April 30, 2003

The "Four" France, Germany, Belgium

The "Four"

France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg are planning a Euro-defense capacity.

"La déclaration «insiste en particulier» sur «le caractŹre fondamental du partenariat stratégique entre l'Europe et les Etats-Unis dans le cadre de l'Alliance», a ainsi tenu ą souligner le président franćais Jacques Chirac."

Translation: The declaration "insists in particular" on "the fundamental character of the strategic partnership between Europe and the U.S. in the framwork of the Alliance," emphasized French President Jacques Chirac.

I think Jacques doth protest too much here.

More: "Une Union européenne renforcée en matiŹre de sécurité et de défense «n'est pas antagoniste ou n'entre pas en compétition avec l'Alliance atlantique», a renchéri le Premier ministre belge Guy Verhofstadt, en invitant «les Etats membres actuels et futurs ą rejoindre» les Quatre."

A European Union reinforced in matters of security and defense "is not antagonistic or isn't entering into competition with the Atlantic Alliance"...the Belgian Prime Minister [said] in inviting "current [EU] members and future ones to join "the Four."

We might start by assuring the Belgian Prime Minister that we aren't overly concerned about the "Four" constituting "competition" with the Atlantic Alliance (Luxembourg?). But sarcasm aside--why has this Euro quartet picked the present juncture so as to make such an announcement? Partly, perhaps, to counter Robert Kagan's Mars/Venus arguments that only Hobbesian Americans understand force while the Euros dwell in a Kantian universe of perpetual peace blissfully sans any need for significant armies.

But, given the timing of this initiative, one can also see a continuation of a short-sighted and highly unfortunate French tendency to have the current organizing principle of their foreign policy seemingly appear to be focused on limiting U.S. power whatever the specific merits of the issue(s) at hand. Their contention that, during the Resolution 1441 Turtle Bay imbroglio, they played the role of guardian of international law can't be taken seriously. Saddam's violations of 1441 have already been proven to be material and thus it was the U.S. that was pursuing the integrity of international law by insuring the integrity of U.N. resolutions.

More worrisome, of course, are the intelligence documents being unearthed in Baghdad that showcase close Franco-Iraqi cooperation including French provision to Baghdad of appraisals regarding U.S. foreign policy thinking--certainly not behavior akin to that of an ally. And why did Dominique de Villepin head to Teheran at the present juncture?

Relations with France look set to continue detiorating for a good while yet--unless Chirac and Dominique swiftly change course--highly unlikely given an increasingly consistent pattern of behavior.

UPDATE: Vinocur's analysis in the Trib.

Two money quotes:

The project was dismissed by Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State, who called it "some form of plan to develop some sort of headquarters." He said the four would have done better spending more money on guns, manpower and equipment."

And Japp de Hoop Scheffer, the Dutch Foreign Minister: "Belgium and France will not guarantee our security. Germany will not guarantee the security of the Netherlands. I cannot imagine a world ordre built against the United States."

Posted by Gregory at 12:45 AM | Comments (1)

April 29, 2003

Said's Hyperbole Edward Said lets

Said's Hyperbole

Edward Said lets loose in the London Review.

First, a few cheap shots at Fouad Ajami:

"Fouad Ajami is a Lebanese Shia educated in the US who made his name as a pro-Palestinian commentator. But by the mid-1980s, he was teaching at Johns Hopkins; he'd become a fervent anti-Arab ideologue and had been taken up by the right-wing Zionist lobby (he now works for Martin Peretz and Mort Zuckerman) and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is fond of describing himself as a non-fiction Naipaul and quotes Conrad while sounding as hokey as Khalil Gibran. He also has a penchant for catchy one-liners, ideally suited to television. The author of two or three books, he has become influential as a 'native informant' - the Arab 'expert' is a rare species on American networks. Ten years ago, he started deploying 'we' as an imperial collectivity which, along with Israel, never does anything wrong. Arabs are to blame for everything and therefore deserve 'our' contempt and hostility."

Then this concluding graf:

"This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology. What winning, or for that matter losing, such a war will ultimately entail is unthinkable. But pity the Iraqi civilians who must still suffer a great deal more before they are finally 'liberated'."

The "most reckless war in modern times." Since the French Revolution, I take it? Hitler's dreams of a Third Reich spanning the entire Eurasian landmass were less reckless, I guess.

Or how about Saddam's genocidal campaign against the Kurds from 1987-1988. Perhaps not as "reckless" vis-a-vis hyperbolic fears that the international order is no longer extant as a result of the three and a half week coalition operation in Iraq. But certainly "reckless" for the nearly 100,000 Kurds killed by Saddam's regime. Samantha Power, in her excellent "A Problem from Hell--America and the Age of Genocide", details Saddam's attacks on Kurds, including the "Kurdish Hiroshima", Saddam's attack on the town of Halabja on March 16th 1988:

"It was different from other bombs," one witness remembered. "There was a huge sound, a huge flame and it had very destructive ability. If you touched one part of your body that had been burned, your hand burned also. It caused things to catch fire." "The planes flew low enough for the pertrified Kurds to take note of the markings, which were those of the Iraqi air force. Many families tumbled into primitive air-raid shelters they had built outside their homes. When the gases seeped through the cracks, they poured out onto the streets in a panic. There they found friends and family members frozen in time like a modern version of Pompeii: slumped a few yards behind a baby carriage, caught permanently holding the hand of a loved one or shielding a child from the poisoned air, or calmly collapsed behind a car steering wheel. Not everybody who was exposed died instantly. Some of those who had inhaled the chemicals continued to stumble around town, blinded by the gas, giggling uncontrollably, or, because their nerves were malfunctioning, buckling at the knees...."

"Halabja quickly became known as the Kurdish Hiroshima. In three days of attacks, victims were exposed to mustard gas, which burns, mutates DNA, and causes malformations and cancer; and the nerve gases sarin and tabun, which can kill, paralyze, or cause immediate and lasting neuropsychiatric damage. Doctors suspect that the dreaded VX gas and the biological agent aflatoxin were also employed."

Posted by Gregory at 11:35 PM | Comments (3)

Athens Postcard The sole foreign

Athens Postcard

The sole foreign service officer to resign in protest from the State Department over the war in Iraq continues his Warholian 15 minutes in the pages of the NYRB.

Sample language:

"Few in Europe will be quick to forgive us for blighting one cherished prospect. Inspired, perhaps misled, by the miracles of EU membership in expanding democracy, justice, prosperity, and security in Greece and in Europe generally, a surprising number of Greeks saw the world as an improvable and improving place. Our current leaders, however, have declared the planet a pit of beasts to be cowed. Whether America has become more secure through its conquest of Iraq will not be judged soon, and certainly not from the streets of Athens. From the streets of Athens, however, the world feels a grimmer, less hopeful, and far more dangerous place."

I trust any diplomat who believes disarming Saddam pursuant to a judicious reading of Resolution 1441 is tantamount to having declared "the planet a pit of beasts to be cowed" won't be too missed by professional diplomats at the Department.

Posted by Gregory at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Take Me, Please! Remember this

Take Me, Please!

Remember this guy? (via Andrew Sullivan)

Posted by Gregory at 09:21 PM | Comments (1)

Shi'a Intrigues Remember the assassination

Shi'a Intrigues

Remember the assassination of Shi'a cleric Abdul Majid Khoei on April 10th? Dave Ignatius, while probably blowing it a bit out of proportion, has a pretty good round-up here.

Some key grafs:

"According to the Iraqi sources, Khoei planned to ask Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, to issue a religious fatwa urging Iraqi Shiites not to cooperate with an Iranian-backed mullah named Bakr Hakim. The United States hoped that Khoei could forge an alliance with the movement headed by a militant Iraqi Shiite leader in Najaf named Muqtada Sadr, whose father, a founder of an Iraqi wing of the Islamist Dawa Party, had been murdered by Saddam Hussein in 1999.

Things went disastrously awry soon after Khoei's arrival in Najaf. On April 10, he went to the Imam Ali mosque with a caretaker appointed by Hussein. Khoei apparently hoped to gain control of the mosque, but the two men were attacked by an outraged mob, and both were murdered.

Initial U.S. accounts of Khoei's death suggested that he had been killed accidentally, caught in the crossfire by a mob that was really after Hussein's hated caretaker. But Iraqi sources say the killing of Khoei was intentional. He fired a pistol in the air after the mob began its attack and was then stabbed repeatedly. According to one account, his assailants included Sadr's followers -- the very people the United States had hoped would be Khoei's allies.

The disaster in Najaf reinforced Shiite suspicions and boosted the power of pro-Iranian clerics, according to Iraqi sources. That's now one of the biggest problems facing U.S. forces in their attempt to create a stable, pro-Western government in postwar Iraq."

But the situation is likely not so gloomy re: Iranian trouble-making in Iraq:

"A religious decree issued from Qum early this month by an Iraqi cleric, Kadhem al Husseini al-Haeri, is widely believed to be a result of his loyalty to the hard-line establishment. He called on Shiite Iraqis to return home and promote people's awareness against the Great Satan, a term used by hard-line Iranians for the United States.

Yet, Iraqi clerics who are returning to Iraq say they are tired of seeing their faith dominated by Iran.

"Iraq is a holy country and we do not need Iran," Mr. Hassani said. "It is independent and has its own differences with Iran. We do not need to look at Iran as our model."

Posted by Gregory at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2003

Steyn Steamed at the Spectator!

Steyn Steamed at the Spectator!

Mark Steyn on the Spectator going wobbly on a post-war U.N. role.

