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November 07, 2007

A damn big problem in Iraq

Actually, a big dam problem:

Mosul Dam, formerly known as Saddam Dam (Arabic: "Sadd Saddam") is in danger of collapse. That's because the dam was built on unstable bedrock of gypsum that requires a constant infusion of grout to prevent the foundation from eroding and the giant earthen wall from collapsing. Over the years, engineers have pumped into the foundation more than 50,000 tons of a bentonite, cement, water and air mixture. As the Washington Post explains, "Twenty-four clanging machines churn 24 hours a day to pump grout deep into the dam's base. And sinkholes form periodically as the gypsum dissolves beneath the structure."

Despite these efforts, the dam's condition continues to deteriorate, raising the prospect of its complete collapse. Were this to happen with a reservoir full of water, predicts Engineering News-Record, "as much as 12.5 billion cubic metres of water pooled behind the 3.2-km-long earth-filled impoundment [would go] thundering down the Tigris River Valley toward Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. The wave behind the 110-m high crest would take about two hours to reach the city of 1.7 million." In addition, parts of Baghdad (population seven million) would come under five metres of water.

The Army Corps estimates the flood would kill a half-million people immediately, while the aftershocks, such as power outage and drought, would kill many more. (Not coincidentally, Iraq was the site of Noah's Ark.) It would likely be the largest human-induced single loss of life in history.

Yipes. And then there's the secondary problem:
Yet, were a catastrophic failure to take place, who would be blamed for the unprecedented loss of life? Americans, of course. And understandably so, for the Bush administration took upon itself the overhauling of Iraqi life, including the Mosul Dam. Specifically, the U.S. taxpayer funded attempts to shore it up with improved grouting, at a cost of US$27-million. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has, however, judged these efforts mismanaged and ineffective.

Massive Iraqi deaths would surely spawn conspiracy theories about American malevolence, inspiring epic rage against the U.S. government and creating a deep sense of guilt among Americans themselves. Yet this blame and remorse would be entirely misplaced.

Read on. And be glad it's not your job to keep this crumbling thing standing.

October 30, 2007

The News Business as usual

The tale of two Google News searches...

Headless AND bodies AND Iraq:

Headless AND bodies AND Iraq AND (denied OR untrue OR false OR incorrect):

The rest of the story...

September 07, 2007

'Bin Laden' speaks

And the Ottawa Citizen -- first, as far as I can tell -- has the full transcript.

What a bunch of nonsense it is. A couple of years ago, bin Laden was getting his material from Michael Moore. Now it seems composed of a mish-mash of Chavez speeches, NDP pamphlets, Noam Chomsky, and some guy muttering to himself in a bus station somewhere. He's getting more sophisticated in his lunacy.

It seems to me that bin Laden -- if this is bin Laden, and I'm still kind of doubtful of that -- is appealing in a ham-fisted way to those in the West he considers his allies. I'll generously assume that they aren't really his allies, but by their actions, sometimes it isn't easy to tell. They fooled him, anyways. Perhaps for this reason, most of the news stories' I've seen on this new tape (ie. BBC's 'extracts' from the transcript) are overlooking these blatant and desperate attempts at finding common ground with the modern left. Here's a few of the choicer passages that probably won't find their way into the pages of the Globe or the Star tomorrow:

In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation.

And so Kennedy was killed, and Al-Qaeda wasn't present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. And the war continued after that for approximately one decade.

[...]

This war [Iraq] was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like "no to spilling red blood for black oil," yet he paid them no heed. It is time for humankind to know that talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.

So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war.

Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn't be any cause for astonishment - and there isn't any - in the Democrats' failure to stop the war. And you're the ones who have the saying which goes, "Money talks." And I tell you: after the failure of your representatives in the Democratic Party to implement your desire to stop the war, you can still carry anti-war placards and spread out in the streets of major cities, then go back to your homes, but that will be of no use and will lead to the prolonging of the war.

[...]

In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations, yet despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the death and displacement of the millions of human beings because of that, especially in Africa.

[...]

And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system.

So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Oh, and he hasn't completely forgotten the more conservative Westerners. Apparently taxes will be much lower when we finally get around to submitting to Allah:
There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat (alms) totaling only 2.5 percent. So beware of the deception of those with the capital.
But can you really believe these kinds of campaign promises? Does he have the numbers to back it up?

July 26, 2007

'Genocide? So what?'

The Wall Street Journal:

Barack Obama's latest pronouncement on Iraq should have shocked the conscience. In an interview with the Associated Press last week, the freshman Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate opined that even preventing genocide is not a sufficient reason to keep American troops in Iraq.

"Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now--where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife--which we haven't done," Mr. Obama told the AP. "We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea."

Mr. Obama is engaging in sophistry. By his logic, if America lacks the capacity to intervene everywhere there is ethnic killing, it has no obligation to intervene anywhere--and perhaps an obligation to intervene nowhere. His reasoning elevates consistency into the cardinal virtue, making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Further, he elides the distinction between an act of omission (refraining from intervention in Congo and Darfur) and an act of commission (withdrawing from Iraq). The implication is that although the U.S. has had a military presence in Iraq since 1991, the fate of Iraqis is not America's problem.

July 13, 2007

The last time the Americans abandoned their allies

From Wikipedia:

In Vietnam, the new communist government sent many people who supported the old government in the South to "re-education camps", and others to "new economic zones." An estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges or trials. 165,000 people died in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's re-education camps, according to published academic studies in the United States and Europe. Thousands were abused or tortured: their hands and legs shackled in painful positions for months, their skin slashed by bamboo canes studded with thorns, their veins injected with poisonous chemicals, their spirits broken with stories about relatives being killed. These factors, coupled with poverty, caused millions of Vietnamese to flee the country.
Given the nature of the various terrorist groups in Iraq, it's safe to bet that the carnage after an American retreat there would be even worse. Whatever brutal regime finally emerges after the inevitable devastating civil war would take revenge on their enemies in a most bloody fashion. Refugees would flood the Middle East, most winding up in permanent camps similar to those of the Palestinians. Possibly millions would die.

Whatever your thoughts on the wisdom of the original invasion of Iraq, it should be clear that retreat now by the Americans would be a disaster. And not just for Iraq, but for America and the world. I think everyone knows this -- including the opportunistic politicians now leading the charge for withdrawal -- but they are unable politically support a cause that the hated George Bush has staked everything on. This is madness, childish madness, and unless the politicians, the media, and the public grow up a lot of people are going to die.

But maybe it won't be so bad. After all, like in Vietnam, the press will be driven out of Iraq and no longer will there be death tolls reported daily on the news. There may be a few video clips smuggled out, a couple of rumours of atrocities trickling across the internet, but those can (and will) be ignored by the media. It will be up to the scholars a decade or so into the future to figure out the final toll for an article in their obscure journals.

July 12, 2007

A must-read takedown of the defeatists

The NY Times editorial last week urging a US retreat from Iraq was one of the most perplexing pieces I writing I have ever read. They seemed to understand that pulling the troops now would trigger a bloodbath that would make the current conflict look trivial, but they didn't seem to care. Victor Davis Hanson takes the whole preposterous thing apart.

(via LGF)

UPDATE: On a related note, take a look at this ABC reporter's attempt to get US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to answer a simple question on whether withdrawal will be good for Iraq. It's obvious he knows the truth too, but just doesn't care.

The comments to this post are also worth a read. There are lots of valuable insights to be found.

January 31, 2007

Why is the world upside down?

For the past few years I've had the feeling that global politics is moving into the Twilight Zone. So many politicians, reporters, and members of other elites have been appeasing and making excuses for one of the most vile ideologies in history. The United States and a few of its allies have fought against this ideology, making difficult sacrifices to try to grow democracy in some very poor soil, and those same intellectuals seem very clearly to want this effort to fail. Can it be that they hate Bush so much that they want to see an entire nation fall to fascists so that he doesn't have the honour of a 'victory'? Sure, there have been mistakes, but if I recall my history, the allies in World War II didn't follow a perfectly executed plan either. But they won, despite setbacks and disagreements, because they understood the consequences of defeat.

[Former?] Leftist Nick Cohen can't understand what's going on either, and has some questions for his 'comrades':

Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal left is against come from the liberal left? Why will students hear a leftish postmodern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? As important, why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left, but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea? Why, even in the case of Palestine, can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?

In short, why is the world upside down?

Read the whole thing, he's just getting warmed up...

December 31, 2006

Obituary for a monster

The Times has a must-read obituary on Saddam that lays down the truth about the brutality of his regime:

That scene was repeated throughout Iraq, from the northern Kurdish provinces, where in the Anfal campaign of 1987-88 Saddam wheeled his army on the restive Kurds and killed an estimated 180,000 — 5,000 by gassing the town of Halabja — to the Shi’ite south where more than 100,000 were killed in 1991.

Saddam was the master of use of the theory “pour encourager les autres”. The saying in Baghdad was “your third cousin”, meaning that if you were suspected of disloyalty, Saddam would kill not just you, but all members of your family down to the third cousin. This was sometimes only a slight exaggeration.

Interlocking intelligence and security agencies spied on everyone, including themselves. While Saddam was in power, a visit from a foreigner to a home in Baghdad would mean a knock on the door within hours. It led to a kind of schizophrenia. Interviewing a minister in Iraq, supposedly one of Saddam’s own, once turned into a mad scene; as the minister spouted the party line, he wildly gesticulated to the ceiling to show that he knew what he was saying was ridiculous but he was being listened to by secret microphones.

