Saturday, March 22, 2003

Dead reporters
It's beginning to look like there may be more dead Western reporters than dead Western soldiers. This is a bad thing? If you had told anyone in 1991 that Baghdad could be taken with so few casualties, who would have believed you? I think it was true then. The regime had expended its force protecting Kuwait and was vulnerable. OK, so, without the extreme precision munitions we're seeing, there would have been many more civilian casualties in 1991 than there are going to be in 2003. But, as Genghis Khan might say, this is a bad thing?
Henry V, 2003 style
The Times of London has an article about a speech given by a British officer before sending his troops to war in Iraq. It's loaded with emotion about honor, duty, decency and empathy as much as determination. I think the reporter's right. It will survive us.

Friday, March 21, 2003

What must Iran think?
It must be interesting to be in Tehran tonight, watching the US and Brit forces slice through Saddam's vaunted army. In the Iran-Iraq War in the Eighties, Iran lost hundreds of thousands dead and never got farther than a few miles into Iraqi territory. The Anglosphere forces have done that much in a few hours and look to be in or near Baghdad by the weekend's end. Every family in Iran must know someone who was killed in that war. What must they think of their government, of their army, even of their religion and society? The word "traitor" must be flying around. I would not be surprised to see a convulsive revolution. But, at the very least, the Iranians must see clearly how little chance their military would have against the forces which took Afghanistan in weeks and are now racing through Iraq. Soon countries on both sides of Iran will have been conquered by Anglosphere forces and handed to home-grown democracies. Can't blame the Persians for thinking it might be possible for them. No Shah, no mullahs, just simple old democracy. What a concept!

Come to think of it, the Russians must be having some second thoughts too.
What we don't see
It strikes me that the stories we're not seeing are as important as the predictable easy advance and conquest stories we are seeing. For instance, I've not seen a single reference to Iraqi aircraft. Where are they? Back in their hangars? Remember in GW I a dozen or more Iraqi MiGs took off for Iran after the US dominance was clear. Not even that kind of story has emerged.
No chemical or biological warfare. Is that because the warnings by Rumsfeld have been effective? Or because they really don't have them in usable form? Maybe we'll find bunkers full of rusted-out rockets and artillery shells, leaking toxins into the sand. Talk about an environmental disaster! But with any luck the bunkers aren't close to occupied areas.
Also, we're not seeing Scuds flying toward Israel. Or Republican Guard tank columns cleverly hidden in the sand emerging behind Anglosphere forces. No tricks. It almost looks like there was little or no planning for this assault. Oh, they blew a few oil wells. But essentially the Saddamites were counting on pure bluff. Counting on the UN. Counting on the FRENCH!! Idiots.
Fog of War
It's not so much a fog as an absence of detail. What's happening in Kurd-land? How about Ansar al-Islam? Have the Kurds exterminated them yet? What's going on with the envelopment strategy? I have heard nothing except the same repetitive stories about Umm Al-Qasr and Basra. It's odd how little stories pop up and then disappear, to never surface again or be triumphantly or sadly confirmed hours later. It would seem that whoever got the story wouldn't need to wait hours to get confirmation. The British are reporting that the Rumailah oil fields are under Anglosphere control - that's what it is - the Anglo Empire. Could do worse. The sun already never sets on it. Guam - where the Anglosphere's day begins.

If Saddam was really taken out in the first microseconds of the war, this could be the biggest anticlimax in history. And no "shock and awe", to the disappointment of us bloodthirsty chickenhawk readers of Jayne's various treatises. Now the next tyrant will have to wonder what it's all about. What if Japan had effectively surrendered in August 1945 before the A-bombs had been dropped? No demonstration of the effect of nuclear weapons in wartime. No Cold War? Or a Russian advantage when they get the bomb a few years later? It would be beyond wonderful, though, if the bloody Baathists could be defenestrated with minimal casualties. They're saying that command and control are ineffective or absent throughout the Iraqi military. This could be because Saddam's dead or because the US campaign to interdict communications has been amazingly successful. Perhaps Saddam isn't dead but can't talk to anyone or threaten their families to get them to fight.

So these little dribs and drabs of information are truly frustrating. But when the news does come, there's at least a chance it will be good.

Update - see what I mean?
CNN has a headline on this story that makes you think they're really going to tell you something about the situation in northern Iraq, but when you look through it, it's just the same old thing. It does look like Western Iraq is being secured without much if any resistance, though, so perhaps Kirkuk and Mosul will fall easily as well. If I were an Iraqi commander who hadn't heard from my headquarters for a couple of days, I'd be getting a pole ready to hoist my spare undershirt on.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Aziz captured?
Debka says Tariq Aziz, Iraqi foreign minister and mocker of democracies for years, has turned himself over to the Kurds, presumably so he can claim the protection of the democracies he so dislikes and avoid the wrath of Saddam and any implications of involvement in war crimes. Smart guy. Of course, it is Debka and no one else has this yet, so it may turn out to be foo-foo dust. But the very fact it's being reported may influence Iraqi morale in the direction of surrender. That's a good thing. Less than ten hours to I-hour or whatever they're calling it. Debka also says the invasion has started, with Brits and USMC going in to Iraq in the direction of Umm AlQasr. Again, a scoop if it's true.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Thanks but no thanks
At the last moment, the Turks may decide to allow US troops to use their bases. Well, whoop-te-doo! I think we should say keep your bases, we don't need them, we've made provisions to work around your refusal. How do we know the Turks won't turn right around and pull the rug out from under us during the mopping-up and reconstruction process? Uh-uh. Too late. Live with it. No $15 billion, no favors, no military assistance, no assurance on the status of the Kurds. You blew it.
Again, more indications that people may - just may, so far - be coming to their senses about AIDS. I was especially interested to see that the only response was on "epidemiologic" grounds. After twenty years, with more funding than any other disease in history, and they still can't lay out the etiology of the disease!! I especially liked the last sentence:

We may never know how many of the millions of AIDS victims could have been saved if AIDS researchers had been more honest in the 1980s.

As someone says, indeed!

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Sgt. Stryker nails it again. It isn't any more complicated than what he said. I hope it comes out well, but, as the Klingons say, "Today is a good day to die!" Do your worst, Islamo-fuckazoids, the USA is coming your way. Maybe I don't agree with everything the Federal mis-government does, but when it comes to revenge for 3,000 Americans and guests, you've got it coming and it's coming now.