Some key language: "Now another Middle Eastern war has come and gone, and the bien-pensants are anxious that once again an obsolescent institution be glued back together and propped in position. This time it’s the UN. The Spectator has it exactly backwards: it’s not the irritating ‘do-gooders’ among its ranks, but the do-badders. The ‘oil-for-palaces’ programme (as Tommy Franks calls it) is a classic UN boondoggle: it was good for bureaucrats, good for Saddam’s European bankers, good for George Galloway (allegedly), but bad for the Iraqi people. A humanitarian operation meant to help a dictator’s beleaguered subjects has instead enriched the UN by more than $1 billion (officially) in ‘administrative’ costs. There’s no oversight, no auditing, nothing most businesses would recognise as a legitimate invoice, and, although non-essential items can be approved only by the secretary-general himself, Kofi Annan has personally signed off on practically anything Saddam requested, including ‘boats’, from France. The UN, France, Germany and Russia are desperate to keep the oil-for-palaces programme going, and they figure they can bully the Americans into going along."

Posted by Gregory at 11:35 PM | Comments (1)

Galloway Ouster Watch The preliminary

Galloway Ouster Watch

The preliminary maneuverings to rid Labour of Galloway.

UPDATE: The corruption versus treason angle.

Posted by Gregory at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

Sarin Barrels More of this

Sarin Barrels

More of this doubtless to be uncovered in the coming weeks. Tony Blair thinks so too.

Posted by Gregory at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2003

NYC Spawned the Neo-Cons! At

NYC Spawned the Neo-Cons!

At least per the Manhattan-centric folks at the Observer.

Posted by Gregory at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2003

State is Hitting Back Someone

State is Hitting Back

Someone at Foggy Bottom or Langley is leaking to Glenn Kessler and Dana Priest in the WaPo making Pentagon uber-Chalabi-cheerleaders look unprepared and short-sighted:

"Chalabi's influence, particularly with senior policymakers at the Pentagon, helped play down the prospects for trouble, some officials said. "They really did believe he is a Shiite leader," although he had been out of the country for 45 years, a U.S. official said. "They thought, 'We're set, we've got a Shiite -- check the box here.' "

"We're flying blind on this. It's a classic case of politics and intelligence," said Walter P. "Pat" Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. "In this case, the policy community have absolutely whipped the intel community, or denigrated it so much."

The smartest strategy now would appear to involve diplomatic attempts to reduce any Iranian meddling (while banking that differences between Arab Shi'a and Persian Shi'a, along with residual Iraqi nationalist feeling, will help stave off Iranian influence), while hoping that a decent number of "moderate" clerics are in the offing.

Posted by Gregory at 05:54 PM | Comments (1)

Galloway to the Gallows I

Galloway to the Gallows

I remember hearing George Galloway bellow away when I attended the February 15th anti-war protest in Hyde Park (merely as an observer, of course). He said something about how he would rather be eating cheese and reading Sartre on the banks of the Seine than eating popcorn with the born-again, Bible-belting, fundamentalist Crawford crew. Well, it certainly appears that the seemingly perma-tanned George would have ample funds to wile away the hours poring through The Stranger or The Rebel in a sunny cafe in the 7th while munching on Camembert and Brie given that he is alleged to have been on Saddam's payroll to the tune of 375,000 pounds/annum (over $560,000).

When the Guardian is running copy like this you wonder if the game might just be up for Mr. Galloway (currently writing a book on Iraq in Portugal!)

Here's the original scoop from the Daily Telegraph. I trust most Labourites want to get rid of Mr. Galloway in a hurry--save the left wing of the Party. Yet his libel action might delay such moves for his expulsion. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw's approval ratings are bouncing up post war in Iraq.

UPDATE: A handy Galloway guide in the Guardian. And too, the view from right of center tabloid land.

Posted by Gregory at 05:01 AM | Comments (10)

Imperious Raines The "Republic of

Imperious Raines

The "Republic of Fear" on W. 43rd Street.

Money quote: "According to insiders, Raines is the kind of 1950s-style autocrat who manages through humiliation and fear. Aside from right-hand men Gerald Boyd and Andy Rosenthal and a core of loyalists, morale is said to be at a new low. There are many rooms in that palace and nobody sees the whole picture. But, says one source, "the old timers who lived through the worst of [former executive editor] Abe Rosenthal say they have never seen anyone be so arrogant, so petty, so mean. Vindictiveness is in." Another source says, "It's no longer about managing down. It's about paying obeisance to the king." Among cognoscenti, 43rd Street is now known as the "republic of fear."

Posted by Gregory at 03:57 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2003

State Versus Defense The WaPo

State Versus Defense

The WaPo on the battles underway between Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon. A prominent part of the piece has to do with a Newt Gingrich broadside against Powell's State Department.

Some key language:

"Gingrich said the "final straw" that caused him to speak out was Powell's announcement that he planned to visit Syria. Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials had assailed Syria, accusing the country of aiding Saddam Hussein's government and allowing top Iraqi officials to flee. Powell's statement helped cool the diplomatic fires. But Gingrich said Powell should not visit a country that he said was obviously linked to terrorism.

Powell allowed himself to be convinced to go to Damascus" by the department's Near East Bureau, which Gingrich said "appeases dictators and tries to be nice to corrupt regimes." The State Department official noted that Bush said over the weekend that Syria appeared to be cooperating in response to U.S. concerns, in effect endorsing Powell's approach."

Listen, this isn't Warren Christopher off to Damascus for his 26th visit or such. The Syrians have assured visiting Congressmen that they will not provide asylum to any of Saddam's former henchmen or other wanted Iraqi Baath party officials. On WMD, we will have to wait and see if there is any evidence that Iraqi chemical or biological agents may have been transferred to Syria but grandstanding about it at the present moment is unwise until compelling intelligence proves the case.

This leaves the terrorism issue. Damascus has cooperated on providing critical intelligence regarding al-Qaeda in the past. The U.S., however, has very real concerns about their support to Hezbollah and, to a lesser extent, Hamas (this is less of a "global reach" terror group than Hezbollah). But having the Secretary of State press Bush's agenda (make no mistake, it is Bush's agenda, despite Newt trying to make Powell's Damascus trip sound like a nefarious plot hatched by hapless Arabists at NEA) in Damascus is just fine. Better to apply diplomatic pressure, in person at such high levels, than continue the breathless pontifications that Damascus is next--at least at this juncture.

Some neo-cons might find my musings above wobbly Foggy Bottom prattle. But the bottom line is that marching to Damascus now, or even imposing severe economic sanctions without even trying to make progress diplomatically, would be folly. What is needed now is a vigorous diplomatic push to have a chastened Damascus, cowed by the rapid-fire implosion of their fellow Baathists across the border, make very real concessions to the U.S. Let's give Powell a chance to do that contra Newt's broadside.

Posted by Gregory at 11:09 PM | Comments (1)

April 21, 2003

Kennedy's Back! Well, at least

Kennedy's Back!

Well, at least Paul Kennedy, author of the gloomy late '80's tome "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers." In a lengthy WaPo outlook section piece, Kennedy dusts off the old opus and recycles it, tells us why we aren't on our way to Damascus (or Teheran) now (but might be soon, he implausibly argues), and reminds us of all the problems the hapless Brits had in the Middle East early in the last century.

Put this one in the poor prognostications department (will he ever learn?). As I've argued before, no Washington consensus exists now (or will exist during this Administration) that calls for taking out the regimes in Syria and Iran by force and occupying those countries in "Empire"-like fashion, while pressuring the Saudis, Egyptians and other assorted Arab leaders to democratize with dispatch or face American retribution.

Instead, we have removed a sadistic despot with WMD capability from the scene and are now proceeding to have, through diplomatic (and perhaps economic) pressure, neighboring governments reform their behavior when it comes to WMD-possession or support of global terror groups. Contemporaneously, I trust, pressure will be applied in both Tel Aviv and Ramallah to make headway on "roadmap" implementation.

Is this tantamount to taking on Kipling's "white man's burden" as Kennedy, in cliched fashion, trots out at the end of his op-ed?

Posted by Gregory at 05:37 PM | Comments (2)

WMD Watch "Where's all the

WMD Watch

"Where's all the WMD?", the Iraq skeptics will doubtless begin to bellow more loudly in the coming days. Judith Miller, on the WMD beat for a good while and one of the NYT's more intrepid reporters, has the goods here:

Money grafs:

"Military officials said the scientist told them that four days before President Bush gave Mr. Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war, Iraqi officials set fire to a warehouse where biological weapons research and development was conducted.

The officials quoted him as saying he had watched several months before the outbreak of the war as Iraqis buried chemical precursors and other sensitive material to conceal and preserve them for future use. The officials said the scientist showed them documents, samples, and other evidence of the program that he claimed to have stolen to prove that the program existed."

Miller's piece will also give neo-con Syria Bashar-bashers more ammo but there is nothing here that is out and out damning vis-a-vis Damascus. More footwork needs to be done on the extent of (if any) WMD transfers to Syria by Iraq over the past few years.

Posted by Gregory at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

Gone Fishing Apologies for the

Gone Fishing

Apologies for the very light postings that look set to last through the Monday after Easter Sunday. I am traveling and, as of tomorrow, without any Internet access for several days. Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Gregory at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2003

Axis of Evil It's increasingly

Axis of Evil

It's increasingly looking like Damascus is replacing Baghdad so that the Axis of Evil remains a triumvirate. I'm beginning to wonder if Bashar's father would have been so clumsy in dealing with this U.S. Administration? Probably, not. Let's at least hope Bashar hasn't done something really dumb like harbor Saddam (if he's indeed alive and not in some Tikrit bunker) or accepted the transfer of significant WMD to his country for safekeeping or the like.

