Saturday, March 29, 2003

Uh-oh.


Right now it's unclear who blew himself up to kill five of our soldiers. But it looks like we may be seeing more of this tactic, if this quote from Iraq's foreign minister is at all accurate:

“We have prepared ourselves for all kinds of war,” Sabri said. “For many months, tens of thousands have volunteered to serve as martyrdom-seekers (suicide attackers) in the battle with the
American enemy. We trained them and readied them. We have prepared ourselves for street fighting and desert fighting.”

I really hope that this case isn't the sort of thing we start seeing from Iraq. I would love for this war to end soon, with the Iraqi people adoringly cheering us as liberators. But it's hard to avoid thinking that we've stepped into something that's going to punish the already-fragile American psyche quite a bit over the next few years, as war slides into occupation. Even if we destroy the regime, it only takes a few suicidal nationalists with some explosives, and we've got gruesome footage coming home on a regular basis for the next couple of years.

When I think about how our policies in 80s Afghanistan and 90s Iraq had such horrific long-term repercussions, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that this operation spawns at least one new terrorist group sworn to our destruction. The odds that this operation "dries up the swamp" are starting to look very long indeed.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Hitting the Trifecta


We always knew that Syria and Iran were going to get theirs someday. But the way things are going, we may just uproot the whole Middle East political order at once. Donald 'Crazy Don' Rumsfeld has decided to start talking some smack again.
This time it's Syria's turn, unless Iran helps Turkey suppress the Kurds.

I'm really starting to wonder whether Crazy Don's tolerance for creating chaos knows any limits. While he's having to contend with all these accusations that he underdeployed, the loon goes and picks more fights.

Do all these evil clowns think this way? Or is Rumsfeld especially risk-tolerant, even by neocon standards? There's gotta be somebody on the right who thinks that it would be best to achieve world domination in simple, manageable steps, right?

Maybe not. Maybe now, with our 300,000-man 'Coalition' force in place, we have all the power we need to take on the whole Middle East.

But I doubt it. It's like Crazy Don walking into a biker bar, smashing a whiskey bottle on the bar, and challenging them all to a fight to the death. What a man.
Rumsfeld should be fired if this Guardian story is correct when it asserts that:

It now appears that Donald Rumsfeld, standing at his trademark lectern from which he micromanaged the war plans, blocked a request from his field commander, General Tommy Franks, to start moving two heavy divisions to the Gulf. There were already enough forces in the theatre, he argued, according to officials in the Pentagon.

Especially since the claim these days is that they've always expected this war to be difficult (Cheney and Perle's assertions to the contrary), and that bringing up reinforcements weeks after initial deployment was always part of the plan.

Rummy, your plan ain't no good.

The rest of the article is pretty interesting stuff. Stuff you won't find in the U.S. media anywhere. And by that I mean true stuff.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

A few changes this morning.

First, because the tumbleweed-drifting-through-a-ghost-town comments section is making me feel lonely, it's gone.

Second, because I have the feeling that blogger may be scraped for addresses by spammers, I've made my email address a little more obscure. People should have no trouble figuring it out. Computers, though, seem unlikely to.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

There's an excellent op-ed contribution in the NY Times this morning. How to Take Baghdad, written by Daryl Press of Dartmouth, goes into significant detail about what kind of combat to expect when the attempt on Baghdad gets underway.

Press is convinced that U.S. casualties will be relatively small. But he notes that the U.S. public doesn't expect even that. So he closes with:

As American leaders face their two bad choices — a siege or a grim urban assault into Baghdad — we should ask ourselves what broader lessons we can learn. One thousand fatalities is, by historical standards, a relatively low price to pay to conquer a country of 24 million people. But the American public was led into this war with intimations that few of Mr. Hussein's soldiers would fight hard for their leader. America would do well not to embark on future wars whose political success depends on the assumption that the enemy won't fight.

Indeed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The Hawks Were Wrong, says Gideon Rose in a Slate article. There was no way the Iraqi opposition could have played a substantial role in overthrowing Saddam.

The article is littered with typically wacky Perle/Feith/Wolfowitz predictions that never came true. Nothing all that out of the ordinary.

But Wolfowitz perfectly encapsulates the neocons' total blindness here:

Paul Wolfowitz sounded a somewhat more cautious note but still scoffed at the idea that the United States would have to overthrow Saddam by itself: "I don't believe that it's as hard as it is made to sound. Maybe it's not as simple as it sometimes sounds, but it's certainly not as hard as [Clinton administration National Security Adviser] Sandy Berger makes it sound when he talks about a major land invasion of Iraq. I know there are differences between Iraq and [Soviet-era] Afghanistan, but I think it is relevant to point out that we overthrew the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan without a single American ground troop; as a matter of fact, without a single American pilot."

Yeah, there's a template to follow: Arab mujaheddin fighting as our proxies. Certainly, we aren't feeling any blowback from that wildly successful project.

It's really amazing that these 'planners' keep failing to see that their approach tends to have long-term repercussions. Dopes.
My eagle-eyed brother points out that I accidentally pulled the quote from Walker-Bey's wrong relative. I can only take comfort in the words that have kept me going in my career as Mayor: "Very well, if that is the way the winds are blowing, let no one say I don't also blow."

Monday, March 24, 2003

I've been disappointed in the Washington Post's general pro-war editorial position all along. But this time, they have really stepped over the line. Grievous Losses, from today's editorial page, contrasts coverage of casualties from WWII days with the 'embedded' approach being practiced today.

They close with this paragraph:

What has not changed in 60 years, or 600, is the anguish of each loss. Some relatives may learn the dreaded news on CNN, instead of by telegram or from the solemn visitor on the front porch; but the sacrifice remains unbearable. "People are [saying] they are sorry," said Michael Waters-Bey of Baltimore, who lost his son, Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, 29. "But the word 'sorrow' cannot fill my pain." There will again be wreaths and burials and, eventually, monuments to those who gave their lives. Ultimately the monument that matters will be victory and a sustained commitment to a rebuilt Iraq -- a commitment that will leave Americans safer and the Iraqi people better off.

What the Post isn't mentioning for some crazy reason is that Mr. Waters-Bey of Baltimore doesn't think his son's death was worth it; he has said publicly to the Baltimore Sun:

"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."

How dare the Post abuse this man's memory of his own dead son so flagrantly? Being pro-war should only justify so much. Stealing the outrage of family members, twisting their grief into an endorsement of Bush's insane crusade, is propagandizing of the lowest order.

The Post is, of course, hardly alone in their utter lack of professionalism, balance, or honesty. But they do enjoy some measure of professional stature among American newspapers, even so. They should certainly deem this sort of journalistic treachery beneath them.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Holy Shit, they've killed some U.S. prisoners, thereby destroying the last vestige of U.S. restraint.

This is horrific. You don't kill prisoners. I'd be more inclined to condemn this barbarism if the U.S. still had any credibility as far as playing by the rules, though.

I think this event is a very bad sign for the direction of the war. Now it's personal, as they say.