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