Compare this to the bizarrely mild summary from the Associated Press (which far more people will see) that spends most of its word count insinuating complicity by the United States. Anyone who says the press doesn't have an agenda should just read that piece.

Meanwhile, over at POGGE, there is outrage that Saddam wasn't turned over to the Europeans for 'international justice'. In a world full of terrible injustices, getting worked up that a cruel thug like Saddam didn't get to die of old age while his 9th appeal was being heard in the Hague -- well, it's a little strange. But sadly, pretty common.

December 30, 2006

The world becomes a slightly better place

Saddam has dropped off the world's stage. It's very good news. At a gathering of some friends the other day, someone remarked that the 'chaos' in Iraq today is far worse than the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. I have to say, I can never understand this widely held view:

1980-88: Iran-Iraq war left 150,000 to 340,000 Iraqis and 450,000 to 730,000 Iranians dead.

1983-1988: Documented chemical attacks by Iraqi regime caused some 30,000 Iraqi and Iranian deaths.

1988: Chemical attack on Kurdish village of Halabja killed approximately 5,000 people.

1987-1988: Iraqi regime used chemical agents in attacks against at least 40 Kurdish villages.

1990-91: 1,000 Kuwaitis were killed in Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

1991: Bloody suppression of Kurdish and Shi'a uprisings in northern and southern Iraq killed at least 30,000 to 60,000. At least 2,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed during the campaign of terror.

2001: Amnesty International report: "Victims of torture in Iraq are subjected to a wide range of forms of torture, including the gouging out of eyes, severe beatings and electric shocks... some victims have died as a result and many have been left with permanent physical and psychological damage."

Human Rights Watch: Saddam's 1987-1988 campaign of terror against the Kurds killed at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Kurds.

Refugees International: "Oppressive government policies have led to the internal displacement of 900,000 Iraqis."

Iraq's 13 million Shiite Muslims, the majority of Iraq's population of approximately 22 million, faced severe restrictions on their religious practice.

I think it's much better to have the bad guys skulking around in the shadows, living in fear for their lives, rather than sitting comfortably as the supreme power of the land. But that's just me, I guess. People who are nostalgic for the supposed 'stability' of pre-invasion Iraq forget that it was forged by the brutal deaths of hundreds of thousands and maintained by an almost unparalleled regime of terror and repression.

Hopefully Saddam's death will help Iraqis put their past disagreements behind them and let them build a better future together.

November 01, 2006

It's too late guys...

You should have stayed in school...

(via LGF)

October 24, 2006

CNN gets busted

One of the things I hate most about today's media is their willingness -- their eagerness, really -- to do the propaganda work for the worst scumbags on the planet. The airing by CNN of a video of a terrorist sniper training his rifle on an American soldier (though 'tastefully' fading to black before the shot is fired) is just the latest example. But this story seems to have crossed a line, and there has been a strong backlash.

Wolf Blitzer tried to do a bit of damage control yesterday, but it blew up in his face. CNN's 'military analyst', Gen David Grange, wound up agreeing with the Congressman that was pointing the finger at them. He couldn't deny that his employer was doing the 'promo' work for terrorists:

Grange agreed with Hunter: "Well, as a platoon leader in Vietnam, I would have said the same thing. I agree with you on that -- or even in Iraq today. My -- my concern is the power of information warfare, and how they use it. And I -- and I look at opportunities that we can turn around on the enemy, because they are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat."
The most interesting part of the exchange for my part was Congressman Hunter's remark on why such a video is so dangerous -- which the media just cannot understand:
Hunter returned to his argument that the insurgents are getting their wishes granted by CNN, and might encourage further terrorism: "General, I look at it just the opposite. I think showing Americans being killed by terrorists, with -- apparently, with impunity, because the film doesn't show the terrorists then being pursued and killed. And lots of terrorists who have shot at Americans took their last shot at the Americans, because they themselves were killed in turn. But showing the world a film, and lots of terrorists out there watching their TV sets, a picture of an American being killed in a crowd by a terrorist who operates, apparently, with impunity, and gets away, is highly suggestive, I think, and highly instructive to them. And I think it's dangerous to Americans, not only uniformed Americans, but also tourists, Americans who might go abroad and be in one of those crowds one day, when somebody who saw that film, how you just walk up and kill them while they are in a crowd, decides to replicate that action."

August 30, 2006

The End of the Plame Kerfuffle?

I don't often listen to the CBC Radio News, but I recall listening to it a few months ago as one of the umpteen dozen 'revelations' of the Plame saga came to light. It was the top of the news, and was followed by interviews with at least a half a dozen 'experts' rounded up by the impartial reporters of our national broadcaster, who each claimed that Bush was toast, that this was the smoking gun, that this would finally connect the nefarious casual mentioning of a Bush critic's wife's profession to the evil machinations of the Bush administration.

And what was this new revelation? Only that Bush authorized a document to be declassified in order to rebut one of Joe Wilson's false claims. Which seems to be a reasonable response to a person who has used the authority of his work with the government in order to discredit it. But for the CBC and the other millions of Plame conspiracy freaks, this indicated that the White House had noticed Wilson's criticisms, and might have done even more to discredit him. Perhaps even going as far as to... getting a subordinate to casually mention to the press that Wilson's wife worked... for the CIA!

Anyways, due to the development of the internet, this non-story has probably spawned a greater word count than that of both Kennedy assasinations put together. It went on for years and years. And there was absolutely nothing there.

Hopefully the last 'revelation' of this ridiculous conspiracy theory has come to light: that Bush critic Richard Armitage was the 'leaker' of Plame's secret identity, and did it with no ill intent. I somehow doubt this fact will deter the most enthusiastic Plame conspiracy nuts, but maybe the rest of the media will at least shut up about it. It's important for the media to investigate the government and be suspicious of it, but it's also important for them to work at least partially in the real world. The idea that Bush would get 'revenge' on an attention-seeking nobody like Joe Wilson by revealing what his wife did was so ludicrous that is should have been laughed off the front pages. But instead they devoted enormous resources over three years in trying to prove this nutty theory -- when they had absolutely no evidence! It boggles my mind.

June 28, 2006

A forgotten photographic style

In the distant past, war photographers would take pictures of troops going about their daily routine, having a laugh, or interacting with civilians. Magazines like Life would carry dozens of them every week. They would remind the people back home of the sacrifices soldiers made, and help them appreciate the difficulties they faced. Today of course, such humanizing photos would be considered propaganda and no media outlet will have anything to do with them. But it's nice that someone gathered together a few for a moving slideshow so we can see the types of photos magazines might run if they actually wanted the US to win in Iraq.

(via Wizbang.)

June 15, 2006

Guilt of the media II

Terrorism is an information war disguised as a military operation. The press plays a symbiotic role, and isn't willing to address that.
Glenn Reynolds has a longish post (for him) on this subject, with lots of links.

June 13, 2006

The guilt of the media

David Warren has a great column on the synergy between the media and the terrorists that are trying to destabilize Iraq. And from that, he makes a strong case that Zarqawi's death is a great victory:

So much of the credit for his murderous successes, and those of other terrorists like him, must be given to the mainstream media -- both East and West. Journalists assiduously advance the terrorist cause, by reporting almost exclusively on allied setbacks and mistakes, and by their ceaseless improvisation of destructive criticism against "Bush" and other Western leaders and allies. Heroic, and largely successful reconstruction efforts in Iraq have been ignored; instead we have an endless spool of meticulously-reported terror hits. The Western media attention to, and celebration of, such unstable characters as Cindy Sheehan and Michael Berg, make their alliances obvious. The New York Times has been the bellwether for this. Almost every news item touching Iraq is spun to maximize its demoralizing effect on the allied war effort. And across America itself, editors look to the Times nightly front-page line-up for clues on how to slant their own coverage.

To an enemy who depends utterly on morale, in the absence of significant military abilities -- who has only such weaponry as he can rig or steal, and only such soldiers as he can recruit in secret; who has no secure territory to which he can retreat and regroup -- this constant and reliable support from the media is indispensable. Without it, the "resistance" in Iraq would have collapsed quickly, saving ten-thousands of lives; and the Afghan "resistance" would be in greater disarray (though it has the benefit of secure pasturage in remote tribal mountain fastnesses).

But Zarqawi's death goes beyond spinning. The very fact touched off huge celebrations across Iraq this week, as did the capture of Saddam Hussein before it. While our Western media are loath to cover these demonstrations -- lest they enhance President Bush's position in U.S. domestic politics -- their effect on the enemy in Iraq is profound. An enemy whose morale depended on Zarqawi's reputation for ruthlessness, against the hard fact of popular detestation, is left staring at a wall. He needs another Zarqawi to emerge, quickly.

I've pointed out this terrorist-media feedback loop before, and it sickens me. To terrorize (or demoralize) a population requires not just violent acts, but the delivery of threats and intimidation. Most of the world's media have been too eager to fill the role.

November 02, 2005

Lying by omission

I'm constantly shaking my head at the press services' coverage of Iraq. The incessant negative tone is reinforcing the terrorists' aims of undermining the emerging Iraqi democracy and demoralizing the American forces. I don't want the press to tell lies about what's happening, but it would be helpful if they managed to report on the remarkable progress that has been made in only two and a half years.

Most of the press bias is pretty subtle. One method they use frequently is to write a news piece about some recent event, then pad the rest of the story with a litany of all the bad news of the last few weeks. The effect on the reader is of general despair.

But occasionally -- and unfortunately not rarely -- they just ignore the facts and write what they want people to hear. And there's no better example than this, where the NY Times took the words of a dead soldier and edited them to make their point. Here's part of the Times' piece:

But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.

Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. ''I kind of predicted this,'' Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. ''A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances."

Get it? Pessimism. Fatalism. Futility. Damn that George Bush! But here's the full text of the letter:
Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.
During the Second World War, propagandists for the enemy like Lord Haw Haw and Tokyo Rose were based in enemy territory. In the War on Terror, they're working just a few miles from Ground Zero.

UPDATE: More on the relentlessnessly negative mainstream media -- in the Boston Globe of all places (via NealeNews):

Hostile to the war and to the administration conducting it, the nation's leading news outlets harp on the negative and pessimistic, consistently underplaying all that is going right in Iraq. Their fixation on the number of troops who have died outweighs their interest in the cause for which those fallen heroes fought -- a cause that advanced with the ratification of the new constitution.
RTWT.

September 14, 2005

Debate night

It seems that in some people's minds, the debate over the war in Iraq has long been over. Newspaper stories refer in an offhand way to the "disastrous" situation there without feeling any need to justify that point of view. But the debate isn't over; there's just been a cease-fire. The pro-war and anti-war forces have, for the most part, withdrawn from the argument into their own camps, where they discuss the news in the context of their divergent views of what went before.

Tonight, the cease fire will be broken with a couple of debates between high-profile members of the opposing sides. In the first, terror-apologist George Galloway will be debating Christopher Hitchens at 7:00 Eastern (live feed here). This should be a fine battle; Galloway and Hitchens hate each other. Don't expect a dry recitation of figures and reports. Here's Hitchens describing his opponent:

Galloway's preferred style is that of vulgar ad hominem insult, usually uttered while a rather gaunt crew of minders stands around him. I have a thick skin and a broad back and no bodyguards. He says that I am an ex-Trotskyist (true), a "popinjay" (true enough, since its original Webster's definition means a target for arrows and shots), and that I cannot hold a drink (here I must protest). In a recent interview he made opprobrious remarks about the state of my midriff, which I will confess hasas P.G. Wodehouse himself once phrased it"slipped down to the mezzanine floor." In reply I do not wish to stoop. Those of us who revere the vagina are committed to defend it against the very idea that it is a mouth or has teeth. Study the photographs of Galloway from Syrian state television, however, and you will see how unwise and incautious it is for such a hideous person to resort to personal remarks. Unkind nature, which could have made a perfectly good butt out of his face, has spoiled the whole effect by taking an asshole and studding it with ill-brushed fangs.
The other debate is at 8:00 Eastern between Victor Davis Hanson and Arianna Huffington on the topic of whether or not the United States is an empire (video feed here). Maybe it wouldn't be as outrageous as the first one promises to be, but it should be educational.

UPDATE: Can't seem to get on anywhere. All the streams are full. I'm sure the mp3 will be available tomorrow.

July 07, 2005

Fired up

I didn't intend to write anything on the bombings in London today. The blog is in stasis, and I didn't think I had anything to say. What happened is terrible, horrible, and the perpetrators should be drawn and quartered -- what else is there to say? But after listening to Lowell Green this morning on the radio, I'm too fired up to keep quiet.

Two callers enraged me. The first claimed that he had a deep understanding of the motivations of the bombers, and that their acts were the logical response to the 'foreign policy' of America and Britain. Which precise act of foreign policy it was he didn't make clear, but he muttered something about Hosni Mubarak being a dictator and an ally of the United States. His attitude was that it's all very complicated, you see, but since he knows the name of the President of Egypt, you must assume he knows what he's talking about. And the United States is to blame, no question about it.

The other caller went even farther. He said that while of course he doesn't support the mass slaughter of civilians, the bombers were nonetheless 'freedom fighters' working for a just cause. His reasoning for this belief was even more cloudy that the first caller's, but his attitude was again that things were too complex for most common people to understand. But believe him that there are legitimate reasons for these atrocities and it's important to address them. I didn't get a chance to hear what these important issues that need to be addressed because are I was yelling at the radio too loud.

I'd like to think that people like these two chuckleheads are rare, and that most people understand the importance of standing firm against the subhuman thugs that perpetrate these crimes. But they're not. They're our neighbors and perhaps even our friends. I've spoken to far too many people that have concocted the most absurd theories to explain terrorism. They vary in their degrees of loopiness, but the one component of these theories that stays consistent is that it's all the fault of the United States.

But it's really them, those that justify, sanctify, and even praise mass murder, that makes terrorism so effective.

May 05, 2005

Is this vindication?

Last year The Economist suggested that the three major leaders of the war in Iraq, Tony Blair, John Howard, and George Bush, might face the same fate as Jose Maria Aznar in Spain and be voted out by an electorate that disapproved of their decisions. But with Blair's win today, all three have passed their tests and have been returned to office. Does this mean there is now broad support for the war and a consensus that it was the right thing to do?

Unfortunately, no. My theory is that voters are often more likely to trust leaders that go against the popular will every now and then. Making unpopular decisions -- no matter what they are -- demonstrates backbone and indicates the leader isn't a pushover. Reagan, Thatcher and Mike Harris fall in this category. Even Prime Minister Dithers was once considered resolute! I think it comes with the suspicion of having things too easy. Ice cream and cake for dinner followed by staying up 'til midnight playing video games may score well in a poll of teenagers on their idea of the perfect parent, but I think if they really had to choose they'd pick someone that made them eat their cabbage and finish their homework.

April 15, 2005

Revising the revisionists

Glenn Reynolds wrote a long (for him), meandering post yesterday that debunks the myth that the war in Iraq was only to find WMD. He quotes numerous times from Bush's speeches and interviews before the war, and shows that the current positive developments in Iraq are what Bush was always aiming for. It's a blog post that shows why Reynolds is such a force in the blogosphere. It's relatively short, makes a strong point, and contains many links for those who want more information. If you're an opponent of the war, you owe it to yourself to spend three minutes reading it.

The other persistant myth of the war, that 100,000 civilians died, is neatly debunked here.

February 13, 2005

Like Chrtien, he's got balls

Kofi Annan came out with an editorial in the Washington Post yesterday that claims credit for the successful elections in Iraq for the UN, and declares that they have the 'much-needed credibility' to more things forward. Paul at Wizbang makes a few half-hearted strikes against it, but is really more head-shakingly bewildered by the audacity of it all. I'm shocked Kofi made absolutely no mention of the role the US played, but then what do I expect? That he'd thank the United States? Not likely.

Unfortunately, it's a strategy that works. An Jean Chrtien has shown us for years, just repeatedly tell your supporters what they want to hear, appear unperturbed by your critics and don't admit you've made the tiniest mistake, and it'll all blow over.

February 06, 2005

Help me Dan Rather, you're my only hope...

In the face of their numerous defeats, the terrorists in Iraq are turning to hoaxes and calling on their closest allies to promote them:

It's also interesting that the terrorists turned to the news media to recover lost momentum. Journalists who fell for these hoaxes may merely be idiots, and their silence about the implications of the hoaxes may simply be the by product of embarrassment. But the Web logger Shannon Love (Chicago Boyz) wonders:

"Why were the major media so quick to disseminate pictures of an action figure as a genuine hostage photo?" More to the point, why are major media so quick to disseminate anything that a terrorist group, or purported terrorist group, releases? ... For the terrorist, it is like being given millions of dollars in free advertising."

The major media have from the beginning exaggerated the strength and popularity of those they mislabel "insurgents," to the disgust of American soldiers.

"I'm tired of hearing the crap, the whole, well 'We are barely hanging on, we're losing, the insurgency is growing,' " Marine Sgt. Kevin Lewis told Dan Rather, in Iraq for the election. "It's just a small amount of people out there causing the problems. It's a small number, and we're killing them."

I think the media is starting to come around on Iraq. They were genuinely surprised by the popularity of the election and are starting to understand that these thugs are not the glorious freedom fighters they imagined. In a few months the pack will have convinced themselves they were supportive from the beginning.

January 30, 2005

Time to switch gears in Iraq

Dashing the hopes of 'the insurgents' and many in the mainstream media, the elections went well in Iraq today. There was violence, but it was nowhere near the levels threatened by the terrorists or predicted by many of the sour pundits. The turnout was high and there have been no major organizational problems. Hey, maybe this democracy thing could catch on in the Middle East!

But don't think that all this is any kind of victory for George Bush. The press has already worked out how to spin this considerable achievement into a another chapter of his legacy of failure. Just as they amplified the actions of the violent minority of Iraqis and ignored the peaceful majority in the run-up to the election, now they will focus on the anti-American politicians and pretty much ignore all the others. They will create heroes out of those pandering to xenophobic instincts and attribute to them the 'true' voice of Iraqis. The 'growing insurgency' will be replaced by the 'growing backlash' against the United States.

But the failure to acknowledge the victory doesn't change the fact that some real progress has been made. And the fact that 'the insurgents' will have no more legitimacy even to the most anti-American end of the media is the best demonstration of this fact.

January 03, 2005

Despair is the agenda

Here's how the Globe and Mail summed up events in Iraq yesterday:

Insurgents exposed the vulnerability of Iraq's security forces again yesterday, killing 18 National Guardsmen, five police officers and several civilians in separate attacks with the election of a national assembly just weeks away. Prominent Shia leaders called for unity with Sunnis wanting to delay the vote, but insisted it be held despite the violence.

Also, the U.S. military sent new forces to counter the threat in Mosul, centre of a worrying rise in car bombings and raids in recent weeks.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated past warnings of more violence ahead of the Jan. 30 election, and the guerrillas have made good on those fears with tragic ease. Iraq's poorly equipped security forces usually have far less training than U.S. troops, and attacks on them usually result in far more casualties.

But something else happened yesterday, that involved 'Iraq's poorly equipped security forces':
1. At 1 am Iraqi National Guard (ING), the Mahmudih division, arrested 217 individuals suspected of being terrorists and confiscated a large cache of light and heavy caliber weapons and ammunition.

2. At 2 am the same ING division arrested Hatem Alzobaae, a suspected terrorist cell leader.

3. At 2:30 am ING in Hillah arrested the terrorist Ali Mehsan Ghnajar. In his possession were 19 grenades, three 28mm mortars.

4. At 4 am, based on a tip that he had returned from Syria, the criminal Ali Latief was arrested by the ING. Four men who are part of his cell were also arrested.

5. At 4 am 10 terrorists were arrested after returning from Mosul by the ING Mahmudiah division.

6. At 4 am ING raided the Hai Alaskari area based on a tip. As a result of the raid the ING arrested 10 terrorists one of which resisted and was wounded and arrested.

7. At 4 am terrorists attacked the Hadbaa police station and were repelled with 2 terrorists killed and their weapons confiscated.

8. At 5 am ING started a security clean sweep of Bab Shams. They confiscated a large number of hand grenades and mortar weapons and rounds.

There's a bit of good news at the end of the Globe report -- that Shia leaders are publicly reaching out to Sunnis and urging restraint and tolerance -- but news that progress against the 'insurgents' is being made by the Iraqi forces is never mentioned. It doesn't fit the narrative. Instead, an opinion piece elsewhere in the paper makes this claim:
It makes perfect sense to build up the Iraqi police and other security forces to repress crime, but these groups have conspicuously failed to be of any help in dealing with the Sunni insurgents who keep attacking U.S. forces, or with the Mahdi militiamen of the Shia rabble rouser Muqtada al-Sadr. At best, the police remain neutral when any Iraqis attack foreign troops. At worst, they join in the attacks, or give their uniforms and vehicles to the attackers, sometimes allowing them to surprise coalition troops with deadly results. Iraqi police have even failed to pursue with any real energy the insurgents who have targeted the Iraqi police themselves. Such behaviour is inevitable because Iraqi policemen and their families live among the population at large, at the mercy of the very insurgents and militiamen they are supposed to control.
Calling those who risk their lives to wear their new nation's uniform cowards and traitors is pretty vile, but that's what passes as sophisticated commentary in these crazy times. Arthur Chrenkoff has this summary of the works of the 'neutral' Iraqi Forces:
In recent security successes: "Iraqi Security Forces defeated two separate attacks in Mosul by anti-Iraqi insurgents as they attempted to ambush an Iraqi National Guard patrol and seize a police station in northern Iraq"; the capture of remote-controlled rockets smuggled in from outside Iraq for use against election infrastructure; the capture of two senior al Qaeda operatives active in Iraq; seizure of another significant arms cache near Ar Rutbath; and the defeat by Iraqi security forces of an attack on a police station in Mosul ("This is the sixth time since Nov. 10 where insurgents have tried but failed to overrun police stations"). In addition, 353 foreign terrorists are currently in custody in Iraq. This total includes "61 Egyptians, 59 Saudis, 56 Syrians, 40 Jordanians, 35 Sudanese, 22 Iranians, 10 Tunisians, 10 Yemenis, eight Palestinians and five Lebanese, among others."
I don't believe that everything is peaches and cream in Iraq, but the notion rooted firmly in the public's conciousness that the situation is hopeless is certainly not correct either. Though the terrorists began the post-war period with many advantages -- hidden weapon stores, money, support networks and a command structure -- these are being systematically dismantled and destroyed. Each attack they make weakens them, and each day those they oppose grow stronger. They can't win, yet the press continues to root for them. They trumpet their successful atrocities, and bury or ignore their many failures. Someday, when Iraq is a thriving, free nation, I hope they have the awareness to feel ashamed of themselves for what they did.

December 25, 2004

Enemies with guns and enemies with cameras

Roger L. Simon blasts the attempt by the AP "Director of Media Relations" to justify their publicity activity for terrorists in Iraq. AP has essentially admitted that they were tipped off that something was going to happen in the shooting I mentioned a few days ago, but they felt no regret in acting as a tool of terror because the 'insurgents want their stories told as much as other people'.

What Stokes sees to be saying in his gnomic fashion is that because the "Insurgents" seek to have their stories told, the Associated Press is obligated to do so. It sounds as if the "Insurgents" were calling a press conference to express their campaign positions. But they weren't. What they were doing was brutally murdering innocent people in the street and they wanted the press there to record the event. The Associated Press, like good poodles of fascism, came along for that most necessary of tasks for terrorists in assymetrical war--publicity.

Stokes has the temerity to describe this as the "Insurgents" being "willing to let Iraqi photographers take their pictures." But we all know this is shameful lie because the AP itself has acknowledged the "Insurgents" called the AP photographer to invite him to a "demonstration." Of course these photographers "do not have to" swear allegiance to the "Insurgents" (Stokes' words here. He should do a better job.) He also assures us they are not "embedded" with the fascists. I agree with Hindrocket on that one. In the Post-Rather world, I reserve judgment. It is now incumbent on the media to prove their honesty. We can no longer take them at their word--and all we have now is the "word" of a "director of media relations." (How insulting, when you think about it? Where are the editors in charge of Iraq?)

Unless and until, the AP makes a full disclosure of their methods in this case, including the identities of their photographers, I will continue to regard their behavior as, in Orwell's words, "objectively pro-fascist."

Leni Riefenstahl was roundly (and rightly) condemned for glorifying the Third Reich. Her work sent their carefully crafted message all over the world. How is what this news service is doing any different?

Powerline and Belmont Club have more on this story.

December 21, 2004

The depth of the media-terrorist feedback loop

Wretchard at Belmont club asks some questions about how a AP photographer just happened to be in place to capture photos of some Iraqi elections officials being murdered in the street by terrorists.

Even with today's proliferation of compact photographic equipment, a legitimate photojournalist rarely gets the opportunity to capture an execution. Apart from the beheadings which are purposely recorded on video by the jihadis and from gun camera film, most footage of people actually being shot are taken by photographers in company with combatants who are ready to film an ambush. Those individuals are combat cameramen for their armies or embedded reporters.
It would not surprise me in the least if this reporter was tipped off beforehand. The terrorists want to magnify the effects of their carnage, and the media wants a nice bloody story. The only losers in the exchange are the poor men at the wrong end of the gun.

The war in Iraq is a media war. The enemy can't face the US Marines in a straight fight, and can't crack their morale. But they can crack the morale of the American people, and that seems to be their strategy. The modern news media is their weapon, and they're using it with great skill. Or is it using them? It's pretty hard to tell sometimes.

December 13, 2004

The abridged Oil-for-Food

Mortimer B. Zuckerman of US News and World Report summarizes the history so far of the UN Oil-for-Food scandal, one of the largest financial scams in history. As you might expect, Kofi Annan comes out of it not smelling very sweet:

In May 2002, the U.N. Security Council passed a new resolution "cutting itself out of the loop on oil-for-food contracts deemed humanitarian," as Rosett put it, transferring responsibility for such contracts to Secretary General Annan and his staff. What happened? Kofi Annan promptly approved items that had nothing to do with food and medicine but a whole lot to do with propping up Saddam. There was the $20 million Annan approved to pay for an Olympic sports city, and an additional $50 million to support Saddam's propaganda-mad Ministry of Information. At no time did Annan reveal the commercial interests of key parties in continuing the oil-for-food program, nor was mention made of the fact that France and Russia were reaping fat profits on the Iraqi oil sales.
The real meat of this scandal hasn't been dug into yet. Sure, the cooperation of a humanitarian organization with a brutal dictatorship to line each others pockets is pretty awful. But how this collaboration was used to bribe influencial people in democratic governments and influence policy is the real story.

The positive view

Iraqi bloggers Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model met up with Roger L. Simon yesterday. They've been travelling across America and have met some of the bloggers that have shared their message of hope for the future of Iraq. (They also met President Bush.) Roger has some thoughts on the absurdity of why their view of the Iraqi situation is not being heard:

When you meet them it's hard to understand why some of us could be rooting against them, but the not-so-sub subtext of many of the war's opponents is just that. You see, they keep saying, look how bad it is-it's our fault. I wish they could talk to Mohammed and Omar. I think even the Michael Moores of the world would have trouble saying it to them face-to-face. These men are the hope of democracy.
Unfortunately, the view of Iraq we're given by the media is of youths firing RPGs and hooded men decapitating prisoners. And I can't count how many times I've seen a tight angle news shot of a clot of angry men shouting about whatever it is the reporter is covering today.

Instapundit relayed an interesting anecdote the other day from a teacher in Syria (who opposes the war in Iraq) being surprised by his students' overwhelming support of Bush:

"But doesn't he scare you?" I asked finally, unable to contain my personal feelings and throwing the lesson plan out the window. "Because of Bush's ideas many people in my country think that all of you are terrorists."
The support for Bush is interesting, but note the teacher's belief that Bush is unfairly smearing the whole of the Middle East with the 'terrorist' brush. I've heard similar things from other people opposed to the war in Iraq, and -- I'm sorry -- it just doesn't hold water. As I've mentioned before, the people that are determined to create the image of bloodthirsty Jihadis as the prevailing view of the Middle East are the international media and the opponents of the war. The good that is happening in Iraq is ignored or attached to selfish motives, and the bad is magnified a hundred times by the camera's lens. Bush's message -- and Omar and Mohammed's message -- is that Arabs can built a stable democracy and a healthy society. That's a positive message, and it needs to be heard.

