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Saturday, March 22, 2003

What Did Saddam Say?

Interesting take on Saddam
The political analyst of the London-based Saudi daily, Al-Hayat, writing under the heading "Saddam Hussein's Speech against George Bush's," maintains that Saddam's speech is the best propaganda for the American war objectives. "Is it conceivable," he says, "that 22 million Iraqis are ruled by a mentality of the kind reflected in the speech?!"

"The ruler of Baghdad… has completed his total detachment from reality… He is ruled by narcissism which prompts him to read poetry to the world and to the Iraqi people! Osama bin Laden is also a pioneer in the use of poetry to deliver political messages… The danger for the Iraqi president lies in his attempt to restore the popularity he lost to Bin Laden in the last two years."

"In his own way, the Iraqi president attempted to [kill] a number of birds with one stone. First, he appealed to the Muslim sentiments. He opened with [a statement] on Islamic history and concluded with nervously repeating 'Allah Akbar.' Second, he addressed the sensitive Palestinian issue…and concluded, after denouncing Zionism, with a call for the rise of Palestine side by side with Jihad and Iraq. Third, he obviously tried to revive Iraqi nationalism and to present it as an extended family or as an 'Iraqi family.' Finally, he did not forget the public opinion in the West and the world and spoke of the 'causes of evil in the world.'"

"It is known that the Iraqi president is prepared to [adopt any ideology as his own]… Saddam, who is assumed to be a Pan-Arab[ist] and secular, turns into an Islamist the moment he believes he can benefit from it."

"Prior to the Iraqi president's speech, and immediately prior to the military operations, we heard the speech of President George Bush who promised 'to liberate the Iraqi people.' The evangelism of 'Iraq's liberation'… has historically unprecedented jaws of technology and converted Saddam's sword into a reason [to have mercy on him] rather than anger. What a distance had Bush gone to arouse mercy on Saddam!"[via MEMRI]
'Course, Colbert's friends at Darrell's Barbershop already understood just how divorced from reality is Saddam
"I don't know why Iraqi TV is complaining about that decapitation strike launched against Saddam [Hussein] on Wednesday night," said Fishbone, who was seated in Darrell's chair getting a mustache trim. "It's not as if Saddam Hussein didn't know what was coming."

"Look at it this way," he said with a hint of exasperation in his voice. "You try to kill the man's daddy. Then the man, who just so happens to be the president of the United States and a macho man from Texas, gives you 48 hours to get out of the country. Now, that strikes me as a fair warning. The way I figure it, 'fair warning' is fair play."

Jerome, known for his trash talking, broke in. "Look, man. If a dude named George W. Bush surrounded me with troops from the 101st Airborne Division, the 3rd Infantry Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 24th and 7th Infantry Divisions, 60,000 Marines, five carrier battle groups in the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, and at least 1,000 combat-ready fighter jets and bombers, and then went on television and announced to the world that I had two days to clear the area, I'd fire back this message by the fastest means available: 'G.W., I'm already gone! Forward my mail to Bali.' "
You'd think a thug like Saddam might be a little streetwise... "Fast Frankie"'s joke is pretty funny: "How do you play Iraqi bingo? ... The answer: B-1, F-16, B-52."...

OK, I do also commiserate with "Mr. Jackson", but that's a reason to push alternatives to Mr. Bush's domestic agenda, not to oppose briniging about change in Iraq.

Back to the Arab press for a moment — Khaled Al Haroub, writing in Al Hayat has discovered the benefits of democracy
The problem is that Arab regimes are non-democratic and regard their populations as a source of threat instead of a source of support. And to counter such threat, they seek protection from foreign powers against their own people, turning into dictatorships. And while this equation may work for a period of time, it cannot be depended upon to sustain the regime indefinitely, simply because it stands contrary to the logic of things. In times of crisis, dictators realize that foreign pressures exceed what the domestic situation can tolerate, and they are thus forced to gamble by rejecting foreign demands without finding the domestic support they need.

The solution lies in democracy, even if it remains lacking. The Turkish example illustrates how, regardless of the strength of the alliance with the U.S., unless the regime enjoys popular support it cannot withstand foreign pressure. Turky is allied to the U.S., a member of NATO and its significance lies in its geographic location with access to South Eastern Mediterranean, and proximity to Iran and Iraq, as well as in its military institution, which is entirely built on the close relations with the U.S. But Turkey is also an Islamic country, where the street is hostile to American policies, and is now extremely opposed to the war on Iraq. Moreover, the ruling party today is an Islamic party in which the public sees hope to end years of corruption and military rule.


