April 05, 2003

POL POT IN THE DESERT

British soldiers have found a gruesome scene--boxes and boxes of bones and body parts, possibly the evidence left over from some Saddamite killing spree. Diane says it looks like the remains of a concentration camp. Could be. More likely the dead from an anti-Saddam uprising. If that's the case, it would also explain just why the Iraqi people hesitated to embrace us. They knew the people those bones once beloged to.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2003

CAPTAIN AMERICA, IDIOTARIAN

Michael Medved lays out the case. Marvel has just put itself on my list of entertainment providers and entertainers to avoid. Which is a shame, considering how great some of its characters have been.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I CAN'T BELIEVE HE'S GONE

Chris has already linked to Peggy Noonan's tribute to Mike Kelly, who died today covering the war in Iraq. His columns had been the best of the journalism posted from the field--honest, understated, and displaying a real understanding of what he saw taking place around him. How many other journalists could have written that last column of his, "Across the Euphrates," in which he described in detail the American tactics that led to the taking of the Karbala Gap and, ultimately now, to the siege of Baghdad? Maybe others could have, but only one did, and that one was Mike Kelly. That column inspired me. It told me that our troops are not only well-equipped with the latest electronic wizardry, but they're also brilliantly led both at the field and command level. That column explained why we have a West Point--to retain the knowledge of warfare for the day when it will be needed--and explained how America has come to possess the greatest military on earth. It is well led and well staffed by quality individuals. Mike Kelly understood that, and told us about it.

That's what his career as a journalist was all about--whatever he saw, he told us about it. He was probably the most ruthlessly honest journalist around. That's what made him great.

I never met him, never corresponded with him, never knew him personally in any way, yet losing Mike Kelly is like losing a friend. I can't explain it, but it's true.

I'll miss you, Mike.

UPDATE: Maureen Dowd has written a fine tribute to Michael Kelly. Really.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MICHAEL KELLY, R.I.P.

Peggy Noonan says it all in her obit/tribute column: A journalist of brilliance and independence dies doing what he loves.

I was struck by the last short paragraph he wrote from Iraq:

There were no American fatalities. By full dusk, the sporadic mortar fire had ceased, and everything was quiet except for an occasional bit of light arms fire in the farm fields beyond the bridgehead.
Posted by Chris Regan at 04:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

HERE WE GO AGAIN

A dangerous terror-state threat, with reluctant allies and a weak United Nations making the enemy more confident. Bush is a lonely hero. Let's see if he can make Tony Blair fall in line and get tougher on North Korea:

Although Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, has said America could fight wars in Iraq and North Korea at the same time, Britain will not back military action and is determined to defuse the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea raised the stakes at the weekend by warning that it would "not make any slightest concession and compromise", claiming that Iraq invited its "miserable fate" by opening its weapons facilities to UN inspectors.
Posted by Chris Regan at 03:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SMART BOMBS IN SHORT SUPPLY

Here's a good article covering our latest JDAM and Tomahawk inventory shortage. It's not a serious problem now that we've destroyed most major fixed targets and are in the process of moving into Baghdad and ending the war, but if Korea were to act up this week, things this could get dicey. As I mentioned before, as long as China allows us to have their rare-earth materials and magnets we'll be just fine.
Posted by Chris Regan at 03:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TONY BLAIR DANCES WITH THE DICTATOR

Here's a good article covering Blair's kissing up to the terrorist-supporting Syrian Baathist dictator, and how it's backfiring:

President Bashar Assad was feted by the Prime Minister in Downing Street last December, becoming the first Syrian leader to be greeted in London and meet the Queen.

...A year earlier, the Prime Minister was embarrassed during a visit to Damascus where, at a joint press conference with Mr Assad, he had to listen to the Syrian leader defend Palestinian suicide bombers.

Blair is also signaling to Syria that the U.S. won't take any military action against them for continuing to support Saddam militarily. That's like France and the anti-war prostesters convincing Saddam that he was safe during the UN negotiations and had no need to change his behavior. Assad is now giving thousands of suicide bombers Syrian passports too as they're bussed into Iraq to kill Americans.

And here's an interview with Tony Blair's new friend:

Therefore, it is inconceivable that Israel will become a legitimate state even if the peace process is implemented, because its structure deviates from the region's norm, and maybe from the whole world…As long as Israel exists, the threat exists.

