Monday, March 31, 2003
Another one was broadcast on Iraqi TV just today -- Saddam sitting around a table with Uday and Qusay, talking about nothing. And it was just that: a tape. Armed Prophet is inclined to believe that Saddam is probably still alive, but these tapes can't be doing him any favors.
Sounds like it. AP is reporting that a car just slammed through the gates of the British embassy in Iran. The most pressing question: Why does Britain still have an embassy in Iran?
Shepherd Smith on Fox News, moments ago:
- It's been bombs over Baghdad for much of the day...
In the same article, he offers another great reason not to let the UN have any real say over what goes on there. It's an obvious one, but not for reasons I'd considered before. The reason, of course, is France:
- In Bosnia, French representatives repeatedly thwarted U.S. attempts to capture war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic by alerting them beforehand, and, in Kosovo, they even passed along NATO military secrets to the Serbs.
The New Republic's indispensible Lawrence F. Kaplan gives a damn good reason:
- To begin with, says Ralph Wilde, a U.N. scholar at the University of London, "what we find in the arena of civil administration is the considerable use of appointees to the United Nations -- former officials of national governments, for whom U.N. service is an interlude in a career of state service." And State Department officials predict that, were the United Nations to appoint a high commisioner for Iraq, the post would almost certainly be filled by a native Arabic speaker -- most likely an Arab diplomat such as UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi or chief nuclear inspector Mohamed El-Baradei -- who balances the interests of the Iraqi people with the broader agenda of the Arab states, not one of which qualifies as a democracy. "Arab governments would much rather have a U.N. administator in Iraq," says liberal dissident Kanan Makiya, "and, if [the administrator] is a member of one of those governments, Iraqis will simply be governmed by the lowest common denominator of Arab politics, which is certainly not democracy."
Now this is getting strange. If you checked in with Drudge this morning, you may have seen reports that Geraldo Rivera has been kicked out of Afghanistan by the US military -- apparently for drawing a sand map that gave away a little too much. Huh? Geraldo denies the story:
- It sounds to me like some rats at my former network NBC are spreading some lies about me. They can't compete fair and square on the battlefield so they're trying to stab me in the back. It's not the first time, but quality journalism wins out. ... I just heard that someone said that I had been kicked out of the country. In fact I'm further in the country than I have ever been and MSNBC is so pathetic a cable news network that they have to do anything they can to attract attention, but you can rest assured that anything they're saying is a pack of lies. I'm having a great relationship with the 101st Airborne. I intend to march into Baghdad along side them.
P.S. Hmmm. Geraldo was in Iraq? Armed Prophet had his facts wrong, it seems -- apparently he's being booted from Iraq. Here's the story.
Or is the beginning is the end is the beginning? Or is it just the end? Whatever happened, it was a media whirlwind -- blink and you'd miss it.
Sometime yesterday veteran news reporter Peter Arnett -- who had already risen and fallen once before -- appeared on Iraqi State TV to declare the coalition war plan a failure, take credit for galvanizing stateside anti-war sentiment and praise his Iraqi handlers. Perhaps not surprisingly, Fox News was the only outlet willing to cover the story, almost (as they are wont to do) reveling in the sheer idiocy of his appearance. NBC and MSNBC, where Arnett had been seen for the past week and a half, understandably stayed away, as did Arnett's onetime employer, CNN. But by this morning, Tim Russert was on the Today Show pointing out that Arnett's interview has since been repeated on Arabic networks around the region, used as propaganda to show discord within the coalition.
Yesterday, NBC was saying that Arnett's interview was "analytical" in nature and nothing more, but that wasn't the end of it -- NBC announced this morning that Arnett was being released from his contract. And as if to add insult to injury, Matt Lauer interviewed Arnett in what may be the last time he ever appears on a major network news broadcast in such a capacity. Arnett said to Lauer:
- I am not anti-military, I've had 40 years of covering wars ... I am really a determined reporter. This was the story of my life coming here ... I've been an American for 25 years.
- I will leave here. I don't intend to stay in this locality. I am not a supporter of the Iraqi government.
Armed Prophet almost wants to feel sorry for Arnett, but he just doesn't deserve it. He had to know what he was saying at the time, and he had to know the kind of effect they would have both in the US and in the Gulf region. It's not forgivable. Some have opined that perhaps Arnett had to give an interview of that tenor, lest the Iraqi government kick him out of the country. If that was the case, the honorable thing would be to accept your one-way ticket out of town and maintain your reputation. However, NBC clearly does not believe that's the case. Arnett:
- I want to apologize to NBC, MSNBC and National Geographic Explorer for supporting me here. I also want to apologize to the American people for clearly making a misjudgment over the weekend by giving an interview to Iraqi television ... Clearly, by giving that interview, I created a firestorm in the United States. For that, I am truly sorry.
P.S. From NBC's statement:
- NBC News President Neal Shapiro spoke with Peter Arnett via telephone early this morning in an attempt to fully understand the circumstances of Arnett's interview on Iraqi TV. After their discussion, NBC News issued the following statement. It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state controlled Iraqi TV -- especially at a time of war -- and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview. Therefore, Peter Arnett will no longer be reporting for NBC News and MSNBC.
After weeks of trying to avoid dealing with North Korea, this Baltimore Sun story indicates China may finally realize it can't stay on the fence:
- For three straight days in recent weeks, something remarkable happened to the oil pipeline running through northeast China to North Korea - the oil stopped flowing, according to diplomatic sources, temporarily cutting off a vital lifeline for North Korea.
The pipeline shutdown, officially ascribed to a technical problem, followed an unusually blunt message delivered by China to its longtime ally in a high-level meeting in Beijing last month, the sources said. Stop your provocations about the possible development of nuclear weapons, China warned its neighbor, or face Chinese support for economic sanctions against the regime.
Such tough tactics show an unexpected resolve in Beijing's policy toward Pyongyang, and hint at the nervousness of Chinese leaders about North Korea's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's tensions with the United States.
(Link via Instapundit.)
Friday, March 28, 2003
For three days straight, hackers have kept Al Jazeera's new English language site offline. Armed Prophet has been trying to get through, to no avail. Now, I'm sure I'll be as offended as any other red-blooded American when I read this, but shouldn't we at least be able to get through ourselves? Armed Prophet wants his anti-American propaganda!
Armed Prophet colleague Maxim Basa is the sole right-of-center contributor to the weblog Jive Diatribe. Debate has heated up in the past few days -- beginning with the competing "boycotts" in Europe and the United States, and moving on to points above and beyond. Begin here, and scroll up.
Armed Prophet's old gig is the often-brilliant and even-more-often-belligerent Oregon Commentator, which has been blogging since late last year. Well, it's spring break in Oregon, and a stray left-wing staffer is picking a fight with the one remaining editor near a computer terminal this week. The matter of concern appears to be the fact that Halliburton got the contract to put out the oil fires. (The (limited) debate begins here.)