The main point here is foreign pressure. While America was angered by the decision of the Turkish parliament, it could not but express its 'respect' for Turkish democracy. And regardless of the U.S. position, the lesson to be learnt is only true democracy can allow a country to withstand foreign pressure, and that the Arab countries have no alternative but to embrace democracy.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Do We Want French Help Post-War?

Tony Adragna
Chirac doesn't want to "justify the war after the event" by voting to allow U.S. & British administration of post-war Iraq. Nevermind that Chirac is in no position to negotiate a concession — France had her chance, but decided to get carnal with the canines instead.

'Tis a good thing, though, if French efforts in the Ivory Coast are any example
As a hostile crowd of women ringed the French Embassy in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, President Jacques Chirac of France met with his cabinet and military advisers Monday to seek a way out of a situation that has turned dramatically wrong.
In Abidjan, thousands of women outside the embassy waved branches and yelled, "Chirac, liar!" To the sound of a samba beat, the women swiveled their hips and chanted "liberty."
"We don't hate the French," the women said. "It's the government of France."
The women, supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, accuse France of imposing a rebel presence in the government as a result of a French-brokered agreement last month that attempted to put an end to the armed conflict between government and mainly Christian forces on the coast and the mainly Muslim rebels of the interior...
I can hear it now — a:suggestion from de Villepin that the new government needs a power sharing agreement leaving Ba'athists in charge of the Iraqi Army...

Who Is Responsible for the Security Council's Defunctification?

Tony Adragna
Lotsa people are still arguing that the it is because of Mr. Bush's failure at diplomacy vis a vis the French & Germans. Anybody familiar with the 12 year history of trying to get the Security Council to enforce its resolutions ought know better. LA Times journalist Robin Wright provides a juicy ort in a Frontline interview
Within a year [of UNSCOM starting] the United States began to see deep fissures in the coalition that it had built, with three critical members of the Security Council--China, Russia and France, all beginning to call for some kind of easing of sanctions to review the entire process. They all had economics interests that were more important than the regional security threat.
Got that? UNSCOM was established in April 1991, and "[w]ithin a year" — which would be not much more than a year after the formal cease-fire — three of the Permanent Members were already actively undercutting their own Resolution...

Thursday, March 20, 2003
Update 3/21/03: NewsChannel 8 reports
"Nearly 1,000 protesters turned out for a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle Thursday night, despite the rain.

The group ended up marching down Connecticut Avenue to the White House, blocking all southbound traffic in the process."
Andrew's "pathetic" says it all...

On Scene Anti-War Protest Reportage... Sorta

I did make some notes during the ½ hour I spent among this crowd that numbered in the low hundreds while I was there. The speaker noted his expectation of "contingents" showing up from various places — unspecified number of folks from CODE PINK, "2,000 students [from] Silver Spring['s Montgomery Blair High School who] have walked out of classes to protest the war with Iraq."

Went on to assert that military recruitment hasn't gone up since 9/11[troop strength is up accross the board from 2001 levels] Also asserted US Armed Forces are seeing 200 desertions per day [something that woulda been all over news services by now]. Claimed that US troops during Desert Storm weren't issued ammo 'til they were ready to depart rear areas and move into combat [any Gulf War Vets wanna challenge that? There's a good reason to not issue ammo 'til proceeding into combat, but the speaker claimed it was of fear that troops might turn their weapons on commanders].

Went on to question reliability of the polling data showing support for war, but then asserted that even if those numbers are correct there'll be a reversal soon as the war starts...

[At this point, your's truly wanted to jump up and scream "It's already started, you jackass!"]

Next came a poet who likended "bombing of the Iraqi people" to oppression of Black South Africans, Black Americans, Palestinians, Native Americans... y'all know the litany. Alluded to Iraqis joining with other oppressed people in a singing of "We Shall Overcome", and exhorted folks to "Resistence"

[At this point, still your truly wanted to note Ms. Poet's ironic correctness — Iraqis certainly will overcome oppression they've endured under Saddam, and it'll be no thanks to "peace activists". I was having hard enough time resisting the urge to make sick all over the wannabe-Rastaboy of obvious Anglo heritage standing in front of me — hadta get the hell outa Dodge...]

On Scene Anti-War Protest Reportage... Maybe

Tony Adragna
'Sposed to be a march from Dupont Circle to the White House sometime right around 5 PM. Gonna take a short walk up to the Circle & see what I can see...