Posted by Gregory at 10:51 PM | Comments (1)

North Korea Watch The NYT

North Korea Watch

The NYT appears a bit schizoid regarding NoKo today. There is an ominous tone in this story from Dave Sanger:

"The North Koreans have been eerily quiet for the past three weeks. "Kim Jong Il has gone underground for months, and no one is sure why," said one senior official. Yet satellite photographs continue to show steady progress at his one known nuclear site."

Then James Brooke's reports, rather contra to the tone in Sanger's piece, that Pyongyang has just made a highly significant diplomatic concession:

"In a policy shift, North Korea said today that it would negotiate its nuclear program without sticking "to any particular dialogue format" if the United States changed its stance on the issue." In other words, they are finally dropping their demand for one-on-one talks in a direct bilateral forum with the U.S.--a non-starter for most policymakers in Washington.

There is also this intriguing quote from the South Korean President:

"North Korea is "petrified" by the rapid American victory in Iraq, Mr. Roh said Friday in an interview with The Washington Post."

Remember how conflict in Iraq was going to inexorably lead NoKo to take provocative actions to goad us into miscalculations while we were occupied in Iraq? Quite the opposite, at least at this juncture. A show of strength by the U.S. in Iraq (and perhaps some long overdue concerted diplomatic pressure from regional players on Pyongyang) has led to, at least for now, more conciliatory noises emanating from Kim Jong Il.

Posted by Gregory at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

April 11, 2003

Fiske Alert Robert Fiske writing

Fiske Alert

Robert Fiske writing in the Independent:

"American control of the city is, at best, tenuous – a fact underlined after several marines were killed last night by a suicide bomber close to the square where a statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down on Wednesday, in the most staged photo-opportunity since Iwo Jima."

That's quite a charge, isn't it? Might Fiske even attempt to corroborate his claim? Nah, why bother...

Of course, Fiske is writing in a paper that will headline this tomorrow.

"A City in Flames, A Nation in Chaos"? Almost makes you pine for the good old days of order and discipline under Saddam...

Josh Marshall has a less hyperbolic analysis here.

Posted by Gregory at 10:03 PM | Comments (1)

Passions Running High over Ahmed

Passions Running High over Ahmed Chalabi!

Here's the view from the pro-Foggy Bottom anti-Pentagon side of the fence.

Galbraith finds a pretty fired up Danielle Pletka when interviewing her for this article:

"Danielle Pletka, vice president of the AEI and an expert on the Iraqi opposition, angrily denounced State Department officials who disparage Chalabi. "The [Defense Department] is running post-Saddam Iraq," said Pletka, almost shouting. "The people at the State Department don't know what they are talking about! Who the hell are they? Who gives a good goddamn what they think?" Pletka concedes that the State Department has a "deep bench," a lot of expertise and Arabic-speaking professionals. "But they need to remember that the president of the United States needs to be boss," she said. "And the simple fact is, the president is comfortable with people who are comfortable with the INC."

Oh my.

Meanwhile, a retired diplomat who served often in the Middle East and is not a died-in-the-wool-Arabist-type describes Chalabi to me thus:

"Unreliable, financially suspect (implicated in a corrupt banking deal in Jordan), self promoter and not considered to have grass roots support among Shi'a."

It's going to get nasty and Dubya is going to have to play umpire. Stay tuned.

Posted by Gregory at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2003

"Embarassed" German Anti-War Protestors And

"Embarassed" German Anti-War Protestors

And this a headline in Le Monde!

Embarrased, perhaps, yet a planned Berlin anti-war protest is set to go forward regardless this Saturday. Meanwhile:

"Alors que les Irakiens faisaient la fźte ą Bagdad, leurs compatriotes de Nuremberg ont spontanément organisé un défilé de voitures décorées des drapeaux irakiens, américains et britanniques pour fźter la chute de Saddam."

Translation: "While Iraqis are celebrating in Baghdad, their compatriots in Nuremberg spontaneously organized a demonstration with cars decorated with Iraqi, American and British flags to celebrate the fall of Saddam"

So let's get this straight. German anti-war activitists and assorted hanger-ons will protest the war in Berlin on Saturday while Iraqis residing in Germany organize demonstrations celebrating Saddam's fall. Telling, isn't it?

Posted by Gregory at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

That "Cakewalk" Thing Ken Adleman

That "Cakewalk" Thing

Ken Adleman (maybe a bit too soon?) takes something of a victory lap in the WaPo today.

Meanwhile, Charles Krauthammer:

"The sight of them panicked Cassandras here in the United States who were quick to predict that the evidence of any armed resistance meant that we were in for a long guerrilla war. But the Vietnam analogy was absurd. It was not the people of southern Iraq who harassed our troops on the drive to Baghdad but the regime's shock troops. These "irregulars" were not insurgents; they were counterinsurgents. They did not represent the people they used as human shields; they ruthlessly repressed them."

Very true. But I'm less comfortable with his concluding graf:

"Which is what makes the Three Week War a revolution in world affairs. It is one thing to depose tin-pot dictators. Anyone can do that. It is another thing to destroy a Stalinist demigod and his three-decade apparatus of repression -- and leave the country standing. From Damascus to Pyongyang, totalitarians everywhere are watching this war with shock and awe."

A bit triumphalist and laden with hubris for my taste. For one, the war isn't over so we don't know if it is, indeed, a "Three Week War." (Is Krauthammer trying to be the first to provide a moniker for this conflict a la Six-Day War?) Also, Saddam may not have been quite "tin-pot," but he wasn't Uncle Joe presiding over an empire spanning eleven time zones either.

And a "revolution in world affairs"? Maybe, if suddenly a working, democratic polity in Iraq proves inspirational and leads to Jeffersonian Democrats popping up in Cairo, Riyadh, Damascus and Teheran. But is is just too early to judge the impact of the dramatic events of yesterday per Krauthammer's conclusion.

Put differently, I'm not sure 2003 is quite 1776, 1789, 1917 or, even, 1989. If the Middle East region that has never been through the Enlightenment and other key historical periods the West passed through begins, over the next few years, to become more transparent, extend voting rights to its people and create working democracies with representative parliaments and egalitarian constitutions--maybe the beginnings of a revolution in world affairs were indeed witnessed yesterday. But we're very far from that, as sober observers appreciate.

For the time being, however, I simply rejoice in the liberation of a people desperately hungry for their freedom after unimaginable brutalities were visited upon them decade after decade. I hope too that the naive and spoiled anti-war protestors (many of them comfortable amidst the material bounty of the West and protesting out of nothing more noble than sheer boredom) will take stock of the lessons of Baghdad's liberation yesterday.

Many of these anti-war protestors, of course, had nary a clue about the grotesque repression that was part and parcel of Saddamism (while pretending to be protesting on behalf of the Iraqi people). Perhaps some of the anti-war forces, even if just a small number, might re-analzye their Pavlovian anti-war posture in the face of the images of liberation the world witnessed yesterday.

Finally, I rejoice too that a vicious regime, with every passing day, is less likely to possess and be in control of the WMD that could be used to devastating effect against free and innocent peoples the world over.

Posted by Gregory at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

Wolfy Is....Woodrow Wilson! Says Caleb

Wolfy Is....Woodrow Wilson!

Says Caleb Carr in the pages of the Observer.

"We are, after all, a country that has always profiteered with a noble fig leaf; and the man whose job it is in this case to spin a set of philosophical principles that will serve as a cover for the potentially exploitative occupation of Iraq is Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Possessed of a powerful intellect, along with ideas that, packaged in the best sort of benign American wrappings, are nonetheless characteristically self-interested, Mr. Wolfowitz is thought of as the eminence grise behind the idea that a democratic Iraq is possible, desirable—and will take far longer to embody than did the rehabilitation of Afghanistan (where a pre-assembled government was in place within weeks of the liberation of Kabul and where—not coincidentally—the potential rewards to American business were far lower).

Mr. Wolfowitz has been analyzed and reanalyzed in the press, yet he is not generally paired closely enough with the American to whom he bears the strongest ideological and psychological resemblance: Woodrow Wilson. This is perhaps understandable— Mr. Wolfowitz is a short, unassuming Jew, while Wilson was a puffed-up, posturing Presbyterian—but it’s also troubling. For whatever the superficial differences between the two men, they share one overriding quality: a belief in evangelical interventionism. This passion caused Wilson’s eight-year Presidency to become the greatest single period of American interference in the affairs of other governments in our nation’s history: He was a serial, unilateral interventionist, and one gets the feeling that Mr. Wolfowitz—who increasingly enjoys the ear of another democratic evangelist, George W. Bush—may be trying to duplicate the feat."

Ah yes, the wild messianic fervor of Paul Wolfowitz. Aren't these arguments getting mind numbingly dull given how often we hear them?

But Mr. Carr has other unfounded ruminations to share with us. While describing the occupation of Iraq as "potentially" exploitative-he appears to have already made up his mind that said occupation is doomed to be a neo--colonialist affair with Cheney and chums filling up their pockets (and so Republican party coffers too).