By the reaction, you'd think that George W. Bush had gone back on his promise to give the oil fields back to the Iraqi people, and had instead decided to turn it over to Dick Cheney's old company. But it was a no-bid contract! Yes, and they need to get those fires out quick, before any more of Iraq's black, gooey trust fund becomes a worthless, black, smokey mess. If your company had a proven track record with such things, maybe you'd get the no-bid contract.
But even that isn't the main concern with these people -- it's Halliburton. Democrats really thought they had Bush and Cheney nailed with Harken and Halliburton last year, only to find nothing of serious consequence. It must have been disappointing. But nevertheless, they're flagged -- leftists can be assured of a self-satisfied "Aha!" any time they come up.
Visiting London in a purported attempt to repair obviouly strained relations, Dominique de Villepin donned the shroud that will be used for the sea burial of their standing in the international community. Villepin, on who he wanted to win the war:
- I'm not going to answer. You have not been listening carefully to what I said before. You already have the answer.
Here's Jonah Goldberg on the same:
- Side with the two democracies that twice saved and rebuilt your crippled nation and helped defend you from the Soviets or side with the barbaric tyranny which uses rapes the way the IRS uses audits. That is a toughie.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
You call it "flooding the zone," but we call it a crusade. The New York Times, roundly criticized for its overweening, overwhelming obsession with the Augusta National Golf Club, is back at at it. The headline:
- It's appalling that the women who are willing to lay down their lives for democratic ideals should be shut out of this club.
- Ms. Burk will say anything to get publicity, but if she is invoking the troops to draw more attention to herself, only three words apply — shame on you.
Is this article merely the death rattle of the Burk-Raines crusade? Either way, this has got to end. It's not only accomplishing nothing and ruining the NYT's good name, but it's also really annoying.
No, not on TV. About TV. Mark Bowden in today's New York Times tackles the question of why Iraqis in Baghdad may not rally to fight against Saddam's military the way everyone has been hoping:
- The problem is that each war develops an interior logic. Immediate traumas supersede the larger context, just as the fog of war plays havoc with generals' plans. Allied military commanders have wisely waged a careful air campaign, leaving most of the city's nongovernment buildings undamaged and keeping civilian casualties low. But every death and wounding — of a child, a sister, a father, a neighbor — no matter how unintentional, creates passionate new enemies whose anger eclipses politics.
- Clumsy military attempts to capture Mr. Aidid in the summer of 1993 left scores of Somalis dead or wounded and destroyed property. The people of the city quickly soured on their Western saviors, and the warlord's repeated escapes transformed him into a local hero, the sly Somali David tilting with Goliath.
- There was hopeful news of popular uprisings in Basra, but it was not clear if they were widespread. If there are such happy scenes to report, then it is time to shut down Baghdad's propaganda machine and give Iraqis a full range of independent reporting about the war.
P.S. In Basra, it has been done. Good. But it's only a start.
This article is far from the most interesting article about Baghdad's most prominent writer -- Salam Pax -- but by the time you're getting coverage in the Wilmington News Journal, that's when you know you're slated for the big time.
All right, maybe that isn't exactly a "leading indicator," but Armed Prophet can see the average Delaware commuter throwing back that last cup of coffee, eyeballing the newsprint, thinking, "Pax? Peace? Huh? Oh crap, I-95's gonna be a bitch this morning."
In any case, Armed Prophet wonders if Salam will avail himself to media inquiries once the fighting stops and the place becomes more free. One wonders if he will continue to protect his anonymity, even when it's no longer a necessity for self preservation. How about Salam Pax, Iraqi Blogger Laureate?
The former Senator from New York was ailing when he went into the hospital on what would otherwise have been a fine holiday, St. Patrick's Day, but it was still a shock to see the headline of his obituary in this morning's Washington Post.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a liberal that conservatives could respect, and on some significant issues, even agree with. He was acutely aware of the dangers of his own party's left wing (and dangers the left wing ignored), and more importantly was outspoken in confronting them. The Post duly notes some achievements to that end, before summarizing them in this passage:
- Often seen as a politician ahead of his time, Moynihan was recognized as a liberal Democrat who was also a dedicated foe of communism, a combination that led to him being characterized as one of the first and most prominent of the so-called neoconservatives.
- Peering owlishly through horn-rimmed glasses, wearing a bow tie, a lock of hair tumbling across his forehead, he often displayed the slightly disheveled look that many considered to be distinctively professorial.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Today the Washington Times quotes United for Peace and Justice spokesman Justin Kafoury as saying:
- We will demand to get the humanitarian aid to the Iraqi civilians who are at risk of dying and for the United States to not attack civilian targets in Baghdad.
Their relationship is like matter and anti-matter.
Yesterday Armed Prophet took apart a stupid Paul Krugman column insinuating that Clear Channel was sucking up to the Bush adminstration by sponsoring the pro-liberation Rallies for America in recent weeks. Insinuate was all he could do, because he didn't have any proof. It wasn't clear whether he'd done any investigation. Well, if this news article from today's Washington Post is any indication, he didn't. In fact, Armed Prophet made the mistake of taking Krugman's vague allusions at face value, because what he described in that really horribly awful, bad bad bad column doesn't reflect reality at all.
The rallies are the brainchild of syndicated host Glenn Beck -- his paychecks are (aha!) written by Clear Channel -- who
- said he got the idea for the rallies after a caller to his show told him he was tired of actor and director Tim Robbins and other liberal antiwar celebrities saying they were speaking for Americans. In response, Beck instructed his listeners to call their local radio stations and ask them to sponsor rallies supporting the troops. Stations in Fort Wayne, Richmond, Houston, Omaha and Orlando have done so. Some of the stations are owned by Clear Channel, but others -- though they carry Beck's show -- are owned by companies such as Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Broadcasting Corp. and Susquehanna Radio Corp. Beck has spoken at the rallies.
If Paul Krugman knew this ahead of time, then he's a liar. If not, then he's a bad writer. Either way, he can't get away with this kind of intellectual dishonesty. Write a letter to the NYT, link to this site or blog or write it up yourselves. Krugman went way over the line, and his loyal readership deserves to know about it.
Caleb Carr weighs the pros and cons in this morning's New York Observer, through the filter of modernism and medievalism, and decides that the experiment has been a failure:
- The embedded journalist equipped with a video feed is a feature of war more suited to degenerate ancient Rome and its circuses of blood than to a modern, progressive army. Watching actual violence in real time may teach valuable lessons about war, but it spreads fear and eventually inures us to killing. "Embedding," as the name ironically suggests, is more than mere voyeurism: It is the pornography of the battlefield, and in the hands of amoral criminals such as America's current enemies, it will prove enormously and enduringly useful. The images born today will take a long time dying -- a fact that has nothing to do with landmark journalism and everything to do with national peril.