Update 4:44PM... nada so far. Saw 'bout 10 police cars parked in front of the CVS pharmacy at 20th & P, but didn't see any crowdage in the park. Leaving here at 5 w/notebook — if nothing has started by then, I going directly home... I may end up going directly home even if there's something worth noting — don't wanna get meself caught up with the ijits...

Dear Prudence, Why Hasn't Powell Resigned?
And does Mr. Bush's decision set a good precedent for conduct between nations?

Tony Adragna
[Apologies to the real Pru]

Is Sec. Powell just "playing 'good soldier'"? I'm sure you agree, Will, that the question is at best founded on a misapprehension of Powell's stance on war in the instant case. At worst it's a slur!

The debate between State and VP/Defense was never about the justifiability or even the ultimate neccesity of going to war. Rather, it was about the most prudent way to get us there. A large segment of the "anti-war" war crowd — those who are really not-so-anti-war, but concerned about hawkish rhetoric — understand this point, are glad of Powell's moderating influence, and don't see any inconsistency between his prudential approach and where it's led us.

Another segment of the "anti-war" crowd — the not-so-anti-war-except-when-somebody-named-Bush-is-involved folks — either never got the memo describing Powell as not one of them, or didn't much care so long as his approach could be misconstrued to their purpose. They may be hoping for a Powell resignation, but, and this is my gut feeling, their hopes are as likely of realization as Saddam's chances of success.

I think the reason why "anti-war" folks haven't confronted Powell is because the former type have become as convinced as himself on the correctness of war in this particular case [though some of us, myself included, still want full debate on the "Bush Doctrine"]. The latter folks mostly know that the effort would backfire — the result would be, as you phrased it, "an affirmation of the policy choices this Administration has mad."

"Affirmation" is the most important word there — not just a defense of the option chosen from among a number of reasonable options, but a positive assertion that we've chosen the correct option.

Bold decision, good precedent! This may seem counterintuitive to many folks, but the "bold action" here isn't "setting new precedent." Instead, it's an assertion of what's been so long missing at international law — the importance of enforcing other principles just as necessary as "pacific settlement". After all, what good is an unjust peace?

Am I too hopeful in looking forward to a return of principle over rules in application of international law? I hope not, because it's the very strict adherence to the letter of articles that has gotten us to this point — reliance on an international "security" apparatus what doesn't work is exactly why the thug Saddam was left in power notwithstanding our knowledge that the threat is a product of his being in power...

Why Hasn't Colin Powell Resigned?

Will Vehrs
Tony, I've let you be the voice of QP on the coming war with Iraq and you've made some powerful points.

Now war has arrived--a war that is a bold and audacious gamble, fraught with immediate and long-term danger. Of course, in the shadow of 9/11, we also know that maintaining the status quo is also a huge gamble. Reasonable people can disagree on whether the way to security and world peace is through dramatic action or tinkering with conventional methods.

I find myself on the side of this bold action, despite the risks. Efforts were made to "tinker," to use existing institutions like the UN. These institutions were not up to the task of enforcing widely supported edicts against a dangerous tyrant. If this military action or its aftermath fails, history will judge it harshly and the uneasy status quo will quickly return. If it succeeds, there is a chance that the world will emerge safer and more of its inhabitants will be free.

I have tried to give the anti-war position a fair hearing in my mind. None of their arguments seem to honestly acknowledge the terror of Saddam or to suggest a means of dealing with him that is sustainable. Their strongest point--the potential consequences following a war--is essentially unknowable. Their predictions of disaster are no more likely than predictions of cheering Iraqis holding Iowa-style caucuses in 2004.

The anti-war position seems indistinguishable from the antipathy many feel and have always felt against President Bush. Hence, the title of this piece: "Why Hasn't Colin Powell Resigned?"

Throughout the run-up to this war, any diplomatic progress, any "slowing" of the "rush" toward war has been credited to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell is considered the most admired, most respected man in America. Any "creep" toward war was a victory for "reactionaries" like Rumsfeld and Perle. The "failure" of diplomacy that Sen. Daschle so controversially cited was the failure of President Bush, not his chief diplomat, Colin Powell.

If one man in America could have stopped the action that began last night, it was Colin Powell.

A Colin Powell resignation, citing disagreements with the President's diplomatic policy or opposition to military action against Iraq, would turn American public opinion to 70% against war and any vestige of support abroad would collapse.

Somehow, though, Colin Powell remains on the job. Anti-war protestors don't call for his resignation; they don't link him with Bush.