He concludes:

"Perhaps we will insist that our civilian leaders honor the achievements and sacrifices of our forces, and those Iraqis who have fought beside them, by rejecting the plan that Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Wolfowitz are trying to railroad through Congress, even as various Iraqi opposition groups scream their protests. Perhaps we will recognize that "Iraqi Freedom" may not mean "Iraqi American-Style Capitalist Democracy"; but then, our commanders presumably chose the first name rather than the second because it had a distinctly better ring to it. This ought to tell them something: We have sacrificed and inflicted sacrifices in order to liberate Iraq, and let its people live as they wish—not to remake it in our image. That is the work we must now be about; that is the only work that can match what our troops have done in the field."

Will someone please explain to me what exactly is the "plan" that Dubya, Cheney and Wolfowitz are trying to "railroad through Congress" to "remake [Iraq] in our image"? I haven't seen it, have you?

Posted by Gregory at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

Baghdad Has Fallen U.S. forces

Baghdad Has Fallen

U.S. forces are in the main central square:

"It's like Iraqi tanks pulling up on Fifth Avenue in New York or Picadilly Circus in London," said Reuters correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis, speaking from within the hotel. "The fall of Baghdad is complete."

I guess it's on to Tikrit next.

Posted by Gregory at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)

Magnanimity Department Bob Kagan mostly

Magnanimity Department

Bob Kagan mostly hits all the right notes counseling mitigation of any U.S. triumphalism post victory and a good dose of magnanimity during the post-war period. Meanwhile, Jim Hoagland (did Doug Feith draft his op-ed?) is singing Ahmed Chalabi's praises.

Too much, I think. Many Iraqis will doubtless prefer a more home-grown leadership to take up the post-war leadership mantle. To be sure, Iraqi exile groups will have to be prominently represented in any future government. But to pitch Chalabi as the Iraqi Karzai isn't going to cut it, I fear, for a variety of reasons.

One reason comes to us from the Development Director of the International Rescue Committee, probably the leading U.S. humanitarian NGO [full disclosure: I used to work for them in the mid-90's]. Michael Kocher, most recently in Basra today, informs me that from run-of-the-mill folks to local non-Baath elites (and this is in the Shi'a south, Chalabi is Shi'a)--many locals were unenthusiastic about the prospects of Chalabi having an overly prominent role in the post-war government. Sure, that's just some sporadic reporting from Basra. But I'll have more on all this soon.

Posted by Gregory at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2003

Chirac Watch We've moved well

Chirac Watch

We've moved well beyond the French perfidy stage when Powell had to play deep huddle with Dominique around the horse-shoe-shaped table at the UNSC. Now, French foreign policy objectives are merely becoming laughable.

Dubya and Blair are looking to grant the U.N. a "vital role" in post-war Iraq. But Chirac, instead of making a good faith exploration regarding what such a "vital" role might consist of--is instead continuing the scuttle-style French diplomacy of recent months:

"In remarks in Paris today, Mr. Chirac said the United Nations — "and it alone" — should be responsible for administering Iraq's reconstruction and governance. "We are no longer in an era where one or two countries can control the fate of another country," he said pointedly at a news conference after meeting the United Nations' high commissioner for refugees."

For one thing, Jaques might try that one on, say, inhabitants of the Cote D'Ivoire.

And what planet is Chirac living on if he thinks the U.N. "alone" will have a role in post-war Iraq? After the huge expenditure of U.S. and U.K. blood and treasure on the war effort, said countries, just like that, will turn over the entire Iraq reconstruction effort to Turtle Bay technocrats and, by extension, feckless nation-states that sat the war out?

I'm not saying Washington and London shouldn't consider well conceived plans that provide the U.N. with a prominent role such as this one. [Though I think that Gareth Evans and Bob Malley may be exaggerating the degrees of anti-Americanism that would be engendered by a U.S. led interim authority swiftly handing power over to Iraqis as compared to their more U.N.-centric structure. Regardless, note that ICG's recommendation forsees significant U.S., not U.N. troop commitments, to ensure stability.]

But not, per Jacques, a role for the U.N. simply "alone." That's simply a non-starter given the U.N.'s abdication of responsibility vis-a-vis Iraq in the advent to the conflict. Further, a Bosnia redux with hapless blue helmets hopscotching about "safe havens" and the like would make a mockery regarding the seriousness of purpose the international community has regarding stemming the potential tide of revanchist killings, ensuring the territorial integrity of Iraq, and otherwise stabilizing the polity.

Posted by Gregory at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

The George Michael of Diplomacy!

The George Michael of Diplomacy!

Yes readers, someone got to the Belgravia Dispatch per the following Google search: "Dominique de Villepin", "sexy". I trust this visitor (coming to us from a France-based Internet server, bien sur) might have been a bit let down by what they found regarding the dashing French FM on this modest site. We know it wasn't a regular Maureen Dowd reader who was googling for Dom hits. Were that the case, as regular Dowd readers will know, the search terms would have been "Dominique de Villepin", "svelte."

Posted by Gregory at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

Arundhati Roy Middlebrow novelist Arundhati

Arundhati Roy

Middlebrow novelist Arundhati Roy penned this screed right after 9/11--and is back with another opinion piece in the pages of the Guardian. She employs a moronic adolescent tone throughout much of the op-ed. Sample:

"So here's Iraq - rogue state, grave threat to world peace, paid-up member of the Axis of Evil. Here's Iraq, invaded, bombed, besieged, bullied, its sovereignty shat upon, its children killed by cancers, its people blown up on the streets. And here's all of us watching. CNN-BBC, BBC-CNN late into the night. Here's all of us, enduring the horror of the war, enduring the horror of the propaganda and enduring the slaughter of language as we know and understand it. Freedom now means mass murder (or, in the US, fried potatoes). When someone says "humanitarian aid" we automatically go looking for induced starvation. "Embedded" I have to admit, is a great find. It's what it sounds like. And what about "arsenal of tactics?" Nice!"

Another snippet: "And now this talk of bringing the UN back into the picture. But that old UN girl - it turns out that she just ain't what she was cracked up to be. She's been demoted (although she retains her high salary). Now she's the world's janitor. She's the Philippino cleaning lady, the Indian jamadarni, the postal bride from Thailand, the Mexican household help, the Jamaican au pair. She's employed to clean other peoples' shit. She's used and abused at will."

Oh, and this: "And now we have the siege of Basra. About a million and a half people, 40 per cent of them children. Without clean water, and with very little food. We're still waiting for the legendary Shia "uprising", for the happy hordes to stream out of the city and rain roses and hosannahs on the "liberating" army. Where are the hordes? Don't they know that television productions work to tight schedules? (It may well be that if Saddam's regime falls there will be dancing on the streets of Basra. But then, if the Bush regime were to fall, there would be dancing on the streets the world over.)

Surely Ms. Roy didn't see recent media coverage of local inhabitants of Basra visiting the old Baath parties' mukhabarat (secret police) headquarters in that city. They showed the hooks from which they were dangled and brutally tortured. They were, be sure, very pleased that such a brutish regime was no longer stoking terror there. Their clear feeling, contra Roy's grotesquely exagerrated diatribe, was not that mass murderers had arrived in Iraq. Rather, there was real relief that a regime that frequently resorted to mass murder had been unseated.

We likely wouldn't have had to hear all this claptrap if five judges hadn't helped provide Roy with celebrity (or, at least, Notting Hill starlet) status post-dispensation of the Booker Prize. But, alas, here we are.

UPDATE: Le Monde, predictably, dutifully translated this piece and ran it for the benefit of any Francophones who might have missed the English language version.

Posted by Gregory at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2003

Yale Professoriat Think Predictable dispatch

Yale Professoriat Think

Predictable dispatch from New Haven.

But note this wise student reaction:

"I thought that their speeches were crafted very carefully to draw whimsical chuckles from jaded leftists in the crowd," Goldenberg said. "It was long on wit, short on wisdom. It was rhetoric without content, opinion without foundation, but worst of all, it was above all an ego enhancement session for a group of smug intellectuals. In short, [it was] a session of group intellectual onanism."


Posted by Gregory at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

Karbala Dispatch Quote of the

Karbala Dispatch

Quote of the day: I love you George Bush. Well, sounds like a liberation in Karbala folks. Now the love has to last a while--the harder task--as married couples likely realize!

UPDATE: Related to my post below, note also these quotes from the article linked above: "Night and day, no water." "Hospital. No electricity, no food, no medicine."

To retain the goodwill manifested by the spontanous celebratory outbursts--humanitarian aid needs to get to places like Karbala quickly.

Posted by Gregory at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2003

Field Report I just got

Field Report

I just got off the phone with Michael Kocher of the International Rescue Committee who was in southern Iraq two days ago and is now back in Kuwait City. He was among the first U.S. NGO representatives to enter Umm Qasr and surrounding areas (CNN International had a story on the trip yesterday). I've known Michael since we worked together in the Balkans in the mid-90s and highly respect his judgment. He relayed to me that the humanitarian situation in cities like Umm Qasr is somewhat difficult, though not critical or desperate. That said, he stressed that water supplies are urgently needed.

In addition, he mentioned that simple peasant families queried him about whether coalition forces were coming as liberators or occupiers. He was also shown unexploded ordnance (including cluster munitions) and queried about when the international community would remove such bombs from their land.

I didn't directly ask Michael, but by reading between the lines of what he was relaying, I got the sense that a good 50%-55% of the chillier than expected reception by Shi'a in the south could be attributed to continuing fear that Saddam loyalists, fedayeen etc. will avenge "traitorous" behavior were coalition forces were to move on leaving the population unprotected. Another 25% or so might be attributed to how quickly water supplies and other humanitarian aid gets up and running effectively. The remaining 20-25% or so could be attributed to the fears underpinning the Iraqi peasant's query, ie. why are coalition forces in Iraq? To liberate or occupy? In addition, where more civilian deaths occurred due to the allied campaign the mood appeared, predictably, more cautious regarding U.S./U.K. intentions.

