Wednesday, May 10

A Question

Welcome those seeking "PoliBlogger" via search engines

Over the last two days a lot of folks have come here via search engines (usually engines other than Yahoo or Google, often Dogpile or others).

At any rate: could someone tell me what has sparked a ton of searches for "Poliblogger"? Was the site mentioned somewhere? Is there just some generic interest in the term?

If you have an answer, could you go here and leave a comment? Thanks.

BTW: my site is to be found at: poliblogger.com

Sunday, April 20

Reminder

: I am now at www.poliblogger.com.

Thursday, April 17

FINALLY!!

PoliBlog now has a new home--it is under construction, but it finally habitable. Come see at: www.poliblogger.com.

MT Help Does anyone who uses Movable Type know how to get the default template to wrap the text to the screen?

Wednesday, April 16

Yes, I'm Still Alive Haven't had much free time the last day or so, and have spent what little I have had trying to get the move to MT going. Am having some minor difficulties, but hopefully will get it squared away tonight.

Tuesday, April 15

Status: Sorry about the dearth of posts the last several days--not only has life been especially busy, but I have been working on making the transition to my own domain and to Movable Type. Like James at OTB, I have tired of fooling with BlogSpot and other issues that the current blog requires me to fool with. Look for an announcement soon on the move. This blog will remain active, however, until the actual move.
Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Paycheck? I have never fully understood this kind of behavior:
American Airlines Inc.'s flight attendants voted to turn down their financial concession agreements with the Fort Worth-based company, following the approval announced by pilots and transport workers earlier in the day, according a report by Dow Jones Newswires.

The rejection by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants could lead to a bankruptcy filing from the world's largest airline.

If your compnay goes bankrupt, you aren't going to get the deal you want anyway, and indeed, you are likely to lose your job.

Source: DallasNews.com

Money for Moose? While I have mixed feelings on this, I have to admit, there is a point to be made here:
"Even criminals have a right to publish books about their crimes," said Washington College of Law Professor Jamin Raskin, a member of Moose's legal team. "If hitmen for the mob and mass murderers have a First Amendment right to write and publish books about crime, why don't police chiefs?"

Source:Chief Moose appeals ruling on sniper spree book

On to Phase Two. Let the rebuilding begin:Pentagon Asserts the Main Fighting Is Finished in Iraq. " The Pentagon declared today that major combat operations in Iraq were over after United States forces took control of Tikrit, the last bastion of the old government."

Monday, April 14

High Crimes and Misdemeanors? Don't get me wrong, I see no cause to simply head over to Syria and start breaking heads. They may well deserve it, but such a course of action hardly seems prudent, to put it mildly. So what in the world is former Secretary of State Eagleburger ranting about here?
Mr Eagleburger, who accused Syria of having an outrageous record on terror, said an extension of the war was unthinkable.

"You saw the furore that went on before the President got sufficient support to do this," he said. "This is still a democracy and public opinion rules. If George Bush decided he was going to turn troops on Syria now and then Iran he'd be in office about 15 minutes.

"If President Bush were to try it now, even I would feel he should be impeached. You can't get away with that sort off thing in a democracy."

This strikes me as a very odd thing to say--I concur that the political will to do such a thing is not present, and it is pretty much unthinkable that the President would willy-nilly send troops hither and yon. However, impeachable? I think not.

I also recall Mr. Eagleburger was initially quite agains the war with Iraq, although he did eventually change his tune. At any rate, I think Syria can be dealt with via diplomacy at this point, although I wouldn't rule out speacial ops actions if they harbor Iraqi Baathists or are holding Iraqi WMDs.

Source: BUSH'S CALL TO SYRIANS

One Big Happy Family I suspect he knows things of use: Saddam's Half Brother Caught Near Mosul. And family gatherings had to be a hoot:
Hassan had fallen out of favor with Saddam in 1995 and was dismissed as Iraq's interior minister, head of the regime's secret police and other domestic security agencies.

Saddam viewed Hassan as a threat and kept a close watch on him, the official said. Saddam's son Odai is reported to have shot Hassan around the time of his dismissal as interior minister.

Weapons, What Weapons?: Iraqis Point to Possible Weapons Sites "U.S. forces have a list of 2,000 to 3,000 sites in Iraq that need to be checked, and weapons teams are checking up to 20 sites a day, said the war's commander, Gen. Tommy Franks. Iraqis ranging from common citizens to high-ranking officials have suggested other possible hiding places to be searched, Franks and other military officials said."
And the Alternative Would Be? Hundreds protest global lending:
Hundreds of activists peacefully demonstrated yesterday against alleged abuses by large American corporations and international lending agencies, saying their policies are harmful to poor people in Latin America and elsewhere.

[...]

''For the last 50 years we've been attacked by the International Monetary Fund'' because its lending policies funnel money away from social programs in Argentina, said Graciela Monteagudo, a member of the Argentina Autonomist Project.

While I am no giant booster of everything that the IMF and World Bank have done policy-wise during their existence, these kinds of protests beg some key questions, amongst them: if the WB and IMF didn't lend the monies in question, where would these economies be at this point in time? The protestors seems to think that the money would be there no matter what, which is hardly an accurate assessment.

Sunday, April 13

More Evidence: This piece bolsters part of the argument I make in my column: A War Waged With a Sword At His Throat:
Settling nervously into a car, he recounted his story as a soldier in Saddam's Fedayeen.

"I was sure I was going to die," he said.

Struggling against hopelessness and fear, he prepared for battle under the scrutiny of the militia's swordsmen, appointed to decapitate any deserters. Clad in black fatigues, he weathered bombing and boredom. Then he plotted his escape to the safety of relatives on the Iranian border.

"For what was I going to fight?" he asked.

[...]

"I was forced to go. If I refused, I would be considered a traitor and they would execute me," he said.

The article is also interesting as it contains detailed on the Fedayeen Saddam, its origins and operations. It also makes them sound less fearsome and organized than we all thought about two weeks ago.

Saturday, April 12

Blogrolled: Thanks to The American Mind for blogrolling PoliBlog.
Syndication Deal? Not quite, but I do have a new column in the Birmingham News. It is available here
Iranian Overtures? Hmm, and I thought the war was guaranteed to distablize the region and result in the US having worse relations in the region. However, Reuters via Yahoo reports:
Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has suggested a referendum could be held on resuming ties with the United States, Iran's arch-foe, the official IRNA news agency said on Saturday.

[...]

Rafsanjani's comments seemed to reflect concern in Iran's conservative clerical establishment that the U.S. government, fresh from its success in overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, could intensify pressure for change in Iran, which is on its list of rogue countries sponsoring terrorism.

"Iranian officials have adopted a softer approach after the fall of Saddam because they are concerned about U.S. intentions," political analyst Saeed Leylaz told Reuters.

Source:Iran's Rafsanjani Suggests U.S. Ties Be Put to Vote

Funny: CBBC Newsround | TV FILM | Tony Blair to star in Simpsons Tony Blair to star in Simpsons
May it be so: "Republican Guard and other Iraqi troops regrouping in Saddam Hussein's hometown, Tikrit, have been battered by U.S. airstrikes and don't present an effective fighting force, U.S. Central Command said Friday."

Source: FOXNews.com

More Education, Saddam Style: " Scores of black leather vests stuffed with explosives and ball-bearings were found by U.S. Marines at a Baghdad school, along with empty hangers hinting that suicide attackers might be wearing them in the chaotic city."

Source: FOXNews.com

Putin Speaks: "The goal of war -- to disarm Iraq -- has not been achieved. ... We must never mix notions. No one liked the Iraqi regime apart from Saddam Hussein, but this is not the point."

I dunno--they looked pretty disarmed to me. However, in all seriousness, it is bit early for anyone to say that the WMD issues has been settled, one way or the other.

Source:CNN

Friday, April 11

Oh, Brother: People can find fault with almost anything. And quite frankly, Saletan's bit of decoding of the President's use of adjectives is a strech, to say the least: The Soft Bigotry of Loose Adulation By William Saletan
The Baath Party and Iraqi Politics: UPI has an interesting news analysis of the Baath party that is worth a read (it isn't very long). Some highlights:
Dictatorship came into full expression in Iraq with the Baathist coup led by Gen. Hassan el-Bakr and Saddam in 1968. During 10 transitional years the modern Iraqi state was steadily transformed from a constitutional monarchy with parliament, political parties and free press from 1930 to 1958, ultimately ending in fascist military rule.

[...]

Baathism was based on the tyrannical Nazi ideology imported in 1947 by Syrian politician Michel Aflaq. When it took power for the second time in Iraq in 1968, the Baath Party sought to eliminate all possible real dangers that threatened the regime. In fact, Saddam pointed the way when he launched his notorious slogan, "We came to stay." Following a bloody campaign that claimed the lives of half the Baath leadership, he placed the party under the control of trusted members of his Tikrit tribe.

Hylarious: "Tourism officials in Hong Kong are regretting running an ad campaign that features the slogan, Hong Kong: It will take your breath away."

Source:
SARS makes Hong Kong regret campaign slogan (Hat Tip: NPR's Morning Edition)

By the Way… Is it just me, or is there something galling about the fact that one has to mail one’s taxes to the IRS “Service Center”? (Yes, I put my taxes in the mail this morning...)
A City a Day: Not bad for a flawed battle plan, eh? Imagine what we could have done if the armchair generals had been allowed to use the good plan.
The northern Iraqi oil city of Mosul fell today without a fight as the last of Saddam Hussein's loyalists vanished during the night.

Source: Capture of Northern City Leaves Tikrit as Last Target for U.S.

Hope and Questions: The following column, My First Day of Freedom, by Iraqi ex-patriot Hussain Abdul-Hussain is worth a read. The first two paragraphs are telling regarding the terror that the regime had instilled:
The downfall of Saddam Hussein's regime, metaphorically incarnate in the toppling of his statue in Firdos Square in Baghdad, filled me with hope.

If the regime were still in power, I would not have had the courage to contribute even these few lines under my name to The New York Times. Although I am a self-exiled Iraqi who has lived in Beirut for the past two decades, I have family and friends in Iraq — and I had every Iraqi's dread that Saddam Hussein's security apparatus could sweep down on them at any moment.

The main thurst of the paragraph contains some distrsut of the US and its ability to do what it says it is going to do. I hope that the administration is able to follow through on its goals and actually create an example for the region. An example not only of good governance, but an example of the US keeping its word so that we might could start building some trust in the region as well.

Thursday, April 10

Surreal: The Baghdad zoo welcomes visitors
Inside the compound was a small, private zoo, where lions, cheetahs, a bear and German shepherds were starving. The soldiers opened their MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and pushed pound cake through the bars for the bear. They tossed chicken meals to young lions and two lion cubs.
Dean Campaign: RIP. Dean's main issue, being the anti-war candidate means he is already in a precarious position politically. And if he keeps saying things like this, he might as well just quit now:
"We've gotten rid of him — I suppose that's a good thing," Howard Dean, whose campaign has been lifted on his image as the antiwar candidate, said of Mr. Hussein. "But there's going to be a long period when the United States is going to be maintaining Iraq, and that's going to cost this country's taxpayers a lot of money that could be spent on schools and kids."

Source:Democrats Seek to Focus on Domestic Issues

(Hat Tip: The "Grape Vine" on Special Report with Brit Hume)

Fineman on Bush: (With apologies to John Lemon, known anti-Howard Finemanite). Fineman starts his current piece on the President as follows:
The guy doesn’t play small ball; he goes for the Big Inning—and doesn’t waver. Bush is what I’d call a disciplined radical, pursuing sweeping aims with an almost blinkered determination. At least for now—since September 11, 2001—it’s working. A month ago I wrote in this space that never had so much blood and treasure been risked on the hope that people would smile. Well, watch MSNBC. There they are.

And despite the requisite caveats at the end of the piece, it does well-describe a solid, if not remarkable, leader in the current occupant of the White House. Although I am sure that many of the left still see a cowboy with a simpleton's view of the world. It never ceases to amaze me how empirical evidence can be utterly ignored by people who don't want to see the truth.

Indeed, despite the critics (who continue to underestimate him), Bush really is a visionary, and has been remarkably successful at bold, but well crafted, policies.

Anyway, read the piece.

Source:A Big Win for Bush

Hmm, Rings a Bit Hollow, Doesn't it?
French President Jacques Chirac says his country is "rejoicing" in the apparent collapse of the Iraqi dictatorship.

[...]

His foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, added: "With the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, a dark page has been turned."

Source:CNN

We Have Humanity in Common: James at OTB pointed out this piece in the Independent by Robert Fisk which mocks the liberation of Iraq. In his rant against the people dancing in the streets in Baghdad, he notes the following:
Forgetting, too, that the "liberators" were a new and alien and all-powerful occupying force with neither culture nor language nor race nor religion to unite them with Iraq.
In other words, because the Americans and British aren't Arabs, or because they might be Christians, or their skin is not the same hue, then that makes the Americans and Iraqis "aliens" to one another. To which I say: nonsense. Our humanity is sufficient to unite us, as is the natural longing of the human spirit for freedom. I think he needs to read my March 23rd piece from the Birmingham News (yes, self-promotion, but heck, its a blog for crying out loud!).

Wednesday, April 9

We Can But Hope: "We discovered that all what the [Iraqi] information minister was saying was all lies," said Ali Hassan, a government employee in Cairo, Egypt. "Now no one believes Al-Jazeera anymore." Source: FOXNews.com

(Hat Tip: K-Lo at The Corner)

Utterly Remarkable: Iran endorses U.S. claim on Iraqi shrines
Iran has made a rare conciliatory gesture towards the United States by endorsing the U.S. statement that coalition forces had not damaged the Shiite religion's two holiest shrines in Iraq.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency carried a telephone interview on Tuesday with a prominent Shiite cleric who said the shrines were "untouched."

(Hat Tip: Romulus Remus at Judicious Asininity)

More Rumscraft: From today's briefing, in discussing the humanitarian situation (I have noted some key passages with italics):
Q: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the momentous pictures and what's going on in Baghdad and parts of Iraq now. You also mentioned the need to set up an interim authority. It seems as the shooting wanes in coming days, that the humanitarian need will grow drastically. When do you plan to send General Garner and his civil affairs team in from Kuwait to begin doing this?

RUMSFELD: I can't see why the humanitarian situation would grow drastically. Quite the contrary. The humanitarian --

Q: (Off mike.)

RUMSFELD: The humanitarian problem occurred under the Saddam Hussein regime for a decade. The circumstance of those people has been terrible. They had been denied all kinds of things because he was unwilling to cooperate with the United Nations.

Now, what's happening now is that humanitarian assistance is coming in. That doesn't mean the situation is worse, it means that it's better. And it is better.

And let me just give you an example. I'll tell you what's going to happen is, the more people who go into that country and see how serious the situation is, the needs of those people, and they're real needs, they're going to report there's a humanitarian crisis, the implication that it just occurred. It didn't just occur. When they say some city's been -- one-third of the city doesn't have sufficient water, compare that with six months ago when maybe half of the city didn't have sufficient water.

Here's just one, in Umm Qasr. It's generally a permissive environment, flourishing somewhat due to the increase of aid and border activity. The population has increased from 15,000 to 40,000, due to the availability of supplies and employment. Water supply is above prewar levels -- combination of U.K. pipeline and trucking. Electricity has been restored by U.K. engineers. Sufficient food is readily available. Medical facilities are sufficient and operating. UNICEF is providing supplies. The port's cleared of mines and open to limited operations. The channel needs dredging. Railway station is cleared by explosive ordnance detachment. Rail line is intact from there to Nasiriyah and they intend to open a line within seven days, which will allow movement of bulk water up the Euphrates Valley.

So, I mean, there's just one city. I could say the same thing on Basra or Nasiriyah. So the assumption in your question is false.

Gots ta luv Rummy.

Gee, What Have They Got to Hide? Iraqi Embassy in Brazil Burns Documents (Hat Tip: Drudge)
Game Really Over A rather remarkable statement from UN envoy Mohammed Aldouri was made today after he noted that the game was "over":
"I have no relationship with Saddam so I can't tell you. I have no communication with Iraq. I am here so I know nothing about what is going on there," Aldouri said.

I find this statement especially remarkable for two reasons: 1) he is clearly no longer afraid of Saddam, or the Baath Party eiltes, and 2) he must believe the regime truly finished to want to distance himself from it.

Source: ITV

Oh, Please: Fred Kaplan's response in Slate to the toppling of the Saddam statue is both counter to most I have read, and overly angst-ridden. (Not to mention, I think, wrong). The Final paragraph:
Is this scene a sad symbol of the Iraqi people's helplessness, after 30 years of brutal dictatorship, to master their own fate? Is this an equally sad symbol of America's inability to liberate without conquering? Will the Iraqis need outside forces to oust not merely Saddam but the figments of his rule? Will the Americans help them without too strong a stench of arrogance?

Excuse me?

Indeed: The US administration on Wednesday warned other countries intent on developing weapons of mass destruction - such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea - to "draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq".

Source: Financial Times

Some People Amaze Me: And Ted Rall tops the list for the moment. Check out the following excerpt from his April 1st column (and no, it isn't an April Fools' joke, although that might be his out...):
Regardless of their political affiliations, patriotic Iraqis prefer to bear the yoke of Saddam's brutal and corrupt dictatorship than to suffer the humiliation of living in a conquered nation, subjugated by Allied military governors and ruled by a Hamid Karzai-style puppet whose strings stretch across the Atlantic. As much as they may loathe Saddam, they're proud of their country, culture and rich history. The thought of infidel troops marching through their cities, past their mosques, patting them down, ordering them around, disgusts them even more than Saddam's torture chambers.

May I say for the record, if a totalitarian dictator ever takes control of the US, I hope some other government comes to our rescue, even if it means that some US citizens will die. I really am utterly amazed that anyone could say that the Iraqi people would prefer the "yoke of Saddam's brutal and corrupt dictatorship" to the US invasion. Utterly breathtaking.

Well, while a correction column ought to be forthcoming, after the events in Baghdad today, I shan't hold my breath...

(Hat Tips to first John Hudock Common Sense and Wonder and then to Right Wing News)

I Thought "Litmus Tests" for Nominees Were Bad Kerry vows court picks to be abortion-rights supporters (Hat Tip: Drudge)
Expect a Lot of This in Days to Come: Iraqis tour half-demolished jail 'of evil' " Iraqis showed journalists a white stone jail where they claim Saddam Hussein's secret police for decades tortured inmates with beatings, mutilations, electric shocks and chemical baths."

(Hat Tip: Drudge)

CP to LOC: Michelle reports that the Command Post will be part of the Library of Congress' project to archive web coverage of the war.
Andrew Sullivan Gets it Right Read this entry at his blog regarding the victory in Baghdad. He is on target.
Ok, It Didn't Take Three Days... But three weeks is pretty darn impressive.
Where's Waldo? I find it rather amusing that (mis)Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf did not make an appearance today, and that the media handlers from the now ex-regime did not show up to mind the foreign press today.
OK, Cute Title, But... While I find the title (Dances With Wolfowitz) of Dowd's column amusing, the argument within the text really misses the boat, as least on two counts:
  • First, like many critics of the war/the administration, she engages in static analysis, which looks only at the death and destruction since March 19th, without taking into consideration the death and destruction that will now be avoided because Saddam and his Baathist thugs are no longer in power.

  • Second, she seems to think that Wolfowitz, Cheney, and company think war is great just for the sake of breaking things and looking tough. Not so. The point of the Hanson quote she sites, and the analysis of James Woolsey she refers to, is not that war is something we go instead of persuason because at times we just feel like it. No, the point is that we engage in war because sometimes persuasion and diplomacy won't work and that to maintain national secuirty, force must be applied.
I would remind Ms. Dowd and all other who decry the evils of warfare--we didn't start this. The Islamoterrorists have been attacking US interests with impunity for over a decade (the Twin Towers twice, the Cole, the Khobar Towers, the embassies in Africa, etc.)--we did not first declare war on them, but they on us.
May it Be So: Signs of Iraqi Leadership Vanish in Baghdad
Residents swarmed out onto the streets today, suddenly sensing that the regime of Saddam Hussein was crumbling, and celebrating the arrival of United States forces.

Throngs of men milled about, looting, blaring horns, dancing and tearing up pictures of Saddam Hussein. Baath party offices were trashed.

Occasional sniper fire continued, but Iraqi resistance largely faded away. The American military hesitated to say the war was over, warning instead that more fighting could break out, both inside and outside Baghdad.

Maybe he is dead, or, at least, as good as dead...

He's Right: Friedman, in his latest column makes the following observations:
It's hard to smile when there's no water. It's hard to applaud when you're frightened. It's hard to say, "Thank you for liberating me," when liberation has meant that looters have ransacked everything from the grain silos to the local school, where they even took away the blackboard.

[...]

America broke Iraq; now America owns Iraq, and it owns the primary responsibility for normalizing it. If the water doesn't flow, if the food doesn't arrive, if the rains don't come and if the sun doesn't shine, it's now America's fault.

Hopefully we are getting to this, and soon. The looting in Basra and the lack of a police authority is another example of this problem. We owe it to the Iraqi people to make sure the food, water, and security flows. Not only do we owe it to them, if we want to foment democracy in Iraq, we need to start instilling trust of us in the population.

Tuesday, April 8

Interesting: It would seem that the public-opinion rift with our allies may not be as bad as some have indicated: 72% believe Canada should have backed war:
A large majority of Canadians -- 72% -- believe Canada should have supported the U.S. at the start of the war against Iraq, according to an exclusive National Post/Global News poll.

The COMPAS survey shows 41% of people believe Canada should have given verbal support to the United States two weeks ago while 31% said the backing should have come in the form of both words and troops.

Still, only a slim majority, 56%, agreed with the U.S. decision to launch an invasion to bring down Saddam Hussein, while 34% opposed the attack.

Amazing: Children were freed from prison today by the U.S. Marines. From the UPI:
The crescendo of welcome increased as an Iraqi woman led the Marines to a children's prison where than more than 160 youngsters were freed.

"It was really something, the children just streamed out of the gates and their parents just started to embrace us," said Lt. Col. Fred Padilla, commander of the 1st Battalion.

And from SpaceWar:

"The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party," he alleged. "Some of these kids had been in there for five years."

Sources: United Press International: 5th Marines enter Baghdad suburbs and Jailed Iraqi children run free as marines roll into Baghdad suburbs

(Hat Tip: Rush Limbaugh Show).

Inside the Numbers: Michel Martin (of ABC News, and part of the This Week roundtable) needs a lesson in analyzing data. On Sunday she lamented the high-percentage of friendly fire casualties in the current war, and noted similar numbers from the first Gulf War. The number cited was something like 25% deaths from friendly fire. I do not know if that number is accurate, although it sounds about right based on the overall numbers which have been reported.

The problem, of course, is that the reason that in prior wars that friendly fire deaths were a lower percentage of conflict-related deaths is because the absolute numbers of deaths due to the enemy were so high. The ratio of troops on the ground to battle deaths in this war has got to be one of the lowest in history. Further, there is simply a small “N” (i.e., sample size) problem here. With (as of the last report I heard) less than 100 deaths, any category in that number may seem over-represented, due to the low number of absolute deaths reported. For example, let’s say that 30% of the deaths were from grenades, where in the past the number of grenade-related deaths was only 10%. That doesn’t mean that we have become three-times more vulnerable to grenades (indeed, it could many things, or just be a statistical anomaly). Similarly, a high percentage of friendly fire deaths out of a relatively small number of overall deaths, means nothing.

I am not making light of the deaths in question, just making light of Ms. Martin’s analytical skills in this case. It is as if in the face of overwhelming success in the campaign, she had to find something negative to say.

Apple Fritters: Jack Shafer at Slate excoriates the war "analysis" of NYT's R. W. "Johnny" Apple, Jr. Read it here.
CNN: Behind the Curve: Did anyone else notice that last night when the news was breaking on Fox and MSNBC concerning the new bombing of Saddam and friends, that CNN was airing a series of commercials and seemed utterly out of synch? The best they could do at first was show pictures of Saddam, Uday and Qusay (while the other two networks had some video (some of which turned out to be the wrong video), and experts in the studio and reporters at various locations of relevance), and talk to their reporter in Belfast (and it was over the phone), rather than at the Pentagon, etc. Further, they seemed to press LAT’s report Robin Wright into service on the fly (she had been Larry King’s guest in the previous hour)—one got the impression that she was leaving the building and they grabbed her in the hall and stuck her back on TV.

At any rate, it was interesting that they seemed to be caught out of the loop.

It's Called Leadership Blair's approval rating on rise. His numbers are now about where they were last summer, pre-Iraq. It goes to show that sometimes one has to lead and let public opinion follow.

Monday, April 7

What? Is He Supposed to Leave His Gun at Home? Pistol-Packing Gen. Franks Visits Troops in Iraq
Understatement of the Day: "we do know [Saddam] no longer runs much of Iraq" (SecDef Rumsfeld).

Source: AP/Yahoo!

Amusing: Is war a joke to late-night comedians?
"But you know there's some confusion now whether Saddam Hussein is actually alive or dead," David Letterman joked on CBS' "The Late Show." "They had videotape on Iraqi television earlier today, and it's so confusing. It's Saddam Hussein ... and he's speaking at his own funeral."

[...]

"Today the U.S. Army kicked Geraldo Rivera out of Iraq," Craig Kilborn said on CBS' "The Late Late Show." "Why didn't someone tell us you can kick out Geraldo?"

[...]

"There was another war-related casualty today," Leno joked in Thursday's broadcast. "The French were injured when they tried to jump on our bandwagon."

I Love It! ABC News Radio is reporting that some of our troops camped out in one of Saddam's palaces last night.
I Know I Shouldn't Find This Funny... And in real terms, I don;t really, but still... Convoy of Russians Attacked in Baghdad
Change on the Ground: U.S. Airlifts Iraqi Exile Force For Duties Near Nasiriyah "In a surprise move, the United States has begun airlifting hundreds of members of an Iraqi exile group into southern Iraq, vanguard elements of what a high-ranking Pentagon officer said would form the basis of a new Iraqi army."
Hmm, More Delusional Statements? Annan: U.N. to Play Major Role in Rebuilding Iraq
"I do expect the U.N. to play an important role, and the U.N. has had good experience in this area," Annan told reporters ahead of a meeting of the U.N. Security Council that he had called to discuss the issue.
Whaddaya Know, Part II: U.S. Finds Drums That May Contain Chemical Arms
American soldiers in Iraq's Karbala area, raiding an empty training camp for Palestinians and others seeking to join Iraqis in the war, have discovered several large oil drums that may contain chemical weapons, officers said today.

Col. Tim Madere, the V Corps chemical officer, said that a preliminary test by a military chemical unit at the scene, indicated the presence of nerve gas, which is potentially lethal, as well as mustard gas. But Colonel Madere said he would await final judgment until a squad of the 51st Chemical Company, which was rushed to the scene, took samples and returned them to an American base in Iraq where more conclusive tests can be made.

Blix had better hurry, the soldiers are doing his work for him...

Delusional Statements of the Day:
Information Minister Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf insisted that there was "no presence of the American villains in the city of Baghdad at all. They tried to come in from Dora on a small number of tanks and personnel carriers, but we treated this problem by capturing most of them and killing the rest."

[...]

Al-Sahhaf told reporters in Baghdad that the U.S. forces "learned a lesson last night they will never forget. We slaughtered them and will continue to slaughter them."

Source: U.S. forces 'destroyed' in Baghdad

Thanks to Dain Brammage of My Brain Hurts! for blogrolling PoliBlog!

Sunday, April 6

Multi-Layer Irony: Does anyone else find this as amusing as I do? Iraqi Government Announces Travel Ban in Baghdad: "Iraqi television says authorities will impose a travel ban at the Baghdad city limits starting Sunday night."
Not Good: 'Friendly fire' hits Kurdish convoy. We are almost more dangerous to ourselves at times than are the Iraqis.
It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy: "On Saturday, U.S.-led coalition aircraft destroyed the home of Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majeed, known as "Chemical Ali," one of Saddam's cousins." Source: CNN.com - British battle groups push toward central Basra

Saturday, April 5

Plain Silly: Not to mention helping to further stereotypes of the south: Lincoln Statue Heightens Old Pains
"Hitler/Paris 1940. Lincoln/Richmond 1865. Any questions?" one sign read. Another, held by a young boy, read: "Lincoln wasn't worth a cent -- then or now." And a wanted poster with Lincoln's face read: "WANTED: For War Crimes."

Several hours before the afternoon dedication, about 100 members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and their families gathered at the nearby grave of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, to protest the Lincoln statue.

"As long as I'm commander in chief, we will never accept it," vowed Ron Wilson, national commander of the group. "We are going to fight these people everywhere they raise their head."

Truer than he knows: Iraqi Information Minister Sahaf reads Saddam message: "The criminals will be humiliated ... "

Source: Reuters

All the News that's Fit to Correct: From the "Correction" Section of the NYT's
Corrections: A front-page news analysis article on Sunday about the political perils faced by President Bush over the war with Iraq misattributed a comment about Saddam Hussein's government being "a house of cards." While some American officials had used the phrase to predict a shorter conflict and a quick collapse of the Iraqi leadership, Vice President Dick Cheney was not among them.

A rather intriguing error and correction, given that all last weekend, and talking heads all week, have attributed that quote to Cheney as though it was proof-positive that the administration's plan was flawed. Also, this indicates some pretty sloppy research by someone at the Times.

(Hat tip to Bill Kristol, appearing on Fox News Network.)

Evil. The evidence continues to mount that this regime was exactly what the Bush administration described it as: evil. The moral element of this war is clear to me, and those who attempt any form of moral equivalency between the coalition forces and the Iraqis is wearing willful blinders.
Hundreds of bundles of bone in strips of military uniform have been found by British soldiers at an abandoned Iraqi military base on the outskirts of the town of al-Zubayr.

[...]

Outside, in a courtyard, a brick wall riddled with bullets stands behind a foot-high tiled platform, with a drainage ditch running in-between.

It looks like "a purpose-built shooting gallery" says one British soldier.

Next to the courtyard, a building contains what look like cells with metal hooks hanging from racks on the ceiling - and a picture of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Source: BBC NEWS | UK | 'These are all executions'

The Iraqi Version of "No Child Left Behind"
U.S. Marines were digging up a suspected chemical weapons hiding place in the courtyard of an Iraqi school southeast of Baghdad on Saturday.

The Marines said that a man who described himself as a former member of the Iraqi special forces told them that groups of Iraqi men had knocked down a wall of the girls' school two months ago, hidden something in the courtyard and then concreted it over again during the course of three nights.

Source: Reuters AlertNet - US Marines digging up suspected chemical arms site
More on Saddam: Watching that footage of "Saddam" in the streets yesterday reminds me of going to theme parks or events for kids where Mickey Mouse (or Sir Topham Hat--I took my two eldest boys to Thomas the Tank Engine yesterday) comes out for an appearance and everyone mobs him, takes pictures, shakes his hand, etc. The scene yesterday was like some perverse, Dante-esque theme park, and the stuffed Saddam mascot came out to greet the crowd.
Surprising/Intriguing: I didn't expect this move, but, I guess, neither did the Iraqis. I wonder if Saddam and his doppelganger buddies are smiling now?
An armored force of 50 American tanks and other vehicles wheeled suddenly into the center of Baghdad today, taking the city’s defenders by surprise and triggering a rolling firefight along boulevards lined with some people waving and others shooting.

[...]

"We do have troops in the city of Baghdad,'' Capt. Frank Thorp told reporters, "They're in the middle of the city.''

Source: Armored Force Comes Under Fire During Three-Hour Incursion

Delusional? If the happy, laughing man on TV yesterday was Saddam--he is either honestly believing his own disinformation, not being told the truth, or is utterly delusional. I still think something is odd about the whole thing. Why would he risk going into public like that? And what was the deal with the rather small crowd?

Source: Iraqi TV Presents a Relaxed Hussein

Getting All the Plum Jobs Now: First the Daily Mirror, then Greek TV, now: Peter Arnett now reporting for Arab channel Al-Arabiya. I am sure he will redeem himself with so many opportunities to demonstrate his journalistic skills.

Friday, April 4

As John Lemon Predicted: In feedback yesterday, JL called it: Hollywood eyes Jessica Lynch
More Progress: Elite Iraqi Guard Division Defeated -US Marines "U.S. Marines said Friday that the Nida division of the Iraqi Republican Guard had been defeated by U.S.-led forces pushing toward Baghdad from the southeast."

Thursday, April 3

More Warm Welcomes. Despite some of the doom and gloom, it does appear that there are a good number of common Iraqis who are glad we are there. I still think that once the country is secured, and Saddam and his Baathist buddies are gone, the overwhelming majority of the country will be thankful for their liberation.
In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today.

What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring?

"Democracy," the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. "Whiskey. And sexy!"

[...]

Again and again, people pointed to the sky, tilted their heads back and pointed to their open mouths. A boy, age about 6 or 7, approached an American reporter and said the two words that were uttered over and over: "America. Good." Then he kissed the reporter on the cheek, shook his hand and pointed to the sky, pleading for water.

The Shiites seemed mildly to wildly grateful for the presence of the Americans, but were curious about what it will amount to.

And we are going to have to stay long enough to get things moving in the right direction. I think that is best not only from a moral perspective (if we are going to blow everything up, we ought help pick up), and for our national security--a stable, secular, democratic Iraq is the best thing that could happen to us in the region. And I pray we don't let the UN or the Euroweenies mess things up.

Source: Exuberant Crowd's Most Urgent Request: Water

Insde the NYT's Editorial Page:
Lawrence Eagleburger, secretary of state during the first Bush administration, gave some fascinating insight into the process Wednesday night on the Fox News show Hannity & Colmes. Responding to a Hannity query, Eagleburger said: "About ten days ago, I was approached from the New York Times to write an op-ed piece. To make it very short, when I talked to them about it, I was told what we want is criticism of the administration...Needless to say, I did not write the op-ed piece."

Now, I read the Times, but it is always useful to know where editorial page editors are coming from (not that we couldn't tell...)

