March 22, 2003

KIM JONG IL'S USEFUL IDIOTS

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (idiot #1) sent a special envoy, Maurice Strong to Pyongyang for talks with Kim Jong Il's purple-sneaker-people regime. The envoy has now emerged, revealing that he's idiot #2:

SEOUL: A top United Nations envoy returned from North Korea Saturday and said it was possible the United States and the Stalinist nation could go to war although Pyongyang was keen to avoid conflict.


Nice juxtaposition there. War is possible, but Pyongyang is "keen to avoid conflict." Therefore by implication, it's the US that's the problem. I guess that's why Pyongyan renegged on its 1994 deal and cranked up the nuke factory.

Maurice Strong, special envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, told reporters on arrival in Beijing: “There is no need for war and yet war could occur if the parties concerned cannot find a way of resolving the differences across the table diplomatically.”

“I know that they do wish to avoid war,” Strong said at the Beijing airport upon returning from a four-day mission.


The parties concerned? Don't the parties concerned include the UN, as the North Koreans have violated all non-proliferation agreements and booted out the UN monitors? Oh, but the Chinese have quietly and effectively vetoed any UN action against North Korea, haven't they. And since the UN is as impotent here as it has been in Iraq, let's blame the Americans again. That's pretty much the gist of Strong's report thus far.

Prior to leaving Pyongyang Saturday, he told China’s Xinhua news agency that North Korea wants “very much” a peaceful solution to its standoff with the United States focused on its nuclear programme.

“The message I get is that the DPRK (North Korea) wants very much a peaceful resolution, but at the same time, it must remain (maintain) its sovereignty,” Strong was quoted by Xinhua saying.

Washington has rules out one-on-one talks until North Korea dismantles its nuclear programmes.


Again, they're the peace-loving North Koreans, we're the bullies.

Strong told reporters Sunday he sensed concern from Pyongyang that North Korea could be the next target of US military action, but that there was a “very strong commitment” on Pyongyang’s part to seek a peaceful solution. “Fear I do not believe is in their vocabulary. Concern, yes,” Strong said.


See above--we're still the bad guys.

He said there was no visible evidence of preparations for war or a heightened sense of tension in North Korea.

However he had noted among attitudes in the country a “high degree of preparedness” for any war. He said North Korea could take more actions deemed provocative by the international community, but which Pyongyang would consider “logical” in light of its security concerns and a sign of its determination to defend themselves. He told Xinhua the Iraq war gave “new impetus” to the need to resolve the North Korea crisis peacefully.

He urged Washington and Pyongyang to hold talks as soon as possible.


I guess a million men and 11,000 artillery guns poised to raze Seoul on a moment's notice don't constitute "preparations for war." Well, technically I suppose he's right, since North Korea is pretty much always on a hair-trigger for a southern conquest. Anyhow, the UN fellow says we should hold bilateral talks with the Kim regime quickly, which amounts to acceeding to Kim's demand for bilateral talks. Doing so would play right into Kim's hands, and marginalize the South Korean government. And why is the guy framing the entire problem as a Washington vs Pyongyang debate? Oh yeah, because the organization he represents is an irrelevant, sad joke. As for evidence that the North likes bullying the South in order to belittle it and delegitimize it, the story helpfully supplies:

North Korea suspends talks with South Korea: North Korea on Saturday suspended planned economic cooperation and maritime talks with South Korea citing Seoul’s military alert posture during the Iraqi war and its joint military drill with the United States.

North Korea’s chief delegate to the inter-Korean economic cooperation committee, Pak Chang-Ryon, said in a statement the North had to postpone indefinitely the two meetings scheduled for the coming week. He accused the South of putting its military on a high alert posture, dubbed a defense readiness condition, against the North “under the pretext of the Iraqi war,” according to North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.

He also attacked the South for staging an annual joint military drill with the 37,000 US troops stationing here.


Belittle the South, threaten Japan and try and force the US into bilateral talks. Kim's strategy is obvious. He wants money, food and technology, while at the same time he hasn't given up on the notion that he's the only legitimate ruler of the entire Korean Peninsula. His current path--start up the nukes, threaten war on the South and Japan, demand bilateral talks with the US while using the UN as his diplomatic arm against us--may yet get him what he wants. But only if we give in. It's clear that the UN is full of idiots useful to Kim's designs, and we should treat it as such.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:31 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

A HERO HEADS TO WAR

The Arizona Cardinals' Pat Tillman is heading for his first deployment since walking away from a $3.6 million contract to sign on with the Army. Presumably, the best tackler in Cardinals history is heading to the Gulf.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

THE LATEST ON SADDAM

He's alive, but seriously injured, after Wednesday's opening salvo. British cabinet officials were briefed on Saddam's condition today, and they're talking a little more than our officials currently are:

A British official said: "Saddam Hussein was badly injured. He was so badly injured he needed a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, he was not critically injured. We think he is still alive. We also think his son Uday was killed or badly injured."


We also apparently got "Chemical Ali," the mastermind of Saddam's infamous chemical attacks on his own people.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TERRORISTS IN KUWAIT USED D.C. SNIPER'S TECHNIQUE

Sky news is reporting terrorists just attacked the remainder of the 101st Airborne still in Kuwait and wounded ten. The two suspects used the same "grenade in the tent" technique as D.C. sniper John Muhammad used during the last Gulf War in 1991:

The story, according to Berentson and at least two other former members of the 84th [Engineer Company], was that Muhammad threw a thermite grenade into a tent housing 16 of his fellow soldiers [encamped on the Iraq border].

Thermite grenades - made of finely granulated aluminum mixed with a metal oxide, and blasting heat up to 1,200 degrees - are used to destroy equipment during battle. The attack could easily have killed or maimed, but all 16 in the tent, some coughing and choking, escaped unharmed.

Today's terrorists probably used normal frag grenades though. Due to the tight security it looks like it's probably an inside job. Not necessarily another traitorous John Muhammed, but it could be Kuwaiti contractors or local translators they mentioned. Not likely to be the Iraqi army.

UPDATE: Glenn Frazier has more news posted. Additional reports of small arms fire, carnage, and still-smoking tents. This is why we're at war guys. Go get 'em Screaming Eagles.

UPDATE: The Kuwaiti translators were detained and ruled out, but one U.S. soldier is missing and being searched for. He's obviously a de facto suspect until ruled out, but he's not being named as such.

UPDATE:They've now found and detained the U.S. soldier (and one other unnamed individual) and are questioning him. He was "acting weird" the last few days and was guarding the weapons. He is reported by CBS to be a black American Muslim who, after throwing the grenades, was injured and hid in a bunker. This isn't a hunch one wants to be right about, but it shows how we need to see these wartime Muslim grenade-tossing "terrorist-traitors" for what they are. The Pentagon is now alleging this is the work of a "criminal," even though it appears to be politically motivated. John Muhammad never even faced charges for his grenade attack.

UPDATE: At least one leftist protester in San Francisco was publicly supporting any soldiers who would kill their officers. Looks like we now have a poster child for the crime of sedition. Let's see if the FBI identifies the protester and charges him. Ashcroft needs to draw the legal line for these people fast.

UPDATE:New post on Asan Akbar's motivations.
Posted by Chris Regan at 06:52 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

MORE DETAILS ON THE RICIN FOUND IN PARIS

The truth is beginning to bubble to the surface. French police believe the poison has a link to al Qaeda in London -- and that leads back to Abu Zarqawi, Pakistan and Iraq.

Antiterrorist police have focused on an alleged Algerian-dominated network whose operatives are believed to have received specialized training with biological and chemical weapons at Al Qaeda camps in the Russian republic of Chechnya. One of the suspected leaders is Abu Musab Zarqawi, a veteran terrorist who has operated in Iraq with the protection of the Iraqi regime, according to US officials.

In January, British police arrested suspected members of the so-called ''Chechen network'' during a raid on a makeshift ricin lab in London. That group was linked to cells previously dismantled in the Paris suburbs of Romainville and La Courneuve.

The arrests were part of a crackdown in Britain, France, and Spain that may well have averted cyanide gas attacks on the Russian Embassy here and on the London subway, French officials said.

France's interior minister said yesterday that the new ricin case probably involves the same network.

''One can think that there are ties, without being certain, to the Al Qaeda movement and the teams that were arrested in Romainville and La Courneuve,'' Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said. ''But no information at our disposal leads us to affirm that France was targeted.''

...One flask was labeled ''X-4 Pakistan.''

Well, what do you know? Finally, the French government and the press begins to sleepily awake and notice that ricin in France leads to a man who had help from one Mr. Saddam Hussein. Given the war irony, and Mansoor Ijaz' claim that Chirac's government had already found ricin in Paris once before during the UN negotiations, it's a huge political story. You read it first here when the JunkYard Blog began barking. Of course, the credit really goes to Mansoor Ijaz for publicizing the first Paris ricin find that French Intelligence kept quiet for political reasons.
Posted by Chris Regan at 02:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

ROUND-UP OF LINKS BETWEEN AL QAEDA AND IRAQ

It's good to to see bloggers like Alex Knapp keep hammering the point home so future administrators of Iraq get the message that eliminating Saddam doesn't immediately eliminate al Qaeda's footprint in the country. Plus, some people are just slow on the uptake.

Just today, Ansar al-Islam, a group linked with Al Qaeda was blamed by Kurds for the death of a journalist in a car bomb attack in northern Iraq.

UPDATE:
We're taking more terrorist vermin out of commission, and stirring them out of their nests:U.S. Strikes al Qaeda-Linked Group in Northern Iraq

Expect them to attack again until eliminated.
Posted by Chris Regan at 01:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2003

PROTECTERS OF SADDAM AND OSAMA TO RULE POST-WAR IRAQ?

Charles Krauthammer is strongly warning that post-war victory in Iraq is endangered. France, Russia, Germany and others that fought to protect Saddam, and not the Iraqi people, are gearing up to force Bush to surrender Iraq to full control of the U.N. Krauthammer fears that some in the Administration are now leaning toward allowing these political enemies to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He was visibly upset tonight on Fox News Channel.

Meanwhile, if the U.S. remains in charge, one of the civilian "rulers" of post-war Iraq is best known for blocking a major investigation into al Qaeda during the Clinton Administration.

One of three regional rulers in post-Saddam Iraq has been designated. She is career Foreign Service Arabist Barbara Bodine, who last served as U.S. ambassador to Yemen. She will run civilian affairs in Baghdad and central Iraq, along with two other U.S. regional administrators.

Miss Bodine's appointment has angered some FBI and law enforcement officials because of her role in hampering the FBI's investigation of the October 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen.

She clashed with FBI counterterrorism official John O'Neill during the probe. She blocked Mr. O'Neill from returning to Yemen after a trip back to the United States, scuttling an aggressive investigation into the blast. Mr. O'Neill retired from the FBI and was killed in the September 11 World Trade Center attack.

