such a threat. In the 20th century, threats from murderous dictators were foolishly ignored until it was too late. In this century, "terrorists and terrorist states" do not play the game of war by the traditional rules. They "do not reveal these threats with fair notice in formal declarations." Therefore, "Responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense. It is suicide."

What is wrong with Bush's case? Sovereign nations do have the right to act in their own self defense, and they will use that right no matter what the U.N. Charter says or how the Security Council votes. Waiting for an enemy to strike first can indeed be suicidal. So? [...]

[B]ush is asserting the right of the United States to attack any country that may be a threat to it in five years. And the right of the United States to evaluate that risk and respond in its sole discretion. And the right of the president to make that decision on behalf of the United States in his sole discretion. In short, the president can start a war against anyone at any time, and no one has the right to stop him. And presumably other nations and future presidents have that same right. All formal constraints on war-making are officially defunct.

Well, so what? Isn't this the way the world works anyway? Isn't it naive and ultimately dangerous to deny that might makes right? Actually, no. Might is important, probably most important, but there are good, practical reasons for even might and right together to defer sometimes to procedure, law, and the judgment of others. Uncertainty is one. If we knew which babies would turn out to be murderous dictators, we could smother them in their cribs. If we knew which babies would turn out to be wise and judicious leaders, we could crown them dictator. In terms of the power he now claims, without significant challenge, George W. Bush is now the closest thing in a long time to dictator of the world. He claims to see the future as clearly as the past. Let's hope he's right.

This is the quintessence of modern liberalism. Mr. Kinsley is simply incapable of accepting the central idea of the Bush doctrine: America is right. The war on states that utilize terror is not a matter of looking across the globe and picking out countries that might speculatively threaten us one day. Mr. Bush has quite specifically identified regimes that are evil, that repress their own people and deny their aspirations towards freedom, and in the cases of Iraq and North Korea (though not of Iran) are responsible for the murder and/or starvation of millions. Perhaps in the deracinated, multicultural, nonjudgmental circles that Mr. Kinsley moves in these kinds of governments have simply chosen alternate lifestyles for their people, but few Americans have any doubt about the true character of a Saddam Hussein, a Kim Jong-il, a Fidel Castro, a Robert Mugabe, etc., etc, etc., ad nauseum: they are evil and the systems they administer are evil and there can be no doubt that deposing them is right and just. Whether it is wise to do so is a different question, one on which decent people may disagree. But to maintain, as Mr. Kinsley seems to, that our sole basis for removing them is might, and that we can not objectively determine the right of the matter ,is to descend in the paralyzing relativism that makes it necessary to despise the Left.

Saddam's son beats 12-year-olds who say no to sex: defectors (Sydney Morning Herald, March 22 2003)

Saddam Hussein's eldest son mercilessly beats girls as young as 12 on the soles of their feet if they refuse to sleep with him, Iraqi defectors said today.

Uday Hussein forces head teachers of schools in Baghdad's poorest districts to send pupils to his palace where he arranges dates with those he likes.

If the chosen girls annoy him in anyway they are dangled over a wooden beam held by his bodyguards and repeatedly hit with a wooden club, according to two former members of his inner circle who recently fled Iraq.

"He does it to a girl if she says she doesn't want to go out with him, or if she finds another boyfriend, or is late or reluctant," one defector told Vanity Fair magazine.

The 38-year-old warns victims not to flinch while the beating is administered or they will have their legs broken. He often hits them up to 50 times, the report claimed.

Afterwards, when they can barely walk, he orders them to dance. [...]

Intelligence officials believe Uday may have been in the bunker hit by a cruise missile in the "decapitation strike" on Baghdad in the first hours of the war.

His younger brother, Qusay, is Saddam's heir after Uday fell out of favour when he murdered a close friend of his father in 1988.

But who are we to judge?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 PM


Escalation of air war designed to squeeze loyalists into turning on Saddam (ROBERT BURNS, March 21, 2003, AP)
In escalating the aerial bombardment of Iraq on Friday, U.S. commanders crossed a threshold in a psychological campaign meant to unravel the Iraqi government.

They hoped that the promise of hundreds more airstrikes throughout the country, plus the advance of thousands of American ground troops toward the gates of Baghdad, would compel key people in President Saddam Hussein's inner circle to turn on him, U.S. officials said.

"They're beginning to realize, I suspect, that the regime is history," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference. "And as that realization sets in, their behavior is likely to begin to tip and to change. Those close to Saddam Hussein will likely begin searching for a way to save themselves."

But the time for capitulation was rapidly expiring. Pentagon officials speaking on condition of anonymity said as many as 1,500 Air Force and Navy bombs and missiles would hammer targets throughout Iraq in the 24 hours after the accelerated air campaign began Friday.

One senior official said Gen. Tommy Franks, who is running the war from a command post in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, would calibrate the intensity of the air war to build maximum pressure on Saddam's lieutenants.

By early next week, however, U.S. ground forces led by the Army's 3rd Infantry Division are likely to be at the outskirts of Baghdad.

"The intention is to convince the regime that it is time to leave, and if they don't we will try to take them out by force," Rear Adm. Matthew G. Moffit, commander of

Unfortunately, having let Saddam win in 1991 and then dawdling around for twelve years has left him a more credible threat to these guys than we are, so the bombing--which works out close to one a minute--may be necessary to definitively break them. Alternatively, if someone produced Saddam's corpse we might be able to avoid this level of bombing, but then we'd risk mayhem in the city. So, presumably, we'll only produce the proof of his death when our troops are in position to exert control. And, of course, the lesson for the future is to make sure enemies have reason to take our threats seriously.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 PM


7 in 10 Americans Back Decision to Go to War: Poll Finds Public Divided on Hussein's Fate as a Measure of Success (Richard Morin and Claudia Deane, March 21, 2003, Washington Post)
A substantial majority of Americans support the war with Iraq, but the public is divided over whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be killed, captured or merely removed from power for the United States and its allies to be successful, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More than seven in 10 endorsed the decision of President Bush to wage war on Iraq. A similar proportion expressed confidence that the United States and its allies are right to use military force to topple Hussein and rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. And two out of three said they believe Bush had worked hard enough to try to find a diplomatic solution before ordering the attack.

"I didn't vote for George Bush, but I strongly support him, and if anything I think he should have acted sooner," said Rick Jackson, 31, a manager at an engineering company in Bradenton, Fla. "I think he exhausted all channels to appease those who don't agree with us."

Ipsos/Cook Political Poll: With War Underway, A Dramatic Political Boost For Bush, Republicans (Ipsos Public Affairs, March 21, 2003)
In interviews with 804 registered voters conducted March 18-20, 2003, the Ipsos Public Affairs/Cook Political Report Poll registers a dramatic swing in favor of President George W. Bush and the whole Republican Party.

* A majority (53%) of all adults say the country is on the right track, 40% wrong track; that represents a reversal from 37% right track-54% wrong track in interviews conducted February 18-March 6, 2003.

* In the most recent poll, 46% of registered voters would definitely vote to re-elect Bush, the highest re-elect number he has seen since the second quarter (April-May-June) 2002.

* In the most recent poll, 44% of registered voters would like to see Republicans win control of Congress and 41% would like Democrats to win control.

These poll numbers are uninteresting in themselves--if Warren G. Harding declared war on a ham sandwich he'd get 70% in the polls--but do remind us of something important. In the run-up to the war, the press, Democrats, and others seemed fixated on what they saw as limited support for taking on Saddam. Yet the polls never showed support much below 45% and that rose rapidly as the day of reckoning approached. What they seem to have missed is that having 40-something % of the public supporting an unprovoked war was a singular occurence. For instance, prior to Pearl Harbor, less than 20% of the American people supported entering WWII, the definitive "Good War" of the 20th Century. It's almost unbelievable that the Democrats have allowed themselves to become such captives of polling data without really understanding it at all. To look at record highs and misinterpret them as relative lows is a fundamental mistake, one that inevitably put them on the "wrong" side of a 7 in 10 split when the shooting started.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 PM


Iraq slams Annan's proposed reworking of oil-for-food program (Shlomo Shamir, 22/03/2003, Haaretz)
The Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Al-Douri, reacted strongly Friday to a new draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would transfer authority for a UN humanitarian program from the Iraqi government to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, accusing the chief of international body of doing the bidding of the U.S. and Britain.

The new plan will also re-assign funds raised through the sale of Iraqi oil to sponsor rehabilitation for Iraqis who fled their homes because of the war.

"Our government is there, controlling the country, and this move is a very unfortunate move," he said.

The envoy said Annan was doing the bidding of the United States and Britain in violation of the UN Charter by withdrawing international staff and suggesting alternative ways to get humanitarian relief to Iraqis through the use of oil revenues.

The council spent more than three hours discussing Annan's draft resolution that would adjust the UN oil-for-food program to allow the UN to run the program not just in Iraq's north but throughout the country and for refugees fleeing the U.S.-led war.

The "Oil-for-Food" program was initiaited in as "a temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people."

The first oil under the program was exported in December 1996 and the first shipments of food arrived in March 1997. So far, almost $26 billion worth of supplies and equipment have arrived in Iraq through the scheme.

Oh well, Mr. Annan, they say that breaking up is hard to do...
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:51 PM

ONE CAMEL, NO PHONE BOOTHS (via Little Green Footballs):

Lucky Break for Jordan (Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI, 3/21/2003)
U.S. air power ... kept a potential flood of Iraqi refugees away from the Jordanian border Friday....

U.S. fighter bombers took out the only gas station between Baghdad and the border, a distance of 600 kilometers. The one-camel village of Ramadi was also the only phone booth on the desert road and a Jordanian was killed by the explosion of the gas station while making a call to his parents in Amman to let them know he was on his way home.

Let's hope the camel wasn't hit too, otherwise MP Banks might get upset.
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

It's good to see Mr. Joseph wising up, but someone should introduce him to a neat new invention: the Internet. If he had read the BrothersJudd blog, he could have learned about the shredder without leaving home.
Jordanians see a good omen in the daily arrival of almost 1,000 white storks. They alight near the Safeway on one of Amman's seven hills, a pit stop on their way from Africa to their east European breeding grounds. About 100,000 storks are expected at the Safeway for the next month, numbers not seen in 10 years, and a sign of ample rain and a good harvest.

I see this as a good omen also. We betrayed the Iraqi people in 1991, calling for an insurrection and then letting Saddam slaughter those brave Iraqis who heeded our call. We are now making amends. Even the storks recognize that the Middle East is getting better this year.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:55 PM

LIONS AND TIGERS, OH MY! (via Rantburg):

Don't Hurt Zoo Animals in Iraq War, Pleads UK MP (Reuters, 3/21/2003)
A British Member of Parliament has asked military leaders in Iraq to think about some of the forgotten casualties of war -- animals.

Tony Banks, a former minister in Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s Labour government, welcomed promises from London and Washington that troops would do their best to avoid hitting ordinary Iraqis in bombing raids, but said they also needed to think about the creatures in Baghdad's El-Zawra Zoo.

"In war, countless numbers of animals are killed and injured," the former sports minister, who voted against war on Iraq, said in an statement put before parliament on Friday.

He appealed to military leaders "to ensure that Baghdad's El-Zawra zoo is safeguarded and that when hostilities are over military vets will provide urgent assistance to the zoo and other organizations involved with animal welfare in Iraq."

The zoo, which is reported to be shut and under renovation, escaped bomb damage during the 1991 allied blitz on Baghdad but keepers said the animals had been disturbed by the noise of bombs hitting nearby targets....

In 2001, [Banks] championed the cause of Marjan, a lame one-eyed lion in Kabul Zoo when the U.S. carried out bombing raids in Afghanistan ...

If the animals were disturbed in 1991, they'll be shocked and awed by 2003.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:29 PM


Bush set sights on Saddam after 9/11, never looked back (Mar 21, 2003, USA TODAY)
Within weeks of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the president and his most influential advisers set a goal of toppling Saddam -- if possible by coup or exile, more likely by force. Bush began to make the case to the world with his speech to the United Nations a year and a day after the attacks.

With Wednesday's decision, Bush finally pulled the trigger. But the gun was cocked for a long time, since the Sept. 12, 2002, speech. The six months since then have been a time of diplomatic maneuvers, military deployments, rhetorical shifts and single-minded determination.

Bush refused to let anything deter him:

* He minimized a nuclear showdown with North Korea that even some administration officials believed posed a more immediate threat. The divisions within the president's inner circle over North Korea were severe. When New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson told Secretary of State Colin Powell that he had gotten a call from North Korean diplomats, Powell said Richardson should go ahead and meet with them -- but told him to avoid talking about it to Powell's rivals in the administration.

* He dismissed the complaints of then-Senate Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., and others that in targeting Iraq as the second front in the war on terrorism, the administration was shortchanging the first battleground, in Afghanistan and against al-Qaeda. A senior Defense Department official worried that combat operations in Afghanistan last spring were poorly planned because the Central Command was preoccupied with the next war.

* He was defiant when the U.N. Security Council refused to endorse the resolution he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair had sought to pave the way for the attack. The president had fought hard behind the scenes for the U.N. imprimatur. After a private White House dinner with Secretary-General Kofi Annan, he included an initiative to fight AIDS in Africa in the State of the Union address. Annan had mentioned the issue as a personal priority.

Administration officials even found themselves addressing other worldly matters as they lobbied the president of Guinea, one of the Security Council's 15 members. He was desperately ill with kidney disease. His concern: Which vote was more likely to get him into heaven?

In the end, it was Bush's unyielding determination that undermined the diplomatic campaign. Skeptical foreign leaders complained that the administration's earlier willingness to go to the United Nations and agree to renewed weapons inspections in Iraq was only for show. The president had his mind made up, they said, no matter what.

Some top administration officials agree.

''He was not going to be easily deterred or distracted,'' a senior adviser says. ''It would have taken nothing less than an Iraqi capitulation. Either Saddam and his inner circle would have had to leave or they would have had to really, truly, completely, verifiably disarm. Bottom line: Bush was not looking for a way out.''

Aides and outsiders interviewed for this article cite a mix of motives behind the president's focus -- some call it an obsession -- on Iraq: His view of Saddam as a brutal despot who threatened Israel and unsettled the Middle East. An almost Shakespearean impulse to finish the job his father had started. The prospect of more-stable oil supplies.

Bush himself says he is thinking about the verdict of history.

More than anything, what this story points out is the deep inanity of the neocon and libertarian Right's absurd "wobbly watch". It's easy enough for conservatives to point out how badly Democrats and the Europeans have misunderstood George W. Bush, but the blogosphere and publications like the Weekly Standard have shown no greater comprehension. This war was never a question of whether, only of when.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:48 PM


H. D. Miller predicts Baghdad will fall by Monday and says why. Persoonally, I think that whoever's "in charge" will surrender by some time tomorrow but I don't know if we can get the level of troops there to take control that one assumes we'd require. So Baghdad may fall without being taken.

Indeed. it seems likely that in retrospect we'll come to see that the war was effectively won by the time we announced it had begun. Also--and I don't mean this cynically, because I think it was strategically necessary--we'll realize that the Pentagon has known that the decapitation worked (whether Saddam is actually dead or not) but has pursued the war in order to genuinely disarm Iraq, lest weapons end up in the hands of Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurds who might turn them on each other.

Baghdad by Monday (Patrick Sawer, 3/21/03, Evening Standard)

Senior British and US commanders today predicted that allied forces could be in Baghdad by Monday. The claim came after US marines captured a key section of the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. [...]

There was growing speculation this afternoon that Saddam and one of his sons were killed or injured in the first bombing raids on Baghdad, despite Iraqi denials. One US official said: "The preponderance of the evidence is he [Saddam] was there when the building blew up."

After being pinned down in a two-hour firefight US troops this afternoon moved into the new port area of Umm Qasr. They had to call in British artillery fire to clear their path, and a dozen helicopters brought reinforcements.

Marines raised the US flag over the new port but later removed it. No reason was given but Washington has consistently stressed invading US forces want to liberate Iraq, not occupy it. [...]

In a further sign of French anger at the US-led attack, its foreign ministry rejected US demands to expel Iraqi diplomats from Paris.

There's an equally interesting question, as when Baghdad will fall: how long will the French will continue to recognize the Ba'athist government of Iraq, even though it no longer exists. Smart money says two years.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:48 PM


Black liberals need to respond to insult of Rice (Gregory Kane, Baltimore Sun, 3/19/2003)
REMEMBER when Mayor Martin O'Malley used all those colorful cuss words a few years back in speaking about Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy?

Remember the uproar? Remember how all those black folks gathered out in front of City Hall with signs and accused O'Malley of insulting all black women? How dare the mayor use such language about a black female government official, they fumed.

On Saturday, at one of the state's public colleges, another man said something even worse about another black female government official.

In front of an overwhelmingly black audience of about 100 at Coppin State College, Amiri Baraka, New Jersey's Lunatic Laureate, called national security adviser Condoleezza Rice a "skeeza."

For those of you not in the know, a "skeeza" is a derogatory street term used in reference to a woman and as offensive as calling her a prostitute. It's a noxious, bilious, disgustingly sexist term and one of the worst things you could call a woman.

It is something Rice certainly is not. Baraka knows she's not. Those blacks who laughed, giggled, tittered and applauded when Baraka said it know she's not. But what was the reaction of these black folks when Baraka finished his invective masquerading as poetry that he called "Somebody Blew Up America"?

They gave him thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

The racial divide in America is not primarily a matter of irrational prejudice (which is what most people mean by "racism"), but of ideology and culture. The left seeks to maintain this racial divide by intimidating any blacks who cross ideological or cultural lines. Clarence Thomas evoked much fiercer opposition from Democrats than comparable Republican judicial nominees; and a white National Security Adviser would not be subject to this sort of derision.

Gregory Kane is a fine columnist who is not afraid to speak truth to power in the black community. In challenging the intimidators, he is helping to heal America's racial divide.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:34 PM


Visible Violence (George C. Wilson, March 21, 2003, National Journal)
To climb into today's M-1 tank with Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Miller, 36, a decorated tanker from the first Persian Gulf War, is to understand why Saddam Hussein will be hopelessly outgunned.

"Look through this sight," Miller said to his visitor. The sight magnifies the armored vehicles in the distance to 10 times their size, making them seem close enough to swat. At the same time, a laser beam shoots out to tell the tank commander the target's exact distance. Miller had no such instrument on his M-60 tank in the first Gulf War, when he nevertheless won the Bronze Star for destroying three Iraqi tanks and two armored personnel carriers.

Although 2,500 meters (about a mile and a half) is considered a "comfortable" range for the M-1's main 120-mm gun, Miller said that his upgraded tank could destroy an Iraqi armored vehicle more than two miles away. A computerized system in the tank calculates the effects of the wind and the air temperature for the gunner, helping him to hit the very heart of the enemy vehicle from long distances.

And the big gun is only part of the hell that the M-1 can make. A chain gun can fire 11,000 7.62-mm bullets per minute while that old reliable, the .50-caliber machine gun, can spit out 1,000 rounds of lethal fire. And if Iraq should dare to fly a helicopter over his M-1, Miller can use the big gun to explode a round right in the aircraft's path, thanks to another new high-tech aiming system.

"We're a big armored pillbox," said Miller. "And we have had 12 years of studying the lessons of the last Gulf War." He feels sure that none of the Iraqis who faced U.S. tanks back then will have any stomach for a rematch.

Miller said he felt no pleasure in 1991 destroying Iraqi tanks with men like him inside. "I just felt numb as I was going through it. I just lined up the sights and pressed the trigger," he recalled. Later, when he drove through the Iraqi wreckage and saw the death and destruction he had caused in pressing that trigger, it bothered him, he said. "I did keep seeing some of the faces. I had a difficult time sleeping afterward." And he said that after the war, when he was back home, "I was hypervigilant. My senses were extremely sharp. I was difficult to be around, especially if I saw lots of light, like Fourth of July fireworks."

Miller said he could have left the tank corps after Gulf War I in hopes of relieving some of the postwar stress. "But I thought I should come back and teach young marines what I learned." Miller was to be in one of the first tanks to bump over the big sand berm that marks the dividing line between Kuwait and Iraq. "I'll go without hesitation, because that's the choice I've made in my life. I'm sure if the president says this is important, he knows more than I do. So I'll say, 'Aye, aye,' and go."

NPR was talking last night to some of the protestors who are trying to shut various cities down and one woman giggled about the great signs they had, like: "Smart bombs are dumb". In the background you could hear a speaker referring to: "...Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld...the real axis of evil...". They don't care about the Iraqi people. It's all about their own personal political feelings. Comparing their lack of moral seriousness to the depth of thought these military guys display--willing to follow commands, but hardly blindly--you'd have to say the activists are the soldiers' "fellow citizens" in name only. The latter represent the very best in us. The former are hardly worthy of the nation.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:12 PM


Chirac Rejects Proposed U.N. Resolution (ABC News, 3/21/2003)
Jacques Chirac said Friday that France would not go along with a new United Nations resolution allowing the United States and Britain to administer postwar Iraq.

The French president said at a European Union summit he would "not accept" a resolution that "would legitimize the military intervention (and) would give the belligerents the powers to administer Iraq."

Chirac is trying to putting more weight on the U.N. than it can support. He is also ("belligerents" - please) begging Bush to view France as a hostile power. That is, in fact, the only diplomatic initiative in which France has been successful.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:02 PM


Europe war opponents may merge armed forces (ABC au, 22 Mar 2003)
European Union (EU) divisions over Iraq have widened after Britain stood by charges that France prevented a peaceful solution to the crisis, while three anti-war states called a separate summit on defence integration.

As EU leaders held a second day of tense talks, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt announced plans for France, Germany and Belgium to meet next month to discuss integrating their armed forces.

The moves plunged the EU back into crisis hours after the 15 leaders had papered over their splits with a statement pledging support for UN humanitarian relief efforts and urging Iraq's neighbours not to make mischief. [...]

The defence initiative apparently is designed to isolate Britain, Europe's biggest military power. [...]

Mr Verhofstadt told the Belgian news agency, Belga: "In April Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, President Jacques Chirac and I will meet in Brussels to discuss a stronger integration of our respective forces."

His Foreign Minister, Louis Michel, said closer defence integration is the only way for Europe to be taken seriously as an entity by the US.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker applauded the initiative, telling reporters: "This is not a closed shop. I expect others would join. It's the logical consequence of the differences of recent weeks."

