March 31, 2003

Steven Chapman counts his bin

Steven Chapman counts his bin Ladens:

War in Afghanistan was supposed to yield "1,000 bin Ladens." Now Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak claims the war in Iraq will yield "100 bin Ladens." That's a total of 1,100 bin Ladens - but the fact that Iraq will yield one-tenth the number of bin Ladens that Afghanistan yielded must be a crushing blow to the self-esteem of Ba'athists everywhere. Following the logic of this equation we can conclude that an attack on a further two Middle Eastern countries would yield eleven new bin Ladens, bringing the total to 1,111. It's possible that an attack on a third Middle East country could yield one-tenth of a bin Laden - but I think, all things being equal, that's unlikely.

The attack, I mean.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:53 AM | TrackBack

March 30, 2003

A simple recommendation Whatever your

A simple recommendation

Whatever your position on or feelings about Gulf War II, you owe it to yourself to take the time to read this long, thoughtful, beautiful essay by Bill Whittle.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:52 AM | TrackBack

Hallowed be thy name Julie

Hallowed be thy name

Julie Burchill accuses the NIONists (as Steyn has been calling them) of self-indulgence. It's been done before, but this one is particularly scrappy and perfectly calibrated to irritate every single reader who doesn't immediately say "amen" and try to push it across the table towards his or her disinterested significant other:

Does the most hardened peacenik really believe that Iraqis currently enjoy more liberty and delight than they would if Saddam were brought down? If so, fair enough; if not, then they are marching about one thing - themselves. That's why so many luvvies are involved; this is simply showing off on a grand scale.

I've just heard a snippet of the most disgustingly me-me-me anti-war advert by Susan Sarandon, in which she intones, "Before our kids start coming home from Iraq in body bags, and women and children start dying in Baghdad, I need to know - what did Iraq do to us?" Well, if you mean what did Saddam do to America The Beautiful, not an awful lot - but to millions of his own people, torture and murder for a start. Don't they count?

Surely this is the most self-obsessed anti-war protest ever. NOT IN MY NAME! That's the giveaway. Who gives a stuff about their wet, white, western names? See how they write them so solemnly in a list on the bottom of the letters they send to the papers. And the ones that add their brats' names are the worst - a grotesque spin on Baby On Board, except they think that this gives them extra humanity points not just on the motorway, but in the whole wide weeping, striving, yearning world. We don't know the precious names of the countless numbers Saddam has killed. We're talking about a people - lots of them parents - subjected to an endless vista of death and torture, a country in which freedom can never be won without help from outside.

Contrasting British servicemen and women with the appeasers, it is hard not to laugh. Are these two sides even the same species, let alone the same nationality? On one hand the selflessness and internationalism of the soldiers; on the other the Whites-First isolationism of the protesters. Excuse me, who are the idealists here? And is it a total coincidence that those stars most prominent in the anti-war movement are the most notoriously "difficult"and vain - Streisand, Albarn, Michael, Madonna, Sean Penn? And Robin Cook! Why might anyone believe world peace can be secured by this motley bunch?


Amen. Honey, you really should read this...

I mean, I'd say "Not in My Name" is one of those irredeemably parochial rhetorical constructions, like "family values," "a kinder, gentler nation," or "just say no;" or like the "baby on board" signs Burchill mentions (or even indeed, like "axis of evil"): stirring, uplifting, clever, even beautiful to those already on the team or in agreement; facile, vacuous, irritating beyond measure and deserving only of ridicule to absolutely everyone else. Neither of the groups on either side of this aesthetic divide can fathom why their favorite phrase elicits only giggles and ridicule from those to whom they broadcast it-- what's wrong with these people, that they can't see the beauty I behold? But that's just how it is. Some hear Susan S. say "not in my name," and nod vigorously: "yes, yes, not in brave Susan's name!" Some think "ick, what an idiot." It's a matter of taste rather than substance. That is, it is possible to imagine arguments or events persuading a supporter of military action to decide that this war is a bad idea, or an anti-war type reaching the conclusion that they may have had it wrong about this one. But I simply cannot imagine anyone, whatever the circumstances, whatever they think about whatever issue may be at hand, crossing the NIONist/anti-NIONist line.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:00 AM | TrackBack

March 29, 2003

Weird and/or disturbing recent google

Weird and/or disturbing recent google searches that brought people to this site. Each one implies an intriguing, unarticulated story:

i want to stay up to date on the war in iraq now sine me up today

where can i find disguises for Carlos the Jackal?

filipino internal cream pie

bikini models from winnipeg

contact of sea foods producers in UK

jews in punk rock

diagram of a suitcase nuclear bomb (uh-oh-- ed.)


and my favorite:
how the war effecting those that have illiteracy

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:42 PM | TrackBack

What San Francisco might look

What San Francisco might look like if the lunatics were really running the asylum:

It's too bad the cops felt they had to arrest 2,400 people and clear the streets-- better the city saved all the money that's going to police overtime, and just let people protest. No traffic was getting downtown anyway. Most of the actions were peaceful. Why weren't the mayor and all the supervisors and all the rest of the people who run this town joining the activists in the streets, saying to the rest of the world that in San Francisco, we're not going to act as if Bush's war is acceptable behavior?

So, can we count on your support at the SFPD's Second Annual Mostly Peaceful Vomit-In at the Olympic Club, featuring keynote vomiter Willie Brown? No-host bar, all proceeds to be used to supplement janitorial staff.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:26 PM | TrackBack

Achieving Parody Yet more clever

Achieving Parody

Yet more clever silliness from Mark Steyn, on the media quagmire:

After little more than a week, is this war coverage in trouble? Already questions are being raised about whether the media's plan was fatally flawed. Several analysts are surprised that, despite overwhelming dominance of the air, television and radio divisions have so quickly repeated the mistakes of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the ground, rapidly advancing columns become stalled in Vietnam-style quagmires around the second paragraph...

Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery (Retd) agrees that the media are in trouble, but blames it mostly on a confusion of war aims. "The problem is they relied on this two-pronged 'shock and awe' business. On the one hand, you'd have these reporter chappies embedded with your Royal Marines and so forth, 'awed' at how absolutely ripping it is to be in a tank. On the other hand, you'd have your crack columnists in Baghdad, 'shocked' at the scale of Anglo-American carnage, with hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, smart bombs landing on every hospital, nursery schools blown to kingdom come, etc.

"Well, the bally carnage never showed up, so it was a week of awe and no shock. The editors assumed that, by the weekend, they'd have Bush and Blair on the run. Instead, we now stand on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe: even as I speak, George Galloway, John Pilger and thousands of others are being systematically starved of material.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:24 PM | TrackBack

Gephardt Patriots

William Kristol cheers on the Gephardt liberals, vs. the "Dominique de Villepin left":

The Gephardt liberals are patriots. They supported the president in the run-up to this war, and strongly support the war now that it has begun. It would be misleading to call this group the Joe Lieberman liberals, because he was already too much of a hawk to be representative, but the group certainly includes Lieberman. It also includes Hillary Rodham Clinton, probably a majority of Senate Democrats, less than half of the House Democrats, Democratic foreign policy experts at places like the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, and a smaller number of liberal commentators and opinion leaders--most notably the Washington Post editorial page.

The other group includes the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Senate Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi faction of the House Democrats, a large majority of Democratic grass-roots activists, the bulk of liberal columnists, the New York Times editorial page, and Hollywood. These liberals--better, leftists--hate George W. Bush so much they can barely bring themselves to hope America wins the war to which, in their view, the president has illegitimately committed the nation. They hate Don Rumsfeld so much they can't bear to see his military strategy vindicated. They hate John Ashcroft so much they relish the thought of his Justice Department flubbing the war on terrorism. They hate conservatives with a passion that seems to burn brighter than their love of America, and so, like M. de Villepin, they can barely bring themselves to call for an American victory.