We are basically against terrorism, and on 9/11 they learned a lesson, and according to them they wanted to combat terrorism. [italics mine]

This is the predictable result of placing the peace process ahead of peace. We need to deal with these nations, and organizations like the UN for that matter, only from a position of strength. It makes zero sense to beg and plead for terrorist backers to temporarily moderate their position for a photo-op and a disingenuous resolution. It's only followed by more terrorism. We simply need to win the war on terror. Then there will be peace.
Posted by Chris Regan at 02:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NYT CATCHES UP TO JYB

It's interesting that the liberal press didn't explain the human nature component of our temporary "quagmire" last week. Doing so would have slowed their spinning of the war as a diplomatic and military failure. Now, to the horror of liberals and retired Army Generals, things are beginning to turn out the way the Bush Administration planned. The "elite" Fedayeen media darlings and their Republican Guard comrades are yielding to us, while Iraqi civilians are beginning to warily embrace us. Now the NY Times is printing this from Ethan Bronner a week too late:

Since the start of the current American-led war, it has been widely noted that celebration by Iraqis has been muted. The most common explanation is that Iraqis are afraid — both of government goon squads and of the possibility that we will withdraw prematurely, leaving them at the mercy of whoever comes next.

This is clearly true. But what I found during my visits is that many Iraqis, perhaps a majority, seemed to believe in and identify with Mr. Hussein. While they feared their ruthless leader, what they feared even more was life without him.

...Part of the explanation is the nature of totalitarianism: millions of Soviets wept when Stalin died. Part of it is the nature of being held hostage. Iraq is a nation of Elizabeth Smarts.

...Nearly every state in the region develops what is to us a bizarre and harmful devotion to its ruler, hanging his portrait on every corner and considering criticism of him an insult to the entire nation.

Sound familiar? You heard the more timely version from the JunkYard Blog team last week on NRO:

The media also seems to have fixated on the general lack of a warm welcome for the allied troops hurtling across the desert landscape. Why aren't the Iraqi people rising up to kiss our soldiers' feet? wonder the pundits. And why are the Republican Guards still fighting for the hated, doomed regime of Saddam Hussein?

The Iraqi people have lived under Saddam's heavy, bloody hand for more than 24 years. When young Elizabeth Smart emerged from her captivity after nine months — nine months in which she never attempted an escape — many in the media and the public wondered if she'd been brainwashed, or had developed "Stockholm Syndrome" — sympathy with her captors. The case of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army helped inform that line of argument. Yet to date no one has linked such brainwashing to the brutal captivity of Iraq under Saddam. Could it be that we're encountering a nation of brainwashed people, and a Republican Guard full of Patty Hearsts? One suspects that decades of living under portraits comparing Saddam to Nebuchadnezzar, and to Saladin, and the ever-present fear of Saddam's secret police, rape rooms, and torture cells might have cowed Iraq's populace into at least ambivalence as our troops race toward Baghdad.

Bronner left out this appropriate quote from Elizabeth Smart, "Thou sayeth, I'll say it."

UPDATE: Another NY Times "Johnny Apple come lately" story about the serious danger of terrorists getting Iraq's WMD:Hunting for Iraq's Terror Weapons
Posted by Chris Regan at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 03, 2003

THE ULTIMATE ANTI-ISLAMIST WEAPON

I'm not making this up--Iraqi men and boys are apparently lining up to kiss a British soldier. It's not hard to see why.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 02, 2003

RUMSFELD NOW "MEDDLING" WITH POSTWAR PLANS

Once again, his resistance to Powell's original plan is great news -- just like his midas touch on the war plan was. Unfortunately, this article is an obvious extension of the ongoing Rumsfeld demonization effort.

A US official told The Times that Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, was resisting State Department appointments to the administration-in-waiting, at least one of whom is already in Kuwait.

He said that the Pentagon had ruled that Mr Rumsfeld should personally approve appointments to the temporary US-British administration, “and there are many people who question his authority to take that decision, including, I assume, the Secretary of State”.

...Barbara Bodine, an experienced US diplomat expected to take the job of administering Baghdad, is in Kuwait waiting to enter Iraq. US officials have said that an inter-agency tussle is going on over whether she should get that job or a national position as coordinator of the civil administration, for which Michael Mobbs, a Pentagon lawyer, was the favourite.

...Critics of the Bush Administration’s neo-conservative wing, which dominates the Pentagon, say that its ranks are anxious to build a new Iraq in the image of the United States, using Westernised Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi, a favourite of the Pentagon who is disliked by the State Department. The differences over how to involve Mr Chalabi, the Iraqi opposition leader, have raged for months.

Meanwhile, General Powell and Mr Blair are trying to secure a prominent role for the United Nations

The UN true believers need to help the UN regain it's credibility after it's protection of Saddam. Once again, that would be at the expense of America and future Iraqi stability. Nice to see Rummy is trying to keep Barbara Bodine from turning Baghdad into an Al Qaeda protectorate.

UPDATE:The Bush Administration is taking Rumsfeld's side and Powell is onboard.
Posted by Chris Regan at 10:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

YOU CAN LEAD A LIBERAL TO KNOWLEDGE, BUT YOU CAN'T MAKE 'EM THINK

Last night I wrote what I thought at the time was a fairly cogent dianosis of the liberal anti-war psychosis. Having finished, I pushed the button to publish and...nada. Blogger ate it. It was late, so I just signed off after a sigh and went to bed.