We'll take them seriously when the French announce they're returning to a 40 hour work week and devoting the tax money this would generate to a military build-up.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM

Shock and Awe has supposedly begun, though NPR is on the phone live with a woman in a Baghdad hotel who isn't even hearing explosions. The interviewer seems perplexed. Mightn't we assume the Pentagon isn't targeting the hotel district? Meanwhile, this lad

Drudge is reporting that S & A may be scaled back anyway because whoever's running Iraq at this point is negotiating its surrender.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:24 PM


Jordan opens up Iraq's western front (Asia Times, 3/22/2003)
[T]hunderous silence does not mean that all's quiet on the Iraqi western front. "The surprise is not the attack on Baghdad or the advance from Kuwait. The surprise will come from Jordan," a top Jordanian source who requested anonymity told Asia Times Online. The source says that well over 400 American tanks and more than 7,000 American troops may well be on their way to Baghdad from a remote launching pad in eastern Jordan.

So far, the tanks and heavy military equipment have arrived by ship at the southern Jordanian port of Aqaba and have been deployed to the east shrouded in utmost secrecy. Secrecy is paramount, according to the source.

Many thanks to Jordan.
Exiled Iraqis may be praying for the end of Saddam's brutal secular regime, but at the same time they are now caught in a very serious religious conflict. The most eminent scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo - which is the highest religious authority in Sunni Islam - have declared that a jihad against the "new crusade" targeting Islam is absolutely legitimate. According to al-Azhar's academy for Islamic research, "If an enemy descends upon Muslim land, then it is the duty of all Muslim men and women to perform jihad." The scholars are unanimous that 1.3 billion Muslims all over the world "must be ready to defend themselves, their faith and their honor".

Egyptian and Saudi scholars have agreed these past few days that even if this war does not explicitly pit Christians against Muslims, the only possible reaction to the Anglo-American invasion is jihad: "Hitting American interests is an act of martyrdom."

Once Iraq stabilizes, things will change for the better in Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- or our relations with Egypt will take a sharp turn for the worse.
Posted by David Cohen at 12:01 PM


B-52 Bombers Take Off From Britain (FoxNews.Com).

I am an eager consumer of war news. I'm spending my time listening to the news, watching the news and downloading the news, sometimes all at the same time. As a result, I know that 8 B-52 bombers took off from Fairford Airforce Base, England, this morning. I know the approximate flight time to Iraq, although I also know that, with refueling, a B-52 can stay in the air over a target for hours. I know that each B-52 can carry up to 30 metric tons of ordinance. So I suspect that, sometime in the next two to six hours, a couple of hundred thousand pounds of high explosive are going to rain down upon Iraq.

Now, I like knowing this. My eagerness to know it, along with your eagerness and our neighbor's eagerness, is responsible for it being available. I even can understand that letting the Iraqis know this is part of our shock and awe campaign. Still, I can't help but be a little nervous that all this information is so easily available.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:01 PM


Although the parliament approved motion on sending Turkish troops to northern Iraq and opening Turkish airspace to U.S. planes, the Turkish and the U.S. sides failed to reach an agreement on text deal. The United States could not use Turkish airspace last night while Turkish troops were prevented from entering northern Iraq.... While agreement was reached on rules of implementation of opening air corridors, the U.S. overflights which were foreseen to start at midnight were delayed upon Turkey's request....

The United States had informed Turkey of the first bombardment of the Gulf War in 1991, but this time, it did not do it. The United States informed Israel before the attack while Ankara learnt it on CNN International. Replying questions of reporters who asked whether the United States had informed Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "no"....

Former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis referred to the financial aid shock and said, "we thought that the United States needed our assistance and made a serious mistake. It was revealed that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government made a strategic mistake during the negotiations with the United States." Yakis, who played an active role at negotiations with the United States, noted, "we did not believe that the United States had had the Plan B. We thought that the United States needed Turkey to open the northern front."

The Turkish troops in northern Iraq has begun spreading its military units to the region. Zakhu-Begowa-Batufa Highway was taken under control by Turkish soldiers. Earlier, Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) peshmerga fighters raised their objection to Turkish soldiers' control over the highway.

The Turkish government is very inexperienced. There's always a Plan B. They should have realized that you have to deal with others in order to have income: if you never transact, your income is zero. They were offered a fabulous deal, got greedy and demanded more, and lost it.

Now there's a new deal on the table: overfly rights during the war, in exchange for influence upon post-war Iraq. The overfly rights are rapidly losing value, because Iraq is surrendering and the war will be over in three or four days. If Turkey continues dithering and being too greedy, the second deal will leave the table also, and Turkey will have obtained nothing at all.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM


There's obviously still much that could go wrong in the Second Iraq War and we'll surely lose more men, even if just through mechanical malfunctions or friendly fire, so I don't wish to minimize the task ahead or the risks these brave souls continue to face, but we're rapidly approaching a rather profound moment in American history. The great--and I believe mistaken--lesson of the the first two world wars was that war was too terrible an enterprise--too lethal with modern weaponry, particularly for "non-combatants"--to be contemplated anymore. Thus we got the Cold War for fifty years, with only a very few low grade conflicts between the main parties, as we decided that we'd rather tolerate the most anti-human ideology man's ever come up with, and mass murders from Nicaragua to China to Russia to Ethiopia and beyond, than fight briefly, though brutally, to put a stop to it. The argument--though ultimately specious--that we could not risk killing millions, including our own, in the late 40s to depose the Marxist regime in Russia at least had the advantage that it was likely that many would die. The war would in fact have been terrible and we must therefore have some regard for the moral case against it.

However, at least since the early 80s--and arguably since 1945--it has been obvious that the West's technological, cultural, political, and military superiority over the various "isms" that it finds itself arrayed against from time to time is so great that when we choose to do so we can replace the most brutal and tyrannous regimes with a rather minimal loss of human life. Moreover, where it was initially the case that such warfare merely imposed less suffering on non-combatants than did the dictatorships themselves, it is increasingly the case that our methods of combat inflict almost no direct suffering on civilians. The list continues to grow--Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, soon Iraq--of countries where we deposed despicable rulers at minimal human cost.

So here's the profound question: if it is the case that we can rid peoples of such regimes and manifestly improve their lives, even save their lives, with such minimal impact, has the moral obligation now clearly shifted (assuming the case the anti-war folks made had prevailed) from one where we must try to avoid war because of the suffering it might cause to one where we must embrace war because of the suffering and death it so clearly relieves? In what sense is the moral position that demanded we contain Saddam from 1991 until Wednesday, at the expense of 1.5 million dead Iraqis, superior to that which requires us to liberate Iraq, at a cost of several hundred or several thousand lives? Isn't the hard question that confronts us all today, but the peace party in particular, whether we behaved decently and responsibly towards fellow human beings when we left the Iraqis to Saddam's mercies in 1991? And, going forward, mustn't we reckon with a far different moral calculus than that which has been commonly accepted as we begin to consider what course of action is right and just with regard to N. Korea, Cuba, Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, etc.? May we not be in the midst of an unusual and as yet unrecognized epoch in our affairs where war is not the worst but the best option available to us and to captive peoples? Which do we place a higher value on, as a society, our peace or human freedom? And can we love our society if we choose the former?

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:14 AM


In praise of straddling, uh, dithering (Rick Salutin, Globe and Mail, 3/21/2003)
The late Herb Denton, the Washington Post's reporter here, had a different take: "The day Canada finally stands up to the U.S. is the day the U.S. will finally respect it." He was talking about the free-trade deal, but this war would serve as well. I'd add, from my observations, that it may not happen instantly, but if you stick to it till they know you're serious, then eventually, grudgingly, respect will come.

And if not now, when? All previous postwar U.S. military eruptions, however you judged them, were one-offs: Vietnam, the 1991 gulf war, Kosovo etc. This one is avowedly the first in a limitless chain of assertions of U.S. power. It means destruction of the frail system of global order that the UN represents. Even scarier: In earlier conflicts, only Westerners in the military were at direct risk; now we all are, and our families, not from Iraq, but from small, crazed, outlaw groups that learned on Sept. 11 how much damage they can do, with little or no state support -- and that are being consciously provoked by U.S. policies.

So I'd call this Jean Chrétien's finest hour.

Mr. Salutin's theory seems to be: persistent Canadian error has not led to U.S. respect, but if Canada can err with stubbornness and militancy, respect will surely, if grudgingly, follow.

The reality is that Canada's persistent unwillingness to help us has led to U.S. indifference toward Canada. Were Canada to become militantly and stubbornly hostile, that indifference would turn to contempt.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


Former UN head calls war breach of Charter: 'Basic contradiction': Boutros-Ghali predicts U.S. attack will destabilize entire Middle East (Sheldon Alberts and Anne Dawson, March 21, 2003, National Post)
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former United Nations secretary-general, yesterday condemned the U.S.-led war on Iraq as a violation of the UN charter and said George W. Bush's policy of pre-emptive strikes is in "basic contradiction" with international law.

Mr. Boutros-Ghali, the secretary-general of La Francophonie, an organization of francophone states, also said he fears the war will provoke civil conflict among competing ethnic factions in Iraq and destabilize the entire Middle East.

"I believe that this intervention is a violation of the charter of the United Nations," Mr. Boutros-Ghali told reporters in Ottawa after meeting with Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister, to commemorate International Francophonie Day.

The honorable thing to do is indeed for the US to acknowledge that it can no longer abide by the UN Charter which makes liberating an oppressed people illegal.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM


Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix yesterday said Iraq violated its agreement with the United Nations if the missiles it fired at American troops were Scuds.

"I'm very interested to know whether they used Scuds," Blix said in an interview with the Fox News Channel. "If they're firing [Scuds], of course that shows that there's a violation," he said.

Blix told the U.N. Security Council this month that it was "questionable" whether the Iraqis had destroyed all of their Scuds and that about 50 Scud warheads were still unaccounted for.

Even though he wanted more time for inspections, Blix said yesterday that he didn't know if he could ever be sure that Iraq wasn't hiding the illegal missiles.

"I could not guarantee that we would come to clear conclusions even after some months more," he said.

"The problem for anyone writing satire today is competing with the front page."
-Christopher Buckley
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM


Tom Jelton, on NPR's Morning Edition, just said that as far as the Pentagon can tell there is no one in charge of Iraq at this point.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:27 AM


DNC asks party to rally behind Daschle (Washington Times, 3/21/2003)
The Democratic National Committee is asking party members to defend Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's criticism of the way President Bush has handled the Iraq crisis even as U.S.-led forces invade the country....

[T]he DNC sent e-mails to its grass-roots activists that said "Democratic leaders are standing up to Bush; Make sure you stand up for them!"...

Mr. Daschle and his Democratic counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, have vowed to continue to speak out on the war...

I noticed yesterday that Daschle's criticism of the President was proudly displayed on the DNC's website:
"I am saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country." [Daschle comments to AFSCME, 3/17/03]

This leads me to wonder: do we know for sure that Daschle and McAuliffe are not French?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:15 AM

FRENCH MANNERS (via Instapundit):

EU condolences for Blair - except from Chirac (Guardian, 3/21/2003)
European leaders today expressed personal condolences to Tony Blair over last night's helicopter crash in Kuwait - but the French president, Jaques Chirac, was not among them.

Mark Twain held that "In certain public indecencies the difference between a dog & a Frenchman is not perceptible." Except, of course, that dogs are more friendly, faithful, and lovable.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:02 AM


Marine killed, first combat death in Iraq (AP, 3/21/2003)
A U.S. Marine has been killed in Iraq, becoming the first reported combat death of the war, defense officials said Friday.

The slain soldier, of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was moving in the ground assault in southern Iraq, said Lt. Col. Neal Peckham, a British military spokesman in Kuwait.

Peckham said he had no further details. MSNBC cable network reported that the soldier was felled by Iraqi gunfire during the advance on the Rumeila oil field.

It was bound to happen, but it's still a shock. May God bind up this Marine's wounds; may God bless our servicemen and women.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:58 AM


Fans boo as U.S. national anthem is played (AP, 3/21/2003)
MONTREAL (AP) Fans booed during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the New York Islanders' 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

The sellout crowd of 21,273 at Bell Centre was asked to "show your support and respect for two great nations" before the singing of the American and Canadian national anthems.

But a significant portion of the crowd booed throughout "The Star-Spangled Banner" in an apparent display of their displeasure with the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Thank goodness we didn't conquer Canada in the War of 1812. We might have picked up another losing hockey team.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 AM


Text of Tony Blair's recorded television address (March 21, 2003)
"On Tuesday night I gave the order for British forces to take part in military action in Iraq.

"Tonight, British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

"I know this course of action has produced deep divisions of opinion in our country. But I know also the British people will now be united in sending our armed forces our thoughts and prayers. They are the finest in the world and their families and all of Britain can have great pride in them.

"The threat to Britain today is not that of my father's generation. War between the big powers is unlikely. Europe is at peace. The cold war already a memory.

"But this new world faces a new threat: of disorder and chaos born either of brutal states like Iraq, armed with weapons of mass destruction; or of extreme terrorist groups. Both hate our way of life, our freedom, our democracy.

"My fear, deeply held, based in part on the intelligence that I see, is that these threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and world. These tyrannical states do not care for the sanctity of human life. The terrorists delight in destroying it.

"Some say if we act, we become a target. The truth is, all nations are targets. Bali was never in the frontline of action against terrorism. America didn't attack al Qaida. They attacked America.

"Britain has never been a nation to hide at the back. But even if we were, it wouldn't avail us.

"Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and traded round the world, the carnage they could inflict to our economies, our security, to world peace, would be beyond our most vivid imagination.

"My judgment, as prime minister, is that this threat is real, growing and of an entirely different nature to any conventional threat to our security that Britain has faced before.

"For 12 years, the world tried to disarm Saddam; after his wars in which hundreds of thousands died. UN weapons inspectors say vast amounts of chemical and biological poisons, such as anthrax, VX nerve agent, and mustard gas remain unaccounted for in Iraq.

"So our choice is clear: back down and leave Saddam hugely strengthened; or proceed to disarm him by force. Retreat might give us a moment of respite but years of repentance at our weakness would, I believe, follow.

"It is true Saddam is not the only threat. But it is true also - as we British know - that the best way to deal with future threats peacefully, is to deal with present threats with results.

"Removing Saddam will be a blessing to the Iraqi people. Four million Iraqis are in exile. Sixty per cent of the population are dependent on food aid. Thousands of children die every year through malnutrition and disease. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes or murdered.

"I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our enemy is not you, but your barbarous rulers.

"Our commitment to the post-Saddam humanitarian effort will be total. We shall help Iraq move towards democracy. And put the money from Iraqi oil in a UN trust fund so that it benefits Iraq and no one else.

"Neither should Iraq be our only concern. President Bush and I have committed ourselves to peace in the Middle East based on a secure state of Israel and a viable Palestinian state. We will strive to see it done.

"But these challenges and others that confront us - poverty, the environment, the ravages of disease - require a world of order and stability. Dictators like Saddam, terrorist groups like al-Qaida, threaten the very existence of such a world.

"That is why I have asked our troops to go into action tonight. As so often before, on the courage and determination of British men and women, serving our country, the fate of many nations rests.

"Thank you."

March 20, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 PM


G.I. Hunt for Qaeda Intensifies (CARLOTTA GALL, March 21, 2003, NY Times)
About 1,000 American troops backed by attack helicopters mounted a dawn assault on a string of mountain villages and caves in southeastern Afghanistan today, sending a forceful message to militants here that coalition forces would not be slackening their pace as the war in Iraq gets under way.

Special Forces and a battalion from the 504th Parachute Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division, were dropped into the region at 6 a.m. from Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, a military spokesman said today. Apache attack helicopters provided security, he said.

The operation, named Valiant Strike, was aimed at several villages and caves in the Sami Ghar mountain range, in the Maruf district of Kandahar province, some 20 miles from the Pakistani border. "There are suspected people in the area," said Master Sgt. Richard Breach, a spokesman at the coalition headquarters here at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.

Intelligence had led American forces to watch the area and they then caught radio intercepts of people in the caves communicating with each other, the senior spokesman, Col. Roger King, said at a morning briefing. [...]

Military officials insisted the timing of today's raid, on the first day of airstrikes against Iraq, was purely coincidental. But Sergeant Breach agreed that American forces were also sending a message to any terrorists or militants opposed to the American presence in Afghanistan. "We are showing them we are still out to win this war on terror," he said.

The commander of American forces in southern Afghanistan, Lt. Col. John Campbell, said in a recent interview that he was acting aggressively against any opposition forces to show that the United States would not lose focus in Afghanistan while it wages war in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the targets of this operation are the Democrats and our own intelligence services who are whining about the war distracting attention from al Qaeda.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 PM


Hussein's Fate Still Uncertain (Walter Pincus, Bob Woodward and Dana Priest [Staff writers Thomas E. Ricks and Barton Gellman contributed to this report], March 21, 2003, Washington Post)
U.S. intelligence officials believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, possibly accompanied by one or both of his powerful sons, was still inside a compound in southern Baghdad early yesterday when it was struck by a barrage of U.S. bombs and cruise missiles.

But intelligence analysts in Washington and operatives working in the region were not certain whether the Iraqi leader was killed or injured or escaped the attack, according to senior Bush administration officials, who worked yesterday to analyze a videotape of an appearance by Hussein broadcast on Iraqi television within hours of the pre-dawn bombardment.

"The preponderance of the evidence is he was there when the building blew up," said one senior U.S. official with access to sensitive intelligence. The official added that Hussein's sons, Qusay and Uday, may also have been at the compound. "He didn't get out" beforehand, another senior official said of the Iraqi president.

A third administration official said "there is evidence that he [Hussein] was at least injured" because of indications that medical attention was urgently summoned on his behalf. The condition of Hussein's sons, and any others who may have been at the compound, was also unknown, officials said.

While U.S. intelligence monitored Iraqi government communications and movements yesterday to pick up signs of Hussein's fate, the administration's attention was focused on the television appearance by Hussein in which he stated yesterday's date and made reference to "dawn" and an attack by the United States.

Officials said they were not surprised by the broadcast because they had information that the Iraqi leader had recorded several statements earlier in the week in anticipation of a military strike shortly after the expiration of a U.S. deadline for Hussein and his sons to leave the country.

That's one serious set of reporters the Post put on this story.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM


Outrage at Sun Chirac jibe (SALLY BROOK and MEL HUNTER, March 21, 2003, The Sun)
THE Sun hit Paris yesterday to show the world our disgust at the cowardice of President Jacques "The Worm" Chirac for wriggling out of his responsibilities to the West.

We took copies of a French edition of our newspaper labelling Chirac as Saddam Hussein's whore.

Describing his actions as those of a "Paris harlot", The Sun argued he was as big a threat to the civilised world as Iraq's tyrant.

Sadly but predictably, the poor, misled French people backed their spineless president to the hilt. [...]

[A]ngelique Bienassis, 19, said: "You cannot call Chirac a harlot. That is so offensive to the French people. Whatever his faults he is our protector."

We still have so much to learn from the mother country.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM


Friday, 21 March: 0230 (BBC)
US defence sources say 12 Americans and four Britons are killed when a US helicopter comes down, apparently over Kuwait, in what is believed to be an accident.

Marine Chopper Crash Kills 16 in Kuwait Yahoo! News)

A U.S. Marine helicopter crashed in Kuwait Thursday, killing all 16 American and British soldiers aboard, military officials said.

The crash of the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter killed 12 U.S. and 4 British soldiers, officials said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:23 PM


Fall of Basra holds key to Baghdad (Ben Rooney, 21/03/2003, Daily Telegraph)
The seizure of Basra would be a stunning psychological blow to Saddam Hussein's regime, depriving him of his third largest city and giving the Allies a huge
strategic advantage.

Basra opens up the route to Baghdad, 350 miles to the north-west. Once the Iraqi 3rd Corps defending the area is routed, there are no other forces before the capital. The approaches to Baghdad up the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates are wide open.

Basra is the largest city in southern Iraq. Situated on the west bank of Shatt Al-Arab, 35 miles from the Gulf it is the main gate to the outside world. The main port of Iraq, it is the terminal point for oil pipelines, and petroleum refining is a major industry.

The seizure of Basra and the ports to its south opens up a new and much shorter supply route for troops occupying the south of Iraq.

By grabbing Iraq's only access to the Gulf it will allow the coalition forces to bring in reinforcements directly rather than through the overcrowded and more distant ports in Kuwait.

It'll fall as soon as we get there, won't it?

Marines drive to Basra is key to decisive victory (JACK FAIRWEATHER AND JIM MCBETH, 3/21/03, The Scotsman)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 PM


Saddam Hussein's Son Hurt in Fight with Father's Body Guard (Rosbalt, 20/03/2003)
Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday suffered a cerebral hemorrhage this morning. According to Iranian news agency IRNA, Uday was involved in a fight with his father's body guard last night.

There is no information about Uday's current condition. Saddam Hussein's aides are refusing to confirm this information although they admit that a fight did indeed take place in Saddam's palace.

If true, which is necessarily uncertain, one imagines they got in the fight while looting the pockets of his father's corpse.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM


Saddam's missiles give the game away (The Scotsman, 21 Mar 2003)
WAR is a last resort, and always should be. So no-one can take any pleasure in the events now unfolding in Iraq. Those who reject war on any grounds whatsoever will not be assuaged. But those who see armed force as sometimes - regrettably - required to maintain security, or defend human rights, will find that the situation unfolding in Iraq justifies their position. Yesterday, as the liberation of Iraq began, the crumbling Saddam Hussein regime fired salvoes of missiles at Allied troop concentrations in Kuwait. It was the most eloquent admission by the Iraqi dictatorship that it had been taking the UN weapons inspectors for a ride for the last three and a half months.

Under UN Security Council Resolution 687, passed in 1992, Saddam should have destroyed his Scud and long-range missiles. Clearly, he did not. Under Resolution 1441, he was to declare where the remaining missiles were. Clearly, he did not. Some of yesterday?s attacks may have been made using the new al-Samoud rockets which the UN inspectors also wanted destroyed. Saddam prevaricated and only let 70 be sawn up. He went slow on destroying the rest, though they could all have been dispatched in a day. Now they are being used to try to kill British service men and women.

The moral of this sordid tale, as the fighting escalates in Iraq, is that Saddam Hussein is a proven liar. He will not disarm peaceably. He will not obey UN resolutions. He never has done. He never will. His regime can only be disarmed by force.