Taking the one example cited above, who says that embedding spreads fear? The cameras in Baghdad are far more likely to inspire Arab angst than are CNN's choppy smoke-and-sandstorm digital footage. Who says it inures us to more killing? America's amoral enemies have their own cameras and have used them to awful effect, while a CBS correspondent on a cell phone somewhere near Najaf merely ensures the TV news has something to do. There are reasons to doubt the positives of war coverage, but embedding in particular isn't the problem.
But more importantly is that "something to do" -- that's where Armed Prophet thinks the embedding strategy is a success -- the cable news networks are infamous for chewing over the tiny bits of information it has, speculating endlessly amidst a dearth of live reports. So why not give them constant live information? Much of the footage is worthless as a means of judging how the war is going, anyway. That's what everybody wants to know, of course, but there's less time to talk about "Vietnam" and "quagmires" when you're gorging on "the pornography of the battlefield," to use Carr's lurid term.
As Rumsfeld has reminded the press, the embedded reporting isn't the war, it's a slice of the war. By serving up slice after slice, the 24-7 cable news cycle stays fed.
Is this the worst week of Michael Moore's career, or what? Here it is now the middle of the week, and op-ed columnists are still flogging him for his so-called acceptance speech on Sunday. And I don't mean the usual critics of the blogosphere, I mean small town, flyover country opinion columnists who probably enjoyed Bowling for Columbine, and didn't mind that Moore's only pro-gun voices were Terry Nichols' crazy brother and a declining Charlton Heston (Armed Prophet bets he didn't bother asking Matt Stone about guns -- instead keeping him to the narrow subject of his hometown, Littleton -- knowing of the South Park co-creator's pro-Bush libertarianism). But Moore's insipid rant might have been more arresting than the gruesome juxtapositions of his "documentary," and this week it's all over the opinion pages.
Here's an otherwise sympathetic Roberta de Boer in the Toledo Blade:
- That #$%*! Michael Moore. Now there’s a guy who gives dissent a bad name. Winning an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, he took to the stage and, instead of an acceptance speech, issued a rejection screed. ... Sigh. Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. You are living proof that progressives can be every bit as screechy and strident as hard-line conservatives.
- Sunday's clear winner was the relentlessly self-promoting Michael Moore, maker of "Bowling for Columbine," a documentary that reviewers have found manipulative and factually flimsy. ... Moore brought onstage with him the other nominees in the category, who probably thought it was a gracious gesture from the filmmaker and found themselves used as props for "solidarity" with his views.
- The president's authority to govern was challenged most recently by film director Michael Moore in his tirade against Bush at the Academy Awards. It has been a constant refrain of the anti-war movement to plant the idea that Bush somehow stole the election and lacks the mandate to speak for America. It's a false and destructive notion. Bush won as fair and square as we were able to get it under the terms of our Constitution. It's long past time the president's critics get over it, as Gore did, and accept that Bush has every right to the full authority of his office.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Armed Prophet has never been a fan of Bob Novak. The man never seems to miss an opportunity to condemn Israel nor give the Palestinians every benefit of the doubt. His hatefulness is mesmerising -- it must be seen to be believed, if not exactly comprehended. NRO's David Frum took a few shots at Novak in his cover story for the latest National Review, but in his blog today, he goes after Novak exclusively, and boy was Armed Prophet pleased.
It was about time!
P.S. Fox News' Bret Baier is reporting that the Fedayeen troops in Basra are now -- as feared -- dressing as American soldiers. Apparently they're "accepting the surrender of other Iraqi troops and then executing them." This obviously isn't a winning strategy; it's a losing strategy when the battle is almost lost. Let's hope the British forces and Shiite fighters head this off soon. Developing...
Never heard of Aviakonversiya? Well, you have now. It's a Russian company that the White House says still has technicians inside Iraq setting up GPS-jamming equipment. What about KPB Tula? According to the administration, they've been selling Kornet missiles to Saddam Hussein. Newsday has a good piece on the matter here.
Says Aviakonversiya's general director, Oleg Antonov: "The Americans are trying to find a scapegoat because their bombs are not falling as accurately as they want."
Uh, no. Actually, Colin Powell and Condi Rice have been all over Vladimir Putin on this one for months now. The White House finally decided to go public just this week because they weren't getting anywhere solely in private. These are our friends? I'm inclined to think that Putin has merely looked the other way on this in the past; after all, Russia needs money and they haven't quite figured out that "rule of law" thing yet.
As of today, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is denying the charges wholesale and Putin is telling President Bush that he will look into it. If Putin doesn't want to end up with Chirac and Schroeder on the ex-friends list, he had better come up with some results fast.
Mickey Kaus opines on the "less-effusive-than-expected welcome given to our troops by Iraqis":
- Would an invasion by the U.N. have been less resented by Iraqis? I'd say clearly yes. It's a higher-order power. And nobody's resented like the U.S. is resented...
If Kaus is speculating about a UN invasion, he's got to step waaaay back in the process to consider such a thing. The UN has never been interested in the fate of the Iraqis, and while the US doesn't have the best record in the past, we've turned that around substantially. The UN would have even further to go if they were ever to do something of the kind.
What's to say about Paul Krugman? Ever since he started writing his Times column, I've read Andrew Sullivan's takedowns without bothering to read the original source material. But more recently, I've been checking in with his columns -- one I knocked upside the subhead almost a week ago now. Today's column, a conspiracy theory about the Bush administration and radio giant Clear Channel, is even stupider. Clear Channel, Krugman has been aghast to learn, has sponsored a series of pro-liberation events under the name Rally for America. Something must be wrong, he surmises. So he writes:
- Why would a media company insert itself into politics this way? It could, of course, simply be a matter of personal conviction on the part of management. But there are also good reasons for Clear Channel ... to curry favor with the ruling party.
Where's the conflict of interest, Paul? Well, never mind conflict of interest -- they're "currying favor." Now that may be, but Krugman has no smoking gun. Large corporations are known to donate to both parties in great sums (though more goes to Republicans, especially with the GOP in power), and Clear Channel's PAC -- CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS INC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE -- is no exception. The most shocking thing that I found is that Clear Channel's PAC even donated money to the committee of far-left California Rep. Barbara Lee (D), the only congressperson to vote against giving Bush authority to respond to the 9/11 attacks. (Now that's a scandal!)
But Krugman knows this; he's not talking about the corporation, either. He's talking about the "management." Krugman singles out Hicks and Clear Channel chair Lowry Mays as those 'currying favor.' Why else boil it down to the personalities of Misters Bush, Hicks and Mays? Why else include this line:
- There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but a good guess is that we're now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy.
Lastly, a throwaway line from the first paragraph, wherein Krugman disapprovingly describes how
- a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of. . . . But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can't happen here.