Source: The Times Indecent Proposal -- April 3, 2003

Progress! ABC radio is reporting that the US military has taken the Saddam International Airport, and that resistance was light. Further, there have been reports of Iraqi civilians cheering on the US troops. This comports with the mass surrenders and bus caravans that I reported earlier today.
OTB Move: James has moved Outside the Beltway off of BlogSpot onto its own domain. Give the new site a look.
More Encouraging News: U.S. - Najaf Cleric Urges Iraqis Not to Hinder Troops Thursday, Apr 03, 2003; 8:06 AM
AS SAYLIYA CAMP, Qatar - A U.S. commander in the Gulf said on Thursday that a prominent Shi'ite Muslim cleric in the holy city of Najaf had issued an edict urging Iraqis to remain calm and not to hinder U.S. invading forces. "A prominent cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who had been placed under house arrest by the regime for a considerable period of time, issued a fatwa," Brigadier General Vincent Brooks told a news conference in Qatar.

"And it was done this morning, instructing the population to remain calm and to not interfere with coalition actions. We believe this is a very significant turning point and another indicator that the Iraqi regime is approaching its end."

A Reuters correspondent in Baghdad just one week ago saw a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani still pinned to the door of a main Shi'ite mosque in the capital saying Iraqis would "stand together against any invasion."

Source: Dispatches

The Money Primary: According to WaPo John Edwards is the early leader, by about $400k over John Kerry (who isn't helping himself calling for "regime change" in DC and playing the UN card--that might all fly in Paris, but not so much 'round here these days). The article correctly notes that "frontrunner" status (which Kerry covets) is going to be determined at this point largely by money.

Of course, I still maintain that any Democrat is going to have an uphill battle against Bush, unless the war effort takes a disastrous turn, which seems unlikely to me.

And, indeed:

But another Democratic strategist noted that Dean trails Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman and probably Gephardt. "Dean doesn't get extra points [merely] because he said he was going to raise $1.5 million and got $2.6 million," the strategist said. "He's still behind. . . . You can't buy ads with 'beating expectations.' "
Eye-Witness to the Surrenders: ABCNEWS.com : ABCNEWS Journalists Report From Gulf: Mike Cerre, with the 1st Marine Division north of the Tigris river 11:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. Iraq
At dawn, buses filled with military-age men coming from Baghdad started approaching our lines asking to surrender. It's been going on for the past two hours now. It started with a bus and a van. There's now several buses. As I look down the road behind me, people are streaming out of the city just to our north and approaching our lines, asking to surrender.

Most are military-age young men who say they are civilians but you can see they have military boots. Some of them have military belts and they all have short haircuts, presuming that they are military who've been fleeing Baghdad. We were able to talk to one of the translators who said they left Baghdad last night. They got weekend passes from their officers who knew they would probably be deserting.

They're trying to make it to American lines where they feel they are safer, because if they stop at one of these towns, they'll be pressed back into service by the local political parties. The Marines are trying to process as many as they possibly can.

Another Hat Tip to Blogs of War

But, I Thought They All Hated Us: Report: Buses of Iraqis Fleeing Baghdad
Iraqi deserters and civilians are flooding out of Baghdad by the busload on Thursday and surrendering to U.S. forces advancing on the Iraqi capital, said a U.S. television reporter traveling with Marines.

Hat Tip to: Blogs of War

The Iraqi Regime: Lovers of Truth: Why al-Jazeera's man in Baghdad was kicked out
Al-Jazeera reporter Tayseer Allouni may have been ordered out of Baghdad by the Iraqi government because he tried to interview people without an official minder present, according to a senior executive at the Arabic TV news channel.

[...]

[T]he chief of al-Jazeera's Washington bureau, Hafez al-Mirazi, told CNN Allouni had angered Iraqi information ministry officials when he tried to conduct interviews without a government minder present.

Just Imagine What Special Forces Can Do Private First Class Lynch (a nineteen year-old female supply clerk) put up a fight before she was captured:
Rescued U.S. soldier Jessica Lynch shot several Iraqi soldiers prior to her capture, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing U.S. officials.
The 19-year-old private first class continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her, one official told the newspaper.



Source: (Reuters) Report: Captured Woman Put Up Fierce Fight
Weighing Bad News: I was struck last night, while listening to the news, of the substantial difference between bad news for the Iraqi military and bad news for coalition forces. Yesterday, bad news for the Iraqis was that two divisions of the Republican Guard were degraded to the point that had lost most, if not all, of their military significance. Bad news for the US forces around Baghdad was the loss of a Blackhawk and and an F-18.

In no way do I mean to diminish the loss of those who died in the helicopter crash, nor the importance of the missing Navy pilot, but in macro terms, this comparison is a glaring example of the lop-sideness of this war.

Too Much Real Estate: You know you have too many palaces when describing one as "the one by the airport" isn't specific enough:

Lead units of the multi-pronged U.S. assault force were about four miles from the edge of Baghdad, and some soldiers made a brief foray into a presidential palace near Saddam International Airport.

Navy Capt. Frank Thorp, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, did not specify which of two palaces near the airport was entered.

Source: AP/Yahoo

Progress: U.S. Forces Enter Presidential Palace. And may it be so: "A U.S. spokesman said Iraqi forces appeared on the verge of collapse."
Making our Move: (Reuters) U.S. Infantry Vanguard 6 Miles from S. Baghdad "Advance armored units of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division were just six miles from the southern edge of Baghdad on Thursday, U.S. military sources in the area told Reuters correspondent Luke Baker."

Wednesday, April 2

The 24-7 Effect: It is interesting to see how the constant coverage, especially given the live and direct nature of it, has distorted time. One would think (and indeed, it does kind of feel this way) that the war had been going on for months, not two weeks (indeed, as I write this we are still an hour shy of the two-week mark). The examples of this are rampant in the press. The headlines over the weekend, for example, that made comparisons to the quagmire of Vietnam, are illustrative. How can a quagmire develop in 10 days?

A key example tonight was Howard Fineman reporting on MSNBC about the president and how "burdened" (referencing this USA Today story) and “isolated” he has been, and talking about how the President was going to have to get out and be seen. Now, I know for a fact that the President gave a public speech last Wednesday, and I thought made at least one other public appearance since. But even if the last time was the Florida speech, it has only been a week! How can one be "isolated" after a week? The time dilation and distortion here is really remarkable.

Thanks to The Invisible Hand for Blogrolling PoliBlog.
Indeed: Mort Zuckerman column in US News states, quite correctly, the following:
Sooner, rather than later, the treacherous will get what they deserve. So it must be for the others who have betrayed our restraint and practiced a lethal deceit: What Saddam's thugs are doing on the field of battle is what France, under the leadership of President Chirac, did on the field of diplomacy.

The whole thing in worth a read. It is noteworthy its praise for both President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.

Who do you tust? Hmm, while US forces claim Iraqi rout, "Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Sahaf has said the progress which US troops claimed to be making was erroneous." It is a tough call as to whom I should listen...

Tuesday, April 1

More Fun From France: One in three French backs Saddam
(Hat tip to Drudge)
Today's DoD News Briefing had an interesting response from General Myers. It is a bit lengthy, but worth the read, given all the criticism that has been leveled at the SecDef and the war plan in general.
Q: Secretary, I want to ask you once again about criticism from current and former officers about the flow of forces to the region and also whether there are sufficient forces in Iraq. Someone said that there should have been at least two heavy divisions before you started to fight, and there are others who criticize you for delaying signing deployment orders -- they point to the 3rd Armored Cav[alry] Regiment -- and also delaying calling up Guard and Reserve forces, that that added to some of the problems we're seeing now with lack of forces on the ground. And there are those that say that you're too enamored with air power over ground forces. I wonder if you could just comment on --

Rumsfeld: Well, why don't I --

Myers: Can I comment?

Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) Sure.

Myers: I would love to comment. My view of those reports -- and since I don't know who you're quoting, who the individuals are -- is that they're bogus. There is -- I don't know how they get started, and I don't know how they've been perpetuated, but it's not been by responsible members of the team that put this all together. They either weren't there, or they don't know, or they're working another agenda , and I don't know what that agenda might be. It is not helpful to have those kind of comments come out when we've got troops in combat, because first of all, they're false, they're absolutely wrong, they bear no resemblance to the truth, and it's just -- it's just -- harmful to our troops that are out there fighting very bravely, very courageously.

I've been in this process every step of the way as well. There is not one thing that General Franks has asked for that he hasn't gotten on the time line that we could get it to him. And it wasn't because of a late finding. It might be because we didn't have a, you know, a ship or something. But, I mean, it's not -- it's been for mechanical reasons, not because of administrative reasons, I can guarantee you that. Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed up to this plan and the way it was executed from the first day, and they'll be signed up to the last day, because we still think it's a good plan. Every member of General Franks' component commanders signed up to this plan as it was changed over time, and as it finally came down to be the one we went to war with. And they all stood up, and they gave a thumbs up to the plan.