Don't the French, Chinese, Germans, Hans Blix, Tom Daschle, etc. owe the coalition an apology?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:10 PM


Beyond the Sandstorm, Three Visions Compete (Timothy Garton Ash, Guardian, 3/20/2003)
Over the last few weeks, the geopolitical west of the cold war has collapsed before our eyes.... But we can already see three broad ideas competing for the succession to the cold war west. I'll call them the Rumsfeldian; the Chiraco-Putinesque; and the Blairite.

The Rumsfeldian idea - if idea is not too dignified a word - is that American might is right. It's right because it's American.... If some allies want to come along to help, that's fine. If they don't, then you find "work-arounds".... Meanwhile, you carry on offending all your potential allies with clumsy remarks.

The Rumsfeldian vision is half right and therefore all wrong....

The Chiraco-Putinesque idea - if idea is not too dignified a word - is that American might is, by definition, dangerous.... The diplomatic battle over the last few weeks, with the Franco-German-Russian (-Chinese) continental alliance pitted against the American-British-Spanish (-Australian) maritime one, made me think again of the war of super blocs in George Orwell's 1984. He called them Eurasia and Oceania.

The Chiraco-Putinesque vision is half right and therefore all wrong....

That leaves Blairism. Blair's idea is that we should re-create a larger version of the cold war, transatlantic west, in response to the new threats we face.... Yes, Europeans should worry about US unilateralism, but, he told the Commons, "the way to deal with it is not rivalry but partnership. Partners are not servants but neither are they rivals"....

Blair's idea is completely right.... Blair himself made two major mistakes over the last year. The first was not to do more last September to try to bring Europe to speak "with one voice".... The second was to forget that partnership also involves sometimes saying "no"....

I am totally convinced that the Blairite vision of a new postwar order of world politics is the best one available on the somewhat depressed market of world leadership.

Timothy Garton Ash is half right and therefore all wrong. What he fails to notice is that Blairism and Rumsfeldianism are the same. Both believe in cooperation; but both expect cooperation to arise out of negotiation, and to serve the needs of all cooperating parties. Sometimes, in negotiation, you say "no," and this was precisely what Rumsfeld did when he spoke of "work-arounds." Rumsfeld was treating Blair as a "partner," in Ash's definition, by saying no.

Ash also fails to recognize the tension in his insistence that Blair should be willing to "say no" to one partner but "speak with one voice" with other partners. According to Ash's own principles, if European nations aren't free to say "no" to one another, then they are not "partners." Thus a European partnership should not be expected to "speak with one voice."

The idea of a new transatlantic alliance to fight terrorism is attractive if it is a real alliance of committed nations. But it appears that such an alliance must exclude France, and will therefore divide the Europe that the Ash thinks should "speak with one voice." Blair has recognized this conflict. I wonder how long it will take the British intelligentsia to do so?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 PM


THE BEST LAID PLANS: Light Motif (Gregg Easterbrook, 03.20.03, New Republic)
Why are the lights on in Baghdad? Check your CNN images--the city is now being bombarded from the air, and yet street lights and building lights glisten. Traditionally, cities being bombed turn off all their lights. In World War II, air-raid wardens walked the streets of London, pounding on the doors of anyone with a light visible or whose windows were not covered by black-out curtains. Yet Baghdad tonight is alight.

Maybe nobody's running the show; early indicators are that Iraqi leadership is already collapsing. Or maybe this is devilishly clever.

As significant as no one being in command to shut them off is the fact that we aren't taking out the electricity generating sites via bombing. Apparently "Shock and Awe" has been shelved because it isn't needed--the war is already over so why punish the people and wreck stuff you'll be trying to get going again in a couple days.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 PM


European Leaders Struggle to Mend Rift With U.S. (ELAINE SCIOLINO, March 20, 2003, NY Times)
Torn by a deep and bitter split over Iraq, the leaders of Europe came together today to struggle with how to restore unity among themselves and with the United States, even to the point of offering to participate in Iraq's post-war reconstruction.

While no one would have planned it this way, the 15 leaders of the European Union gathered in Brussels for a long-scheduled quarterly summit on the very day that the war against Saddam Hussein was launched, and the Europeans were distracted by television reports on the United States-led attack on Iraq.

Never before in the history of the European Union have its members had to grapple with two more different impulses on foreign policy. There is deep resentment among most of them that the United States waged war without the legality of international cover, despite their individual and collective appeals; at the same time, there is the sense that if the United States is the victor - as anticipated - the Europeans will have been on the wrong side of the war and as a group had better reposition themselves to be part of a post-war reconstruction. [...]

The European Commission chief, Romano Prodi, meanwhile, called on the member countries to pull together, saying, "We cannot rely on others to defend our richness, wealth and security."

Pardon? We've been defending it for them since 1945.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 PM


More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities. (Michael Ledeen, March 20, 2003, National Review)
The vision-challenged opponents of the war against the terror masters, those who have been saying that you can't fight Saddam and terrorism at the same time, got bad news today from Baghdad. It turns out that our surgical strike on Wednesday night - the one aimed at the "top leadership" of Saddam's little hell-between-two-rivers - got an unexpected bonus: a terrorist from the Palestine Liberation Front. And the good news comes not from the Pentagon but from the PLF itself.

According to UPI, the Palestine Liberation Front said Thursday one of its guerrillas was killed during the U.S. missile strikes on Iraq. A PLF statement released in the southern city of Sidon (Syrian-occupied Lebanon) identified the slain guerrilla as 1st Lieutenant Ahmed Walid Raguib al-Baz who was killed early Thursday "while confronting the treacherous U.S. air bombardment on Iraq."

I don't know anything about the late Mr. Al-Baz, but I know all too much about the PLF and its evil leader, Abu Abbas. This was the group that organized the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro back in the mid-1980s. They segregated the American passengers from the rest, and then courageously pushed an American Jewish paraplegic in his wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, into the Mediterranean. We tried to have Abu Abbas arrested in Italy, but he escaped through Yugoslavia to Yemen.

The PLF has long been one of the most lethal Palestinian terrorist groups, and achieved notoriety for its high-tech killings. Recently, Abu Abbas had come to live in the Palestinian Authority, but when Israel moved against the terrorists there he ran away - to Baghdad. The PLF has been one of the main conduits for Iraqi money to Palestinian suicide bombers.

When we were kids, one of the guys down the street liked lizards and stuff and we'd go out in his yard looking for garter snakes, but you never knew what you'd find when you lifted a rock.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:12 PM


FBI hunts al-Qaida suspect in U.S. (MSNBC, March 20, 2003)
The FBI was hunting Thursday for a suspected al-Qaida operative with pilot training who may be in the United States and planning a “major attack,” senior counterterrorism officials told NBC News. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said authorities fear the man could be “another Mohammed Atta.”

THE OFFICIALS sent out a nationwide bulletin to police urging them to be on the lookout for Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, who recently was using the alias Jaafaral al-Tayyar. The bulletin said word of his plans was based on information obtained from recently captured al-Qaida operatives.

“The United States has information indicating he may be involved in al-Qaida and may pose an imminent threat to U.S. interests at home or overseas,” the bulletin said.

The officials who spoke with NBC News said el-Shukrijumah was known to have been in the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, living for a time in Miami. His whereabouts now are not known.

The officials said they had no specific information about what el-Shukrijuman, nicknamed “Jaafaral the Pilot,” may be planning, but they said his pilot training raises the possibility that he might be planning an airborne attack similar to that carried out by Atta, the ringleader of the 19 hijackers who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

Aren't we supposed to be too distracted to even notice guys like this?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:07 PM


Hynde rages and rules at Warfield (Tony Hicks, 3/03/03, CONTRA COSTA TIMES)
Saturday's show at the Warfield in San Francisco a Pretenders concert, but it was really the in-your-face Chrissie Hynde show in every way, shape and form.

Lead singer Hynde was in a razor-tongued mood, whether the topic was war, sports, dancing, her own sex appeal, meat, or what the crowd looks like. She nearly picked a fight and openly coveted love from a biker.

And what the heck -- since she was there with three guys toting instruments, there was even some music.

That part of the show was occasionally inspired, hot, passionate, flawless and sexy. After nearly a quarter-century, Hynde's voice is still a sneer wrapped in cool velvet. Seeing her front and center wearing a black T-shirt, jeans, her trademark black bangs and a Telecaster is like witnessing a rock 'n' roll monument. For lovers of real rock, it's the equivalent of a political junkie standing on the steps of the Capitol.

And speaking of politics ... Hynde is a tad anti-war. She's anti lots of stuff, and isn't afraid to growl about them all every time the music stops.

"Have we gone to war yet?" she asked sarcastically, early on. "We (expletive) deserve to get bombed. Bring it on." Later she yelled, "Let's get rid of all the economic (expletive) this country represents! Bring it on, I hope the Muslims win!"

When a crowd member responded to that inflammatory statement, Hynde stormed the mic, roaring, "Shut your face!" Glaring, she held out the mic toward the fan as longtime drummer Martin Chambers stood up behind her, ready to rumble. "You come up to the mic and say something, smart guy," she snarled. "What do you want to talk about?"

No wonder all her bandmates kill themselves--they'd do anything to get away from her.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:26 PM


As we begin the war, this metaphor seems to have stood up fairly well, though Saddam ain't no Frank Miller.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:22 PM


Is Dixie Chicks protest a conspiracy? (John Kiesewetter, 3/18/03, The Cincinnati Enquirer)
Are the Dixie Chicks victims of a right-wing conspiracy?

That's what their manager, Simon Renshaw, has told country music stations being pressured to drop the Chicks' music after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush last week.

In an e-mail to stations distributed by Sony Music, their label, Renshaw says the protest has been orchestrated by the Free Republic ( , a Web site "for independent, grassroots conservative, " according to founder Jim Robinson of Fresno, Calif. The Web site also alleges that recent anti-war protests are "communist-organized demonstrations."

"Your company is being targeted by a radical right-wing online forum," Renshaw says in the e-mail. "You are being `Freeped,' which is the code word for an organized e-mail/telephone effort attempting to solicit a desired response."

On March 10, Maines told a London audience: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

As a member in good standing of the VRWC, I can truthfully testify that, though we are at work on the technology, we do not yet have operational fembots capable of impersonating Natalie Maines. The stupid things she said were her own thoughts, not a function of any conspiracy.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:12 PM


A Tale of Two Colonies: Our correspondent travels to Yemen and Eritrea, and finds that the war on terrorism is forcing U.S. involvement with the one country's tribal turbulence and the other's obsessive fear of chaos (Robert D. Kaplan, April 2003, The Atlantic Monthly)

[...] Ma'rib's ratty streets smell of urine and petrol. The city swarms with young men, often in their early teens and with bad teeth and skin discolorations, riding around in pickup trucks, armed with knives and AK-47s. The knives are jambiyahs. Blunt and difficult to remove from their sheaths, they are rather impractical as ready weapons, and instead symbolize the stabilizing influence of tribal custom in Yemen-the social glue that keeps the rate of random crime low. The AK-47 is another matter. "Once you have a gun, why bother to learn to read and write?" a Yemeni soldier said to me, after I had asked a particularly hostile knot of young men if they attended school. They did not.

Estimates of the number of fire-arms within Yemen's borders go as high as 80 million-four for every Yemeni. Their availability, along with perhaps the largest al Qaeda presence anywhere outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, threatens to transform the small-scale tribal fighting that has plagued Yemen for centuries into a debilitating anarchy. Indeed, the high walls, the concertina wire, and the proliferation of armed guards in Sana'a indicate the level of apprehension felt by both the Yemeni government and the foreign community here.

Keep in mind that terrorism is an entrepreneurial activity, dominated by enterprising self-starters. An American military expert told me, "In Yemen you've got nearly twenty million aggressive, commercial-minded, and well-armed people, all extremely hard-working compared with the Saudis next door. It's the future, and it terrifies the hell out of the government in Riyadh." [...]

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former army lieutenant colonel, has ruled first North Yemen and then unified Yemen since 1978. By most accounts, his government controls the main roads, oil fields, and pipelines; but significant patches of the countryside, especially the desert regions near the Saudi border, such as Ma'rib, al-Jawf, and Sa'da, stand largely ungovernable. Traveling around Yemen, one can see why this situation obtains. I sat at many crowded local road stalls where every man or boy not only had an AK-47 but didn't put it down even while eating. Nevertheless, President Saleh may be doing better than the Turks or the British before him in extending control over this country. [...]

Al Qaeda's attacks on the USS Cole, in Aden Harbor in 2000, and on the French tanker Limburg, off the Yemeni coast in 2002, may have perplexed some Western observers. After all, the bombings should have served to bring the United States and France, two bickering allies in the anti-terror coalition, closer together. But al Qaeda knew exactly what it was doing. Without Saleh, Yemen would be a conveniently chaotic, culturally sympathetic base for al Qaeda, much more useful than non-Arab, geographically peripheral Afghanistan. Saleh's regime is not necessarily weak: its security and party apparatus provide an institutional basis for power rare in twentieth-century Yemen. But a substantial reduction in government revenues, which are Saleh's main tool to placate hostile sheikhs, could still destabilize his regime. Some informal estimates suggest that the attacks have reduced the amount of cargo arriving in Aden by 75 percent, and that $25 million a month is being lost in the container trade. And war-risk-insurance premiums for ships calling at Yemeni ports are already six times the worldwide average. [...]


Whereas Yemen's streets and shops are plastered with photos of President Saleh (whose cult of personality is mild compared with those of other Arab and African leaders), one never sees such photos of the Eritrean President, Isaias Afewerki, the veritable founder of this country. For decades Afewerki led a low-intensity guerrilla movement that finally wrested independence from Ethiopia in 1991. "Photos of me would create an air of mystery and distance from the people," he told me in December. "It's the lack of photos that liberates you. I hate high walls and armed guards." While other leaders in the region live inside forbidding military compounds, Afewerki lives in a modest suburban-style house and greets people in his secretary's office, which sits at the end of an undistinguished corridor. He moves around the capital in the passenger seat of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, with only one escort car, stopping at red lights. Western diplomats here say they have seen him disappear into large crowds of Eritreans without any security detail at all. "It's easy to put a bullet in him, and he knows it," one foreign diplomat said to me.

Security, which consumes the Western diplomatic and aid communities in Sana'a (and everywhere else in the Middle East), is barely an issue in Asmara, Eritrea's capital. Despite its tattered storefronts, Asmara not only is one of the cleanest capital cities in Africa but also may be the only capital south of the Sahara where one can leave the car doors unlocked or prowl the back streets at all hours without fear of being robbed, even though the police are barely in evidence. American, Israeli, and other resident diplomats and aid administrators in Eritrea move freely around the country without guards or other escorts, as if they were at home.

Desperately poor and drought-stricken, with almost three quarters of its 3.5 million inhabitants illiterate, Eritrea nonetheless has a surprisingly functional social order. Women run shops, restaurants, and hotels; handicapped people have shiny new crutches and wheelchairs; people drive slowly and even attend driving school; scrap-metal junkyards are restricted to the urban outskirts; receipts are given for every transaction; there are few electricity blackouts from sloppy maintenance or badly managed energy resources. Foreign diplomats in Asmara praise the country's lack of corruption and its effective implementation of aid projects. Whereas rural health clinics in much of Africa have empty shelves and unexplained shortages of supplies, clinic managers in Eritrea keep ledgers documenting where all the medicine is going.

An immense fish farm near the port of Massawa testifies to Eritrea's ability to utilize foreign aid and know-how. The 1,500-acre complex channels salt water from the Red Sea, purifies it, and then uses it to raise shrimp in scores of circular cement tanks. The nutrient-rich excess of that process is used for breeding tilapia, a freshwater fish. The remaining waste water is pumped into asparagus and mangrove fields and artificially created wetlands. Though the operation was initially overseen by a firm from Phoenix, Arizona, and for a time employed an Israeli consultant, the consultant is now only rarely used. The Eritreans themselves run the operation in every respect.

Such initiative and communal discipline are the result of an almost Maoist degree of mobilization and an almost Albanian degree of xenophobia-but without the epic scale of repression and ideological indoctrination that once characterized China and Albania. The Eritrean xenophobia and aptitude for organization are, as Eritreans never cease to explain, products of culture and historical experience more than they are of policy choices. Eritrea never had feudal structures, sheikhs, or warlords. Villages were commonly owned and were governed by councils, or baitos, of elders. "It was not a society deferential to individual authority," I was told by Yemane Ghebre Meskel, the director of President Afewerki's office, "so we didn't need Marxist ideology to achieve a high stage of communalism." Wolde-Ab Yisak, the president of the University of Asmara, observed, "Communal self-reliance is our dogma, which in turn comes from the knowledge that we Eritreans are different from our neighbors."

Here's the Kaplan piece we referenced last week, when he was on Fresh Air.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:06 PM


Iraq War: What is the Cost? (Lincoln Anderson, Chief Investment Officer, LPL Financial Services, 3/20/02, Lincoln's Commentary)
A number of commentators and politicians have been hand wringing over the cost of the war and subsequent infrastructure repair in Iraq. They point to cost estimates in the $200 to $300 billion range as being possibly dangerous to the U.S. economy and to the Federal budget. Of course, they generally neglect to point out that these cost estimates are the undiscounted sums of multi-year outlays. Also, they neglect to mention that these are gross, not net, estimates (for example, the military gets paid whether it is fighting in Iraq or stationed in Germany).

But these systematic cost overestimates are reduced to mere quibbles amongst the green eyeshade accounting crowd compared to the true cost / benefit calculation that should, and is, being made by the marketplace. That marketplace is, of course, the U.S. stock and other markets.

Over the last five days as it became apparent that President Bush had reached the conclusion that the U.N. peace process was not going to work and that the U.S. was going to have to disarm Saddam by force, markets have rallied. Over the last five days, the U.S. stock market has risen by more than 8%. The market capitalization of the stock market five days ago was approximately $11 trillion. Now it is about $900 billion higher.

Hypothetically speaking, suppose investors cashed that gain in at the long-term capital gains tax rate. Then the Federal government gets an immediate cap gains tax payment of $180 billion. That would surely pay for most, if not all, of the discounted present value of Iraq war and reconstruction expenditures.

But, as they say on TV, that is not all you get! Oil prices have also come down over the last five days from $38 to about $30 per barrel. The U.S. imported 3.4 billion barrels of crude oil last year. An $8 drop in oil prices translates into $27 billion per annum in reduced costs for imported oil. That saving alone would pay for most, if not all, of Iraq’s annual reconstruction expenses.

But that is not all! The reduction in uncertainty over the last five days has caused a rally in the corporate bond market. Ford Motor Co. bond yield spreads, for example have tightened by 20 basis points. This eases the financing burden on U.S. companies as well as handing bondholders a substantial (taxable) capital gain. Based on the market cap of the fixed income market and the average spread tightening over the last five days,
investors have gotten a capital gain of about $160 billion.

But that is not all! Whether they liked it or not, our European "allies" have also benefited from the U.S. decision to disarm Iraq and from lower oil prices. Over the last five days, the French CAC and the German DAX stock price indices have rebounded sharply. This provides a clear example of the "free rider" problem. At least we cannot claim that these government’s anti-war positions were motivated by a desire to increase investor wealth.

The bottom line is that, setting aside all the non-monetary national security benefits associated with disarming Iraq, it is clear to me that this action is being priced in securities markets around the world as hugely beneficial. Those who worry about the direct dollar cost of war and reconstruction are missing that point.

Now let us pray for the men, women and children in harm’s way in Iraq.

Our favorite estimate was the one last week that if things dragged on for a couple months it could cost $2 Trillion--that's how much all of WWII cost us in adjusted dollars.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 PM


CBS: 'Senior Officials' Think Saddam May Not Have Survived (Drudge Report, Mar 20 2003)
"I am being told by several senior officials not to take that taped speech Saddam gave last night as proof that he survived the attack," CBS NEWS reporter David Martin said on air.

"They say the evidence that put him in the bunker last night was very reliable, and they are confident that the cruise missiles and bunker-busting bombs that were fired at that bunker last night hit the target. So now, intelligence experts are studying the tape to determine if it is really Saddam, or a body double which he is known to use from time to time. And they are running a computerized voice analysis, comparing that speech with known recordings of Saddam's voice. But that's a process that takes awhile. So we may not have a quick answer."

"There is considerable belief in this government that they may, in fact, have gotten Saddam."

Bush Administration Questions Hussein Video: White House Says Tape Offers No 'Immediate Conclusions' (Mike Allen, March 20, 2003, Washington Post)

The White House today questioned the authenticity of a videotape showing Saddam Hussein speaking a few hours after the cruise missile strikes that opened the war in Iraq.

"We have reached no conclusions about that tape or about who's on the tape or when it was taped," press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 PM


Hughes's New Role In Shaping Bush's Message Questioned: Ethics, Politicization Concerns Cited (Dana Milbank, March 20, 2003, Washington Post)
Former White House aide Karen P. Hughes, now a $15,000-a-month consultant to the Republican National Committee, has been playing a key role in advising President Bush and the administration on a communications strategy for the Iraq war.

Hughes flew with Bush on Air Force One to the Azores on Sunday and helped to draft his speech to the nation delivered Monday night. Hughes briefed reporters in the White House on Monday in advance of Bush's speech, saying he would offer exile as the only option to avoid an attack. And Hughes, who officials say has worked from the White House for the past week, has played a key role in developing the administration's plan for a coordinated communications strategy during the Iraq war.

The arrangement has prompted accusations from Democrats and government watchdog groups that the role of Hughes improperly blends politics and government business. Democrats complain that the presence of Hughes gives an inherently political tinge to the war effort. "George Bush should be focused on winning this war and making sure our troops are safe, not on how his partisan campaign hacks are going to score political points in the aftermath," said David Sirota, [partisan campaign hack] for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

What's wrong with politicizing the war, as Tom Daschle did in his vile floor speech? Democrats oppose the war and support Saddam. Republicans support it and oppose Saddam. Take the issue to the people and let them decide who they want to govern them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:07 PM


Much More Democratic Obstruction: Democrats move to kill an entire slate of Bush nominees. (Byron York, March 20, 2003, National Review)
Although it was overshadowed by the beginning of war, on Capitol Hill Wednesday there was a major escalation in the conflict between Senate Democrats and the White House over the president's judicial nominees.

The escalation had nothing to do with the ongoing Democratic filibuster over appeals-court candidate Miguel Estrada. Instead, it involved a Democratic decision to block, and, at least for the moment, kill a total of four Bush nominees to the federal courts of appeals.

Acting in concert, Michigan Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow told the Judiciary Committee they will block the nominations of Richard Griffin, David McKeague, Susan Bieke Neilson, and Henry Saad to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, Levin and Stabenow said they will block the nomination of Thomas Ludington to a seat on the U.S. District Court. That means the two senators are attempting to kill every Bush nominee from the state of Michigan.

Levin and Stabenow stopped the nominations by returning negative blue slips, which are the documents in which senators indicate approval or disapproval of judicial nominees from their home states.

Blue slips are a Senate custom with a long and controversial history, but both parties concede it is nearly impossible for a nominee of either party to win confirmation over the objections of both of his or her home-state senators. That means the nominations of Griffin, McKeague, Neilson, Saad, and Ludington are effectively dead.

It was an extraordinary move on the part of Levin and Stabenow, a kind of Wednesday-night massacre that sent Republicans scrambling to research whether such wholesale obstruction had any precedent in Senate history, and what a GOP response might be.

The move is all the more remarkable because much of the Sixth Circuit is in what the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts calls a "judicial emergency." The court normally has 16 members, but half of those seats are now empty.

The GOP really has to bring the hammer down, ignore the blue slips in committee and make the Democrats filibuster Estrada full-time and stop Senate business in a time of war. What's the point of fighting in Iraq if you're going to surrender constitutional prerogatives at home?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 AM


The big question: Can Arabs handle liberty?: The fall of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is going to provide an answer to one of the world's perennial chicken-and-egg questions: What makes the Arab world such a dreadful place? (Zev Chafets, 3/20/03, Jewish World Review)
Maybe the Iraqis and other Arab people are just folks - regular people who want to live in harmony with their neighbors near and far. And maybe not.

Maybe Iraq and the broader Arab world have ancient values and beliefs that are hostile to America's. Maybe Arab men - who still practice honor killings against their wives and daughters, even in "moderate" countries like Jordan - do not want to release the creative gifts of women. Maybe the venerated spiritual leaders of the Arab world regard Western democracy as an offense against the laws of the Koran and "human liberty" as infidel code words for ungodly license.

Maybe the men made rich by their associations with Saddam and other dictators are not interested in creating a free-market economy. Maybe the secular political class of Baghdad - and Damascus and Cairo - regards domestic repression as preferable to American intervention for any reason whatever.

Maybe the mass of uneducated Arabs are profoundly loyal to tribal traditions and uninterested in attaining newfangled liberties. In short, perhaps the Arabs in Iraq and elsewhere have the governments they deserve. The next few months will clarify the issue.

Bringing liberty to the people of Iraq would be a fine thing. Still, it is not the main thing. The goal of this war is to establish and enforce the new Golden Rule of the post-post-Colonial world order inaugurated in September 2002: Sovereignty is not an inalienable right.

From now on, self-determination will belong to those people whose basic ethos and instincts do not pose a mortal threat to the United States, its interests and allies. The Iraqis and the other Arab nations may pass that test, or they may fail it. Once Saddam is gone, we will begin to find out.

Mr. Chafets brings up, though in a different context, a point that Paul and I have raised in the "just war" discussions. Modern just war theory places an inordinate emphasis on sovereignty, almost exclusively as a means of ruling out all wars. If sovereignty is inviolable, or nearly inviolable, then no action within a nation, no matter how heinous, up to and including genocide, is just cause for regime change. This is a repellent notion and violates the classic Golden Rule.

Our standard must be that sovereignty and self-determination are dependent on leaders and peoples exercising those rights responsibly. They are not absolute and they diminish rapidly if you become a threat not merely to your own citizens but to the citizens of other nations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:11 AM


China goes down with UN defeat (Francesco Sisci, 3/20/03, Asia Times)
In his first news conference on Tuesday, China's new Premier Wen Jiabao insisted on a political solution for the crisis in Iraq, and the same afternoon Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan underscored that China was working and hoping for a solution within the framework of the United Nations. In fact China's position since the beginning has been consistent: it wanted to achieve a solution, no matter which one, by going through the Security Council, where it holds the important and prestigious veto power.

But US President George W Bush's war ultimatum to Saddam bypassed a vote at the UN and the UN was de facto defeated. It was a major setback for China, which had been betting heavily on the United Nations. Bush's ultimatum underscored a major turning point in the diplomacy of the United States, which had declared war without UN approval for the second time. The first time it was in Kosovo under president Bill Clinton, and so the trend is definitely bipartisan: the United States is willing to work within the framework of the United Nations only if doing so fits US interests, and it refuses to be constrained by the UN straitjacket.

China still argues that the majority of countries in the world favor working within the United Nations, where they have representation, and even the US has no interest in doing without the UN altogether, as it is a useful arena to exercise its global diplomacy. But the truth is that the interest of a weak majority doesn't count as much as that of a strong minority.

Never mind the French and Russians, how can we tolerate an institution which leaves a communist enemy with a veto over our actions?
Posted by David Cohen at 9:55 AM


The Boxer Rebellion

Throughout the nineteenth century, China's emperors had watched as foreigners encroached further and further upon their land. Time and again, foreigners forced China to make humiliating concessions. Foreign regiments, armed with modern weapons, consistently defeated entire imperial armies. Now, as a new century was about to begin, Tsu Hsi, empress dowager of the Ch'ing Dynasty, searched for a way to rid her empire of foreign parasites. . . .

While the outside powers bickered over who would control China, Tsu Hsi issued an imperial message to all the Chinese provinces.

The present situation is becoming daily more difficult. The various Powers cast upon us looks of tiger-like voracity, hustling each other to be first to seize our innermost territories. . . . Should the strong enemies become aggressive and press us to consent to things we can never accept, we have no alternative but to rely upon the justice of our cause. . . . If our . . . hundreds of millions of inhabitants . . . would prove their loyalty to their emperor and love of their country, what is there to fear from any invader? Let us not think about making peace.
In northern Shandong province, a devastating drought was pushing people to the edge of starvation. Few people there were thinking about making peace. A secret society, known as the Fists of Righteous Harmony, attracted thousands of followers. Foreigners called members of this society "Boxers" because they practiced martial arts. The Boxers also believed that they had a magical power, and that foreign bullets could not harm them. Millions of "spirit soldiers," they said, would soon rise from the dead and join their cause.

Their cause, at first, was to overthrow the imperial Ch'ing government and expel all "foreign devils" from China. The crafty empress, however, saw a way to use the Boxers. Through her ministers, she began to encourage the Boxers. Soon a new slogan -- "Support the Ch'ing; destroy the foreigner!" -- appeared upon the Boxers' banner.

In the early months of 1900, thousands of Boxers roamed the countryside. They attacked Christian missions, slaughtering foreign missionaries and Chinese converts. Then they moved toward the cities, attracting more and more followers as they came. Nervous foreign ministers insisted that the Chinese government stop the Boxers. From inside the Forbidden City, the empress told the diplomats that her troops would soon crush the "rebellion." Meanwhile, she did nothing as the Boxers entered the capital.
Down below, Orrin posts an article quoting various representatives of the Arab Street as confidently predicting victory for Iraq. In effect, they are saying that Allah will bring victory by defeating any American who sets foot on Iraqi soil. It struck me that this is a strain of defeatism. Even the Arab Street knows that Arab bravery and feats of arms stand no chance against the US military. Their only hope is a miracle. This put me in mind of the Boxer Rebellion, briefly described above.

Although there are important differences between the Boxer Rebellion and Al Queda, the similarities are obvious. A species of fundamentalism born out of grinding poverty and despair. Hatred of the foreigner seen not only as the cause of this misery but also because he sets an unbearable example. Hatred of the non-fundamentalist government seen as contributing, or at least not opposing, the humiliation of a people that should, by rights, control the world. The cynical use of this movement by that government, until it gets out of hand. Finally, the triumph of a modern military over the deluded masses.

If this is a legitimate precedent, the news is not entirely good. The West put down the Boxer Rebellion and, in so doing, destroyed the power of the Imperial government. As the Imperial government was corrupt, tradition bound and incapable, this was a good thing. The Chinese Republic, which eventually came into being, was better, but not much and the lot of the average Chinese did not change. Eventually, the resentment, the humiliation, the poverty (and a good dollop of Communist treachery) led to the establishment of the People's Republic, which was a tragedy for China from which it has yet to recover.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:32 AM


The Prince That Roared (Wall Street Journal Europe, 3/20/2003)
Can a people vote away their democratic rights?...

But while the legitimacy of Napoleon's overwhelming results in 1802 and 1804 [plebiscites making him "First Consul-for-Life"] may justifiably be doubted, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein seemed to win plenary powers fair and square on Sunday.... [Was] it, as the Vienna-based Council of Europe warned rather darkly this week, "a serious step backwards"?...

While Sunday's referendum gave the prince an absolute veto over legislation, the right to dismiss the parliament, and immunity from Liechtenstein's courts, voters did not give up the democratic ghost altogether. A petition of 1,500 signatures (admittedly, nearly 5% of the population and over 7% of the voters) is sufficient to force a further referendum on the prince's role.

It's ... not clear that statelets like Liechteinstein have all that much to gain from ... parliamentary rule. In the 1990s, constitutional reform in Andorra imbued the local assembly with all the powers of a full-fledged government, which promptly went about putting up taxes and expanding the state. Given the alternatives, beneficent constitutional monarchy doesn't seem entirely bad.

Charles I of England once said that liberty consists of having government under those laws by which one's lives and one's goods may be most one's own. By those standards, Liechtenstein is doing pretty well, especially compared to some of the more traditionally democratic, but more socialist, countries around it. If its citizens think Prince Hans-Adam II is best-equipped to continue that trend of thriving, who are we to argue?

If the Liechtenstein model proves successful, I hear France will propose that the new EU Constitution declare Napoleon IX emperor.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM


It's time to turn off, tune out and drop President Bush a message (Gerald Stone, March 21 2003, Sydney Morning Herald)
Earlier this week, in a letter to the Herald, I offered one long-shot possibility of getting directly through to the White House: a viewer boycott of the Oscars.

Perhaps the idea wasn't as far-fetched as some critics tried to make out.

The US, for all its military might, has a political system that makes it very vulnerable to protest campaigns which target any of its major industries. The entertainment industry is certainly among the most influential of those.

The Academy Awards broadcast is traditionally the most widely watched of all American television shows. If there was clear evidence of a drop in ratings attributable to anti-war sentiment, it would send a symbolic message to the bosses of the big studios, networks and pop music companies.

They would begin to realise that an unpopular war has the potential to threaten billions of dollars in overseas profits, and they would make sure that message was passed on quickly to the politicians who represent them. [...]

Only within the US entertainment industry do Australians really count. The amount of money earned here from American-made television programs, movies and CDs happens to be very significant on a per capita basis, placing us among the top overseas consumers.

A symbolic switch-off of such product surely seems an easy enough gesture to make for any motivated anti-war protester, and the economic impact locally would be minimal.

Could such a campaign work? The major US TV networks and studios are prone to panic over any issue that looks like impacting on profits.

A celebrity who makes some impromptu pro-abortion comment risks being fired on the spot for offending advertisers. So, too, the industry is vulnerable to a president who enrages millions of foreign consumers by declaring a war with no clear explanation.

The Hollywood moguls would soon enough let their displeasure be known to the West Wing.

Have we really reached the stage where Australians, as much as they admire Americans, need to contemplate a symbolic boycott to express their grave concerns about US foreign policy?

Sadly, there appear to be few other options in a situation where Washington claims to act as the ultimate guardian of free nations everywhere, yet leaves millions of free-world citizens virtually disenfranchised because they have no voice in US politics.

We strongly support this idea and urge everyone to boycott the Oscars, though for the exact opposite reason--to express displeasure at the anti-American views of the bulk of the Hollywood glitterati.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM


Saddam is target of first cruise missile blitz (Keith Mcleod, Mar 20 2003, Daily Record uk)
Sources suggested the attack on Saddam might have been a set-up by US "black operations" units.

It was claimed the Americans had faked a story yesterday that Iraqi deputy premier Tariq Aziz had defected.

Saddam was forced to scotch the rumour by ordering Aziz to appear at a news conference.

Observers said US intelligence could have tracked Aziz after his TV appearance, using him to lead them to Saddam.

How sweet would it be if Aziz led us to Saddam?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM


Arabs Angry Over U.S. Attack on Iraq (ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Mar 20, 2003, Associated Press)
"God, you are almighty, you are capable of turning this (war) against" the Americans, said Bashir el-Afesh as he finished his prayers in Cairo.

Kamal Abou Ayta, an Egyptian political activist who has organized anti-war protests in Cairo, called the attack "illegitimate."

"I believe that American soldiers whenever they step on Iraqi soil, they will be defeated," Abou Ayta said in an interview. "I am sure of that."

Egyptian newspapers planned extra editions Thursday. In the Lebanese capital, papers pushed back deadlines to include war news and appeared on newsstands.

Early morning anti-war protests where reported at Cairo University and Al-Azhar University — at the latter, a venerable Islamic institution in Cairo, students chanted: "Patience, patience, oh Bush, tomorrow the Muslims will dig your grave."

We eagerly await the story describing the fury of the American street at the seeming inability of the Arab world to manage its own affairs, construct decent governments, make peace with neighbors, employ its young, etc., etc., etc.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


The Arab Coalition: From Iraq's neighbors, reason to hope for peace and reform. (DENNIS ROSS, March 20, 2003, Wall Street Journal)
While many European leaders remain deeply fearful of the fallout from a war with Iraq, many Arab leaders in the Middle East began several weeks ago to adjust to what they perceive to be a new reality. They stopped trying to prevent the war and instead began signaling that they wanted neither to be on the wrong side of the conflict nor on the wrong side of the U.S.--or our broader agenda in the region.

Consider Egypt's press, which has been emphasizing that Saddam Hussein is bringing the conflict on himself. In his trip to Berlin, Hosni Mubarak emphasized to his hosts that it was time to get the conflict over and remove Saddam. In Washington, a high-level Egyptian delegation made it clear recently that they would not oppose us and, in anticipation of our emphasis after the war, also suggested that Egypt did have a serious, if measured, approach to internal reform.

The Saudis, though more circumspect on the war, have also indicated a greater willingness to permit U.S. operations out of the kingdom during the conflict. Crown Prince Abdullah is now openly calling for a new charter on reform to be adopted by the Arab League. Both the Egyptians and Saudis seem to have anticipated President Bush's speech in which he proclaimed that the liberation of Iraq might be a springboard to broader transformations in the region. And both seem to see the way the wind is blowing in the area--and they intend, at least tactically, to be on the right side of those winds.

They are not the only ones. Jordan publicly announced that an American contingent would come to the country to man Patriot missile batteries. Can anyone doubt that the Jordanian government was making a statement about where it was lining up in the event of war with Iraq? Contrast this posture with Jordan's posture during the Gulf War 12 years ago.

Syria's behavior is even more surprising. Not only has it been restraining Hezbollah of late, but as if to convey that it will not be a problem, Syria has withdrawn 4,000 troops from Lebanon.

Early reports suggest that the bombing yesterday was based on Jordanian intelligence and Hosni Mubarak made a public statement blaming Saddam for the war. Add in the new PM in Palestine and you've got the kind of roiling change that opponents of the status quo had been hoping for. Who could possibly look at the US/Britain and then at Iraq/al Qaeda--hiding in bunkers and caves--and fail to recognize which one represents the future of the Arab world.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM


IMF admits its policies seldom work (Simon English, 20/03/2003, Daily Telegraph)
The International Monetary Fund, the Washington-based bank set up to police the financial globe and assist the Third World, yesterday made the startling admission that the policies it has been pursuing for the last 60 years do not often work.

In a paper that will be seized on by IMF critics across the political spectrum, leading officials reveal they can find little evidence of their own success.

Countries that follow IMF suggestions often suffer a "collapse in growth rates and significant financial crises", with open currency markets merely serving to "amplify the effects of various shocks".

Kenneth Rogoff, the IMF chief economist who is one of the report's authors, called the findings "sobering".

A recent study by the United Nations reported that the 47 poorest countries in the world - the biggest recipients of loans from the IMF and the World Bank - are poorer now than they were when the IMF was founded in 1944.

Hatred of France...dismissal of the acknowledgment that the IMF does more harm than good...all of the great conservative shibboleths are coming true at the same time.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 AM


Iraq Targets U.S. Troops (CBS, March 20, 2003)
Iraq retaliated Thursday against the opening stages of the U.S.-led war to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, launching missiles at U.S. troop positions in Kuwait.

CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports three missiles were launched. Patriot anti-missile batteries intercepted one missile, and the others were believed to have crashed. No injuries were reported and there was no indication that chemical or biological material was involved.

There were conflicting reports on what type of missiles were launched. One appeared to be a surface-to-air missile that had been converted to hit ground targets, perhaps an Al Samoud 2 missile — one of the type that Iraq had started to destroy.

In another possible attack, a small airplane crashed while attempting to fly from Iraq to Kuwait.

American troops went on alert two separate times, donning gas masks and protective suits twice and then receiving the "all clear." Air raid sirens wailed repeatedly in Kuwait City as officials warned that some Iraqi missiles might be aimed there.

This is obviously false. Jacques Chirac, Hans Blix and Ted Kennedy have reliably informed us that Saddam has no such weapons.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


U.S. offering reward for FARC hostages (Houston Chronicle, March 19, 2003)
The United States is offering Colombians $300,000, a U.S. visa and a new life in America for information leading to the rescue of three U.S. military contractors captured by rebels last month.

Authorities Tuesday began distributing color fliers outlining the offer, complete with pictures of a jetliner, a visa application and a clean, modern metropolis lying along azure waters -- presumably an American city.

The Americans were captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- known as the FARC -- Feb. 13 after their U.S. government plane went down in rebel territory during an intelligence mission. A fourth American and a Colombian on the plane were killed near the scene.

The U.S. State Department years ago classified the FARC as a terrorist group, but the U.S. Embassy denied that the offer of the money -- equal to more than a lifetime's pay for many Colombians -- and the hard-to-get U.S. visa is tantamount to negotiating with terrorists.

We've got a little list and they'll none of them be missed.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 AM


CIA Had Fix on Hussein: Intelligence Revealed 'Target of Opportunity' (Barton Gellman and Dana Priest, March 20, 2003, Washington Post)
Shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday, Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet offered President Bush the prospect -- improbable to the point of fantasy, yet suddenly at hand -- that the war against Iraq might be transformed with its opening shots. The CIA, Tenet said, believed it had a fix on President Saddam Hussein.

Hussein and others in "the most senior levels of the Iraqi leadership," ordinarily among the most elusive of men, had fallen under U.S. surveillance. The intelligence was unforeseen and perishable, presenting what one administration official called "a target of opportunity" that might not come again. Not only did the agency know where Hussein was, Tenet said, but it also believed with "a high probability" that it knew where he would be for hours to come -- cloistered with advisers in a known private residence in southern Baghdad.

Bush listened calmly -- as his aides portrayed the scene -- as Tenet described the sources and limits of his information, the likelihood that it was true and the length of time Hussein could be expected to spend at the site before moving to his next refuge. The Iraqi president, a man of many palaces, avoids them at moments of maximum risk. There was no guarantee at all, Tenet said, that his whereabouts would be pinpointed again.

For the next three hours, Bush and his senior national security advisers tore up the carefully orchestrated schedule of violence that the U.S. Central Command had honed for months. Those present in the Oval Office, officials said, included Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

When Bush signed the launch order at 6:30 p.m., it had a hastily prepared insert. The first shots would strike through the roof and walls of an anonymous Baghdad home and deep beneath it in hopes of decapitating the Iraqi government in a single blow.

"If you're going to take a shot like this, you're going to take a shot at the top guy," said a government official with knowledge of the sequence of events. "It was a fairly singular strike."

Now we just have to figure out who was in the bunker when we hit it.

Bid to assassinate Saddam : Missile attack on Iraqi leader á Bush: 'early stages' of invasion á 170,000 troops on border (Julian Borger and James Meek, March 20, 2003, The Guardian)

The United States attempted to kill Saddam Hussein with a cruise missile attack in the early hours of this morning, in what President George Bush said were the "early stages" of a US-British invasion of Iraq.

A sombre President Bush told the American people in a TV broadcast minutes after the blast: "This will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory."

A blast was reported in the Baghdad outskirts a little less than two hours after a US-imposed deadline for President Saddam to leave the country expired. It was followed by anti-aircraft fire rising into the pre-dawn sky over Baghdad just before 6am local time (3am GMT)

Pentagon officials said up to two dozen cruise missiles had been launched from ships in the Gulf and the Red Sea in a "decapitation attempt" - an assassination attempt against the Iraqi leader himself and his sons and lieutenants.

It was unclear whether the attack had been successful. A few minutes after the attack, Iraqi radio issued a statement attributed to his son, Uday Hussein, saying : "God protect us from foreign aggressors."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:20 AM


US raids may "radically" change war -US spokesman (Reuters, March 19, 2003)
U.S. air attacks against Iraq on Thursday were aimed at control and command centres and, if successful, might "radically" change the nature of the war, a U.S. spokesman said.

"These strikes are being characterised as a decapitation targeted at command and control nodes. If successful, it will radically change the way we do things," U.S. spokesman Marine Colonel Chris Hughes told Reuters.

U.S. bombs and cruise missiles hit Baghdad at dawn as the United States launched a war to topple President Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials in Washington said earlier that the Thursday morning air raids were aimed at senior Iraqi leadership targets near Baghdad. They did not name the targets.

Hughes indicated that targets in the south of Iraq had also been hit. He added that he now expected a lull in the attacks.

The lull would be to allow the now leaderless Iraqi people to surrender. If you read between a lot of lines--that even Blair didn't know this was coming, that there were 5 to 7 guys in the bunker and that there are five key leaders we were targeting, that we're not following up immediately, etc.--it sounds just possible that Saddam and sons and fellow leaders gathered in one place, assuming we couldn't hit them in daylight, and then got bunker busted. Let's hope so.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:03 AM


U.S. Reaps New Data On Weapons (Barton Gellman, March 20, 2003, Washington Post)
The U.S. government has obtained potentially valuable new information on Iraq's biological and chemical weapons programs in recent days from scientists and intelligence agents confronted outside Iraq with threats that failure to cooperate could mean unpleasant consequences when Baghdad falls, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the effort.

In a top-secret adjunct to an openly reported diplomatic initiative, U.S. and allied intelligence services summoned scores of Iraqi operatives in foreign capitals to present a stark choice. They were told "they could either 'turn,' " said one official, using an expression for switching sides, or be expelled back to Iraq "to enjoy your very short stay in Baghdad."