It would be bad for America if this wing of American liberalism were to prevail. Parts of the Republican party, and of the conservative movement, fell into a similar trap in the late 1990s, hating Bill Clinton more than Slobodan Milosevic. But this wing of the GOP and conservatism lost in an intra-party and intra-movement struggle, and has now been marginalized--Pat Buchanan is no longer a Republican, and his magazine these days makes common cause with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. The fight over the future of liberalism is not one conservatives can really join. But we can wholeheartedly cheer from the sidelines for the Gephardt liberals against their anti-American leftist rivals, hoping that they succeed in saving the (mostly) good name of liberalism.


This exaggerates the size and strength of anti-American "leftism" within the mainstream Democratic Party. But this description of how personal animosity has been substituted for reason in partisan politics (indeed the equivalent of the Republicans' self-defeating blind rage against Clinton) is accurate, and I believe many Democratic partisans haven't grasped just how alienating this is to their own, less intemperate, rank and file. At this point, I don't think it's enough for Nancy Pelosi or Tom Daschle simply to choose their words carefully, trying to avoid anything that will sound too bad when quoted. Kristol's characterization of the inanity of the "de Villepin wing" may not reflect their own views with complete, or even any, accuracy; nevertheless, he is describing a very real feature of the political landscape. At any rate, it is a characterization that will ring true (and with a tone unappealing) to a great many voters, and most mainstream Democrats are doing next to nothing to repudiate it. Fair or not, if the Democrats allow themselves to be cast as a party of inane unpatriotic haters bearing a personal grudge and ambivalent about American victory (as they seem poised to do) they risk their doom, or at least they risk the very real possibility of helping to create a substantial block of "Bush Democrats," something that, war or no war, seemed barely conceivable just a short time ago.

Despite the famous ineptitude of the Gore campaign, Bush the candidate was a hard sell in the 2000 election, as the divided results indicate. Yet there's little doubt that, had Karl Rove allowed the campaign to dwell too prominently on the still-smoldering over-the-top hatred of Clinton obsessively cultivated by many in the GOP, it would have tipped the scales against him, Florida or no. It's extremely difficult to make a wholly negative case in a likable, electable way. Bitterness doesn't sell. The Democrats have often benefited from Republican blunders in this regard. But the GOP appears to have learned from their mistakes, while many Democrats have not.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:04 AM | TrackBack

March 28, 2003

From William Gibson's blog (via

From William Gibson's blog (via Samizdata) the following heard on Sky News:

"Umm Qasr is a town similar to Southampton", UK Defence Minister Geoff Hoon told the House of Commons yesterday.

"He's either never been to Southampton, or he's never been to Umm Qasr", said one British soldier, informed of this while on patrol in Umm Qasr.

Another added: "There's no beer, no prostitutes, and people are shooting at us. It's more like Portsmouth."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:07 AM | TrackBack

War Monkeys A Moroccan publication

War Monkeys

A Moroccan publication accused the government Monday of providing unusual assistance to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq by offering them 2,000 monkeys trained in detonating land mines.

The weekly al-Usbu' al-Siyassi reported that Morocco offered the U.S. forces a large number of monkeys, some from Morocco's Atlas Mountains and others imported, to use them for detonating land mines planted by the Iraqis.

The publication quoted a highly-informed source as saying, "that is not a scientific illusion but a well-known military tactic."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:01 AM | TrackBack

Here's an interesting rundown of

Here's an interesting rundown of claims and counter-claims about incidents in the war. Predictable result: no one really knows what's going on, and every report should be regarded with skepticism. Many see this as a "bias" issue (that is, it enables people focus on the news items which coincide with their expectations or agenda and ignore contradictory information) and there may be something in that. But all in all, I prefer the current situation (a surfeit of instantaneous reports, relatively unvetted, some of which end up verified, some of which do not) to some imaginary alternative where nothing is reported without iron-clad verification. Sifting through it all is tough and time consuming, and skepticism is well-advised, but the public ends up better-informed rather than worse.

One of the items mentioned in the Guardian piece is the Camp Penn. "fragging" incident, which was first reported as a "traditional" attack by Arab terrorists, but turned out to be the work of a disgruntled American Muslim convert. Would the interests of an informed public have been better served if the correspondent had failed to file the first report, or held back the sketchy details, or if news agencies hadn't picked it up and commentators hadn't speculated upon it? I don't think so. For one thing, the fact that the process is transparent enough to enable media critics to write articles like this is a good in itself. But more importantly, it's an unavoidable and essential part of on-the-ground real-time "embedded" war reporting, which, despite its flaws is a vast improvement on previous models (as to data, at any rate.) I'd guess the fragging incident would never have come out as a major story if there hadn't been a reporter there to report the first sign of it, or if the TV news had been reticent about talking it up. The army would have tried to downplay it, certainly; the subsequent details about the soldier's background would have been less salient and unremarked upon if they hadn't come out as part of the correction of the previous inaccurate details. It's messy, to be sure, and the fear is that inaccurate reports might linger in the public consciousness uncorrected, as they always have done, yet more worrisome owing to their vastly increased volume and speed. Like it or not, though, we're in a situation where the news-gathering and transmission process is itself an inextricable part of the story itself, something we as news consumers are obliged to consider seriously to an unprecedented degree. I say that's good.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:00 AM | TrackBack

Steven Chapman watches Question Time,

Steven Chapman watches Question Time, freaks out, makes a couple of good points, captures the moment for posterity.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:10 AM | TrackBack

You'll inspect our weapons when

You'll inspect our weapons when you pry them out of the cold, dead hands of our terrorized conscripts...

Lord knows, he's preaching to the choir, but Andrew Sullivan "gets it," as he might put it:

One lesson of the ferocity of the Saddamite resistance is surely this: who now could possibly, conceivably believe that this brutal police state would ever, ever have voluntarily disarmed? Would a regime that is forcing conscripts to fight at gun-point have caved to the terrifying figure of Hans Blix, supported by the even more intimidating vision of Dominique de Villepin? I'd say that one clear lesson of the first week is that war was and is the only mechanism that could have effectively disarmed Saddam. If true disarmament was your goal, it seems to me that the inspections regime has been revealed, however well-intentioned, as hopelessly unsuited to staring down a vicious totalitarian system.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:50 AM | TrackBack

Stats on French anti-Semitism

"Violent racist attacks quadrupled in France in 2002 to the highest level in a decade, and more than half of the assaults were aimed at Jews, a national report said Thursday..."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:44 AM | TrackBack

March 27, 2003

Funny stuff: Leaders of the

Funny stuff:

Leaders of the anti-war movement announced Tuesday that as the war progressed in Iraq, the movement was headed into a "dangerous quagmire". Angela Hassle-Moore, leader of a recent protest march stated, "We have lost our focus. What are we really trying to accomplish here? Are we fighting for the U.S. to stop the war after it has already started? Are we trying to get another recount of the 2000 election? Are we just bitching and moaning?" Angela added, "If we don't know what our goals are, how will we know if we've won? How many more of our best and brightest youth must throw away their free afternoons and weekends on this hopeless cause?"

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:17 PM | TrackBack

Who knows? Near Basra, Iraq:

Who knows?

Near Basra, Iraq: British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi soldiers have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra.

At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, according to the Iraqi prisoners of war.


(via Drudge.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:13 PM | TrackBack

Peter Beinart comments, approvingly I

Peter Beinart comments, approvingly I believe, on the kinder, gentler war. He's right about the irony implied in his subtitle-- in the war as in much else, Bush's Clintonian streak is something few of his critics, and hardly any of his fans, seem willing to recognize. And he's right about what has turned out to be the biggest and most welcome surprise for those who have harbored suspicions about the bona fides of administration's decreasingly sporadic humanitarian and pro-democracy rhetoric:

In the north, too, the Bush administration has shown surprising humanitarianism. For weeks now, cynics have assumed the United States would prioritize its strategic alliance with Turkey over its moral commitment to the Kurds and let Ankara send its troops into northern Iraq, thus sparking a humanitarian catastrophe and snuffing out hopes of Kurdish autonomy in a post-Saddam Iraq. But, ever since Ankara's refusal to allow American troops to operate from Turkish soil, the Bush administration has been surprisingly outspoken on the Kurds' behalf. America's refusal to bless Ankara's incursion led Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week to delay by a crucial 24 hours the opening of Turkey's airspace to U.S. warplanes. On Sunday, President Bush said, "We're making it very clear that we expect [Turkey] not to come into northern Iraq." The Bush administration even seems to have implied that large-scale Turkish intervention will threaten U.S. foreign aid. It is too early to tell whether the Bush administration's efforts to prevent Turkey from crushing Kurdish aspirations will succeed, but, so far, the United States has made a much greater effort than most commentators expected.

Certainly more than I expected.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:10 PM | TrackBack

What we're dealing with here

According to this Sky News report, the distribution of food and water in the southern town of Al Zubayr had to be halted because Iraqi forces fired into the crowd:

Reporter Ian Bruce, who is travelling with Scots unit Black Watch, said troops had established a strong but not yet secure foothold in the town - a known Iraqi militia base - and were to begin distributing aid to its people.

The troops were greeted by cheering crowds of several hundred people as they arrived western edge of the town, he said.

But before any food or water could be handed out, snipers opened fire and two mortars shells fell into the crowd.

The civilians scattered to escape a hail of bullets and mortar rounds which followed in quick succession and the relief effort was abandoned.


(via Totten.)

Also from al Zubayr, comes this report of treason and war crimes:

A British man has reportedly handed himself in to the Desert Rats in Iraq after travelling there to fight for Saddam Hussein.

He surrendered to the Irish Guards near the southern city of Basra on Sunday telling them he had had enough and wanted to go home to his family in Manchester.

The unidentified man, who is in his 20s, was born in Iraq but speaks with a Mancunian accent.

He is being held in a prisoner of war camp south west of al Zubayr, according to Scotland's Daily Record newspaper.

The man handed himself in after joining Iraqi militia in civilian clothing in an attack on UK forces.


The British soldiers quoted, including a fellow Mancunian, express a certain degree of disapprobation.

On the subject of treason: I happened to be in England in the aftermath of the John Walker controversy, when the subject of British citizens who had joined the Taliban was in the news. The subject of treason is touchy in the US, and people tend to shrink from it, don't have the stomach to apply it to anyone without multiple qualifications, if at all. Many people don't regard treason as a legitimate, reasonable, practicable category of human wrongdoing; and usually, as a practical if not essential matter, they turn out to be right. Nothing new about that.

Still, I was astonished at the prevailing attitude among my British acquaintances, right-thinking left-liberals all, who seemed to regard the ethnic background of the turncoats in question as the defining, deal-breaking mitigating factor. John Walker's actions, they may have been willing to concede, might have been treasonable, but the situation in Britain is different: you can hardly expect the same loyalty from non-Anglo Brits as you do from "ordinary English boys." (The fact that this is said in a slightly mocking tone, distancing the speaker from the sentiment, doesn't entirely change the fact that the sentiment is essentially being agreed with.) "It's not treason," said one. "It's understandable." Perhaps it is, if you try hard enough. I suppose the attitude stems from the multicultural impulse, the desire to err on the side of understanding when it comes to The Other, as recompense and acknowledgment, in part, for Britain's past imperial misdeeds (for which the Brits seem genuinely ashamed.) But it also sounds, just a bit, like a kind of racism. Are there supposed to be two types of British citizenship, one for non-Anglos, one for everyone else? I couldn't get my mind around it, and they didn't seem able to get their minds around the fact that I couldn't get my mind around it.

UPDATE: Bill Quick (via Tim Blair) quotes this bit from the Mirror's snippet on the incident: "...then he taunted soldiers saying he'd soon be back in Britain enjoying state benefits." Hah.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:08 AM | TrackBack

March 26, 2003

Who will boo the booers?

Who will boo the booers?

Michael Moore says the people who booed his Oscar speech weren't booing him, but rather booing the other people who were booing. But what if the people who were applauding were actually applauding the ones who were booing? And what if some of the booers were booing the booers who were booing the ones who applauded the booers of the applauders?

That's too complicated for me. All I know is, next time I get booed, I'm using it.

(via Tim Blair.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:30 PM | TrackBack

The perspicuous in pursuit of

The perspicuous in pursuit of the depraved

Many have linked to this, but only Moira Breen was clever enough to describe it as "auto-Godwinization".

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:24 PM | TrackBack

"You are obviously trying to

"You are obviously trying to get around the fact that you are Canadian."

eBay seller refuses to ship to countries that don't support the Anglo-American war effort; hijinks and amusing quotations ensue.

(via Angela Gunn.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:10 AM | TrackBack

Steven den Beste makes a

Steven den Beste makes a point about the embedded reporters that I've never seen raised before:

There's been a lot of speculation about why the government decided to embed reporters in major military formations. Probably there were a lot of reasons why. First and foremost, when the reporters spend weeks with the same unit, the soldiers will cease to be remorseless baby killers and start being Joe and Ted and Fred. Embedded reporters would be expected to be less antagonistic.

But I do wonder if maybe there's also some misdirection going on. With reporters embedded in Marine units, and the 3rd Infantry Division, and with the British, there's a natural tendency for the news organizations to report on those formations, and a natural tendency on the part of nearly everyone to think that this is the entire war.

In fact, it's the tip of the iceberg. It's big, and showy, and damned important, and the men and women of those units have accomplished a lot so far and will accomplish a lot more before it's over; and some of them will pay a stiff price for it. It is proper that we should watch them, and be concerned for them, and mourn for them if they die.

That said, there seems to be a lot going on which we aren't seeing, and it's becoming revealed not by what's happened, but by what has not.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:58 AM | TrackBack

Hey, thanks to the kind

Hey, thanks to the kind souls who have been hitting the paypal button, and particularly the anonymous tip jar donors whom I can't email directly! Wow. Much appreciated.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

I find this extensive rumination

I find this extensive rumination on the meaning of "Not in Our Name" (from spiked's Jennie Bristow) to be rather brilliant:

Why go for 'Not in my name' rather than something shorter and to the point - like, for example 'No war'? Possibly because, as we have argued before on spiked, many of those proclaiming themselves to be against the war on Iraq are not really against it at all. What they are against is an aggressive war fought by the USA and the UK. What they would have been more comfortable with is coercion by diplomacy, and a safe war fought under the auspices of the UN.

'Not in my name' reconciles both these positions, in a way that is utterly unprincipled. A war led by the UK and the USA is opposed because they don't agree with it. On the other hand, a war waged under the auspices of the UN would be acceptable because they would need to take no responsibility for it.

This is the first indication of how 'Not in my name' refers not to war, but to democracy. The British electorate holds some power over how the British government acts - we vote for politicians to represent us, and we can vote them out of office. 'Not in my name' sloganises powerlessness, and turns this formal process of democracy on its head. It encapsulates the notion that whatever our government might do about the war, it has nothing to do with us...

Ask yourself why, exactly, a war waged under the auspices of the UN is better than one waged by Britain and America alone. Would the outcome be any different, the consequences any less bloody? No. The difference is that, if the UN goes to war, it is tantamount to the wrath of God. We have no control over the UN, and therefore we have no responsibility for it. The UN, like the EU, is a supra-national body without accountability to any demos to give it even a formal sense of democracy. Nothing can be done 'in our name', because our views and interests count for nothing.


(via Steven Chapman.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:19 AM | TrackBack

Excellent, original take on the

Excellent, original take on the media war from Tim Cavanaugh. When it's CNN vs. Al Jazeera, Jazeera wins.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:59 AM | TrackBack

Jim Henley provides a good,

Jim Henley provides a good, thoughtful summation of where the war stands as he sees it, focusing on the nexus between psychology, politics and tactics.

I think he's probably right about this: the Iraqi regime doesn't realize it's doomed. I don't think it's at all implausible that their actions are guided, in part, by a desire to conserve as much of their forces as possible for an imagined post-war period. They still think they can ride it out, wait till the invasion becomes politically untenable for the invaders, emerge when it's all over and declare "victory" based on the fact that they're still walking around in the rubble. That has worked for them every time so far. The coalition's current self-imposed, restrictive rules of engagement are a sign of strength and confidence, but I'm sure they contribute to the impression that the US is no more serious than they were the last time about seeing this through to the end. Could such restraint also, paradoxically, be sending a similar message to the justifiably skeptical Iraqi people who, we are assured, are poised to rise up in revolt once they are convinced of US resolve? Does the still-uncertain reputed Basra uprising indicate that the message has got through despite the "kinder, gentler war"? And if not, how much extra damage is the US willing to absorb in the interests of postwar goodwill before they decide to revise the strategy? Paradoxes abound.

The US has based this novel policy on a combination of genuine morality, public relations, and plausible tactical praxis; the Saddamites have responded, unsurprisingly, with a strategy based on immorality, public relations, and plausible tactical praxis. Strange war.

UPDATE: Bill Quick comments, expressing skepticism about the validity of the "poisoning the well of goodwill" meme. But it hasn't been dreamed up out of thin air. It's clearly based on deliberate, manifest US strategy; the Bush administration is firmly behind it (in both senses), so far, as Bill points out. There are a lot of reasons I can think of-- and doubtless some that I can't fathom-- for the strategy. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, there's something to be said, practically as well as morally, for winning with minimal damage to infrastructure, to the degree it's possible (though there's also a great deal to be said, again practically as well as morally, for using every means to win as quickly and decisively as possible.) And to the extent that public relations play a role, the Iraqis themselves are plainly not the only, nor even, perhaps, the most important, audience. At any rate, it's hard to imagine these rules of engagement surviving too many more cases of summary executions of American POWs and the like.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:33 AM | TrackBack

With friends like these... Look

With friends like these...

Look who's linking.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:16 AM | TrackBack

The bombs have begun to

The bombs have begun to fall on Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers have shot their officers and are giving themselves up to the Americans and the British in droves. Others, as in Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr, are fighting back, and civilians have already come under fire. Yet I find myself dismissing contemptuously all the e-mails and phone calls I get from antiwar friends who think they are commiserating with me because "their" country is bombing "mine." To be sure, I am worried. Like every other Iraqi I know, I have friends and relatives in Baghdad. I am nauseous with anxiety for their safety. But still those bombs are music to my ears. They are like bells tolling for liberation in a country that has been turned into a gigantic concentration camp. One is not supposed to say such things in the kind of liberal, pacifist, and deeply anti-American circles of academia, in which I normally live and work. The truth is jarring even to my own ears...
Thus begins the latest, characteristically provocative entry in Kanan Makiya's powerful weblog. As always, worth reading in entirety.
Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:13 AM | TrackBack

What's the matter? Afraid of

What's the matter? Afraid of a little competition?

Is it funny that the weblog section in this New York Times war-media roundup features the Command Post prominently, yet failed to include the url? Yeah, just a little.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:33 AM | TrackBack

When the familiar keeps reminding

When the familiar keeps reminding you of the abominable

Sheila Astray explains, at length and with eloquence, why New York and America won't "get over" 9/11.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:19 AM | TrackBack

Media-wars in Old Blighty The

Media-wars in Old Blighty

The Guardian reports that "the BBC's coverage of the war has come under fire from one of its own correspondents in the Gulf":

Paul Adams, the BBC's defence correspondent... accused the BBC's coverage of exaggerating the military impact of casualties suffered by UK forces and downplaying their achievements on the battlefield during the first few days of the conflict.

"I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering 'significant casualties'. This is simply not true," Adams said in the memo.

"Nor is it true to say - as the same intro stated - that coalition forces are fighting 'guerrillas'. It may be guerrilla warfare, but they are not guerrillas," he stormed.

"Who dreamed up the line that the coalition are achieving 'small victories at a very high price?' The truth is exactly the opposite. The gains are huge and costs still relatively low. This is real warfare, however one-sided, and losses are to be expected," Adams continued.


On the other hand, a Sun feature-writer has quit over the tabloid's "gung-ho" stance on the war. (You have to wonder, a little, what she expected.)

(via Harry's Place.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:07 AM | TrackBack

March 25, 2003

Post-Warblog Warblogging Harry has changed

Post-Warblog Warblogging

Harry has changed his nom-de-html from Steele to Hatchet. He's got a bee in his bonnet about the term "warblogger," which is fair enough-- a lot of webloggers don't like the term. I don't care about the term one way or the other, but I think Harry's definition of warblogging (trying to log "every detail of the military campaign" and eschewing "opinion") would exclude a great many warblogs. Most of them, in fact. Matt Welch's blog, which Hurry up, Harry resembles in many ways, is in a sense the quintessential warblog, and the origin of the term (hence the name). It is great, and it is all opinion, no military details, and in fact rather often has nothing to do with the war.

I think he sees "warblogger" as a pejorative he'd like to duck out of. Maybe it is at that. You can call yourself anything you want. For the same reasons, people used to say "I'm not punk, I'm new wave"; then "I'm not punk, I'm hardcore"; then "I'm not hardcore, I'm post-punk"; then "I'm not post-punk, I'm alternative," etc. The main result of this process is that it's almost impossible to find anything at a British record store if you've missed more than four issues of the NME. Many came back to "punk" after the ride on the category-go-round-- the few that cared; they were all a bunch of punks anyway, however, though they were arguably at their best before the complex taxonomy set in.

Anyway, it's all good, as the kids say. And I did learn, from Harry's post, of Angela Gunn's USA Today warblog, which seems grand, in a post-psych pre-hardcore anti-mod neo-eclectic retro-journo garage-synth drum-n-bass faux-surf emo skate-core butt-rock sort of way.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:48 PM | TrackBack

The Basra uprising appears to

The Basra uprising appears to be for real. Fox News says the information comes from British central command as well as embedded Sky reporters. Fox is also reporting that Fedayeen are posing as US soldiers, firing on Iraqi regular troops when they try to surrender; here's a summary of an MSNBC interview with British Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Peter Wall:

The population is being held at bay by a relatively small force of "activists" who are holding hostage the families of Iraqi soldiers who have dropped their weapons in the field and returned home, in order to force them to fight against allied forces in the city.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:56 PM | TrackBack

Two can play at that

Two can play at that game

Now don't choke on your freedom fries or anything, but "a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus to protest the war in Iraq."

There follows a list of examples of anti-coca cola or Starbucks activism, and the usual catalog of MacDonald's-oriented civil disobedience.

This is neither here nor there, but something about this sentence, cracks me up a litte:

The conflict has struck a raw nerve in a country that became decidedly anti-war after the devastation of World War II, which it initiated.

Let it not be said that this report failed to "provide context."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:47 PM | TrackBack

The Guardian discovers Salam Pax,

The Guardian discovers Salam Pax, wonders who he is, etc. (via Mary Madigan.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:20 AM | TrackBack

David Aaronovitch tries to puzzle

David Aaronovitch tries to puzzle out why the anti-war movement in Britain, even at its low ebb, has been "so bloody big." As he says, it's not at all obvious. He has this observation along with an anecdote about a familiar line of argument:

Post-September 11 insecurity plays a part. There is quite a widespread belief that the US brought the disaster upon itself, and that Britain is now busily inviting the same kind of treatment. These days, routine security announcements can clear major mainline stations in seconds.

This is linked to the question of Palestine. You can't help noticing how, among many anti-war people, the issue of Israel and Palestine has stopped being one of those complex and drearily intractable problems, and morphed into being one of those straightforward "whose side are you on?" questions. Jennifer Johnson from Cornwall tells me that I am "pro-Israeli" because I acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. "Is it because some Jews wrote in their holy books that God had promised them the land of Israel?" she asks. "Is it because of the Holocaust? But that had nothing to do with the Palestinians." And she concludes, "The main reason for this war is to make the world safe for Israel." Jennifer doesn't say where she thinks the Jews should have gone after 1945, but that is yesterday's problem, I guess.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:07 AM | TrackBack

Here's your daily link to

Here's your daily link to the Command Post, which is shaping up to be the most comprehensive breaking news warblog; and now there's an op-ed area.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:43 AM | TrackBack

Urban Combat An interesting observation

Urban Combat

An interesting observation from Jonathon Marcus on the BBC warblog:

I think British forces are very reluctant to move into Basra, after all this is a largely Shia city they believed they would be welcomed in.

But the British force is not a particularly armour-heavy force, there lots of specialised infantry, the Paratroops, the Royal Marines, and so on. All of these units have massive experience, from Northern Ireland, and from the Balkans. They are very well versed in urban combat.

In a funny sort of way, the way the Marines are operating looks very similar to Northern Ireland. If you take the buildings away and change the architecture - you see small groups going in, one man at the back covering the rear, all the windows and openings of buildings covered, and so on.

It's a sort of warfare that these British infantry forces are very experienced in, probably a great deal more experienced than American forces in the region.


There's also a post making a similar point about Umm Qasr:
British troops have replaced American marines in the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

The past 24 hours has been generally quiet. Whether that's a measure of the different tactics employed by the British forces rather than the Americans, it's hard to tell.

The Royal Marines are very experienced at urban conflict, patrolling street to street and zoning off areas. And they have a much more 'hearts and minds' approach than the Americans.

The Americans tended to be much more confrontational. If they saw problems they tended to retreat and open fire if necessary. Whereas the British approach certainly has been to move in with a small squad, surround the area, and detain a few people. It seems to be working on the face of it.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oh, Please... Paul Krugman: By

Oh, Please...

Paul Krugman:

By and large, recent pro-war rallies haven't drawn nearly as many people as antiwar rallies, but they have certainly been vehement. One of the most striking took place after Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of. . . . But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can't happen here.

I'd say I'm as familiar with 20th-century European history as the next guy, but for some reason I don't find this even remotely "eerie." Here's a tip: outside of the hifalutin New York Times bubble, you don't do your case for the dangers of government/media collusion any good by leading with a Nazi comparison. Get a grip, man.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:56 AM | TrackBack

Déjà vu all over again

Déjà vu all over again

More anti-semitic thuggery at the Paris Peace Demonstration. (via MIF.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:21 AM | TrackBack

March 24, 2003

Merde in France reports on

Merde in France reports on French war coverage:

The pro-Saddam press coverage in France has gone way over the top. Televised news on TF1 and France2 (state TV) are all but openly rooting for Iraqi victory. A GI resting on a roadside is depicted as being 'in despair'. An imam being escorted by US soldiers is 'being used as a human shield'. Absence of slaughter by American troops is interpreted as a sign of weakness. Iraqi atrocities are depicted as acts of heroic resistance. Rejigging war plans is depicted as lack of preparation.

Here's another, more detailed report (via USS Clueless):
French and German television were having an even harder time in underpinning their inclinations to describe things in a way that neatly fit their governments' insistence that all this would not end well.

It might be going too far to say that NPR has the same dilemma. Then again, it might not.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:08 PM | TrackBack

Where is Raed? was featured

Where is Raed? was featured on CNN Headline News today, and they even mention Diane's blog by name. I was skiving at my neighborhood bar today and I was rather taken aback when it came on the screen. The blogosphere is everywhere. Angie Schultz has more details.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:21 PM | TrackBack

Michael Moore at the Oscars

Michael Moore at the Oscars

You know, I was just as surprised as anyone else that Michael Moore's speech about fictitious-ification or whatever at the Oscars was received with less than total enthusiasm. I'm sure many, maybe even most of those present were in agreement with the sentiments.

As many describe it, Moore was "booed off the stage." Now I've been booed off stages before, and believe me: he wasn't booed off the stage. He got the kind of reaction you get when you tell a joke that contains a heavy-handed pun-- some laugh, some groan, some get mad, some may throw a bottle or something, as though to say "I wasted ten bucks on this idiot?" Being "booed off the stage" means the hostility of the audience is so intense and monolithic that they drown out the public address system or seem poised to swell outside their corral, requiring you to take cover or risk making the ultimate sacrifice. The swells didn't swell, though they may have squirmed a bit. A roomful of squirming movie stars in evening dress isn't a pretty sight, to be sure, but it hardly constitutes a threatening presence.

Moore committed a breach of decorum. The audience gagged and went "oh really, Michael." The stage manager cued the music and waved on the next act, like he would have done anyway. He didn't even cut the mic.

The whole thing has an air of "fictition" about it. Steve Martin's follow-up joke was funny and flowed beautifully, as though it had all been planned out. Maybe it was.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:59 PM | TrackBack

British Spin and Harry Steele

British Spin and Harry Steele respond to American BBC-bashing. Both of them hit the heads of many nails.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:55 AM | TrackBack

Salam Pax had no internet

Salam Pax had no internet access for a few days, but he continued his amazing journal and has now been able to post the material. Powerful stuff:

Today's (and last night's) shock attacks didn't come from airplanes but rather from the airwaves. The images Al-jazeera is broadcasting are beyond any description. First was the attack on (Ansar el Islam) camp in the north of Iraq. Then the images of civilian casualties in Basra city. What was most disturbing are the images from the hospitals. They are simply not prepared to deal with these things. People were lying on the floor with bandages and blood all over. If this is what "urban warefare" is going to look like we're in for disaster. And just now the images of US/UK prisoners and dead, we saw these on Iraqi TV earlier. This war is starting to show its ugly ugly face to the world.

The media wars have also started, Al-jazeera accusing the pentagon of not showing how horrific this war is turning out to be and Rumsfeld saying that it is regrettable that some TV stations have shown the images.

Today before noon I went out with my cousin to take a look at the city. Two things. 1) the attacks are precise. 2) they are attacking targets which are just too close to civilian areas in Baghdad. Looked at the Salam palace and the houses around it. Quite scary near it and you can see widows with broken glass till very far off. At another neighborhood I saw a very unexpected "target" it is an officers' club of some sorts smack in the middle of [ÖÖÖ] district. I guess it was not severely hit because it was still standing but the houses around it, and this is next door and across the street, were damaged. One of them is rubble the rest are clearing away glass and rubble. A garbage car stands near the most damaged houses and help with the cleaning up...

If Um Qasar is so difficult to control what will happen when they get to Baghdad? It will turn uglier and this is very worrying. People (and I bet "allied forces") were expecting things to be mush easier.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:08 AM | TrackBack

Hey there! Nice, erm, poster...

Hey there! Nice, erm, poster...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:40 AM | TrackBack

Those Insidious Papists The country's

Those Insidious Papists

The country's at war, there's unrest in the streets, the threat of mass-casualty terrorism looms, the economy is rocky-- but some folks still have time to worry over whether St. Patrick's Day violates the Establishment Clause.

(via Scott Norvell.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:28 AM | TrackBack

Jonah Goldberg posts an interesting

Jonah Goldberg posts an interesting letter from an army judge on the subject of SGT Akbar, capital punishment and field court martials, and the 101st.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:28 AM | TrackBack

Want to see Ken Layne's

Want to see Ken Layne's running commentary on Saddam's latest speech as it was broadcast? Start here and work your way up. Want to read his commentary on Michael Moore's Oscar appearance? Of course you do. Start here and... Oh hell, just read the whole page.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:55 AM | TrackBack

No matter how dubious and

No matter how dubious and fake-looking Saddam's TV appearances may seem to us, they're working in Iraq, sending the message that it's not yet safe to oppose Saddam from within. According John Simpson on the BBC warblog, anyway:

Ordinary Iraqis watching Saddam Hussein's latest television appearance will have drawn one essential message from it - Saddam is still in control and it's much too soon for anyone to turn against him.

As long as he can continue to make these highly effective appearances on television, the coalition forces are going to have a serious problem.

And unless they can drive him off the screen and out of Baghdad they are likely to have real problems taking the city.

Half an hour's air time on television has done more for his cause than the relatively small numbers of loyal soldiers who have been holding up the coalition's advance.


This seems entirely plausible, and I'm sure it's something the coalition commanders have considered. Al Jazeera is playing up Iraqi battlefield "successes," Saddam is (apparently) still raving-- Geoff Hoon can say with dry precision that the tape was "not live" all he wants, but it's unlikely to have much effect where it counts. They can't do anything about Al Jazeera, but surely it's within the allies' powers to take out Iraqi broadcast capability? They must have a reason for not having done so, but I can't imagine what it might be. Unless perhaps it's part of the effort to spin this campaign as a "kinder gentler" war, which wouldn't dream of depriving the Iraqi regime of water, electricity, propaganda outlets?

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:39 AM | TrackBack

Wish I could do that...

Wish I could do that...

Lileks on the spirit of the BBC:

the reporter wanted to flip a particular switch that makes right-thinking people nod sagely: the “passionate idealist” cliché. It’s one of the interminable resonances of the class of ‘68, an echo that pings forever around their dusty skulls: passion and conviction are the hallmarks of the anti-establishment conscience, its most potent source of moral authority.

As usual, too many great quotes to pull. How about this one:
on Saturday, the Beeb ran a clip from a Brit spokesman describing a battle, then ran the Iraqi blabberjaw insisting that Iraqi forces were still engaged in battle, killing the enemy, and that the Loser Zionist Rumsfeld tongue should be accursed and struck with shoes, and we should all hope that monkeys defecate in his moustache, etc. Then came a guest from Warshington, and the presenter said “so who should we believe, then?” A charitable listener would ascribe the brief, stunned pause that followed to the natural lapse in transatlantic communications.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:11 AM | TrackBack

There's another smart update on

There's another smart update on "the Trots," nihilism, the SWP, etc. over at Harry's Place. Excerpt:

I find the psychology of this interesting. These people will deny they have taken sides in this war but they are lapping up Al-Jazeera coverage and gleefully posting pictures of US POW's. There may be no comment of delight to accompany the photos but it says everything that the news being posted in excitement is that of allied casualties and setbacks along with silly suggestions of war crimes being committed by Tony Blair.

There may only be a nutcase minority prepared to march under the slogan 'Victory to Iraq' but sadly the 'nasty wing' of the anti-war movement is much more visible now that Middle England appears to have abandoned them.


Harry's got some stern words for warbloggers, though. Valid points included, of course, but-- Psst-- Harry: you're a warblogger...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:43 AM | TrackBack

"Journalists... challenge the establishment, while

"Journalists... challenge the establishment, while conservatives want to conserve it."

There is a style of blogging (and of blurb journalism in print) that might be described as "pull-quoting with ironic caption." It's most satisfying when the person being quoted is humorless and self-important, the quote banal and vapid. At this game, Matt Welch has no equal. Added bonus: "a typically open-minded quote from Eric Alterman." Good for a chuckle.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:40 AM | TrackBack

March 23, 2003

Manufacturing Dissent There is a

Manufacturing Dissent

There is a private elementary school in my neighborhood, the gates of which are currently festooned with adorable hand-made anti-war posters. I happened to be walking by last week when they were being put up. It was clearly a school activity, along the lines of "draw a pilgrim for Thanksgiving", or "make your dad a paper-weight for Father's Day". They were having grand old time, and many of the signs were quite cute. My favorite went something like this:

$1,000000000000000000 for Tanks
$1000 guns
peace priceless

(No "Grape Mrs. Carillon," however.)

Trying to get your mind around the irony of a school-sanctioned or -mandated protest is like trying to visualize a Mobius strip. For me, anyway.

So we're walking by today and the Lottery Guy (a kindly, nutty old man who tramps around the neighborhood with a walker, telling everyone "the Lotto is hard to win") is sitting on one of the schoolyard benches.

I expected him to say "the Lotto is hard to win" as usual. Instead he said, in the same exact tone, "the kids sure are mad at the government."

I can't remember having been more surprised in my life.

UPDATE: I went by the school yesterday and I realized I had the sign wrong. It's:

$1,000000000000000000 for Tanks
$1000 guns
good president priceless

which is even better.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:24 PM | TrackBack

Alternative Depravity These people really

Alternative Depravity

These people really are beyond all help. (via SDB.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:56 PM | TrackBack

Re-route In case you haven't

Re-route

In case you haven't caught it yet, the Command Post is now here.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:49 PM | TrackBack

The chem-weapons factory discovered near

The chem-weapons factory discovered near An Najaf is "huge," according to a senior Pentagon official, via Fox.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:46 PM | TrackBack

Poseurs for Fragging Steven Den

Poseurs for Fragging

Steven Den Beste posts a photo of a demo sign which reads: "We Support our Troops when they SHOOT their officers," and has some pointed comments.

"Don't they understand," asks Den Beste, "what their own sign really means?" I'm sure they understand, but I wonder if they take it seriously enough to believe that it is of any consequence. I doubt it; and in a way they are quite right about that, though it does nothing but damage to their cause. The connection between this repellent slogan and the actual case of a soldier trying to murder his fellow soldiers is entirely coincidental, of course; still, it ought to shame them, or at least give them pause. And of course, it won't. I've known a fair few of such weekend class warriors, and I'd say very few of them experience their activities or "ideas" as connected to reality in any way. Their notional world is entirely contained within itself, quite incapable of being communicated to anyone outside their own circle. Which is just as well, since hardly anyone outside this circle ever comes in contact with it except as fashion accessory iconography. They mean to shock and provoke, of course, but they don't truly grasp the nature of the revulsion experienced by people outside of the subculture when exposed to their more extreme stunts. It's all of a piece, the silly with the repugnant. So at bottom it is indeed something of a failure of understanding, of the sign as of much else.