So there may be others that have other ideas of how we should have done it. And I -- and, you know, God bless them, that's a great sport here inside the beltway. And I suppose if I -- when I retire, I'll probably have my comments, too: Gee, they ought to have more air power. (Laughter.) I wish the secretary would say we ought to be more air power-centric, perhaps. But I've never heard him say that --

Q: (Off mike.)

Myers: No. He hasn't said it. And that's not what he -- that's not -- I'm not going to speak for the secretary, but that's not the kind of comments that he's been making in this whole process. So that's -- it's been interesting, but it's not very useful to this discussion.

You know, we went in there with some very sophisticated objectives. We had diplomacy underway at the United Nations. We wanted to deploy a sufficient force, but not the kind of force that would make it look like diplomacy didn't have a chance to work. So we had to work that piece. General Franks -- and for the benefit of our troops -- wanted to protect tactical surprise. How do you protect tactical surprise when you have 250,000 troops surrounding Iraq on D-day? How do you do that? Well, you do it by the method he did it: by having the types of forces -- you do it by starting the ground war first, air war second. Do you think there was tactical surprise? I think there was. Do we have the oil fields in the south? About 60 percent of the oil wealth has been preserved for the Iraqi people. You bet. Have we had a Scud fired against Jordan or Israel yet? No. Why? Because we went in very early, even before the ground war, to secure those places. Do we have humanitarian supplies flowing into Umm Qasr now? Yes. Why? Because we put the ground forces in there early. Were we 200 miles inside Iraq in 36 hours? Yes.

[...]

Myers: General Franks is not criticizing the plan and he's the one that gets the rows for executing it. And I would only say this: that there is -- there could be a big difference in perceptions. And I'll go from the field -- and none of the perceptions are wrong, but it was like this seminar I was in at Harvard after the Gulf War. The comment was thrown out at this seminar, "Gee, the Army division commanders weren't happy with the air support they got." And I was surprised. So I called my good friend General -- at the break. I went out, put my quarter in the machine, called General Horner. And he was down -- I think commander of Space Command. I said, "General Horner, why would they say this?"

Rumsfeld: I think also it's useful to put it into some historical perspective. I don't think there's ever been a war where there haven't been people opining about this or speculating about that or second-guessing on something else. As I say, we're 10 or 11 days into this, and these things have kind of a rhythm to them, and right now we're hearing all of the complaints and concerns and questions. One of the ways you can get a sense of how knowledgeable people are is if somebody says that they were sent with half of their forces, which I read in one paper -- fact is, that's just not true. So if the person believes that, you can think, gosh, if he thinks he was sent with half his forces -- there hasn't been delays in any major thing.

Before this started, the president sat down in a secure video with General Franks and each of the component commanders before he made a decision to go forward, and he asked them a couple of questions. He said, "is this war plan a good one and will it win?" And each single person, every component commander, they said directly to the president of the United States on secure video, "absolutely."

Q: Well was --

Rumsfeld: Shh. Just listen. (Laughter.)

Then he said, "Do you have everything you need?" Simple question. These are adults. They're all four-stars. And they sat there, and they looked at the president in the eye and said "absolutely, we've got everything we need."

Now, is it, as General Myers says, perfectly possible that some person five layers down is short a meal for a day, or he his communications mixed up with somebody else's? You bet. This is an enormous process. There's something like -- what? -- 260,000 -- 300,000 people involved in this activity, and it is a monstrous task that they've performed, and they've done it brilliantly.

Myers' willingness (and zeal, I might add, as I heard this live) to answer the question and defend Rumsfeld was rather striking. Further, the litany of successes that he details is noteworthy, as are the remarks about diplomacy and the build-up.

Democrat & Chronicle: Moore explains Oscar speech. And this kind of talk, strikes me as either fantasy, or a total non sequitur: “Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator,” he added, “and I hope he’s removed as soon as possible. But nonviolently.” (As James at OTB notes, it is like being anti-abortion, but pro-choice).

And, boy, I can hardly wait:

His next project is guaranteed to be controversial. “I’m making a film called Fahrenheit 911, the temperature at which freedom burns. It’ll be about how Bush is using 9/11 and those 3,000 lost lives as an excuse to move along his own conservative agenda.”

For example?

Intriguing: Sarin Gas Documents Seized in Iraq
Special Forces teams operating in northern Iraq have seized manuals on the production of deadly poison gases, chemical masks and other documentation in raids on the camps of Islamic militants with alleged links to the al Qaeda terror organization.

And from the same story:

As fighting raged from Basra to Baghdad, members of the 101st Airborne Division involved in street clashes in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf were given new rules of engagement, ABCNEWS has learned.

A high-ranking military source told ABCNEWS that they were now permitted to fire upon all buildings, including residences and buildings of religious or historical value.

The change in orders came about after U.S. military officials say they learned that Iraqi forces were using religious landmarks as shields and hiding anti-aircraft artillery next to mosques.

Indeed: "That Arnett took his star turn on Iraqi state television and spoke seriously to a uniformed member of the Iraqi military indicates that he possesses the credulousness of a child, not the judgment of a seasoned reporter."

The piece itself is worth a read, and probably ought to be entitled "Why Arnett Shouldn't Have Been Hired in the First Place," rather than "Sacking Arnett for the Wrong Reason"

War Summary

Noteworthy stuff:

  • The Republican Guard's Medina division, massed south of Baghdad, and the Hammurabi division, north of the city, have been targeted by "tremendous sorties," McChrystal said at a Pentagon briefing. He said two other divisions have also been targeted, and that initial assessments show that the Medina division's strength might have been cut in half.

  • The Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, said about 1,000 Iraqi soldiers have surrendered along the northern front line separating Kurdish areas from those controlled by the Iraqi regime.

  • Elements of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division seized an airfield on the outskirts of Najaf. The strip will be used by military transport planes once it is cleared of mines, military officials said.

  • Fighting also continued around Nasiriya and Samawa, where U.S. officials said 50 Iraqi soldiers and 100 members of a paramilitary group were captured.

  • British forces said they've secured the western part of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city

  • Clean water began flowing Monday from Kuwait to the southern Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr through a pipeline that will provide about 600,000 gallons of fresh water a day, Brooks said. Iraqi forces had cut off water supplies to the city.

Source:CNN

Monday, March 31

That didn't take long: Britain's Mirror Hires Fired Veteran Arnett. Of course it is something of a step down.
Remarkable: 8,700 Bombs, Missiles Launched at Iraq, U.S.says. And, I should think: "We are seeing significant degradation of those forces"
Musings. It just occurred to me: what if instead of hearing every night about how the best case scenario did not occur (i.e., the cakewalk thesis didn't play out), we heard about how the worst case scenario did not occur? I know that there has been some reference to the lack of an attack on Israel, the lack of a flood of refugees, etc. Still, it is most remarkable the degree to which many in the press seem most eager to talk about the administration having to rethink its plan (which, actually, I think is an incorrect characterization--I suspect the administration did plan for the failure of the cakewalk. Indeed, the ignorance of many in the press is staggering--they seem to actually think that the US military goes into a place with only one plan, and if that fails they start from scratch...), rather than talk about all that has gone right.
John Leo's US News column is worth a looksee. A taste: "The Hitlerization of Bush is particularly outlandish since there already is a rather obvious Hitler figure in this drama." Indeed.
Fighting and Liberation: Fareed Zakaria's column in Newsweek is worth a read. His tone is a bit more critical than I would prefer, but the basics are on target.

And, I think this is essentially correct:

Many Iraqis will celebrate Saddam’s fall. Others will be angered by a foreign invasion. But most will be on guard to see what happens after the war. That is when America will vindicate itself, if it truly helps to build a new Iraq. After all, the Germans and the Japanese did not cheer in 1945 but they were grateful by 1955. America will win the Iraqis over not by what it does in the next five weeks but rather in the next five years.

Although I do think that ultimately there is going to be some serious jubilation when Saddam is utterly toppled. Still, the true liberalization of Iraq is going to take time, and I hope that we are adequately committed to that process. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is also the path that will lead to more security for the United States.

"Believe it or not, we're winning" A good piece by Mark Steyn. And, indeed:
An innovative war is going very well, and none of the ''setbacks'' are unexpected, despite the Saddamites' determination in their death throes to plumb new depths in depravity. The allied loss of life is wretched for the families involved but strategically significant only as a historically unprecedented low: Just for the record, there have been 10 American combat deaths to approximately 1,000 Iraqi combat deaths, and there is no reason to believe that ratio will change unless Saddam's conscripts start surrendering faster. It was Stalin who said cynically that one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. The fact that CNN was able to lapse into its default individual-tragedy mode with soft-focus profiles of each American POW is, in fact, confirmation of how badly the Baathists are doing.

He makes several good point--give it a read.

More Blogs in the news: Bloggers’ Delight
Bad Day in General for "Journalists":
The U.S. military is expelling Fox News Channel's unfortunate hire Geraldo Rivera from the country, CNN reported today.

CNN quotes U.S. military officials as saying Geraldo violated "the cardinal rule of war reporting Monday by giving away crucial details of future military operations during a live broadcast." It gave no further information.

Source.

Hook'Em Yet Again!: Texas is finally in the Final Four for the first time since 1947.
In the "He'll Never Learn" Category (not to mention probably never get another serious job in US): NBC Fires Arnett After Iraq TV Interview. Between his escapades in the first Gulf War, anf then making stuff up for CNN a few years later, and now this, one guesses he is truly done with major networks in the US.

And I would not wear this as a badge of honor:

He said the Iraqis allowed him to stay in Baghdad because they respect him.

"The Iraqis have let me stay because they see me as a fellow warrior," Arnett said. "They know I might not agree with them, but I've got their respect."

Sunday, March 30

BTW, John Lemon is back from vacation.
It strikes me as odd that in every picture of Saddam since the war started, there is always some kind of curtain behind him (although the curtain itself varies) and he is always sitting. Plus, why haven't they just issued a video that is 100% conclusive? Most strange.

Fox had a picture that had Saddam's bodyguard in it, but no Saddam. Apparently the bodyguard has never been photgraphed without Saddam present in 15 years. Also strange, but I have not had time to see if there is further news or analysis of this situation.

So, I wonder how many people still think that there is no way, no how, that secular Saddam would ever work with Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

Saturday, March 29

Encouraging:
Iraqi civilians were reported to be emerging from Basra yesterday to pass critical intelligence information to British-led forces to aid attacks against Saddam Hussein's forces within their own city.

British intelligence officers said there had been a steady stream of information coming from the population in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, about the movements and activities of paramilitaries loyal to Saddam.

Source: The Telegraph (Hat Tip to Analyst at AcePilots.com )

As usual, Friedman's latest column is worth a read. His argument that NATO will not only survive the Iraq war, but thrive in the future as a US-led alliance in the war against terror is most intriguing. The current situation in Afghanistan vis-à-vis NATO was unknown to me, and does lend some credence to his argument.

Still, we shall see.

Somewhat amusing: Top Stories Photos
Desperation Tactics: This--Iraq Says Suicide Strikes Are 'Policy'--is not the move of a military that believes it can win, but rather a move of desperation to attack the coalition's resolve. For a regime that so many claimed did not have any usage for terrorism, it is remarkable to degree to which all the regime has are terrorist tactics. I still believe that many of the mainline military would have quit if it weren't for the terror being applied by the regime to its own citizens.

It is worth noting that one does not create suicide bombers overnight. Clearly the regime has been fomenting some of its own Islamic extremism to create these "weapons."

Line of the Day: "If the Americans stay here, we are afraid of nothing." (Majmadin Majid, a Kurdish regular) Source: WaPo.
Excellent: Kurdish-U.S. Assault Takes Town
With U.S. Special Forces operating field artillery, calling in airstrikes and supervising a massive infantry charge, 6,000 Kurdish fighters today overwhelmed a band of radical Islamic Kurds in a remote mountain valley in northeastern Iraq.

The combined Kurdish-U.S. assault began at dawn and ended in a rout. By midafternoon this rugged village in the Shram Mountains near the Iranian border was no longer the headquarters of Ansar al-Islam, a small but dangerous militant group that the Bush administration charges has links to the al Qaeda terror network.

I Thought the Iraqis Eschewed Terrorism? Suicide Bombing Kills U.S. Troops
60 Minutes II on Umm Qasr

Did anyone see the 60 Minutes II piece on Wednesday night on the distribution of aid to Iraqi civilians at Umm Qasr? If anyone saw the US serviceman, who had tears in his eyes because of the joy he saw on the faces of Iraqi children because the US had brought water, and still can call this cause unjust, or worse, claim that we are purposefully killing women and children, are out of touch with reality. Further, the fact that a substantial part of the reason that the people in Umm Qasr didn't have water was because the regime halted shipments even before the war started should quell any talk of the moral equivalency of the two sides.

Indeed, the 60 Minutes II piece that same night on the Fadayeen Saddam should utterly destroy any arguments that the two side are in any way the same.

Flipper Lives!

There is just something surreal and very American about all of this (plus, great pic):


Source: U.S. Navy/NPR

The whole story is here.

May They Be Successful: U.S. Teams Seek to Kill Iraqi Elite. And I suspect there is quite a bit that we don't know about:
The previously undisclosed operation suggests U.S. efforts to destroy the Iraqi government's leadership are far more extensive than previously known, and have continued since the March 20 airstrike on a residential compound in the suburbs of Baghdad.

That paragraph leapt out at me, as the press often presents this omniscient attitude that they know all, see all, and therefore can critique all.

The Result of the Irregulars The ironic thing, it occurs to me, of the increase in guerrilla, irregular, and terrorist tactics by the Iraqis will bolster the hard-core pro-war faction, as these acts simply prove the evil that the regime contains (I am especially thinking of the nefarious tactics of the Fedayeen Saddam), while those who were opposed in the first place will simply point to all of these terrible happenings as evidence we shouldn't have gotten involved in the first place.

Friday, March 28

Elite Eight: Hook'em again: Texas 82, Connecticut 78
The Calculus of War

While I will admit to thinking that things were going remarkably well a week ago today, and I would have predicted that we would have been farther along by today, I must admit that the layer of gloom that the press, and many armchair generals, are laying on right now is a bit thick. While I know some pontificated that this was going to be super-easy, I don't think that most informed persons thought this would be the case. (It is noteworthy that public opinion polling seems to indicate that the American people understand the complexity of the situation, even if the media, on balance, does not). I never thought this was would be won in a week. A month, yes, a week? Please.

Further, I think that our time perception has been distorted by the live coverage and twenty-hour-a-day coverage. It makes us impatient. And I find that the more information I have, the more I want. I am rarely satiated. I always know there is more to know.

In additional to all of that, and understanding the amount of time it takes is an issue, I would note the following: First, wars cannot be truly evaluated as to their success or failure until after they are completed. Second, consider the following metrics of war, and then tell me if the gloom is warranted:

  • Who controls the skies of Iraq?

  • How much territory is under the control of the regime, and how much by the coalition?

  • How many US/coalition soldiers have been wounded, killed, or captured? How many Iraqis?

  • How many US military assets have been destroyed? Iraqi assets?

  • How many Iraqi targets of military significance have been destroyed or seriously damaged in the last week?

  • Which military faces likely serious re-supply problems shortly?

  • and the list goes on...

I recognize that there are political considerations as well: how many civilian casualties? How many civilians and infrastructural facilities have been damaged or destroyed, how long is it going to take, etc. But the bottom line is that by any objective standard, there is no cause for doom and panic. Rather, the thing that can be said is that the best case scenario did not take place, and it rarely does.

Line of the Day: "Their name, Fedayeen Saddam, is a lie, because their purpose is certainly not to make martyrs of themselves, but to make martyrs of innocent Iraqis opposed to Saddam's rule. But we will take them at their word, and if their wish is to die for Saddam Hussein, they will be accommodated" (SecDef, Donald Rumsfeld, 3/28/03, DoD News Briefing).
I'm Back! Lots to catch up on. Some entries to follow tonight.

Wednesday, March 26

PoliBlog Status Report

I will be out of town over the next several days at the Latin American Studies Association conference. See you all back in Blogosphere on Friday.

Speaking of Reaping What You Sow… I think we are paying the price of diplomacy, as one analyst put it yesterday. Clearly while we played footsy with the UN and the French, Saddam was able to deploy secret police and various irregular troops into civilian populations. Clearly many of the Iraqis are afraid to surrender, revolt or otherwise support our military. There have been reports of Iraqis dressed as US military, accepting surrendering Iraqis soldiers and then executing those seeking to lay down their arms. It isn’t a pretty picture, and I suspect we will learn a good number of horror stories along this line.
Ghosts of the Past

I used to be of the position that I understood why the Forty-One administration did not head on to Baghdad when the chance was there. However, in retrospect, I find myself somewhat sickened by the fact that we asked the Iraqi people to rise up and then did not come to their aid. I think that we are at least partially reaping the results of that policy. While I still maintain that the vast majority of the Iraqi people will ultimately see this conflict as a liberation, I think many are waiting to make sure that we are serious, and that we are indeed going to kill the regime, before rising up again. The situation in Basra, however, is most encouraging.

The part that sickens me is the thought of brave men and women, wanting to get free from tyranny, risking their lives with the hope that cavalry was coming, but the good guys on white horses never arrived. It is truly a crime to have done that to those people.

Tuesday, March 25

You Have Got to be Kidding Me: France Seeks Big Role in Post-War Iraq
Tax Set-Back? As has been well-reported today, an amendment passed on the floor of the Senate today that halved the President's tax proposal. This has widely been described as a "set back" (if not outright defeat) to the President's domestic policy agenda. However, as was also reported, but then ignored most of the day, the House passed the tax package intact. Now, that means something very simple, and very important: it is far from over with as to what will be in the tax package. The Senate vote is no more total defeat than the House vote is total victory. The bills will have to be reconciled, and any number of things may yet happen. Indeed, the reconciliation process is multi-faceted, complex and could result in the tax package dying entirely, being restored entirely, or radically altered in some way.

I can never decide if the media writ large simply does not understand how the legislative process works, or if they are willfully ignorant in public to enhance the significance of the part of the vote they prefer. Neither is a flattering picture.

more of PoliBlogger's Mediaese-to-English Dictionary: "Protracted War"

USAGE: "Well, Peter, it seems that since the war was not won within 72 hours, the coalition now faces a protracted war."

TRANSLATION: In plain English, this means "a war," or "a real war." see also: battle, conflict, fight. In other words, it might take a few weeks, maybe a month. Like the entry on "unexpectedly strong resistance" when used by speakers of mediaese it connotes a failure. Note: do not confuse speakers of mediaese by pointing out that the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam all took years.

This Continues to Sound Promising: Anti-Saddam rising unfurls in Basra
And stocks rally: US stocks rise; Dow adds to gains by midday

It is almost comical, good news, stocks up! bad news, stocks down! It does make for an interesting, if imperfect, barometer as to the national mood vis-a-vis the war.

Good News from the same story linked below:
Earlier, British military sources said about 20 of Saddam Hussein's henchmen were killed and a key party official captured in a raid by British forces near Basra on Monday night.
PoliBlogger's Mediaese-to-English Dictionary: "Unexpectedly Strong Resistance"

USAGE: "US forces have encountered unexpectedly strong resistance leading many to wonder if the strategy is flawed."

DEFINITION: The phrase means, in plain English, "the best case scenario did not take place" (synonym: everything isn't perfect), and carries the connotation, by native speakers of mediaese (and many anti-warites), that some failure has occurred, even if no such failure has occurred. Proper translation should take this into account.

"Peace Activism": Dennis Prager has an excellent column on the specific case of Rachel Corrie's death during her attempt at shielding a Palestinian home against an Israeli bulldozer, and the broader issue of idealistic peace activists. I will say that I have mixed, and mostly negative, feelings on the Israeli policy of bulldozing the homes of homicide bombers' families. I am not convinced that it is an effective policy. It may contain a measure of justice (assuming that the families are indeed accomplices, which is not necessarily the case), but it likely does much more harm than good. However, trying to stop a bulldozer by squatting in a house in the process of being torn down is not smart. Further, protesting the Israelis while supporting Palestinian terrorists is not a noble cause.

Some worthwhile snippets from the Prager column:

Rachel Corrie chose to side with a society that breeds some of the cruelest murderers of innocent people in the world. Rachel Corrie gave her life trying to protect people whose declared aim is to annihilate another country. In the name of saving children's lives, Rachel Corrie chose to defend a society that teaches its young children to blow themselves up and which deliberately targets children for death. And Rachel Corrie went to America's enemies to burn her country's flag.

And, specifically, his comments on peace activism, and “idealism” in general is worth reading, as I think he is spot-on:

We are told repeatedly that Rachel was idealistic -- as if that matters. Virtually every person who commits great evil -- the Nazi, the Communist, the Islamic terrorist -- is idealistic. Idealism is morally neutral. It is good only when directed to good ends. But in young people, idealism is at least as likely to lead to bad as to good because few young people are wise -- and idealism without wisdom is very dangerous.

We are told ad nauseam that Rachel Corrie was a "peace activist." So let it be said once and for all that most of these people are moral frauds. Why? Because "peace activists" routinely protest only against peaceful countries. Has there been one Evergreen State or other "peace activist" in Sudan during its Islamic government's slaughter and enslavement of millions of blacks? Are there any "peace activists" in Tibet to protect its unique culture from being eradicated by the Communist Chinese? Did you notice any "peace activists" trying to save the millions of North Koreans dying at the hands of their lunatic government? Of course not. Rachel Corrie and other "peace activists" only target peace-loving Israel and America.

An alleged love of peace at any cost, often leads to a furtherance of evil. The situation in Iraq underscores this--those who protest in the name of "peace" and the "Iraqi people" would have been satisfied with the status quo, which allowed Saddam Hussein to terrorize his population and use it wealth for his own selfish ends. Hardly a good trade off.

Indeed: Cal Thomas' column is worth a look. Two issues strike me. First (not unlike what I said here:
If the war to liberate Iraq continues to go well; if there are relatively few coalition and civilian casualties; if an "environmental disaster" does not occur with the mass torching of oil wells; if chemical and biological weapons are not used either because American threats of severe consequences have been heard or coalition forces have preemptively taken them out; if Israel is not hit with Scud missiles; if, in short, we achieve every objective, what will the naysayers say?

And, especially:

Can any fair-minded person say we are behaving in a "habitually cruel" manner in Iraq? Have not the coalition forces gone out of their way to strike only military targets (as opposed to the habitually cruel homicide bombers in Israel who go after innocent civilians and Saddam Hussein who is an equal opportunity murderer?). Have we not declared our intention to install a democratic government in Iraq, run by Iraqis and not the United States, as soon as it is feasible?

Any who want to draw moral equivalencies between the US and Iraq in any way are clearly wearing willful blinders.

Brief Oscar Commentary: I didn't watch the Oscars, so got what little news about it from secondary sources. I just learned last night (in a wrap-up with sound and video bites) that Roman Polanski won the "Best Director" award. Polanski wasn't there, of course, because he is a fugitive from US justice, given a little, shall we say, dalliance, with a then 13-year-old girl (you know, the encounter which resulted in a child rape conviction?) Yet, when the award was announced there were great applause and celebration. This from the same audience where many sat in silence, or even clapped, during Michael Moore’s rant about President Bush and the war. Not to paint with an over-broad brush, but the moral bankruptcy of Hollywood was quite clear in that moment.
International Law Redux

The ongoing discussion of the treatment of POWs, and the issue of Iraqi irregular troops, wholly underscores the fragility of international law and agreements. One can assert that it is “illegal” for the Iraqis to parade our servicemen and women in front of the cameras, the President can state that we “expect” the Iraqis to treat our prisoners well, and General Franks can point out that fake surrenders that turn into ambushes are against the “rules” of combat, but the bottom line is that the force of “international law” cannot make the Iraqis behave. The War Referees, dressed in black and white stripes (and really loud whistles) are not going to pop up from behind a sand dune and flag the Iraqis. Indeed, the only power that is going to make the Iraqis adhere to the rules is the force applied to them by coalition forces. We can punish, ex post, war “criminals” but the reason we will be able to do so, is because we will win the military conflict.

And specifically on the topic of the Geneva Conventions, it is highly noteworthy (and indeed, has been noted by many, including James at OTB, that we follow the rules and humanly treat prisoners because that’s the way we do things, not because a treaty says so. At its root, international law is enforceable only by force, and only when the rules have already failed.

Monday, March 24

Here's a List of Casualties, POWs, MIAs. And at the risk of sounding overly callous, or cold, I must say that despite all the hand-wringing, to be into this war 5 plus days and have only 19 dead and 12 missing or captured it remarkable. And if you read the causes of death, many are not due to the enemy, but rather to accidents.

And the striking thing is that is one was to watch much of the news today, you would think 100 times as many people were dead.

They Can Complain, But...

Pentagon Complains About Fake Surrenders The story does provide some interesting insights into what is going on in Iraq:

"They are sending forces out carrying white surrender flags or dressing them as liberated civilians to draw coalition forces into ambushes," said Victoria Clarke, spokeswoman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "Both of these actions are among the most serious violations of the laws of war," she said.

Also of interest:

Asked about the relatively slow pace of Iraqi surrendering, McChrystal suggested that members of the Fedayeen, Saddam Hussein's most trusted militia, had infiltrated regular Iraqi army units, telling them to "fight or be shot in the back."

This latter point is especially interesting. It reminds me that had Saddam not had all those months to prepare for this war, that it likely would be unfolding differently.

Thanks, UN. Thanks, France.