John O' Neill is otherwise known as "The Man Who Knew." He's a true American hero who tried to warn about the extreme danger of al Qaeda. Barbara Bodine is an embarassment. Is she sorry, or did she pay a price for her actions? Nope. Not then, and especially not now that she's going to rule Iraq from Baghdad. Here's an example of her continued hostile attitude toward the man killed by al Qaeda after she kept him from investigating the terror group -- from an interview with the producer of The Man Who Knew:

Michael Kirk: It isn't my impression that the State Department swept Ambassador Bodine aside in any way. And despite months of our best efforts, the ambassador would not grant us an interview. She did say that she could not believe that we would try to spend 90 minutes of television on John O'Neill.

Nice woman. It's great to know Osama might still have someone willing to run interference for him while ruling from Baghdad. I guess we'll see if she allows the FBI to do their job chasing terrorist leads in Iraq this time. She'll probably try to keep them out, or at least unarmed for sensitivity reasons. I wouldn't be surprised to see her declare Iraq "al Qaeda-free" the day she takes office.
Posted by Chris Regan at 10:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SURRENDER OF IRAQ BEING SECRETLY NEGOTIATED

NBC News' Tim Russert reports a "third party" nation is currently in talks with an Iraqi leader to arrange for the surrender of Iraq to Coalition Forces. Nothing to link yet. The leader would bring down the regime from within. I would guess the Saudis or Russians are likely involved, but the nation is being kept secret still.

U.S. response to the offer is to welcome unconditional surrender, but we'll keep the pressure on full-bore until remaining Iraqi leaders actually capitulate.

UPDATE:
From an ABC News report, it could be France, who's still trying to save Saddam

American officials have told ABCNEWS that even with today's bombing, secret talks have continued behind the scenes about a Saddam Hussein surrender and exile to, among other places, the country of Mauritania in west Africa.

One of the back channels goes through France, according to American officials aware of the negotiations.

Since December, ABCNEWS has learned, an emissary from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in the middle of the secret offer of exile. American officials say the French go-between, Pierre Delval, an expert on foreign currencies, has repeatedly traveled to Baghdad to persuade Saddam to accept exile in Mauritania.

A former French colony, Mauritania is an Islamic republic said to have warm ties with Iraq.

Officials in Mauritania said they knew nothing of any exile offer to Saddam Hussein or his sons.

If it's France, then it's probably a "Tora Bora trick." Russert did not seem to be talking about Saddam being the one who would give up the regime, so France may not be the third party who contacted the U.S.
Posted by Chris Regan at 08:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SHOCKED BACK TO REALITY

Check out this human shield's tale of his recent stay in Iraq:

Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."


I suspect more than a few of the former human shields have had similar shocks since entering Saddam's Iraq.

From the same linked story, signs of hope once we've cleaned up Iraq:

The official and private views of some ranking Jordanian officials appear to be diametrically opposed. Officially, they condemn the war and say they are "deeply troubled" about the repercussions of the war on the region, and describe the situation as "critical."

Privately, and not for attribution, they say the United States is developing a new opportunity for the Middle East. Said one former prime minister, "If the U.S. can get a new Iraq to recognize Israel as a quid pro quo for a final Palestinian settlement, others will fall into place -- Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf states. Iran would then have to pull back its military support for Hezbollah."


Well, that is sort of the point of this whole affair, isn't it.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

MORE MASS SURRENDERS

Including three Iraqi Lt Cols. Some Iraqi soldiers have tried surrendering to journalists covering the war. Just like 1991. But this time, we'll finish the job.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SO MUCH FOR AMERICAN ISOLATION

The Coalition of the Willing is already larger than the coalition that backed the US in the first Gulf War, according to the Heritage Foundation. Meanwhile, France, Germany and Belgium are plotting to lead the EU as a party of three. They may find the EU itself reduced to such numbers once this war is done.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BELO ALERT FOR IRAQI CHEM AGENTS ON MEXICAN BORDER

Fox News Channel is reporting information from their sister network Sky News that U.S. and Mexican officials are currently searching for six Iraqis with "toxic chemicals" in the Mexican border area. Chemicals are said to be either radiological or biological due to the reported need for temperature control.

Yes, I know, we Americans are idiots for not closing that border. WorldNetDaily should be commended for leaving bloggers in the dust on this topic and trying to wake everybody else up.

Of more concern, says a spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., are Iraqi nationals burrowing into the U.S. from Mexico.

"The congressman is deeply concerned about the number of people coming across the border illegally who are of Iraqi descent," said Tancredo aide Lara Kennedy in a WorldNetDaily interview. "That is alarming because, unlike those with green cards or visas, we don't know exactly what their intentions are, because we can't keep track of them."

She says the Iraqi nationals were discovered with other OTM – Other Than Mexican – illegal aliens in Border Patrol sweeps near the Sierra Vista, Ariz., border with Mexico, an area south of Tucson.

Tancredo, chairman of Congress' Immigration Reform Caucus, found out about the Iraqis during a recent fact-finding mission with other caucus members to the porous border stretch. Concerned about possible terrorism, he wants troops patrolling the border.

A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Iraqi-born smuggler George Tajirian pleaded guilty to forging an alliance with a corrupt Mexican immigration officer, Angel Molina Paramo, to smuggle Iraqi, Palestinian, Jordanian, Syrian, Yemeni and other illegal aliens through Mexico and into the U.S.

If we bloggers would have only spent time on more serious topics like this instead of Trent Lott's mouth. Not that we can't cover other topics like "Trent" Daschle's mouth during wartime, etc, but I'd rather remain alive in order to choose what else to blog about after that. The Mexican border issue is a deadly bipartisan political failure, and only a grassroots movement will change that. Unfortunately, we all need to get over political correctness and self-censorship first. The accepted policy of not cutting off illegal aliens is a cynical attempt by both parties to purchase immigrant votes -- by risking the death of all Americans.

Meanwhile, we have another BELO alert for this guy:

A Saudi man being sought by the FBI because he may be plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. targets has been linked to Jose Padilla, an American citizen charged with plotting to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb" in the United States.

The FBI on Thursday asked law enforcement agencies and the public to be on the lookout for Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, 27, who senior law enforcement officials said has received flight training and possesses a Florida driver's license.
Posted by Chris Regan at 04:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

MORE ON THE MISSILE ATTACK AIMED AT SADDAM

From UPI:

A top-secret U.S. intelligence operation, working in Baghdad weeks before the war, provided the crucial targeting information vital to the attempt to kill Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein early Thursday, administration officials said.

The highly clandestine targeting effort, directed at top Iraq leaders, involved specialized CIA and military teams under command of the CIA, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Two administration officials with access to sensitive intelligence told United Press International that Saddam and his two sons were definitely in one of the three buildings of the compound in a Baghdad suburb when it was flattened by bombs from F-117 fighters and cruise missiles from U.S. ships and submarines early Thursday Iraq time. The attack came after expiration of an ultimatum from U.S. President George W. Bush that Saddam and his sons leave Iraq or face war.

"Saddam was in the building when that stuff went off," said one U.S. official.


Within our intel agencies, opinion on the attack's effectiveness is divided:

Another U.S. official said: "Within the (intelligence) community there is a general belief that Saddam is still alive, and the rest is wishful thinking."

An administration official said it was believed Saddam had suffered damage to one of his inner ears.

One former senior U.S. intelligence official said that the administration is examining "highly credible" reports that Saddam's son, Qusay, had been killed in the raid.

An administration official acknowledged the report is in "circulation" but said: "We don't know yet if it's accurate."

A former senior CIA analyst, who said he also thinks that Qusay is dead, pointed to a quote Saddam made in his broadcast after the attack in which the

Iraqi leader said: "This family has sacrificed in this war."

The former senior analyst said he believed this was a reference to Qusay's death. "I'm surprised more people haven't picked up on this," he said.


So maybe Saddam is alive but his one of his offspring is dead. One out of two isn't bad.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

SHOCK AND AWE BEGINS

Rumsfeld is a hoss. He's patiently answering some profoundly dumb questions from the media. "Why are we targeting hundreds of Iraqi military sites at once instead of targeting hundreds of Iraqi military sites over the course of a few days?" Or something like that.

I guess the terms "shock" and "awe" just bounced off that reporter's forehead.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

FIRST CONTACT

Marines moving north have met light resistance in securing oil fields. As expected, mass surrenders are starting to occur among the Iraqi front-line troops.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IRAQ MAY HAVE A STEALTH-DETECTING RADAR SYSTEM

Several years ago, Ukraine may have tried to sell Iraq the same type of radar that enabled the Yugoslavs to knock down a stealth fighter in 1999. Saddam may also have formed an alliance with Slobodan Milosevich, whose claim to fame is killing Muslims by the truckload, before the latter's downfall. Strange bedfellows. The Czechs are also implicated in upgrading Saddam's air defenses against our aircraft. Both the Czech Republic and Ukraine are members of the coalition of the willing, though in fairness the stealth radar sales, if they happened, were about three years ago. And who knows how good these anti-stealth systems are anyway. The Yugoslavs may have just gotten lucky--they never did down another Nighthawk.

So far, I haven't seen any evidence that Saddam's radar upgrades are paying off.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

QUIET SO FAR ON THE NORTH KOREAN FRONT

This may explain why. Manufacturing nukes is proving harder than they expected.

The Bush administration had been bracing for the reclusive communist regime to time the start-up of the facility to coincide with the war with Iraq. But despite feverish activity that can be observed around the site, officials believe the North Koreans have been stymied in their rush to begin creating the raw material needed for nuclear weapons.

"They are working 24/7," a senior administration official said. "But it is not going as fast as they wanted to."
Posted by B. Preston at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NOW HE TELLS US...?

Dr. Strangeblix says that if Iraq fired SCUD missiles, it's in material breach of the UN disarmament resolutions. Thanks, Sherlock.

(via InstaPundit)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SADDAM'S DOUBLE UNMASKED!!!

Ok, not really, but check this out anyway.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2003

REPORT: SADDAM INJURED, UDAY KILLED

Bob Woodward and colleagues cover Saddam:

"The preponderance of the evidence is he was there when the building blew up," said one senior U.S. official with access to sensitive intelligence. The official added that Hussein's sons, Qusay and Uday, may also have been at the compound. "He didn't get out" beforehand, another senior official said of the Iraqi president.

A third administration official said "there is evidence that he [Hussein] was at least injured" because of indications that medical attention was urgently summoned on his behalf. The condition of Hussein's sons, and any others who may have been at the compound, was also unknown, officials said.

Some experts say the clown in the video looked like Saddam in a state of shock, but his historically reliable ex-mistress said it was definitely one of those creepy doubles. That question is still the subject of heated debate.