But the great thing about blogging is that if I've thought of a cogent way to dissect and understand the liberal mind, chances are someone else has too, and they may have even done a better job at it than I would, or had, whatever.

Such is the case with E.L. Core, who takes on the massive task of understanding what drives the liberal anti-war movement, and the more general lack of enthusiasm for freeing a distant people if a Republican happens to be leading the effort. So go check out his work. It's good stuff.

Here's my shorthand on the subject, after getting into a mild scrape with a liberal just today: They live to let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and when a Republican happens to be doing the good, the perfect is the only outcome a liberal will accept. And then, they probably won't even accept that. Take the war, for instance. It's in a country about 7,000 miles from the US mainland, and thus far we've managed to square our forces up in the suburbs of the enemy capital with light casualties. The enemy hasn't fared so well--they reportedly lost the entire Baghdad division of the Republican Guard today. We're going to win, but like all wars this one has had a snag here and there. Supply lines got stretched a bit, a few officers got uppity toward the civilian leadership (which happens in every war, by the way), and pretty soon the libs predict looming disaster. Has the war gone perfectly? Of course not. Has it gone well, even very well? Absolutely. But the perfect war (an impossibility) is the enemy of the very good war being fought with honor and bravery on our side. Likewise the reasons for the war itself. It's unquestionably about our own self-sefense combined with a very real desire to free a downtrodden people. But the libs didn't suggest this war and can't accept that even though it's being fought for reasons they may otherwise accept, they can't support it fully because the other political philosophy is leading it. It's not perfect so they won't accept it, no matter that its outcome will obviously lead to greater freedom in Iraq and here as well, since we can rest a tiny bit easier about the whole terrorist threat.

But go read Mr. Core's piece. He's right.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

GIVING THE GAME AWAY

Hmmmm. Just stumbled across this interesting tale:

LONDON, April 2 (UPI) -- A Muslim fundamentalist source claimed Wednesday that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network captured five coalition troops in Iraq.

The source who requested anonymity told United Press International by telephone that the kidnapping of four U.S. troops and a British soldier, took place last Saturday in al-Zubair region of southern Iraq, close to the Kuwaiti border.

He said the "kidnapped troops will be equally treated as al-Qaida prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay."

He said al-Qaida will soon release a videotape of the captured soldiers and will ask to swap them with al-Qaida suspects being held by the United States.


Anyone out there still want to insist that al Qaeda has no presence in Iraq?

(for the record, I believe this al Qaeda boast is very much in line with the majority of its other boasts--pure hooey, in other words)
Posted by B. Preston at 05:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WARRIORS' HUMANITY

Just go read LT Smash.

Ok, now that you're back, note again the vast difference between the conduct of our troops versus Saddam's. His commit war crimes--executing prisoners, using children as human shields, force civilians into becoming suicide bombers to save their own families. Ours use their one call from the field to check in the parents of a fallen buddy.

You don't get troops like these, you make them. And over the past two centuries, this country has made 'em by the millions.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

SAYING "NO" PAYS OFF

South Korea is sending troops to Iraq to support the US regime change campaign. This is a huge loss for Kim Jong Il, and thoroughly discredits those who criticized the Bush administration's Korea policies.

In voting to send troops to the Gulf, South Korea is standing by the US not only there but also at home against North Korea. This marks a dramatic change from the past government of Kim Dae-Jong, whose collaborationist approach with the North essentially triangulated the dispute so that the South attempted to play the role of arbitrator between the North and the US. That was absurd and untenable; the actual on-the-ground problem between North and South Korea has always been the question of legitimate sovereignty, with the US providing the security for the free South against the Stalinist North. The days of "sunshine" have given way to the cold calculus of war, and an actual all-out war on the Korean Peninsula is less likely as a result.

Today's ROK move repudiates those who sniped at the Bush administration's Korea policy in demonstrating that firmness and consistency have all along been the proper response to a belligerent antagonist as well as weakening allies. In standing firm against the seemingly innocuous North Korean demand to settle the nuclear dispute via bilateral, as opposed to multilateral, talks, the US has over the span of a few months shown the ROK that it has a vital role to play, that the US won't give in to nuclear blackmail, and signalled to Japan that the US won't simply walk away from issues that affect the entire region. All by simply saying "No" without apology to Kim Jong Il. The Bush administration has also signalled to China that it won't be allowed to pawn off its troubled ally's behavior on the US. And China has reportedly started to make moves in the right direction to rein in its strange neighbor's more excessive mood swings.

Undoubtedly the war in Iraq has also played a major role in the turn of events in Korea. In acting to topple Saddam Hussein, the US is demonstrating to the world that it means business, still knows how to fight a brass-knuckle war, and will not accept the existence of rogue regimes that threaten the world's security. This lesson is perhaps the most important outcome of the ongoing war against the terror masters in Iraq.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THE TURNING OF THE TIMES

Josh Marshall & co, you've just been hung out to dry by the NY Times editorial page. Ouch.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is all over Marshall today like stink on a monkey. There's more where yesterday's bad prediction came from, Sulli--just check out Marshall's gumflapping on North Korea.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM!

It's amazing how much difference a day makes in a decadesdays-long war. Despite the anti-Bush media's valiant attempt to embolden Saddam and depress a nation at war, yesterday's events have made this the most enjoyable Vietnam War spin America has ever seen. I'm just waiting for an embedded Adrian Cronauer to show up on camera. Meanwhile, it's time to make the donuts. In Zubayr and Umm Qasr, Iraqi bakeries are opening back up and groups of kids are smelling the normalcy while skipping off to school -- instead of being shuffled off to their death as child shields. Port workers are getting their jobs back, and everyone is getting the water and food they need.

Those persistent media allegations of mass civilian murder by U.S. Forces are now being disputed by an Iraqi Shi'ite cleric who said the checkpoint attacks are forced-suicide ploys. Predictably, in doing a search for that last bit of news, only the conservative Fox News, NY Post and WorldNetDaily are currently reporting that our troops may not be guilty after all, according to this prominent Iraqi Muslim. No unnamed sources sniping from the Pentagon here. Who says liberals don't hate America's military? The original reports of the checkpoint shooting were deceptive and damning enough. To ignore this favorable piece of the puzzle is stunning, and cruel to the soldiers involved. We have Peter Arnett and Iraqi TV for that.

Speaking of the strange media standards for news, a bold General Myers pushed Rumsfeld aside and slammed the Sunday Afternoon Armchair Quarterbacks into the turf. While he was doing that on behalf of the troops, some of the more violent brave men under his command were pulling off a daring raid to rescue a courageous young female POW in distress. More of those same covert special forces are now the most feared men on Baghdad's mean streets, mysteriously killing off gov't leaders and preparing the ground for internal revolution. To finish off the amazing evening, under a dark new moon, our fast "Rummy-lite" forces blasted clean through gigantic chunks of the Republican Guard like they were ghost divisions. Baghdad should be be surrounded by sunrise tomorrow. I love the smell of MOAB's in the morning.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 01, 2003

WE'RE WINNING

Ignore the ravings of Josh Marshall & co for a while and look at a few facts about the war. To date, we have 300,000 troops in theatre and another division on the way in, and have suffered fewer than 100 fatalities while setting ourselves up within range of the enemy capital. We have systematically destroyed all visible symbols of Saddam Hussein's power throughout Baghdad that we can reach by air--his government buildings, his palaces, his hideouts and bunkers--gone or nearly so. On the ground elsewhere in Iraq, we're ripping down all those egocentric murals depicting Saddam in various states of power, and we'll soon do the same in Baghdad. In the south of Iraq, the people are slowly starting to turn our way as they see that we're in this thing to the end.

Our special ops troops, as you no doubt have heard, staged an incredible rescue and recovered PFC Jessica Lynch of the 507th today. While Democrats carped and the press fumed and armchair generals fussed that the whole thing was going to pot, our leaders and troops carefully and methodically rescued on of our own and will bring her back home alive. After this, she'll make one heck of a kindergarten teacher. Can you imagine what she'll do to some principal who stands in the way of her giving her kids a proper education? I might move into her district, just to have her teach my kid.

And do you know what kind of information it took to make this rescue raid possible? No doubt we used air surveillance and may have had our own operatives on the ground looking for the missing and imprisoned soldiers, but it's likely that one or more of the high ranking officers we have recently turned or captured provided the key piece of information we needed to be able to flip the switch on this operation. To get that information in a timely manner took skill; to accomplish the mission successfully took courage.

How many of the 10,000 or so Iraqi POWs have been "rescued" by their government? How many of them would want to be? How many allied officers have fallen into enemy hands and given up useful information? We're winning.

As I write this, there's a huge battle underway south of Baghdad in the town of Karbala. It appears to be the largest clash to date, and will probably spell the end of a couple of Republican Guard divisions. Those same units have been pounded from the air for a couple of weeks now, to the point that they're degraded down to 50% or less of their original strength. So if they started out with, say, 20,000 men, they now have around 10,000 that are still capable of fighting.

And how many have we lost so far? About 70, give or take a couple. And we just got one of those back tonight. We're winning.