He's on the Today Show right now, being interviewed by Katie Couric (behind a desk in full anchor mode). Not a whole lot that he hasn't said in recent days, but interesting in any case. He says we're at the stage now where Saddam might actually -- finally -- be feeling the "cold, steel gun" of American power ready to knock him out, and that Saddam might actually try to work a deal for exile. Armed Prophet is much more doubtful of this. A man who sees himself as the next Saladin wouldn't be content to sit around drinking dacquiris with Idi Amin for the next twenty years at the Jeddah Hilton.
But here's a Friedman quip on what he thinks about the post-war rebuilding plans:
- If we build it, they will come around.
Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America was awarded a $4.5 million contract on Monday to fix Umm Qasr's deepwater port. The article, syndicated by the Los Angeles Times, inexplicably (except that she represents LA) quotes anti-war, still no-voting Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) in the third paragraph:
- I think there's a serious irony in the administration letting contracts to rebuild bridges that they haven't bombed yet.
And that's not just Armed Prophet's prerogative -- that's George W. Bush, too. The New York Times writes, also this morning:
- Bypassing the United Nations and setting up an American civilian peacekeeping administration under the military, however temporary, is a huge break from recent tradition and a denial of one of the United Nations' central roles since the end of the cold war. But the United States may have no choice for the moment. Under international law, the United Nations may be unable to work under a military occupation force.
- While the United Nations can offer emergency relief for refugees, children, food distribution and humanitarian coordination, international officials say that the Geneva Convention would forbid long-term cooperation without approval from the Security Council.
- The war must legitimate itself and it can, depending on what we build in Iraq. I think that task is so serious, I am not sure I want to see it shared with anyone, particularly France. I would like the U.N. to help pay for it, though, so I see a dilemma coming.
Note the title of the first above-cited NYT piece: "U.S. Plans to Run Iraq Itself". Ha! That could just as easily have been titled "U.S. To Oversee Early Rebuilding Efforts". And that would actually be more accurate. Here are two paragraphs from that article, separated by an ellipsis:
- The United States is preparing to establish immediate sole control of postwar Iraq, initially without recourse to the United Nations, with a civilian administration under the direct command of the military, according to senior administration officials. ... Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on Thursday that he was consulting with the United Nations to try to resolve some of these questions and devise a way to "put in place broad Security Council authority to help the people of Iraq."
What the US needs is a -- wait for it -- coalition of the willing. Billing, shilling, and thrilling, the Krugmans (and more amusingly, the Kerrys -- by the way, that's a Lileks column) will say. Fine. Their criticism is known, and their only alternative is to backtrack, returning to the lifeless international body that was indifferent, then belligerent, to our mission in the first place. Their thinking doesn't allow for flexible coalitions -- "coalitions of coalitions" as Don Rumsfeld says in Bob Woodward's Bush at War.
That's how the war in Afghanistan was fought, that's how this war is being fought, now why not rebuild in the same manner? US companies -- and maybe British and Japanese companies before long -- combined with NGOs that can operate outside the UN's mandate. That's who we want to help. We don't want Kofi Annan, nor Jacques Chirac nor Maxine Waters. And we don't need them, either.
Monday, March 24, 2003
And others', too -- but the French are the crux of the matter here. A little way down the page I've linked (and link again) a New York Times story about the French. I didn't really give it the talk-up it deserves. For all the Times's sins -- and they are many -- every once in awhile you get an article like this that makes you forget all about that -- for a little while. The article details
- a resurgent European anti-Semitism, coming not from its traditional source among Europe's right-wing nationalists, but from the Continent's growing Islamic community, egged on by the political left.
- The word "feuj" — from the inversion of the French word "Juif," which means "Jew" — is now a playground standard, both as an insult against Jewish students and as a contemptuous adjective. Children say a pen that does not work is "completely feuj," for example, and the Hebrew salutation "mazel tov" is used in the same way.
Do they have the whole story? Well, Armed Prophet certainly gives them the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, they're certainly good places to start.
Who knew that would be the response to Michael Moore's onstage obnoxiousness? Little-quoted is one of the things he said before leaving the stage (possibly because it was drowned out by the audience):
- Anytime you've got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, it's a bad sign!
- The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.
How many times have we heard this recently? Quite a bit. It's the default position of Democratic lawmakers and San Francisco protesters. It's a marked improvement from harassing soldiers as they did in the 1960s, but it's a calculated move. The only reason they're saying it is to ward criticism that they don't support their country. Now, I was planning to write something about this ... until I found out that James Robbins had already written it for me:
- Today's protesters are forced by necessity to take this approach since these days most Americans respect the military, and spitting on the uniform is not something likely to generate public approval.
Armed Prophet will confess to a flash of over-optimism last Thursday afternoon. That was before any American or British combat casualties, when it seemed like the Republican Guard might give up the ghost, before the necessity of "shock and awe." It certainly won't be so easy; even that flash was only that -- and you won't find it on the blog. (Come to think of it, I think whiskey was involved.)
As the war gets more difficult, which it may well, the anti-war types will delight in pointing out all the difficulties we face.
Despite the obviousness of the "increased resistance," there are a few obvious reasons for optimism:
- 1) We're closing in on Baghdad. Very soon now. Very soon.
2) Turkey's crossing of the Iraqi border seems to be limited. (This makes it sound worse, but at least they're talking.)
3) Saddam is probably not in any condition to be seen in public, and is most likely on the run.
4) Guess who's looking worse? Russia and France.
5) No matter how difficult, the end result is inevitable. And we'll be ready for what comes next.
Blast! That would have been it for Hans Blix, the French and a sizable chunk of the anti-war arguments. (But why the electrified fence? Why the camouflague?) Oh well. Armed Prophet would guess there are plenty of abandoned sites around the country, probably more than there are active (or recently active) sites. Nevertheless, there will be plenty of time to find such facilities once the fight is over.
The war is hopeless. James Lileks has been monitoring its fellow European cousin, the BBC -- or Baghdad Broadcasting Corportation, as popularized by Andrew Sullivan -- and finds much the same thing. Now, compare that with this. It goes to show that in journalism, you can find what you want.
P.S. Steven Den Beste notices the same thing about Reuters.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
After assuring viewers throughout most of the day that FNC wouldn't be showing the video of the Iraqi-executed American soldiers, they've finally decided to show one still from the video, wherein four soldiers' bodies are clearly seen. Their faces, however, are not -- and thus their justification. No standing orders from the Pentagon disallow the broadcasting of the image, so broadcast it they have.
Armed Prophet is very much of two minds on the matter. Going back to 9/11, I supported the decision to air footage of planes hitting the WTC, people jumping from the WTC and the footage that eventually became the CBS documentary "9/11". I am no fan of hiding the ugly truth of things or airbrushing facts. You can't get the full impact of what has happened without seeing it for real. On the other hand, the primary reaction to such images is emotional, and I have always contended it's important to approach matters of politics, policy and so forth intellectually rather than emotionally. One can analytically come to the conclusion that the 9/11 attacks are moral horrors without the shock of gruesome footage. At least, I can.
