Saturday, March 29, 2003

Pause? We're already there!
I love this article from MSNBC:
Ground advance may be delayed

or "pause in push northward".

What? How much further "northward" does the army have to push? How can our "advance" be delayed when we're already where we're going? We're already knocking on the gates of Baghdad. Are we going to go around it and head for Mosul and Kirkuk? I don't think so. The Kurds are already heading that way from the north. And God help any Ba'athists they find on the way. Then there's this from the Brits:
British military official: No pause in campaign. Hmm. A little confusion or is there an internal consistency? Sounds to me like a statement from a junior officer was misinterpreted, much like William Wallace's (Scots wha' hae!) statement yesterday that "we didn't wargame this", which apparently he never said. The fog of war reporting is a lot worse than the tactical situation, which this chickenhawk summarizes thusly: We're destroying every Republican Guard tank, APC, truck, pickup, camel or donkey we lay our sights on. We've brought a relief ship into Umm Qasr, which means we're also offloading troops and supplies there. The 4th ID is on the way. We have a secure airfield and more troops and supplies every hour coming into Kurd territory. It's obvious the Ba'athist forces in Mosul and Kirkuk, if they aren't withdrawn to defend Baghdad, will be crushed from the north. Remember, we do have overflight rights now in Turkish airspace. Say, withdrawing troops to defend the center. What does that remind me of? Of course, the Romans, in 450 AD or so, pulled legions out of Britannia to defend Rome from the Huns, leaving a vacuum which Hengist and Horsa and their Angles, Saxons and Jutes gladly filled. That's why we all speak English now instead of some barbaric Celtic tongue.
Anyway. The "pause" is a typical journalistic delusion. Of course we're constantly resupplying, tightening control of the supply lines, dealing with paramilitaries, knocking down statues of Saddam, suffering car bombs but persevering to prove we're in Iraq to do what we came to do. I also heard some "Iraqi agents" were trying to get over the Mexican border to attack the Crawford, Texas Bush ranch. Maybe that will stimulate action on border controls. Got to do it.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Steyn nails the press
The reportage quagmire bogs down the media army, holding them short of their goal in an Allah-sent sandstorm of misconceptions and outright lies. How can you get the real story when you've been blind since birth? But not to worry. The BBC has confessed its bias. It's been obvious for a while but I didn't like to point it out. From now on they'll just have to stop reporting anything the US or UK says and tell the truth. There are no foreign troops in Iraq. Uncle Saddam has killed them all with his shotgun. The Republican Guard are advancing up the Edgware Road, approaching Slough. Windsor Castle is flying the white flag. Why is everyone afraid to tell the real story?
What with all the defeatist claptrap and hot air being blown around by such as David Hackworth on Sean Hannity's radio show, it is clear to any rational observer that this war is going remarkably well. Who would have said that the Iraqi defense minister would have conceded on day 8 of the war that Baghdad will soon be surrounded by enemy tanks? Why, I thought the Republican Guard divisions were going to destroy the Crusader invaders! And the people were going to rise up in righteous wrath and throw themselves at tanks and Hummvees. The most aggressive civilians who haven't had a gun to their heads have been the thieves and desperados who ripped off a truckload of relief supplies brought in to Umm Qasr to keep the international whiners from going ballistic because people who haven't ever had running water or electricity in most of their homes don't have running water or electricity! So this upbeat column by Ralph Peters in the New York Post was soothing, like the balm of Gilead. One can only listen so long to blowhard doomsayers. I like Peters' vision of the next week or so:

I SEE no reason why Week Two should not be as successful in its way as Week One.

* Our troops in the north will secure more of Iraq's oil fields, while speeding the dissolution of Saddam's forces.

* On the approaches to Baghdad, our air and ground team will complete the destruction of Saddam's Republican Guards and Special Republican Guards.

* Liberated Iraqis will be fed, and we shall see ever more enthusiastic and public expressions of support from these long-suffering people - as they realize their torturers really are gone for good.

* And even if Saddam uses chemical weapons in a last-ditch attempt to stop our troops, we will overcome that, too.

Yea, verily!
Finally, a sensible perspective on the war. The Bible, like most books that have survived a couple of thousand years, has a good deal of sense in it. I'm sure even critics like Hitchens who don't like Kissinger because of "realpolitik" would agree that when you have a bunch of Amalekites running around, you have to deal with them extremely realistically. Love the conclusion:

Indeed, showing mercy to those who cannot comprehend the concept is no mercy at all to potential future victims.
Just as the memory of Amalek had to be wiped out for its cowardly and unprovoked act so, too, must the Children of Israel learn to respond appropriately. Indeed, the result of weakening one's resolve on this issue -- as with king Saul, when he refused to kill Agag the descendent of Amalek (Sam.1: 15: 4-35) -- has dire consequences. Martin Buber could never reconcile himself to this response, opining that Samuel had simply misunderstood God's word. Contrariwise, a midrashic tradition states that if you show mercy to the cruel, you will invariably end up being cruel to the kind. (Kohelet Rabba 7:36)
It's odd, don't you think, that if we've been commanded to "blot out the name of Amalek", we seem to remember it so vividly. Perhaps that's because Amalek is always with us. I can certainly see Amalek alive and well in modern Iraq.

Are you listening, Colin Powell? I don't think Rumsfeld needs reminding.

Weak, but vicious
The Iraqis are claiming to have downed another US helicopter. This story from the military, however, brings up the strong possibility that the helicopter shown in the video is the same one that came down, quite likely with mechanical problems, a few days ago. That means in six days of ground war the Iraqi military may have brought down one helicopter, no fixed-wing aircraft and one unmanned drone. The Somalis did better in Mogadishu. The Iraqis are also claiming to have destroyed two tanks. The US story, though, says that both tanks fell into ditches and couldn't get out, one because a bridge collapsed under it. Then they were attacked, after the crews abandoned them, by militia with RPGs. By the way, I always thought RPG stood for "rifle-propelled grenade". The TV keeps calling them "rocket-propelled grenades". Anyway, the facts seem to favor the US interpretation. If the fedayeen had stopped the tanks, the crews would never have got out alive. All in all, the perfidy and brutality exhibited by the Iraqis should in no way have been a surprise. The Japanese were notorious for the same traits. A couple of nukes should turn their heads around.
The war is going even better when you reflect that only about one-third, or 90,000 US troops are actually in Iraq. Think about this when anyone says 250,000 wasn't enough to send in the first place. When supply depots and bases are available in Iraq, the forces will be much better supported. Saddam is already looking for a way out, you can be sure. I can't find it now, but yesterday I ran across an article in the SF Chronicle saying that the roads were still clear from Baghdad to Basra and mocking the US war effort. It seemed so out of sync with the other stories we've been hearing that it intrigued me. I'm going to be hunting it down, thinking to myself, there must be some way to mark a web page without having to make it a formal book mark and without losing it on one's hard drive. Searchability is everything.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Guardian sneer
Want to know why the lefties will never win, why Europe is so poor compared to America, why bringing up a family will always be better in America? Just read this sneer of an "article" in the Guardian about why we're "losing" the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people. The editor must be even more supercilious than the writer, because the headline isn't supported by the story. About the only place in American journalism these guys could work is at the New York Times. Look at this selection:

A few miles from the bridge to the south lie the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, founded 8,000 years ago, the birth place of Abraham and a flourishing metropolis at a time when the inhabitants of north-west Europe were still walking round in animal skins.

Sgt Sprague, from White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, passed it on his way north, but he never knew it was there.

"I've been all the way through this desert from Basra to here and I ain't seen one shopping mall or fast food restaurant," he said. "These people got nothing. Even in a little town like ours of twenty five hundred people you got a McDonald's at one end and a Hardee's at the other."

Those barbarian knuckle-dragging Americans! How dare they try to act for "civilization". And meanwhile in Britain there's a MacDonald's on every corner and more country music sold in every little town than here in Tallahassee. Oh, for another Thatcher! Blair's OK, a good comrade in arms, but he won't change the culture at all. He'll lead the Brits into the euro and submerge them in socialism even deeper. Regime change, anyone?
What's in Najaf?
US forces headed for Baghdad (boy, does that sound good to say!) have encircled the town of Najaf, about 90 miles south of Baghdad. The armies are bypassing it, after a major attack that resulted, incredibly, in hundreds of Iraqi dead and no, as in none, as in zip, zero, US dead. Did such an overwhelming victory even happen in Gulf War I? I don't think so. Reports from inside the town say the commander has told Baghdad about his situation. Hey, I thought we destroyed their communications. Or, hmm, is this a trap? And if it's a trap, what's the bait? Why is an entire column of 1,000 Iraqi armored vehicles supposedly heading south from Baghdad to relieve Najaf? Those tanks in the open will be destroyed by our A-10s and F-16s before they get anywhere close to Najaf. So why the suicidal desparation? Maybe there's something really important in Najaf. WMD? One of Saddam's sons? Maybe even Saddam himself? Stay tuned. All the stories lately about how slowly the war is going are insane. Another bunch of stories say we don't have enough troops there, we're moving too fast, exposing our flanks and supply links. Balderdash. I have a feeling the military guys have been thinking this out for a few years now. They may not be perfect or be able to control every eventuality, but I'd rather be in a tank at the head of the advancing US troops right now than in Saddam's deepest bunker.