The photo comes via LGF from this page of photos of the "breakaway" "anarchist" march in San Francisco, posted with obvious approval and enthusiasm on SF Indymedia. Another blast from the past in this series says "no war but the class war." These people are enacting a sick, self-indulgent let's-dress-up-like-anarchists fantasy, of no consequence whatsoever except insofar as it alienates and discredits the work of any good and decent folks who may happen to share their opposition to the war. And it's doubtful whether they're sincere about even that opposition in any serious way-- indeed, it is unserious in every respect except as an affront to taste and common decency. (It reminds me of a felicitous phrase in the Monty Python cheese shop sketch. Say what you want about this division of the Peace Movement: it certainly seems to be "uncontaminated by peace.") It is a disgrace to the peace movement and to the many sincere and conscientious protesters who have the misfortune of sharing the street with them. It bears out the worst slurs against them.

Would you fancy the chances of these class warriors were they ever to come in contact with any actual "workers"? Me neither. The masks are, perhaps, well-advised.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:52 PM | TrackBack

A Soldier Gone Postal? The

A Soldier Gone Postal?

The word on the US soldier who perpetrated the Camp Penn. grenade attack is that he is an American Muslim convert. Jim Lacey, the Time Magazine reporter at the camp, offered this speculation during a phone interview with Fox news:

"I do not think it's a chain of command problem. I don't think this is a soldier disgruntled with the military. I think this was someone striking out because of a misguided interpretation of his Muslim faith."

Bill Quick has an excellent post on this subject, pointing out quite rightly that "Wahabist/Saudi money has poured into the United States with the goal of creating men like this, men who have no loyalty to America."

Bill says it would be more disheartening if he turns out to have been an ideology-addled traitor rather than a terrorist mole. I agree. But couldn't he be both? Is he just a soldier who happened to be a Muslim convert, and who simply snapped? Or is he another John Walker Lind or Richard Reid? That is, had he, like Walker, been recruited by Saudi-funded Wahhabi extremists in the US? Was this merely a spontaneous expression of lethal hostility, as everyone is assuming, or a pre-planned mission?

Is it preposterous or paranoid to wonder whether this might have been part of a deliberate plan to infiltrate the US military, to plant saboteurs among the troops? Could it be that some true believers, like Walker, were sent to fight in Afghanistan, while others were instructed to apply at the nearest armed forces recruiting office and bide their time till activated? Could this have worked? And how likely is it that such an agent would pass undetected? If it was a deliberate "operation" what might have been the goal? Was it a botched attempt to take out the commander, as some TV talking heads have speculated?

Few details are available and it's all idle speculation. I don't know how plausible it is. It would require a significant degree of long-term planning and patience to attempt such a scheme; but we know our enemies are capable of that. They like to use our own machinery and institutions against us, for symbolic reasons as well as in order to further pragmatic goals. Don't they?

UPDATE: Junkyard Blog called this one immediately, noting a DC sniper parallel. Glenn Frazier weighs in as well, adding this comment:

Personal theory: somebody snapped and took out a personal (not political or religious) grudge. Out of a quarter-million heavily-armed folks under stress in-theater, it isn't too strange to think there's a nut or a criminal here or there. The alternative (that it is more ideological and also rationally planned) is almost too disturbing to contemplate.

Quite.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:27 AM | TrackBack

Here's my impression of Aaron

Here's my impression of Aaron Brown conducting a live interview:

Um, now, hmm, well I hesitate to, to, you know, ask, but you understand, um, I'm just ah doing my job, and you're doing yours, of course, we both know what's going on, and it's so, ooh, so ah difficult, but my question, I guess my question, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to of course, but just in case you do, or if you can, would you be able to tell me, or us rather, tell us what, what, what... um, sorry I lost my train of thought, oh right, my question is, and don't answer if you can't, but can you tell us what's ah, what's going on over there? Or, or, or, ah not? What? Um, I didn't catch the answer because I was writing something down. It's so, ooh so so difficult because we both have a job to ah do...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:45 AM | TrackBack

March 22, 2003

I can't find anything on

I can't find anything on the web yet, but Fox and CNN are reporting that an American soldier is suspected in the Camp Penn. attack.

UPDATE: According to this, "a soldier assigned to the brigade is in custody".

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:55 PM | TrackBack

Pyrotechnics Say what you want

Pyrotechnics

Say what you want about Robert Fisk: the man certainly can write. This report from the center the Baghdad assault is about as gripping and powerful as gripping and powerful get. Example:

Along the streets a few Iraqis could be seen staring from balconies, shards of broken glass around them. Each time one of the great golden bubbles of fire burst across the city, they ducked inside before the blast wave reached them. At one point, as I stood beneath the trees on the corniche, a wave of cruise missiles passed low overhead, the shriek of their passage almost as devastating as the explosions that were
to follow.

How, I ask myself, does one describe this outside the language of a military report, the definition of the colour, the decibels of the explosions? When the cruise missiles came in it sounded as if someone was ripping to pieces huge curtains of silk in the sky and the blast waves became a kind of frightening counterpoint to the flames.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:07 AM | TrackBack

Kanan Makiya's letter to Iraqi

Kanan Makiya's letter to Iraqi "friends in Europe and the United States" on the challenges facing Iraqi democracy (included in the latest post to his TNR-hosted weblog) is as compelling and sobering as everyone says it is. Too powerful to excerpt: read the whole thing.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:55 AM | TrackBack

Yet more supercilious Bush-whacking blather

Yet more supercilious Bush-whacking blather from Richard Dawkins. As Jeff Jarvis points out, Dawkins appears to be putting his own sentiments in the mouth of Osama bin Laden. Bush is bin Laden's ally, and the most formidable weapon in Osama's arsenal is the Constitution. Right...

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:31 AM | TrackBack

Defenestration Interruptus? Popshot.net turns up

Defenestration Interruptus?

Popshot.net turns up this snippet from an interview with Robbie Williams:

Any embarassing celebrity run-ins of note?

I was at a party and completely and totally off my face -- mushrooms, Ectasy, all sorts of shit. And I was staring at this painting for ages. I was just mesmerized by it. And Bono comes up and asks, "Robbie, what are you doing?" And I said, "Bono, man, this painting is incredible." And he went, "Robbie, that's a window."


I've heard a version of this anecdote from practically every burn-out I've ever known, but I'd wager this the first time a Nobel Prize nominee has ever made an appearance in it.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:07 AM | TrackBack

It's not funny anymore Never

It's not funny anymore

Never mind the kryptonite locks: they found an abandoned backpack containing twelve molotov cocktails amidst the post-demonstration debris on 11th and Howard.

(via Michele.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:11 AM | TrackBack

Late to every party I

Late to every party

I keep meaning to mention Jeff Jarvis's excellent breaking news warblog-- probably the best one out there. And the Michele-sparked Command Post group warblog is quite a buzzmachine itself. Check 'em out.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:51 AM | TrackBack

Confused is the word The

Confused is the word

The Cracker Barrel Philosopher has turned up this remarkable quote from a Not in Our Name activist:

"Saddam is a very confused and mixed up man," said activist Elise Bontrager. "And I think maybe that he hurts his people more than he needs to."

(via Tim Blair.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:39 AM | TrackBack

March 21, 2003

"A nation of moaning sissies..."

"A nation of moaning sissies..."

Noel Gallagher waxes political:

"Whoever is the British Prime Minister is tied to America. It's been that way ever since the Second World War, and even Tony Blair can't change that. Politics is like football for me. Labour is my team and even if you don't like a striker you don't give up supporting the whole team. Labour is the lesser of two evils. What else should we have? Anarchy? Someone has to be responsible."