November 17, 2004

Mucking out the UN

Claudia Rosett has another piece out at the WSJ on the investigation into the Oil for Food scandal. She points the finger at Kofi Annan:

Once Mr. Annan became secretary-general, he lost little time in getting deeply involved with Oil for Food. In October 1997, just 10 months into the job, he transformed what had begun as an ad hoc, temporary relief measure into the Office of the Iraq Program, an entrenched U.N. department, which reported to him directly--and was eliminated only after the U.S.-led coalition, against Mr. Annan's wishes, deposed Saddam. To run Oil for Food, Mr. Annan picked Benon Sevan (now alleged to have received oil money from Saddam, which he denies) and kept him there until the program ended about six years later.

Mr. Annan's reorganization of Oil for Food meant a nontrivial change in the trajectory of the program. All the signs are that Saddam immediately took the cue that he could now start gaming the program with impunity--and Mr. Annan did not prove him wrong. Within the month, Saddam had created the first crisis over the U.N. weapons inspectors, who were supposed to be part of the sanctions and Oil for Food package. Mr. Annan's response was not to throttle back on Oil for Food but to go before the Security Council a few months later and urge that Baghdad be allowed to import oil equipment along with the food and medicine to which the program had been initially limited. This set the stage for the ensuing burst in Saddam's oil production, kickbacks, surcharges and smuggling.

Mr. Annan then flew to Baghdad for a private powwow with Saddam and returned to declare that this was a man he could do business with. The weapons inspectors returned to Iraq for a short spell, but by the end of 1998, Saddam had evicted them for the next four years. Mr. Annan, however, went right on doing business. And big business it was, however humanitarian in name. Under the Oil for Food deal, Mr. Annan's Secretariat pulled in a 2.2% commission on Saddam's oil sales, totaling a whopping $1.4 billion over the life of the program, to cover the costs of supervising Saddam. Yet somehow the Secretariat never found the funding to fully meter oil shipments, ensure full inspections of all goods entering Iraq, or catch the pricing scams that by the new estimates of Senate investigators let Saddam rake in $4.4 billion in kickbacks on relief contracts.

Mr. Annan and his aides would also have us believe that Oil for Food had nothing to do with Saddam's smuggling of oil--which generated the lion's share of his illicit income. But it was only after Oil for Food geared up that Saddam's oil smuggling really took off, totaling $13.6 billion during his entire 12 years between wars, but with more than two-thirds of that--an estimated $9.7 billion--earned during the era of Oil for Food. Those were precisely the years in which Mr. Annan repeatedly went to bat to enable Saddam, under Oil for Food, to import the equipment to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, whence came all that smuggled oil.

As long as Annan holds onto his job, he's well placed to block investigations into the collusion between the UN and Saddam. Checks and balances are not built into the UN system very well. But then he's only got two years left in his final term. As a 'lame duck', some of his subordinates might start looking to distance themselves from his sleaze. I only hope Paul Volcker, who I respect very much, will use this to get to the bottom of the corruption and not just try to cover it up. That's the only way to save the UN -- and yes, I still think there's something there worth saving.

October 28, 2004

What's up in Iraq

Kerry wants America to think it's losing in Iraq. The press is helping, and so are the terrorists, who are attempting to ramp up the violence in hopes of preventing Bush's re-election. Ralph Peters has a good summary of what's really going on:

The terrorist stronghold of Fallujah is increasingly isolated. Night after night, precision weapons and raids by special-operations forces kill international terrorist leaders. Terrified, the local troublemakers are trying to play the negotiations card. They know the U.S. Marines are coming back. And this time the Leathernecks won't be stopped short. Allah's butchers are praying that they can bring down our president before terror's citadel falls.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi people have been revolted by the terrorists' barbarities. They may not want U.S. troops in their streets forever, but they do not want to be ruled by fanatical murderers. Kidnapping aid workers and lopping off heads on videotape horrifies decent Muslims. The slaughter of 50 unarmed Iraqi recruits did not win hearts and minds.

Every day, Iraqis are more engaged in defending their own country. Elections are still on track. The suicide bombings continue, but they haven't deterred Iraq's new government. Nor have they been able to stop the Coalition and Iraq's expanding forces from cleaning out one terrorist rat's nest after another.

Muqtada al-Sadr is quiet as a mouse. Najaf is being rebuilt. Two-thirds of Iraq's provinces are quiet. We never see any headlines about our Kurdish allies in northern Iraq because they're building a successful modern society in the Middle East. Good-news stories aren't welcome in our undeniably pro-Democratic media.

Read the whole thing.

October 01, 2004

Allawi and the media-terrorist feedback loop

Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi understands how terrorists work and points out how the media help them:

Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister, demanded yesterday that Kenneth Bigley's kidnappers be starved of publicity.

He said the intense exposure given to the plight of the Liverpool engineer was only encouraging the taking of more hostages.

"Terrorists feed on the media," he said. "If you cut off this oxygen, they will die very quickly."

I don't know about "very quickly", but it sure couldn't hurt. I don't think the media should be censored, but they could exhibit some self-restraint.
"Let us not forget that this terrorism depends entirely on publicity. We therefore need to think long and hard about how this kidnapping has been covered by the media . . .

"Can we justify showing videos of hostages or groups of armed and hooded men? Is this not exactly the publicity the terrorists seek? Should we play their game?"

Unfortunately, I think he's wasting his breath.

(via NealeNews)

September 04, 2004

No more excuses for terrorism

Oh wait. Maybe there are. Flea has found one of those clever people from the Guardian who is able to adopt a scholarly tone and coldly rationalize the horror of the school seige in Russia:

Beslan is an extreme example of what is rightly seen as a depraved military tactic. But the equally unpalatable truth is that hostage taking is also a rational tactic in the desperate context of asymmetrical warfare. Despite the likelihood of a bloody end to most hostage situations, they are likely to grow more, rather than less, frequent.
And then, after attributing the gift of sweet reason to those that could kill hundreds of children, she accuses those that would fight terror, the US and Israel, of being foolish:
To promise that security in such conflicts will result from the deployment of large military machines is a sham. To fight asymmetrical war with tanks makes as much sense as trying to shoot mosquitoes with a machine gun. The result is counter-productive.
Unfortunately, much of the civilized Western World holds similar views. CNN today had some truly heart-wrenching coverage of the aftermath in Beslan; but in the voice-over the reporter was talking about the "cause" that these "militants" died for -- as if there was a logical explanation for this kind of depraved behavior. And the more depraved the act, the more likely they believe there must be an important motivation -- because the "militants" are obviously so "desperate".

Let me advance another theory: the act is more important than the motivation. There is a sickness coursing through the Muslim -- and especially the Arabic -- parts of the world. Not everyone has succumbed to it, in fact it's a minority of the population, but a subculture has grown in these areas that is obsessed with violence and jihad.

It's mostly the young people, but there's a few older facilitators and the conspiracy theories of elders acting as catalysts. Young people -- especially young males -- are naturally rebelious, but in the Arab world there are few outlets for this energy. Arab states are all oppressive tyrannies that tolerate no dissent and offer nothing to those without connections. A stifling culture prevents any kind of casual mixing of the sexes, and prohibition of alcohol prevents the common youthful catharsis of binge-drinking. Mix this with a sense of hopelessness about the future inspired by high unemployment and the difficulty in finding a wife due to the practice of polygamy in some countries, and you've got a potent destructive force looking for an outlet.

This rage cannot be directed against the religious establishment or the government, because both are very watchful for opposition and would crush any dissent mercilessly. So instead, other targets have been agreed on: Israel and the United States. The infidels and crusaders. The Western World.

The fadish nature of the growing list of atrocities since 9/11 suggest that the principle 'root cause' of terrorism is nothing but misdirected adolescent energy. Daniel Pearle was beheaded on video and it created quite a stir. Then there was Nick Berg, and now for every would-be 'defender of the faith', beheading an infidel in cold blood is a cherished dream. Today we have numerous psychos dressing up in black costumes to videotape themselves slaughtering whichever unfortunate non-muslims they managed to kidnap. So what if they're Nepalese? They make up a rationalization to molify the tiny grain of decency they still have and justify themselves to the outside world. But in reality they just want to kill. Does anyone really believe that terrorists in Iraq really care whether France allows the hajib in schools? These guys just happened to nab Frenchmen, and the rationale came after.

That's why I support the liberation of Iraq and the 'march of liberty', as George W. Bush described it. Remove or change the constricting regimes that breed this kind of mindset and the problem will start to go away. To do that there must be firm resolve in pushing these countries towards change, as well as a denial of the self-righteous justifications and excuses for terrorism. Hopefully we'll have four more years of the Bush administration to handle the first part of the task -- but I think it will take a truly terrible strike to convince the many clever people in the media of the need for the second.

No one said it was going to be easy.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn has a few good points to add on this topic.

August 22, 2004

What is news... and what isn't

No Pasarn! displays some of the photos that will be shown at the French Photojournalism Festival. He also displays some that will not be displayed...

(Note for easier surfing: if you are reading this relatively soon after it was posted, the best way to view these photos is to go directly to their homepage and scroll down.)

June 22, 2004

A bloody Moore-der

Christopher Hitchens absolutely shreds Michael Moore and his ludicrous new movie in this must read column. He takes an axe to Moore's facts, eviscerates his character, and bludgeons his artistic ability. The money quote:

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
And it just keeps getting better...

June 07, 2004

France's misplaced fears

Andrew Coyne relates an interesting historical footnote that sheds a bit of light on current paranoias.

May 30, 2004

The Marines as diplomats

There's a great comment on a post over at Tim Blair's that I have to put up in it's entirety. The topic is about those that supported the war in Iraq who are now doubting it for one reason or another. He has an interesting interpretation of what the Americans are doing that I haven't read elsewhere.

I'm not only still a hawk, in your terms, I'm one of the few who is gratified by the way the war is going, and the only thing I don't like is that people are abandoning Bush for doing it right.

The function of this battle -- and it's a battle, perhaps a campaign, not a war -- is not to provide the Marines and the Airborne with more battle ribbons, nor is it to make American troops look ferocious, nor is it to make America look good. The function of the battle in Iraq is to produce an Iraq that's a real, working country with a polity and an economy, instead of a rump-end of the Ottoman Empire arbitrarily whacked off by British surveyors and diplomats.

The Iraqis have to do that themselves. Not because we don't want to, but because we can't -- it's as close to a physical impossibility as sociology ever can be.

If we give the Iraqis the "security" they want and need, we're stuck. We become, in fact, the New Ba'ath, more indulgent and with nicer policies but still the ones who are running things, and having to keep it up forever. Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day -- and comes back tomorrow for another one.

Details differ, but if you look at Iraq the way I (and Wretchard the Cat) do, the policy is consistent: bash the uprisings and simultaneously recruit, form, and train Iraqi forces until the uprisings are little enough for the Iraqis to smash. Fallujah is an American triumph. So is Najaf -- not because American forces defeated the "insurgents" but because they did not: the Iraqis did. And the most important part of it is that there are Iraqis looking at one another with amazed expressions and saying, "By Allah the wise and merciful, we can do this!" The second most important thing is that the resulting solution, however tenuous, is an Iraqi solution in terms of Iraqi society, instead of being imposed by an outside force on its terms without any really deep understanding of the society it's nailed on top of. We don't want to be the ones who defeat the "insurgents." What we want to do is hold the Iraqis' coats while they defeat the insurgents.

Bush is OK, and he can handle his enemies, but God (Allah to Zeus, take your pick) help him get past his supposed supporters, especially the ones who think it would have been cool for the Marines or the 82nd Airborne to go through Fallujah like a Taco Supreme through Michael Moore, and that the Army should have flattened every mosque in Najaf and massacred the survivors -- and bitch that the Administration is being "soft on the Islamics" because that didn't happen.

Get a f*ing clue. The Marines say, "every Marine a rifleman." All that's happening is that they're adding a qualification: "...and diplomat," and by available evidence they're better at it than anybody in the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne concession down Foggy Bottom. Just because it doesn't mean they get to stack dead enemies like cordwood and post the photos on the net doesn't mean they didn't win. And abandoning Bush because his tactics don't always result in mondo explosions and blood running in the streets is f*ing contemptible. Among other things it says the Leftists are right about you. Bunch of murderous imperialists who get all huffy when Feerless Leeder isn't murderous or imperialist enough for you.

Regards,
Ric Locke

There's lots of other insightful comments (as well as a few dumbass ones) on the thread as well.

May 27, 2004

The other danger of biased media coverage

I don't think there's any doubt that the media is obsessed with Abu Ghraib. While the abuse was a terrible thing, the coverage of these childishly cruel stunts has been greater than anything since the first moon landing. And not being content to just lead the news with any minor update to the story, the media is even inserting Abu Ghraib into stories that have nothing to do with it. Best of the Web is running a series on these strange sightings, calling it the "press corps' porn addiction".

And the rest of the news from Iraq is similarly negative. The spin put on every story -- even stories that should be considered good news, like the negotiated end to fighting in Najaf -- is that Iraq is drifting out of control, that the Americans have whacked a hornets' nest with a stick and will suffer the consequences.

A number of commentators (such as Mort Kondracke) have worried that this constant drumbeat of despair will sap the will of the coalition, lead to a withdrawal, and leave Iraq to be ripped apart by goons like Sadr. It's a real danger.

The rationale for this negative slant to coverage is depressingly obvious. In war, the only story a modern reporter is familiar with is Vietnam. So they all follow the script as if the ending is already determined. Throw into the mix a President that rubs the press the wrong way and you have the recipe for the amplification of the bad news, and the ignoring of the good. (And yes, there is good news.)

But there's another danger of this biased news coverage that I haven't heard much talk about, possibly because it's more likely to change the attitudes of the supporters of the war, rather than just support the conclusions of the detractors. If the media doesn't start showing a more friendly face of the Muslim world, there's a danger we'll lose any empathy we have with them and will be more likely to regard them simply as the enemy.

Listen to the words of this Iraqi man chosen for a quote by Reuters:

Bush is a scorpion. He is a liar. He is sneaky, making all kinds of promises when he just wants to control Iraq.
And here's the view of the Iraqi people on today's ceasefire, as reported by the Telegraph:
Mohammed Al-Sadri, 23, a former construction worker who has fought for a month against the Americans, said: "I would prefer to keep fighting. The occupiers are still in Iraq. My friends have been martyred and the cause is not yet won. But I will follow Sadr's orders."

Arshed, also 23, a political science student and militiaman, said: "We want victory or martyrdom and we will fight if ordered. They have tanks and helicopters, but we have our faith." On the road to Kufa, the mood was still tense. Iraqi policemen pointed out a sandbagged American sniper position. "They tried to shoot a child yesterday," one said.

I'm sure any reader of news from the Middle East is familiar with this image of the "Arab Street". Angry, seething, unapproachable, and alien. That's the only view we get of the Muslim world, and it washes over us, day after day.

But it's a false one. Most of the people in the Middle East want the same things everyone wants: peace, security, opportunity, and a comfortable life for them and their family. Ali at Iraq the Model explains:

Despite some alleged "Fatwas" and few speeches about red lines, most of the political AND religious leaders were calling for withdrawal of *all* armed forces and militias from the holy cities. No one called for jihad, and no one blamed the Americans, except for Sadr followers. There were almost no anti-American demonstrations regarding this issue, at least not any significant ones.

If one is to believe the media and the Arab leaders and Muslim clerics, the only conclusions that can be drawn from such a situation, is that there are no Iraqis in Iraq. The only Iraqis who seem to exist and care about the Iraqi people live outside Iraq! I can name in this respect, in addition to the above; the western media, the French, German and Russian governments and the pacifists. Otherwise why arent the Iraqis going out to the streets in hundreds of thousands to protest against their "oppressors"!?

I guess there are only few answers to this question. Its either that the majority of Iraqis dont feel theres such huge violation that needs to be protested against, or that they are more interested in their daily lives; their jobs and the future of their children than whining about buildings that as holy as they are to them, can not match their care about their jobs and childrens future.

The constant images of people howling for blood makes this hard to remember. But it is so important to remember.

The ironic thing is that the reporters in Iraq that feed this bile into our collective consciousness feel they are on the side of the Iraqi people. They view these few fanatics as legitimate voices of dissent from an oppressed people. Their more sensible audience knows this is not true -- but will they be sensible enough to maintain their empathy for ordinary Iraqis? I hope so.

May 24, 2004

Reuters again

Check out this paragraph from a Reuters dispatch:

Bush, who initially shunned the United Nations, is now relying heavily on the world body to set up the caretaker government, and expects U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to name the country's interim leaders within the month.
I seem to remember Bush speaking at the UN in September 2002, telling them:
The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us, by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.

(...)

My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

And so began months of effort to try to raise the UN out of its apathetic inertia. The US hasn't shunned the UN, The UN has shunned the US.

This is one the many tiny inaccuracies that are scattered through much of Reuters coverage. Just a little jab at the US, nothing important, but the cumulative effect of all these little jabs has a large effect on the casual and unquestioning news reader.

May 19, 2004

Moore of the same

The vast right-wing conspiracy has sprung into action to counter the startling 'revelations' that everyman Mike Moore has unearthed. Actually, they've just sort of sauntered into action -- there's no big challenge in debunking this stuff. Tim Blair has a list of some of the opening salvos and adds some shots of his own. Best Line:

Little surprise that most of Mikes causes end up destroyed. Hand him a cute little pet cause and hell hug it and pat it and squeeze it and hug it and ... oops. Dead.
But he missed this piece from the Wall Street Journal that describes some of the subtle techniques the great artist uses to make his points:
He uses the manipulations he so successfully employed in earlier movies. In one such scene, the voice of President Bush announces the beginning of the Iraq war as footage supposedly shows prewar Baghdad sometime in March. The viewer sees a happy couple at a wedding, children at a playground and other urban bliss. Ah, life must have been idyllic under the butcher of Baghdad. Just when the president announces the bombardment of "selective targets," a little girl is going down a slide. In case the audience didn't get it, Mr. Moore shows gruesome pictures of injured and dead Iraqis. Elsewhere he shows the charred bodies of U.S. soldiers being further mutilated by an angry mob. Yes, war is terrible, these pictures tell us, but they add nothing to the dispute over whether this war was justified.
What I don't get is how the artistic types that attended the Cannes screening of this propaganda could give Moore a twenty minute ovation. I mean, I don't like Paul Martin or John Kerry. But could I even watch a two-hour-long character assassination of them, much less applaud it when it was done? No. I'm pretty sure of it. Even if it was of as loathsome a character as Jacques Chirac, I would probably feel some sympathy for the bastard and be angry at the film maker for trying to manipulate me with a one-sided story. Such jubilation for such hatred -- I just really don't understand.

UPDATE: Could I watch a two hour movie trashing Michael Moore? Well, maybe. But Michael Moore Hates America is not just about Mikey:

Contrary to its title, Michael Moore Hates America isnt a hatchet job on the filmmaker. Its a journey across the nation where we meet celebrities, scholars and average folks alike, all of whom are living the American Dream and proving that America is a great place to be! In the process, well look at Michael Moores claims about the country, its people, and our way of life.
Could be interesting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Apparently Mike Moore has decided to bravely stand against the forces opposing him (What forces? You haven't seen any forces, have you? Me neither...) and said he will release his tremendously important movie even if it requires an act of civil disobediance. I think he's a little confused, because there's been no legal barrier made to his movie being shown, a company just decided they didn't want to distribute it -- over a year ago. But Mikey, like Svend, loves being a martyr so now he's acting all Martin Luther King, Jr. Okay, whatever. But some internet pranksters thought maybe he has a point and have decided to help him get his movie seen. They've suggested he release his movie for free on the internet and are asking him to respond. Mike? Are you there? Mike?

There's a petition you can sign to help persuade him.

Hypocrite

My spelling is terrible. To improve it, rather than using a spell-checker when I'm not sure about a word, I look it up in the dictionary. Under 'hypocrite', I was not surprised to find a picture of George Soros looking all serious and internationalist. Soros, who has always been a huge backer of meddling in the affairs of various messed-up nations (including the non-sactioned-by-the-UN bombing campaign of Serbia), gives this explanation for his fanatical opposition to the project in Iraq:

When the weapons of mass destruction could not be found, President Bush fell back on the justification of liberating Iraq from a heinous dictator and introducing democracy. That is indeed a noble cause, which could have justified the invasion if the president had made a case for it. But that was not the case that President Bush had presented to Congress, and presumably, Congress would not have endorsed it.
In other words, motives count more than deeds. Way to care about the suffering people of Iraq, George.

There's more hypocrisy in the link above, in which Matt Welch reviews three books by some of the big internationist players of the 90s'. Welch tries to figure out why they are so down on Iraq, when they were so quick to use or excuse force for their own goals. The only reason he can see is -- Bush, and his perceived refusal to grovel to the entrenched internationalist 'club'. Hypocrites all.

May 14, 2004

One last swipe at the media

Okay, I'm not going to turn this blog into a cranky condemnation of the news industry, but this story is just too typical of the problem. Reuters story on today's developments in Najaf is so blatantly biased. Take a look, it begins:

U.S. forces intensified their war against Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Friday, sending tanks into Najaf's vast cemetery to blast guerrilla positions among its ancient tombs for the first time.

Explosions and gunfire rocked the city for hours and there was fighting around the main police station, less than a mile from some of the holiest Shi'ite shrines.

Note the term, "their war", implying that the US started it. Note that the description leads the reader to believe that a reckless, savage assault is underway with little regard to the surroundings: "sending tanks" to "blast" "ancient tombs".
At least seven U.S. tanks thrust deep into the cemetery, a city within a city covering several square kilometers (miles) where Shi'ites from all over the world wish to be buried within sight of Najaf's sacred shrines.
Those Americans! Insulting Shi'ites from all over the world! Let's hear what they have to say:
U.S. commanders say they will try not to encroach on holy sites, including the Imam Ali shrine where Sadr has taken sanctuary.

"We describe the holy city as the shrine and the cemetery and today we took some mortar fire from the cemetery and we acted against the mortar fire, very precisely, in and out," Major General Martin Dempsey, commander of U.S. forces in the area, told CNN.

He did not explain why tanks were sent into the cemetery on Friday when mortar attacks from it occur daily.

I guess Reuters thinks there's nothing wrong with a mortar attack every day. If it's against Americans.

The story is about the fighting in Najaf, but they cleverly manage to work in the Abu Ghraib story:

U.S. helicopters dropped leaflets urging militiamen to give up a day after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a flying visit to Iraq as Washington tried to contain the prisoner abuse scandal.

Rumsfeld said the scandal would not wreck America's mission when he made a surprise visit to Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison where U.S. troops abused and sexually humiliated Iraqis.

The affair has shredded U.S. credibility among Iraqis. Some now question whether U.S. rule is much better than that of Saddam Hussein, who had thousands tortured at Abu Ghraib.

US credibility is now "shredded" says Al-Reuters, and this 'some' fellow -- who seems to show up when the reporter (who would not think of editorializing) wants to editorialize -- says the US is perhaps not better than Saddam's regime. It's in the news, it must be so!

And just in case you might still not be ready to head down to the nearest US government office to burn their flag, this 'news' article closes with this bit of propaganda, which has been known for a couple of days:

The father of beheaded American civilian Nick Berg added to the pressure on Bush after an Islamist Web site said al Qaeda militants in Iraq executed his son in revenge for the abuses.

"My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. This administration did this," Michael Berg said.

Don't blame the cowardly monsters who killed an idealistic young man in cold blood, blame Bush.

This is just such a horrible, twisted report. And I didn't find out about it at some like-minded blog, I just came upon it on the Google news site when I was looking for something else. This is the everyday story that's being told. And it frightens and sickens me.

A message to the CBC from an Iraqi

I think the best source for good news about Iraq can be found on the many Iraqi blogs. I spent a bit of time poking around them last night and got a completely different view of what's happening than what you'd learn immersed in the CBC universe. Ali from Iraq the Model has a message for the CBC and the rest of the cup-half-empty crew:

Please, all those who care about the poor Iraqis and want to save them from the brutality of the American invaders and who want to prevent the Americans from stealing our fortune; meaning Bin laden, Zagrawi and their followers, Arab and Muslim tyrants, our good friend monsieur Dominique de Villepin, all the pacifists of the world, the major media, and in short, all those who hate America and obviously love Iraq: Get your s**t together and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT or else one or two years from now Iraq will bea prosperous country, and then we will never forgive you for letting us down when we needed you!
A call to action! You can count on the CBC, Ali...

May 13, 2004

Perspective

Mark Steyn:

"Just look at the way US army reservist Lynndie England holds the leash of the naked, bearded Iraqi," writes Robert Fisk, famed Middle East correspondent of the London Independent.

"Take a close look at the leather strap, the pain on the prisoner's face. No sadistic movie could outdo the damage of this image. In September 2001, the planes smashed into the buildings; today, Lynndie smashes to pieces our entire morality with just one tug on the leash."

Hmm. Sounds like Fiskie's the one straining at the leash here. You can practically hear him panting. Down, boy.

I did hear him panting. I had the pleasure of listening to CBC radio last night and he was the guest on Dispatches. From what I heard, the CBC was airing non-stop coverage of Abu Ghraib last night. First As It Happens ran a few guests gleefully extrapolating the crimes in Abu Ghraib to be 'most likely' just the tip of the iceberg of what the criminal American military is doing around the world (without, of course, providing any evidence). Then Fisky was introduced to put the icing on the cake. What a vile, nasty creature he is. Hatred of the US just oozes out of everything he says, and the host just egged him on. Conspiracy theories were trotted out, straw men were constructed and efficiently dispatched, and through it all they couldn't conceal their pleasure that they had caught a significant failure by the US.

This is what has giving this story it's momentum. Throughout the past year, there has been the most desperate scramble to make some of the copious amounts of shit they've thrown stick to the project in Iraq. But it hasn't been working too well. But now there's some traction -- time to gun the motor!

Perspective. It's important to remember that these abuses were being investigated before the press got wind of it. This is not the policy of the United States. And it is being treated seriously and the guilty will be punished. I'm shocked and angered by what happened but the world is full of petty men abusing their power.

But what breaks my heart -- and it really does -- is the contempt in the voices that claim to bring the world to us. The lack of balance and objectivity is blatant. There is an idealistic project underway to create a truly democratic and peaceful land where once there was only fear and oppression. It's a huge and difficult undertaking, there will be many stumbles on the way, and it may even fail in the long run. The difficulties and stumbles must be covered. But it's a positive thing on the whole, and we deserve to have the positive aspects covered as well. "But", I can imagine the executives of our public broadcaster saying, "you don't expect us to broadcast American propaganda?" No, I expect you to cover the truth.

May 05, 2004

Free Mikey's Movie!

I loathe Michael Moore. This is because of his unique mix of arrogance, deceitfulness and condescension, combined with being flat-out wrong about just about everything. The latest 'movie' he hoped to unleash in the summer -- which was going to reveal the terrible 'truth' about George W. Bush -- has been given a pass by Disney, forcing him to find another distributor.

I'm kinda disappointed with this. I was hoping the movie would come out to great fanfare and then flop with all but the already converted. After all, what truth could it reveal? Moore is incapable of research, relying mainly on internet slander and innuendo for his exposés. I'm sure most of the movie is muck dredged up from the fevered imaginations of the looney left, narrated over evocative images and with ominous music playing in the background. Yawn. I bet even the nominally left-wing press would rip it to shreds.

But now it's been 'censored'. (Of course real censorship would be having the government preventing its release, not a business making a decision on what they choose to promote, but hey, why be realistic when you can be indignant instead?) Obviously the dark forces of the Bush administration forced Disney's hands. It's now a 'dangerous', 'edgy' movie that will somehow manage to see the light of day despite the neo-fascist government that that rules the United States. People might want to go see it. It could even be a hit! Hey, do ya think...

UPDATE: Whaddya know?

April 20, 2004

Synchronicity

Two comic strips have just begun storylines in which a character loses a leg in Iraq. One is the Very Important Doonesbury, where B.D. catches one:

And the other is my current favourite strip, Get Fuzzy.