The lessons are clear. Fedayeen and other Saddam loyalists must be eliminated or apprehended as expeditiously as possible. Major attention needs to be focused on ensuring rapid delivery of humanitarian aid. That takes care of the underlying causes of about 75% of the suspicion among Iraqi civilians about U.S. intentions. Then the even harder and more nuanced task(s) awaits. The U.S. will have to make all best efforts to ensure that an interim coalition administration hands power over to the Iraqis with dispatch. That said, however, a strong coalition presence will be needed to stem revanchist killings and ensure the territorial integrity of Iraq--a benign MacArthur if you will. So it's going to be a tough balancing act--and all this once the conflict is won. Remember, this is just day 18 of the war. Major tasks await both to conclude the conflict and effectively win the peace.

Posted by Gregory at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

Syria Watch O.K. so maybe

Syria Watch

O.K. so maybe I was wrong that Dubya has been telling Rummy to cool it recently on Syria and Iran--if the NYT got this story right.

"Shortly after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a stark warning to Iran and Syria last week, declaring that any "hostile acts" they committed on behalf of Iraq might prompt severe consequences, one of President Bush's closest aides stepped into the Oval Office to warn him that his unpredictable defense secretary had just raised the specter of a broader confrontation. Mr. Bush smiled a moment at the latest example of Mr. Rumsfeld's brazenness, recalled the aide. Then he said one word — "Good" — and went back to work."

It does bear noting that Dave Sanger gets it wrong when he describes Rummy's statements as prompting 1441ish "severe consequences." I have Rummy's exact statement (and some analysis) here and, as the transcript shows, the phrase "severe consequences" wasn't used.

That said, I'm a bit alarmed by Dubya's reaction. I still think we should be handling this issue with Damascus off the public airwaves in private channels. We have an Embassy in Damascus and active diplomatic relations with that country. Colin Powell can pick up the phone and call his Syrian counterpart, Farouk Shara, anytime. Leaking to the NYT that the President, reacting to Rummy's press conference statements on Syria, simply smiled and says "good" won't go over too well in Damascus and points beyond.

Nor does it inspire much confidence that top-down policy formulation is taking place within the Beltway. Too often with this Administration, policy tortuously emerges after protracted in-fighting between the Pentagon and State Department. With major issues like this, where Rumsfeld's comment can contribute to potential regionalization of the conflict and fan suspicions among Arabs (and Iranians) that other countries are on the U.S. regime change list--we should expect that the White House has provided coordinated marching orders to both Foggy Bottom and Defense.

Instead, it appears this may be another Rummy free-lancing episode. Of course, if Syria is miscalculating and providing succor to the enemy through manpower and materiel transfers of material scope--such "shots across the bow" are likely justified. But I have to suspect we'd do better with Bashar Assad regarding having him cooperate more through concerted private diplomacy. More soon.

UPDATE: Ross Douthat over at the American Scene has a good post up on the whole Iran/Syria angle.

Posted by Gregory at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2003

NY Post Takes on NYT

NY Post Takes on NYT

And Howell defends himself!

"For his part, Times executive editor Howell Raines called his paper’s war coverage "non-ideological …. I get up every morning trying to break stories that other people have to follow," he said, and added: "I understand there are other people who approach these tasks with different kinds of agendas. And we live in a time when there’s a lot of ideological journalism going on. I think it’s interesting, but it has nothing to do with what we do, which is make our journalism as straight and as energetic and competitive as we can."

No ideological journalism on W 43rd St, huh? That's a "bit" exagerrated, isn't it?

Posted by Gregory at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

Anglo Ayatollahs On the Loose!

Anglo Ayatollahs On the Loose!

George McGovern in the Nation:

"The President frequently confides to individuals and friendly audiences that he is guided by God's hand. But if God guided him into an invasion of Iraq, He sent a different message to the Pope, the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the mainline Protestant National Council of Churches and many distinguished rabbis--all of whom believe the invasion and bombardment of Iraq is against God's will. In all due respect, I suspect that Karl Rove, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice--and other sideline warriors--are the gods (or goddesses) reaching the ear of our President."

I doubt Mr. McGovern can corroborate his contention that Dubya often tells "friendly audiences" (other theocratic zealots, i guess?) that he is "guided by God's hand." But hey, he's writing in the Nation (the WaPo appears to be turning down his submissions, George tells us, those damn hyper-hawks on the Potomac!) so no need to quibble with factual analyses if it impairs a Dubya put-down piece.

Meanwhile, the Spectator's cover story this week describes Tony Blair as the "most religious prime minister since Gladstone." Perhaps true, but not these extrapolations:

"It is characteristic of those who feel that they have an unmediated line to the Lord that they think that they can make the law themselves. Tony Blair rewrote the rulebook for the Labour party. And this is what he and George Bush are doing in Iraq: their readiness to ignore the procedures of international institutions such as the United Nations is a manifestation of the same sort of arrogance. According to the precepts of natural law, the humility and discipline of religion express a wisdom that is deeper than individual men and women can readily understand. These are boundaries which, as Mr Blair may be about to discover, are impertinent to transgress."

Unmediated lines to the Lord? Guided by God's Hand? Never, of course, about unseating a loathsome regime in possession of WMD during a perilous new era of apocalpytic terror. Apocalpytic because, lest any grizzled long-term Euro-residents think I'm being hyperbolic, groups like al-Qaeda would be thrilled to kill millions in any Western city if they could gain the requisite means. We are not talking about car bombs in Bilbao here folks.

Posted by Gregory at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

Dominique's Folie de Grandeur Daniel

Dominique's Folie de Grandeur

Daniel Bell has a provocative piece up in TNR (registration required) on the French Foreign Minister.

Money grafs:

"There are many people who believed that de Villepin had valuable points to make in warning against a rush to war. If only we could believe that his argument against the war grew out of real conviction. His books suggest that in international affairs he is really an immoralist—that he has no trouble with a powerful nation imposing its will by force, taking potentially dangerous risks, and possibly violating international law. He just prefers that the nation in question be France. His writings suggest that his current obstruction of the United States stems not from well-reasoned political principle but from an appetite for obstructionism itself, because in this way France can again occupy the international limelight. It is laudable to want to establish the greatness of one's nation through peace, but not when the reason is one's own inability to make war. De Villepin is not so much an anti-imperialist as a weak would-be imperialist.

At the start of his book, de Villepin remarks that its writing was closely bound up with his long experience in the corridors of power. But he does not mean that he drew on his own experience of government in order to better understand the age of Napoleon. Quite the reverse. "There has not been a day," he remarks, "when, seized by the tribulations of doubt, I have not dwelled on the voice of the past ... not a day when I have not felt the imperious need for memory, so as not to surrender to indifference, derision and mocking ... so as to continue to move forward in the service of a French ambition." This is a fine stance for politicians to take—but everything depends on their choice of memories and the way they interpret them. In choosing to hallow the memory of Napoleon, and in promoting him into a symbol of pure glory and grand sacrifice, Dominique de Villepin demonstrates only that he is suffering from a delusion of grandeur."

Posted by Gregory at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

Academic Idiocy Watch The legacies

Academic Idiocy Watch

The legacies of Vietnam era protest culture and faded memories of the grand old days on risible display in this NYT piece:

"We used to like to offend people," Martha Saxton, a professor of women's studies at Amherst, said as she discussed the faculty protest with students this week. "We loved being bad, in the sense that we were making a statement. Why is there no joy now?"

Hate to break it to Martha, but restraining genocidal regimes from WMD possession post 9/11 is a major strategic imperative. It's quite beyond moronic ruminations about being "bad" (is she studying P Diddy lyrics when not poring through the Kristeva reader?) so as to make a "statement."

A Professor Sarat adds this:

In Madison, teach-ins were as common as bratwurst," he said. "There was a certain nobility in being gassed. Now you don't get gassed. You walk into a dining hall and hand out an informational pamphlet."

A certain nobility in being gassed? Tell that to these people. CAUTION: GRAPHIC PICTURES.

Posted by Gregory at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2003

Michael Kelly We all lost

Michael Kelly

We all lost a highly talented journalist today.

Andrew Sullivan puts it thus: "I'm simply stunned by the news of Mike Kelly's death. He was a beautiful writer, a brave polemicist, a prickly, funny man, a superb editor, and a friend. He died in action, which is perhaps as he might have wanted it. I can't think of anything more to say right now in the moments after reading this awful news, except that please pray for his young family, his wonderful wife, and his wider family and friends. He was a great journalist and a good, good man. May he rest in peace."

Posted by Gregory at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

Cautionary Notes As the endgame

Cautionary Notes

As the endgame (appears) to be approaching some words of caution from Rummy and via the FT.

Posted by Gregory at 11:20 AM | Comments (5)

Rummy/Syria Update Rumsfeld was again

Rummy/Syria Update

Rumsfeld was again asked about Syria at yesterday's Pentagon briefing:

Q: Have you seen any indications from Iran or Syria that they've heeded your warning, or are ignoring your warning? And please be as specific as possible. And Gen. Myers, your thoughts on progress on the friendly fire front. Is it better or worse this time around, or about what you expected?

Rumsfeld: I have no way of knowing what Iran's reaction was, but I have not seen anything recently on the part of Iran that was -- I don't know if you have, either -- that is terribly disturbing. We do -- we have seen that Syria is continuing to conduct itself the way it was prior to the time I said what I said.