Bill Gertz has the rest of the picture:

A U.S. official told The Washington Times last night that there is no doubt that Saddam was meeting with top Iraqi leaders, including military commanders and his two sons, Uday and Qusai, in the building that was struck by two bombs from an Air Force F-117 stealth fighter.

The official said the question is whether Saddam had left the building 30 minutes before the strike, which hit at 5:30 a.m. Baghdad time, or was still in the building.

But the Associated Press quoted unnamed sources last night that medical attention was summoned afterward and that nobody appears to be commanding the Iraqi military.

The U.S. official told The Times there are intelligence reports that his elder son, Uday, was killed.

Wednesday's strike was made possible by intelligence from special-operations and CIA teams inside the city who pinpointed Saddam's location at a government building on Baghdad's southern fringe. The American clandestine teams work covertly and for all appearances are Iraqi denizens of Baghdad.

That's pretty cool. Uday is the mass-rapist who had a private prison and torture room for Olympic athletes, friends, and enemies. I hope it wasn't too painless for him.
Posted by Chris Regan at 11:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

DAYS OF MIRACLE AND WONDER

Right now, I'm on the net surfing for the latest war news, and Fox is showing a live shot of US troops heading north across the Kuwait-Iraq border. It looks like the camera is mounted on an armored personnel carrier or possibly a tank--it's hard to tell, given the dust kicked up by the leading vehicle and the relatively poor resolution of the camera. But it's astounding--the US military has actually authorized this live shot from near the front lines of a hot war.

UPDATE: Wow! They just crossed into Iraq and pulled down an Iraqi flag that was flying on a bunker or something. Yeah, it was probably set up for television, but it's still just a mind-spinner to see this live.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

THE FBI THREATENS PRESS FREEDOM

It seems that for every step forward our intelligence and counter-terrorism services take in getting at and destroying al Qaeda, they take a collective step backward in the area of protecting our basic civil rights. Case in point: A couple of AP reporters exchanged correspondence regarding some unclassified FBI data on known terrorists. That correspondence happened to cross the boundaries of the US, and thus the Customs Service had the chance to inspect the package containing the data. That's within the Custom Services rights, and it makes sense that it would inspect packages moving between the US and Manila. The Philippines is a hotbed of Islamic terrorism, after all.

So far, so good then. Customs is doing its job. They referred the matter--the correspondence contained an 8-year-old unclassified FBI lab report--to the FBI, and that's where things went awry. According to the linked story, the FBI kept it without a warrant, citing sensitive materials. But the data in the report had been used in public in court proceedings. Additionally, the Customs agents who opened the reporters' package didn't open an identical package containing identical contents that was destined for the UN. Interesting, to say the least.

You could chalk this episode up to FBI bungling, and that would be a believable tale. But, the data in question concerned the case of Ramzi Yousef, convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and his associate Abdul Hakim Murad. It seems that where Yousef is concerned, the FBI goes to the wall to keep information from reaching the public, even riding roughshod over the freedom of the press.

It's disturbing to see the FBI act in this way, and it's deeply corrosive to our civil rights.

(thanks to John Berger)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WHY THE LEFT LOVES OSAMA

Daniel Pipes fires a devastating political shot against the Left. Moderate lefties should read it before making your signs for the next Communist-sponsored protest march. Hint: Tone it down people! Here's some of his reasoning, but you have to read the whole thing:

Right after the 9/11 attack, German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen called it "the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos." Eric Foner, an ornament of Columbia University's Marxist firmament, trivialized it by announcing himself unsure "which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House." Norman Mailer called the suicide hijackers "brilliant."

More recently, it appears that none of the millions of antiwar demonstrators have a bad word to say about Saddam Hussein nor an iota of sympathy for those oppressed, tortured and murdered by his regime. Instead, they vent fury against the American president and British prime minister.

...The Left theorizes that the United States oppresses poor countries; thus Noam Chomsky's formulation that America is a "leading terrorist state."

...Then came 9/11, which Marxists interpreted as the Third World (finally!) striking back at its American oppressor. In the Left's imagination, Harris explains, this attack was nothing less than "world-historical in its significance: the dawn of a new revolutionary era."

...This admiring spirit explains the Left's nonchalant response to 9/11. Sure, it rued the loss of life, but not too much. Dario Fo, the Italian Marxist who won the 1997 Nobel Prize for literature, explains: "The great [Wall Street] speculators wallow in an economy that every year kills tens of millions of people with poverty, so what is 20,000 dead in New York?"

The same goes for Saddam Hussein, whose gruesome qualities matter less to the Left than the fact of his confronting and defying the United States. In its view, anyone who does that can't be too bad

We now have Rep Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) talking excitedly about the revolution and comparing Osama to our founding fathers, and we have other leftists serving as "human shields," offering their lives to Arafat and Saddam as quasi-religious sacrifices for their cause. You don't see any leftists actually offering their lives to Osama, thankfully, but that may come soon if al Qaeda were to survive and recruit from the anarchist protesters. Passive human shields now could easily become active human bombs later (once all the Palestinian children are dead). It's the same spirit of fighting against the "oppressors." Their cause is not true peace or they wouldn't risk their lives to support terrorists like Arafat, and mass Muslim murderers like Saddam, let alone shield them in a battle. That takes true love. Too bad it's love for people who terrorize and murder civilians.
Posted by Chris Regan at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NYC NUCLEAR POWER PLANT UNGUARDED

MSNBC Transcript - Robert Kennedy Jr:

"If there was a major radioactive release, it’s 22 miles north of the city. There’s-there are 21 million people within the 50-mile kill zone around that plant. If there was a major radioactive release, it could make New York City permanently uninhabitable. That would be the-imagine a world without a New York City. Imagine the end of the world financial center. Imagine the collapse of the international banking system, which is one of the probable results if you extrapolate NRC’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s, own predictions about the result of a-of a catastrophic release from only one of the units at Indian Point."

"So if you ask the company that owns this plant, Entergy, who is protecting-are you protecting this plant against terrorism? They’ll say no, that’s not our duty. And then you say to them, well, whose duty is it? And they’ll say, well, it’s the federal government’s. So then you go to Tom Ridge and say are you protecting it? And he says no, that’s the company’s responsibility. If you go to the Pentagon, the army, the navy, marines, air force, and say, are you protecting it? They’ll say no. Literally, Joe, there is nobody protecting this plant against a terrorist attack. All they’ve got at that plant is they’ve got a group of rent-a-guards, rent-a-cop guards who themselves say that they cannot protect the plant against a terrorist attack. In fact half the guards, 51 percent of the guards, said that if terrorists attacked the plant, that they would flee."

Let's hope those terrorists streaming across the open Mexican border stay focused on nuclear power plants in Arizona. At least we have a fighting chance, and less of a catastrophe if we miss them.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

IRAQ CONNECTED TO RICIN DISCOVERED IN PARIS

I know this is a déjà vu for many, but a new discovery of ricin today in a train station was so pathetically reported by Reuters that I need to add some details behind the story as reported recently by terror expert Mansoor Ijaz.

Iraq continues to deny any involvement in training al Qaeda operatives, and Pakistani intelligence very effectively, and quickly, suppressed evidence of these clandestine meetings after September 11. But erasing the fingerprints cannot change the irrefutable fact that Ricin and other chemicals first found in al Qaeda's Afghan safe houses after years of covert collaborations with Iraq inside Pakistan and Afghanistan are now being repeatedly uncovered in al Qaeda affiliated terror cells throughout Europe.

Interestingly, the discoveries of Ricin in Europe come after Zarqawi visited at least one of the cells in early November last year. And not just any cell. He was allegedly transported by well-paid Albanian mercenaries [from Iraq] through southern Turkey via the Balkans into France — that's right, France — where he spent the month of Ramadan teaching Algerian radicals how to make the toxic poison for which there is no known antidote. French police interrogations have revealed that the same Algerians arrested in Paris traveled to Barcelona, where later another al Qaeda cell was rooted out.

Traces of Ricin apparently found in the Paris apartment of the Algerian cell demonstrate with great clarity how Zarqawi's presence in Europe enabled the export and distribution of formulas and ingredients through al-Qaeda's nebulous global network to endpoints for deployment while giving Saddam plausible deniability of any involvement.

The first Paris ricin discovery was kept quiet by the French government during the UN negotiations. At that time, Ijaz tried to tell everyone of the find, and the Iraqi connection, but as usual everyone ignored yet another link to Iraq's involvement with terrorists. Hopefully the French enjoy getting ricin with egg on their face.

UPDATE: More background here on Zarqawi, and Iraq's connection to European ricin recipes.

Zarqawi, a Jordanian with expertise in chemical and biological weapons design, is reportedly the No. 3 Al Qaeda official. He has lived at an Al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan where traces of the poison ricin were found last year.

Zarqawi has been tied to a northern Iraqi terror group backed by Hussein to oppose Kurdish rebels. At minimum, Hussein's regime provided Zarqawi with safe harbor and free passage into and out of Iraq. In the worst case, Hussein provided chemical and biological agents directly to a senior Al Qaeda leader.

British intelligence reportedly believes that Zarqawi sent recipes for making ricin from raw materials to Al Qaeda cells in London and perhaps other European cities. Algerian terrorists said to be connected to Al Qaeda and the northern Iraqi group, several of whom worked for food preparation companies, were arrested in London three weeks ago.


UPDATE II: Agence France-Presse is putting out a follow-up to today's story, but it's still questionable reporting.

A SOURCE close to the investigation into a deadly poison find in Paris has said there does not appear to be a link to the launch of the the US-led war against Iraq...

It is the first such discovery on French soil.

First, a specific link to the launch of the war would not be evident within a few hours. That reminds me of Chirac's laughably short "inquiry" into Safire's allegations of French involvement in sending ballistic missile fuel to Saddam.

Second, official talk of not finding a link to this particular batch conveniently avoids the key question of who is already known to be involved with ricin in European capitals -- and those people are directly related to the very reason the war was launched. The French government doesn't want to talk about that, for the same reason they didn't publicize the last ricin find in a private residence.

Third, the "first such discovery on French soil" claim is dubious. It's the first public discovery. The denial is only valid if there's some Clintonian formulation where a Paris apartment is not considered on French soil, but above it.

This is the reason you can't wait for terrorists to leave smoking guns that you can show a judge, or a legalistic UN Security Council. If a nuke goes off in Paris, dusting for fingerprints won't be possible. You have to attack the well-known sources of terror proactively when you have quality intelligence links and strong circumstantial evidence. Chirac doesn't have the guts to do that. He's still stuck in the 90's when Saddam could contract out terror hits and have a few losers take the fall in criminal court.

UPDATE III: Blogged a fresh post with more details here.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TARGET OF OPPORTUNITY MISSED

Our military had bin Laden in their sights with a 90% chance of success, but the former President was too afraid to act.