He then went on to criticise the British nation, saying, "We are a nation of moaning sissies, regardless of who governs. The British get on my nerves. They moan about the weather, the French, about the Germans. They moan about cricket, football-- they should just keep their mouths shut."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:22 PM | TrackBack

I just heard David Brooks

I just heard David Brooks mention Where is Raed? on the News Hour.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:09 PM | TrackBack

"The commander of Iraq's 51st

"The commander of Iraq's 51st division and his top deputy surrendered to United States Marine forces today, according to American military officials..."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:13 PM | TrackBack

Stephen Schwartz fires an erudite

Stephen Schwartz fires an erudite and withering rhetorical volley against the blogophere's most notorious Buchananite, Justin anti-war.com Raimondo-- "America's most exquisite Jew-baiter." Schwartz excoriates Raimondo for anti-Semitism, Stalinist tactics, admiration of Japanese militarism, feeble intellect, poor understanding of Zen Buddhism, poor communications skills, and poor understanding of the collected works of Philip K. Dick. Pretty much in that order.

This poseur dreams of waking up in an America prostrate, segregated, and from which all Jews have been removed, in which he can play the role he must have imagined from about the time he decided it was better to be “Justin” than “Dennis:” that of a collaborationist functionary in a fascist occupation regime. Thank God war was waged to prevent such a nightmare from descending upon us. Thank God war will be waged anew to prevent its realization by other fascists, and that while Dennis is still talking only a handful of misguided American conservatives and communists are listening to him.

Well said.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:17 PM | TrackBack

From the BBC warblog: I'm

From the BBC warblog:

I'm with US Marines who have been sent in here, along with British Marines, to secure oil wells. They are close to completing that mission.

This is the region which produces more than a half of Iraq's oil.

I've seen quite a few prisoners of war. I've seen several dozen being looked after by American soldiers and given food to eat.

A lot of people here are very pleased that Saddam Hussein has been attacked in this way.

One group of Iraqis waved at the American soldiers I was with and said "down with Saddam Hussein".

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:25 PM | TrackBack

MTV News Speaking of news

MTV News

Speaking of news networks and so forth, I find myself straying rather more often than I'd ever imagined to MTV. I find it fascinating, both for the novelty and for the call-ins and interviews with young viewers: a major theme is the fact that the demographics of the MTV audience coincide, when it comes to age at any rate, with that of large numbers of US troops. They have some kind of deal with CBS news for the actualities, and the commentary can be basic, but often no more vacuous than the major network version.

The format pioneered by Behind the Music and perfected in the endless series of butt documentaries-- quick cuts of footage, interspersed with sound bites from celeb commentators and journalists, backed with a soundtrack of whatever's on the charts with occasional thematic relevance to what's on-screen, accompanied by a simple, bland narration-- works at least as well when it comes to war as it does in re: butts or Britney, as it turns out. If the slant is anti-war, it's, surprisingly, only moderately so, compared to what you might expect: and it does reflect the concerns of the target audience. Anyway, there's nothing wrong with that. I've seen some interviews with pro-war kids, though there are fewer of them. Hey, maybe this is the "liberal" alternative to Fox that so many lefties are dreaming of...

Mostly, though, I enjoy the sheer weirdness of it: "stay tuned for more war updates this afternoon on TRL." Unbelievable.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:11 AM | TrackBack

A disturbing report from David

A disturbing report from David Pryce-Jones, via Rich Lowry:

"The Turks have moved their forces to the border, and there are the first reports that they've crossed the border. They've claimed it is a humitarian mission. The Kurds will fire on them, and certianly lose. Then we will have found a Turkish occupation of the north, which will be very difficult for the administration to confront. We'll have very little leverage to get them out. It could be a very nasty situation indeed. We'll have hideous fighting with very leverage to control it. This could throw the whole plan out. It ceases to be a liberation of Iraq. It becomes a cannibilization of it. The rumour that I'm catching--which is only a rumour--is that there is a blazing row between Colin Powell and the Turks, because he feels he's been lied to and cheated. That they always intedned to occupy Norhtern Iraq."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:02 AM | TrackBack

Gigglechick caught a pretty good

Gigglechick caught a pretty good Rumsfeld crack:

a reporter asked why "we strayed from the warplan"

Rumsfeld responded "the last I checked, YOU don't have the warplan... and I find comfort in that."


(via Sheila Astray.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:06 AM | TrackBack

Don't let that mask fool

Don't let that mask fool you

For what it's worth:

ABCNEWS has learned that witnesses at the site of a Baghdad suburban residential complex have told U.S. intelligence officials that Saddam was observed being taken from the bombed complex on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask over his face on Thursday before dawn local time.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:23 AM | TrackBack

William Saletan has been watching

William Saletan has been watching the United Nations Security Council on C-SPAN:

The council was meeting to discuss the latest update from weapons inspector Hans Blix. Blix was downcast because, having been forced to leave Iraq a few days ago so that the United States could start bombing it, his inspection report now seems a bit pointless. Not so, said French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. They praised Blix's work and assured him that the war was only an unpleasant interlude in the inspection process.

Best quote, from Joschka Fisher: "the Security Council is not responsible for what is happening outside the UN."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:44 AM | TrackBack

Do rabbits do that? Gore

Do rabbits do that?

Gore Vidal on Tony Blair:

"How embarrassing for Blair, Prime Minister of that once great country, to be yapping like a rabbit in support of our war," said Vidal to yells of support.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:56 AM | TrackBack

To be pitied or censured?

To be pitied or censured?

Michael Moore appears to be suffering from False Consensus Effect.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:38 AM | TrackBack

Life imitates Simpsons, once again

Life imitates Simpsons, once again

Welch says CNN is "the early loser of the media war," and it's hard to argue with that:

When I turn to Fox -- which I am not normally inclined toward -- I might see "The O'Reilly Factor" listed, but instead there are live anchors and reporters, doing their thing. On CNN, it says "Connie Chung" or "Larry King"-- and sure enough, the goofy old gizzards are out there, interviewing Bob Woodward and otherwise straining to act serious.

Fox isn't perfect, of course. No one could ever accuse them of an overabundance of gravitas. But at least they seem to realize that they're covering a major war. And in fact, the bugs can be appreciated for their own sake along with the features. I wrote about this here (towards the end of the post) way back in 2001 when this blog was young, and I don't have much to add to that observation.

My British wife, used to the clipped detachment of Channel 4's John Snow, can't get over how the news presenters speak as though they're actually fighting the war themselves. Whereas Snow might say, solemnly, that "British and American forces took Basra today," Sheppard Smith, with the explosive vigor of a guy trying to sell you a direct marketing method on an infomercial, exclaims "We took Basra! Yes we did! With our awesome firepower!" (There's nothing wrong with the "military we," I suppose, but it's clearly a deliberate policy like those I noted in that old post: they all do it, though some of them, Greta for example, seem a bit uncomfortable. It can seem awkward and, well, lacking in gravitas: but it by God gets the job done, as they might put it.) And why are they always shouting, my wife will ask? But then she'll ask that about everyone speaking above a whisper.

I prefer the British model because it has more content. But there is no content-heavy option on the American news menu, and Fox is marginally better than the others on offer. For better or worse, the Fox people realize now, as they did during the Afghanistan campaign and as CNN has yet to figure out, that the newswatching public wants all war, all the time, and wants our side to win, and that no amount of pandering to sentiment will alienate them. For better or worse.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:40 AM | TrackBack