Update - Great minds think alike
Silent Running appears to agree with me that the column leaving Baghdad - if there is a column, and if it is leaving Baghdad, and if it is headed to Najaf - may be taking some kind of bait and is doomed. Yea, verily, I say, doomed.
Bulgars join the fight
My favorite "new Europe" nation, Bulgaria, has joined the fight in Iraq. After this war we will have not only a lot of new friends, but comrades in arms as well. Eat your heart out, Chirac. The ripples from Bush's wisdom and courage are spreading far and wide.
Old Media
Maybe I'm spoiled by instant continuous 24/7 high-speed internet access, but the stories on the evening news and the morning shows are so obsolete it's painful. As more and more people rely on sources like Drudge and Debka - leaving aside the credibility problems - and when even CNN and Reuters have word on happenings half a world away within minutes of their occurence, could there be anything less important than seeing how RatherBrokawJennings are going to sneer the headlines about smashing US military advances? I actually heard a reporter this morning - from Washington DC - relating as news events that happened more than two days ago. Editors are going to have to realize their big-budget programs are becoming irrelevant. We used to hear about an event on the radio, then tune in Walter Cronkite - now turned traitor - to see if it was true. Now we have ten sources to evaluate within minutes. The truth usually emerges. The rebellion in Basra (I changed my mind on the spelling) is a good example. It was first reported by SkyNews and Debka, then picked up, reluctantly, by CNN and Reuters when it looked like there was some possibility of it being true. Within an hour or so of the first reports from British military intelligence, it was apparent that 1) something happened involving Iraqi troops firing on Shi'ites in Basra 2) British artillery engaged the Iraqis - from now on I'll call them "fascists" and 3) that this probably wasn't the big uprising we had been hoping for. Then six hours or more later the nightly news reported a fragmented version, sanitized and spun to fit the liberal editors' prejudices. Old media is aging at an accelerated rate. Not fast enough for me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

A ruse?
The great news today was the apparent emergence of a "popular uprising" in Basrah, Iraq's second largest city. But could this just be a ruse by that old trickster Saddam or one of his fiendish offspring? Could the plan be to leak the word out to the Brits, who surround Basrah, that it was safe now to come on in to the center of the city, then when tanks and APC's show up in the main square, fedayeen by the thousands pop out of ruined buildings and fire RPGs at the vehicles? Wouldn't surprise me, but maybe I'm getting cynical and war-weary, after almost six days! I hope it's real. The Shi'ites have suffered so much for so long, they certainly deserve revenge and at least autonomy. It gets interesting, though, if a Debka story is true (Stop laughing!) Debka says the uprising is being led by an Iraqi "ayatollah". I don't like that word. There's just something about it that stirs up bad memories. Nothing specific. Something in that part of the world, isn't it? Give me a moment, I'll think of it. Why do I hear the sound of genies escaping from bottles? Aladdin! Hey, we need you!
Inside story
Kanan Makiya's diary, on the New Republic site, is well worth reading. The realities of Saddamite Iraq, soon to be history, are difficult for Westerners to fathom. The miracle is that so many young Americans, who could hardly conceive of such evil, are willing to give their lives to rid the world of it. The existence of such a place explains 9/11 more than reams of documentary evidence or DNA or fingerprints could do. The intensity of the evil carries the seeds of its own destruction. As in Basra, where a rebellion is apparently going on right now, as soon as those who have lived under the evil feel at all safe, they will turn on their oppressors with the energy of desparation and the anger of decades of loss. Tomorrow - or next week, or next month - will be a brighter day. I hope the whole story comes out, in all its complexity, so Americans can begin to realize what a magical place we inhabit, and how precious freedom is.
It's unbelievable how a few casualties can change the mood. And I do mean few. A maintenance convoy gets lost and some "surrendering" Iraqis pick up their weapons in contravention of all the rules of warfare and one - one! - chopper goes down and the media play it up like the US forces have suffered some kind of setback. Meanwhile tens of thousands of troops, hundreds of tanks, massive amounts of logistics, overwhelming air superiority and special forces penetrating every part of the country must make it look to the Iraqis like something less than a victory. Not one tank lost - not one! And we're at the gates of Baghdad. And we didn't even use the full force of our air, the vaunted "Shock and Awe". That may have been a mistake. Who knows whether the full version would have convinced those in the Saddam regime to throw in the towel? Meanwhile, if it weren't for treachery, such as false surrenders, hiding behind women and children and in mosques, hospitals and schools, the fascists would not have been able to inflict any losses at all on the US/UK task force. This is an extraordinary war, humane and measured beyond belief on one side, the same old barbarian savagery on the other. The world will, I am sure, eventually see the contrast betweeen the US conduct of this war and the way the fascists are "fighting". Most won't care, but some will appreciate it and give us credit. Every deed today affects our future. So far, it's making me proud and optimistic.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Work of art
All reports of the bombing of Baghdad tell of pinpoint precision. Even the Iraqi regime is only reporting three civilian deaths in the biggest attack yet. Given that the newsreaders compared the pictures of the bombardment to those of Dresden and Tokyo in WWII, with hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, it's an extraordinary way of waging war. Remember all those idiots who said 9/11 was a "work of art", a "conceptual masterpiece"? This bombing with utter destruction for the fascists' resources and absolutely limited civilian damage is worthy of admiration even from those who don't approve of American "Imperialism" and "bloodthirstiness". It's becoming clearer and clearer that we are about exactly what we said: disarming the Iraqi regime at minimal cost in lives. Modern art critics seem to consider art to be whatever surprises or shocks them. There's a shock - a major world leader doing exactly what he said he was going to do. Artistic, no?