Lt. Col. Patterson also charges that Clinton was aware of an al-Qaeda plot to hijack airplanes and use them as flying bombs, something the ex-president has never acknowledged.

Recounting a 1996 episode in which he said Clinton had asked him to gather up several days' worth of Presidential Daily Briefings from his desk, Patterson recalled:

"I opened the PDB to rearrange the notes and noticed the heading 'Operation Bojinka.' I keyed on a reference to a plot to use commercial airliners as weapons
Posted by Chris Regan at 03:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DEMOCRATS GO TO WAR, LAUNCH SNEAK ATTACK

Republicans focused on danger to American forces on the first night of battle took some "friendly" fire as Democrats moved to kill an entire slate of Bush nominees.

It was an extraordinary move on the part of Levin and Stabenow, a kind of Wednesday-night massacre that sent Republicans scrambling to research whether such wholesale obstruction had any precedent in Senate history, and what a GOP response might be.

The move is all the more remarkable because much of the Sixth Circuit is in what the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts calls a "judicial emergency." The court normally has 16 members, but half of those seats are now empty...

"Although I understand [Levin's and Stabenow's] desire to have the president renominate two of President Clinton's candidates for the court of appeals...we believe it would be unfair to expect the president to do so," Gonzales wrote to Leahy that August...

Despite the Democrats' threats, the White House stood firm. Gonzales continued: "To my knowledge, before President Bush renominated Roger Gregory to the Fourth Circuit, no president had ever nominated to a court of appeals an individual previously nominated to the court of appeals by his predecessor from a different party. For any senator to insist that this extraordinary and historic act be repeated is simply not fair. Appointments to the federal courts of appeals are uniquely matters of presidential prerogative."

...Gonzales said the White House had offered to consider the two failed Clinton circuit court nominees, White and Lewis, for nomination to lower federal courts. "In our view, this was a proposal that reflected exceptional generosity, good faith, and respectful bipartisanship," Gonzales wrote.

Add to this Bush's pending nomination of staunch Clintonista and Hugo Chavez supporter John Maisto as OAS ambassador, and you can say Democrat leaders are acting just like Chirac. You can also say that, just as with the French diplomatic backstabbers, Bush needs to wake up and realize the type of politicians he's dealing with. They see good-faith actions as weakness to exploit.

Maisto has a vested interest in supporting Chavez: He was Clinton's ambassador to Venezuela when Chavez took power and trampled over the constitution. Maisto didn't register a complaint then and isn't doing so now.

Why would the Republican Bush administration promote Maisto to ambassador to the Organization of American States?

Sadly, the Maisto situation isn't isolated. Republican foreign policy experts tell NewsMax that Bush has fallen for bad advice from Colin Powell and Condi Rice, who told him to appoint career foreign service officers to top policy jobs.

Typically, political administrations bring in their own experts who share the president's agenda and interests to implement his policies - not promote career bureaucrats who lean left.

Unfortunately, we hear most of the top positions at the National Security Council have been filled - not with sound political appointments, but left-leaning career State Department bureaucrats. This move has given Colin Powell and the State Department unprecedented power throughout the government.

Meanwhile, the likes of Maisto are continuing Clinton policies that have led to a meltdown in Latin America.

Make no mistake about it - Maisto is no friend of pro-democracy efforts. When he was ambassador to Nicaragua, we understand that he openly apologized to the Nicaraguan government for President Ronald Reagan's support of the contras.

U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States is not the job for a Clinton acolyte supportive of leftist regimes. Latin America, and Venezuela specifically, is quickly becoming the next battleground for terrorists and Communist/terrorist-friendly leaders like Chavez. Cuba and other Communist states in Asia see an opportunity to renew an ideological foothold where terror access to America is easy through the open Mexican border.
Posted by Chris Regan at 02:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

UDAY MAY BE DOWN FOR THE COUNT

From an Iranian news source, which of course has several anti-Iraqi axes to grind:

Tehran, March 20, IRNA -- Uday, the elder son of Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein, struck by brain hemorrhage following conflict with a
member of Saddam's Fedayeen on Thursday.
Mosuah al-Nahrain in its website on Thursday quoted sources north
of Iraq as saying that very tough and indecent orders, issued by Uday,
who heads Saddam's Fedayeen, had provoked the conflict as the young
man attacked Uday.
Uday's bodyguards then beat the man to injury.
The website declined to give further comments.


As for Saddam's survival, the fog of war remains thick. From CBS by way of Drudge:

"I am being told by several senior officials not to take that taped speech Saddam gave last night as proof that he survived the attack," CBS NEWS reporter David Martin said on air.

"They say the evidence that put him in the bunker last night was very reliable, and they are confident that the cruise missiles and bunker-busting bombs that were fired at that bunker last night hit the target. So now, intelligence experts are studying the tape to determine if it is really Saddam, or a body double which he is known to use from time to time. And they are running a computerized voice analysis, comparing that speech with known recordings of Saddam's voice. But that's a process that takes awhile. So we may not have a quick answer."

"There is considerable belief in this government that they may, in fact, have gotten Saddam."


While NBC takes the opposite view:

Still, said Miklaszewski, U.S. officials are "pretty certain they did not get him, judging by other intelligence they've apparently been able to derive since."
Posted by B. Preston at 12:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WHAT THE PEACENIKS WANT

Now that the war seems to be underway, it's high time we look in on the "peace" movement. Their latest gambit is interesting, to say the least. I got this little bit of spam today, courtesy the peaceniks at the Traprock Peace Center who bought my email address from Democrats.com:

Greetings - Here are two complementary efforts to stop the war.

The Uniting for Peace Campaign (initiated by the Center for Constitutional
Rights and joined by an international group of organizations and activists)
is urging France, Germany and Russia to send peacekeepers to Iraq
immediately.

At the same time, it is asking the UN General Assembly to demand an
immediate cease-fire Under Resolution 377, the General Assembly can 'Unite
for Peace' when the .Security Council is unable to act.


Rub your eyes. Yes, you read that correctly--they want our "allies" to send troops into Iraq to oppose US forces as "peacekeepers!" They want foreign states to rise up and fight against us. That's not only treasonous talk, but a recipe for a bona fide world war.

Whatever these "peace" activists want, it sure isn't peace. Follow them and we'll wind up in a war beyond imagination.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

FROM BALKENHAWKEN TO ADVOCATING GENOCIDE?

What to make of Josh Marshall's latest on the war. He was against attacking Iraq early on, but like many liberals converted to become a relunctant hawk. A week or so before any shooting started, he followed many other liberals and converted back and became a balkenhawk--one who in principle favors disarming Saddam but not now, because Bush had allegedly bungled the pre-war diplomacy. But now that the war is imminent, maybe even underway, Marshall trots out a new pose--call him a Shermanhawk. Total war, against armies and civilians, seems to be Marshall's way of making sure the post-war goes well. He thinks Bush will be too nice, and won't kill enough Iraqis:

Not only did millions of Japanese and Germans die in World War II, but U.S. and British aerial bombing of major Japanese and German cities alone killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in what is now delicately termed “collateral damage.” And that’s not even counting the carnage caused by the atomic bombs we. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of the war against Japan.

My point here isn’t to question the justice of America’s war against the Axis powers or how we chose to wage it. Japan and Germany brought the war on themselves. Their occupations and bombings of China and Eastern Europe, respectively, were almost infinitely more brutal. They were fascist regimes that had to be destroyed and we were trying to do so as quickly as possible. But we shouldn’t ignore these facts about what happened during the war if we want to understand the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of what came after.

Violence, death and destruction on such a massive scale have a profound conditioning effect on the psyches of individuals. And the same applies to whole nations. Japan and Germany weren’t just ‘defeated’ or ‘occupied,’ they were crushed — not just their armies, but their civilian populations too. This led to a sort of national humiliation and a transformative willingness to embrace defeat and change.

True defeat changes people and nations too. The fact that our subsequent occupation turned out to be so benign was extremely important. But part of that importance was the contrast between how much these populations had suffered during the war and how much better things got for them after we took over.

And thus our problem. If everything goes according to plan, the loss of civilian life in Iraq will be minimal. Certainly, we all hope so. We’d be even happier if most of the Iraqi army simply laid down its arms when our ground troops march on Baghdad. In addition to our humanitarian interest in shedding as little blood as possible, a low death toll is key to convincing Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world that we are liberators, not conquerors or destroyers. In short, it’s key to making our invasion seem like a good thing.

But that’s the catch. Occupying armies will always keep things under control in the short-term. But the sort of transformation we engineered in the former Axis powers required a far greater pliancy, one which allowed us not only to disarm these countries but rewrite their textbooks, reorient their politics, and do much more.

Doing that in a foreign country may require a mauling of the civilian population that we are rightly unwilling to undertake.


Josh, do us all a favor and post up some sort of light system or score card so we can keep track of your current stance on the war. Do you favor it? Oppose it? Think it won't be savage enough? Do you in fact have a clue?
Posted by B. Preston at 12:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 19, 2003

TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Unless you've been asleep, you're aware that the US conducted a raid on Iraq consisting of a dozen or more Tomahawk cruise missiles and F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighters tonight. The strike on Baghdad was aimed at decapitating Iraq's leadership--apparently Iraq's top 5 leaders were holding a meeting, our intelligence services got wind of it and decided the opportunity was too good to pass up. It was a finely timed and coordinated attack, involving the Air Force and navy personnel, stationed on different sides of Iraq. In addition to striking Saddam's capital, the US military also reportedly took over Iraqi state radio and is now broadcasting across the nation, probably telling the Iraqi military forces to surrender while at the same time letting the Iraqi people know that we're not there to hurt them. It's that thug of a leader of theirs that we're after.

In addition to striking at the top of the Iraqi command, tonight's raid probably had a secondary purpose. All recent signs and history point to the distinct possibility that North Korea will make its next big move once the US-led campaign in Iraq is in full swing. For Kim Jong Il, such a campaign is a perfect storm opportunity. The US military is already involved in Afghanistan, as well as the Philippines and a few other hot spots, and with a major action underway in Iraq Kim probably believes that we will be too distracted to deal directly with him for a while, at least on the battlefield. He isn't likely to have another chance like the one now presented to him: Iraq won't likely last long. What form Kim Jong Il's action might take is anyone's guess. He could stage some kind of incident at the DMZ, could try again to down a US spy plane, could even trump up some reason to invade his southern cousins or even strike at Japan. But I am sure that in the halls of the Pentagon as well as the White House, the antennae are up for Kim to move once the war in Iraq is underway in earnest. Designed primarily to hit Iraq's leadership and eliminate them, tonight's raid also probably stirred up the chatter in North Korea and forced at least an internal reaction of some kind. Knowing how Kim reacted tonight will be useful later.

UPDATE: And just in case anyone was wondering, the United States can walk and chew gum at the same time. Air strikes in Baghdad, accompanied by a 1000-strong raid on al Qaeda in Afghanistan. So much for the theory that we can't take on al Qaeda and Saddam simultaneously--the Afghan raid is an effort to get Osama himself, according to reports.

UPDATE: South Korea's military is on high alert, worried that Kim will strike while the Iraq war is hot.

UPDATE: Two-thirds of Saddam's conscript army may be ready to surrender. They would be wise to do so, post haste.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HEADS UP

Checked out FreeRepublic.com,which was just credited by The Dixie Chicks' managers for lost airplay and sales, and saw Stratfor is now reporting sources are tentatively expecting a 9PM EST Presidential Address. Freepers as a group are usually faster than Drudge's single pair of eyes in newsflurry times like this.

It's still up in the air though. Literally. Bush is holding off on a final decision until after commanders check the skies for excessive sandstorms, etc. And then there's this clipped from a CNN article:

Official says Bush could wait to give "go" order and let Iraqi military "stare up at the sky for a little bit."

That's like calling a time-out to ice their army. I would guess 8:30 would be a perfect time. Just enough time to let them wonder if Saddam may have bolted. I hope the Iraqi grunts follow the leaflet instructions and stay away from tanks and equipment.

UPDATE Actually, a theater-wide time-on-target of 9:11 or 9:43 EST (when the Pentagon was hit) might be more appropriate.
Posted by Chris Regan at 07:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CNN NEWS

Live from Baghdad once again:

With hours to go before bombs could begin falling, CBS pulled its news team out of Iraq early on Wednesday for safety reasons, leaving CNN as the only American television network with its own team in Baghdad.

To minimize the risk of becoming inadvertent victims of a bombardment, CNN's team has moved out of Iraq's Ministry of Information building, considered a potential target of a U.S.-led assault, and began transmitting on Wednesday from a secret location in Baghdad, network spokeswoman Megan Mahoney told Reuters.

CNN also signed a deal with the NY Times and Boston Globe for sharing their war reporting. All the liberals clinging desperately together. CNN will be worth keeping an eye on, but keep a big grain of bias salt nearby. NBC and ABC have Peter Arnett and Richard Engel on their own for each network respectively. Fox News' guy got kicked out of Iraq months ago for being too American. FOX and CBS will go back in when the Iraqis are no longer in charge.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BLOGS GO TO WAR

The LA Times's Tim Rutten has a new column on blogs that, well, doesn't dig too deeply into the medium. He apparently talked to Sulli, read some InstaPundit and Kaus and Josh Marshall (why he is so respected and quoted I'll never understand), and called it a day. I would think that were I to put together a column on blogs on the eve of war, I might mention Salam and Kevin Sites, both of whom are actually blogging from Baghdad.

But that's just me. Anyhow, another big media outlet acknowledges the existence of this sea of shouters.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PRE-WAR ACTION BEGINS

At first, like everyone else, I fell for the juicy Tariq Aziz defection rumor as a sensible possibility. Then I realized, when the rumors had so many variations and he showed up on TV, it was probably buzz generated by the Allied Forces -- to either stir up excitement in the ranks and nervousness at the top, or so we could get him to come forward. We may have wanted to see where he was, and check if Saddam had killed him yet or not. His current location and demeanor could also give us hints about Saddam's location or status.

From a Stratfor email:

At 1808 GMT (1:08 p.m. EST, 9:08 p.m. Baghdad) B-52 bombers were reported taking off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom. Flying time to Iraq is about six hours. Earlier today, they were reportedly loaded with cruise missiles. The British press has also reported that skirmishing has commenced between Iraqi troops and U.S. and British special operations forces near Basra. Coalition aircraft also have attacked 10 Iraqi artillery pieces in the southern no-fly zone, and Israelis have been ordered to open and fit their gas masks, keeping them nearby at all times.

War has not yet commenced, but this is a war alert.

From Sky News:

Pentagon sources said ten artillery pieces have been destroyed.

The Pentagon said the artillery units may have had chemical or biological weapons which could be used on US and UK troops on the border with Kuwait

Looks like the American press is a bit behind the Brits. Meanwhile, I have a notice readers from France may be interested in: We're now accepting surrenders. Don't worry, Americans mean the people of France no ill will, we just want to see a regime change.

UPDATE
The Pentagon says those B-52 bombers are just going to staging locations in southern Europe. Hmm...we'll see in a couple of hours.
Posted by Chris Regan at 04:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FRENCH BEGINNING TO SWEAT ON D-DAY

Now that decision day is here, and Saddam's la vie brutale is coming to a close, the French are scared. They're now only offering to "theoretically" send medics if Americans are gassed and poisoned by Saddam. No military assistance.

the question was hypothetical and theoretical, "but it meant that France would help the victims if banned weapons were used. That assistance would have to be evaluated at the time," the source said, adding, "If biological or chemical weapons are used in Iraq, the victims would have to be helped in Iraq."

...Liberation reported that Dominique Dord, a deputy from the majority UMP party, said during Tuesday's assembly debate, "We would look really stupid if Iraqis applaud the arrival of Americans."

They're preparing to look more than just plain stupid...try really stupid.
Posted by Chris Regan at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AND THAT'S THE WAY IT ISN'T

The press isn't biased toward liberalism. President Bush's arrogance has led us to war. Jimmy Carter was the smartest US president. That's the word from for former most trusted voice in America.

Apparently a good set of pipes and a brow that furrows on command are all you really need to build up trust in the media age. Ideas often mean little.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 18, 2003

SIMON THE HATED GOES FOR BUSH

If you watch American Idol, you know who I'm talking about--Simon, the T-shirt wearing, wise-cracking Brit who savages Idol constestants, their performances, their dress, their hair, everything. He's so outrageous that he has become the critic that most people love to hate, yet tonight he said something even more startling than usual. A very attractive young blond contestant had just sung the Olivian Newton-John classic "Hopelessly Devoted to You," and she'd gotten generally positive reviews from the other judges. When it came to Simon (he's always last, because he's always the funniest, meanest, the most honest and most interesting) he said simply "I think you should replace that girl in the Dixie Chicks." And the crowd roared its approval. Simon's message was, as always, sharp and on the point--the young lady had sung well, and the Dixie Chicks' lead singer had recently disgraced herself ranting against President George W. Bush's Iraq policy. So replace her with a more attractive singer with just as good a voice and none of the idiotarian baggage.

All of this brings me in the way of a non sequitur to the Dixie Chicks themselves. Here comes an "I knew them when" story. Because I knew them before they got all famous. I knew them when they had the same name and two of the same members but were essentially a different band. But even then, their talents made them instant magnets, while their personalities left something to be desired.

I have a friend who has a tendency to go through very obvious phases in his musical listening habits. He had an REM phase. He had a U2 phase. He had an experimental jazz phase. And he had a Bluegrass phase. As luck and fate would have it, we lived in Texas at the time (this was the late 80s and early 90s), where Bluegrass music is as plentiful as big hair and barbecue. In fact, you could usually find Bluegrass, big hair and barbecue all under one roof at country/Bluegrass music festivals. I pretty much detest country music, having grown up listening to John Denver to the point where I had all of his songs memorized, and heard enough of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Ronnie Millsap and the rest so that I knew that country music boiled down to four things: mother, drunkenness, trains, and prisons (what's that from?). But Bluegrass is different. There are no drums in Bluegrass, no bass guitars, and the best Bluegrass features some truly terrific harmony in the vocals. In spite of my best efforts I grew to like Bluegrass, and as we attended a few festivals I came to appreciate its family appeal. You could see newborns and ninety-year-olds all enjoying the same music, free of alcohol and drugs, and with an emphasis on the skill of the players and singers as opposed to the flash and dazzle of rock and even some country.

That all changed when the Dixie Chicks started showing up at the festivals. They were truly a Bluegrass band in those days, and they were amazing. There were five of them back then, I think two groups of sisters, all young and gorgeous. Up next to the middle-aged acts that bookended their performances, the Dixie Chicks really stood out. As I said, they were five young women ranging from about 16 to 24 or so, all of them very good singers and truly gifted players, and absolute knockouts. Pretty soon they were headlining shows that featured much more experienced performers.

The festivals where the Dixie Chicks appeared took on a different character from those that they skipped. Where there were Dixie Chicks there tended to be a little more flash and dazzle and a little less of the family appeal.

A year or two went by, and I found myself producing a Bluegrass radio show of all things, and got sent out to report on a festival that would feature some real heavyweights in the Bluegrass world. Guys that had played with Bill Monroe, that sort of thing. It was in some obscure little venue in an obscure little town called Sulphur Springs, Texas, and on the way I got lost. It's easy to do--there really are more cows than people out there, and the country roads just aren't lit for night driving if you don't know the area. So I got lost, and was a little late to the show, but still managed to catch the Chicks' performance. It was as electrifying as always--they really were the best thing going in the tiny world of Bluegrass, and most people who saw them knew that those girls were going to make it big somehow. Well, I'd prearranged to interview the Chicks once their set was done but I had also told them I'd check in before the show just to say hello. We'd met at a couple of other shows, and I'd even chatted with a couple of the Chicks and they'd always been friendly. Since I was late to this show the pre-set greeting didn't happen, but instead of just taking it in stride the Chicks' leader (Emily, the tallish blonde) sniffed and cancelled the interview altogether. It made no sense. They had time--they hung around after their set and yucked it up with some of the other players. Eventually I convinced Emily to get the Chicks to sit down for a quick round of questions, but by then the whole thing was just about moot. I ended up getting about 5 minutes with them, when we'd planned for a half hour, with the idea that I would use the full interview on an upcoming show featuring them. As the only 100,000 watt FM station in the state that dared play Bluegrass, my station carried some weight, but not enough to move the Dixie Chicks.

So fast forward a few years, the Chicks have shed three members and picked up Natalie Maines to total three, and have crossed over from Bluegrass to country and have made it big. Huge. I wasn't surprised. They're incredibly talented, real virtuosos on their instruments and vocals and very easy on the eyes, and good songwriters. But I also wasn't surprised when the Chicks stepped in a big pile of trouble in Europe recently. Yes, it was Natalie the odd lead singer who did it, but she's just one among three. I can't speak for the dark-haired Chick Martie because I don't remember speaking with her more than once or twice, but Emily definitely wasn't someone who took things easily. She was always the cold, distant Chick. With a bit of a mean streak.

Now the problem for the Dixie Chicks is that they're famous in country music, where the audience has a very long memory. Country fans will tolerate an awful lot from their stars--drunks and drug users, jailbirds and outlaws have all been part of the fabric and history of country music. But country fans have this quirk; they're almost to a man, woman and child the most patriotic music lovers in America. Country fans hang rifles in racks in their pickups. Country fans join the Army and the Marines, and support the American way to depths that the nation's so-called elites simply can't fathom. Country fans are by and large individualists, and understand America and her place in the world. The Dixie Chicks became famous because those same country fans embraced them. The Dixie Chicks are now falling all over themselves to apologize for saying bad things about America on foreign soil, but the damage is done.

Will they survive? Maybe. Maybe if that American Idol contestant lands a job with them, maybe they will.

UPDATE: File this in the category of "not helping one's own cause": The Chicks are now blaming the furor on a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

STRIKE THREE, YER OUTTA THERE: The Chicks are apparently anti-fur PETA-pets. This will not endear them to their increasingly former fans. Though the ad photo might make them more popular on the web...

DANG: I got the Chicks' names backwards. Martie is the tallish blonde, making her the older, colder, domineering Chick. Emily is the cuter, nicer one that I don't remember well. Beauty always did confuse me, especially when I was a 20-ish college student and there were 5 hot Chicks. Thanks to Stephen for setting me straight.

STRIKE, UH, FOUR OR SOMETHING: Check out this Chicks' fan site. Martie, the tallish, coldish blonde is a vegetarian. Doesn't eat meat. But apparently that didn't stop her from doing an ad for McDonald's:

In their McDonald's commerical for McRibs, Martie was a vegetarian and spit out bites of the sandwich between takes...


Whassup with that? You don't eat meat (it's murder, etc), but you'll make money advertising it, so others can eat it in greater quantities? Can you say "hypochrite?"

(thanks to Susanna Cornett for alerting me to the spit scandal)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:08 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

NO BILATERAL TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA

With the war in Iraq set to begin (again), the Bush administration has once again denied a North Korean demand to open bilateral talks regarding its nuclear program. While the Bush stance may seem unreasonable, even counterproductive, it is actually the right course.

The North's aim in demanding bilateral talks is two-fold. The first goal is to extract concessions from the US--more money, more food aid, more technological assistance. The second goal is more subtle. The Kim cult that runs North Korea believes that it is the only legitimate ruler of the Korean Peninsula. This ideology stems from two sources, which are Kim Il Sung's role as a guerrilla fighting the Japanese imperial expansion into Korea in the 1930s, and his own relationship with Stalin who hand-picked him to rule Korea with Moscow's backing. From this history, Kim developed the view that only he or his desendants should rule Korea--not just North Korea, but all of Korea. This ideology led to the creation of the cult of personality by which Kim Il Sung, and now his son, have ruled North Korea unchallenged in spite of terrible hardship for nearly a dedace.

By demanding that the current nuclear standoff be resolved only through bilateral talks between Pyongyang and Washington, Kim's son and successor is seeking to marginalize and delegitimize the South Korean government. The North Korean thinking goes that by talking only to Washington to resolve the crisis, the South Korean government and position is frozen out, and that over time the South Korean people will come to view their own government as little more than a puppet of the US. The South Koreans will in time come to see Kim's government as on a par with Washington, while the ROK government amounts to little or nothing. The North will thus have destroyed the ROK's credibility, and the people of the South (whom the Kims have always believed saw them, and not anyone else, as their rightful rulers) will then welcome Kim Jong Il's rule to extend to the southern part of the peninsula.

It's a fantasy to be sure, but a fantasy that is driving the North Koreans' tactics and rhetoric. And for that reason, the Bush administration is wise to deny Pyongyang this request that seems to simple. Allowing bilateral talks will play right into Kim Jong Il's hands.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CHEM SUITS WON'T STOP RADIATION

The media is reluctantly coming around to the obvious conclusion that Saddam has tons of chemical weapons and is probably going to order their use. It may be all those chem suits being worn by troops that clued them in. There's been some talk of Saddam using biological weapons as well. In fact, Saddam's friend, Jacques Chirac is suddenly talking about both and expressing his "concern." Let's hope it wasn't France's plan all along to get back in the game as bogus biochem heroes. Hasn't Chirac screwed Saddam over enough? Now he wants to attack the guy after forcing him into a hopeless war where he uses WMD? Note how Chirac doesn't mention helping to fight if we're nuked. The plan in that event is to immediately surrender France to Saddam. Anyhow, if Saddam does stay to fight it out, he may try to infect Baghdad with biological agents he personally disperses -- once his troops and citizen-captives stop fighting and he senses the end.

I've been wondering, though, why the possibility of Saddam using at least a "dirty nuke" is not being discussed now in the media. Seems strange. It may be to protect Saddam's statesmanlike image from being dirtied with talk of a terrorist weapon. Iraq was reported to have tested a dirty nuke back in 1987. I can only hope he hasn't completed a nuclear bomb by now, but lesser options are a near certainty. Whatever al Qaeda is feared to have, Iraq probably already has. Saddam is richer, and controls an entire modern state apparatus that supports lesser organizations like al Qaeda. Because of this, and despite the inspections, Saddam may also have developed small tactical pure-fusion devices, or bought some Russian suitcase nukes.

In terms of the precious nuclear material that is required, namely, tritium and deuterium, pure-fusion devices are extremely cheap. Because the pure-fusion warhead does not need active nuclear material, such as plutonium, to “trigger” the deuterium-tritium burn, they can be made for a fraction of the cost of one fission-fusion neutron bomb of the 1980s.

The inherent consequences of a pure-fusion device go far beyond low cost and greatly reduced explosive yield. Most significant, pure-fusion warheads, in contrast to warheads that use fissionable material, are not covered by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Any country can, in terms of international law, legally possess and even sell such weapons and not be in violation of the NPT. Also, deuterium-tritium fuel can be purchased openly on the international market. The spirit of the NPT may be in violation, but not the letter.

Still further, because there is no fissionable component and because the explosive yield is so small, full operational tests of a pure-fusion device could be conducted in any country and not be detected by systems set up to monitor nuclear weapons tests. If tests were conducted underground at a moderate depth, say 50 to 100 meters, even the local inhabitants would suspect nothing.

Any radiological device is a major concern because our forces will start dying, and may force Bush to respond with bunker-busting nukes at a minimum. With chemical or biological weapons, we have some protection and can possibly restrain our response. I think Saddam wants to bait us into his game, and his use of even dirty nukes may cross our threshold of nuclear restraint. Hopefully our shock bombing campaign prevents all WMD use. If Saddam has these weapons in transportable form, I hope they're still in Iraq:

"We know that Iraq plans on doing something large and evil to Israel during the course of this coming conflict," said one G2 Bulletin source.

Another source said: "We're known for months that Iraq would attempt to use dramatic terrorist strikes against the U.S., Israel and its allies in response to a war. The diplomatic stall that has taken place in the United Nations has provided Baghdad and its terrorist operatives an additional six months to carry out such a mission."

The chance of success for terrorists is probably low, but we don't want to have a heart attack from shock either if a nuke goes off.
Posted by Chris Regan at 03:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

RUMMY AND STEYN

There's no better combination if one derives joy from efficient use of the English language to cut through political B.S.

A headline in Friday's Washington Post captures perfectly the Rumsfeld Effect: "Anti-U.S. Sentiment Abates in South Korea; Change Follows Rumsfeld Suggestion of Troop Cut."

"Change Follows Rumsfeld Suggestion": There's a slogan for the age, and fast becoming the First Law of Post-9/11 Geopolitics.

"The anti-American demonstrations here have suddenly gone poof," began the Post reporter in Seoul. "The official line from the South Korean government is: Yankees stay here."

What brought about this remarkable transformation? Why, a passing remark, an extemporaneous musing -- in other words, "a suggestion from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that U.S. troops may be cut and repositioned."

Other politicians sweat for weeks over a major 90-minute policy speech, hire the best writers, craft memorable phrases, and nobody notices. If you want to "re-shape the debate," as the cliché has it, all you need is a casual aside from Rummy. The concept of "old Europe" barely existed until Rumsfeld used it as a throwaway line a month-and-a-half ago. Within a week, it became the dominant regional paradigm. Belgium -- Old Europe. Bulgaria -- New Europe. The entire map of the continent suddenly fell into place for the first time since the Cold War. Even those who indignantly huffed about this unacceptable insult seemed unable to do so without confirming the truth of it: There was M. Chirac telling New Europe they'd missed a perfect opportunity to shut up. Instead, emboldened by Rummy, New Europe let rip.

That's just the first few paragraphs. The rest is just as enjoyable, unless you're a target.
Posted by Chris Regan at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WHY I AM NOT A CATHOLIC

The Vatican has issued a warning of sorts to countries that will shortly disarm Saddam Hussein: You'll have to answer to God for it. The implication is quite clear: The Catholic Church believes the coming war to be an immoral one, and is invoking God's name to scare us. Meanwhile, a Romanian Catholic bishop in Ohio is threatening excommunication for anyone who supports the war, and for troops fighting in it. And let's not forget the hands raised in triumph with Arafat some months back, and the Church's non-response to Palestinian terrorists who laid seige to the Church of the Nativity last year.

This coming from a church that refuses to this day to hold child-molesting and pederast priests responsible for abusing those in their care and trust.

With all due respect to the Pope who helped defeat Communism, the Catholic Church has surrendered what remained of its moral authority.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:09 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

DOES THE MUSLIM STUDENT ASSOCIATION ENDORSE TERRORISM?

The Muslim Student Association is a university student organization with chapters at over 1,000 colleges and universities around the country. It's quite influential--and according to this story, it uses its influence to endorse terrorism.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SADDAM SHREDS HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS

Not electorally, literally. Saddam's brutality still shocks after all these years:

“There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food . . . on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Hussein’s youngest son] personally supervise these murders.”
Posted by B. Preston at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RANDOM THOUGHTS

So there I was this morning, sitting down to a bowl of cereal in the non-cable room. Thought I'd turn on the TV and see what had happened overnight. Being in the non-cable room of the house, I was at the mercy of the Big Three networks for news and information, and thus turned on the Today show. There was perky Katie Couric, talking about colons. She announced without the slightest trace of rectitude or even a wisp of a wince that Today would shortly show a colonoscopy, live. Had you been there to observe my reaction, you would not have been able to see me reach for the remote to switch channels--I moved that fast. Sub light speed, but just barely.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch and colonoscopies do not a pleasant morning make. In fact, if I were the producer of Today or any other morning show, I would as a general rule ban surgeries and mention of the nether body parts outright. I'd live by a simple rule: Colin, yes; colon, no.

---

Why do Iraqi military officers walk around in green uniforms? Iraq is a desert country. Wherever you go, the background tends to be some shade of beige. Therefore, it would make sense for military officers of that country to sport, I don't know, khaki? Off-white? But every time you see video of one of those Ba'ath Party meetings where everyone shouts and salutes Saddam, they're all wearing those horrible green jumpers. Perhaps it goes back to Stormin' Norman's assessment of Saddam Hussein as a military adversary. The General said of Saddam that he's neither a strategist, nor a tactician, nor a logistician, nor a planner of any kind, but other than that he's a great military man. Such a military man would make his officers were green in a beige country.

---

President Bush's speech last night almost made me long for the day when leaders actually led their troops into battle. Don't take that the wrong way--it's just that the speech was such a Gary Cooper moment. "Saddam old fella, you have 48 hours to leave town, or me and my posse are coming after you. If we come, it's just you and your boys that we're huntin' but others might get hurt, so why don't you just do the right thing and git out." A speech like that, or like the one the president actually delivered, seems to call for sheriff-style action.

---

Watching the coverage of Iraq's war preparations last night, I caught sight of a young boy of about 5 or so. He was standing around while the men of his family moved bags of some sort, they looked like sand bags or something. The boy was shielding his eyes from the fierce desert sun, and he wore a shirt that seemed familiar to me. I looked closer--it was a Power Rangers shirt. I think my own son has the same shirt! What a world we live in. That boy has never known an Iraq without Saddam, or without sanctions, or without war of some kind, and yet if he and my son ever met they would likely have a lot in common. Toys. Playing in the yard. Power Rangers.

---

I can't let this post go without saying something about Sen. Tom Daschle's remarks yesterday. As the Bush administration announced the collapse of talks at the UN, Daschle laid the blame entirely on President Bush. Daschle said he was saddened that the administration's failure in diplomacy has now forced us into war.

Initially, Daschle's comments angered me. How dare he, I thought, blame President Bush for this when the lion's share of the blame must obviously rest on Saddam's shoulders and on the nations that have for years undermined sanctions, armed him, and have lately divided the world around him. But after I calmed down a little, it occurred to me that Daschle's remarks reflect, more than anything else, desperation. His has become a party of weakness, villainy and hatred. The Democrats today have no coherent foreign policy, and in eight years of power showed only the most tepid defense of this country. The Democrats have come again to represent the party of vice and squabbling special interests. They are united only on one thing, which is their collective hatred of all things Republican, most especially George W. Bush.

Hate is not a political platform. Daschle can't unify a party of interests so disparate that they only have hatred in common. So I pity him more than anything else. I think the Democrats by and large represent a post-Christian world view, and in their politics they are digging for the sacred in a man-made hole. They never find it, so they keep digging, trying to amass more power, their strident attacks on the president and on average Americans only alienating them all the more from the electoral success that they seem to see as salvation.

---

Robin Cook, formerly of the Blair government in Britian, resigned yesterday over Blair's Iraq policy. In his resignation speech, Cook said words to the effect that had the hanging chads gone the other way in Florida, the world might not be focused on disarming Iraq right now. That disturbed him, and suggested that Bush was being a warmonger.

Cook is partially right. Had Gore won that selective recount and therefore the presidency, we probably wouldn't be stalking Saddam right now. The administration of which Gore was a part did once try to muster the American people to take decisive action in Iraq. Rather than use the bully pulpit or rally support at the UN, that administration chose to conduct a town hall meeting at Ohio State University. But that administration didn't trot out the president or even the vice-president to make the case. Instead, Secretary of State Madeline Albright led Secretary of Defense William Cohen and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger before a crowd of university students, with the aim of presenting the case against Saddam. The Q & A portion got nasty, with students demanding to know why our government was targeting Iraq when there were so many other brutal dictators around the world, some of whom were our own allies. The administration's contingent was dumbstruck, and had no good answers for such easy questions. The town hall meeting marked a nadir of Clinton's presidential powers, and of presidential power in general.

The town hall approach failed, partly because it was entirely inappropriate as a venue for marshalling the forces of war, and partly because it came smack dab in the middle of the Monica scandal. People were skeptical of the administration's intentions, to say the least, though most Republicans believed in the end that the cause was just and therefore action necessary. But the Clinton team failed to make its case, failed to out-debate a bunch of college know-it-alls, and Saddam lived to threaten for a while longer. Would a Gore administration have mustered public opinion at home and then led the world on a just campaign to rid the world at last of the menace in Baghdad? Their record suggests it might have tried, but probably not, having been stung once before.

None of which means Bush is a warmonger. It just means that the Democrats hadn't a clue how to lead the nation in a time of war.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 17, 2003

PRELUDE TO WAR

President Bush delivered a sober, thoughtful speech tonight aimed at informing the American people of the need to topple Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime. The speech was concise, clear and well-delivered. At this moment in history, the President's speech was a needed word from the Commander in Chief on the necessity of military intervention.

It has been American policy since 1998 that Saddam Hussein's regime should be replaced. For seven years prior to that, Hussein had flouted the case law passed in the UN against him, demanding that he disarm his nation of all weapons of mass destruction or that the Gulf War would resume. On several occassions throughout that period, the Gulf War did in fact resume, as the United States and its allies launched a series of air campaigns aimed at changing Saddam's behavior.

Throughout those years, the coalition arrayed against Saddam unravelled. The sanctions placed against him missed him--as the strongman ruler he could and did deflect the economic sanctions designed to contain him and allow the impact to fall on his people. The result has been more than a decade of death, disease and misery for the Iraqi people, a grinding existence we in the West can scarcely imagine. Over time, as information of the sanctions' impact reached allied capitals, the sanctions regime itself became the issue, and calls arose to lift those sanctions regardless of Saddam's compliance to disarm. Eventually Iraq was allowed to resume selling oil, ostensibly to buy food and medicines for its people. But again Saddam played the international community's best intentions against it, and instead of feeding his people he used the funds from oil sales to rebuild his military and resume production of weapons of mass destruction. In this he apparently had the economic and technological assistance of France and Germany, two allies which it seems had decided to play both sides of the disarmament issue.

So now it has come to war. Had the international community remained steadfast, war would probably not be necessary. But the years since the Gulf War have seen cracks grow in old alliances, and friends have turned against one another. France, America's oldest ally, has become America's chief antagonist in realms of diplomacy while Russia, one of America's newest allies, has become once again a skeptic of Washington's intentions.

All of this would have been avoided had Saddam Hussein done what UN Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687 proscribed--disarm within 15 days of the cessation of hostilities stemming from the invasion of Kuwait, and the sanctions would be lifted. The responsibility for this situation rests ultimately with Saddam Hussein and his refusal to live up to the very bargains that allowed him to retain power. But secondarily, some responsibility for the war and destruction to come must rest with many of America's erstwhile allies. Throughout the dozen years since the Gulf War cease fire, the United States and United Kingdom have remained steadfast in containing Saddam Hussein, facing down resistance from the neighboring Arab states, other Islamic states, China, Russia, Germany and France. These nations must be held responsible for their respective roles in arming Saddam, in thwarting the laws passed against him, and in destroying the international consensus against him. They all have their reasons, ranging from the purely economic to the pragmatic to the long term and strategic. None of these reasons eclipse the central issue, which is that Iraq lost the Gulf War which began with Iraq's aggression against its neighbor, and that in losing that war Iraq promised to disarm. It has not, and has allied itself over the years with radical terrorist organizations from the Abu Nidal group to al Qaeda.

President Bush laid out his case. It is a just case; this will be a just war. Iraq has had its chances to disarm, and failed. The international community has had a dozen years to prove it can remain united enough to contain Saddam, and it has also failed. Now it is up the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Poland, Kuwait, Qatar, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Albania and all others that have chosen to join the coalition of the willing to do the necessary work of ending Saddam's rule and establishing in Iraq a model of democracy for the region and the world.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WAR IN THE OFFING

Iraq has reportedly delivered chemical weapons to selected Republican Guards units. Didn't Saddam just say, today, that Iraq doesn't even have any such weapons anymore?

Turkey will now allow the US to form a northern thrust from its soil.

Meanwhile in France, a Jewish woman who took part in a debate on the Israel-Palestinian issue was attacked a couple of hours later--and the attackers carved a Star of David into her wrist.

March 2003 has become September 1939. This time is markedly different from the last--no holocaust, thanks to the existence of Israel, and we're taking care of the current menace before he has the chance to start off a much bigger war--but the issues are remarkably similar. A loser who flouts the law, an international community too spineless to deal with him, and a few courageous leaders who'll do the right thing and save the day. And behind the enemy, a murderous ideology that's spreading across Europe and the Middle East like a spark in a tinderbox.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

PUTIN SPEAKS, WARNS OF CHANGES TO COME

Here's what he's saying today:

Ending weeks of silence, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned military action against Iraq, saying Monday that war would be a mistake that could imperil world security. Putin's earlier silence appeared to be an attempt to avoid opposing Washington even as the Russian Foreign Ministry battered home the message that Russia would join France in opposing any U.N. resolution that automatically authorized force.

"We are for solving the problem exclusively by peaceful means," Putin was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. He said Russia's position was clear, comprehensible and unwavering. "Any other development would be a mistake — fraught with the toughest consequences, leading to victims and destabilization of the international situation as a whole," Putin told Chechen spiritual leaders, according to Interfax.

What does he mean by "destabilization of the international situation as a whole?" This article on Russia gives us a clearer idea:

On Feb. 21, speaking before a national congress of Russian army officers in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin used Leninist terminology to describe the strategic situation. He said that today’s “correlation of forces is visibly out of balance.” He then cryptically referred to a new set of international alignments that would upset all calculations. “We cannot overlook the increasing aggressiveness of very influential forces in some countries [i.e., the United States],” said Putin. Russia therefore needs a professional and efficient army that can work with its strategic partners.

And who are Russia’s strategic partners?

In January a Russian nuclear expert, Yuri Fedorov, admitted that North Korea’s nuclear program was supported by Moscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the North Koreans imported Russian nuclear technicians. Here is a convenient technique for shifting the “correlation of forces” in Moscow’s favor...

Putin hides his enmity behind polite language and Leninist phrases. Leonid Ivashov of Russia’s Geopolitical Problems Academy gives us a clearer idea of Russian strategic thinking. On February 7 Ivashov said that America’s policy of disarming Iraq (which will likely be applied to North Korea), will ruin the existing international security system. “The symptoms of possible future chaos are already here,” said Ivashov. “I am sure all of you remember Australia’s statement that it will make preventive strikes. Israel, too, has repeatedly said this.”

Russia and China have created an environment in which civilized countries like Australia and America fear that terrorists will be given nuclear weapons; that such weapons will be unleashed on innocent populations unless the Axis of Evil, intermediaries between Russia and the world’s terrorists, are boxed in and disarmed...

"The present state of Russia satisfies U.S. interests,” explained Ivashov three days after the Sept. 11 attacks. “What will be tomorrow is unclear,” he said with a hint of mystery. “Thus, the U.S. is now at a transition point. She has come to the climax of her military-power adventures for grabbing power over the planet. I think this peak will be crossed in one and a half to two years [i.e., March 2003 to Sept. 2003], after which the USA will retreat from its positions as a result of economic problems.”

This is a fascinating remark, and not a mere product of wishful thinking. Ivashov further stated, with remarkable foresight: “I think an attack on Iraq will occur. I think Iran will be drawn into the confrontation, and it should not be excluded that Israel will participate.... After that, U.S. policy will disintegrate under the influence of the economic and social-political collapse inside the U.S. One has the feeling, that the financial oligarchy in power on this planet are not interested in maintaining the U.S. population at its present living standard...."

What Ivashov said in September 2001, aside from its propagandistic color, clearly anticipated a U.S. assault against Iraq 18 months in advance! In his statement last month Ivashov added a further tidbit: “I will say for everybody that the use of nuclear weapons during the conflict is quite probable.”

I don't know about any plans of the world's "financial oligarchy," but I have a feeling that Russia, as an Axis of Evil sponsor, knows something we don't about the plans of terrorist states. Keep an eye on North Korea, from the point right after our Massive Overkill Annihilation Bombardment (MOAB) campaign -- when we may run low on our best munitions -- until we actually capture Baghdad.
Posted by Chris Regan at 03:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER MAD MANIACS

The UK's Sun is blasting away at Chiraq--complete with a morph from Le Worm to Le Monster.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DERELICTION OF DUTY

Lt. Col. Robert Patterson was assigned to serve as President Clinton's military aide from 1996 to 1998. He's written a book about his experiences. It's not pretty. Click on the link below or on the one in the margin at the left, and you can read for yourself what the Air Force Colonel alleges Clinton did with his time: watched golf matches when he should have been blasting Iraqi troops, molested enlisted military personnel while buzzing around the world on Air Force One, and incredibly, lost the "football"--the launch codes for America's nuclear arsenal.


cover
Posted by B. Preston at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DOES CHIRAC KNOW SOMETHING HE'S NOT TELLING US, PART II

On the eve of war in Iraq, France has ordered its embassy personnel out--of Israel.

(via Sully)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

IT'S ALL IN THE POLITICS

Henry Hanks has House Minority Leader Nancy Pilosi dead to rights on Iraq. The gist: regime change was fine when a Dem did the changing, but sub in a Republican president and she's against it. Why makes me wonder: Did she support Clinton's regime change policy because she knew it would never actually happen, or does she oppose Bush's because she believes it will?
Posted by B. Preston at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

METHOD TO THE MADNESS?

Interesting conclusion to this story about how the coming war in Iraq will shake up the global political order (or lack thereof):

One European defence minister said: "If war breaks out without a second UN resolution, it could affect the stability of the global political system. Many governments could fall."

He painted a scenario in which turmoil in the EU and the demise of Nato gives France and Germany the chance to forge ahead with plans for unity among a "core group" of about six European countries with a common foreign policy and a Euro-army.

"By provoking a rift with America, Chirac will force other European countries to take sides and try to create a union in which he would be the leader," said the minister.(emphasis mine)


It's the dominance of Europe and containment of America, stupid. And the illegal weapons trading...
Posted by B. Preston at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SOUTH KOREAN COLLABORATION

While many in the US fault the Bush administration for the dire situation in Korea, it seems local history may suggest the true nature of the peninsula's problems. The ROK's former president Kim may have "bought" a summit with North Korea. This is, if I'm not mistaken, the same former president who authored the "sunshine policy" that effectively triangulated relations between the ROK, US and NK, placing the US and NK as combatants between which the ROK negotiated.

How might the US be able to fix such a situation on its own? Futher payoffs to the North? When the South's leadership was likely collaborating with Pyongyang?

Korea's problems are much deeper than the Agreed Framework could have hoped to repair, and are more the result of local forces than the result of any American policy.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MERCI, M. CHIRAQ

It seems the French intransigence about which I and countless others have hyperventilated is having at least one salutary effect: it's saving Tony Blair's political life:

France's opposition to a war with Iraq under any circumstances may be responsible for a sudden shift in public opinion in Britain, according to the Britain's Sunday Times newspaper. A new poll reveals that the number of Britons opposed to the war has dropped by 13 percent in the last two months. In January, fully 73 percent of Brits were opposed to a war with Iraq. That figure has now fallen to 60 percent, according to the YouGov survey published in the Sunday Times.

Reuters reported that the poll showed that while 49 percent of Brits said a war without a second U.N. resolution would be against their will, with another resolution a whopping 76 percent would support military action.

The poll also showed that Britons are unhappy with France and its threat to block a second U.N. resolution. The YouGov survey said 70 percent believed France was wrong to take that stance, while only 22 percent supported it, leading the paper to speculate that the French opposition has sparked resentment among some Britons, causing the drop in anti-war sentiment.


Chiraq may be Saddam's best friend, but he may also be his own worst enemy.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PRO-AMERICA RALLY IN GEORGIA

Estimates place 25,000 people there to voice support for the war on Iraq. RJ West has pictures and more details.

I wonder (not really wonder, just metaphorically) why the media didn't breathe a word of coverage about this.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2003

DEALING WITH WARTIME SEDITIONISTS: SHOOT TO KILL?

As Bryan warned in an earlier post, that's what the U.S. Air Force will do to the worst threats to our national security:

``This is not fun and games anymore,'' said Maj. Stacee Bako. ``We're living in post 9/11. We don't know what's going to happen with the war effort in Iraq. These folks have got to realize their actions. ... They're illegal intruders.'' Military police will use their ``judgment, experience and training'' to determine if lethal force is necessary, she said. ``Deadly force can be used when lesser means of force aren't feasible or have failed, and to protect (Department of Defense) assets designated as vital to the national security,'' she explained.

The deadly force policy will not deter protesters, said Peter Lumsdaine of the Vandenberg Action Coalition, one of the organizers of the planned trespassing.

In other words, "Let them eat bullets." Or, in the case of voluntary human shields in a war zone, "Let them eat bombs and bulldozers." As for lesser threats to the military effort, David Horowitz has a proposal for secessionists:

Antiwar groups in San Francisco planning to create civil disorder on the day war breaks out; a Wisconsin university campus declaring its intention to obstruct the Patriot Act’s civil defense measures; professors at Stanford and other universities canceling classes to facilitate attempts to shut down campuses in protest against the war; teachers leading high school students out of the classroom and onto the demonstration lines; the New York City council (and many other municipal governments) declaring their opposition to the foreign policy of the United States --- all these are in one way or another acts of secession. They are derelictions of institutional responsibility and the rejection of obligations to the community at large. They amount to secessionist challenges to the institutions in question, including the nation itself.

Breaking the law is not free speech and defying national policies that democratic majorities have put in place is not dissent. Both are attempts to undermine the existing democratic order. They are subversive and seditious, and they should be punished.

Teachers who abandon their classrooms must be disciplined and – if the behavior persists – fired. Universities that refuse to cooperate with the national defense should be deprived of all federal subsidies, including tax exemptions. Demonstrators who break the law should be jailed and fined. The sentences and fines should be set by the gravity of their actions and the level of the security alert at the time. An Orange Alert should double the penalties for obstruction which are imposed under a Yellow Alert; and so forth. Let the punishment fit the crime.

Above all, Americans need to take the war at home seriously. Otherwise we will risk losing the wars both at home and abroad.
Posted by Chris Regan at 09:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

EVEN CYBERWAR ON IRAQ RUNS INTO PROBLEMS WITH FRANCE

We've heard about all the phone, fax and email messages being sent, but until now I haven't heard the problems reported. Seems Iraq's military and civilian computer systems are all jumbled together, and extend outside the country as well. Charles R. Smith has the scoop:

Air Force information warriors recently rejected a planned cyber attack against Iraqi financial computers. Military officials had planned to attack the Iraqi banking and financial network during the opening phase of the USAF campaign against Saddam Hussein. The cyber attack is designed to shut off Saddam's supply of cash.

However, planners later rejected the idea because the Iraqi banking network is linked to a financial communications network located in France. According to Pentagon sources, an information warfare attack on the Iraqi financial network might also bring down banks and ATM machines in Europe as well.

"We don't have many friends in Paris right now. No need to make more trouble if Chirac won't be able to get any euros out of his ATM machine," commented one intelligence source on the rejected plan.

OK, anyone else wonder how much of Saddam's money is now in France? Smith also reports more info on the Iraqi air defense network:

The fiber optic Tiger Song air defense network was installed in Iraq during the 1990s by China [with U.S. and French parts] in violation of the U.N. ban on weapons sales to Baghdad. The Chinese network has been bombed several times, suffering only a slight degrade in service until Iraqi engineers could repair it.

Tiger Song is a more widely distributed network than the French Kari system and is similar to the Internet, allowing Iraqi mobile radars and missile units to link into the network from pre-positioned fiber optic sites. Both systems are linked together, with the French Kari network providing the overall command and control.

U.S. warriors hope to be able to penetrate the Kari and Tiger Song systems through computer links from the Internet or Iraqi phone system. The Tiger Song network is reportedly also cross-linked with an Iraqi oil pipeline communications network that employs microwave communications links. U.S. forces could tap into the Tiger Song system using the microwave links.
Posted by Chris Regan at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FIVE VITAL LESSONS FROM IRAQ

By Paul Johnson, one of the preeminent historians of our time:

Lesson I. We have been reminded that France is not to be trusted at any time, on any issue. The British have learned this over 1,000 years of acrimonious history, but it still comes as a shock to see how badly the French can behave, with their unique mixture of shortsighted selfishness, long-term irresponsibility, impudent humbug and sheer malice. Americans are still finding out--the hard way--that loyalty, gratitude, comradeship and respect for treaty obligations are qualities never exhibited by French governments. All they recognize are interests, real or imaginary. French support always has to be bought. What the Americans and British now have to decide is whether formal alliances that include France as a major partner are worth anything at all, or if they are an actual encumbrance in times of danger.

We also have to decide whether France should be allowed to remain as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, with veto power, or whether it should be replaced by a more suitable power, such as India. Linked to this is the question of whether France can be trusted as a nuclear power. The French have certainly sold nuclear technology to rogue states in the past, Iraq among them. In view of France's attempts to sabotage America's vigorous campaign to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction, we need to be sure that France is not planning to cover the cost of its flagging nuclear weapons program by selling secrets to unruly states. Certainly Anglo-American surveillance of French activities in this murky area must be intensified.

I think he's being a little too easy on the French. Seriously. Simply cutting them out of the picture won't send a clear enough message to them, or to the other nations that will now see fit to follow their treacherous example. I agree, though, with his suggestion that we use the carrot approach with Germany. Read the other lessons here on Forbes.com
Posted by Chris Regan at 07:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack