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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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4/05/2003

Peace at any Price: Dispair



Until yesterday, their enthusiasm for the invaders could have been interpreted as caution in the face of an unknown occupier. Yesterday there was no doubt: they knew Saddam was finished, and they were glad. For the first time, Iraqis could be seen mocking the images of President Saddam which hang at key points along the dusty roadside - Saddam the suited statesman, Saddam the Bedouin, Saddam the general. One youth picked up a stone and hurled it at a mural of the dictator. A larger than life statue of Saddam stood partly destroyed, only two legs and half the body still standing.

lin the guardian


Chirac and Chretien and the UN's worst nightmare....the Iraqis are delighted to be liberated.

Of course we will hear that the butcher's bill was too high. And that regardless of the delight of the people it is bad precedent to overthrow sitting regimes just, well, because.

The fact is that the coalition has done what George Bush promised - it has delivered vast swaths of Iraq from a vicious tyranny and the Iraqis are grateful.

Canada could have, and should have, been there. We were not. We know who to blame and we will.

Winning



I have been re-reading the columns of Mike Kelly killed tragically in Iraq. I had read most of them in the Atlantic and had always been struck by the clarity of his quotation. Here is how he ended his three part series on American airpower.
No nation before has possessed any force like this; no other nation possesses any force like it now, or any force capable of sustained defense against it. "Nothing has ever existed like this disparity of power; nothing," the historian Paul Kennedy observed after the battle of Afghanistan. "One hears the distant rustle of military plans and feasibility studies by general staffs across the globe being torn up and dropped into the dustbin of history."
link the atlantic

It is sad to think that he has not lived to see just how right he has been.

In case anyone forgets what the Allies were fighting



Hundreds of human remains were today discovered in a "makeshift morgue" by British soldiers in southern Iraq.

The skulls, bundles of bone in strips of military uniform, were dumped in plastic bags and unsealed hardboard coffins in an abandoned Iraqi military base on the outskirts of Al Zubayr.

link the independent


The British have come across what I suspect will be the first a several killing grounds of the Saddamites. Where it appears they killed their own.

The Fall of the UN



Along with Baghdad, the events on the ground have pretty much put paid to the UN as a force for anything other than international bureaucracy.

Suppose that we ignore the UN. Suppose that we run Iraq for a year or two with a military government. Suppose that we and the Brits and Aussies supervise the process of a gradual transition to civilian rule. Suppose that we operate the oil fields, and pump the oil into ships we control and haul the oil out and sell it on the world market, or sell it to ourselves at a fair market price, and take the money and use it to rebuild Iraq.

What in hell is the UN going to do about it? What I just described is not, in fact, physically impossible. It's entirely practical, especially when we military occupy Iraq after the war. If we tell the UN oil-for-food program to go get stuffed, then what?

If we don't even go to the UN for any kind of authorization, then what?

Well, they'll get angry. They'll denounce us. Europe will aim nuclear-scale scowls in our direction. They will issue calls for us to stop. We'll get daily or bi-daily press releases where they use increasingly emphatic language to describe how much they disagree with what we're doing.

The reason we know that is because it's what Germany and France and Russia have been doing in reaction to the war for the last two weeks. And as amazing as it may seem; it doesn't seem to be making any difference.

In actual fact, the only way they can stop us is by going to war against us, and they're not going to do that. If we are determined to take control of post-war Iraq and to run it and rebuild it without ceding to the UN, there's really nothing they can do to stop us.

There are occasional moments in history, identifiable instants, when a hell of a lot changes. One of those happened three weeks ago, when Bush and Blair decided that they were willing to fight the war without the UN.

A lot of people don't want to accept the fact that three weeks ago, "emerging international law" was revealed to be a hollow fiction. It does not have the power of the laws of physics; it was never really even as powerful as national law. International law only had power as long as it was respected by the powerful nations of the world. Now that two of the most powerful have clearly decided that it is corrupt and useless, it's dead.

And if we simply ignore it, and ignore all the criticism of us for doing so, then what?

link denbestea>

Which makes me wonder what influence Canada, after tying her flag so tightly to the French and United Nations halyards, will have in the world. Not much thanks to Our Lady Peace and the Prime Minister. Both should resign in shame.

Over!?



The reports coming in of US troops in the center of Baghdad, after what will have to rank as one of history's great marches, suggests the Iraqi regime is on the ropes. So do reports of the take over of one of the Republican Guard's divisions' HQ's without any real fight.

Still lots of room for irregulars and Baghdad is a big city. And Tikrit is not yet taken.

But the absence of organized ressitance suggests 1) the regime is on its last legs, 2) Shock and Awe may have worked a great deal better than first imagined, 3) The dire predictions of the anti-war left - quagmire, civilian slaughter - are unrealized. All would be great things.



4/04/2003

Cherry Popped



The CBC's on-line department was told a few days ago to erase the exchange between MacLean, the host of Hockey Night in Canada, and Cherry, the show's popular commentator. The CBC provides Webcast inventory of all 2002-03 Coach's Corner intermission shows, except the March 22 spot.

link globe and mail


As I predicted the CBC pulled the plug on the Don Cherry spiel on America.

Cowardly and dispicable...more to the point, how many hits did it get???

I suspect the CBC realized that Don has a lot of support in Canada and, being the morons they are, figured they had better pull Don before there was even more support.

CBC spokesperson Ruth-Ellen Soles said the segment was pulled because "the CBC feels Coach's Corner was an inappropriate forum for a discussion on the war and, therefore, we don't think the Coach's Corner Web site is an appropriate place for it, either."


It astonishes me that whenever right thinking people do a dirty they cite appropriateness. What an entirely vacuous concept. Nothing which Cherry says is supposed to be appropriate. He is there to entertain and that's what he does. The rot in the CBC is terminal.


About those dying children



Meanwhile, north-west of Safwan in Al Zubayr, British troops found thousands of boxes of medical supplies hidden by Saddam’s regime.

The tyrant claimed for years that sick children were dying in hospitals from a lack of medicines because of tough UN sanctions against Iraq.

But yesterday soldiers of the 1st Battalion Black Watch exposed his lies after raiding a Ba’ath Party HQ.

They found enough medicine for 10,000 kids, including vital antibiotics and pneumonia and tapeworm treatments, in a locked storeroom.

The supplies have now been handed to Army doctors to treat local patients properly for the first time in months.

link the sun

The thugs who ran Iraq insisted that one of the effects of the UN sanctions was the needless death of thousands of children. It was a cry taken up by the left before the war even began. Numbers like 500,000 dead children were bandied about. The Saddamites held mass baby funerals every few months, storing the corpses for dramatic effect.

It seems the dead babies were a tactical decision. The shortage of medicines may well have been created by hoards like this one.

There's Brass in Muck



Media columnist Matt Drudge is getting $3,500 a day for churning out his snippets, leaks and gossip about media people and their foibles.

According to Business 2.0's Web site, "Pound for pound . . . the biggest, richest media mogul on the Web" is the minimalist media maven Drudge.

link new york post

That is a hell of a lot of money for readding the news a little early and taking tips from doubtful sources. But Drudge is often there first. Good on him.

Clear now?



"Let there be no mistake . . . as to the sympathies of
Canadians and their government at this time," Manley told the House of
Commons.


"Our friends are at war. Our friends are putting lives on the line for
their beliefs.


"I want it understood with absolute clarity that Canada stands with its
friends, even if we cannot engage with them in this conflict.


"We mourn the losses of their sons and daughters in war; we pray with
them for a swift end to the conflict - and, yes, for a swift victory."

canadian press


This is Deputy Prime Minister John Manley speaking in the Commons. Apparently the backlash against the Liberal government's anti-American position is inspiring a bit of rhetoric. But the essential incoherence of the Liberal position is summed up by Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said the government is talking out
of both sides of its mouth:

"They're saying one thing and the other. It's plain nonsense. If we're
against the war, we're against the war - period."



Which is it? Well, with a little luck the war will be over by the time the Liberals have figured it out.

What Canada Lost



"The Prime Minister is a lame duck. So that may help explain the failure to appreciate the disappointment that would be caused not only by the Canadian government policy on Iraq, but by the cacophony of criticism ? much of it ill-informed and much of it simply name-calling," he said.

"There is simply no other way to describe the positions of some countries ? not many, but some countries ? which is to lend far more support to Saddam Hussein's regime than they may have intended by the positions they have taken."
link toronto star

There is not much to add save to say that Perle has more influence on and information about American foreign and defence policy than any other non-governmental official.

Chretien must go. Quickly.

4/03/2003

War Games



Only in the world of Blog, with its links to source,could Andrew Sullivan show so conclusively and so consisely how a misquote can be spun.

The bullet:

Lt. General William Wallace in the New York Times of March 28
says:

"The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against, because of these paramilitary forces," General Wallace said. "We knew they were here, but we did not know how they would fight."



as opposed to what the Washington Post quoted General Walace as saying,

"The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters here in central Iraq.



Guess which quote the war pesimists spun. That is before they decided that the war was a bad idea because the Americans were slaughtering the Iraqis who kept attacking them on the way to Baghdad.

Polly-Anna



There is one streak of hope on the grey horizon, though Blair may not see it that way. There is a chance now that the shock of schism may shake Europe into a new unity. All Europe, Britain included, is agreed that Iraqi reconstruction must be done under UN auspices - and that means what it says. This unity of purpose offers Britain's best chance to get back inside a newly purposeful Europe, with its own progressive mission as upholders of multinationalism and international law. link the guardian



As if. What Polly Toynbee and her ilk don't realize is that the "Old Europe" will be given nothing by a very angry Bush administration. Moreover, while Blair may very well have to invoke the talisman of the United Nations, he does so for the benefit of Clare Short and the other Wets in the Labour Party. He is far too intelligent to imagine that the Americans will allow the French or the Russians a hand in the reconstruction of Iraq. Not from greed; rather because the French, German and Russian behaviour in the run up to the war has demonstrated they are not to be trusted.

That all of Europe believes that the reconstruction of Iraq - and looking at the satellite photos that may be limited to humanitarian aid if everyone decides the Presidential Palaces are better left unrebuilt - is somehow a divine UN mandate they are simply deluded. The UN has proven itself utterly ineffective - why should it be involved in post war Iraq? And what will happen if it isn't. A second invasion to toss out the Americans. I think not.

Back



Just spent two days moving....

Which went like most moves, slower and more expensive than anticipated.

What was interesting was how quickly the world changes if you are not checking Google News every hour or so. When last I looked the Americans were 50-60 miles from Baghdad...now they control the main airport.

It is just possible that the War will take more than the optimists' six days and less than the realists' few months. The one thing it certainly isn't is a quagmire.

4/01/2003

The Cherry hits the fan



He also reiterated his frustration over Montreal Canadiens' fans booing the U.S. national anthem at a recent game against the New York Islanders.

"It's just a damn shame they had to boo the Star Spangled Banner in Quebec," said Cherry.

"You have to realize it's Quebec and it's French Canadians.

"I wish everybody could have seen the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens here in English Canada when they were singing the Star Spangled Banner. Everybody was cheering and hollering and there was American flags all over."

Cherry said he hopes Americans understand most Canadians are not anti- American.
link canadian press

Now this is going to be interesting. If our friends in the Bloc Quebecois pick this story up Don Cherry is going to explode a bomb under the CBC which has been ticking for years.

Officially, the CBC as a good arm of the Canadian government is more catholic than the Pope when it comes to telling Anglo-Canadians that any anti-French comment is bigotry. Well Grapes really nails that bigot thing...

"The true Canadians do not feel the way they do in Quebec there," he said.


True Canadians....The already tightened sphincters of the CBC brass will simply split at this. This is heresy.

The trouble is that Don is about the only real star the CBC has managed to create in the last 50 years of government run broadcasting. So what do they do? Questions in Parliament, the great and the good blathering on about how awful it is to ever suggest that French Canadians are anything less than true Canadians. And then the great, silent,. hockey loving majority of English Canadians will dig their oar in.

The best thing the rally organizers in Toronto could do is to convince Don Cherry to announce he was going to make a speech. From maybe 10,000 potential attendees, the rally would go into numbers which would actually matter to Ottawa. Which, of course, would ensure that the CBC would have to, well, fire Grapes and then, and then there would be real trouble.

Which would do this country a lot of good.

3/31/2003


For Iraqis, the fact that the disaster struck at Shula was filled with ironies. Dating from the 1960's, the district began as a shantytown for migrants coming north to Baghdad from cities like Kut and Nasiriya, in the poverty-stricken area of southern Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, known as Mesopotamia in the ancient world, where American troops have been hung up in the fighting of the past week.

Almost all of Shula's resident are Shiites, the majority group in Iraq, but mostly poor and mostly deeply alienated from Mr. Hussein's government, which is dominated by the Sunni Muslim minority. American planning for the war assumed strong support from Iraqi Shiites, who have been particular victims of the repression of the last 30 years of Baath Party rule. link new york times


While Tim Blair
a> has been banging away at Robert Fisk's fortuitous discovery of a traceable missile casing at the scene of one of the two marketplace blasts in Baghdad, no one in BlogLand seems to have noticed who was blown up.

Shiites. That's who. So if Iraqi intelligence wanted to blow some civilian up to make up for the precision of the GPS guided bombs, where would they do it. Well they have tons of experience murdering Shiites. And finding a fragment of an earlier attack would not have been too difficult.

Elie Wiesel sums Up



Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a man who is intimately familiar with the horrors of war: "What it comes down to is this: We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control. Today, that place is Iraq." link national post

Patron Saint of Artillery



Several members of the predominantly Catholic unit say it was their rosaries that saved them in battle. An artillery gunner credited Saint Barbara, the artillery's patron saint, with providing divine assistance during the fight.
link canada.com

Who knew?

War Stories



With all of the embedded journalists and assorted "battle cameras" it would be interesting and important to have photos and, ideally, video of this:

-- Soldiers said they saw pickup trucks with children interspersed among Saddam's Fedayeen fighters in Hindiyah before the attack began.
link canada.com

Aussi Operational Security Breached



I don't think I'd like to be covering the Aussie SAS

samizdata has the story.

(Via Tim Blair)


3/30/2003

Perspective



So on the absolute scale of "combat effects on moving columns" you have at one extreme us moving our columns 300 miles in five days, taking essentially no damage while doing so, and at the other extreme you have Iraq trying to move columns and losing them to our air power. Clearly we're doing a lot better than they are, on an absolute basis.

But that's not how the press is covering it. In part that's because many of the embedded reporters who have witnessed some of the small actions which have taken place have been awed by their first exposure to the reality of war, they have also over-interpreted the scale and significance of it. When they see a platoon of Marines engage in a small battle against a handful of Fedayeen, and see an American die and several get wounded, they talk about it as if it were "heavy resistance" and "a major battle" and so on. It's an example of misleading vividness combined with a total lack of understanding of just how big battles can actually be. What the reporter sees with his own eyes looms very large, especially when he doesn't really have anything to which to compare it for scale.

None of the reporters have been present in one of the Iraqi columns which caught the attention of our air power or artillery, in order to see what it's really like to be on the receiving end of "heavy resistance", or to witness the results of a true military catastrophe. (And lucky for them, too, because they'd be unlikely to be around to report the results afterward.)

link denbeste

This is the sort of intelligent, well written and better thought out commentary which is very tough to find in newspapers and impossible to find on television. Ane there is lots more of it in the blogoshere.

The Globe Almost Gets It



"I think that sort of clarity of voice and immediacy is more possible on Web logs than in any print media," says Dean Allen of textism.com. "I can't think of another broadcast medium that has such a potential for directness. Someone reporting live from the battlefield for CNN can't come close: As impressive as it can be, the reporter is still speaking though an editorial, journalistic gauze."
link globe and mail

Part of the appeal of getting war news - or any other news - through the blogs is that there are no editors. No house style and no requirement for the newspaper or television station's editorial policy to be relentlessly inflicted on the reader.

One of the key things which makes blogging possible is that the mainstream media posts its material for free on the net. The wire services are there for all. Given that an awful lot of the so-called war reporting which makes it into papers like the Globe and Mail is nothing more than warmed over wire service copy, a blogger can be just as acute as Marcus Gee or John Ibbitson.

But the other thing which is critical is that you can go as deep as you want with the news. If I want to find out where the 82 Airborne is I can dig for half an hour and get the answer. With papers and even more with television, there is no capacity to dig.

Colby Cosh
quotes Allemang's article saying
No newspaper editor or TV producer would ever allow Mr. Rolston's work near a general reader or viewer, for fear of taxing or boring them.


which is, no doubt true. And it is the reason why, fairly quickly, the computer savvy elites will rely less and less on newspapers and not at all on the incredibly slow world of television for their information.

Bad, but not Horrendous



In addition, she said, the infectious agent might survive on inanimate objects, such as tabletops, infecting others that way. She added that the death rate for SARS is relatively low. About 3.5 per cent of people who get the disease die from it. The rest recover, usually within about seven days, she said.

"If there’s any good news about SARS right now, it’s that the majority of patients do appear to recover, and the death rate is lower than what we see with influenza epidemics," she said. The CDCP extended its travel advisory for SARS on Saturday to include all of mainland China as well as Hong Kong, Hanoi in Vietnam, and Singapore. link the scotsman


This is slightly heatening news...

In this deadly game of cat and mouse, the sniper rules



Then they were running towards the houses, all thoughts of cover forgotten, racing towards the doorway into which their quarry had vanished. In the lead was Corporal ‘Pedro’ Laing, rifle in hand. He reached the door and never paused, raising his boot and kicking hard against the woodwork, sending it flying open.

Inside an old man looked up, startled, to find himself grabbed roughly and thrown out of the doorway into the street, past Cpl Harvey and Lance Corporal Scott ‘Robbo’ Robertson, the pair hot on Pedro’s heels.

Inside the building was a militiaman, who pulled the pin from his grenade and hurled it at Pedro’s head. The corporal ducked and the grenade flew over his head, exploding in the street outside.

The shrapnel whizzed past his colleagues outside, and fragments hit Robbo at the top of his legs. As Pedro got back to his feet, he looked up to see that the man in front of him had snatched up his AK47.

As he hit the ground again, a burst of bullets whistled over his head. On his feet once more, he saw that the man had now grabbed the RPG launcher and down he went again, diving out of the doorway.

The rocket missed him by inches, hitting the embankment on the opposite side of the street. The explosion sent Cpl harp somersaulting over the mound of sandy soil, landing heavily on the other side.

Jumping up, he fired one shot at the man now standing in the doorway and, as the soldiers would say, ‘slotted’ him with a single round from his sniper’s rifle from 20 metres. The man was killed instantly.
link the scotsman


First of all this is a wonderful piece of war reporting. If there was more of this and less speculative, arm chair strategizing, the public would have a much better sense of what was actually going on in Iraq. (I find that The Scotsman is one of the consistently best sources for war news around.)

Second, it makes the argument for the deployment of Canada's snipers far better than anything I have read so far. The militias are going to have to be taken down one man at a time and that is going to require a lot of well trained snipers. Of course the alternative is to indiscriminately shoot at suspicious targets and thereby kill lots of innocent civilians.

A really good sniper, and Canada has some of the best in the world, saves lives - on his own side and those of civilians.