Thus far, I have elected not to search out the video of Daniel Pearl's murder. I'm sickened by it enough without seeing for myself. And though I happened to run across that still photo in advance of FNC's airing it (thanks, Drudge) I wouldn't have sought it out. Nor do I think I'll go look for the full footage of this incident. It's just not necessary.
In short, it's imperative that it be available, but it's not so important that people be forced to see it. Perhaps others need that visceral kick in the gut, and if they need that to convince them of atrocity, then by all means: download and watch. Everybody has a different reaction, and the day may come where I want to see it for myself. But until then, I'll continue to have conflicting thoughts and feelings on the matter.
- Jacques Chirac said Friday that France would not go along with a new United Nations resolution allowing the United States and Britain to administer postwar Iraq. The French president said at a European Union summit he would "not accept" a resolution that "would legitimize the military intervention (and) would give the belligerents the powers to administer Iraq."
- Colin Powell hopes France will want to be a "partner" after Iraq's liberation.
- [W]e have no well-considered, thorough and positive plan for an adjusted American relationship with the Islamic world generally. This is not the fault of America’s defense planners and warmakers; they are not diplomats, and it is not their job to be diplomatic. The American media—and our troublesome "allies"—have criticized members of our defense establishment for their blunt talk, but their brusqueness is notable only because the State Department has failed to provide a counterbalancing and convincing diplomacy: We have only a void where there should be statesmanship.
The US and Britain cannot go back to the UN immediately. Cannot. It wouldn't just be embarrassing; it would be self-defeating. It isn't time to withdraw just yet, but once the fighting stops and rebuilding comes, President Bush should -- and it sounds as if he may -- turn his back on the EU and UN. I'm sorry if Powell doesn't like it. He's a decent man who unfortunately has too clubby a view of the international community. Sometimes you have to put your foot down. Back in early February, it seemed that he had. And he did. For awhile. But now -- if he's ready to be friends again, and that is nothing short of unacceptable.
This is an odd thing for Armed Prophet to write, but it's a good thing France is pre-empting their involvement in post-Saddam Iraq. Otherwise, Blair or Powell or another coalition internationalist might be tempted to go back. Let's hope they don't.
Says the headline for this Reuters news story. The key word, of course, is "expects." That's a verb Bush often uses more as a threat than a plea. Iraq may not respect or adhere to the Geneva accords, but Europe certainly does. If Chirac or Villepin aren't out there with a denunciation of their longtime ally's tactics, the fact will only drive the Atlantic wedge further.
Okay, who's the Middle Eastern fellow sitting toward the middle of the press corps that always stands up and phrases his questions in the most anti-American manner possible? I'm guessing he's Al-Jazeera, but there's no reason why he couldn't be Guardian, or even NYT, for that matter. I quote from memory (therefore, approximately) today's brilliant question:
- About the capture and execution of the American soldiers, is the United States getting into a new Vietnam, or is the military a victim of overconfidence?
Sign held by 82nd Airborne troops, in a crowd assembled for Wayne Gale-inspiration Geraldo Rivera, last night on FNC.
Friday, March 21, 2003
Armed Prophet signs off for now. There's a very good chance I'll be back, for a little while, during the weekend. See you then.
From this New York Daily News article about President Bush:
- "If the war goes well," one friend says, "his diplomatic stumbles ain't going to matter to anyone except [archcritic liberal columnist] Paul Krugman and the French."
The AP reports, via the Iraqi News Agency that Saddam Hussein is offering rewards. Any Iraqi who kills an enemy soldier or pilot gets "a reward equivalent to" $14K.
- Capture an enemy soldier alive: $28K.
Shoot down an enemy fighter plane: $55K.
Shoot down an enemy helicopter: $28K.
Shoot down an enemy missile: $5.5K.
Convince the UN to intervene to end the war: PRICELESS.
Somebody just asked Rummy what interest the United States had in Iraq's oil. I guess the reporter missed point seven in Rumsfeld's list of objectives (see two posts down). But really, how many more times does the Bush administration have to answer this question?
You don't say! Hell, 9/11 kick-started the form in the first place. But the Ventura County Star, the California newspaper that hosts Howard Owens' war blog (see war links at left) writes about the blog phenomenon. News articles about blogs are becoming more and more frequent these days, and I look forward to the day when this paragraph is no longer necessary:
- Blogs, short for Web logs, are personal journals open to anyone with Internet access. They typically include the author's thoughts on one or more topics and readers' responses.
All in all, not a very useful article. I'd expect no less from a daily. But this is a good intro:
- Concerned people, amateur diplomats and armchair generals the world over are using blogs to comment, analyze and rant about the war with Iraq.
Rummy and Myers are in the Pentagon's press room right now, reading their statements. Rumsfeld outlined eight objectives with regard to Iraq:
- 1) To end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
2) To identify, isolate and eventually eliminate Saddam's WMD.
3) To search for, capture and drive out terrorists who had found safe harbor.
4) To collect intelligence related to terrorist networks.
5) To collect intelligence related to global networks of activity regarding WMD.
6) To end sanctions and immediately deliver food and medicine to Iraqis.
7) To secure the oil fields which belong to the Iraqi people and help them rebuild.
8) To help create rapid transition to a "representative self-government."
Drudge is partially confirming it with this one-line, non-hypertext sentence:
- A senior U.S. official said the escalation of the 'SHOCK & AWE' campaign might not be as intense as originally planned because U.S. surrender talks with senior Iraqi officials were continuing...
To be more accurate, it was my guess that its delay was due to the reported negotiations. That, or the line sold to the media was about shock and awe being the first move was never intended to be actually followed through -- but that they would wait until they had Baghdad surrounded. Well, they aren't at Baghdad yet, but I'd be surprised if it was too long before Basra is entirely under coalition control.
I also thought maybe -- and now have been proved totally wrong -- that perhaps shock and awe would never actually be implemented. Like the madman strategy -- make 'em think you're crazy -- I thought they might up the ante and threaten massive destruction and scare them into submission. Well, I was wrong with that.
But the remarkable thing is how flexible the campaign was been. Not-so-Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf was on TV the other day arguing that they should stick by the battle plan rather than change things up. Well, maybe, but all indications are that the campaign is going very, very well.
They are shocked and I am awed. Peter Arnett says ten of Saddam's palaces and buildings have been obliterated in just the last ten minutes.
It was very brief, it wasn't said where from, and only NBC picked it up. He said that "a number of channels" are "open to Baghdad" at present, and they have other countries "who have been conveying the message to the Iraqi regime that there will be a change."
How's that for an understatement?
ABC has the best footage by far. But they share footage, so why is everybody else still on the alien-planet blurry green? Well, not CNN -- they've gone beyond split-screen to quadrants. Truly unprecedented!
P.S. Yes, Fox News drew more viewers than CNN last night -- the first time for a breaking event, ever -- but is CNN a leader again? Now Fox and MSNBC both have just gone quadrant-style!
P.P.S. I'd just like to say -- this post was not written during shock and awe. It was written during a flurry of anti-aircraft fire. Now I see why they said we'd know it when we saw it.
Busy morning here at Armed Prophet's workplace, Thermoqueue World Headquarters (Note: Not the real name of where I work). That's why no posting yet. But there's a lot to talk about:
- First of all, where is all the shock they've been talking about, and how about that awe we were promised? More to come on this. Armed Prophet has a theory, and I'm not reading any other blogs until then, because I'm pretty much convinced I can't be the only one that thinks this.
- Is the Republican Guard really thisclose to giving up and giving in?
- And: Is Saddam dead, or seriously injured at the very least? Bob Woodward says that's what he's hearing from his people on the inside. Who's that? George Tenet? Colin Powell? If only I had that guy's access, Armed Prophet would be a legend, too. Okay, so Armed Prophet has not brought down a sitting president ... yet.
- Unfortunately, the first American combat casualty has been confirmed. The bloodless war was great while it lasted, but it couldn't be sustained. No name ID yet, but we do know he was a marine on the ground in Iraq. I don't wish do discount the Brits and Yanks in last night's helicopter crash, but that seems to be a mechanical failure -- a "routine" helicopter accident -- not the result of fire (enemy or friendly).
- And this is the funniest thing I've heard since the Chirac hoax yesterday:
- National guardman changed his name to a toy
CUYAHOGA FALLS -- A member of Ohio's 5694th National Guard Unit in Mansfield legally changed his name to a Transformers toy.
Optimus Prime is heading out to the Middle East with his guard unit on Wednesday to provide fire protection for airfields under combat.
"On Sunday, we were awarded as the best firefighting unit in the Army National Guard in the entire country," said Prime. "That was a big moment for us."
Thursday, March 20, 2003
That's what the Pentagon keeps saying about "shock and awe" -- this isn't it, but just wait. Armed Prophet thought the whole idea of the strategy was, as the name indicates, dissuade the Iraqi military from fighting. But they're already fighting in southern Iraq. So what gives? Armed Prophet wonders if maybe the idea is to first have Baghdad sufficiently surrounded, then "shock and awe" them into submission, so as to avoid a protracted Baghdad street fight. But all of the press ahead of last night seemed to indicate that S&A (as I guess I'll now abbreviate it) was supposed to be the opening move. True, the "targets of opportunity" last night shifted the plan a little, but I wonder if this wasn't just an effective disinformation campaign by the US military. If so, it's worked. But will it work? Stay tuned.
That was, apparently, Saddam on TV last night. So he's put on some weight, then? Meanwhile, here's a blog account from last October that claims Austrian nutcase Jörg Haider didn't actually meet Saddam when he met with Saddam. Ha!
Only up about 30 points as the trading day nears an end. It's been a lethargic climb all day long. Armed Prophet wonders what that's all about. My guess: the last week's rally has already pushed the economy as close to the ceiling of what investors will believe about the economy, given all the down indicators. Perhaps Shep will bring Cavuto on for a little while to spin a good explanation.
He just wrapped up a conversation with Peter Jennings. To Jennings' credit, his first question was about whether Blix thought he was a failure, saying:
- War marks you as being a failure...
- I think we have shown over the months that we were able to set up an effective inspection force ... However, we did not find any WMD. They may be there, our analysis shows that it's possible ... We do hope the [US] specialists that are going in will bring clarity about that. US will have one advantage, well, they'll have many advantages. But people whom they interview will be able to speak their mind, people we spoke to were scripted by the regime.
- Judging by the intelligence ... I admire them a lot, I would say that yes ... it would be strange if they did not have it. But when you look at the recent activity ... it's puzzling.
- There's only one truth in Iraq at any given time and that's the one set by Saddam Hussein.
Just a few minutes ago: ABC's White House reporter, Terry Moran, either slipped up or slipped in a fast one, saying that
- the US has left the UN ... to do this.
What "this" means wasn't entirely clear. Armed Prophet is pretty sure he was talking about the UN handling humanitarian aspects of the campaign, but for a moment I thought he was announcing the US’s withdrawal from the UN. What a jackass!
True. The EAS is rolling across the screen right now. But not because of terrorism -- it's because of flooding. Here in DC it's been raining like the dickens (yes, the dickens) since about 6 AM. I haven't been near the mall anywhere, but I'm guessing that ruled out any plans for protests today. What a shame.
He explains it well enough -- they're under light restrictions in the camp he's embedded at. But the camera is shooting through a pinhole, and that combined with the grainy green glow of the night-vision lens, gives the impression that you're looking at him through a rifle scope.
It wasn't quite as short as Ari Fleischer's one-line briefing last night, but still short, short, short. Not much new:
- There's no question we’ve sent the finest of our citizens into harm’s way. They’ve performed with great skill and great bravery...
- Over 40 nations now support our efforts. We’re grateful for their determination, thankful for their vision, and enjoy their support.
- South Korea's cabinet was asking its parliament to authorise sending 600 soldiers and 500 engineers.
NBC has the exclusive story -- an al Qaeda terrorist believed maybe to be in the US -- is now the CIA's most wanted man. His full name: Adnan G. El-Shukrijnah (not so sure about the last three or four letters there -- it only flashed on screen briefly), who supposedly speaks English well and (gulp) knows how to fly.
- The Pope has said this war is wrong, that it is a SIN. The Pope! But even worse, the Dixie Chicks have now come out against you! How bad does it have to get before you realize that you [speaking to Bush, pretending his words might actually get back to the president] are an army of one on this war?
On a minute-by-minute basis at the office here right now, it's harder to tell what the bigger story is -- the Battle for Iraq or the NC State vs. California overtime.
Salam Pax of Where is Raed? wrote earlier today:
- yesterday the last 500 prisoners from the Iraq-Iran war were being exchanged. I can’t believe they are still doing this, for fuck’s sake that war ended in 1989
Richard Boucher either is or recently was giving a press conference at the State Dept., but only ABC carried it and then only very briefly. Meanwhile, the news is just piling up, too fast to comment on. Among the stories out there:
- Fox News chryon says senior Republican Guard officials say they want to resign.
- The Red Cross reports one confirmed casualty.
- Blix says if Iraq uses its chem or bio weapons, "world opinion will turn immediately." Is that an admission, Hans?
- Slate's Mickey Kaus notes that a formed UNSCOM inspector named Charles Duelfer is now one highly sought-after man.
- Somewhat related, the WaPo reports that the US, along with Australia, Hungary, Romania and Sweden (!) had pressured Iraqi diplomats to turn or be expelled and "enjoy [their] very short stay in Baghdad."
- US officials aren't convinced that was really Saddam on TV last night.Compare the photos for yourself.
Available here. But how about the superfluous specification in the caption:
- "President Bush (news - web sites), second from right, receives an update...