Another official with access to written accounts of the conversations said the Iraqis were told that when the United States sorts friends and enemies after toppling President Saddam Hussein, "they'll be putting themselves and their families at the mercy of the new Iraqi government."

The State Department announced on March 6 that it had asked 60 friendly governments to expel alleged Iraqi intelligence operatives who lived abroad under diplomatic or commercial cover. Spokesman Philip Reeker portrayed the request as routine. But behind the announcement was Operation Imminent Horizon, in which Iraqis were pressured to provide information about the weapons programs and Iraqi operational plans. Among the nations that helped with the expulsions and recruiting efforts were Romania, Hungary, Australia and Sweden, officials said.

The Defense Department is racing to integrate the new leads into an extremely risky and ambitious disarmament mission. The quality of intelligence on Iraqi chemical, biological or nuclear weapons could not only determine the threats facing U.S. troops on the battlefield in the days ahead, but also could become a factor in conclusions around the world about whether the war was necessary.

U.S. planners are urgently focused on the speedy capture of Iraqi scientists and identification of suspected weapons sites, to prevent attacks on U.S. forces and preserve evidence of proscribed programs. But they are also wary of booby traps and the possibility that small U.S. disarmament teams could be overwhelmed if they outrun friendly ground forces.

When the whole thing comes tumbling dow where will folks like Hans Blix and the French hide?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 AM


Senate votes to bring troops home (AAP, March 20, 2003)
AFTER a protracted two-day debate on the Iraq war, the Senate has voted to bring Australian troops back home immediately. Labor, Australian Democrats, Australian Greens and independents Brian Harradine and Meg Lees joined forces to support the motion Iraq was being invaded without UN Security Council authorisation.

Australian troops should be withdrawn and returned home immediately, the senators said.

Could they be more craven?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 AM


French Connection II (WILLIAM SAFIRE, March 20, 2003, NY Times)
On Aug. 25, 2002, e-mail went from the director general of CIS Paris to Qilu Chemicals in China regarding a preliminary order: "We are about to have one of our affiliates open a L/C [Letter of Credit] for an initial order of 20,000 kg. of sealant type HTBP-III. . . . The drums should have a label mentioning the nature of the goods, same as your sample: `modified polybatadiene [sic] sealant type III,' it is not necessary that the label shows the name of your company."

Ten days later, on Sept. 4, this response came from Qilu: "Thank you for your order to our HTPB-III! We just have sent a 40-foot container to Tartous (Syria) last month. I am not sure whether the container is in your warehouse now." A month later, Qilu sought a "formal order."

A Times colleague in Paris visited CIS early last week. The director, Jean-Pierre Pertriaux, acknowledged the documents but said someone else had filled the order. I duly reported his denial.

Mr. Pertriaux has since written to me to denounce my column as "mostly imagination and slander." He argues, in a rambling fashion, "About HTPB, one of the uses of this chemical is as a binder for rocket propellant, one of the possible rocket style is long-range missile, which I personally know for sure the Iraqis do not have (the CIA know it still better): so the supply of HTPB is legal, it is not forbidden by the UN except for a use which does not exist, though it is unpleasant if you plan to invade Iraq and do not want to face field rockets or anti-tank weapons."

But what about those e-mail notes? "My company never supplied HTPB to Iraq (but it considered this eventuality) we know the Chinese QiLu company, they boasted to have shipped HTPB to promote their business but never actually did."

Then, "leaving you a chance to show that you distorted the truth, but did not organize a lie," the French broker pointed elsewhere: "Three shipments (totaling 115.8 tons) have actually been made from USA via Jordanian traders."

He didn't name the supposed suppliers, but I was able to check his assertion that "the supply of HTPB is legal" with an assistant secretary of state, John Wolf. "All military-related sales to Iraq are banned by several U.N. resolutions," countered Mr. Wolf, the man in charge of our nonproliferation bureau. "This is rocket fuel you're talking about. The fact that Iraq was permitted to have missiles in the sub-150-kilometer range does not therefore allow the import of such fuel. Any sale to Iraq, except for humanitarian goods, requires the approval of the U.N. sanctions committee." The U.S. is on that committee and never approved such a sale.

Someone's giving Mr. Safire the goods.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

.S. Troops Raid Afghanistan for al-Qaida (AP, 3/19/03)

About 1,000 U.S. troops launched a raid on villages in southeastern Afghanistan Thursday, hunting for members of the al-Qaida terrorist network in the biggest U.S. operation in just over a year, military officials said.

Helicopters ferried troops from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division to the remote, mountainous area as the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his terror network intensified, according to U.S. military officials in Washington. [...]

It was the largest U.S. military operation in Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda just over a year ago.

Which makes this seem even more petty--Top White House anti-terror boss resigns (P. Mitchell Prothero, 3/19/2003, UPI)--since when is it okay for patriots to quit their posts in time of war?

March 19, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 PM

Deadline passes; U.S. raids Baghdad: Aerial strikes target Saddam directly; Bush addresses nation (Alex Johnson and Kari Huus, MSNBC)

President Bush told the nation Wednesday night that the ?opening stages? of Operation Iraqi Freedom were under way. U.S. forces stepped up what had been intended as an initial softening of the battlefield by launching an aerial bombardment of Baghdad in an attempt to kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. [...]

A senior U.S. official said the raids in and around Baghdad had been intended as "extensive prepping of the battlefield" in the no-fly zone in the south of the country. But the attack was ramped up after U.S. intelligence spotted what was termed a "target of opportunity," described as a "senior or very senior member of the Iraqi regime."

U.S. officials told Miklaszewski that the target was Saddam himself. They would not say whether the attack, in which F-117s dropped mammoth GBU-27 "bunker buster" bombs, was successful.


'Two-thirds of Iraq's conscript army are ready to surrender without a fight, according to US military sources in Kuwait.

Two army divisions totalling 20,000 troops based in the south of Iraq are set to give themselves up to Allied forces in nearby Kuwait, the sources told Sky News reporter Colin Brazier.

The sources said Iraq's 11th infantry and 51st mechanised divisions were "ready to capitulate".

They said troops from the 6th armoured division were also believed to be considering giving themselves up.

Brazier, with US troops in Kuwait, said recent intelligence briefings had reported the troops were badly motivated.

Asked why the conscripts would surrender, Sky's Foreign Affairs Editor Tim Marshall said: "They are underfed, underpaid and extremely scared."


The cruise missile attack on Baghdad was aimed at wiping out Saddam Hussein, US sources said.

Pentagon sources said the Iraqi leader, his two sons and senior military officials were the targets of the strike.

The sources said they had intelligence information pinpointing where Saddam and the others may have been.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:29 PM

President Bush's Address to the Nation (3/19/03)

My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein?s ability to wage war.

These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign. More than 35 countries are giving crucial support, from the use of naval and air bases to help with intelligence and logistics to the deployment of combat units. Every nation in this coalition has chosen to bear the duty and share the honor of serving in our common defense.

To all the men and women of the United States armed forces now in the Middle East, the peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you. That trust is well placed. The enemies you confront will come to know your skill and bravery. The people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military.

In this conflict, America faces an enemy who has no regard for conventions of war or rules of morality. Saddam Hussein has placed Iraqi troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women and children as shields for his own military, a final atrocity against his people.

I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm. A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment.

We come to Iraq with respect for its citizens, for their great civilization and for the religious faiths they practice. We have no ambition in Iraq except to remove a threat and and restore control of that country to its own people.

I know that the families of our military are praying that all those who serve will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans are praying with you for the safety of your loved ones and for the protection of the innocent. For your sacrifice, you have the gratitude and respect of the American people. And you can know that our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done.

Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. And I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures. And we will accept no outcome but victory.

My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others. And we will prevail.

May God bless our country and all who defend her.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 PM

U.S. Strikes 'Target of Opportunity' Near Baghdad (Fox News, March 19, 2003)

U.S. forces launched a military strike near Baghdad targeting Iraqi leaders, a senior government official said.

The official, speaking Wednesday night, said U.S. intelligence had detected the possibility Iraqi leaders were in the area, which he described as a "target of opportunity."

The official declined to identify the leaders who were targeted or to say whether the attack was successful.

It sounds like this was a rather sudden decision to attack a unique target, rather than the beginning of a large-scale bombardment.

It's now being referred to as a decapitation strike. It's at least conceivable that Saddam is dead already.

Crack troops pursue Saddam (Tim Reid, March 20, 2003, Times of London)

ELITE teams of US Delta Force commandos who have been inside Iraq for weeks are preparing to descend on Baghdad with the objective of capturing or killing President Saddam Hussein, US defence officials said yesterday.

Small, highly mobile units picked from the US Army's most revered and secretive fighting force have been assigned a key mission of the war: to hunt down Saddam, his two sons and at least a "dirty dozen" of Iraq's top military and civilian leaders.

The Delta Force, the US equivalent of the British SAS, has 306 men. It has been training for several years with the CIA for the specific mission of hunting down the Iraqi leader, officials said.

Last night they were being mobilised to infiltrate Baghdad and Saddam's home city of Tikrit to begin the hunt.

As plans were revealed to drop the commandos from Black Hawk helicopters to sites outside Baghdad, it became clear that, if US forces locate Saddam, the likelihood is that they will kill him and his closest henchmen rather than capture them.

"The expectation is to kill him within days (of the start of the war)," a Pentagon official said."It's what Delta has been training 24/7 to do."

Assassinating a foreign leader runs counter to a 1976 order signed by President Ford. But White House officials cite international law, which states that, once a war begins, there are no limits on military actions against enemy leaders. Saddam, as Commander-in-Chief of Iraq's Armed Forces, is a legitimate target, they say.

CIA operatives have been photographing and spying on Saddam's numerous presidential compounds, while US spy satellites take daily pictures of the Iraqi leader's suspected hideouts. Some of the most detailed information on his possible whereabouts, Pentagon officials said, has come from Jordanian intelligence.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:55 PM

Explosions heard in Baghdad (BBC, 3/20/03)

Explosions have been heard in Baghdad, an hour and a half after the US deadline for Saddam Hussein to go into exile or face war expired.

The skies above Baghdad lit up with tracer fire and a large pall of smoke was seen in the south of the city.

President Bush gave the Iraqi leader until 0100 GMT on Thursday to quit, but there was no word out of Baghdad as the cut-off point lapsed.

With the passing of the deadline, Mr Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters: "The disarmament of the Iraqi regime will begin at a time of the president's choosing."

White House says, "The opening stages of the disarmament of the Iraqi regime have begun." President Bush to address nation at 10:15 p.m. (CNN)

Many Iraqi Loyalists Leave Posts (HAMZA HENDAWI, 3/20/03, Associated Press)

Hundreds of armed members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party and security forces deployed Wednesday throughout Baghdad, taking positions behind sandbags and in foxholes ahead of the U.S. ultimatum for the Iraqi leader to leave or face war.

There was no sign during the day of regular army troops, however, and as the deadline approached, nearly half of the Baath loyalists were gone from the almost deserted streets. [...]

The Baath loyalists and security forces, meanwhile, stood behind hundreds of sandbagged positions built throughout the city over the past two weeks. Some were inside foxholes. Most were armed with Kalashnikovs, but some had rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine-guns. On the city's southern fringes, several anti-aircraft guns could be seen.

Even Baghdad's traffic policemen wore helmets and carried assault rifles.

The Baathists, who wore olive-green uniforms and deployed in clusters of fours and fives, are widely expected to take charge of keeping law and order in Baghdad and other main Iraqi cities in the event of war.

Saddam, Iraq's president of 23 years, also was expected to look to them and other loyal militiamen and troops to deal with any anti-government stirrings by groups tempted to capitalize on the chaos caused by war to try to seize power.

Curiously, there was no sign Wednesday of Iraq's army troops or armor in or outside Baghdad, where Saddam is widely expected to make his final stand against any invaders.

One explanation would be that he's afraid of his own armed forces, which would be a hopeful sign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 PM


France, Russia and Germany Insist U.S. Acting Illegally if It Attacks Iraq and Overthrows Saddam Hussein (Edith M. Lederer, Mar 19, 2003, Associated Press)
With war imminent, the most outspoken opponents of military action against Iraq - France, Russia and Germany - insisted Wednesday the United States will be acting illegally if it attacks Iraq and overthrows Saddam Hussein.

And therefore?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:14 PM


Beware of the Kurds (Melik Kaylan, Wall Street Journal, 3/19/2003)
I have been living here in the guise of a businessman. Not being registered as a journalist means I don't need a KDP minder "for my protection." In the age-old fashion, such minders have a distinct influence on what foreign journalists see and think. In this case, journalists have not noted the nefarious activities of the Kurdish authorities in charge of the northern "no-fly" zone....

[T]he Kurds could ... integrate into their northern zone a population of Turkmens and Assyrians that would almost match their own -- and for a while, perhaps for a long while, they would rule over them. Their treatment of those minorities to date in their own preponderantly Kurdish zone suggests it won't work ...

I witnessed a "spontaneous" stone-throwing riot against [Turkmen] party headquarters by a Kurdish mob in Irbil, which the KDP offered to dispel by occupying the premises. The Turkmens refused, as the KDP have a passion for invading and looting their offices. Some nights later, KDP commandos occupied the high-points around Turkmen office buildings and pointed Kalashnikovs at the guards. Turkmen officials are detained without charge, their homes looted anonymously....

Saddam used [the Turkmen] as cannon fodder in the Iran-Iraq war. Many were taken prisoner by the Iranians. Others escaped to [Kurdish-controlled] Irbil, leaving behind relatives at Saddam's mercy. Saddam in turn has tortured and killed those unfortunates for having "foreign" connections. Now the Irbil exiles are stuck with Barzani -- dubbed "Mini Saddam" -- who also treats them as spies for the Turks. Barzani's rival-cum-uneasy confederate, who rules the other official Kurdish zone as strongman of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), is a mite more civilized, though insidious. He refused minority-language TV channels, for example, on grounds that he couldn't protect them adequately....

Barzani's new-found pan-Kurdish nationalism is pragmatic. Any change in the status quo brought on by Turkish or American forces breaks his monopoly on trade and smuggling revenues and threatens his financial hold over the mercurial Kurdish tribes. Until the trade in oil with Iraq stopped a few days ago -- after Turkey closed the border -- Barzani made nearly a billion dollars a month on transit "taxes." His family takes a cut from all trade in tobacco, textiles, tea, alcohol and medicines. None of this bodes well for his future governance in a wider Kurdish area. It is an open secret here that he has allowed Iraqi intelligence to operate under cover, and that Saddam's family and friends have regularly visited here -- after all, Barzani and Saddam's son, Qusay, co-own the local firm that traded in U.N.-sanctioned oil....

In the weeks I've been here, I've learned the last thing local leaders want, or intend to employ, is democracy and the rule of law.

As the State Department recently warned, establishing democracy and freedom in Iraq will be difficult. But it must be done.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 PM


-AUDIO INTERVIEW: The 1991 Gulf War (Laura Knoy, 03/19/2003, The Exchange)
Laura's guest is Michael Kirk, senior producer of the PBS Frontline program, "The Long Road to War"

This is an excellent interview. Mr. Kirk, in addition to this episode, worked on the Frontline profile of George W. Bush that aired prior to the election in 2002 and displays great understanding of both the President and the administration's handling of Iraq. Two particularly good points: (1) He says that no one minded American hegemony pin the '90s because Bill Clinton had no idea what to do with it. (2) He talks about how at the close of the 1991 war, Saddam told his negotiators to agree to anything the allies asked, so long as he got to stay in power. When they told him the deal, he announced, "Then we won".
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM


We're Already Fighting Against the Next War (Paul Loeb and Geov Parrish, March 19, 2003, AlterNet)
Although millions have marched worldwide, Bush's war is now beginning.

But even despite the launch of mass bombing, we must continue to work to lay the groundwork to prevent it from leading to wars on Iran, North Korea, Colombia, and so on. This means we'll need those now surging into the movement to stick around for the long haul, and not melt away when times get hard.

During the first Gulf War, one arguably more justified, the U.S. peace movement got kicked in the gut. Then as well, major protests surged through American and European cities, hoping to stop the war before it started. But once the war began, mainstream American debate over the wisdom of war quickly became supplanted by the insistence that anything other than relentless cheerleading was disloyal to the troops -- and to the country. Americans overwhelmingly supported the first Gulf War, because it worked militarily, and because the hundred thousand Iraqis who died were faceless and anonymous.

Those who continued speaking out for peace quickly felt marginalized, isolated, and silenced. Most quickly retreated into private life, many entering a political cocoon they would stay in for years.

Yet for some who've been active working for justice and peace ever since, that war was their entry point to involvement. What made the difference between the people who retreated and those who stayed engaged? What will make the difference now that many more ordinary citizens are outraged enough to speak out -- opposing both the war and Bush's broader assault on democracy?

Those who persisted back then promptly learned that their actions could matter whether or not they produced immediate results. Connecting with fellow activists, they saw themselves as part of a long-term movement for change -- fighting for basic principles. They retained hope and courage even when the political tides seemed to run against them.

History never fully repeats itself. But if Bush does go to war despite massive global opposition, the peace movement needs to be prepared for some unsettling possibilities.

Not content with defending Saddam, it's time to defend the Iranian mullahs, whose own populace is in the streets marching against them; the Colombian narcoterrorists; and Kim Jong-il. And they think they're defending democracy?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 PM


America's Image Further Erodes, Europeans Want Weaker Ties: But Post-War Iraq Will Be Better Off, Most Say (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, March 18, 2003)
Anti-war sentiment and disapproval of President Bush's international policies continue to erode America's image among the publics of its allies. U.S. favorability ratings have plummeted in the past six months in countries actively opposing war--France, Germany and Russia--as well as in countries that are part of the "coalition of the willing." In Great Britain, favorable views of the U.S. have declined from 75% to 48% since mid-2002.

In Poland, positive views of the U.S. have fallen to 50% from nearly 80% six months ago; in Italy, the proportion of respondents holding favorable views of the United States has declined by half over the same period (from 70% to 34%). In Spain, fewer than one-in-five (14%) have a favorable opinion of the United States. Views of the U.S. in Russia, which had taken a dramatically positive turn after Sept. 11, 2001, are now more negative than they were prior to the terrorist attacks.

Among possible coalition countries, majorities oppose joining the U.S. to take action against Iraq to end Saddam Hussein's rule. Even in Great Britain, a 51% majority opposes war. Among the unwilling allies, there is also virtually no potential support for a U.S.- led military effort.

But ironically, most publics surveyed think that in the long run the Iraqi people will be better off and the Middle East will be more stable if Iraq is disarmed and Hussein is removed from power. More than seven-in-ten of the French (73%) and Germans (71% ) see the Iraqi public benefiting.

Two things stand out: (1) it looks like all we need is another 9-11 and we can be popular again; (2) the bifurcation that has Europeans opposing military action but thinking it will be salutary is not "ironic" it is the point of the matter and the defining difference between them and us. If you don't support something that will improve someone else's life it seems fair to say you have selfish reasons, doesn't it? You must be, perhaps legitimately, afraid that it may adversely affect your life. These numbers are predictable indicators of societies that have turned inwards and whose citizens care naught about anything but themselves.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 PM


US outraged at Cuba arrests (BBC, 3/19/03)
Washington has angrily demanded the immediate release of dozens of Cuban dissidents arrested for their contacts with the US representative in Havana.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington was "outraged" by the detentions.

"This is an appalling act of intimidation against those who seek freedom and democratic change in Cuba," Mr Boucher said.

He also strongly defended the US envoy, James Cason, against Cuban accusations of carrying out subversive activities.

It's forty years too late to prevent the suffering of the Cuban people, but couldn't we at long last effect regime change in Cuba?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


Annan highlights Iraqis' 'plight' (BBC, 3/19/03)
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed concern for the millions of civilians who could be caught in the looming war in Iraq.

"It is the plight of the Iraqi people which is now my most immediate concern," he told a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York - just hours before a US deadline for war was due to expire.

Mr Annan said Iraqis had suffered a lot over the years and were faced now with a disaster "which could easily lead to epidemics and starvation". [...]

The Secretary General said nearly a million Iraqi children were suffering from malnutrition, and the coming conflict would make things much worse.

Worse? Mr. Annan is an idiot. In as little as a matter of days we'll be feeding those children, who have been starved by Saddam Hussein and twelve years of futile UN sanctions.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 PM


Cassandra Speaks (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, March 18, 2003, NY Times)
It is quiet here in the rubble at the presumed site of ancient Troy. No tourists gawk at the spot where Achilles pierced Hector's throat, at the high stone walls on which King Priam tore his gray hair, at the gate that shows signs of having been widened as if to admit an unusually big object, like an oversized wooden horse.

Then there's a roar, and two fighter jets streak across the sky, creating a collage of one of the world's first battlegrounds and the next one, just southeast of here in Iraq. The instruments of war have changed mightily in 3,200 years, but people have not; that is why Homer's "Iliad," even when it may not be historically true, exudes a profound moral truth as the greatest war story ever told.

So on the eve of a new war, the remarkably preserved citadel of Troy is an intriguing spot to seek lessons. The Trojan War was the very first world war, between Europe and Asia, and the legends suggest that it was marked not just by heroism but also by catastrophic mistakes, poor leadership and what the Greeks called ato: the intoxicating pride and overweening arrogance that sometimes clouds the minds of the strong.

Troy offers us three lessons about war, each as enduring as the spring that still trickles here - described by Homer as the place where Trojan women washed clothes.

There's another lesson that we'd advise George W. Bush to take away from the story: if Saddam makes a peace offering, don't accept; it's a trick.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:42 PM

SADDAM -- A SOIXANTEHUITARD? (via Arts and Letters Daily):

It's Not Easy Being Mean (The Atlantic, 4/25/2002)
Not so long ago, Saddam was admired as a thoughtful, articulate, intelligent politician who was an asset to Iraq's reform-minded socialist-revolutionary party. Some of those who knew him in the sixties and seventies recall enjoying idealistic bull-sessions with him about Iraq's future. And as he gained power within the party, he began to implement a number of reforms to Iraq's health-care and educational systems that ... earned him praise in the West.

A pathological sense of vanity, Bowden explains, has also played an important role in Saddam's quest for absolute power. He seems to want more than anything to go down in history as a great man ...

How many Western politicians does this sound like?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:42 PM


The Lesson Of Rwanda (Richard Sezibera, March 19, 2003, Washington Post)
In 1994 genocide occurred in Rwanda. Within the space of 100 days, 1 million people perished. At the time, the United Nations had a sizable presence in the country, but it did not stop the genocide. The world still debates whether the international community could have stopped the horror. It is a debate Rwandans do not understand and cannot relate to.