I used to like Trudeau's strip quite a bit, but he's gotten pretty heavy-handed with his satire in the past few years and I've lost interest. I'll be expecting him to take out the sledgehammer to make sure everyone understands that the liberation of Iraq has been a complete disaster. But hopefully we'll at least see some respect given to those serving in Iraq who believe in what they're doing there.

With Conley's strip I'm not sure which way he'll play it out. Get Fuzzy's been mostly non-political up until now, and maybe it'll remain that way. But I've got that feeling of trepidation you get when your favourite musician/writer/artist is on a talk show and the subject turns to politics. Please don't be an idiot...

March 30, 2004

More on oil, more on food

For some reason, there is a large body of people who think there is no higher standard of selflessness and moral integrity than that held by the upstanding humanitarians that run the UN. Our dopey, deluded PM is one of those people. Apparently, the utopian vision that the UN can solve all of the world's problems by having playboy diplomats from various kleptocratic regimes run up expenses at New York restaurants and occasionally get together to condemn Israel prevents them from seeing how much of a failure the organization really is.

Hopefully the developing Oil for Food Scandal will allow a bit of the light of reason to penetrate their rose-coloured glasses. There have been quite a few developments lately, but I've been too busy marching my topplers around to John Philip Sousa to write about it. Luckily Debbye has been up to the task and has thorough coverage of what's new. Go read it. You'll be shocked.

March 15, 2004

Terrorism works

The big news story during my week off was the bombing in Madrid and its consequences. I don't know why, but I knew right away that it was the work of Islamic terrorists rather than the 'old school' terrorists, with their roots in 70's style revolutionary nonsense. Wrong and loathsome as those movements were (and are), there was still some tiny bit of a moral code that held them back from wholesale slaughter. They went after 'political targets' that fed their romantic and stupid notions that they were going to make a better world. The deaths of bystanders that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time were 'regreted'. Monsters. But the Islamicists are even worse. For them, there is no holding back, there is no regret. Their goal is to kill as many as they can. And that was what happened in Spain.

Now it seems that the terrorists have managed to persuade the population of a democratic country to do what they want. The new Socialist government of Spain is going to follow al-Qaeda's 'suggestion' and pull out of the coalition forces working to stabilize Iraq. Expect more of these friendly 'suggestions' in the coming months and years ahead as they seem to have the desired effect.

It was from Ronald Reagan that I first heard the notion that it was wrong to negotiate with terrorists. At the time I was suffering from the delusion that Reagan was a evil and stupid monster that was going to destroy the planet, so I was quite horrified by this idea. How could you not talk with your enemies? How are you going to address their grievences and resolve your differences if you just stick your fingers in your ears?

The idea makes a lot more sense to me now, and I'm encouraged by the growing movement that understands it too. It's very simple. Terrorists' power comes through fear. If through their brutal activities (or the threat of brutal activities) they force concessions from their victims, then they have succeeded. They have been given some political power, influence on how the world works. Unfortunately, this power will only fuel a thirst for greater power. Worse attrocities will be committed and more demands will be made until there's either a showdown or complete submission.

It's the strategy of Hitler leading up to the Second World War. It's the strategy of organized crime. It's the strategy of the schoolyard bully. It's got a long history and that's because it works. Even Reagan caved in and negotiated with his greatest enemies during the Iran-Contra affair. He came to an accomodation with evil.

"Bring it on", is Bush's famous line with regards to terrorists striking back in Iraq. It's a good line, and suggests we are not afraid of you, we will not bend to your will. The angry responses to that line -- accusing Bush of encouraging the terrorists -- and some of the hysterical commentary and misdirected blame that came out of Spain after the attack show that many people are in deep, deep denial about how the strategy of terror works. Not only is there the belief that appeasing these monsters will placate them and make them go away, but there is also the belief that terrorist attacks are somehow the fault of the victim -- as if terrorism is some new disease caused by using too many antibiotics. If these people cannot even assign blame to their enemy, how can they be roused to fight them?

February 29, 2004

The NY Times opens its eyes

The corruption of the UN-run Iraqi Oil-for-food program has been heavily discussed in the blogworld for some time now, and the NY times has finally taken notice. For some reason, journalists that would be turned into a pack of wild dogs by any whiff of scandal concerning Halliburton have been completely passive about a multi-billion dollar scam carried out by a humanitarian organization. Robert L. Simon is outraged by the depth of the corruption and wants full disclosure:

The UN supervisors of this mega-crime claim not to have known what was going on. Whether they are lying or were unconscionably stupid or stupefyingly lazy (or a combination of the three) we do not know yet, but one thing is clear. For the preservation of the United Nations, the books of all transactions under all United Nations programs henceforward must be openthat is, immediately and entirely open and available to all on the Internet. That cartels of Russian Mafiosi, Syrian fascist thugs, Iraqi ruling gangsters, Swiss bankers and who knows who else were able to profiteer to the tune of billions off money that was supposedly meant for medicine for Iraqi children is beyond disgusting. Anyone who thinks that the overthrow of Saddam was not a good thing for this reason alone ought to examine his or her morals.

UPDATE: Laurent at Polyscopique notes this as well and provides a concise summary.

February 22, 2004

Good news from Iraq.

Opinion Journal has a great piece today on hopes and fears in the democratization of Iraq. Compared with Naomi Klein's relentless pessimism and schadenfreude, it's a breath of fresh air. I thought it was the left was supposed to be idealistic?

February 18, 2004

Me and Naomi get it on.

Canada is rightfully proud of Naomi Klein. This woman, a Canadian, has managed to joined the ranks of international, jet-set idiotarians such Noam Chomski, Tariq Ali and John Pilger. So proud we are of her that when she makes one of her pronouncements it becomes the lead Canadian internet news story. That's how I found her latest piece in todays's Globe and Mail. It's so nice and juicy and full of nonsense that I've decided to give it a good fisking. Now, I have to mention that I'm a virgin fisker -- I've never done this before. I may seem and little clumsy and hesitant but I can only improve with time if you'll give me a chance.

Continue reading "Me and Naomi get it on." »

February 15, 2004

How falsehoods turn into common knowledge.

Tim Blair performs a thorough deconstructing of another columnist's history of the who said what concerning Iraqi WMDs. He finds numerous distortions and outright lies.

Bush: Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials.

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material.

Bush, according to Adams: Iraq has 500 tonnes of chemical weapons, 25,000 litres of anthrax ...

This is great fact-checking, but is nothing compared to his work on the plastic turkey myth.

February 09, 2004

It's starting to fade away

I was optimistic a couple of weeks ago that the corruption of the Iraqi oil-for-food program was starting to come to light. Silly me, since then most of the newspapers haven't touched it. But Opinion Journal has a good piece today that lists some of the background.

On Dec. 5, during a trip to Baghdad, Claude Hankes-Drielsma faxed an urgent letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Mr. Drielsma, the U.K. Chairman of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, had recently been appointed to advise the Iraqi Governing Council. What he saw in Baghdad left him shocked. "As a result of my findings here, combined with earlier information," he wrote, "I most strongly urge the U.N. to consider appointing an independent commission to review and investigate the 'Oil for Food Programme.' Failure to do so might bring into question the U.N.'s credibility and the public's perception of it. . . . My belief is that serious transgressions have taken place and may still be taking place."
Read the article and find out what those transgressions are. Ask yourself why this isn't front page news all over the world.

January 31, 2004

It's getting bigger.

The Iraqi bribery scandal is starting to get some mainstream press.

January 28, 2004

The corruption of Saddam's allies.

Through Tim Blair, I found out about the names (names translated) of those that received bribes from Saddam's regime. These names have been released after an investigation by an Iraqi newspaper of files found in the oil ministry. There's piles of Frenchmen and Russians but only one Canadian on the list. Colby Cosh has tracked him down and has the testimony he made when lobbying parliament to end sanctions against Iraq. Now the question is, was he working alone or was he just the bagman?

Update: Chirac is being fingered (don't think about that phrase too much) -- this could be big.

The Beeb: Guilty.

The Hutton Report on the death of David Kelly has been finally released in the UK. It completely clears the Blair government of the charges made by the BBC and blasts the BBC for making them. If you had only been listening to CBC radio during the coverage of the hearings this will be a complete surprise to you, because they have consistently exaggerated the evidence against Blair and ignored the incredible revelations about how the BBC twisted their stories.

This report should act as a wake-up call to news organizations that carefully select what they report so as to back up their institutional view of the world. It won't of course -- expect the CBC to bury the coverage of this report two thirds of the way into the World at Six and never mention it again.

Update: I managed to hear the one o'clock news and all that was mentioned was that the head of the BBC has resigned because of the inquiry report. It was about ten seconds of the whole news report, right near the end. Before that was a two minute plus piece about a amateur hockey ref getting knocked down and yelled at by a parent in Montreal. (Rink rage! Oh, no!)

Another Update: Okay, so I caught the World at Six. The CBC gave this story the amount of coverage it deserved, and it was pretty fair. Of course they had to add at the end, "but some have suggested..." coupled with a conspiracy theory, but for the CBC it was pretty good.

January 27, 2004

So who was it that lied again?

Earlier this month I mentioned how the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace had blasted the US for misrepresenting the threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The usual people leaped on this and made quite a loud noise about it. But now Daily Pundit has dug up a paper written before the war by the same Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that declares that there almost certainly were WMD in Iraq. Hypocrisy at an NGO? I can't believe it.

So where are the WMD then? It's very likely they're in Syria.

(from Instapundit.)