Q: So what's next --

Rumsfeld: Oh, that's -- that's for others to decide.

Others? The President? Dick Cheney? Powell? I think Rummy was told by Bush via Condi to tone the Damascus talk down a notch or two.

UPDATE: The WaPo has a story up on Rummy and Syria.

Money quote:

"What Rumsfeld did was basically to deliver a shot across the bow of Syria and Iran in the heat of battle in Iraq," said Edward P. Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Damascus who is now director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. "He was looking at the progress of the war plan and expressed concern and nervousness about what was happening across the border." Djerejian described Rumsfeld's statement as "a preemptive public diplomacy strike at both countries" and not as a prelude to "what's next after Iraq."

Posted by Gregory at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

Baghdad From the Palestine Hotel

Baghdad From the Palestine Hotel

John Burns puts it all in perspective.

On why Baghdadis have been fleeing their city in recent hours:

"The fear driving the exodus, by car, bus and truck, was of street-to-street fighting, revenge killings, a last-minute paroxysm of violence by the enforcers of the terror that has bludgeoned Iraq for three decades. For many Iraqis, this has been the nightmare all along, the least calculable part of the "price" they tell Westerners they have known would come with any American invasion to topple Mr. Hussein.

The implication in these whispered conversations has been that there has been a price, in limited casualties, that many, perhaps even most, Iraqis would be prepared to pay for their freedom, but that equally there was a price that would be too high.

With the battle for Baghdad about to be joined, that price will now be set, and with it, an outsider can imagine, the estimate many Iraqis will ultimately make of the war. But many people in Baghdad seem to have made their judgment about the air campaign already.

After the first few days, life in the city's streets gradually began reviving as confidence grew that there was not going to be widespread carnage, with American bombs and missiles striking wildly at civilians. Today, as for many days past, city-center gathering spots like Liberation Square, site of the lamppost hangings of nine Iraqi Jews condemned for spying in 1969, were busy with fruit and vegetable sellers, and hawkers doing brisk trade in the water canisters and buckets, duct tape and canned food, sacks of flour and candles, that have been the biggest sellers in recent weeks."

And on the civilian toll born of U.S. precision weaponry:

"That American bombs and missiles have gone astray is beyond challenge. Pentagon officials acknowledged before the war that even with the advances in satellite-guided targeting systems since the Persian Gulf war in 1991, no technology was foolproof, and mistakes would be made. How many there have been in this war will be clearer when the fighting ends, but the impression gained from living the war in the center of Baghdad has been that many of the strikes that have been visible - either from the grandstand view afforded by the Palestine Hotel's balconies, or from the guided bus tours of bomb sites around the city organized by Iraqi Information Ministry officials - have been astonishingly accurate.

On visits to neighborhoods around the city, reporters have seen homes, workshops and sidewalks where airstrikes have killed dozens of civilians and wounded many more. In some cases, the huge size of the craters, the proximity to military installations and witnesses' accounts have lent credibility to the Iraqi claims that the strikes were responsible.

In others, including the marketplace bombing that Iraq said killed 62 people in the Shula district of western Baghdad on Friday, there have been more questions than answers. Often, as in Shula, officials have delayed taking reporters to the site for hours, and have met with evasions the inquiries about the unusually small crater at the marketplace, and the fact that most victims appeared to have died from shrapnel wounds and not from the kind of blast associated with high-energy bombs and missiles."

This, from the acknowledged dean of war correspondents who won the Pulitzer for his coverage in Sarajevo where Bosnian Muslims were occasionally accused of shelling their own civilians in a bid for international sympathy so that the Western cavalry would rush in. Burns wouldn't write this lightly.

A final, telling, snippet:

"Over a few days in the last week, at least six inner-city telephone exchanges were destroyed, apparently to disrupt the Iraqi leadership's ability to conduct the war from the safety of underground bunkers and other hideouts. In almost every case, the missiles or bombs used appeared to have struck bulls-eyes in the roofs, plunging downward into the buildings' hearts before exploding with a force that left nothing but dangling wires, shattered concrete and twisted steel. At two exchanges, hours later, a lone beeper continued to wail in the wreckage, like a bell tolling for the departed."

Posted by Gregory at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

Docile on the Hudson The

Docile on the Hudson

The war has been going, pretty much, swimmingly the past 72 hours. So, if you're the NYT, what to do per your editorial stance? Your mastheads, frequently hyper-critical of Dubya, merely become tepid news summations.

Worth noting too, is this highly embarrassing "correction" the NYT made yesterday. As Andrew Sullivan points out, is anyone actually editing the paper with the requisite diligence? The misquote from the field commander, needless to say, had a very significant impact on the debate regarding the planning and the prosecution of the war last week. The NYT really has a responsibility to the public to do better.

Posted by Gregory at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2003

Howell's Wolfy Obsession Following on

Howell's Wolfy Obsession

Following on Instapundit's response to Aaron Brown's lame interrogatories regarding bloggers not having editors and what that portends for content accuracy and the like can someone please tell Jane Perlez (or Howell) that Paul Wolfowitz is Deputy Secretary of Defense and not Undersecretary (there is only one Deputy Secretary while there are several Undesecretaries).

UPDATE: Here's the NYT correction today. Note they still get in a subtle dig with a reference to Wolfy's "proteges" even in the correction.

Once that part of the story is corrected, maybe we will know how much validity to give Howell's spin that "Wolfowitz of Arabia" is:

"....passing judgment on others assigned here, making the transitory Potomac here as divisive and political as the permanent one at home, some participants say."

Folks, hate to break it to you, Wolfy isn't omnipotent and in Machurian-candidate like control of Dubya and all else that happens in the far-flung reaches of the empire. Nor is Powell as MIA as, for instance, a Jim Hoagland thinks. I'll predict now--Ahmad Chalabi will not be the Iraqi Hamid Karzai--and State will have a big role in helping erect the post-Saddam government. You heard it here first (or early at least!).

Posted by Gregory at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

Al-Jazeera is Too Pro-American! If

Al-Jazeera is Too Pro-American!

If you're repping for the Iraqi Information Ministry. Following such warped logic, Saddam is, of course, a noble defender of his people (though in hiding?) and exemplar of enlightened human rights best practices.

Posted by Gregory at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

What Planned Siege Robin? Contra

What Planned Siege Robin?

Contra Robin Cook's emotive musings in the Mirror (yes, the same paper that helpfully scooped up recently out of work Pete "I'm Single-Handedly Changing Public Opinion in the States Against the War Mr. Information Minister" Arnett) it appears U.S. war planners are attempting to avoid a siege strategy in Baghdad.

"The enemy is taking what forces he can muster and is ordering them back into the city," a senior American military officer said tonight. "He is bringing in the Republican Guard for a last stand. We have been trying to kill anything that is moving toward the city. We don't want a big siege at the end of this."

Coalition forces might end up having to employ a protracted siege posture pending developments on the battlefield--but the intention is not to starve Baghdad as Cook intimated. Aside from his hyperbolic left Labourite tendencies (and dreary didactic tone), he must be getting less au courant intelligence briefings these days.

Posted by Gregory at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Ca Commence! Post-war commercial maneuverings

Ca Commence!

Post-war commercial maneuverings are beginning in earnest, but it appears some French outfits got a bit trigger-happy:

"On Thursday, a working-group meeting on how to seize opportunities in Iraqi reconstruction was scheduled here by Medef, the organization of major French industrialists. The meeting was canceled last weekend after discussions between the French government and Medef's head, Ernst-Antoine Seilliere.

"Too early, too high-profile," Seillere reportedly ruled, especially since France has been too close to Baghdad under the regime of Saddam Hussein and too estranged from a Washington at war.

The little French faux pas in scheduling provided a rare public hint of the political and business calculations that are driving a corporate scramble in Western capitals - and sometimes right behind the battle lines in Iraq."

Worth noting too, enarque complicity with the Baathist power structure:

"A company often singled out for attacks in Washington is TotalFinaElf, the French oil giant, which has signed a colossal contract with Saddam's government for future rights to Iraqi oil fields. The deal, whose terms remain a commercial secret, would have gone into effect once sanctions were lifted on Iraq. French officials have vowed to defend the contract in international arbitration, while the Bush administration charges that the French company stood to gain a lopsided premium for working with a rogue regime.

"French companies that know Iraq well - like the carmaker Peugeot and the telecom giant Alcatel - have a problem because their contacts and allies tend to be linked with the Ba'ath party rulers, who are liable to be on the wrong side in a new Iraq," a French diplomat said.

"It could depend on how fast Washington wants to revive the economy," said Philippe Maniere, editor of La Lettre de l'Expansion, the Paris-based newsletter that disclosed the abortive Medef conference. "French companies already have experience and even blueprints for Iraqi infrastructure in critical areas such as oil and water."

Well Philippe, many trust "Washington" will manage just fine (and fast) without "blueprints" secured from Baathist thugs by Jacques and Co.

Posted by Gregory at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Disquiet at the Pentagon! How

Disquiet at the Pentagon!

How do you get from a field commander's statement that the enemy is not the one "war-gamed against" to contending that a pro-war cabal is cavalierly willing to risk the lives of American fighting men and women in pursuit of an extremist ideology? If you're writing in the pages of the Nation, it's easy:

"To say that the enemy in Iraq is not the one "we'd war-gamed against" is to say that the war games themselves were not an accurate representation of the situation in Iraq, and that the games' designers--the senior leaders at the Pentagon--were blinded by their prowar zealotry from appreciating the vigor of Iraqi defenses. Put another way, this means that the civilian leadership was prepared to risk the lives of American fighting men and women in pursuit of an extremist ideology."