Somehow, I cannot sum up any sympathy for the guy. But it's not because of the attack. Instead, it sounds like he got himself into a fight.
Seems like it.
P.S. I blogged too soon -- Pentagon reporters now say this is not actually the "shock and awe" campaign. Perhaps the doctrine should be renamed "tease, shock and awe"?
P.P.S. But NBC disagrees. Hmmm.
The newest one is that this raid on Baghdad started at 9:11 PM. That seems about right -- it's about 9:15 PM in Baghdad now, and the raid just started a few minutes ago -- so is that less of a rumor and more of an observation? We'll see if the press corps throws that one at Fleischer later. (It does seem they coincided the start of the raid with the end of his conference, doesn't it?)
The anti-aircraft flashes have returned -- fireworks in the sky. And now some flashes on the ground, too, including a mushrooming cloud in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. All the TV channels are, of course, sharing Baghdad footage, and there appear to be two different cameras: One regular, one with night-vision. The night-vision lens makes it look a lot darker than it really is; or is that a special lens itself?
Fox News is showing it now, splitting the screen with Ari Fleischer's daily gaggle. The other nets either have the presser alone, the presser plus fuzzy green battlefield images, Dan Rather or NCAA basketball. But about that Saddam video -- You can see him sitting around a large wooden table with about eight or nine lackeys, including Tariq Aziz. What I'm about to say is probably only because of the widespread reports of Saddam clones, but: I don't think he looks at all the same in this new video, in comparison to the one aired last night.
So says the Fox News chyron. Rather euphemistic, isn't that? Does this mean we're advancing? Or just taking out their front lines?
IRAQI FORCES LIGHTING UP OIL FIELDS
Unfortunately, there's nothing euphemistic about that.
But then, Armed Prophet pretty much always does.
- For better or worse the waiting was over. In retrospect the runup to this event will be three, maybe four paragraphs in the history books; what counts is the significance of the event itself, what tonight's events will lead to.
From a Washington Post article:
- A Kuwaiti Defense Ministry spokesman said a U.S. Patriot anti-missile defense battery brought down both Scuds, intercepting one with three Patriot missiles and the other with a single Patriot.
Allow me to direct your attention to the last clause of this story from this morning's USA Today:
- Four of the five Democratic presidential hopefuls in Congress help formulate national policy. They have been criticizing Bush on many fronts related to terrorism -- except the war against Iraq, which they say they support. ... They say there will be time later to criticize the administration, but they tend to say that after making their critiques.
Evan Coyne Maloney & Co. at Brain Terminal just posted their latest video report/commentary here. Is there a future in this kind of thing? It's hard to say -- it certainly doesn't generate any money (yet) and even though it's easier than ever to produce a broadcast (a digital camera, iMac and two friends are all you need), it still requires considerably more effort than, say, a blog.
But it's worth five minutes of your time, which hopefully makes it worth much, much more of their time. Maloney provide a valuable service, shining a light on the pro-communistic, anti-semitic and anti-Americans sentiments that provide the real raison d'être of these so-called "peace rallies."
Nutty Environmentalist, Iraqi Road and I Hate The French Vanilla. Mmmm ... freedom-loving.
Don't worry -- this won't become a regular feature. But, while searching for a recent Iraq story at Slate, I found a poem called "Green Eggs and Islam," which I've excerpted below:
- I do not want him with an arsenal.
I would not, could not! This is personal!
I do not like his oil-gained cash.
I do not like his black mustache.
I do not like Saddam-I-am!
I must disarm him. That's my plan.
CBS is reporting -- nothing on the website yet -- that the American military has lost one helicopter over Iraq this morning. Thankfully, this was not an everybody-dies scenario: The helicopter was damaged (presumably due to Iraqi gunfire), and when the crew couldn't get it back off the ground, they went ahead and destroyed it themselves.
Entertainment Weekly has the scoop: A Los Angeles radio DJ impersonating Jerry Lewis got five minutes on the phone with Jacques Chirac. Here's Chirac to "Lewis," on why he doesn't back the war:
- "The resolution [Bush] wanted to send [to the United Nations] a few days ago says [Iraq] has one week before the attack, and that is not reasonable, you know... In fact, the United States has already won the war, because Saddam now accepts [sic] to be disarmed from the inspectors. They've won."
- ''I recognize your voice, no doubt about that."
If it wasn't for the color in his cheeks, I'd say he looks like a Rolling Stones roadie. As it is, he looks like he's headed to his grandson's soccer game.
Saddam has already lobbed a few Scuds in the direction of Kuwait, but so far, nothing in Israel. Is he holding back? Probably not -- what's more likely is that he cannot get his launchers in range. Not much has been said about this yet, but in addition to the raids over Baghdad last night, the US military also destroyed a refueling station 160 miles west of Iraq, alternately refered to as Post 160 or Area 160, near the border with Jordan. I saw this reported by Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan live via satellite linkup late last night, but it hasn't been picked up anywhere else yet. But I did find this article from last Friday's San Francisco Chronicle:
- On the 350 miles between the border and Baghdad, there are no other signs of military presence. At the only rest stop, with the somewhat eerie name of Area 160, travelers drink tea and shop at stalls selling Iraqi candy, dates and other fruit. Here, too, denial seems the norm -- or perhaps just a realization that this section of the Iraqi desert, with few inhabitants and no oil, has little worth conquering. "Nobody will fight us," says merchant Alim Al-Safi, with a big grin. "The Americans will never come here. Why would they?"
Lots of news overnight, but the most unexpected has to be Operation Valiant Strike, in the hills south of ... Kandahar?! Which war is this? For a few minutes there, Armed Prophet was half-convinced that Saddam would be killed and UBL captured on the very first night. Well, it wasn't to be. But I remain optimistic about both -- that is, unless they're both already dead.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
The last train across the river leaves soon, and without major news breaking right now, it's time to call it a night. But I'll be back here in just a matter of hours. As the cable guy said to me this afternoon, pray for our boys.
Okay, so I just swiped this picture from Drudge. But it reminds me of that famous picture of John F. Kennedy facing the Oval Office windows, resting his hands on a desk -- the president working under duress, the weight of the world on his shoulders. It might not become the classic that the Kennedy picture is, but it's a damn good photograph nonetheless.
Joe Lieberman just issued a statement to the effect that he is a Democrat and George Bush is a Republican, but right now there is no difference. Armed Prophet wishes that were so; it's too bad the Democratic leadership doesn't share that support for the administration. This also reminds me of something Sen. Joe Biden said on TV this afternoon: unlike Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who supports the troops but not the president, he supports them both. Meanwhile, Pelosi's right hand man, Rep. Steny Hoyer, disagrees with his boss. Can the Democrats find a common position? Unlikely. And the longer they equivocate, the more trouble they make for themselves.