Is it blind loyalty that keeps Powell in place, supporting the course of action this Administration is undertaking? Or could it be conviction?

The anti-war protestors, to my knowledge, haven't targeted Powell, haven't demanded that he resign to stop this war. Why? Are they afraid that public calls to resign would be answered by Powell with an affirmation of the policy choices this Administration has made? The anti-war side cynically uses Powell but refuses to confront him.

What does it do to the anti-war cause and the anti-war rationale if the most respected man in America--a man not born to privilege, a man who wasn't young and irresponsible, a man who didn't win by hanging chads--is willing to use force in a pre-emptive way?

Although it's not my reason for supporting the war, Colin Powell's support, when he could be the toast of the world and make untold millions giving speeches against it, is pretty compelling.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Only, it went boom more than once. CBS News reports from Baghdad via London
Anti-aircraft fire and explosions were heard across Baghdad after air raid sirens went off in the capital at dawn Thursday.

Preliminary reports indicated the U.S.-led coalition was aiming at "targets of opportunity." It is not believed to be the main attack on Iraq.

President Bush is going to speak at 10:15 p.m.
Useless video — camera was locked in a fixed position just hoping to get usable footage in case anything happened while the crew was racked out. Sound was clear, though — a few big booms, some secondary explosions, then a bit of futile anti-aircraft fire... I hope the intel got us some good targeting and this opportunity paid off.

Good Morning, Baghdad! It's wakey wakey time...

Update: The President's address. Excerpts with emphasis added
BUSH: 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....

To all of 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 people you liberate will witness the honorable and decent spirit of the American military...

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 restore control of that country to its own people...

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.

Suggestion Box...

Tony Adragna
Having trouble writing. Been months ahead of the cycle. Could rehash why this war is really 'bout getting rid of thugs — and that's the best reason so far as I'm concerned (come on, now, we all know that's the reason why Saddam can't have weapons) — but I don't wanna do that.

Could talk "bout the FOXNews story on how the Chemical Weapons Convention includes an idiotic prohibition on the use of non-lethal riot agents, but I did that on Feb 9.

I could go on ad nauseam 'bout how this whole debate over "unilateralism" has been inane so far as the administration has always planned on acting multilaterally in "coalition" — the rhetoric on both sides of the question having been much overblown. Tired of writing 'bout "The Disconnect"..

Homeland Security Department is a boondoggle [though, I suspect not as big as would be Dennis "Clement Atlee" Kucinich's "Department of Peace"] that just sickens me to think on, notwithstanding that 'bout the only Democrat whose sincerity I don't doubt was 100% behind the damnable idea.

I need some new assignments on my desk...

Iraqis, we do not accept your surrender...

Tony Adragna
...You surrender only to the enemy. If you’re Ba'athist, fight us. If you’re Iraqis, join us.
Excuse my adaptation of a line from "The Big Red One", where, during the invasion of North Africa, an American officer responds to a proffer of French surrender. 'Course, the impending invasion is real life, not a movie. And the situation in Iraq might not be perfectly analogous to that in French North Africa. But the idea of Iraqi Army units participating actively in their liberation, versus passively accepting Allied action, would be the ideal.

Alak, practical considerations — like the lack of interoperability — make the ideal mostly unworkable even if we had a high level of confidence that there was no subterfuge afoot..

On the Eve of War, Is the Homeland ready? WaPo's editorial board says: NO!
[...] Mr. Watson pulled off his feat in an open park area as the nation's capital was preparing for a possible war, with security supposedly having been tightened near federal buildings and monuments. Not reassuring.
Certainly would be much harder for a known suspect — one already under scrutiny — to get away with what Mr. Watson has done. And I'm quite sure that such a person wouldn't get the gentle treatment Mr. Watson has gotten. But the experience with Mr. Watson does shed light on exactly how capable the government is at protecting US.

For the record, I don't think the government can be expected to do anymore than that which it is already doing, so this isn't a criticism of the doing. It is a criticism of the government's telling...

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Reclusive Cheney Is Sighted

Will Vehrs
This week's Punditwatch gives you your semi-annual "Cheney Rations." The seldom-seen Vice President made rare appearances on the Sunday talk shows, confirming for all that if President Bush's trip to the Azores wasn't the last chance, it was maybe the last last chance.

For those of you who are real Sunday show aficiandoes, check out Terence Smith's News Hour segment on the "Big Three" shows: Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and This Week. Russert, Schieffer, and Stephanopolous, with varying levels of self-importance, describe what they are trying to do.