Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise
-- Golden Gate Bridge at dawn. By Dennis Callahan.

RANDOM JOTTINGS a weblog by John Weidner

Main Page Archive

Natalie Solent
Dave Trowbridge
Betsy Newmark
Bill Quick
Suman Palit
Moira Breen
Andrea Harris
Richard Bennett
Iain Murray
Joanne Jacobs
Craig Schamp
Dean Esmay
Brothers Judd
Doctor Frank
Rand Simberg
Punning Pundit
Right Wing News
Brian Tiemann
Henry Hanks

Iraqi Democracy graphic

Powered by Blogger Pro™

Index to Krugman posts

Index to World War One posts


Friday, April 18, 2003

Water in a desert ...

iraqi girl runs to water truck

A young Iraqi female rushes to meet a water truck brought to
her village by the 486th Civil Affairs Company, from Broken Arrow, OK
Photo by: Staff Sergeant Quinton T. Burris, 1ST Combat Camera. (link here)

I grabbed this picture because it's cute, but also because the caption, which I copied, has a bit of PC language which I've seen before, and find fascinating for its loopiness. It can be, (but isn't always) insulting to describe a grown woman as a girl. This kid is, in fact, a girl. Really. There's nothing wrong with that, and no need to describe her as "a young Iraqi female!"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Time and tide ...

Don't miss this article on the late, great Mesopotamian marshes, A dream of restoring Iraq's great marshes
...Located at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers near Basra, this vast watery substrate sprawled over 20,000 square kilometers, providing sustenance and shelter for a wide array of wildlife. They were also home to 200,000 "ma'dan," or marsh Arabs, a group of hunters and fishermen who trace their habitation of the region back five millennia.

The marsh Arabs lived in singular harmony with their watery environment, building elegant boats and elaborate houses out of reeds.

But Hussein considered the swamps a haven for Shiite opponents of his regime. So in the mid-1990s, he drained the marshes, broadcast pesticides to kill the fish and wildlife, and attacked the villages of the ma'dan. Today, the once verdant network of reed beds and waterways is mostly a sere and lifeless plain.

"It is just another example of the complete ruthlessness of the regime," said Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi exile and civil engineer. He is also a leading advocate for restoration of the marshes, and sits on the board of the Iraq Foundation, a nonprofit nongovernmental organization "working for democracy and human rights" in Iraq.

"Everyone is harping about Saddam's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction," said Alwash, "but here he used water as a mass destruction weapon. He used it to destroy a culture that has lasted 5,000 years. And I'm afraid it has made me somewhat cynical that the international community stood by and did nothing while it was happening."
Ah, the international community. Remind me to explain some things to you some time soon, Azzam...
The marshes were an integral part of the Iraqi culture and collective psyche, said Alwash, and their loss is an emotional blow that is hard for outsiders to understand...
I hope things get moving on this. Restoration looks difficult but not impossible.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

A treat ...

We had dinner last night with Peter Pribik and Dave Trowbridge. Good food by Charlene, & lots of good talk. One topic that made me think; Dave spoke eloquently about our political system of checks and balances, and how it was necessary for our own good to have something like it in the International realm, and that therefore we should take infinite pains to preserve even a flawed International Order (which he boldly traced back to the Peace of Westphalia,) and how Buffalo Bush had now crushed the delicate mechanism under the heel of his...well actually Dave didn't say that last part...just teasin'.

Then Peter, a Czech, pointed out how extremely American this line of thought was. It's true! Even I, though very skeptical of International hocus-pocus, think it perfectly obvious that we would be better off with some reasonable feedback and restraint on any tendency we might have to rule the world for its own good. Perhaps people in other countries talk like this, but I haven't heard of it. I'm sure the French don't, though they would love to see us fettered. And what other country has ever asked the UN for permission to go to war? And we more-or-less invented the UN and the League. I suspect Americans instinctively feel a void, and will continue to try to fill it, though I really don't expect to see it filled soon.

I think Dave was being a wee bit unfair complaining about how badly the War was 'sold' by the administration, since much of the incoherence was caused by our trying to work with the very international community he values...for instance our pretending to be merely enforcing the will of the UN.

I think the real source of fuzziness is that we are acting out of cold-blooded logic. That's REALLY taboo. Imagine being in a situation where you have to kill 10 people to save a thousand. You can expect the world to call you a heartless brute and monster; and self-righteous Belgians will hurry to put you in the dock. You would be wise to blur the issue as much as you can.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

My wife the lawyer just loved this ...

From the Volokh Conspiracy, sung to the tune of the Turtles' classic "Happy Together":
Imagine me as God, I do
I think about it day and night
It feels so right
to be a federal district judge,
and know that i'm

appointed forever

I was anointed by
the president
and revelation told him I
was heaven-sent
And congress in their wisdom gran-
ted their consent

Appointed Forever...
there's more...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

P. Krugman
#90: Satanic Gasses!

There are few issues that bond our bi-coastal enclaves of liberal elites more than the need to control the satanic greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles and American industry. Exploiting these bonds to get a column on the cheap is a tried and true Paul Krugman tactic. He does it again today in Rejecting the World (04/18/03). The chattering classes love to hear about global warming and if Bush-bashing over unilateralism can be included so much the better. Best of all, no substance is required.

If Krugman wanted to deal with the substantive issues raised by this topic he would start by answering the following questions:

How do the reductions in GDP and employment that would result from greenhouse gas emission roll backs square with his professed interest in boosting economic performance and employment?

How could he justify an international agreement on emission reductions that exempts the two largest and fastest growing countries–India and China?

How can the Bush position on emissions be branded unilateralist when the Kyoto treaty was rejected by the U.S. Senate during the Clinton administration 99-0?
We would love to know his answers, but we'll never hear them

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]

Thursday, April 17, 2003

I'm the real anti-war guy ...

It just now occurs to me to re-state, though I would think it obvious, that I'm a hawk on Iraq and the war on terror precisely because I think toughness now will prevent future wars, wars that would quite possibly be much worse than this one.

And if I am sometimes bitter when writing about the anti-war crowd, it is because I think they are pushing policies perfectly designed to foment future wars. (And also to keep horrors like the N Korean gulag in good health.)

Furthermore, I believe THEY CAUSED THIS WAR! The same general group, with the same policies, have been behind the repeated appeasements that have placed us in this mess. Every weak response to terrorism (remember, about 1,000 Americans were killed by terrorists before 9/11), and to the crimes of terror-supporting states, made this war more likely. (And one of the worst mistakes was by my party, leaving Saddam in power in '91.)

* (Do you think I use too many parentheses? They seem to proliferate on their own whenever I touch the keyboard..[It's because you never learned to think clearly--ed.])
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Costs of the War ...

I just read an interesting post by Daniel Drezner, Does victory in Iraq defeat the anti-war arguments? and a rebuttal on some points by Larry Magitti, who seems like a very reasonable anti-war voice.

I was struck by the subject of costs of the war, especially costs after the fighting ends, I have no facts to add -- those guys certainly know a lot more than I do. But some questions immediately pop into mind.

Do the various cost estimates subtract the cost of containment? We were spending a lot just because Saddam was a threat. I once read an estimate of 19 Billion a year, though I don't remember where that was. How about the cost of forces we will no longer need in Arabia and Kuwait? Also I assume we will obtain some bases in Iraq on long-term lease, and will no longer be dependent on places like Qattar. That's got to be worth something. Also, not basing troops in Arabia will remove one of Al Queda's biggest gripes. That should be worth $.

And Iraq has money, or will have as oil starts flowing. (Plus that 40 billion in the greedy paws of the UN.) Obviously Iraq will be paying much of the cost of rebuilding itself. But how much? Everyone seems very vague on that.

And the cheaper oil that will result from lifting sanctions will affect every economic calculation in the world. We will be affected directly, because most American businesses will have higher profits, leading to higher tax revenues. More importantly, every country that doesn't produce oil will now be richer. They will have more money to buy our chips and airplanes and films... And a great many countries that we worry about and send aid to will be in better shape.

And to get into even more-incalculable areas, what is is worth to have countries like North Korea suddenly be noticeably more reasonable and accommodating? What would we have been willing to pay for that, if we could buy it in a marketplace? Actually, we have a clue about what we would pay, because we were paying. Weren't we giving them fuel oil, or aid, or something, in return for not developing nukes?

And since I'm thinking of that imaginary marketplace, what would we have been willing to pay for Saddam to stop handing out rewards to terrorists? He was paying $25,000 for killing similar payments to Abu Saayaffor killing Filipinos (and some Americans) god-knows-what other terror subsidies and training... I'll guess we would have gladly paid 10 or 20 billion.

And since I'm ascending into giddy and unquantifiable heights of what if, how about this: Modern military theory emphasizes the advantages of mobility, intelligence-gathering, and rapid decision-making over massive traditional armies. Those are exactly the reforms that Donald Rumsfeld has been trying to push onto a reluctant Pentagon. (When our forces bogged-down for a few days in Iraq, certain people had miraculous Damascene conversions to favoring large military budgets, and reviled him for "waging war on the cheap to win elections." Actually, a smaller yet more potent military was his theme long before 9/11.) SO, now he has been triumphantly vindicated. His plans to do things like shrink the Army from 10 divisions to 8 are now more likely to happen. Imagine the savings if that works!

I wouldn't be surprised if, over the long run, this war (or rather, this battle in the War on the Terrorists) will have a negative cost...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Maybe looking a little more like an inside job?

Frank Vannerson writes: I noticed this at the very end of an NYT article today on 'looting' the Baghdad Museum
In one possibly encouraging sign, several people in the Al Awi neighborhood that surrounds the museum said they did not see looters leave with any antiquities, even amid gun battles and looting that lasted two days.

An imam who lives behind the museum said he stood outside the museum for several hours on the first day of the looting, begging them to stop. "I kept reminding them that this is their country and it was against Islam to steal," said the imam, who asked not to be identified.

But he said the only items from the collection he saw stolen were several old rifles. Mostly, he said, he saw looters take chairs, typewriters, ceiling lamp fixtures and other items from the museum's offices, as happened at nearly every other government office in the capital.

Abed El Rahman, a museum security guard who lives on the premises, also said that rifles were the only items he saw stolen from the collections. "But many people were carrying boxes," he said. "I don't know what was in the boxes."

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

give 'em an earful ...

Donald Rumsfeld: To the Iraqi people, let me say this: There are a lot of reporters embedded with coalition forces in your country. The reporters should be interested and willing to listen. This is your opportunity to tell them your stories so that history properly records the viciousness, the brutality of that regime, and so that history is not repeated. To the free reporters and journalists in Iraq, this is your opportunity to listen and report. It is an historic opportunity for journalists. This is also true for Iraqis here in America, who can now speak freely to the press without concern about their families and friends still in Iraq.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

More nightmares for the left ...

(from Straits Times)The Marines found 123 prisoners, including five women, barely alive in an underground warren of cells and torture chambers...
Uh, tell us again how the UN was going to deal with Saddam?
Curses be upon that Donald Rumsfeld, for hurrying to war "on the cheap," and leaving our troops in "dire straits."
(From Arab News)BAGHDAD, 16 April 2003 — On Yasser Arafat Street, one of Baghdad’s busiest shopping areas, the shops are open and shopkeepers are scrubbing the street and sidewalks outside them. Fruit and vegetable markets are bustling, and families are out promenading with smiles on their faces.

The local barbers, too, are open for business and Arab News walked in on Mohammed Al-Sa’ali, who was enjoying his first haircut since the war started.

“I’m getting my haircut to celebrate Saddam’s demise and the beginning of a new era,” he declared.

Ironically, a picture of the former Iraqi dictator was still hanging on the wall a few meters away from him.

In the Abu Ghorab district on the outskirts of Baghdad, the mother of all flea markets has been set up, and those who looted the capital’s government and other buildings are selling their booty — cigarettes, furniture, sportswear lingerie — at knockdown prices. Nike sneakers were being sold for $2.
My guess is that they re-name that street...My suggestion: The person who started the US on the policy of promoting democracy in brown-skinnned counties, ignoring the sneers of intellectuals and the opposition of the State Department? Ronald Reagan. His success in Latin America (Notice, no more dictators there? Well, one) is the background, the underpinning, for the crazy notion of promoting democracy in the Middle East...

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I feel much better ...

If you were a bit bothered, as I was, by the NYT criticism of Bush for returning the salutes of soldiers, please read this post (and comments), by Bill Quick. I myself am quite satisfied that the President may return salutes even though he is not in uniform. (Sorry, Mr Prime Minister, you can't.)

The authority cited is one to which I think we owe the utmost respect, though I suspect that NYT writers would recoil with a snarl and fling their capes up in front of them, rather as if one had brandished a cross at them.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

P. Krugman
#89: Sputtering Economist.

We're loving this. When Paul Krugman gets enraged, REALLY enraged, he begins the journalistic equivalent of sputtering. In Behind Our Backs (04/15/03) there is so much sputtering we had to hold the paper at arm's length. The problem seems to be that a fundamental liberal fairy tale is coming unglued before his very eyes and Krugman is frantically trying to hold it together.

The fairy tale is that the common man, simpleton that he is, needs an ever-growing array of expensive social programs (designed, of course, by all-knowing liberals) to make it through life. Even though the common man is not very smart, he is smart enough, so the fairy tale goes, to know when he's better off and will therefore vote for those who provide for him.

But now there's trouble in paradise! According to Krugman, the Bush administration is using its war-based popularity to promote its domestic agenda of tax cuts for the rich, spending cuts on programs for the poor and middle class, a growing budget deficit and, in general, threatening the foundations of the fairy tale. Krugman implies that this is dirty pool and can barely conceal his disgust at the public for not sharing his brilliant insights and seeing through the administration's game plan. He concludes that "someday the public will figure all this out. But it may be a very long wait."

We think Krugman has it exactly backwards. The public is already well on the way to figuring it out. It is Krugman we are waiting on. Simply put, what the public is figuring out is that the fairy tale does not work for them. As a result, the Democrats are losing their long held position as majority party.

As one illustration of the Democrats' plight consider the crucial block of voters composed of political independents with incomes in the $80,000 to $120,000 range, usually cobbled together by two wage earners. These people are in the income bracket that get absolutely hammered by our current tax system. They get hit from every direction. They are mostly in the top tax bracket and therefore deemed to be "rich", they pay a full load of payroll taxes and they are not eligible for any goodies from the liberal gravy train such as educational subsidies or earned income tax credits. Even worse, they can never get a tax cut under the liberal fairy tale scenario. There are too many of them and the revenue they generate is crucial to financing more government spending and entitlement programs. For years the Democrats have tried to convince such groups that when they talk about taxing the rich, they DON'T mean them. And when they promote the benefits of more social spending, they DO mean them. Both claims are false and with every election more and more swing voters are leaving the Democrats.

Someday Krugman will figure all this out.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Looting ...

Dave Trowbridge has a post on the Iraqi National Museum. My thoughts:

To the extent that we are responsible for the looting of the museum, we deserve harsh criticism. (And I'm very upset about it myself.)

But pardon me if I'm not hugely impressed by leftists like Teresa Nielsen Hayden suddenly denouncing the US for not using overwhelming military power! Especially at the same time Nancy P is claiming we could have "toppled that statue" much more cheaply, and Democrat candidates are shedding crocodile tears over the cost of the war.

And there are stories surfacing now that most of the looting was done by Ba'athist officials making one last haul. Let me PREDICT: if those stories turn out to be true, all this "passion" abut the museum will evaporate like the dew. Just as there were no "passionate" denunciations when Saddam's regime placed military equipment in antiquities sites, (and mosques, and schools and hospitals) knowing we wouldn't bomb them. (And no praise for the US Forces that spared them.)

And assembling a larger force requires more time. Taking more time means more women raped, more children tortured to extract confessions from their parents. Is that what TNH is advocating? Alternatively, we could have gained more time if we had skipped the whole United Nations farce. Is that what TNH is for?

And the criticisms about "fighting a war on the cheap" are absolute rubbish. A mish-mash of unscrupulous lies. General Franks was happy with the plan, we won decisively in 3 weeks, the predicted disasters were avoided, and the problems that arose were quickly surmounted! Our troops were not in "dire straits," and the one convoy destroyed would have gone through like all the others if it hadn't taken a wrong turn. And our success was despite the lack of one planned-for division! And a single squad could have protected that museum. We screwed up there, (possibly) but the way the criticism morphs into a denunciation of Rumsfeld and the administration shows where the passion is really coming from.

And if we had sent twice as many soldiers, and something had gone wrong (and something always goes wrong), the same people would gleefully denounce our ponderous and old-fashioned tactics, and sneer about "overkill."

We're suddenly getting way too much opportunistic hand-wringing about looting (which has mostly stopped), much of it from people who were perfectly content to let Abu Ghurayb Prison stay in business indefinitely. I'm not impressed with their priorities...and the thought that certain people are publishers, and can poison the future with such falsehoods is not pretty.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

gold-plated MP-5 submachine gun
I think bad taste justifies Regime-Change...
U.S. Army soldiers and a translator inspect
a gold-plated German-made MP-5 submachine gun
uncovered in a Baghdad arms cache, April 13, 2003.

Paul Jaminet

...writing about this essay by Terrence Moore, writes:
...The founders' remedy for the risk that an army might turn into a Praetorian Guard was to empower a citizens' militia. Perhaps we need a citizens' intelligentsia.

I don't know how to implement a citizens' intelligentsia, but I suggest the following reform, which would at least make the intelligentsia accountable to the citizenry. The federal government currently allocates over $100 billion annually to academic research and tuition subsidies -- nearly $1000 per taxpayer. Eliminate this spending and instead allow each taxpayer a $1000 credit for contributions to academic research or scholarships. The contributions would have to be made to registered charities subject to whatever regulations Congress chose to impose, presumably similar to current restrictions on federally funded research and tuition aid.

This scheme would give the American people power to direct money toward institutions that they believe are doing good. It would tend to direct funds away from institutions dominated by de Genova's. It would bring a measure of accountability to the professoriate. It would remove the economic basis for academia's pro-big-government bias. With a much wider variety of money dispensers, new and original voices would find support easier to obtain. All in all, this reform would, I believe, bring to academia the kind of vitality that the blogosphere has begun to bring to the media.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Natalie Solent

...has written a post on why our present multiculturalism is both "amoral and utopian."
...Trying to love a crowd is impossible. No one man can begin to know them all, yet alone know them well enough to love. One can and should, of course, have goodwill towards the crowd. And as time goes by a person who was once in the crowd can become better known, better liked, until, perhaps, that person becomes loved and loves in return. But note that there is no way to reach get inside the circle except by a process of choice and assessment, of admiring this and disliking that. You don't pick your closest friends at random. You don't pick your husband at random.

It is a sham to detatch one aspect of mature love, its reluctance to say that A is loved more than B, and and try and bolt it on to something way short of love, mere goodwill. Worse than that it is a barrier to friendship; if you are forbidden to assess you can never get through the middle stage of wishing to know a person better.

As for people, so for cultures. We dream of a utopia where all the world's cultures will be cherished equally. It is impossible. It's like trying to love the crowd. But a person, and a culture, is the richer for having loved one or two others well.
And I hadn't encountered that great Churchill quote, on Lenin's sympathies being: "...cold and wide as the Arctic Ocean, his hatreds tight as the hangman's noose..."

Monday, April 14, 2003

Thank you God, for many blessings ...

Life can often be fretful and annoying, and I was feeling a bit that way just now, and Charlene said, "There are a lot of things we can be thankful for..." (Yeah, sure, thinks I, of course, of course, ho hum.) " of them is that Al Gore is not President."

Suddenly, life seemed good, and well worth living...

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Iraq, a nation the size of California...

Andrew writes:
...A little judicious research (the Harper Encyclopedia of Military History is useful for such things) turns up that California was conquered [from Mexico] in only 20 days; one less than it took to conquer all of Iraq. President Polk sent a smaller amount of troops into California than Bush sent into Iraq, and given the way military force has multiplied, the actual amount of firepower Polk sent in was miniscule by comparison...

Until I learned this, I thought that perhaps we had done well in Iraq. But given the historical parallels it becomes clear; Bush has failed to do well in Iraq. Polk in 2004

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Life, Liberty and Property...

"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. --John Adams
(Borrowed from the Federalist Newsletter)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

It's raining and raining ...

April, April,
laugh thy girlish laughter;
Then, the moment after,
weep thy girlish tears!

-- William Watson

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Something I just noticed ...

The New Criterion has a weblog, called Armavirumque. (Isn't that the goop Australians like to eat on toast?) They even have me on their blogroll! (My excitement is tempered by a hunch bordering on a certainty that they just copied Glenn Reynolds' blogroll into their template...) I thought this was pretty funny...
As president of our university, I am proud to announce that we have extended a formal invitation to Iraq's President, the Honorable Saddam Hussein, to occupy the newly endowed Jimmy Carter Chair in Appeasement Studies.

We believe that President Hussein will feel quite at home at our school. Most of our liberal arts professors share Professor Hussein's views of America, and very few, if any, support America's racist, imperialist, hegemonic, capitalist, non-U.N.-sanctioned attack on his country...

... I am also pleased to note that our women's studies professors and the many others concerned with women's equality are particularly pleased to welcome President Hussein. Though we are aware of reports of widespread rape and torture of women by the officials of the Iraqi government, our university affirms, as do all other great American universities, multi-culturalism. And as multi-culturalists, we believe that judging other cultures is a reactionary anachronism, again emanating from America's outdated Judeo-Christian perspective. Our feminist scholars have reminded me that what matters is that Saddam Hussein is pro-choice, and the university can surely use another pro-choice voice at a time when a woman's unfettered right to a third-trimester abortion is under attack by a sexist American government. ..

...Indeed, the only obstacle is that President Hussein smokes cigars, and perhaps even cigarettes. Needless to say, our university cannot offer its students a professorial model who publicly smokes. While our professors and students have long defended Communist, Arab, and other anti-American dictators, the university community draws a firm line at smokers. Negotiations with President Hussein's staff concerning this matter are taking place at this very moment...

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Two interesting morsels from US

With little fanfare, the administration is tapping every cabinet department to help Baghdad get back to business. We learn, for example, that Justice will help set up courts, Treasury will build a banking system and even design a new currency, and Commerce will develop trade plans. The administration is also staffing a military governor's office and has begun asking top cabinet press officers if they'd like to be spokesperson for a year in Iraq.
And this:
Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke's brainstorm to "embed" reporters with troops in Iraq may finally change the relationship between the press and the military. Several officials actually call it "seeding" newsrooms with reporters who will know what it's like to be under fire. "In my view," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer tells our Kenneth T. Walsh, "it's nothing but good in the long term for journalists to know the armed forces better and for the armed forces to know journalists better."

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Small steps ...

I liked this paragaph by David Cohen (in Brothers Judd Blog), writing on how General McCaffrey got the war all wrong:
...The world is too complicated for us to deal with in its totality, so we all base our decisions on simple models of the world we run in our head. We not only need to check those models against reality, but we need to factor into all our decisions the chance that the world has moved on while we were distracted. This is part of the beauty of conservatism. By emphasizing small steps, respect for the past and the limits of human reason, conservatism stops us from trying to remake the world based upon our poor mental models. Ignore these limitations and you'll soon find yourself slaughtering the kulaks and creating a famine (but, on the other hand, you will get good press from the New York Times)...
Wise words.

That's kind of why I'm a conservative, and not a Libertarian, or some other theoretical type...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Abu Ghurayb

When The Archbishops and the Professors and the 'Journalists' and the Hollywoodiots and the Democratic Candidates and the French and the Canadians and the anti-war bloggers and the NYT say they are against war, THIS is what they are FOR:
Exposed: Secret and macabre world of jail where thousands were killed.

...How many people fell through the trap-doors of Abu Ghurayb prison is a figure that will probably never be known. Thousands certainly – one former army officer who defected to the West said that 2,000 people were killed here in one night alone. But under Saddam's rule, scores and possibly even hundreds of thousands of people may have met their deaths at the regime's most notorious prison...
I've often encountered in blogs the phrase, "there are many valid arguments against the war..." and I always nodded and thought, "well sure, of course..." Now I think I'd tend to say that any argument that glosses over Abu Ghurayb is not a valid argument.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

No comment needed for this story:

...That was apparent in Basra's main power station, where the plant's directors met an American intelligence officer to decide what would happen to it.

The meeting had barely begun when the officer proclaimed: "Gentlemen, I am here to get this power station up and running. I've got engineers and contractors itching to get started. Is there anything you would like to add?"

"Actually," said the station's planning manager, Adel Hussein al-Shati, a stout, elderly man who once studied at Portsmouth Polytechnic, "we'd like to do it ourselves." He then explained how long it would take and how many men he needed.

"Well that's a relief," the officer said. "Get to work."

"Of course," Mr al-Shati said. "This is our job and this is our country".
Via Brian Tieman, who says: ... to assume that without a dictatorial hand on their shoulders-- either Saddam's or Bush's-- the Iraqis will automatically devolve into the kill-or-be-killed mud-hut proto-civilization of the Y2K episode of The Simpsons is to suggest that they're a bunch of little brown savages.

* One of the arguments I've often heard is that if we indulge in adventures like Iraq, we will be seduced away from our simple freedom-loving ways, and gradually become corrupt empire-builders, proconsuls, is, of course, the classic Jeffersonian view.

And then I read something like this, and I think, "No way. Americans aren't like that. Leftizoid professors might secretly wish they could rule the "little brown savages"...but Americans? Forget it.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Throw pies at them ...

Here's a fascinating account of the first push into Baghdad. Especially interesting because we've already encountered bits and pieces of the story, but never in a clear context. Like the story of Pte Chris Lauman, who kept his shotgun with him as he was carried away on a stretcher, and had to use it...
The 10-hour battle for Curly, Larry and Moe
By Adam Lusher, with the United States 2nd Brigade Combat Team

Later, much later, Lt Col Stephen Twitty, the commander of the 3rd Battalion 15th Infantry, would look at the map of Baghdad. "Objectives Curly, Larry and Moe - named 'em after the Three Stooges. Those three intersections will go down in history. They were three hellacious battles."...

- - - - - - - - - - -

... As flames took hold on the back of the turret, ammunition inside started "cooking off" -- blowing up. Thanks to the strengthened doors of the ammunition compartment, Staff Sgt James Lawson and his crew were finally able to escape, dousing the flames with fire extinguishers. The men were alive, badly shaken, but still able to fight.

For the next 10 hours, they had no choice but to do so. Wave after wave of seemingly suicidal soldiers, driving civilian cars, trucks and even buses, armed only with AK47s and RPGs, threw themselves at the US tanks.

These fighters were, in large part, Syrians. "They drove straight at you at 70 miles an hour, one after the other," said Lt Mike Martin, 24. "They would see about a dozen or more cars already on fire, but that wouldn't put them off."

Lt Col Twitty had positioned himself at Objective Larry as the best place from which to control the battle. Instead, the commander known to his men as "the black John Wayne", had to co-ordinate three separate firefights while also taking his turn at the hatch of a Bradley infantry-fighting vehicle, blazing away at swarms of attackers with his 25mm cannon.

"They were coming at us like bees," said Lt Col Twitty, from South Carolina. "We would kill one lot and then more would appear. It was the most amazing thing." ...
(via Command Post)
* Here's another account, via Winds of Change

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Comrades! Follow the 5-Year Plan to the Future ...

Perry de Havilland writes at Samizdata:
Last night I saw pictures of the Iraqi Ministry of Economic Planning in Baghdad burning, set alight by 'looters'.

Memo to the Iraqi People:

If you want liberty, prosperity and a rational economic future, you now have a golden opportunity that you must not squander... DO NOT REBUILD THAT BUILDING! .