Well, I think the "awe" part is working without the massive missile strikes -- witness the surrender of 17 Iraqi soldiers this afternoon already -- but right now it looks like the only missiles for tonight are hitting selected "Iraqi leadership" targets. Armed Prophet can't wait for the Qusay obit.
The US has taken Iraqi State Radio and is already broadcasting. Armed Prophet doesn't understand Arabic, but wants a simulcast anyway.
Believe it or not, but there is actually traffic on the streets of Baghdad right now -- in both directions at the intersection that one of Fox News' fixed cameras is focused on. On another day people might be headed to work, but why would you want to be on the street right now?
It was short, direct, to the point and well-delivered. George W. Bush looked happier than he has in months, didn't he? He almost cracked a smile just before he started talking. He said (all quotes approximate) the military has begun "striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Huseein's ability to wage war." The war will be a "sustained commitment," and he wisely cautioned that it "could be longer and more difficult than some predict."
And: "more than 35 countries are giving crucial support" to the effort. That's five more than the official count released this morning -- I wonder who the newest five are. Just more evidence that when the US acts decisively, we have allies.
Bush, speaking to the troops: "The peace of a troubled world and the hopes of an oppressed people now depend on you." More Bush: "We have no ambition in Iraq but to remove a threat and to restore" its people's freedom. And this great line: This will not be a campaign of half-measures and we will accept nothing short of full victory."
It's just after 10:00 PM in Washington, which makes it just after 6:00 AM in Baghdad.
So: from EST, add eight hours. From PST, add eleven. As for the rest, the math isn't too difficult.
I mean, really. The air raid sirens were first heard less than twenty minutes ago, and yet the AP already has already posted a full 900 words about it.
C-SPAN is broadcasting it right now. Unfortunately, it's from earlier in the day today (yesterday there), otherwise I'd tape what must be its final hours or minutes. Meanwhile, at least MSNBC and Fox News have both been picking up Al Jazeera feeds -- you can see the Arabic logo poking up from behind he peacock.
Almost two hours after the deadline passes, The first flashes of anti-aircraft fire are now visible in the early morning sky. Also, mixed reports about whether Ari Fleischer is going to be speaking later this evening. Developing...P.S. Well, that was fast. Fleischer was on and off in less than fifteen seconds. Armed Prophet didn't even catch what he said, but assumes it was something along the lines of "We are at war."
It's partly cloudy and the sky is starting to lighten, little by little. No green streaks across the sky just yet...
Blogger must be overloaded right now, because Armed Prophet can only get in every once in awhile. When I can get in, I'll be updating the links, reorganizing slightly and shifting into war mode.
MSNBC is back to commercials already -- first by a long shot, so far. Then again, MSNBC does need that ad revenue more than its rivals...
With less than four minutes to go, they're now showing commercials. Brilliant!
I suppose it's unlikely they will be running any commercials for the rest of the week -- CNN is definitely going commercial free once the shooting starts -- so they migh as well get them all out of the way now.
When the clock runs out in a few minutes, I'm going to run "WAR" as big as I can, a la Pearl Harbor. It might seem immature, but what the hell.
All indications are that the US is ready to roll tonight. Will President Bush speak from the Oval Office? No indications of that, however. Blogging will go on as long as there's news to be blogged.
The cable guy is coming to my apartment this afternoon -- sometime this afternoon, that is. How's that for a day when I'd rather be here at work, surrounded by more media than I know what to do with? If he comes early, the Prophet will return. But if it's late, I may still be on the other side of the river, away from an internet connection.
It could be bombs over Baghdad before the next post. If so, I'll see you on the other side.
Okay, nobody at the White House gets their strategy from Armed Prophet (that I know of) but a passage from Fareed Zakaria's mammoth Newsweek cover story/commentary "The Arrogant Empire" (not actually anti-American, despite the title -- Zakaria is anything but anti-American) got me thinking about the French, the Russians, and what the US should do about them. Here's what got me thinking:
- Though countries like France and Russia cannot become great-power competitors simply because they want to—they need economic and military strength—they can use what influence they have to disrupt American policy, as they are doing over Iraq. In fact, the less responsibility we give them, the more freedom smaller powers have to make American goals difficult to achieve.
Give Russia a lot of influence in Iraq -- which makes sense in any case; it's more or less within their sphere of influence, at least geographically -- and send France to the back of the line. How long will Russia's Igor Ivanov and France's Dominique de Villepin buddy around together after that? Meanwhile, I say go ahead and kick them off the Security Council or whatever replaces it. (Even Tom Friedman agrees with me on this last point.)
If Armed Prophet was a White House adviser, this is exactly what I'd be pitching. Does anybody out there know Condi Rice's e-mail address?
Phew. By now you surely know that Tony Blair survived the vote yesterday, and in the end, it wasn't even close. Yes, it was the largest revolt in the history of the Commons, yes more than a hundred members of his own party voted against him, but he held the majority of both parties for a decisive 412-149 overall tally. But in the New York Times today, the article concerning this doesn't actually mention that Blair won until the last sentence of the fourth paragraph:
- But antiwar legislators had been hoping for more than 150 votes this time, and the overall vote of 412 to 149 gave the government a majority of 263.
Yes, the headline gives it away -- "Blair Survives a Mutiny Over Joining U.S. in War" -- so there's no way somebody could miss the obvious, but for a "paper of record," the Times sure goes out of its way to favor one side over the other.
The four main Washington network affiliates have interrupted regular coverage to provide breaking news: The tractor standoff has ended. Without turning up the volume to listen to the police press conference, Armed Prophet is guessing he just got hungry.
Armed Prophet and fellow blogger Maxim Basa walked down the street yesterday to have a look. Unfortunately, Metro police had stretched tape around virtually half the Mall -- from the State Department almost to the Washington Monument. He was too far in for us to see, but an officer down along But there's the tractor on TV, half-in and half-out of the pond, green John Deere flying an American flag and what I guess must be North Carolina's flag, but looks a lot like Brazil's flag. Hmmm. Here's the AP's first take.
It depends on your definition, but you could say the war has already started:
- The first shots of the war have been fired, killing at least one Iraqi during a suspected operation to mine the waters off Kuwait.
But, as Mickey Kaus would say, he's "buried the lede."
Tom Friedman, as noted two posts prior to this one, supports the ouster of Saddam Hussein, but he has frequently and emphatically argued (as he does in today's column) that
- ...such a preventive war is so unprecedented and mammoth a task — taking over an entire country from a standing start and rebuilding it — that it had to be done with maximum UN legitimacy and with as many allies as possible.
- But here we are, going to war, basically alone, in the face of opposition, not so much from "the Arab Street," but from "the World Street." ... The president's view is that in the absence of a U.N. endorsement, this war will become "self-legitimating" when the world sees most Iraqis greet U.S. troops as liberators. I think there is a good chance that will play out.
- [W]e must bear any burden and pay any price to make Iraq into the sort of state that fair-minded people across the world will see and say: "You did good. You lived up to America's promise."