Maybe the risk of failure in Rwanda in 1994 was high; maybe substantial numbers of the members of an intervening force would have come home in body bags. That is no justification for the inaction that cost Rwanda its best and brightest. [...]

Rwandans believe that the international community needs to learn from its mistakes. Sadly, that seems not to be happening. We are not members of the Security Council, and we do not know whether Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction and is therefore a danger to international peace and security, as Resolution 1441 says. What we do know is that the international community cannot shirk its responsibility. Either Hussein is and he should be disarmed, or he is not.

International politics is, in many ways, about dealing with shades of gray. Where genocide, international terrorism and the survival of the human race are concerned, however, hard choices need to be made. Simply waiting is not a choice, it is an abdication of responsibility.

Has the international community, including the United States, ever intervened purposely to stop an ongoing genocide? I fear not.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:09 PM


France and Germany wondering if matters have gone too far (John Vinocur, March 19, 2003, International Herald Tribune)
In Berlin, a reporter talking to a German official heard that the Schroeder government initially believed Iraq was a one-issue crisis, narrowly confinable to disagreement on the military undertaking and the painful although surmountable problem (in the middle term) of Germany's nonparticipation.

But reacting in fear of isolation, the official suggested, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's willingness to subordinate Germany to a French view of confrontation with the United States on many wider fronts has brought the government to a position it now finds an awkward fit with Germany's long-term interests, and to a place outside the realm of the two men's anticipation when they ran for re-election on a pacifist platform last September.

In very less specific terms, this notion of things having gone too far appeared to suffuse remarks on Monday by Fischer that American policy was absolutely nonimperial in nature, that the United States was the irreplacable element of global and regional security, that there was no alternative to good trans-Atlantic relationships and that he well understood how the new East European membership of the European Union could have a "very different view" of their security than this or that EU founding member.

The Germans are merely doing their usual calisthentics--Feet!...Throat!...Feet!...Throat!...Feet!...Throat!...--but note the almost throw away nature of Mr. Vinocur's line about a wider French policy of confronting the U.S.. If it wouldn't smack of euthanasia it would be worth finally getting to go to war with them.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:38 PM


The war has started (Robert Fox and David Taylor, 3/19/03, Evening Standard)
British and American troops were involved in fierce fighting near Iraq's main port today as the war to topple Saddam Hussein began.

The firefight broke out near Basra as men of the Special Boat Service targeted the strategically vital city and the oilfields in southern Iraq. [...]

The fighting reported at Basra was believed to involve British special forces and US marines in an operation to prepare landing sites for amphibious craft during an invasion.

Other special units were deep inside Iraq on secret operations to prepare landing strips in the desert for airborne troops.

Basra, Iraq's only seaport, lies on the Shatt al Arab waterway where the Tigris and the Euphrates open into the northern Gulf.

Surrounded by treacherous sandbanks and marshes it is difficult to approach from the sea.

Artillery, infantry and the tanks of the 7th Armoured Brigade had already moved into Forming Up Positions, and some were already on the start line.

An attack could target Basra and proceed up alongside the Euphrates towards the strategic cities of Nasariya, Najaf and Karbala.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:10 PM

NIMBY (via Brian Hoffman):

Raise taxes, citizens tell Senate panel (Dane Smith, March 19, 2003, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Citizen after citizen told the Senate Taxes Committee on Tuesday evening at Northeast Middle School in Minneapolis that taxes ought to be raised on high-income families or corporations in order to balance Minnesota's $4.23 billion projected budget shortfall.

J Robert Burger, an organizer for a clerical workers union at the University of Minnesota and one of about 40 citizens who testified Tuesday, cited statistics from the Minnesota Revenue Department showing that those at the very top of the income scale pay a lower percentage of their income in state and local taxes than do middle-and low-income families. [...]

Burger's direct challenge to the Senate, which is controlled by the DFL, will be answered by the end of the month. Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger of St. Peter has set that deadline for presenting an alternative DFL budget proposal. But he says he still doesn't know whether the proposal will include a tax hike, despite increasing demands from some interest groups and citizens, such as Burger. [...]

It's no secret that DFLers at the State Capitol, already reduced to their fewest numbers and weakest position in 30 years, have been in a terrible bind over how to respond to [Governor] Pawlenty's adamant opposition to higher tax rates.

Republicans control the House by a yawning margin. Pawlenty, with his no-tax-increase campaign, beat DFLer Roger Moe and the Independence Party's Tim Penny, both of whom said that increases were "on the table."

Some DFLers note that the combined vote of three major-party candidates who had taxes on the table was larger than Pawlenty's, about 55 percent to 45 percent, but opinion polls continue to show little support for tax increases.

As Russell Long used to say, the only accepted position on taxes is: "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax the feller behind that tree." Of course, as Brian points out, the last sentence in the quoted portion pretty much contradicts the headline and first paragraph of the story.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:13 PM


A time for unity (Patrick J. Buchanan, March 19, 2003)
After the blowing up of the Maine in Havana harbor in 1898, McKinley issued a call for 25,000 volunteers to liberate Cuba from Spain. A million responded. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the lines at recruiting stations went around the block.

This war is different. It is a war the president and Secretary Powell said they did not want to fight, but must, if Iraq refused to disarm. Thus, on the eve of war, the mood here seemed less one of war enthusiasm than of resignation, and a grim resolve to get it over with.

The war debate has been protracted and bitter. Now it is over, and patriotism commands that when American soldiers face death in battle, the America people unite behind them.

This is one of the main differences between Right and Left. Even when the Right thinks a war is a bad idea they are too patriotic to hold out when their country goes into battle. Thus Charles Lindbergh pulled strings to try and get a vindictive FDR to let him into uniform and, when that failed, illicitly flew on bombing missions anyway. Meanwhile, the Left continues to carp and the despicable Tom Daschle actually blamed George W. Bush for any American deaths that may occur in the war. We may disagree with Mr. Buchanan on immigration and free trade, but no one can doubt his patriotism.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM


Divided Democrats Concerned About 2004: Public perceptions of the Democratic Party's antiwar wing may affect the Democrats' chances in next year's presidential elections. (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 3/19/03, NY Times)
With rising intensity and emotion, the Democratic Party finds itself divided over war in Iraq. The turmoil in the party--and the rising voices of the antiwar wing--are shaping the nation's view of the Democrats as they approach a national election that could turn on the question of the country's security, party leaders said.

Officials in both parties say the image of high-profile Democrats challenging President Bush's war policy right up through his address to the nation on
Monday--and, in fact, beyond the speech, as was clear here today--could reinforce a perception that Republicans are better suited to deal with threats from abroad.

Should that happen, Democrats say, it could pose a serious obstacle for the party if the White House and Congressional contests in 2004--unlike the contests of 1992, 1996 and 2000--are fought out on issues of national security and foreign policy. [...]

Though worried, some Democratic leaders predicted that the potential war with Iraq would ultimately have little effect on the outcome of Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.

"Let's remember that this war--if there is a war--is likely to be a distant memory by November of 2004," Gov. Gray Davis of California said.

No one would be happier than we if terrorism was wiped out (from the Philippines to S. Lebanon to Colombia) by Summer 2004 and liberalizing regimes taking over in Iran, N. Korea, Libya, Syria, etc., and Israel welcoming a new peaceful Palestinian state. Mr. Davis seems to think that's all likely--do you?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:24 PM

BLAMING THE JEWS (via Kevin Whited):

Dual Loyalty?: Are Israeli Interests ‘The Elephant in the Room’ in the Conflict With Iraq? (Rebecca Phillips, March 15, 2003, ABC News)
In recent months, everyone from Slate's Michael Kinsley to former U.S. presidential candidate Gary Hart to Hardball host Chris Matthews has commented about the problem of "dual loyalty" in this conflict — the question of whether some Americans — especially certain Jewish members of the Bush administration — are supporting war with Iraq because they believe war is in Israel's interests.

The debate surfaced in public March 3 when Rep. James Moran, D-Va., told a church forum that, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this."

The White House condemned Moran's comments and the congressman has since apologized for his comments.

American Jewish groups have not endorsed the war, and many Jews have been active in the anti-war movement. But, as evidenced by Moran's recent comments, the debate continues over Israel's role, American Jewish support of the Iraq war, and a perceived dual loyalty.

Kinsley wrote in October that there has been a "lack of public discussion about the role of Israel in the thinking of President Bush." The Moran flap was the first time the White House has gotten involved. Before, the discussion has stayed in the realm of political magazines and op-ed pages. Below we break down the debate.

Why is it that it's socially acceptable to ask if Jewish proponents of the war are more loyal to Israel than to America but unacceptable to ask if those folks who oppose the war are more loyal to Iraq than to the U.S.?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:15 PM


Bubbles prompt climate-change rethink: Argon traces hint that carbon dioxide did not lead life out of the freezer, but followed. (TOM CLARKE, 14 March 2003, Nature)
Carbon dioxide certainly warms our planet, but it might not turn on the heat, reveals a new analysis of ancient Antarctic ice.

"Our data suggest that the warming came first, then carbon dioxide increased," says Jean Jouzel of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute in Gif-sur-Yvette, France1. Something else — probably extraterrestrial — got the warming going, his team concludes.

Aside from water vapour, carbon dioxide is the major warming influence on our planet. But it's hard to work out which comes first: a rise in carbon dioxide levels or a slight warming. Why? Because even a slight temperature hike increases atmospheric carbon dioxide, through its effects on forests and oceans.

Pioneering a new technique, Jouzel's team has probed air bubbles trapped in 240,000- year-old ice laid down as snow when the Earth was warming up at the end of a massive ice age.

They compared the ratio of two forms of the atmospheric gas argon in the bubbles, and looked at their carbon dioxide content. The argon ratio changes relative to the temperature of the air at the time it was trapped, the team argues.

They saw a temperature rise, followed by greater warming caused by rising carbon dioxide levels, that tallied well with evidence from the surrounding ice and other climate records. "We were surprised to find that these indicators agreed," says Jouzel.

This is the kind of scientific uncertainty upon which the Kyoto accords are based. Yet folks like Tom Daschle amd Tom Friedman continue to insist that the kind of unilateralism we demonstrated by not following the herd over the cliff has earned us the justified enmity of the rest of the world.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:55 PM


Antiwar groups change tactics: East Bay bracing for civil disobedience acts once invasion starts (Mike Adamick, March 19, 2003, San Mateo County Times)
In the hours following President Bush's ultimatum Monday to Saddam Hussein, local antiwar groups moved to shift their strategy from protest to resistance.

E-mails went out to supporters. Phone calls, too. In Oakland, groups affiliated with Direct Action to Stop the War met to complete plans for the day bombs start hitting Iraq.

In San Francisco, the organization stepped up nonviolent "role-playing scenarios" to prepare for acts of civil disobedience.

As the groups begin to mobilize, communities throughout the East Bay began bracing for war and the mass protests that promise to follow. If the local response to 1991's Operation Desert Storm is any indication, the Bay Area could face days of unrest in the event of war.

This time, however, the protests are expected to be larger, organizers said, because of intensified antiwar sentiment in the Bay Area and across the world.

"We're getting ready to see something we've never really seen before," said Leda Dederich, an organizer with the San Francisco-based Direct Action to Stop the War.

"We're planning to really stop the financial district, to really put our bodies on the line to stop the war machine," Dederich said.

The key element of civil disobedience, the reason it can succeed, is that where injustice exists in an otherwise decent society it is possible to shame an otherwise unwilling populace into fixing it. So, when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. went to jail to protest segregation, it brought people of good conscience face to face with the monstrousness of the regime of unjust laws that plagued our society. The specter of punishing men like him was far more troublesome than the idea of dismantling the system.

The problem for these protestors is that there's no objective sense in which they're morally correct and subjectively the great majority of Americans disagree with them. The idea of sending them to prison for trying to disrupt the functioning of society is far more attractive than that of leaving Saddam in place. Let's hope that, like serious practitioners of civil disobedience in the past, they're willing to stay in prison until society changes its other words, forever.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:40 PM


-REVIEW: of Just War Against Terrorism: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World By Jean Bethke Elshtain (Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Elshtain clearly thinks a war now against terrorism and Iraq meets just-war criteria.

Her guiding ethos is an "Augustinian realism that resists sentimentalism and insists on ethical restraint." The great Church father appreciated, in her words, that "power is a basic reality of political life" and "justice and force are not mutually incompatible." Indeed, President Bush's much-mocked view that he might go to war partly to create a just peace for now-oppressed Iraqis is vintage Augustine, who advocated force to protect innocents from harm, and even saw it as a form of obligatory Christian love for neighbors.

Elshtain's trench-level arguments about such matters include reflections on the thoughts of such theologians as Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich about force and evil. Some of her citations sound eerily contemporary, such as Niebuhr's 1940 observation that history "refutes the idea that nations are drawn into war too precipitously. It proves... that it is the general inclination, of democratic nations at least, to hesitate so long before taking this fateful plunge that the dictator nations gain a fateful advantage..."

Elshtain's least persuasive moments concern America's role in the world. "The role of preventing or interdicting violence in other countries is not new to the United States," she writes, "it was thrust upon the United States in 1989 when it became the world's only superpower."

That's the kind of disingenuous malarkey currently infuriating America's allies. No one thrust the role of world cop on the United States - we took it. Even if one believes we should take it, we owe the world some arguments beyond "might makes right." Since agreed-upon "just take" criteria don't exist, working out the principles is a challenge.

In the end, one values Elshtain's judgments while regretting her often inadequate brief for them. She says "we have no choice but to fight." Better to say, "It's our choice to fight," and explain why.

A couple of weeks ago, Nicholas Kristof wrote a NY Times column in which he said that jouranalists had some obligation to at least try and comprehend the religious beliefs and motivations that move a wide majority of their readers, if not themselves. Here's an example of where that might be helpful. From a Judeo-Christian perspective, which is where Ms Elshtain wries from, what morally defensible choice do we have but to prevent and interdict violence whenever and wherever we can? Where and when, as in a place like Rwanda, we fail to do so, it is not because there was any "choice" to the matter but because we failed to answer the summons of justice. Who among us can contemplate the genocide there and our inaction and not feel a deep sense of shame?

Paul Jaminet has already offered a long post on just war theory today and we finally posted our long-promised review of Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars. But quite the best thing you're ever likely to read on just war is the essay Just Cause
by James Turner Johnson. It is exceptional.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 AM


D-Day (THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, 3/19/03, NY Times)
[H]ere we are, going to war, basically alone, in the face of opposition, not so much from "the Arab Street," but from "the World Street." Everyone wishes it were different, but it's too late — which is why this column will henceforth focus on how to turn these lemons into lemonade. Our children's future hinges on doing this right, even if we got here wrong.

The president's view is that in the absence of a U.N. endorsement, this war will become "self-legitimating" when the world sees most Iraqis greet U.S. troops as liberators. I think there is a good chance that will play out.

But wars are fought for political ends. Defeating Saddam is necessary but not sufficient to achieve those ends, which are a more progressive Iraq and a world with fewer terrorists and terrorist suppliers dedicated to destroying the U.S., so Americans will feel safer at home and abroad. We cannot achieve the latter without the former. Which means we must bear any burden and pay any price to make Iraq into the sort of state that fair-minded people across the world will see and say: "You did good. You lived up to America's promise."

To maximize our chances of doing that, we need to patch things up with the world. Because having more allied support in rebuilding Iraq will increase the odds that we do it right, and because if the breach that has been opened between us and our traditional friends hardens into hostility, we will find it much tougher to manage both Iraq and all the other threats down the road. That means the Bush team needs an "attitude lobotomy" — it needs to get off its high horse and start engaging people on the World Street, listening to what's bothering them, and also telling them what's bothering us.

Some 35 years ago Israel won a war in Six Days. It saw its victory as self-legitimating. Its neighbors saw it otherwise, and Israel has been trapped in the Seventh Day ever since — never quite able to transform its dramatic victory into a peace that would make Israelis feel more secure.

More than 50 years ago America won a war against European fascism, which it followed up with a Marshall Plan and nation-building, both a handout and a hand up — in a way that made Americans welcome across the world. Today is a D-Day for our generation. May our leaders have the wisdom of their predecessors from the Greatest Generation.

Mr. Friedman gets this one spectacularly wrong: what the Marshall Plan in fact did was allow the nations of Western Europe to maintain their disastrous welfare systems, rather than undergo the which has led directly to the point where, having sacrificed their own on the altar of government handouts, they can no longer summon the will to defend freedom abroad. We should really be confronting the World Street and putting pressure on Europe to reform itself--with smaller government, lower taxes, privatized social welfare programs, higher birth rates, religious revival, etc.--rather than truckling to that Street's self-centered, Statist demands. Those who believe in the idea of progress in human history would do well to consider that 70 years ago Ortega y Gasset warned an unlistening West of the dangers inherent in the Revolt of the Masses, yet here we are today, after those masses have nearly destroyed Western civilization on Europe, with the leading voice on foreign affairs in the world's leading nespaper urging us to listen to the wisdom of the masses (the World Street). Look at it this way--Mr. Friedman is asking us to turn Iraq into France. Sound good?
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:15 AM


Pope John Paul II is a man of intellectual courage and a leading philosopher of the school known as Christian personalism. He has often integrated his personalist views into traditional Catholic teachings to good effect: his strong support for capitalism and democracy helped bring the Catholic nations of Latin America, Iberia, and Africa from dictatorship to democracy during his papacy; and his teachings on sex, love, and marriage have helped make "the new familiar, and the familiar new." But in one area -- questions of the use of force, especially in matters of life or death -- his innovations seem to me a step backward.

Traditional Catholic teaching integrates hundreds of Bible passages which in some cases endorse the use of force, even deadly force, and in other cases reject it. For instance:

If a thief is caught in the act of housebreaking and beaten to death, there is no bloodguilt involved. [Exodus 22:1]

I say unto you, resist not evil; if one strike you on the right cheek, offer him the other. [Matthew 5:39]

Christian tradition makes sense of these passages by recognizing distinct spheres of Christian decision-making: decisions about which uses of force are legitimate (or, as we would say today, just), so that the user of force cannot rightly be subjected to force in return; decisions about which legitimate actions are good or best (or, as we would say today, morally or prudentially good); and finally, decisions about which thoughts, emotions, and inner attitudes ought to be adopted (or, are spiritually good).

Exodus tells us that killing a housebreaker is a legitimate act, so that no one may rightly punish a householder who kills a housebreaker. But though such a killing would be legitimate, so too not killing the housebreaker would also be legitimate. Which should the householder choose? That is a moral question. Jesus's "resist not evil" is traditionally taken as a spiritual, not a moral, injunction, for, as St. Thomas Aquinas noted, Jesus's cheek really was slapped and far from turning the other one, Jesus protested (John 18:23). Aquinas comments:

Holy Scripture must be understood in the light of what Christ and the saints have actually practiced. Christ did not offer His other cheek, nor Paul either. Thus to interpret the injunction of the Sermon on the Mount literally is to misunderstand it. This injunction signifies rather the readiness of the soul to bear, if it be necessary, such things and worse, without bitterness against the attacker. This readiness our Lord showed, when He gave up His body to be crucified. [Commentary on Saint John, 4, 2]

The Christian tradition concludes, therefore, that: (1) it is often legitimate and just to use deadly force against violent aggressors; (2) it is sometimes good, prudent, and desirable to do so; and (3) we must carefully search our hearts, uproot any desire for vengeance, and use force from a spirit of love rather than from a desire to hurt.

Indeed, traditional Christianity holds that to use force against evildoers is an act of love: love for the evildoers, because it limits their descent into sin and encourages them to repent; and love for those who would otherwise fall victim to the evildoers. As an act of love, the use of force can be morally obligatory, particularly for those authorities to whom society has entrusted the use of force.

One further point regarding traditional Christian teaching is worth making. The Bible makes no ethical distinction between rulers and ruled: the same ethical law applies to all. Distinctions in the right to use force will come about because of the voluntary agreements of persons, but such agreements are always limited by the original grants of authority under divine law. Thus the principles governing a ruler's decisions about force in war are derived from the same principles as those governing a householder's decision to kill a housebreaker. As Scripture has it:

[S]hould you then decide to have a king over you like all the surrounding nations, . . . [w]hen he is enthroned in his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law made from the scroll that is in the custody of the levitical priests. He shall keep it with him and read it all the days of his life that he may learn to fear the LORD, his God, and to heed and fulfill all the words of this law and these statutes. Let him not become estranged from his countrymen through pride, nor turn aside to the right or to the left from these commandments. [Deuteronomy 17: 14,18-20]

As our own Declaration of Independence, a truly Christian document, put it: governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. People delegate their own authority to use force to government officials. It is only within the limits of such delegation that governments can rightly use force.

The Christian tradition on the use of force was thoroughly worked out by such eminent philosophers as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. Given the difficulty of finding alternative interpretations that are consistent with the many relevant Biblical injunctions, there would seem to be little scope for innovation in Catholic teaching on these issues.

Yet Pope John Paul II has brought about a change in rhetoric and emphasis. Horrified by the rise of mass abortion -- 40 million babies killed in the United States since 1973, and hundreds of millions around the world -- the Pope sought a new way to teach respect for life. He juxtaposed "the culture of death" with "the culture of life," and argued for life. This rhetoric avoids the subtleties of traditional Christian teaching on the use of force, but rhetorical power comes at some cost. How, for instance, can the Church's traditional support for capital punishment be reconciled with its denunciation of "the culture of death"?

Theologically the reconciliation is possible, but only by emphasizing the prudential judgment. The Bible makes clear that the death penalty is a legitimate response to murder ("Whoever takes the life of any human being shall be put to death," Leviticus 24:17). But life imprisonment, or some lesser sentence, are also legitimate. Which is morally best? At this point a prudential judgment must be made. Here the Pope argues that, of the various legitimate courses, abjuring the death penalty is best because doing so will help promote "the culture of life." In effect, the Pope seems to be arguing that many people who on issues like abortion would not be persuaded by the sophisticated but subtle Bible-driven traditional Catholic principles, are open to persuasion by the simpler life-is-better-than-death argument, and that, as it is crucial to win over these people, it would be imprudent to make the "culture of life" rhetoric appear hypocritical by supporting the death penalty.

The result has been a kind of moral pacifism: yes, killing is sometimes just, but so rarely is it morally good, when all its consequences are considered, that in practice we should almost never do it. The prudential judgment almost completely swallows the rest of the theory. Prudence decides. What is more, the factors that prudence should consider are particular to the contemporary world -- the abortion plague, for instance. The Church does not reject St. Thomas Aquinas's judgment that the death penalty is morally superior to life imprisonment as a punishment for murder; rather it holds that times have changed, and in current circumstances it is best to oppose death.

One consequence is a de-Christianization of Church rhetoric about the use of deadly force. Biblical principles are irrelevant to the decision; only consequences in today's world affect the prudential decision. This is why Catholic bishops, speaking today on questions of deadly force, rarely quote the Bible or the saints, and make arguments indistinguishable from those of atheists.

Let's look now at recent Vatican statements regarding the war on Iraq.
Vatican Strongly Opposes War (Fox News, 3/12/2003)

Pope John Paul II and top Vatican officials are unleashing a barrage of condemnations of a possible U.S. military strike on Iraq, calling it immoral, risky and a "crime against peace."...

The stance reflects what experts say is the Vatican's evolving position on just war, already seen by its opposition to the Gulf War, as well as concern about the impact of war on relations between Christians and Muslims.

"He is looking ahead for the rest of this century where Christian-Muslim relations are key to peace and religious freedom in Africa and many parts of Asia," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America....

"We want to say to America: Is it worth it to you? Won't you have have, afterward, decades of hostility in the Islamic world," asked the Vatican's No. 2 official, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Muslim opinion appears to be the Vatican's leading concern (Zenit, 3/11/2003):
John Paul II's "global diplomacy" in the Iraqi crisis is motivated in part by an attempt to avoid any kind of clash of civilizations, says the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio.

Andrea Riccardi, whose Catholic movement arose in Rome in 1968, said that "it is clear that the Vatican has the Christians of Iraq and the Muslim world in mind, who might remain as hostages of a Muslim reaction against the West. However, this is not the only reason for so much effort."

"As at the time of the Gulf War, the Pope does not want the confrontation to become a war between the West and Islam," Riccardi explained an article published in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.

Let's spell out the Vatican's argument more completely. It hinges on these points: the prudential judgment is the decisive one; going to war with Iraq will create decades of hostility from Muslims toward Christians; that hostility is a disastrously bad consequence that outweighs all the good consequences of liberating the Iraqi people, saving Saddam's future victims, and destroying al Qaeda's chief patron. Having weighed the consequences, the Vatican concludes, prudence dictates avoiding war.

Now, I believe that the Vatican is mistaken about the consequences of war. Muslims will not despise Christians for liberating them from a vicious dictator, as this New York Times report from Baghdad shows:

The striking thing was that for many Iraqis the first American strike could not come too soon....

Iraqis were astonishingly frank in suggesting they were ready to endure war for liberty.

One retired chemical engineer working as a taxi driver told a fare that he had listened to Mr. Bush. "People are waiting for America," he said, taking both hands off the wheel to simulate applause.

The truth is that Muslims, like all of God's children, yearn to breathe free. And Muslims will have gratitude toward Christians who risk their own lives to liberate Muslims.

Conversely, if Christians were so weak that we were not only unwilling to bear any burden for love of Iraqis, but unwilling to defend ourselves from the attacks of murderers like Saddam and al Qaeda, we might obtain the contempt of many Muslims. Statements by Osama bin Laden and others suggest that our refusal to respond to terrorist attacks throughout the 1990s led extremist Muslims to believe that we know our society and culture and religion to be unworthy of defense, and encouraged their attacks.

Moreover, the emphasis which the Vatican now gives to prudential judgment is contrary to the Biblical mindset. The Bible warns us against trying to calculate speculative consequences too finely: indeed, calculation is the pre-eminent activity of evildoers:

They have calculated and gone astray, they have not appreciated the honour of a blameless life. (Wisdom 2:21-22)

God made mankind straight, but men have had recourse to many calculations. (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail. (Wisdom 9:14)

The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations; he foils the designs of peoples. (Psalm 33:10)

He frustrates the plans of the cunning,
so that their hands achieve no success;
He catches the wise in their own ruses,
and the designs of the crafty are routed.
They meet with darkness in the daytime,
and at noonday they grope as though it were night. (Job 5:12-14)

Faithful children of God, by contrast, reason from divine principles, and trust to God to arrange the world so that the consequences of principled action will be good. As Jesus might have said:
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are we not of more value than they?... Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'How shall we defease Muslim hostility? How shall we appease the Arab street?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be yours as well. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow.

I believe that, contrary to Vatican statements, America's actions toward Iraq are not only just but loving. Indeed, the American willingness to sacrifice our own lives to free Iraqis parallels Christ's willingness to sacrifice himself to "set the captives free." In this war, America is fulfilling Christ's last command, to love one another as he loved us.

I believe, further, that the Vatican's recent "evolution" in just war doctrine, apparently from tradition toward modern European progressive opinion, is mistaken. I stand with John Locke:

And he that shall collect all the moral rules of the philosophers, and compare them with those contained in the new testament, will find them to come short of the morality delivered by Our Saviour, and taught by his apostles; a college made up, for the most part, of ignorant, but inspired fishermen. (The Reasonableness of Christianity, 241)

It seems to me that Vatican would do well to show more clearly how its statements on war derive from this inspired morality.

May the war end swiftly, with few lives lost; and may God continue to bless America.

MORE: An opposing view from The Spectator (via Amy Welborn).
-REVIEW: of Just and Unjust War by Michael Walzer
(Brothers Judd)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM


The Perpendicular Pronoun (MAUREEN DOWD, 3/19/03, NY Times)
Sometimes I feel as if I've spent half my adult life covering a President Bush as he squares off against Saddam Hussein, an evil dictator who invades his neighbors and gasses his own people.

But while on the surface this seems like Groundhog War, the father-and-son duels in the sun with Saddam are breathtakingly different. The philosophical gulf between 41's gulf war and 43's gulf war is profound and cataclysmic--it has sent the whole world into a frenzy--yet it can be summed up in a single pronoun.

"The big I," as Bush senior calls it.

The first President Bush was often teased about his loopy syntax. But it was a way of speaking that signified the modesty and self-effacement his mother had insisted upon. He was so afraid to sound arrogant if he used the first person singular that he often just dropped the subject of a sentence and went straight to the verb.

"Mother always lectured us--in a kinder, gentler way--against using the big I," Poppy Bush said. He is so shy of "I" that he has never written a personal memoir.

For once, and only in this brief section of her column, Ms Dowd is absolutely correct. Bill Clinton always used to do the same thing, announcing actions of the United States by saying "I", and it drove me crazy. Nothing else Mr. Bush does or has done--with the exception of signing Campaign Finance Reform into law--disturbs more than the continual use of "I". It is unbecoming and in some sense disrespectful to the rest of the folks in his government, if not to the American people as a whole. He oughtta stop.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:48 AM


Justice Served in Egypt (NY Times, March 19, 2003)
Intellectually, Saad Eddin Ibrahim has always been one of Egypt's freest men. Now, after three years, three trials and 14 months of health-shattering imprisonment, Dr. Ibrahim, the country's most prominent democracy and human rights advocate, is legally free as well. Egypt's highest and most independent court, the Court of Cassation, affirmed yesterday what every honest observer of the Ibrahim case had known all along, that the charges against him were without foundation. The court's verdict is final; the Egyptian government cannot appeal.

Dr. Ibrahim, who holds American as well as Egyptian citizenship, was charged with damaging Egypt's reputation by reporting past instances of electoral fraud, as well as illegally accepting European Union research funds. The real damage to Egypt's reputation came from the politically motivated prosecution of Mr. Ibrahim, a 64-year-old sociologist who worked to encourage cleaner elections, wider political participation by women and better understanding between Egypt's Muslim majority and Coptic Christian minority, earning him an international reputation. Yesterday's verdict will restore some of Egypt's good name. [...]

To its considerable credit, last year the Bush administration froze additional aid to President Hosni Mubarak's government over Dr. Ibrahim's treatment. This pressure, and the efforts of human rights groups worldwide, helped persuade the government to back off and prosecute the case less aggressively. Lesser known activists continue to face legal persecution in Egypt and even greater dangers in other Arab countries, like Libya and Syria.

We've long been willing to countenance some pretty dubious actions from the Egyptians both as a reward for making peace with Israel and because we thought it in our best interest for the government to repress fundamentalism there. But it seems likely that all we've done is delay the inevitable. As an aid donor of mammoth proportions we should have some right to prod Mr. Mubarak towards reforming and liberalizing, even if that might mean releasing some pressure on groups and individuals that may not take a charitable view of us. It's time to get folks in the Arab world involved in improving their own lives, in the hopes that they'll be at least somewhat distracted from the various hatreds--of Israel, America, and the West in general--that have been used to manipulate their frustrations.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 AM


Peace in our time?: PM says disarmament of Iraq was working (STEPHANIE RUBEC, March 19, 2003, Toronto Sun)
Prime Minister Jean Chretien says Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would have peacefully disarmed within weeks if the U.S. hadn't jumped the gun with a 48-hour deadline.

Chretien said he's convinced the Canadian compromise brought to the UN Security Council Feb. 18 that would have set four weekly disarmament deadlines for Hussein would have succeeded.

"If we had accepted the ideas presented by Canada ... I think Saddam Hussein would have met the requirements," the PM said yesterday after meeting with Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano. "And I think we might have been able to avoid a war."

Chretien said U.S. President George W. Bush caused the failure of diplomacy by pulling out of the UN Security Council and ordering Hussein and his son's out of Iraq by tonight.

"I am still of the view, given some more weeks, disarmament would have been achieved," Chretien said. "I think the process of diplomacy was not over."

At it's core, Leftism is based on a complete misunderstanding of human nature, the mistaken belief that Man is essentially good. That delusion is destructive enough when applied to domestic affairs--leading to the massive welfare state on the assumption that monery for nuthin' won't change behavior--but it may be suicidal when applied to foireign affairs, as witness Mr. Chretien's absurd faith in Saddam's good intentions.

March 18, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 PM


Short: I'll be vilified for this - but I just can't walk out now (Marie Woolf, 19 March 2003, Independent)
Clare Short's version of events goes like this: she was writing her resignation statement when suddenly she decided to stay in her job.

Having nearly completed the draft valediction, she thought: "We've got to look after the people in Iraq; we've got to drive forward the peace process to get the Palestinian state; we've got to make sure there's not a humanitarian disaster." Resignation, the Secretary of State for International Development decided, would be "cheap" and "cowardly".

This account by Ms Short of why she was so spectacularly reneging on her public promise to quit the Cabinet over the Iraq crisis left her an isolated and humiliated figure yesterday.

Doesn't Mr. Blair really have to fire her?
Posted by David Cohen at 10:35 PM


First shots fired at sea as allied battle plan unfolds(David Sharrock, Michael Evans,

The first shots of the war have been fired, killing at least one Iraqi during a suspected operation to mine the waters off Kuwait. But that opening skirmish is about to be dwarfed by the most formidable military assault in modern warfare: 250,000 British and American troops — backed by more than 1,000 aircraft, 400 tanks and a 110-strong armada — are poised to unleash their awesome power on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq the moment the order is given.

The first clash occurred in the mouth of the Khawr al-Zubayr river, a few miles south of the port of Umm Qasr, when a Kuwaiti gunboat challenged a flotilla of about 25 Iraqi dhows. The boats failed to respond and the Kuwaitis opened fire. It was unclear whether the dhows had laid any mines.

Unnamed sources are suggesting that the Iraqi rejection of the President's 48 hour ultimatum may mean that the US will not wait until tomorrow night. Some operations, including Special Forces teams probing the front lines, have been going on for the last few days. Alliance troops have moved out of their bases to forward positions on the Kuwaiti/Iraqi border. There are some odd reports of a considerable number of military vehicles moving south through Turkey. Apparently, we have cell phone numbers for Iraqi soldiers of widely disparate ranks, and are calling many of them directly. I still say that the bombing will start tomorrow night, but for all intents and purposes we're prosecuting the war now, and probably have been for the last few weeks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 PM

FARMHOUSE BRUSCHETTA (Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table)

Serves 4 as a main dish

8 1/2-inch thick slices chewy, crusty country bread
2 cloves garlic, split
About 1/2 cup robust extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh goat cheese or fresh Italian mozzarella packed in water

Herb Blend:
1 large clove garlic
1 large thin slice prosciutto (about 1 ounce)
4 whole scallions
3 tightly packed tablespoons fresh basil leaves
2 tightly packed tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley
1/2 medium red onion
1/3 cup (2 to 3 ounces) toasted pine nuts, or toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Toast the bread under the broiler, over a wood fire, or on top of the stove. Rub with the 2 cloves of garlic (for milder garlic flavor, rub it on the bread before toasting) and moisten lightly with some of the olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread each bread slice with a generous layer of the cheese.

2. On a large cutting board, smash the garlic clove with the flat side of a large knife then mince the garlic. Pile on the board the prosciutto, scallions, basil leaves, parsley, and onion. Add the minced garlic and chop all together into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces.

3. Film the bottom of a 10-inch skillet with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set over medium-high heat until hot. Drop the herb mix into the skillet and stir for 10 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from heat and taste, adding salt and pepper if needed. Stir in pine nuts.

4. Pile the herb mixture onto the slices of bruschetta, lightly pressing into the cheese. Drizzle with a bit of the olive oil. Serve immediately.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 9:41 PM


About Turkey (Robert Musil, 3/18/2003)

The Man Without Qualities speculates that a substantial invasion may be mounted from Turkey.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 PM


Trust Tony's judgment (Bill Clinton, March 18, 2003, The Guardian)

To call him a horse's ass would do a disservice to equine anuses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 PM


Nations Joining Anti-Iraq Coalition (Yahoo! News, Mar 18, 2003)
Following is a list of 30 countries the State Department says are members of a "Coalition for the Immediate Disarmament of Iraq":

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan (post conflict), S. Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

The most delicious here are El Salvador and Nicaragua. The Sandalistas, like Chris Dodd, who fought to stop Ronald Reagan from assisting them in the '80s, must be choking down bile.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


Strikes bring French back down to earth (Charles Bremner, 3/18/03, Times of London)
FRANCE has come back to earth with a bump, one day after President Chirac played a lead role in blocking Britain and America's efforts to gain United Nations backing for war.

The country's pride was tinged with worry yesterday about the fallout from the President's heady spell at the centre of the world stage.

As the spotlight moved away from France, antigovernment strikes by teachers and railway workers began. The national stoppages were a signal that the glory won by international statesmanship could soon be diminished by economic trouble at home.

How can a people who think a 35 hour work week and retirement at 59 is too irksome to be borne turn around and support a tyrant like Saddam?
Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM


Zogby: Iraq war a mistake on many levels (Martin Sieff, 3/18/2003, UPI)
The United States is basing its Iraq policy on a set of mistaken assumptions, says James Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute in Washington.

UPI Chief News Analyst Martin Sieff interviewed Zogby, a prominent and respected leader of the Arab-American community, about his criticisms of the administration's war policy
toward Iraq, the possible negative consequences of war and the intellectual assumptions on which the policy is based.

UPI: Why do you believe that President Bush has failed to make an effective case for going to war with Iraq?

Zogby: I have argued from the outset that President Bush has not made a case for this war. He and Secretary of State Colin Powell have made the case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is evil but not why this would make a case for a unilateral and pre-emptive American war.

The "Saddam is evil but that doesn't justify removing him" argument is at least intellectually honest, if morally troublesome.

BTW: here's a fun exercise to try with this interview: substitute "Jews" every time Mr. Zogby says "neoconservatives" and things become much clearer.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:21 PM


Hostage Crisis (David Warren, 3/19/2003)
[T]he war to come is likely to resemble the resolution of the largest hostage crisis in history. The task of the allies is to remove Saddam, and his fellow monsters, while sparing every possible innocent human life that he is holding for his protection. Saddam's strategy, for the battle ahead ... is to maximize the carnage and suffering, in the earnest expectation that the world's America-haters will blame it all on Washington, not Baghdad....

Saddam's complete distrust of his own generals, and non-interest in their professional advice, was broadcast with his decision Saturday to place the country under four "warlords", with his son, the psychopathic Qusay, in charge of the key, central sector, which encompasses Tikrit and Baghdad....

Perhaps his most subtle tactic is to array his IV Army Corps (the so-called "Saladin"), not in the obvious path of the allies, but with seeming irrelevance against the Iranian frontier. Their job is to seal it, so that refugees and deserters are unable to flee towards Iran, and a tide of some hundreds of thousands of them can be driven into the path of the advancing columns of U.S. and British armour, slowing these down....

It appears that most significant defences in the south are concentrated in Nasiriyah, not the large port city of Basra. A second such line is drawn through Karbala, another third of the way to Baghdad. In both of these Shia holy cities, as in Baghdad, obvious air targets have been deployed in mosques, and the courtyards of hospices, schools, and hospitals.

But not, apparently, in Basra, which is being offered as a baited trap, the target possibly of chemical or biological weaponry, once it has been occupied by allied troops....

By concentrating the whole national artillery in Baghdad, Saddam has improved the odds of chance hits against allied aircraft. Most of this flak will miss, however, causing random carnage as it comes back down to earth, and giving the appearance that it is part of the allied bombing.

Why so crazed a self-defence? Because Saddam's real strategy can not be to prevail over the invading forces, only to enmire them in a human catastrophe.

Let us hope that this is the worst of Saddam's plan; for of course it could include the release of biological agents, or the use of nuclear or radiological weapons, in Iraq or the West.

May God bless our troops, and America.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:16 PM


France faces war on sidelines (Hugh Schofield, 3/18/03, BBC)
France awoke on Tuesday torn between two emotions.

A proud sense of righteous indignation, on the one hand.

But on the other, a fearful recognition that - in the world of human reality as opposed to the sphere of moral abstractions - control of events has slipped entirely from its grasp.

Being typecast as the whipping-boy of the pro-US camp has deepened the feeling of outrage at the imminent invasion of Iraq. [...]

President Chirac's ratings have shot through the roof in the last days, after he made clear he meant to carry his opposition to the US to its conclusion.

According to a poll in the Catholic magazine, Le Pelerin, a whopping 86% of the public support the president in his showdown with the US.

Astonishingly his popularity is even higher among left-wing voters - 94% of Communists for example - than among voters for his own conservative Union for a Popular Majority (UMP) party.

In our book, any war where Frenchmen don't end up renting out their sisters, wives, and daughters to German soldiers for a fistful of cigarettes should be considered a near victory.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


Arafat relents on sharing power with a new prime minister (James Bennet, March 19, 2003, The New York Times)
After nightfall Monday, Palestinian legislators from Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction gathered in his ruined compound here to face the full wrath of the leader who has dominated their movement for decades.

The Palestinian Parliament had just voted twice to reject an amendment sought by Arafat to restrict the powers of a new Palestinian prime minister, and to Arafat - already alarmed by Israeli and American demands for the post - this looked like betrayal.

The stormy, four-hour meeting that followed reflected the mounting tensions between generations of Palestinian leaders, and between the institutions of the nascent Palestinian democracy. In the end, it was Arafat who relented, paving the way for the legislature to vote Tuesday to create a post of prime minister with the authority to form a government.

Arafat signed the law Tuesday night, Palestinian officials said.

It's important at moments like this to trumpet just how spectacularly wrong even his best-informed and most-influential critics have been about nearly every step Mr. Bush has taken as president. Here, for example, is one of the nation's top columnists opining on the President's Rose Garden speech, last June, which demanded a change in Palestinian leadership as a precondition to peace, Mr. Bush Talks the Talk (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, June 28, 2002, NY Times)
It obliges our moralistic streak to try to replace Mr. Arafat, and it would be great if the Palestinians did get a better leader. But Mr. Bush's harrumphing does nothing to achieve better leadership in Palestine; if anything, it strengthens Mr. Arafat and boosts Hamas as well. One poll of Palestinians has already found that a solid plurality expects Mr. Arafat to be elected in a democratic vote. Another poll found that nearly three times as many Palestinians trust Mr. Arafat as they do the next highest contender.

So by calling off our plans for a Middle East conference and simply insisting that Mr. Arafat leave the scene before we come out to deal, Mr. Bush is signaling that we are disengaging from the Middle East, returning to his earlier failed policy of looking the other way. That was a catastrophic mistake that helped create today's mess.

Contrary to Mr. Kristof's assertion, George W. Bush has very nearly (there's obviously a ways to go) effected regime change in Palestine, almost entirely through the force of his own determination.

Wobbly Vision
Forcing the Contradictions (Brothers Judd, 4/04/02)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM


Analysis: Europe backs U.S. stance on Iraq (Gareth Harding, 3/18/2003, UPI)
Since January, European opposition to war has been led by France and Germany, with Belgium, Austria, Greece, Luxembourg and Sweden following more sheepishly behind. Ireland, Finland, Cyprus and Malta remain neutral or have not nailed their colors to the mast.

So with only half a dozen or so European Union, or future EU member states, categorically opposed to war, why has the old continent managed to convey an image of pacifism,
appeasement and anti-Americanism over the past months?

Firstly, polls show that European public opinion is overwhelmingly against war and last month's mass demonstrations rammed home this message in Technicolor detail.

Secondly, France, Germany and Belgium have waged an unrelenting rear-guard campaign against armed action, culminating in the three countries' decision to temporarily block military support for fellow NATO member Turkey.

Thirdly, although the EU's 15 members are split down the middle over how to disarm the Iraqi regime, the Brussels-based bloc is not representative of Europe as a whole. Almost all the 12 countries queuing up to join the Union over the next four years are standing shoulder to shoulder with London and Washington.

Finally, both the American and European media have been happy to repeat the old canard about the United States acting 'unilaterally' against Baghdad, despite military backing from Britain and Australia and the more passive support of dozens of other countries.

Of course, the current U.S. president is far from assembling the type of broad coalition Bush Sr. stitched together in 1991. But to talk about the United States being isolated and EU states being isolationist merely panders to the views of those who see Americans as from Mars and Europeans from Venus.

His last point is rather contradicted by his earlier point that European popular opinion overwhelmingly opposes the war, particularly when 2/3rds of Americans support it.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 PM


The case against US adventurism in Iraq (Noam Chomsky, 3/19/03, Pakistan Daily Times)
The most powerful state in history has proclaimed that it intends to control the world by force, the dimension in which it reigns supreme.

President Bush and his cohorts evidently believe that the means of violence in their hands are so extraordinary that they can dismiss anyone who stands in their way.

The consequences could be catastrophic in Iraq and around the world. The United States may reap a whirlwind of terrorist retaliation and step up the possibility of nuclear Armageddon.

Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and company are committed to an ?imperial ambition,? as G. John Ikenberry wrote in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs ?a unipolar world in which the United States has no peer competitor? and in which ?no state or coalition could ever challenge it as global leader, protector and enforcer.?

That ambition surely includes much expanded control over Persian Gulf resources and military bases to impose a preferred form of order in the region.

Even before the administration began beating the war drums against Iraq, there were plenty of warnings that US adventurism would lead to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as terror, for deterrence or revenge.

Right now, Washington is teaching the world a dangerous lesson: If you want to defend yourself from us, you had better mimic North Korea and pose a credible threat. Otherwise we will demolish you.

One of the most interesting things about Mr. Chomsky--I first noticed it when trying to read Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians--is that it's possible for anyone of either conservative or merely patriotic sentiment to concede his entire factual argument and still come down on the opposite side of the issues he raises. For the most part, this essay is a case in point. All of the terrors he summons may well come to pass, yet how does that change the moral case for deposing Saddam?

On the other hand, his point about N. Korea is valid and is the main reason that we have to dispatch Kim Jong-il even if it leads to a limited nuclear exchange. Our nukes must be a deterrent to other people acquiring nukes, otherwise their nukes will serve as a deterrent to our policing of their behavior.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:38 PM


Blair wins war backing amid revolt (BBC, 3/18/03)
Tony Blair has won Commons backing to send UK forces into battle with Saddam Hussein - but also suffered another major backbench rebellion.

Amid dramatic scenes in the Commons on Tuesday night, 217 MPs - as many as 140 of them Labour backbenchers - backed a rebel amendment opposing the government's stance on Iraq, with 396 opposing the motion.

A motion backing the government's position was passed by 412 votes to 149. [...]

Meanwhile, the Tory leadership suffered three more resignations over Iraq after the departure as a whip of John Randall last week.

Shadow environment minister Jonathan Sayeed, shadow home affairs minister Humfrey Malins and shadow health minister John Baron all left their posts on Tuesday.

Britain would benefit greatly from a splintering of both its major parties and a restructuring along ideological lines roughly akin to ours--though both parties would be far to the Left of their counterparts here. Mr. Blair leads a Labour faction--maybe even the majority--who have reconciled themselves to the usefulness of free market forces. The Tories, meanwhile, have too many members who despise America, embrace the EU, and don't have the stomach to rock the Social Welfare State boat. There's nothing holding these parties together but inertia.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:19 PM


Some Thoughts on Islam (Martin Kelly, Mar 16, 2003, The Washington Dispatch)
The dreadful events of September 11th, when Muslims acting in the name of Islam attacked the first country in the world to separate Church from State, forced the issue of political Islam into the world's face. We did not then understand why devout adherents of a religion whose name means "peace" should have undertaken this assault, knowing as they did that it would involve taking the lives of those who had done them no harm.

These are the findings of some study I have done on my own into Islam, why it is used as a political force in ways that Christianity is not, and why its differences from Christianity are more profound that we might realise.

Useful, though one would have wished unnecessary, reminders of the essential similarities but important differences between most Muslims and their mouthpieces.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 3:06 PM


Is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tied to Baghdad? (Opinion Journal, 3/18/2003)
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is a Pakistani Baluch. So is Ramzi Yousef, who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1995, together with a third Baluch, Abdul Hakam Murad, the two collaborated in an unsuccessful plot to bomb 12 U.S. airplanes. Years later, as head of al Qaeda's military committee, Mohammed reportedly planned the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.

Why should the Baluch seek to kill Americans? Sunni Muslims, they live in the desert regions of eastern Iran and western Pakistan. The U.S. has little to do with them; there is no evident motive for this murderous obsession. The Baluch do, however, have longstanding ties to Iraqi intelligence, reflecting their militant opposition to the Shiite regime in Tehran. Wafiq Samarrai, former chief of Iraqi military intelligence, explains that Iraqi intelligence worked with the Baluch during the Iran-Iraq war. According to Mr. Samarrai, Iraqi intelligence has well-established contacts with the Baluch in both Iran and Pakistan....

U.S. authorities have identified as major al Qaeda figures three other Baluch: two brothers of Yousef and a cousin. The official position is thus that a single family is at the center of almost all the major terrorist attacks against U.S. targets since 1993....

Notably, this Baluch "family" is from Kuwait. Their identities are based on documents from Kuwaiti files that predate Kuwait's liberation from Iraqi occupation, and which are therefore unreliable. While in Kuwait, Iraqi intelligence could have tampered with files to create false identities (or "legends") for its agents. So, rather than one family, these terrorists are, quite plausibly, elements of Iraq's Baluch network, given legends by Iraqi intelligence.

Read the whole thing. Evidence that Ramzi Yousef was an Iraqi agent who assumed a Kuwaiti identity in 1990 has been floating around for several years. The possibility that a significant portion of the al Qaeda leadership may be Iraqi agents is quite real. I hope there will be a public airing of the evidence after the war.
Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:52 PM


After War, New Problems For Bush (Charlie Cook, March 18, 2003,
The outbreak of a war with Iraq now seems to be a matter of days -- or even hours. Talk of war and diplomatic maneuvering has dominated the political and policy landscape for months. Win, lose or draw, the conclusion of a war with Iraq means President Bush will face many formidable policy challenges that are no less daunting than Iraq and easily could significantly complicate his re-election efforts.

Bush will likely find himself playing defense on a wide range of very difficult issues. [...]

The year before a presidential election is usually a time for fine-tuning the president's positioning on policy matters and for teeing up issues that will maximize his chances of getting re-elected. Instead, Bush will likely find himself playing defense on a wide range of very difficult issues, with little maneuverability to select and promote other issues that would maximize his attractiveness to various elements of the electorate.

Whether one agrees with Bush's handling of Iraq, it is hard to argue with the premise that America's relations with major Western and Asian nations are in a shambles. At no point since the end of World War II have relations between the United States and the governments of historic allies and adversaries alike been so strained. And relations are even worse with the general populations of those respective countries. Whether these governments and their peoples were "right" or "wrong" in their opposition or hesitancy to war, the United States will find dealing with them in the post-war era significantly more difficult than at any time in memory. Putting together coalitions for the foreseeable future will be particularly problematic given the ill will that has been created over the last year.

In terms of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims, relations with the vast majority of peaceful adherents to the Islamic faith are awful, while we have further antagonized the distinct minority of radicals to the point that future terrorism is even more likely than it was prior to Sept. 11, 2001. [...]

The real political consequences of policy miscalculations have been masked to a certain extent by the halo effect of the terrorist attacks and the focus on foreign policy. Very real symptoms regarding the president's political health, the condition of his agenda and his ability to advance his agenda have gone unrecognized or with little note. Once the war is over, the problems that remain will be just as serious but more evident. Even a boost in Bush's approval numbers after an exceedingly short and successful war could be short-lived given the nation's poor economy and the other serious problems that seem to have the president surrounded.

Setting aside the incredibly moronic statement that terrorism is more likely now than it was on September 10th, 2001--when it was, of course, impending--the rest of this is pretty much conventional wisdom on the Left because, as noted below, they mostly misapprehend this president and his policy of a war on terror. They'd like to think that once we have bin Laden and Saddam it's all over and we can get back to the business that matters to them--like raising the minimum wage or whatever (is there a single credible Democratic proposal on any issue?).

Instead, the administration is likely to turn to North Korea--a regime that the President, for excellent cause, finds just as morally repugnant as Saddam's--and to narcoterrorists in Colombia and to Syria's Ba'athists and to Palestine's Hamas and Iran's Hezbollah, etc., etc., etc.... The war on terror is against both terrorists who use violence on us and our allies and against the regimes that use terror to subjugate their own populations--plenty of both remain. Defeating al Qaeda and Saddam is a start to that war, not its end. And since the conduct of foreign policy is left entirely to the president's discretion, he'll largely determine what we're talking about for the next year and a half (or five and a half), not Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, and the lilliputian presidential contenders.

If the economy doesn't begin to improve, Mr. Bush is certainly in for tough times, but the toughest times ahead may well be for Democrats, who will likely oppose the administration at each step in the war on terrorand who, having essentially sought to protect Saddam will now find themselves propping up Kim Jong-il and Muamar Qaddafi and Bashar Assad and a host of other tyrants, a position they'll share with the governments of France, Russia, and China. When the topic is national security the Democrats nearly always look bad and that'll be the topic for some time to come.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 1:09 PM


Blair: 'Back me or I quit' (London Evening Standard, 3/18/2003)
The Prime Minister told a hushed Commons this afternoon that his Government now faced a "stark choice" - to stand down the thousands of troops now hours away from war, or to hold firm to the course they have set. And he declared "I believe we must hold firm."

He went on to paint a graphic picture of the consequences of retreat, the United Nations reduced to "a talking shop"; Saddam Hussein triumphant; other tyrants encouraged - and the Iraqi people condemned to continued oppression. And he demanded bluntly: "Who will celebrate and who will weep if we take our troops back from the Gulf now?"...

And he said that to retreat now, he believed, "would put at hazard all that we hold dearest ... tell our allies that at the very moment of action, at the very moment they need our determination, that Britain faltered. I will not be party to such a cause."

Blair makes his pitch. Vote at 10 pm tonight London time - 5 pm for us.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:36 AM

NEVER, NEVER FORGET, part 4 (via Real Clear Politics):

See men shredded, then say you don't back war (Ann Clwyd, Times of London, 3/18/2003)
“There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein’s youngest son] personally supervise these murders.”

It is bad enough that monsters like the Husseins have control over machines for shredding plastic. We cannot allow them to obtain control over nuclear weapons.

May God bless our servicemen and women.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 AM


Step by Step to War (David S. Broder, March 18, 2003, Washington Post)
It has been a long road to this moment of decision on Iraq, but the inevitability of the destination has been clear. When historians have access to the memos and the diaries of the Bush administration's insiders, it's likely they will find that President Bush set his sights on removing Saddam Hussein from power soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- if not before.

Everything the president has said publicly -- everything that Vice President Cheney reiterated in his Sunday television interviews -- confirms that the impact of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks was to steel Bush's determination to disarm any ruler who plausibly might collaborate in a similar or worse assault. And to him, disarming clearly meant dislodging that potential assailant from power.

Skeptics may argue that the United States has yet to produce convincing evidence of a link between the Baghdad regime and the al Qaeda terrorists. But the link exists in the mind of the commander in chief, and he is prepared to act on that conviction.

It's no wonder Saddam and the French and the rest of the intransigents never took George W. Bush's resolve seriously when it too David Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps, 17 months to figure out that regime change was the President's bottom line. It's strange how Mr. Bush's critics demand that he play the diplomatic game, which they recognize he has nothing but contempt for, then convince themselves and others that he'll be bound by the "rules" of what he's made clear is naught but a charade.

It should have been clear from how he governed Texas what his modus operandi was, but there's no excuse, especially after the way the No Child Left Behind Act played out, for any serious observer--like Mr. Broder--to still not get it. If you''ll recall, the Democrats crowed and the far Right cringed as Ted Kennedy added money and gewgaws to the bill, but Mr. Bush continually said that so long as the bill included testing, accountability, and consequences he'd sign it. And so the final bill, regardless of the rest of the clutter, imposes a testing regime that will declare as many as 80% of America's public schools to be providing an inadequate education and will allow students in those schools to transfer. Without even comprehending what they were doing, the Left helped George W. Bush begin the process of voucherizing education.

Similarly, when it came to the removal of Saddam, Mr. Bush allowed himself to be coaxed into going to Congress for authorization (which he'd planned to do all along, as the Constitution requires) and to the UN, while the troops in the region were built up, made all the calls anyone could ask for to try and pass a final resolution, offered allies money and other emoluments to join the coalition, etc., etc., etc.... But he never took his eyes off the prize: regime change. This weekend, Daniel Schor was on NPR expressing bewilderment at how the President could demand a vote on an 18th resolution on Monday and by Friday be telling Tony Blair it was fine by him if it was just withdrawn. Mr. Schor said he'd never seen an administration that could reverse course so easily and make so little of it. It seemed as though it had never occurred to Mr. Schor that the President could do so because he genuinely didn't care one way or another about the UN--having them along, at least rhetorically, would have silenced some peoples' concerns, but the UN has no role to play in the actual waging of the war and is too debased an institution to offer a meaningful moral imprimatur. The important thing, from Mr. Bush's perspective, is and has been to remove Saddam. No amount of background noise was ever going to deflect him from that aim.

And, at the end of the day, once again, he's achieving his goals. Mr. Broder, though he may be alone, appears to have figured this out. Whether he's correct that Mr. Bush did not anticipate all the side effects--like the delegitimization of the EU and the UN--we'll only know for sure in a few years. But, considering that the President stocked his administration with advisors who are hostile to such transnational institutions and considering that they now done them significant damage, it seems like Mr. Broder might want to consider that this too was a goal that was within the President's sights.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:37 AM


Stricken by war fever, I neglected to honor St. Patrick yesterday. He deserves a salutation today.

St. Patrick, born and raised in Britain, was captured by Irish marauders and sold into slavery in Ireland at the age of 16. Like so many slaves, he was drawn to the Christian message. In his "Confessio" he tells how he prayed in captivity:

[T]he faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.

After six years in slavery Patrick, instructed by an angel, fled, walking 200 miles to the sea and persuading a captain to take him to Britain.

Patrick became a priest and a disciple of the missionary bishop St. Germain. On St. Germain's recommendation, Patrick was made bishop and missionary to Ireland. His intended first act was to visit his former master, pay ransom for his freedom, and implore the man to convert. However, he was opposed on his way by a Druidic chieftain, Dichu, who sought to strike Patrick with a sword. Legend has it that his arm became rigid as a statue until he declared himself obedient to Patrick. Impressed by Patrick's gentleness, Dichu presented Patrick with a barn, which Patrick consecrated as the first church in Ireland. Alas, word that Patrick had returned and was working miracles of great power preceded him to his former slavemaster Milchu, who, expecting to be destroyed and too proud to be vanquished by a former slave, set his house and barn ablaze and killed himself in the conflagration.

Legend has it that a series of miracles helped Patrick persuade the Irish from Druidism. It could not have been easy, for the pagan and Christian minds were quite foreign, and misunderstandings were easy:

While engaged in the baptism of the royal prince Aengus, son of the King of Munster, the saint, leaning on his crosier, peirced with its sharp point the prince's foot. Aengus bore the pain unmoved. When St. Patrick, at the close of the ceremony, saw the blood flow, and asked him why he had been silent, he replied that he thought it might be part of the ceremony.

St. Patrick's most famous miracle occurred on Croagh Patrick, the mountain known in pagan times as Eagle Mountain, where Patrick fasted forty days and nights, praying for the Irish people. According to legend, he was there beset by demons in the form of birds of prey. At length Patrick rang his bell, the symbol of his preaching. The Catholic Encyclopedia records:
Its sound was heard all over the valleys and hills of Erin, everywhere bringing peace and joy. The flocks of demons began to scatter, He flung his bell among them; they took to precipitate flight, and cast themselves into the ocean. So complete was the saint's victory over them that, as the ancient narrative adds, "for seven years no evil thing was to be found in Ireland."

Thus it is that Ireland has no snakes.

Patrick tells in his "Confessio" that twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives, and once he was loaded with chains, and his death was decreed. But it was not to be; Patrick lived to the age of 105.

On the verge of death, Patrick had a vision:

He saw the whole of Ireland lit up with the brightest rays of Divine Faith. This continued for centuries, and then clouds gathered around the devoted island, and, little by little, the religious glory faded away, until, in the course of centuries, it was only in the remotest valleys that some glimmer of its light remained. St. Patrick prayed that the light would never be extinguished, and, as he prayed, the angel came to him and said: "Fear not: your apostolate shall never cease." As he thus prayed, the glimmering light grew in brightness, and ceased not until once more all the hills and valleys of Ireland were lit up ...

Though the light may dim, it will never be extinguished. The ultimate triumph of light over darkness is assured.

Let us, as we battle the darkness of Saddam Hussein, bear difficulties with the courage of Aengus and the tenacity of Patrick. And may God continue to bless America.

Posted by David Cohen at 10:04 AM


Trust Tony's judgment (Bill Clinton)

As Blair has said, in war there will be civilian was well as military casualties. There is, too, as both Britain and America agree, some risk of Saddam using or transferring his weapons to terrorists. There is as well the possibility that more angry young Muslims can be recruited to terrorism. But if we leave Iraq with chemical and biological weapons, after 12 years of defiance, there is a considerable risk that one day these weapons will fall into the wrong hands and put many more lives at risk than will be lost in overthrowing Saddam.

I wish that Russia and France had supported Blair's resolution. Then, Hans Blix and his inspectors would have been given more time and supprt for their work. But that's not where we are. Blair is in a position not of his own making, because Iraq and other nations were unwilling to follow the logic of 1441.

During the 90's, I was not a Clinton hater. He was about as good a President as I would never vote for. He should have been impeached and he should have responded to the bombing of the Cole the way we responded to 9/11, but at least he wasn't Jimmy Carter. Having said that, isn't it perfectly clear that he is deeply disturbed? It's not that he's a liar, but that he can believe five contradictory things before breakfast. And it is, of course, in his image that the Democratic party has remade itself.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:07 AM


Daschle: Bush Diplomacy Fails 'Miserably' (AP)

"I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war," Daschle said in a speech to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. "Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
Before we get to the purely political question, what in the world is Daschle talking about? What diplomacy would have avoided war? To believe that, you'd have to believe either that there was a diplomatic strategy that would have caused Iraq to disarm voluntarily, or that our goal of disarming Iraq should, in the name of diplomacy, have been abandoned. Otherwise, our choice was to go to war with the UN's blessing or without it. Even with the UN's blessing, it's safe to say that not one fewer American would be going into harm's way.

On the political question, I've been arguing for a while that, by criticising the administration, the Democrats are simply playing the hand they've been dealt. If the war is successful, having been "me-tooing" would do them no good. If the war, G-d forbid, is not successful, having been critical of it will be helpful. The trick is in not being hurt by criticising a successful war. Having voted for the war probably insulated them from some of that downside. Now, I think that they are approaching a line that, if crossed, will hurt them regardless of how the war goes. To blame the President for lives lost, while not mentioning France, or even Saddam, may be over that line.

Why, then, would Daschle make this statement, particularly yesterday? It may have just been a politician saying what he really believes. The Democrats may just disagree with me over how likely success in Iraq is, or believe that the good feelings following a victory will cause voters to forget their doubts about the party. They may believe that the lesson of Bush 41 is that the President's post-victory popularity will tail off quickly. But this might also be the beginning of a break between the Congressional party and the presidential hopefuls. Unless the national party is very skillful, the Democratic faithful will look left for their nominee: anti-war, pro-gun control, pro-national health care, Green, etc. This candidate will not win the general election. But, depending upon their districts or states, Congressmen can win on this platform. If the Congressional Democrats believe that the best they can hope for in '04 is to minimize Republican gains, then watch them break left over the next 18 months.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 AM


Dearest readers:

Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim. Though unlike the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbes) and the holy days, work is permitted. Still, Jews have a number of extra religious obligations today, including special and extended prayer services and other functions.

Though I've been up for most of the night getting today's issue out, I'm already running behind schedule. If it's not too much trouble, PLEASE access today's issue via our Front Page:

Jewish World Review

And, yes, despite the fact that I will be spending most of the day away from the office, I have every intention of publishing tomorrow. Purim, after all, is about miracles and the fact JWR continues to publish is basically a miracle. Yes, I know, we're not supposed to rely on them, but... :)

Thanks so much for continuing to read JWR and spreading the word about us. It makes it all worth it.

Warmest regards --- and in friendship,
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky,
Editor in Chief

To the chagrin of a phalanx of wives, the Brothers--both biological and ersatz--do this stuff for free, but some folks depend on reader support for their livelihoods. Mr. Jolkovsky's Jewish World Review is an invaluable source of quality writing and sensible, sometimes profound, opinion. We urge y'all to check them out and, if you haven't already, sign up for their daily newsletter.

We wish all our Hebraic homeys a good Purim and hope everyone will observe the day by praying for the allied troops who are now in harm's way in the Gulf. God Bless you all and God bless those who fight for freedom everywhere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:28 AM


Blair loses third minister over Iraq (BBC, 3/18/03)
A third minister has quit the government over the Iraq crisis as Clare Short announced she would stay in her cabinet job despite earlier threats to resign.

Home Office Minister John Denham has now followed Health Minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath in resigning on Tuesday morning.

Their resignations come in the wake of Robin Cook's departure from the cabinet after he objected to war without a fresh United Nations mandate.

Ms Short's decision to stay - despite saying she was still "very critical" of the way the crisis has been handled - is a boost for Tony Blair as he prepares to get House of Commons backing for war on Tuesday afternoon.

Those who are quitting are wrong, but they're behavinh honorably. What's Ms Short thinking?

Blair can lose 165 Labour votes befoire it will be the Tories who make the war resolution possible and 245 before the resolution would go down to defeat.

March 17, 2003

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 PM


Iraqi troops flee front line (TIM RIPLEY, 3/17/03, The Scotsman)
UP TO 15 per cent of Iraqi conscripts holding Saddam Hussein’s northern front line have already deserted, according to US special forces in the region.

Elite US troops based in the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq are regularly probing Iraqi lines, to draw up target lists for airstrikes.

They are looking for pockets of ‘hard core’ pro-Saddam troops who can be attacked first to break the back of resistance.

It is hoped the attacks will turn the trickle of desertions into a torrent, allowing Kurdish resistance fighters to drive southward to seize the Kirkuk and Mosul oil fields.

Liaison teams have been building up links with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from the KDP and PUK resistance groups. As in Afghanistan, these teams have been operating largely in plain clothes to avoid attracting the attention of western journalists based in the Kurdish safe haven.

Up to five thousand US, British and Australian special forces troops are now deployed around Iraq’s borders and are already playing a key role in General Tommy Franks’ war plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime.

But their main role will come in the first few hours of the attack. Oil facilities at the top of the Arabian Gulf are to be the target of lightning US and British special forces raids to thwart the Iraqis opening their taps and releasing millions of barrels of oil in a campaign of ‘environmental terrorism’.

It is at least possible that the war will be effectively won by the time it is declared.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at 10:45 PM