What "extremist ideology"? Lebensraum for Rumsfeld's grandkids in "Venice of the East" Basra? Forced conversions of Shia's to Crawford-style Baptism? A Halliburton-cracy on the Tigris--rife with wild cat profiteering and replete with steely, self-contented chuckles from Cheney and pals as the cash comes gushing in?

Posted by Gregory at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

Past Practices Worth keeping in

Past Practices

Worth keeping in mind as the coalition continues to ratchet up the pressure and attempt to tighten the proverbial noose around Baghdad:

"Despite the unimpressive results the development of such CW continued. By 1987 significant quantities of nerve gas, both Tabun and Sarin, were produced and weaponised, but mustard gas became the mainstay of Iraq's chemical armoury. These weapons were not used to any strategic effect, and Iraq mainly used chemical attacks as a desperate last resort in the face of continued Iranian advances." [my emphasis]

That's assuming that Saddam is still around to issue such orders (and, of course, that no renegade commanders would use WMD without being directed to by Saddam personally).

UPDATE: Similar concerns from Down Under.

Posted by Gregory at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Blair Profile Good WaPo analysis

Blair Profile

Good WaPo analysis of Blair:

Money grafs:

"Blair has emerged as a unique figure on the world stage, an unusual blend of warrior and internationalist. His hawkish credentials are unassailable -- since becoming prime minister in 1997, he has dispatched British troops to Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and now Iraq. Yet he has always done so in the name of repairing and strengthening international order and institutions.

This has made him a lonely figure, both at home and abroad. He is too hawkish for doves, yet too soft for hard-liners. "For the Europeans, the emphasis is on the soft side -- on nation-building and development aid and the enforcement of international law -- but they shy away from the military side," said James P. Rubin, an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration who teaches and works as a consultant in London. "Those on the Bush side tend to stress the military realities but get weak in the knees when it comes to concepts like nation-building. Blair's the only one who's willing to do both. He's out there somewhat by himself."

The roots of Blair's beliefs go back at least to his days at Oxford University in the early 1970s, according to John Rentoul, author of a Blair biography. It was there he was introduced to the writings of John MacMurray, a Scottish philosopher who championed the concept of community as the ultimate expression of human relationships.

Blair put it this way in a 1993 speech: "We do not lose our identity in our relations with others; in part, at least, we achieve our identity by those relations."

Blair, trained as a lawyer, combines this sense of community with a strong belief in the power and justice of the law. And he is a deeply religious person, having taken confirmation in the Anglican Church at the end of his sophomore year at Oxford. He remains a regular churchgoer in a society that has largely turned away from formal religion.

But unlike Bush, Blair holds Christian beliefs from the socially liberal wing of the church. He was comfortable, for example, appointing Rowan Williams, a self-described "hairy lefty," as the new archbishop of Canterbury, even though he knew Williams might take a strong public stand against military action in Iraq, which he has."

Posted by Gregory at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

Democracy, Whiskey and European Commerce

Democracy, Whiskey and European Commerce

Couple gems in this article:

"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!"


"Just before the sun went down, the engineers cleared the third of such fields, detonating them with C-4 explosive. The troops had discovered a factory where such land mines were made, but the ones exploded at the end of the day on Tuesday had been made in Italy, said Lt. Col. Duke Deluca. "Europeans are antiwar, but they are pro-commerce," Colonel Deluca said."

Now, I'm surprised a Colonel by the name of Deluca wouldn't be clued into the fact that Berlusconi has ensured that Italy is part of the coalition of the willing, but still, he makes a great point.

BTW, is it just me, or has the NYT become a bit more gung-ho WaPo-like in the past 48 hours on the war?

Posted by Gregory at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

Dirty Tactics Department These combatants

Dirty Tactics Department

These combatants aren't going to go down as noble Shi'a holy warriors among the locals, I suspect, but rather as regime die-hards violating the sanctity of their holy sites.

Posted by Gregory at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Food for Thought As of

Food for Thought

As of today, 75 individuals have died from the Severe Acute Respitory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. Total allied fatalities to date in the Iraq campaign? Seventy-three.

Of course, there is no way of knowing how many members of the Iraqi military have perished. As for Iraqi civilians, this website keeps a tally. Each of these deaths is tragic, not only civilians deaths but also Iraqi military personnel that have been forcibly sent to fight rather than Baathist loyalists and the like fighting of their own volition.

But, and bearing in mind the cautionary note that we are entering the most difficult phase of the war, note that total casualties to date (discounting the unknowable tally for the Iraqi military) are under 800.

In terms of U.S. military casualties, as this site indicates, these are casualty totals well under historic norms. As warfare becomes more precise and the U.S. enjoys unmatched military supremacy, war fatalities appear to be on a steady downward trend for both U.S. military personnel and civilians.

Regarding civilian casualties, the totals so far remain well below recent conflicts including, for instance, Chechnya. Western media, over the course of the two Chechen conflicts spanning from 1994 to the present time, estimate between 100,000 to 200,000 civilian deaths as the above linked site indicates. So far in Iraq there have been, at most, fewer than 750 civilian casualties.

Let's keep that in mind in the coming days. The United States, because of its incredible "hard" and "soft" power, because it is so widely resented as a hegemon, because it so often breeds an odd hybrid of fascination, resentment, fear and, yes, enthusiasm (still)--is often held to standards in the conduct of its warfare wholly different than, say, a Russia. That's fine, of course, as we wouldn't want to compare the conduct of a war of supposed "liberation" with a conflict aimed at continuing to keep an entire peoples involuntarily under the Russian yoke.

But the massive difference in civilian casualties, and the fact that the Islamic world is so much more alarmed by the conflict in Iraq than the one in Chechnya, tells us something. At least 100,000 Muslim civilians were killed in Chechnya--and the streets of Cairo or Damascus were much more quiet than they are today--when a relatively modest 750 or so civilians have been killed. Why?

In large part, obviously, because this war is taking place in the heart of the Arab world and there is concern that the U.S. wishes to dominate the entire region--while Chechnya is tucked away on the southern periphery of Russia. And, of course, the close relationship between Washington D.C. and Tel Aviv is another reason that much suspicion and animosity exists among Arabs regarding U.S. motives in the region.

But I remain optimistic that, assuming relatively low casualties and a somewhat speedy conclusion to hostilities, and making all efforts so as not to appear as occupiers during the postwar scene, this ambitious project might yet yield a warmer reaction in the Arab world. As Tom Friedman points out today, there is a "skeptical curiousity" among some Arabs about what a liberalized Iraq might mean for the region. Tapping into that skeptical curiousity and transforming it into something altogether friendlier and more constructive presents the grand challenge to American policymakers once this conflict is over. More on this last soon.

Posted by Gregory at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Najaf Watch This blog has

Najaf Watch

This blog has been a tad gloomy recently about the going-ons in the vicinity of Najaf. Here's some good news:

"Hundreds of curious civilians, many of them smiling and waving, lined the narrow, dusty streets while soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division pressed to within a half-mile of the gilded dome of the tomb of Ali, a site venerated by Shiite Muslims as the burial site of the prophet Muhammad's son-in-law.

Shortly before 2 p.m., Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne, drove in an armed convoy up a rocky escarpment into Najaf, urged on by clapping Iraqis who gestured impatiently for the Americans to press deeper into the city center. An Army loudspeaker truck broadcast messages in Arabic, urging residents not to interfere with the military operation and blaming militia fighters loyal to President Saddam Hussein for the intense fighting of the past week."

Posted by Gregory at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

Saddam's Final Circles Excellent breakdown

Saddam's Final Circles

Excellent breakdown from Anthony Cordesman on Saddam's Republican and Special Republican Guards.

Posted by Gregory at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

Arab Press on Rumsfeld and

Arab Press on Rumsfeld and Syria

A sample of typical commentary from the Arab world on Rummy's Syria comments and related topics:

"In the Beirut daily An-Nahar, Randa Haidar says that although Israel has long been accusing of Syria of helping Iraq acquire arms or hide banned weapons from UN inspectors, the US has always dismissed these allegations.

On the face of it, she writes, the warning issued to Syria by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld served notice that Washington will no longer turn a blind eye to arms smuggling via Syria to Iraq, or the continued pumping of Iraqi oil to Syria. In other words, the Americans are saying that “Syria can no longer claim to be supporting the ‘war on terror’ while at the same time supporting Iraq in its confrontation with the Americans and British.”

But Haidar says Rumsfeld’s threats to both Syria and Iran cannot be viewed in isolation from Israel, which is eager to get Washington to target both countries once it is finished with Iraq, using the “usual ploy” of playing up the threat they pose to it. In the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11 they focused on Iran, but when that failed to impress a US administration that wanted Iran’s cooperation in Afghanistan, the Israelis turned the spotlight on the threat posed by Syria’s backing for Hizbullah and Palestinian fundamentalist groups.

Despite the assistance Syria gave Washington in its war on terror, Israel is lobbying to make Syria, Iran and Hizbullah its next targets, she says. Rumsfeld’s remarks have thus done them a “big service.” And while the US has traditionally put its own interests above Israel’s when deciding how to treat Syria, “the danger is that the current Bush administration’s perception of US interests in the region and Syria’s role is identical to Israel’s.”

And, on the ramifications of the Iraq campaign (ostensibly after a U.S. victory):

Egyptian analyst Dia Rashwan writes that it was inevitable the conflict in Iraq would quickly “cease to be an internal Iraqi matter” and have an impact on the other Arab states.

He writes in the semi-official Cairo daily Al-Ahram that the prospective occupation of Iraq can be expected to have the same kind of fallout on and within the countries of the region as the Palestine question has had over the decades."

Posted by Gregory at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz's view

Israeli Defense Minister

Mofaz's view on the impending battle in Baghdad.

"In an interview with Yediot Ahronot military analyst Alex Fishman, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is confident that the Iraqis will not hold out for much longer and that Baghdad will not prove to be their Stalingrad.

“As I understand it,” Mofaz says, “the center of gravity today is the Republican Guard. Perhaps the most important component is the Iraqi soldiers’ and civilians’ perception. I don’t think the Republican Guard units are going to fight ‘a war to the death’ around Baghdad. They are not going to sacrifice their lives for Saddam. I believe that the further the Americans advance and the more significant gains they make, the perception of imminent American victory will grow in the consciousness of the Iraqi soldiers and civilians. In general, the degree of loyalty there is not high. The Iraqi structure will collapse. It’s only a matter of time.”“There are pockets of resistance,” Mofaz acknowledges. “But I don’t think this is doing anything to block the American advance. Within hours of their original time frame, they are going to be in position on the outskirts of Baghdad.”

Posted by Gregory at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Where Are We? It has

Where Are We?

It has been a difficult week for those, like me, who advocated American intervention in Iraq. Cascading rose petals, courtesy of grateful locals, are not yet greeting American "liberators." Entrenched and seemingly highly motivated Fedayeen forces are burrowing into civilian areas and using guerilla tactics to inflict pain on coalition forces. Long supply chains remain vulnerable and there are reports that GIs have been reduced to nibbling on one MRE a day. Marketplace massacres (not caused by genocidal Bosnian Serb gunners) make the news as civilian casualty tolls grow steadily. Suicide taxis blow up U.S. GI's--and so new "rules of engagement" are duly passed. The early results, predictably, the deaths of women and children in a civilian vehicle. Meanwhile, Iraqis in the relative safety of Jordan board buses to, you guessed it, head back to Baghdad to fight the neo-imperialistic (or infidel) invaders. Saddam might not be too popular, but nationalistic (or religious) heartstrings are evidently being pulled. For good measure, wider pan-Arab instincts are kicking into higher gear too. Palestinians (and some reports indicate Syrians) are also reportedly being sheperded back to Iraq to take up arms. Meanwhile a combative Don Rumsfeld, apparently not sufficiently alarmed by all these going-ons, was warning Damascus and Teheran to behave lest they be viewed as perpetrating hostile acts. Hell, some wondered, did Perle, Wolfy and Doug Feith really trounce Powell, Tenet and gang to such an extent? Would we take over the whole, damn region if need be? Surely the pinstripes at Foggy Bottom would protest vociferously? No, quite the contrary. Powell would follow up Don Rumsfeld's diktats with his own warning to Syria and Iran--delivered at the unlikely forum of AIPAC. More wonderful imagery to be digested (with difficulty) in the government halls of Cairo, Riyadh, Damascus and Teheran.

And what were the causes of all the above problems, why were we in the "region" to begin with, really? Maybe it wasn't about oil, or Poppy's unfinished business, or WMD, or the integrity of the U.N and its resolutions, or terrorism or Christian evangelical fervor or bringing democracy to the beleagered Iraqi masses? No, a nation was in the grips of a national hysteria. She was flailing wildly to regain her balance after, given her relative insulation by two wide oceans, an attack whose rareness and severity panicked the nation and wounded her psyche greviously. Kicking a little butt in Afghanistan didn't quite restore the nation to equilibrium, it was, well, a tad too easy and quick. In short, we were still smarting big time and needed more targets to take out. And there was a convenient bogeyman out there, we had fought a war with him before, but left him around because we were worried about all these things that we weren't worried about this time. Little things like not surpassing the mandate the international community had provided through U.N. resolutions, not engaging in actions allies of long standing were not comfortable with in terms of expanding war aims, not risking Iraq's territorial integrity. But now, post 9/11, all was different. New doctrines of preemption were needed--and damn the consequences if all those weasely Frogs and Krauts didn't get it. Who the hell needed them anyway? Or the U.N. or NATO? All these institutions were obsolete now as we often heard advocated in precincts like AEI or in the pages of the Weekly Standard.

Legions of Washingtonian think-tankers and politicians and lobbyists and Manhattan moneymen continued to float around their respective centers of American power with omnipresent flag-pins on their suits. Symbolizing what, exactly? That, wherever this war on terror goes, we support you Mr. President. From the Philippines to the Pankisi Gorge, from the tri-border Area in Latin America to the coasts of Djibouti, from Kabul to Baghdad to NoKo to Iran to Damascus to Gaza just do what you gotta do. Because we never want another 9/11. And the 24 hour cable stations began reporting on the latest war in a manner appropriate to March Madness, with a wide moronic den of idiocy emanating from places like Fox News that gave Al-Jazeera a run for their money as a propaganda organ. Meanwhile, statesman of some standing were increasingly widely loathed. Jacques Chirac? Warning us about the creations of little Bin Ladens? Hosni Mubarak the same? What do these cowardly or quasi-authoritarian idiots know? How does war in Iraq create more Saudi multimillionaires hell-bent on jihad (many mocked)? And don't dare suggest that pictures of dead civilians in Nasariyah, Najwan, Basra, Baghdad or Tikrit would lead to any animus in the region. We're just liberating cowed folks from the brutal yoke of Saddamism. They will thank us shortly--including the POWs hooded up a la Gitmo providing more images beamed around Aleppo and Alexandria drawing rooms tapping ever more deeply into wellsprings of Arab humiliation.

It's enough to Robin Cook it--turn tail and advocate we get the hell out. If not quite a Vietnam style quagmire, we at least have "spider webs" of Special Republican Guard awaiting to ambush us in the myriad back alleys of a Stalingrad on the Tigris. Heavy coalition casualties will lead to a "siege" strategy. Humanitarian horrors will result. Civilians will die in large numbers--their suffering beamed about helpfully by al-J (or Peter Arnett). Let's just get out now--strike a deal with Saddam--where the hell is Yevgeny Primakov when you need him!

Well folks, that's certainly one story line making the rounds. But here are ten good reasons why we need (or should) see this campaign through despite all the hand-wringing:

1) This war is not even two weeks old. We are in control of huge swaths of southern, western and northern Iraq. We have near complete control of the skies. We have lost fewer than 100 men in fighting and, even according to likely inflated Iraqi figures, civilian deaths remain under 500 as of this writing. Supply lines are thin and underprotected--but improving daily. We are wearing down the Republican Guard units outside Baghdad--softening them with the use of airpower--before finishing them off with our manpower.

2) To even consider pulling out now would be a blow to American legitimacy and its power and credibility unparalled in my lifetime (I'm 30, btw!). It's is unthinkable as a serious policy option. NoKo and Iran would turn on the nuclear processing with an unprecedented alacrity. We would have been revealed as a paper tiger--full of bluster with no conviction or seriousness of purpose.

3) This is not a war to conquer the Middle East. I still believe, deeply and despite Rummy's recent comments, that we would not embark on the folly of military adventures in Syria or Iran unless grotesque miscalculations are in the offing in either of these countries and they begin to provide very significant supplies or personnel, in consistency and large number, to Baghdad. I doubt either party will do so as each realizes such actions would be reckless in the extreme. So too, however, would it be reckless for us to embark on punitive strikes on these countries at this juncture or, indeed, in the future while reconstructing Iraq. Demographic trends in Iran augur well for liberalization of that society. Syria has cooperated with the U.S. closely on intelligence sharing with regard to al-Qaeda. We have unofficial or official relationships with these countries that shouldn't be easily squandered. So let's cool Rummy down a bit--he's got his hands full already anyway. And let's remember that large segments of Dubya's administration don't want to expand the conflict beyond Iraq, including very likely, the President himself.

4) It's still about the WMD. We find Iraqi units with chemical protection gear almost daily. Why? Saddam flouted 1441 and we were right to hold him to account. Let's not forget that in the fog of war. Containment of WMD by rogue regimes is a crucial post 9/11 strategic necessity.

5) The reception to coalition troops will get warmer as a) the specter of Saddam's terror apparatus fades, not only because locals see coalitions troops patrolling their town and cities, but also because the passage of more time allows them to "breathe" and feel more confident; b) humanitarian aid deliveries become less chaotic and more organized so that not only the fit gain food and medicine; and c) they realize this isn't a '91 replay with rebellions fanned only to be left in the lurch to the mercy of Saddam's henchmen.

6) The Kurds, a chronically abused and stateless peoples, will be able to enjoy the fruits of an autonomy with representation in a central government.

7) The reception among Sunnis (aside from the Tikrit gang) may be warmer than expected. For one, they don't have the memory of being betrayed by U.S. forces as did the Shi'a in '91.

8) Through magnanimity in victory and careful, methodical diplomacy none of the damage done to our relationships with key European allies is irreperable.

9) The U.N. and NATO are not dead.

10) The U.S. still has a chance at gaining respect and trust among the Arab and Islamic world if a coherent and sustained nation-building effort follows a relatively quick victory (say 1-2 months) that doesn't result in horrific scenes of carnage during the Battle for Baghdad with power (and the nation's oil supplies) turned over to Iraqis as quickly as possible.

Posted by Gregory at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)
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