Meanwhile, far away in those countries that are truly going to reap the benefits of this war on the cheap, French cretins defaced a monument to the British who died saving France from Germany the first time. There was a second time, in the 1940s, and Britons and Americans answered the alarm and saved France from German aggression and French cowardice. But since 54% of Britons now see the French as something other than a close ally, the likelihood of there being a third time is remote. What am I saying? There already is a third time--we're saving France now, along with the rest of the West, from nuclear-armed terrorism. So, what about the time after this one? Next time, if the threat to France isn't a threat to us, we should let France sink. We won't, but we should.

By the way, one in three Frenchmen wants Saddam to win this war. And about 80% of Russians agree with them. But never mind them. They really don't matter much in the grand scheme of things.

Egypt seems to have figured out which way the wind is blowing. It tossed out Iraq's chief diplomat today without specifying a reason. Jordan has already kicked out all of Iraq's "diplomats." Iraq's Arab bretheren are starting, once again, to collectively treat Saddam as the black sheep of the family. They know the game is almost over for him.

And they know we're winning.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

TURNING POINT IN UMM QASR?

It seems a week into the allies' liberation of Umm Qasr, life is getting better for the city's people. And for the allied troops keeping the peace there:

British and U.S. officials reported signs Tuesday that the tide of war in southern Iraq may be turning in their favor: Iraqis are increasingly warming to their presence, and some troops felt safe enough to wear berets rather than combat helmets in towns firmly under their control.

---

Lights flickered on for the first time in months in the port city of Umm Qasr, and schools and shops were reopening, said Group Capt. Al Lockwood, a spokesman for British forces in the Gulf.

Significantly, more civilians were informing foreign troops about the whereabouts of paramilitary forces and members of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, British officials said.

In four towns -- Umm Qasr, Zubayr, Rumeila and Safwan -- British troops felt so secure that they swapped their combat helmets for less protective berets, and adopted a less aggressive posture in wielding their weapons, British officials said.


One hopes this relaxed attitude is prudent. Even in Nasiriyah, where some of the nastiest of the fedayeen have holed up, things are looking up:

In Nasiriyah, where the coalition has met with stiff resistance, civilians were now helping U.S. special forces stage raids and find troops loyal to Saddam, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks told reporters Tuesday at a news conference in Qatar.

Brooks said local Iraqis are "increasingly willing" to aid the U.S. and British forces throughout the main areas of fighting.

Marines were aided by 100 tribal fighters who helped battle Iraqi forces and remove explosives from a bridge north of Nasiriyah. Their help also resulted in the capture of POWs, he said.

In the western desert, after Army Rangers destroyed a commando headquarters a few days ago, civilians helped Army troops locate buildings where regime ammunition was held and helped troops remove it for destruction, he said.


Can you imagine Americans helping foreign troops on our soil in this way? Well, maybe if the Soviets had invaded Berkeley, but other than that? No way.

This shift, which is by no means the beginning of the end, says something. It says Saddam is hated, at least in southern Iraq, every bit as much as we believed. It says the allied troops are conducting themselves with decorum and honor, and that Saddam's troops never offered anything besides brutality and fear. It also says that changing Iraqi minds will take time. Iraq won't be free, or capable of operating on its own, overnight. But it also may not take decades as some worry. Our troops have held Umm Qasr for less than two weeks, and the shift away from Saddam is already evident here and there. Before most Iraqis greet our troops with the proverbial flowers instead of bullets, they will have to believe that we're there for the long haul, that we will take Saddam out, and that we will treat average Iraqis as human beings. Once Iraqis see that those things are true, the majority might just come around.

A few things are critical to see that this pro-allied shift happens, and has staying power. We must, and are, minimizing civilian casualties in spite of the Iraqi government's despicable abuse of them as human shields and forced suicide bombers (two of whom surrendered today, rather than blowing themselves up). We must get the humanitarian relief flowing as quickly as possible, and we're doing that. And we must finish off Saddam once and for all, and the sooner the better.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A DISTRACTION?

The war in Iraq isn't the distraction from the war on terror that many (on the left, mostly) predicted. Far from it, as a matter of fact. The Afghanistan-style campaign in northern Iraq to destroy Ansar al-Islam, linked to al Qaeda and to the mullahs in Iran, is turning up a treasure trove of intelligence on the terror networks' global operations.

A U.S.-led assault on a compound controlled by an extremist Islamic group turned up a list of names of suspected militants living in the United States and what may be the strongest evidence yet linking the group to Al Qaeda, coalition commanders said Monday.

The cache of documents at the Ansar al-Islam compound, including computer discs and foreign passports belonging to Arab fighters from around the Middle East, could bolster the Bush administration's claims that the two groups are connected, although there was no indication any of the evidence tied Ansar to Saddam Hussein as Washington has maintained.


Being a police state, these guys could hardly have operated anywhere in Iraq--even in the north--without Saddam's awareness. In fact, they may have been in northern Iraq precisely to provide some distance between the Saddamites and themselves.

Unfortunately, the airstrikes and ground assault didn't get all of Ansar's operatives, as many fled into Iran. But in capturing their camps, our troops have turned up some priceless information:

Among a trove of evidence found inside Ansar compounds were passports and identity papers of Ansar activists indicating that up to 150 of them were foreigners, including Yemenis, Turks, Palestinians, Pakistanis, Algerians and Iranians.

Coalition forces also found a phone book containing numbers of alleged Islamic activists based in the United States and Europe as well as the number of a Kuwaiti cleric and a letter from Yemen's minister of religion. The names and numbers were not released.

"What we've discovered in Biyare is a very sophisticated operation," said Barham Salih, prime minister of the Kurdish regional government.

Seized computer disks contained evidence showing meetings between Ansar and Al Qaeda activists, according to Mahdi Saeed Ali, a military commander.


And Ansar, operating within Iraq, may be linked to the ricin toxin that's been turning up in Europe lately:

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday the Sargat compound was probably the site where militants made a biological toxin, traces of which were later found by police in London.

"We think that's probably where the ricin that was found in London came [from]" he said in a televised interview. "At least the operatives and maybe some of the formulas came from this site."


So will the critics who said the war in Iraq would be a distraction from the war on terrorists recant? Of course not. Being anti-Bush and therefore critical of the war means never having to say you're sorry.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2003

THE CRAVENHAWK

Josh Marshall relunctantly became a hawk when Clintonite Kenneth Pollack convinced him of the need to remove Saddam. Then, about a week out from actual combat, Marshall retracted his support for war with Iraq--to position himself as one who could credibly snipe at the Bush administration once hostilities began. That's how I see it. By having once been a hawk, Marshall has made it impossible to criticize him as simply an anti-war lefty. By recanting his support once war became inevitable, he has shown what is most important to him: Between politics and national security, he'll take politics. He's a good Democrat, in other words. And a cravenhawk--a false hawk trading on his craven notions politics and patriotism.

UPDATE: To be a bit more specific about things, Marshall has lately gone ballistic on the Sy Hersh anti-Rumsfeld hit piece, and others, centering on how SecDef Rumsfeld is "meddling" in the war plans, and how he's constantly irritating the top Pentagon brass, and how the war is going badly, etc etc. First, it's the left that's always blasting away at the Pentagon in peacetime for eating up too much of the US budget, and for being a nest of warmongers and so forth. But suddenly since a Republican administration is in charge and attempting to "tranform" (or, rebuild, after the Clinton years of deprivation) the military, they're bad and the Pentagon is good. Rumsfeld irritates many generals for precisely the right reasons--his hoped-for transformation amounts to an implicit threat against many officers' careers. They're digging in to oppose him, not necessarily to save the military, but to save themselves. And since when is it considered "meddling" for a Secretary of Defense with years of experience in and out of government to suggest, tweak, and work out war plans? Isn't it Rumsfeld's job to manage what the military is doing, to oversee its planning, and to make suggestions based on the political realities that generals often ignore? That's part of why we have civilian control of the military in the form of a cabinet secretary who reports to the President. Also, the war plan currently in use in Iraq is essentially the generals' plan--Rumsfeld reportedly wanted a much smaller force to conduct an Afghanistan-style campaign to oust Saddam. To now blame the non-debacle in Iraq on Rumsfeld makes no sense, since his preferred plan was ruled out months ago.

For more on Hersh's piece, I'd suggest taking a look at this site. Its writer reminds us that Hersh breathlessly reported a story during the Afghan campaign that turned out to be a Debka-esque pile of nonsense, and that Hersh's suggestion that that war was going badly was refuted by the stunning allied victory a few weeks later. Hersh was wrong then, and probably wrong now.

As for Marshall, I'll paraphrase Gen. H. Norman Schwartzkopf. Marshall has never served in the military, knows nothing of military planning, logistics or strategy. Other than that, he's perfectly suited to comment on the success or failure of a given strategy which he's neither been privileged to view nor qualified by experience to judge.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

WAR HITS HOME

I just found out a friend I've known since junior high is in the Army, and 50 miles outside of Baghdad. Godspeed, Matt.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WHO ARMED SADDAM?

Hint: not the US. Check out The Command Post's report.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

N.Y. TIMES SPINS OUT OF CONTROL

Here's how they kicked off their report on Arnett:

Peter Arnett, a correspondent based in Baghdad for NBC News and National Geographic Explorer, told Iraqi state television yesterday that his reporting about Iraqi civilian casualties "helps those who oppose the war." The allied war plan, he said, "has failed because of Iraqi resistance."

The comments were likely to make Mr. Arnett a renewed target of Republican lawmakers

A renewed target of mean Republican lawmakers? What are they going to do now, pass the Peter Arnett Traitor Act and force Bush to destroy his Ministry of Propaganda? A nation at war can only dream. It's funny how the very first thing the Times thinks upon hearing the anti-American interview is how to spin the story back on any Republican who dares speak out against the guy. That's weird enough, but it's also illuminating that they couldn't concieve of a single Democrat lawmaker having a problem with Arnett. Their attempt at a 180-degree spin in this case actually whipped them 360-degrees right back to the conclusion: Democrats, Arnett and Saddam have a wartime love triangle. You just have to read between the lines they saw fit to print.

UPDATE:

The Times is also running Orwellian whitewashes of American Communist leaders' obits:


In Sunday’s New York Post, Frederic U. Dicker reported that "two once-prominent American Communists passed on in recent days; and reading the sanitized and adulatory obituaries in The New York Times, once can only say sadly, ’There they go again.’”

The two deaths in question were "Marxist historian” Herbet Aptheker, whose longtime membership in the Central Committee of the Communist Party U.S.A. was ignored, and novelist Howard Fast, who "was a Daily Worker regular and the 1953 winner of the Stalin Peace Prize.”

...Aptheker once told Dicker that "he couldn’t ever imagine reaching a conclusion as an historian that contradicted Communist Party positions, because the CP had the best brains and the best analytical tools for finidng the truth.”

One of Aptheker’s sillier quotes, recalls Dicker,, was delivered at Long Island University’s Socialist Club, of which Dicker was then vice chairman: "If the ends don’t justifiy the means, what does?”
Posted by Chris Regan at 07:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CONSPIRACY THEORISTS, EAT CROW

Halliborton, Inc, the former home of Vice President Dick Cheney, has lost its bid to help rebuild Iraq.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

SHOCKED AND AWED

Whether Saddam remains alive or not after the March 19 attempt to Tomahawk him, Kim Jong Il is missing in action. He hasn't appeared in public in 46 days. Meanwhile, China seems to be bringing its rabid dog to heel. The lessons of Iraq already seem to be sinking in in the least likely places.

What we are seeing here is, oddly, a return to First Century Roman rule.

Come again?

Leaf through the histories of Josephus, and you'll quickly notice a pattern: Governors in Roman provinces didn't last long. Most of them rode into their domains full of themselves and backed by the Roman Caesars, only to be summoned back to the capital for at best a dressing down and, at worst, execution, after brief tenures. The reasons varied--inability to manage finances, brutality toward indigenous peoples, imperial Roman politics and shifting alliances. But most provincial governors lasted less then two years. Pontius Pilate, best known for his acquiesence in the crucifixion of Christ, was one of the longest-serving Roman governors. He lasted four years. No need for term limits in those days.

Today, while the US is in no sense an empire, its technological prowess is allowing it to exact some of the same kind of influence over rogue leaders in faraway lands. Attack Americans on our soil from remote Afghanistan, and get your government obliterated and your hide daisy-cuttered. Promote anti-Americanism, fund Palestinian terrorists and try to build yourself an A-bomb, and get cruise-missiled and bunker-busted while you nap on a corner cot. Threaten nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula and....you get the idea.

Kim Jong Il certainly has.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WAR CRIMES, ETC

From now on, when people ask me why I oppose US participation in the International Criminal Court, I will refer them to this story.

When people insist to me that "Islam means peace," I will refer them to this story. I know most Muslims don't go around killing innocent people, but if their schools continue to teach blatant anti-Semitism and hate as doctrine, how much longer will that be true?
Posted by B. Preston at 02:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ONE DOWN, ONE TO GO

Daniel Drezner writes that the impending defeat of Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq isn't getting enough attention. He's right--killing off Ansar kills off one more branch of al-Qaeda, weakens Saddam's efforts to strike back at us through terrorism, and strengthens the pro-American Kurdish elements in Iraq's north. Message: Side with US, get help. Oppose US, get killed.

One other aspect of the northern Iraq campaign that hasn't gotten much play is the type of war we're fighting up there. The war in Iraq is essentially two different wars, being fought in two distinct ways. In the southern march to Baghdad, our troops are fighting a classic (though speedy) invade-and-march war, inserting lots of boots and armor, covering them from the air and using extended air power to take out the enemy's rear guard and entrenchments. The war in the north is very different. Thus far it's been a special operator/airborne infantry combined with indigenous forces kind of war, with air power used to target camps and positions the enemy is defending and using to stage forays and terror strikes. In short, it's a lot like the campaign in Afghanistan, circa Oct-Nov 2001.

So to those who say we can't fight al-Qaeda terrorists and nation-states at the same time, Iraq proves otherwise. We can, and are, in different areas of the same country.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

100 BIN LADENS?

That's what Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak predicts the war in Iraq will create.

I don't buy this line, but let's stipulate that he's right just for the sake of argument. The war in Iraq does indeed create 100 spoiled petulant rich kids with millions of dollars, the leadership, the connections and the will to become the next generation of Osama bin Ladens. If that happens, the Iraq war would still be worth fighting.

100 Osamas don't equate even 1 Saddam. Osama lacks the status as head-of-state, doesn't sit on the incredible oil reserves, and doesn't command several hundred thousand troops dug in to fight off our attacks. The Afghan campaign proved just how precarious Osama's position was--a few hundred US and allied special forces troops, combined with the rag-tag Northern Alliance and our air power, dislodged Osama from his mountain nests. Now he's either rotting in some bombed-out cave or running for his life.

The difference between an Osama bin Laden and a Saddam Hussein isn't one of intention--they want the same thing--but one of scale. If killing off Saddam creates 100 Osamas, so be it. We'll kill them off one by one, no matter how long it takes. But killing off Saddam, dismantling his global intelligence services, his secret police, his Republican Guard, his fedayeen death squads, wiping out his WMD program, and freeing his people will in the end be worth creating 100 Osamas. And it may yet prevent the creation of even more Osamas that would probably happen if we did nothing.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

PETER ARNETT HELD HOSTAGE?

You have to wonder what the deal is with Peter Arnett. He has to know a gruesome and probably traitorous TV appearance for Saddam would likely result in his being fired by National Geographic. Forget MSNBC. He is single-handedly destroying a pristine 115-year-old brand name. Or do they still support him? Maybe we should call or email National Geographic to ask them if his bombshell interview produced shock or simply awe in their offices. While MSNBC was just trying to regain their own brand name strength, Arnett suddenly undercut any chance they had. Though NBC just gave him the kiss of death and praised his "outstanding" reporting, I expect both companies to start running away from him faster than a hot white dot in an AC-130 gun camera video. He's killing 'em.

Matt Drudge just posited that Arnett might have Stockholm Syndrome like Elizabeth Smart was said to have. I'm glad someone caught on to the official JYB framework for understanding Saddam's stubborn followers. The scariest thing about Arnett though is, while his comments do sound over the top, we've been hearing pretty much the same thing for a week from other stateside reporters who think they can create a new Vietnam just by unilaterally declaring the war plan a "failure" and producing "evidence." We have a nation of boomer reporters experiencing a TV-war-induced acid flashback to the Nixon presidency. If someone is short an MRE, the war lasts over a week, Iraqis have a temporary water shortage and are still afraid of being murdered by Saddam's gang of Patty Hearsts, or Rumsfeld did his job as a civilian overseer of the military, it freaks them out and causes a cold Nixonian sweat. Those stories are barely worth even discussing, let alone the Watergate or Vietnam blockbusters they think. Although, collectively, they illuminate how desperate our media bigs in NYC and D.C. are to put a fresh damaging hit on 21st century America and our great military in the middle of a potential chemical war. They're sick individuals. Listen carefully to the tone they use in their questions and reports. Most don't really care if we miscalculated and troops falter in the field, the war then becomes a years-long Vietnam, or angry Iraqis die of thirst and executions. They're almost salivating for it all -- to prove the war was a mistake and to prevent Bush from being re-elected.

When we have most liberals sounding like Peter Arnett in Baghdad, practically thrilled about how Saddam's Genocidal Fedayeen Forces are supposedly showing Bush, Rumsfeld and Franks a thing or two about how to fight a Just War, we have the very national scandal they seek. The media has been caught pushing intentionally deceptive propaganda while we have millions of people whose lives now depend on the truth being told. Ironically our military, who should really be the ones telling some lies to protect our forces, is jeopardizing some lives with pure truth. They feel the need to protect themselves from the salivating media looking to catch them making the slightest mistake or telling the smallest tactical lie.

UPDATE: As I predicted, NBC's unqualified endorsement of their reporter was simply the kiss of death. He was fired within 24 hours from NBC, MCNBC, and National Geographic Explorer. Let's see how long it takes for NationalGeographic.com to pull his face off their front page.

Here's a timely reminder about his past firing from CNN:

The aftermath of that phony nerve-gas story was not only that CNN was virtually ruined from an integrity standpoint (not that Peter really cared), but that was the straw that broke the back of the fragile international consensus that kept the United Nations' weapons inspectors in Iraq. For it was Arnett's little introductory speech for that pack of calculated lies that asserted that now the United States had no moral position to deny Iraq chemical weapons.

He's the journalistic equivalent of a comparatively benign arsonist-fireman.

UPDATE: 9:00 am EST Monday morning -- Peter Arnett's smiling face just yanked off the front page of NationalGeographic.com Will Saddam's propaganda remain?
Posted by Chris Regan at 12:03 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack