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{Sunday, January 25, 2004}

January Classes, Bruce Schneier, and Other Miscellany: "News A few quick bits of news and short essays, that don't quite fit anywhere else"

Please do see the website; it's being updated rather often.
posted by Joel Sunday, January 25, 2004

{Monday, November 03, 2003}

Hussein Was Sure Of Own Survival (washingtonpost.com): "BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 -- Saddam Hussein refused to order a counterattack against U.S. troops when war erupted in March because he misjudged the initial ground thrust as a ruse and had been convinced earlier by Russian and French contacts that he could avoid or survive a land invasion, former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators, according to U.S. officials."

Clearly, there are some virtues to French and Russian perfidy.
posted by Joel Monday, November 03, 2003

{Wednesday, October 29, 2003}

U.S. News: Graffiti on history's walls(11/3/03): "Such questions are prompted by an unprecedented reversal of history: Arab terrorists, incredibly, have managed to inspire more sympathy than their victims."

posted by Joel Wednesday, October 29, 2003

{Wednesday, October 08, 2003}

Read Mark Steyn: "The Palestinian death cult negates all the assumptions of western sentimental pacifism..."

Just read it.
posted by Joel Wednesday, October 08, 2003

{Monday, September 29, 2003}

3-Year Mideast Conflict Shapes Life on Both Sides: "3-Year Mideast Conflict Shapes Life on Both Sides"

How typically narrow-minded of the Times to see the ongoing campaign of Arab terrorism as only being three years old.
posted by Joel Monday, September 29, 2003

: "Said owes his fame to having become the most articulate apologist for the « Palestinian cause », something that wasn't all that difficult when one considers that most of his rivals in this field, whenever they're not too busy blowing up school buses and pizza parlours, satisfy themselves spreading anti-Semitic forgeries like « The Protocols of the Sages of Zion »"

Courtesy of LGF and, yes, read the whole thing.
posted by Joel Monday, September 29, 2003

{Thursday, September 18, 2003}

Friedman, Occasionally, Does Have a Keen Eye for the Obvious: "It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy."
posted by Joel Thursday, September 18, 2003

{Wednesday, September 17, 2003}

How Wahhabis fan Iraq insurgency | csmonitor.com: "Tahma made the attack 'because of Western ideals,' says the intelligence officer. 'He said: 'You are bringing Western culture and satellite images into our society. You brought nude magazines and distributed them.'"

Well, that justifies it, then.
posted by Joel Wednesday, September 17, 2003

This Just In: Adel al-Jubeir's Pants Have Burst Into Flame:

"'It's a ridiculous accusation; no Saudi government money goes to Hamas, directly or indirectly,' said Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign affairs adviser to Prince Abdullah."
posted by Joel Wednesday, September 17, 2003

{Sunday, September 14, 2003}

One Wall, One Man, One Vote: "But to build a fence without a border, and without facing up to the contradiction of having Jews on both sides of it, will only bring more troubles."

Okay, if it's a "contradiction" in having Jews on both sides of the wall, isn't it also a "contradiction" in having Arabs on both sides of the wall?

I think Friedman needs to think about some other "unintended consequences."
posted by Joel Sunday, September 14, 2003

{Thursday, September 11, 2003}

September 11, 2001:

Never forget? Yes.

Never forgive? Of course.

Never again? Perhaps. Probably not, alas.

posted by Joel Thursday, September 11, 2003

{Tuesday, September 09, 2003}

Israel Stays the Course: Results Count: "JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom warned Palestinian prime minister-designate Ahmed Qorei will be judged by his willingness to dismantle the infrastructure of militant groups."
posted by Joel Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Gotta Love Lileks
It is more likely that a true unalloyed Democrat will be elected than a brass-tacks Republican. Get used to it. The number of people who want a particular Government program exceeds the number who want none. You want the NEA abolished? That will require two nuclear attacks on American soil. After the first the NEA will be more important than ever, as we sort out our feelings about the event through a nationally coordinated series of interpretive dances. After the second, the economy will be so far down the crapper-pipes that someone will point out that we shouldn't fund the Mimes-for-the-Blind symposium when we really need the money for anti-radiation drugs.

posted by Joel Tuesday, September 09, 2003

{Monday, September 08, 2003}

lgf: active anguish in a context of flux: "Hamas vows to kill Ariel Sharon. Because apparently they'd rather deal with a pissed-off Binyamin Netanyahu."

Nicely put, Charles.
posted by Joel Monday, September 08, 2003

{Sunday, September 07, 2003}

Frederick Forsyth: What terrorists said to America, and how America replied

Frederick Forsyth: What terrorists said to America, and how America replied
Frederick Forsyth

Published September 7, 2003

Until the mid-1990s terrorists always wanted something. The IRA wanted a united Ireland, the ETA wanted a separate Basque state, the PFLP wanted a Palestinian state and the extirpation of Israel, the Tamil Tigers wanted a Tamil state in part of Sri Lanka . . . and so on.

Some wanted separation, some unification, some (like the Kurds) a state of their own, others (like the Red Brigades) a fully Communist state. Precisely because of that, they wanted to stay alive and see their vision come true, and therefore the Establishment could, if it wished, negotiate.

Then a small group arose who said this: "We do not want anything of you but your deaths. In thousands, in hundreds of thousands and eventually in millions.

"We say this because we hate you. We hate you with an all-consuming passion, not just for what you have done (though that is bad enough) but for what you are.

"There is no point in negotiating, for there is nothing to negotiate. We are going to kill you whenever, wherever and in as great a number as we can.

"We do this because Almighty God has commanded it. We have His texts to prove it. We do not fear death, we welcome it, for we are guaranteed eternal bliss if we die while killing you."

It was a weird message. It did not come in the mail, nor was it enunciated on Al Jazeera television. It came from a thousand imams in a thousand mosques. It was directed at the United States in particular and the West in general. Its source can best be described as Islamist fundamentalism, a tiny but virulent incubus within the body of that great, billion-devotee religion, Islam. Not unnaturally, no one took it particularly seriously -- at first.

In 1993 a group of Islamists in New York tried to demolish the World Trade Center by driving two vans packed with explosives into the underground parking garages. The towers were too strong. A few were killed, many more injured. The United States began, slowly, to wake up to a new and bizarre peril.

For eight years, under Bill Clinton, a fairly lethargic hunt was mounted for a shadowy body of religious "ultras" behind the new message. Two embassies in Africa were blown up, then a destroyer in Aden Harbor. Then came Sept. 11, 2001.

The rest of the world has, despite the ritual condolences at that time, not even begun to understand the transformational trauma that has gripped the United States since 9/11. That is why so much of what has been written is exasperated anti-Americanism.

Sept. 11 happened to coincide with a new, tough, no-nonsense and hugely underestimated (by Europe's intellectual snobs) president. Under Bush the United States thought things over and came back with a reply.

Broadly, it is this: "What the devil are we supposed to do? We have no choice. You leave us no choice. For 50 years of Cold War we practiced deterrence and kept the Soviet threat at bay. Even in their most paranoid moments, the Politburo did not want to die. But you do not fear death; you welcome it. So be it.

"We Americans can either sit and wait for the next bomb, the next carnage, the next wipeout of our citizens and then try to track down the perpetrators. Or we can identify you and use our considerable resources to hunt you down and take you 'out of the frame' before you strike, not after.

"That is called preemption, and that is what we choose to do."

Ever since 9/11 that is what has been happening. But the so-called war on terror goes further than the occasional eruption of secret agents into an apartment in Pakistan to arrest or kill another fanatic. The American message is more ample than that.

It continues: "Terrorists cannot eat and drink fresh air. They need a place to live, camps in which to train, money to spend, equipment to turn into bombs, officers to recruit. These have to be situated on someone's land, in someone's country.

"So to all those who think it might be fun to arm, train, shelter, feed, finance, hide, furnish diplomatic facilities or false papers prepared in government laboratories -- or even to touch with a 10-foot pole -- those sworn to kill our fellow Americans, we say this: The party is over. Desist now, or be lumped with the terrorists and die with them. That includes the tyrant states and the failed states. Expel them or be classed with them."

Far enough? The American message to the tyrant states includes one extra proviso. It is: "There are some weapons so foul yet so simple that they may be developed in basic government programs and yet can wipe out cities. There are agents based on the filthiest and fastest-moving diseases known to man. Medieval plagues, incurable scourges. There are gases and nerve agents so strong that a vacuum flask released in a crowded place can destroy thousands.

"None of you need research, develop, produce and store these weapons for self-defense. They simply cannot be used for self-defense. But they can, if suicidal fanatics are used as the delivery system, be brought to our cities and detonated. This we will not permit. Therefore, stop manufacturing these hideous weapons, destroy what you have got, and do it now."

Saddam Hussein fit both categories. He manufactured some of the grisliest killer toxins known to man: He sponsored, paid for and sheltered terror. He was warned repeatedly. From 1991 he ducked and weaved, defying a flaccid, timid U.N. Security Council through 16 resolutions. But after 9/11 he was just a fool. He should have known. The United States was not joking. Not anymore.

The real outrage of the European left and the Third World is that they are horrified; apparently when the White House says "Enough is enough," it means it. Clinton was never like that.

So the horrified may shout, like the Scottish congregation, "We didna ken" ("We didn't understand").

But the message from Washington is "Well, ye ken the noo" ("Well, you understand now").

Frederick Forsyth, author of "The Day of the Jackal" and other novels, writes a foreign affairs column for the New York Times Syndicate.

posted by Joel Sunday, September 07, 2003

{Wednesday, September 03, 2003}

No keen eye for the obvious in Crystal
Vandals hit the Adath Chesed Shel Emes Jewish cemetery in Crystal during the Labor Day weekend, overturning 140 monuments and causing $20,000 in damage, police said Tuesday. No grafitti or evidence was left to indicate that the crime targeted Jews, Crystal police Capt. Dave Oyaas said.

posted by Joel Wednesday, September 03, 2003

{Friday, August 29, 2003}

Bomb Explosion Reported in Najaf (washingtonpost.com)
NAJAF, Iraq -- A massive car bomb exploded at the Imam Ali mosque during Friday prayers in this holy city, possibly killing one of Iraq's most important Shiite clerics and at least three other people, witnesses said.
Time for Muslims in Iraq who don't support the terrorists to step up to the plate. It's not just the men and women of the 4th ID that have their lives on the line.
posted by Joel Friday, August 29, 2003
There are days when I'm proud to be a Minnesotan

Hundreds of Minnesota's political leaders, religious leaders, and business executives have come together to make a statement; to ensure that those who commit terrorism are never placed in a higher moral category than the one that defines them. Terrorism is terrorism whether the victims are Americans in the World Trade Center or Israelis in a shopping mall.

posted by Joel Friday, August 29, 2003
Allah's Very Own Blog

"Allah Is In The House!"
posted by Joel Friday, August 29, 2003

Dennis Ross: Arab Leaders Must Act (washingtonpost.com)

The money quote:

But after the Jerusalem bombing, the Israelis will no longer settle for half measures.
This is, as far as I can tell, the first time that a support of the appeasement process is admitting that, at least up until now, Israel was expected to settle for half measures by PA authorities in putting down Arab terrorism.
posted by Joel Friday, August 29, 2003

{Thursday, August 28, 2003}

Operation Rid-o-Rat Continues

Coalition officials Wednesday released a new series of 'most-wanted' posters for Saddam Hussein, announcing the $25 million reward for the former Iraqi leader whose image is shown next to photos of his sons, killed last month by U.S. forces.

posted by Joel Thursday, August 28, 2003
Far Too Little; Far Too Late
The Palestinian Authority said Thursday it has frozen bank accounts of Islamic charities and would administer the money itself, prompting Palestinian street protests.
Geez, even when Arafat and his gang do something right, they manage to line their own pockets.
posted by Joel Thursday, August 28, 2003
Israel is fighting a war on terror

Published August 26, 2003

As a native Minnesotan who has lived in Israel for 20 years, I try to keep up with Minnesota news by regularly reading the Star Tribune. Your Aug. 21 editorial 'Blood in Jerusalem / The road map is in jeopardy,' prompted this response:

Israel's war against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad is the same war that the United States is fighting against Al-Qaida and the perpetrators of 9/11. Our demand that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas strike down Muslim terror organizations is a rational and essential step to the realization of any road map to peace. His continual refusal to do this is a green light for these fascist murderers to re-arm and strike innocent Israelis. He is not as fearful of a civil war, as you stated, as he is of angering Yasser Arafat and his Fatah organization. More of a rift between the two of them would further harm the Palestinian Authority in the eyes of the Western world, and this is what Abbas is trying to avoid. Israeli lives do not concern him as much as his image in the eyes of the Western world does.

A recent suicide bomber tore apart the bodies of little children who had just made a pilgrimage to the Temple Mount, burning some of them beyond recognition. Abbas' claim that any crackdown would cause a Palestinian civil war is a mere excuse for inaction, and an appeasement to Arafat. Until Abbas takes the steps against these terrorist organizations that he promised to do as part of the road map, do not expect Israelis to allow these terrorists free entry into our nation, nor to live in peace. That would be committing suicide.

If the United States is justified in warring against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel is justified in taking all necessary measures to defeat terrorism that targets us as victims. If Abbas refuses to take the steps he promised to defeat terrorist organizations, Israel must take them, or more of our children will be slaughtered. This is an unfortunate lesson we learned during the days of the Oslo Accords, when Arafat promised to high heaven that he would crack down against Palestinian terrorist groups, but never did so in any meaningful manner. The integrity and sincerity of Abbas with Israel are what is at stake here, and in my eyes he has none until he takes a stand against Palestinian terrorists.

David Friedman, of Jerusalem, is a professor.

posted by Joel Thursday, August 28, 2003

{Wednesday, August 27, 2003}

Pointed in the Wrong Direction

Charles Chi Halevi's Aug. 22 commentary, 'How ignorance of Islam might be dangerous,' is a disgusting attempt to indict Islam in the guise of educating readers about the Islamic calendar with reference to 9/11 anniversary. Those terrorists were as close to Islam as Hitler was to Christianity. To condemn the second-largest religion in the world based on few terrorists who claimed to be Muslims is very unfair and dangerous. This only increases the mistrust between East and West. Maybe that is what 'experts' like Charles Chi Halevi want. Nadeem Iqbal, Woodbury.

No, Nadeem, it's not just "few terrorists who claimed to be Muslims." It's many terrorists and their supporters who are Muslims. As Daniel Pipes keeps pointing out, the remedy for extremist Islam is moderate Islam. It's very much not putatitively moderate Muslims trying to pretend that extremist Islam is some fringe variation with only a few adherents. The entire Saudi entity's state religion, for example, is Wahabbiism -- which helps to explain why the majority of the 911 hijackers came from the Saudi entity.

Moderate Muslims have both the obligation and the opportunity to do something about extremist Muslims; writing letters to the Strib complaining about those who point at the problem of Muslim extremism isn't going to help.
posted by Joel Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Gee, Let's Not Rush Into Anything

Kingdom, US Gear Up for Joint Anti-Terror Force Mohammed Alkhereiji
Arab News Staff

JEDDAH, 27 August 2003

The Kingdom and the United States will this week launch a joint task force in an effort to investigate terrorist funding, David Aufhauser, the US Treasury Department's general counsel, announced on Monday

posted by Joel Wednesday, August 27, 2003

"Arafat asks militant groups to resume cease-fire Wednesday, August 27, 2003 (08-27) 05:35 PDT RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat asked militant groups Wednesday to reinstate a unilateral truce they formally abandoned last week, after an Israeli missile strike killed a senior Hamas leader.

"Unilateral truce"? You mean, the "hudna" for which Israel had to make an appalling series of concessions? That "unilateral truce"?
posted by Joel Wednesday, August 27, 2003
And What's He Saying Out of the Other Side of His Mouth?
Arafat urges for renewal of truce Wednesday, 27 August , 2003, 18:41 Gaza City: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called Wednesday on hardliners to renew their commitment to a ceasefire which was shattered by last week's Jerusalem bus bomb...
Sounds like Yassir figures that that same old tune can stand to be played again, and might fool somebody.

Wrong. Well, it'll fool the French, sure, but . . .
posted by Joel Wednesday, August 27, 2003

{Tuesday, August 26, 2003}

Grant me martyrdom but not yet: Hamas leaders go underground

Gotta love that title. Meanwhile, the IDF is helping Hamas leaders go underground, permanently.
posted by Joel Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Not Quite

The Washington Post writes:

Yet the fundamental reason Israelis and Palestinians now face another descent into open warfare is the same one that wrecked the Oslo peace process three years ago and that since then has prevented the two-state peace settlement both peoples want. That fundamental cause is the practice of terrorism by Palestinian extremists and the failure of moderate Palestinian leaders to confront it.

So far, so good. But:
Mr. Abbas seems genuinely committed to stopping the bombers. Yet his method for doing it -- pressing the extremist groups to observe a "cease-fire" -- has not worked.

In this context, that's a "method"? Nah. There's a simple way to tell that that Abbas isn't serious about stopping the terrorists: he isn't having the terrorists' dead bodies dragged through the streets.

It's really that simple.

posted by Joel Tuesday, August 26, 2003

{Monday, August 25, 2003}

At Least 45 Dead as Bomb Blasts Hit Crowded District of BombayIn case the Indians aren't listening, Mark Steyn should be saying, "I told you so" about now.

Which isn't totally fair. The Indians have been C students in learning the lessons of the War on Islamic Terror; time to upgrade to straight As, guys.
posted by Joel Monday, August 25, 2003

Sending the Fox to Watch The Chickens
Aug. 25, 2003
Arafat appoints ally as national security adviser By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yasser Arafat has appointed a new national security adviser in his latest move in a power struggle with his U.S.-backed prime minister over control of security forces. Arafat and Abbas have been clashing over Arafat's refusal to relinquish control over security forces. Abbas and security chief Mohammed Dahlan have said they need control over all security forces to confront militants, a key demand in the U.S.-backed peace plan that envisions Palestinian statehood within three years. However, Arafat still controls several security forces and has been accused by Israel of hindering efforts to crack down on militants. The United States has pressed for Arafat to relinquish control of the security forces, making a rare public plea following the deadly suicide bombing in Jerusalem last Tuesday.

Geez. A "rare public plea." That'll shake things up, you betcha.
Rajoub said he and Dahlan would be equal members of the national security council and would share authority, as would other members. Asked if he will start cracking down on militants in his new role, Rajoub told The Associated Press: 'Lets wait and see. We're still starting up.' He refused to elaborate further, but added that the activities of the council will focus on reorganizing the Palestinian Security System, as well as coordinating Palestinian relations with the international quartet. Arafat said in his order that he appointed Rajoub 'for the public interest.' It was unclear whether the appointment would lead to concrete changes in the work of security forces."

posted by Joel Monday, August 25, 2003
More Peaceful Coexistence with the ReligionOPeace
Aug. 25, 2003 Muslim worshippers scuffle with Police on Temple Mount By ETGAR LEFKOVITS

A brief confrontation broke out Monday morning between a group of Muslim worshippers and police on the Temple Mount after the Muslims tried to prevent groups of Jewish and Christian visitors from entering the holy site, police said. There were no injuries or arrests made in the scuffle, and police said that the group of 15 to 20 Muslim worshippers involved subsequently quit the site while the police supervised visits continued. Since the bitterly contested holy site was reopened last Wednesday to non-Muslim visitors more than 1000 people have toured the ancient compound. While most of the visits have passed without incident, there have been sporadic instances of non-violent confrontations.

The Temple Mount is, of course, holy to at least three religions; apparently only the adherents of one religion insist on not playing well with other.
posted by Joel Monday, August 25, 2003
Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition
Aug. 25, 2003 Iran-Britain relations cooling over Jewish center bombing By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS TEHRAN, Iran

The arrest in London of a former Iranian diplomat wanted for his alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina will harm Iranian-British ties, Iran's foreign minister was quoted as telling his British counterpart Monday. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi made the comment in a phone conversation Sunday with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reported. IRNA quoted Straw as saying talks over the issue would continue.

Also Sunday, President Ali Mohammed Khatami said Britain should apologize and end the detention of the former diplomat, and the British charge d'affaires in Iran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry for the second time in two days. Both Britain and the United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, but Britain and Iran resumed ties in May 1999 and Straw visited Tehran for the fourth time in June. U.S.-Iranian ties remain ruptured.

Argentine intelligence had implicated Iran in the Buenos Aires bombing in 1994, when Hade Soleimanpour was Iran's ambassador to Argentina. Iran has denied involvement in the bombing, which killed 85 people and wounded some 200. Soleimanpour, now a student in Britain, was arrested Thursday in London. He appeared in court a day after his arrest and was ordered held without bail until his next appearance, scheduled Friday. British police said the arrest warrant alleges that 'on or before' July 18, 1994, Soleimanpour conspired with others to murder people at the community center. Argentine federal judge Juan Jose Galeano had asked for the arrest of Soleimanpour and 11 other Iranians, including four diplomats, in connection with the probe. It was not immediately clear in what countries the other suspects lived.

On Saturday, Iran informed Argentine Charge d'affaires Ernesto Alvarez of its decision to suspend economic and cultural ties with Argentina following the arrest of Soleimanpour.
Note that, of course, the ReligionOPeacers in Iran aren't embarrassed by their former ambassador being a murdering terrorist, but, instead, angry at his arrest.

posted by Joel Monday, August 25, 2003
Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys Don't Have a Keen Eye for the Obvious'
France expressed objections to placing Hamas and Islamic Jihad on the European Union(EU)'s list of 'terror organizations', according to an Israeli report on Monday.
In related news, the French government objected to referring to the Grand Canyon as "somewhat largish" and the smell of a skunk as "unpleasant."
posted by Joel Monday, August 25, 2003

{Sunday, August 24, 2003}

Friedman Agrees With Steyn; Film at 11
We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One. They don't believe their own propaganda. They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq — a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

posted by Joel Sunday, August 24, 2003
Sunday's letters from readers:
Terrorists ended truce The front page of the Friday Star Tribune read, 'Palestinian militants end truce after deadly Israeli raid.' I thought they did that a few days earlier when they blew up a bus, killing 20 innocent civilians. Terry Roepke, St. Paul.
Not that there ever was a truce, but: yeah.
posted by Joel Sunday, August 24, 2003
Notice of Termination

"Never Again" was our first principle and is now our final position. This memo serves to note the end of all negotiations with the Palestinian People.

Your problems and your issues as of this date are yours and yours alone. You must solve whatever bipolar instability and manic-depressive disappointment and psychotic tendencies towards homicidal violence plague your society among yourselves. You will not, from this date forward, use the People of Israel as targets for your own internal demons.
August 22, 2003

Read the whole thing.
posted by Joel Sunday, August 24, 2003
Iraq is battlefield for war vs. terror

From Mark Steyn.

The terrorists watch CNN and the BBC and, understandably, they figure that in Iraq America, Britain, the UN and all the rest will do what most people do when they run up against someone deranged: back out of the room slowly. They're wrong. There's no choice. You kill it here, or the next generation of suicide bombers will be on buses in Rotterdam, Manchester, Lyons, and blowing up the UN building in Manhattan. This is the battlefield.

posted by Joel Sunday, August 24, 2003

{Wednesday, May 07, 2003}

And What's Been Happening?
Blogging has been very light, of late; I've been working rather a lot getting the AACFI course and most particularly Everything You Need to Know About (Legally) Carrying a Handgun in Minnesota ready.

But writing and beta-testing the course is finished, and book is being printed at this moment (the folks at First Impression Group in Eagan are doing a terrific job with the production, and should be available on Friday, or Monday) I'm teaching classes M-W-F for the next few weeks, and I've been talking and writing about this change a whole lot.

Early classes are, unsurprisingly, being attended almost exclusively by longtime gun owners, although I did get a call from somebody who doesn't know anything about handguns, doesn't want to know more than necessary about handguns, but has a serious personal safety issue. I sent her to the police, a lawyer, a battered women's advocate, and an NRA Basic Pistol instructor. If, after all that, she wants to take my course, that's fine. Getting a carry permit will give her some options, and the combination of her permit and a handgun might save her life, but it won't solve the problem.

It's about choice, really. As I say in the book:
Do you want to carry a handgun in Minnesota?

Are you sure?

Don't be too quick to decide.

There are lots of reasons not to, after all—particularly if you listen to the often well-intentioned people who bandy about phrases like “there’s already too many guns on the street,” “every fender-bender will turn into a gunfight,” “what if there’s a pistol in that parka?” Even if you listen to people in the self-defense-rights movement, you’ll hear that getting a carry permit may not be right—for you. Because that’s what you’ve got to decide.

Not: is allowing citizens to get carry permits a good idea?

Not even, yet: Do I want to carry a handgun in public?


Should I get a carry permit?

After you decide that, then you have other decisions to make. The Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act of 2003 changed the law in Minnesota about what’s formally known as a “Minnesota Permit to Carry a Pistol,” and usually just called a “carry permit.”

Until it was passed, Minnesota was one of the minority of “may-issue” states—those states where handgun carry permits may be issued at the discretion of government officials. In some Minnesota counties, permits were issued to any adult who applied for one; in some cities, they were issued only to security guards, or to nobody at all.

Minnesota is now part of the majority: it’s a “shall-issue” state, where any objectively qualifying adult can get a carry permit simply by taking and passing the appropriate training, filling out and filing a form with the local sheriff, and paying a fee. It’s like a driver’s license—if you qualify, you can receive a carry permit. And it’s like a driver’s license in another way: a driver’s license allows you to drive a car; it doesn’t require you to.

There’s an important distinction between getting a carry permit and carrying a handgun in public. Some people who don’t ever plan on carrying a handgun may well get a carry permit—a permit gives you a choice about carrying a handgun, not an obligation. But, just as with a driver’s license and driving a car, having a carry permit and carrying a handgun is a responsibility you should take very seriously.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that it’s easy to get a handgun permit in Minnesota, just as it wouldn’t be accurate to say that it’s easy to get a driver’s license: you have to train and qualify for either. There’s work involved, and some expense—although not a lot—and there should be some careful thought, as well.

And about the only thing we can promise you about carrying a handgun is this—and it’s a theme we’ll return to regularly in this book:

A gun never solves problems. Really.

posted by Joel Wednesday, May 07, 2003

{Saturday, May 03, 2003}

Oh, relax, the sky isn't falling.
For those who missed it, on Monday, the Minnesota State Senate passed the "Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act of 2003," which was signed into law. Thirty days from then, competent, law-abiding adult Minnesotans will be able to apply for, and receive, handgun carry permits.

Things have gotten awfully loud.

Truth, in Minnesota, will be the same truth as elsewhere: violent crime will drop, slightly, but measurably; property crime will increase even more slightly; and a year from now, most folks will wonder what the fuss was about. Some people are predicting that there will be about 50,000 permits issued in the first year -- up from about 12,000 issued now.

I have a permit. I've had one for five years, going on six. I didn't come out about that until a couple of years ago, when I was asked to testify in front of the MN House's crime prevention committee on all the hoops I've had to jump through to keep my permit -- including having to go to court on year, when the sergeant at the Minneapolis Police Department in charge of /d/e/n/y/i/n/g issuing permits said, "well, you aren't dead yet, which means that [your stalker] is harrassing you," before he denied it. (My attorney took the city to court, and got my permit issued. After that, I haven't bothered to keep it a secret -- my stalker can follow the televised testimony.

In the years I've carried a handgun regularly -- how often? I won't say -- I've never taken my handgun out other than to put it away. That's both fine with me, and very typical for permit holders.

And, yes, I think that objective standards for issuing handgun permits is a good idea, and something I feel very strongly about. See this. I've spent a lot of time thinking and writing about these issues, and seeing how "shall-issue" permit laws work in other states.

And, on that subject, more on Monday, with a new link. Meanwhile, I'd better go answer the phone; it's ringing again.
posted by Joel Saturday, May 03, 2003

{Monday, April 14, 2003}

And Maybe the Horse Has Learned How to Sing
Muslims save Baghdad's Jewish community centre from looters

April 14 2003
Iraqi Muslims came to the aid of Baghdad's tiny Jewish community yesterday, chasing out looters trying to sack its cultural centre in the heart of the capital.

"At 3am, I saw two men, one with a beard, on the roof of the Jewish community house and I cried out to my friend, 'Hossam, bring the Kalashnikovs!'" said Hassam Kassam, 21.

Heither Hassan nor Hossam, who is the guard at the centre, was armed at the time but the threat worked in scaring off the intruders.

Two hours later, the looters returned again and Hassan Kassem used the trick once more.

The centre is located in a freshly-painted white house on a lane off Rashid Street in Baghdad's old town.

Two days ago, amid rampant looting in the capital, neighbours removed the sign reading 'Special Committee for the Religious Affairs of Ezra Menahem Daniel' to make the premises less conspicuous.

On Saturday at about 10.30am, two men seized an opportunity created by the guard's mid-morning break to try to force open the door in a first attempt to burgle the centre.

"We came over right way and asked them what they wanted," said Abdallah Nurredin, 50.

They tried to explain that they wanted to talk to the guard, Nurredin said, "but when they saw the look we were giving them, they left without saying another word".

Yesterday, Hossam the guard left to look for a real gun in case the persistent thieves returned.

"The Jews have always lived here, in this house, and it is only normal that we should protect them," said Ibrahim Mohamad, 36, who works in a small undergarments factory near the centre of town.

Although the majority of Jews fled the country in the early 1950s, many of their Muslim tenants come each week to pay their rent to an old woman at the centre, Mohamad said.

In the Batauin district near the Saddun commercial artery, the entrance of a large synagogue is blocked by an immense iron portal.

The way onto the street is obstructed by trees and chairs. A self-defence militia formed on Saturday to fight back against bandits.

"We are defending the synagogue like all houses on the street and we will not let anyone touch it," said Edward Benham, a 19-year-old computer science student.

The young Christian said that Jews normally came each Saturday but because of the lingering security problem, no one came last Saturday.
posted by Joel Monday, April 14, 2003

{Saturday, April 12, 2003}

Whining About the Victory in Iraq: It's not Just for the Left
...today I want to take a closer look at some of the serious mistakes the Jewish supremacists are making in their ever-growing Mideast war.

Kevin Alfred Strom, the slightly-lisping mouthpiece of the neonazi "National Alliance", is busy having a hissy fit over the US victory in Iraq. As always, of course, it's the fault of the Jews. He and the folks at International ANSWER should get along real, real well.
posted by Joel Saturday, April 12, 2003
Baghdad protest against looters
Iraqis have held a protest in central Baghdad today calling for an end to the looting and lawlessness that has broken out across the city since US forces overthrew Saddam Hussein.
About 100 Iraqis, many of them students, protested outside Baghdad's central Palestine hotel, where most foreign journalists are based.

They held a banner that read "We want a new government as soon as possible to ensure security and peace".

"We want to cooperate with the new Iraqi government and American troops to keep peace and security," Dhargham Adnan, a 25-year-old student from Baghdad university, told the Reuters news agency.

It's clear that some people in Iraq are already getting this whole "protest" thing.
posted by Joel Saturday, April 12, 2003
A Domino Starts to Tip
An official from North Korea's foreign ministry has hinted the secretive communist state will accept United States demands for multilateral talks.... North Korea is thought to be worried that it will be targeted next by the US after Iraq.

Do you think that perhaps there's some recent event that could help to explain this reversal of North Korean policy?

posted by Joel Saturday, April 12, 2003

{Wednesday, April 09, 2003}

A Tale of Three Doctrines

No URLs this time; just me.

There have been three military doctrines that have influenced and informed US foreign policy over the past few decades.

The first was the Weinberger Doctrine. When Casper Weinberger's Department of Defense was asked for military options to solve a problem, they would respond with "no, we can't do that," rather than "here's what we need to do that, and here's what the risks are." Edward Lutvak has written and spoken extensively on it.

The Weinberger Doctrine was a failure. It guaranteed that US military power could not be used in the US's interests.

The second was the Powell Doctrine. Colin Powell's belief, shaped by the experience of Vietnam, is that if the US is going to war, to throw everything into it. It's what influenced the massive buildup before the Gulf War. And it does have some advantages. No general is going to say, "Gee, I've got too many divisions." Nor, for that matter, should they. The more force that's immediately brought to bear -- and I emphasize immediately -- the quicker the victory.

There is an important feature of the Powell Doctrine: it argues that if you can't afford to throw everything you've got at a problem, you don't go to war. If you've got massive troop commitments elsewhere, you can't credibly threaten to go to war with Crucialistan -- because the Crucialistani government won't believe you.

And then there's the Rumsfeld Doctrine. Donald Rumsfeld appears to believe in the notion of using a sufficient force, but no more. Instead of a deployment like Desert Storm, under the Rumsfeld Doctrine you figure out what you really need to accomplish the mission -- counting on your machinery to do what it's supposed to most of the time and your people to perform professionally and effectively damn near all the time -- and leave it at that.

No general will ever love the Rumsfeld Doctrine -- nor should they. I find it impossible to believe that General Franks didn't really want the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division at the outset, and had no use at all for the 1st Armored. But, it seems, he was asked to have his staff to come up with a working battle plan that didn't depend on unreliable Turkish allies letting the 4th ID sweep down from the north, nor prepositioning the 1st Armored.

And the most significant thing, at least with regard to what I'm still calling Operation Sans Weasels, is this:

Donald Rumsfeld was right.
posted by Joel Wednesday, April 09, 2003

{Thursday, April 03, 2003}

An Interesting Admission from the Saudi Entity, Courtesy of Arabnews

Saudis Want a Piece of the Iraqi Pie
Mahmoud Ahmad, Arab News Staff....

"The most important question here is how to get more contracts for Saudi companies. We must get a share of the rebuilding job," Al-Jeraisy added.

The most important question?
posted by Joel Thursday, April 03, 2003
An Interesting Fatwa
No, it's not the usual "kill the Americans one."
In Kut, an Iraqi military town on the Tigris River, Marines were going building-to-building to battle Iraqi fighters....

Other Kut residents said they're afraid Saddam's forces will unleash chemical weapons on Shiite Muslim towns like theirs.

At a Baath Party building flying Iraqi flags, a small group of men sat clustered in a grassy area around a woman dressed in a black chador and waving a white flag of surrender.

Many groups of Iraqis sat down by the roadside, waving and smiling at the Marines to show they were not combatants.

Brooks said that Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, a Shiite leader who had been under house arrest in Iraq, had issued a fatwa urging Iraqis to remain calm and not to interfere with coalition troops.

"We are seeing evidence of other religious leaders who have had enough of this regime," Brooks said.
I don't know how important this particular Shiite cleric is -- but it's definitely a positive development.

posted by Joel Thursday, April 03, 2003

{Wednesday, April 02, 2003}

Then Again
Arabnews reverts to form: doubletalk.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal has urged Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to make a war-ending "sacrifice" for his people.

"Since Saddam has asked his people to sacrifice for the country... he should be the first to sacrifice for his country," the prince said in an interview with ABC News, aired late Monday.

Prince Saud made the comments to correspondent Barbara Walters who asked him whether the Iraqi leader had to be removed from power.

The Saudi minister later clarified that he did not call on the Iraqi president to step down, but only advised him to make a "sacrifice" if that was the only way of ending the on-going conflict.

So, let me get this straight: Saddam should, say, sacrifice a goat? Or would Tarik Aziz do?

Inquiring minds, and all that.
posted by Joel Wednesday, April 02, 2003
Department of Man Bites Dog: Arabnews Publishes a Balanced Report on Treatment of Injured Iraqis, Both Civilians and POWs
The USNS Comfort is a state-of-the-art medical and surgical care floating hospital presently situated offshore from where war is being waged. Ironically, its hospital facilities are currently caring for more Iraqis, including POWs (Prisoners of War), than Americans. The Geneva Convention stipulates that journalists may not have direct contact with POWs. However, Arab News was able to speak with the doctors and nurses caring for the injured POWs and Iraqi civilians who came on board shortly after the war began.

Yesterday, after being flown in on a CH-46 helicopter from the USS Boxer, Arab News was allowed to observe the injured Iraqis.

The POWs reside in one ward, not far from where the "detainees/civilians" are located. There are approximately 20 patients in each ward. Both rooms have been stripped of anything that could be used as a potential weapon. They are given 24-hour medical attention, and significantly, neither group is handcuffed or restrained in any way. Several unarmed security personnel are present in both wards.

Chief Petty Officer Caesar Salicrup, leading chief for the POW wards, told Arab News that the POWs have not been restrained because they are cooperative. "Some are already asking if they can smoke and want to know when they can go home. I'm sure we'll soon be able to take them out for a cigarette, but they can't smoke here because of the oxygen tanks."

Salicrup said the men don't speak English, but have started to learn words like "thank you", "ok", "USA" and, of course, "cigarette."

Something must have gone wrong. The usual Arabnews headline would have been "US Threatens to Give Cancer to Iraqi POWs".

posted by Joel Wednesday, April 02, 2003

{Tuesday, April 01, 2003}

Enter the 4th
SHUAIBA PORT, Kuwait (AP) The U.S. Army's most lethal and modern heavy division is weeks away from joining the fight in Iraq, a top division officer said Tuesday.
But read on:
Speakes said parts of the division could go into battle without waiting for all its troops and equipment to arrive. Already 5,000 soldiers from the division have arrived by plane to Kuwait in recent days.
What's going on? It could be that the Battle of Baghdad is still weeks away; it could be that General Franks has other things going on.

But it's a safe bet that Saddam Hussein isn't going to like it.
posted by Joel Tuesday, April 01, 2003

{Sunday, March 30, 2003}

Get Rid of the USAF
Well, that's not quite what the New York Times editorial says. It's what I -- fully acknowledging that, as a general, I'm strictly armchair -- am saying.
Still the Air Force persists in committing much of its future budget to these gold-plated but unsuitable planes at the expense of bombers, unmanned aircraft and the unglamorous but badly needed C-17 cargo transports, which can ferry large numbers of troops to distant battlefields. The lessons learned from this war should guide us in rethinking the way we should equip the military of the future.
Me, I'm not knocking the high-tech, multipurpose fighters. The F18 and F15 have proven themselves, not just at air-to-air combat, but at strike missions.

But for close air support, the Army is still hampered by that ancient Key West agreement of 1948, which restricts the Army's armed armed aircraft to rotary-wing (read: helicopter) ones, regardless of what the best platform for the mission is. I'm not knocking helicopters -- the Apache has proven itself, too. But the notion that, when the Army is planning for close air support, they've got to use only things that have propellers spinning on top of them -- rather than whatever the best vehicle for that sort of mission might be -- is just plain wrong. The A-10 Warthog, for example -- a plane that the Air Force keeps wanting to get rid of -- is apparently eminently suitable for close air support, as is the Harrier that the Marines have been using.

These days, the Air Force has basically three missions. Air supremacy is the one that, as the Times implicitly points out, gets undue attention. The Air Force is, in practice, in competition for that role with the Navy -- carriers are a lot more transportable than airfields, and don't have to rely on unreliable allies (read: Turkey) for permission to launch fighters, or anything else.

Bombing is the second. I'm tempted to call it "strategic" bombing, but that has resonances of SAC -- what I'm talking about here is what both the Air Force and the Navy are doing in Iraq: using precision weapons, regardless of which platform they're being launched from, to take out targets of strategic importance. Given air supremacy -- note that, as expected, the Iraqi radars and other air defenses are now smoking holes in the ground, and that even JDAMs and other smart munitions can be dropped many kilometers from being right over the target -- that makes things very different from even twelve years ago.

The third is close air support. That's the mission that the Air Force is, historically, least interested in. Close air support requires a very close, working relationship between commanders in the field -- down to the company level, at least -- and while both the Army and Air Force have been working at that, the Marines have had that for, literally, fifty years, simply by using Marine Air. It's not just that the Marine aviators and company commanders wear the same uniform and have crawled through the flies and the mud together during training -- although that helps. They're part of the same outfit, and both train and work together, and get evaluated and promoted based, in part, on how well that all works.

The third, MAC, is airlift: the very unsexy notion of planes-as-trucks, able to deliver soldiers, tanks, APCs -- and, very importantly -- supplies to where they're needed. It's not easy to tell where the choke points in that are -- save that when Donald Rumsfeld cancelled the Crusader Artillery program, he did so because basically all of the C5 fleet would be needed in order to put it in place, should it be needed.

Right now, what do you think: would General Franks like to be able to have the 4th Mechanized Infantry -- complete with its equipment -- sitting stateside, able to be airlifted within a couple of days to the airfield that the 173rd has just seized, or is he happier with the troops stateside, and the tanks, APCs, etc. making their way slowly through the Suez and down around to the Gulf, after bobbing off the coast of Turkey, waiting for the politicians to make the right deal?

Who really runs a war, when we have a war? With all due respect to the other services, it's the Army. Reincorporating the Air Force back into the Army would be an acknowledgment of that.

posted by Joel Sunday, March 30, 2003

{Saturday, March 29, 2003}

And So It Begins
Suicide Bomb Kills 4 U.S. Troops in Iraq
1 hour, 14 minutes ago

By ALMIN KARAMEHMEDOVIC, Associated Press Writer

IN THE IRAQI DESERT - A suicide bomber killed four Americans in an attack Saturday north of the city of Najaf, U.S. military officers said.

It's not a totally new thing for the US to deal with, mind; a truck bomb suicide was what drove the US out of Lebanon during Operation Peace for Galilee, when US forces were sent in to protect Arafat's forces, trapped in Beirut, from the advancing Israelis.

But suicide bombing has been developed to an art by the Palestinians, and rather more than has been reported on most of the US press, which pretty much exclusively reports only on "successful" ones, where one Palestinian jihadi manages to actually kill as many Jews as possible. For every one that succeeds, several -- many -- more fail. The IDF has been taking measures to minimize the damage, and the US military is either going to have to learn from what the IDF has been doing, or this will only become more common. Better security procedures at checkpoints, and more of them; good intelligence to locate those who equip and encourage suicide bombers; strikes on the leadership, understanding that nobody wakes up one morning, says, "Hey, today I want to be a suicide bomber", goes down to the local Al-Target and buys a bomb vest and heads out to the nearest checkpoint, or shopping mall, or bar mitzvah.

And not just the IDF -- the US will have to look to the Israeli government's success. Success? Yes. Despite the supposed increased "frustration" and "desperation" of the Palestinians -- and make no mistake, the combination of Arafat's kleptocracy and the intifada continues to lower the standard of living for Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza -- the frequency is dropping.


Because the Israelis are committed, and are seen to be committed, to making no concessions to terrorism.

At least arguably, these suicide bombings against uniformed combatants aren't technically "terrorism". Okay. But the intent is the same -- to remove the distinction between combatants and noncombatants, and leave the US military with no choice except for retreat or wholesale slaughter. And the same is true for the Iraqis using mosques and hospitals for snipers, and combat troops, and of using nonuniformed soldiers.

There is, of course, a third way, and the IDF has pointed the way to it, and the US military is perfectly capable of executing it. The first and most important step is the utter destruction of Saddam's regime, even if that means that some of the exquisite care to avoid civilian casualties needs to be relaxed.

Meanwhile, with the war just over a week old, and the Iraqi regime in control -- and weak control -- of only part of a country the size of California, people are already trotting out the "quagmire" metaphor. There definitely have been problems -- but how much? I dunno, and you dunno either. To an embedded reporter in a Bradley that's taking fire from Iraqi irregulars, and slows down to shoot back, it's obvious that the company he's with is being intefered with -- but the real question, which isn't easily answered, is how much the supply lines are really being interfered with.

Pfui. Yes, things would be better if the 4th Infantry was slicing down from the North, but the ships carrying their equipment are moving rapidly toward the Gulf; it's only a matter of time. The 173rd captured an airfield in Kurdish territory, and it's fair to guess that General Franks has some purpose in mind for it.

The only thing that makes sense to me, at this point, is to trust the professionals running this to do their jobs. They are; they will.
posted by Joel Saturday, March 29, 2003

{Monday, March 24, 2003}

Double Standards

Others do a better job than I am -- or can spend the time doing -- on keeping up with moment-by-moment reports of the war.

Me, I think I'm better off pointing to things like this:

So here's the US, about to end a regime that puts dissidents feet-first through plastic shredders and uses their corpses for fish food, and it stands accused of abandoning its moral standing. A while back, when the US was air-dropping food and medical supplies into Afghanistan, Britain's Guardian saw fit to ponder the questions: "Who asked Mr. Bush to 'save civilization'? Which bits of the planet does Mr. Bush term uncivilized? Some would say Afghanistan; others might nominate west Texas."

No doubt, if the US succeeds in installing a progressive regime in Baghdad, Bush will be accused in some quarters of installing an American puppet.

"Pardon the sardonic giggle," writes Nicholas von Hoffman in the New York Observer, "it arises from the thought that George W. Bush, the unelected president, is going to teach democracy to the Iraqis." Presumably, if Bush were to go to Baghdad personally to hand out Oreo cookies to Iraqi orphans, he'd be seen as a shill for Nabisco.

posted by Joel Monday, March 24, 2003

{Sunday, March 23, 2003}

Blix's House of Cards Falls

The story of the Iraqi chemical weapons plant has been picked up by Foxnews, and acknowledged by the Pentagon. It's true. It's the first. It's not likely to be the last.

And now the cover-up starts. "Why didn't the US simply tell Hans Blix?" will be the obvious spin.

"Because his tiny, incompetent, compromised bunch of UN inspectors wouldn't have been able to find An Najaf in a month."

"Because that's not the only one -- it's the first one we found."

"Because the idea was to get the fucking CBW out of the Iraqis' hands, not move them to Al Boogabooga instead."


Try this: "The highly-trained, supposedly-competent, UN-endorsed inspectors weren't there to actually inspect. They were there to validate Iraqi compliance. The Iraqis didn't comply. The French and Germans insisted on unending delays. The disarmament of the Iraqi WMD programs -- I repeat: programs -- was never going to be done by a small bunch of inspectors dependent on cooperation from a lying, deceptive, tyrannical government. It's being done by the professionals. Now shut the fuck up."

posted by Joel Sunday, March 23, 2003
U.S. Army Muslim chaplain questions duty
Actually, despite WND's reputation as being a Muslim-bashing site -- one that I think is overstated -- it's a pretty sympathetic piece.

Still, it doesn't directly address the main question: given that Muslims engage in war with Muslims every day, why should US Muslims who have voluntarily enlisted in the US Army have some particular concerns?

Some of the quoted fatwas -- religious rulings -- seem to be almost offensive in their unintentional black humor:

"All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of non-combatants without a justifiable reason," it said. "Islam has declared the spilling of blood and the destruction of property as absolute prohibitions until the Day of Judgment.

Tell it to Osama. Tell it to Hezbollah. Tell it to Hamas. Tell it to the Saudi Wahabbis who screech their calls for murder from mosques every Friday.

You don't need to tell it to Sheikh Palazzi; he's already worked it out.

posted by Joel Sunday, March 23, 2003
Worldnetdaily picks up the chemical weapons story
(Courtesy of LGF)
U.S. Lt. Gen. John Abizaid told reporters: ''I'm not going to confirm that report, but we have one or two generals officers who are providing us with information.''
Sounds like they're being a little conservative, until they've figured out exactly what they've got.

posted by Joel Sunday, March 23, 2003
Scoreboard: Third Infantry 1; Blix 0
Caroline Glick Mar. 23, 2003

About 30 Iraqi troops, including a general, surrendered today to US forces of the 3rd Infantry Division as they overtook huge installation apparently used to produce chemical weapons in An Najaf, some 250 kilometers south of Baghdad.

One soldier was lightly wounded when a booby-trapped explosive went off as he was clearing the sheet metal-lined facility, which resembles the eery images of scientific facilities in World War II concentration camps.

The huge 100-acre complex, which is surrounded by a electrical fence, is perhaps the first illegal chemical plant to be uncovered by US troops in their current mission in Iraq. The surrounding barracks resemble an abandoned slum.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly which chemicals were being produced here, but clearly the Iraqis tried to camouflage the facility so it could not be photographed aerially, by swathing it in sand-cast walls to make it look like the surrounding desert.

Within minutes of our entry into the camp on Sunday afternoon, at least 30 Iraqi soldiers and their commanding officer of the rank of General, obeyed the instructions of US soldiers who called out from our jeep in loudspeakers for them to lie down on the ground, and put their hands above their heads to surrender.

Today's operation is the third engagement with Iraqi forces by the First Brigade of the US army's 3rd Infantry Division, since Saturday afternoon.

So far in the campaign, the brigade has suffered no losses. But two were wounded Saturday night in an ambush on the outskirts of As-Samwah in southern Iraq.
It is, of course, possible that this was merely an aspirin plant, commanded by an Iraqi general -- the Iraqi regime has had some serious headaches of late.

But don't bet on it.
posted by Joel Sunday, March 23, 2003

{Saturday, March 22, 2003}

Minnesota Nice During Wartime
As the antiwar marchers moved away from the U.S. Courthouse down S. 4th St., a squad car bolted past drum-beaters and sign-carriers to the head of the line. The passenger window lowered and a plainclothes officer called out:

"Which way are you guys going to turn? I want to go ahead and stop the traffic for you."


"Our whole thing is public safety," Allen said. "And public safety has, in part, to do with traffic downtown. But it also has to do with the people protesting. We want to make sure they're safe, too."

Metro Transit officials had asked the protesters for their route ahead of time to avoid jamming up buses.

As the line made its way down Hennepin Avenue on Friday, an organizer called out over a megaphone: "Please stay in the bicycle lane and not the bus lane. We don't want to hold up the buses."

And the people, banging drums, carrying signs, stayed in their lane.

I don't think I have to say that I'm in disagreement with the protestors -- but, in this, at least, good for them, and good for the authorities.

posted by Joel Saturday, March 22, 2003

{Friday, March 21, 2003}

Human Shields Demonstrate Learning Behavior
Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

I'd like to think that the next time -- say, when the evil, Joo-controlled neocons say that the new Assad is another Saddam -- they'll listen.

But, no, they won't.
posted by Joel Friday, March 21, 2003
Iraq 'N Roll

The antiwar protestors in the US don't have to answer to me; this is America, after all.

But what are they going to say to the Iraqis who ask -- as they're already starting to -- "Why did you do everything you could to delay our liberation?"

Inquiring minds . . .
posted by Joel Friday, March 21, 2003

{Wednesday, March 19, 2003}

Not Open for Business Yet
On the Iraq-Kuwait border, where British and US forces are now massing, Saddam's unwilling soldiers are being turned back on an hourly basis.

"We are seeing Iraqis trying to come across the border, saying they want to surrender, but we are having to turn them back and telling them that they must wait until the war begins," said an intelligence officer.

Still, seventeen have already surrendered.

The interesting figures from the Times stories are the projected quick surrenders, and the desertions:
75 per cent of regular soldiers, depending upon their regiment, have already fled. Iraqi tribal leaders in the region have also abandoned Saddam and defected to the Kurds in the Northern No-Fly Zone....

In and around Baghdad the desertion rate is lower, but even among Saddam's elite Republican Guard divisions -- whose loyalty to their leader has been unquestioned until now -- 23 per cent have deserted
A quarter? Before the first shot has been fired? Looks like the reports of the Republican Guard not being quite what they were claimed to were right.

Hope it continues that way.

posted by Joel Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Ship sinking? Check. Rats deserting? Maybe.
(Courtesty of Instapundit)
The Foreign Office is investigating rumours that Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, has defected to Northern Iraq.
Who knows? What's certain is that, if he has defected, he won't be the first one.

Love to see the CNN interview.

Update: Nope. Aziz is alive, and talking on Baghdad TV. Oh, well. Give it time.

Realistically, there will be lots of misinformation and presumably disinformation coming out over the next few days. And what else is new?
posted by Joel Wednesday, March 19, 2003
...authorities discovered suspension lines on 13 of 25 parachutes had been cut and repacked in such a way as to avoid detection.

This happened last September. Two marines, Lance Cpl. Julian Ramirez Lance Cpl. Antoine D. Boykin, have been accused, and are now undergoing an Article 32 hearing -- in effect, a military grand jury -- to determine if they should be court martialed for attempted murder and other crimes.

Okay: let's start off with the basics: these two guys are just accused, and from the information publicly available, there's no reason to rush to judgment about their guilt. People not directly involved in the legal process have no more obligation to assume that they're not guilty than to assume that, say, Richard Jewel or Sirhan Sirhan were, at this stage. It's only reasonable to suspend judgment. They could be every bit as innocent as Jewel was, after all, or as guilty as Sirhan.

But somebody cut those lines, and went to some trouble to do that, and repack the chutes so that they would kill.


I'm not a conspiracy buff, but it seems to me to be rather unlikely that a guy woke up one morning, and said to himself, "Gee, what a lovely day to cut some suspension cords, repack some chutes, and kill some marines." And -- assuming that the accusers have the numbers right, if not necessarily the perpetrators -- two?

posted by Joel Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Blix Says He Won't
Pentagon Says He Might
... use chemical/biological weapons.

The Pentagon caution is based on this:

Intelligence reports ... indicate Saddam has given field-level commanders the authority to use chemical weapons on their own initiative, without further directives from the Baghdad, Pentagon officials said.

The Blix reassurance is based on this:

The reason, he said, was world opinion would turn in favor of the United States if Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction.

And even on the brink of defeat, when using such weapons might be a last resort, Saddam's government would still care about public opinion, Blix said. "Some people care about their reputation even after death," he said.

After four and a half months of inspections, Blix utters his definitive prouncement on whether or not Saddam actually has these weapons:
"I think they would be able if the weapons were there -- and I'm not saying they are. And I'm not saying that they have means of delivery -- but they could have it."

Well, that clears that up, eh? After months of inspections, Blix is, yet again, admitting that he doesn't know, one way or another, if Saddam has chemical weapons or the means to deliver them.

"The inspections were working"?

posted by Joel Wednesday, March 19, 2003

{Tuesday, March 18, 2003}

Later, perhaps.

Interesting snapshot of Major General David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st. (I keep hearing it referred to, somewhat interchangably, as the 101st Airborne and the 101st Air Assault.)

We're not all caught up in the international diplomacy.
No cheap shots, please. A general commanding a division ought to be concentrating on his job. The diplomacy is for the diplomats and politicians.
I'm not teaching international relations right now.
Although, it should be noted, he is professionally qualified for that, too.

posted by Joel Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Chilling Quote from Michael Ledeen

The whole symposium is worth reading, but this struck me as being terribly important:
And finally, if I am right, we are going to come under attack — in Iraq — from Iranian-and Syrian-sponsored terrorist groups, and if we understand what is going on we will find ourselves in a regional conflict.
My only quibble is that I think we are, and have been, and will be, and that the regional conflict is only part of it.
posted by Joel Tuesday, March 18, 2003

{Monday, March 17, 2003}

I Always Meant Those Polish Jokes Affectionately, Honest

Well, that's my story.
WARSAW, Poland -- Poland would send up to 200 soldiers to take part in a U.S.-led war with Iraq, President Aleksander Kwasniewski announced Monday.

"We are ready to use a Polish contingent in the international coalition to contribute to making Iraq comply with the U.N. resolutions," Kwasniewski said.

"It's a difficult decision but necessary."

The decision allows a contingent of several hundred Polish troops to deploy to the Gulf region from March 19 until Sept. 15.

Poland backs Washington's tough line on Iraq and was among eight European countries that signed a letter pledging solidarity with the United States in its efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein.

Who's next?
posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Krugman: The sound of a man missing the point

Of course we'll win on the battlefield, probably with ease. I'm not a military expert, but I can do the numbers: the most recent U.S. military budget was $400 billion, while Iraq spent only $1.4 billion....

Will Iraq really be the first of many? It seems all too likely — and not only because the "Bush doctrine" seems to call for a series of wars. Regimes that have been targeted, or think they may have been targeted, aren't likely to sit quietly and wait their turn: they're going to arm themselves to the teeth, and perhaps strike first.

Run those numbers again, but substitute "Iran" or "Syria" for Iraq. It's not just a matter of the numbers, but of the will. "Arm themselves to the teeth"? Very dangerous to play the WMD game -- the US can play by those rules, too. Conventional weapons? Let's not be silly -- run the numbers again.

No, they're not going to sit quietly and wait their turn: the sensible ones will likely publicly bluster, and privately see what they can do to move down on the list. Perhaps the superstitious ones will take out ouija boards and consult with Hitler and Saddam and Bin Laden and the Taliban, or see if they can get a visit with Milosevic.

But they'll deal. When it comes to not choosing to be an enemy of the US, they have a choice, and dealing is the more palatable one. Even the tyrants of the Middle East have been shocked by how foolishly Saddam has been choosing destruction over cooperation. Much more sense to speak loudly and put the stick away.

You could ask Ghadaffi about that.

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Former Iraqi Air Defense Chief Weighs In

Saddam Hussein must be toppled, says the Napier-based former chief of Baghdad's air defences...
Majid believes that it should be only a year or two until the Iraqis are ready to go to the polls. I think he's wrong, by a lot.

But we'll see.

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
And the Aussies Are In
Australian troops will fight in a war against Iraq if the United States launches military action to disarm Baghdad of alleged weapons of mass destruction, Prime Minister John Howard said on Tuesday.... Australia, a staunch ally of Washington, has sent a 2,000-strong force, including elite SAS troops, fighter jets and warships, to the Gulf to join a heavy U.S. and British military buildup, but had not previously committed them to war.

The Australian commitment is less than 1% of the total number of soldiers involved.

I guess that should mean that they're not important.

It doesn't. They are.

John Howard is, as is Tony Blair, bucking his own local popular sentiment. It would be easy to have his soldiers sit on the sidelines. He hasn't. It would be easy to insist that they serve noncombatant roles. He hasn't. He has insisted that they serve under Australian command, and operate by the very strict Australian rules of engagement, and has even criticized the US rules.

He hasn't asked for a bribe; he hasn't engaged in negotiations for a role in Australia after the war as a precondition for helping out his US ally.

This is what an ally does.

This is what a US ally shouldn't have to point to, should Australia, some day, need US help -- there must be Americans to do that pointing.

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
And it's Good for the Economy, Too
No, I don't think we should go to war to boost the economy. That said, that getting this done will improve the economy is -- from my POV -- a feature, rather than a bug.

Needless to say, the antiwar folks will find this very disappointing.

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
For the record, courtesy of The Times (The one in England, that is.)

Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, today said that military action against Iraq was legal without a second resolution. This is his written parliamentary answer in full

"Authority to use force against Iraq exists from the combined effect of resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. All of these resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which allows the use of force for the express purpose of restoring international peace and security:

1. In resolution 678 the Security Council authorised force against Iraq, to eject it from Kuwait and to restore peace and security in the area.

2. In resolution 687, which set out the ceasefire conditions after Operation Desert Storm, the Security Council imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction in order to restore international peace and security in the area. Resolution 687 suspended but did not terminate the authority to use force under resolution 678.

3. A material breach of resolution 687 revives the authority to use force under resolution 678.

4. In resolution 1441 the Security Council determined that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of resolution 687, because it has not fully complied with its obligations to disarm under that resolution.

5. The Security Council in resolution 1441 gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and warned Iraq of the "serious consequences" if it did not.

6. The Security Council also decided in resolution 1441 that, if Iraq failed at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation of resolution 1441, that would constitute a further material breach.

7. It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at the time of resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.

8. Thus, the authority to use force under resolution 678 has revived and so continues today.

9. Resolution 1441 would in terms have provided that a further decision of the Security Council to sanction force was required if that had been intended. Thus, all that resolution 1441 requires is reporting to and discussion by the Security Council of Iraq's failures, but not an express further decision to authorise force.

I have lodged a copy of this answer, together with resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 in the Library of both Houses.

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Hmm... seems that the inspectors missed some...
Iraqi troops south of Baghdad are armed with chemical weapons, Fox News has learned.

Senior Defense and other U.S. officials confirmed that intelligence reports indicate that Saddam Hussein's troops are armed with chemical munitions.

"The information is raw … and hard to confirm ... but we are seeing -- using different methods -- that Saddam Hussein has armed troops south of Baghdad with chemical weapons," one official said.

Officials say it's hard to tell how many of these weapons are being distributed, but the intelligence reports indicate that "some chemical shells" have been provided to troops.

Senior Defense officials say they expected the Iraqis to use these weapons, and they predict more movement by Iraqi troops in the South and the West in the next day or so.

But I thought that the inspections were working? Nothing but a few empty shells, right? All the thousands of liters of chemical weapons destroyed, right?

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Kofi Annan Has, Occasionally, a Keen Eye for the Obvious

from CNN:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterated his stance that, should military action occur in the region without the blessing of the world body, "Its legitimacy would be questioned."

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
A Reminder, courtesy of Glenn Reynolds

Yeah, I know: Glenn is Instapundit; you've already been there before you checked my blog out.

But . . . listen to Mohammed. "How does leaving Saddam Hussein in power promote peace and justice in Iraq?" he asks, over and over again.

Listen to an angry Muslim Arab Iraqi, who is clearly worried about -- "Allah forbid," as he says -- his cousins being killed in the coming attack. Listen to how difficult it is for him to control his voice.

In anger at the Bush administration? No. In anger at the idea that if the "so-called peace movement" got its way, the Iraqis would still be left to the mercies of Saddam Hussein.

"How will bombing Iraq help bring peace and justice?" she asks.

He answers. Slowly, angrily, impatiently, he answers. He listens to the evasions and script of the "peace activist," and he returns to question, over and over: "How does leaving Saddam power promote peace and justice in Iraq?" His voice shakes; it's all he can do to keep his words under control. But he comes back to the point, over and over again, until he's done.

Well, not quite. He pleads for just a little more time. To rant at the "peace activist" some more? No. He wants to wish Bryan Suits, the radio host, well; it's Suits' next-to-last show -- he's been called up. He was in Desert Storm; he hopes he's not going to be in Desert Storm II, Suits says. (He won't. Suits is off to OCS; it'll be twenty weeks before he graduates. Things won't be over by then, but the war will be.)

"If, God forbid," Mohammed says to the host, "you personally end up going to the Gulf, Allah will bless you."

Yup. There's that Muslim outrage. No claim that Allah will protect him -- Mohammed isn't an impious Muslim. Just a call for God's blessings.

(You know, there may be some would-be jihadis in the Seattle area... hope they're clumsy enough to try to enlist Mohammed.)

I spend a fair amount of time on this blog blasting Islamofascists and their sympathizers.

Feels good to say to Mohammed: "Peace be on you." And best wishes to your family.
posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Department of "Have Mercy on an Orphan, Your Honor," cried the Patricide

Israel argued that the Palestinian Authority still maintains civic responsibilities in those areas, where Palestinians have held frequent pro-Iraqi demonstrations that included shouted calls for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to "bomb Tel Aviv".

"They (the Israelis) are occupying us so they must give us masks. I cannot afford to buy a mask even if I worked for a week," said Sami Bazzar, a taxi driver from Ramallah.
Why would they want gas masks? It's not like the Iraqis have, or would use, poison gas, after all.

Even the Arab News seems -- strangely -- devoid of sympathy. The outrage seems surprisingly pro forma.

Me, I think that Arafat should have some of his kleptocrats sell a dacha or two, and use the money for gas masks, duct tape, and plastic sheeting.

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
I doubt it

DEBKAfile’s Military Sources: Full-scale US-British offensive against Iraq is scheduled to begin Monday, 24 hours after Azores summit.
It's possible, I suppose, but I doubt it.

Here's my guess for the schedule:

Tonight: Bush tells Saddam to get out of town, and sets a deadline, probably 48 or 72 hours. It's not that Saddam needs that long to hop on a plane, but that tells all the noncombatants stationed in Iraq -- reporters, real diplomats, UN officials, French diplomats -- that it's time to go, or at least find a place to hunker down that's not next to a target. The Pentagon's Bugsplat program may have a few bugs, after all. (The Germans already have told their people to leave.)

Tomorrow: the Iraqis and their French allies call for a UN Security Council meeting. The Iraqis push for a resolution forbidding an allied attack; even the French don't try to table it. Loud threats abound, very few of them coming from the alliance. No real point anymore.

Next few days: more movement of Special Forces folks into Iraq. The Iraqis are, of course, going to try to destroy their own oil fields, and close spotting for the attack aircraft is going to be necessary.

Some pilots get a real good night's sleep; last one they're going to have for awhile.

Off-chance: the Iraqis either attack some of the advance forces, or try to jump the gun, and that acts as the start signal. The allied forces are at their most vulnerable when they're moving toward their start lines. Realistically, the Iraqis have no chance of beating the alliance -- but their chance to do the most damage is before it launches, not after. Even if their is going to be house-to-house fighting in Baghdad -- and I'm hoping that there's little or none -- that exposes only a limited number of combat soldiers, who will have huge support both behind them, in terms of artillery, and overhead.

Deadline: Things get very quiet.

Deadline plus one hour: Things get very noisy.

*I've been referring to the coming attack as Operation Sans Weasels for some time. My, err, guess is that the Pentagon will come up with a somewhat different term.
posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Mark Steyn on Rumsfeld
At one Pentagon briefing, some showboating reporter noted that human rights groups had objected to the dropping of cluster bombs and demanded to know why the US was using them. "They're being used on frontline al-Qa'eda and Taliban troops to try to kill them," replied Rumsfeld.

Me, I like the man's instincts. On September 11th, his first reaction was to start pulling people out of the rubble of the Pentagon. Took him a few minutes to realize that, under the circumstances, there really were other things that the Secretary of Defense ought to be doing, instead.

And he went ahead and did them.

What's unforgiveable to his critics, I think, is that he says what he believes are true things, unshaded, although with a sometimes wry sense of humor. When discussing nations that had been "unhelpful", he listed Cuba, Libya, and Germany; when asked about the importance of the UK contribution to Operation Sans Weasels*, he honestly said that it could be done without the UK, although he also made it clear that he'd much rather do it with the UK. (Eminently true, on both counts -- the First Armoured Division, the UK's main landing fighting force, is a Big Deal. So are all the UK Special Operations folks.)

He isn't afraid to take on the Pentagon, either. The Crusader artillery system, he decided, was too big and too expensive. He cancelled it.

And he isn't afraid to buck the conventional wisdom on other matters, either:

When Colin Powell was traipsing round the Middle East on his fool's mission last summer, Secretary Rumsfeld (who served as Reagan's envoy to the region) was asked about the "occupied territories" and made you wish he had been sent over to Yasser's boudoir: "My feeling about the so-called occupied territories," he replied, "is that there was a war, Israel urged neighbouring countries not to get involved in it once it started, they all jumped in, and they lost a lot of real estate to Israel because Israel prevailed in that conflict."

posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Onward . . .

I'm listening to Jeremy Greenstock announcing that the UK, US, and Spain are not going to ask for a vote on a new Security Council resolution.

Negroponte's on now. "It has been nearly four and a half months since the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1441, which declared Iraq in material breach . . . we advocated a second resolution, because a united council would have shown it was intent on enforcing Resolution 1441, and disarming Iraq." But that wasn't going to happen, he says.

Can the UN Security Council recover from this? Possibly. Should it? Probably not.

The French ambassador's presentation was rather pro forma. He sounds tired.
posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
The Fifth Column

No, I'm not talking about the US protestors carrying signs that say, "We Support Our Troops When They SHOOT Their Officers."

I'm talking about this.
Open acts of defiance by opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime have intensified in the past week, with saboteurs carrying out attacks against Iraq's railway system and protesters openly calling for the overthrow of the Iraqi dictator.

And, for that matter, about this.
Saddam Hussein’s most important Kurdish ally has defected to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq in what officials here say is an indication that the Iraqi president’s internal support is beginning to crumble.

It's starting.
posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003
Good as His Word
An emergency meeting of Tony Blair's cabinet is to be held on Monday...

The meeting, which the prime minister promised to hold before any military action, comes amid growing opposition from Labour MPs.

I watched Tony Blair commit political suicide, live and on television, yesterday. He stood up, made the case for ending the endless cycle of negotiate and renegotiate, and did it with grace and dignity.

And killed his own political career.

The war goes off this week, over overwhelming objections from the UK public. It's just this side of certain that the devastation to the innocent will be an order of magnitude less than even the less hysterical antiwar folks are saying; it's utterly certain that there will be more than enough -- brought to us live by the BBC, CNN, and others -- that will help to obscure, as it did in Afghanistan, that this war will save Iraqi lives, among others. The soon-to-be-commonplace "man in the street" interviews in Baghdad could be written now -- the woman saying, "Why did you let this monster persecute us so long?" balanced by the man who lost his family.

As I've said, I remain skeptical about Iraq being turned into some real democracy, but confident that whatever replaces Saddam will be markedly less bad. What's bad about the new regime will also be much more visible -- criticizing the US occupation won't result in having one's family whisked off in the night. (That is, I'm sorry that I feel I need to have to say, a good thing.)

But Tony Blair won't survive politically; his career is dead.

Then again, at one point in time, the same thing could have been said about another career British politician, Winston Churchill.

So, let's deal with two theories. One is that Blair is "Bush's poodle" -- this is the common view in the British press, and in the UK public. In this view, Bush is constantly performing some sort of Jedi mind trick on the weak-minded Blair, who would otherwise be far more sensible and responsive to UK public opinion.

The other one is that he sees a danger, sees the necessity of meeting it with force, and thinks that doing that is far more important than the political career of one Tony Blair.

I'll sign on to the second, myself.

Putting it crudely, the clicking sound you heard during Blair's speech was the sound of brass balls.
posted by Joel Monday, March 17, 2003

{Sunday, March 16, 2003}

And now, with war looming, I turn to the real problem: Jewish neoconservatives.

Okay, seriously. It started with this.
The writer wants to know"about the best way to clearly distinguish legitimate criticism of neocons from mere anti-semitism." (Some very good discussion ensued on
Gary Farber's blog.

In aid of that, he puts forward a few "relevant facts."

Lots of neocons are Jewish.
Sure. And a lot of neocons aren't. A lot of liberals are Jewish; a lot aren't. So?

Neocons are rabidly pro-Israel.
Generally speaking, accusing somebody of being "rabidly" anything is, well, perhaps just a little insulting. But, okay, neocons -- Jewish and nonjewish -- are very much pro-Israel. Conservatives generally -- for a variety of reasons -- tend to be very much pro-Israel. True for old-style Buckley conservatives, Christian religious right conservatives, neocons, and most other flavors. The common factor appears to be that, well, they're conservatives. For some reason or other, American conservatives -- regardless of their ethnicity -- see Israel as a Good Thing, more than liberals do.

It is reasonable to infer that they are pro-Israel largely because they are Jewish.
Why is that even vaguely reasonable? What explains the large number of nonjewish neocons who are pro-Israel? Think, maybe, they're just passing? How about the nonjewish non-neocons who are pro-Israel?

There's some laziness here. Instead of trying to figure out why a large and influential political movement takes a given position, it's just plain easier to blame the Jews, if they're around.

They have a strong influence in the current administration.
I'm getting lost here. Which "they" is it? The Jewish neocons in the adminstration, like Wolfowitz, Perle, and Abrams? Or their bosses like Rumsfeld and Cheney and that George Bush guy?

Lots of people have a strong distaste for the whole neocon agenda of remaking the Middle East in America's image.
Sure. And that's a fair issue to discuss. You could, if you liked, discuss the problems with that agenda. You could argue that an American style democracy has never worked and imply that it can never work in an Arab country, or that it can work, somehow or other, but that removing Saddam Hussein is a step away from it, rather than a step toward it.

I forget, though -- what is it about Richard Perle's ethnicity that contributes to that discussion?

One hint as to why many conservatives might be pro-Israel is going on right now. At this moment, the ships bearing, among other folks, 4th Infantry Division, are bobbing off the coast of Turkey. Those people who have followed the news may have noticed that the bribe to Turkey to let the US use their bases and land to stage troops for the coming operation was not, apparently, quite big enough.

It's not going to happen, alas, but if you were George W. Bush, and you wanted the nearest port where you could be sure that your soldiers would be welcomed, and instantly provided with access to modern military airfields from which the could be airlifted to where ever they need to go, where would you direct your ships to go? Who would you call?

posted by Joel Sunday, March 16, 2003
Tick, Tick, Tick
Britain insisted its Sunday summit with the United States and Spain would not be a council of war...

Sure it is.

What's holding things up? Nothing much. General Franks doesn't even have to wait for the last of his troops to be in place. He's got some tricks up his sleeve:
A brigade of the 82nd Airborne is stationed at Camp Champion in Kuwait. It is not commanded by V Corps, however. It is controlled by Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the land war commander and is presumed to have a special mission suitable for its speed, mobility and other light infantry skills.
I think it's more than a presumption.

The British First Armoured Division is in place.

At this point, it's not quite too late, in theory, for Saddam to do what's necessary to call it off -- but he won't. At this point, it's not quite too late, in theory, for the French and Germans and Russians and Chinese to buy Saddam more time to do what's necessary to call it off -- but they won't.

Despite the hysteria that's characterized her writing on the issue, Maureen Dowd has it right on this.
They never wanted to merely disarm the slimy Saddam. They wanted to dislodge and dispose of him.
Well, describing Saddam as slimy is an insult to slime, but, sure. And it's at least possible to make the argument that dislodging and disposing of thise particular "slimy" guy will have worse results than leaving him in place. I think there's risks to either course of action, but at least some very real possible benefits to regime change, and, at best, there is some avoidance of some particular real risks while adding other real risks to leaving him in place.

Choices -- even if the choice is to wait some more -- have consequences.

Meanwhile: it's going to happen. We will have plenty of time to discuss how or if it could have been avoided. (I'm not sure, mind you -- I think that if the French and Germans and Russians and Chinese had all lined up with the US and made it clear that 1441 really was Saddam's "final opportunity", rather than just the latest in a series of Official Vacuous UN Warnings, some Iraqis might have decided to save themselves by removing the "slimy" guy. But I do say "might.") And we'll have even more time to analyze the results.

But it's a matter of a few days.

And, in the US, the vast majority of the people -- both those who think that this is the right thing to do and those who think it's wrong -- will be, quietly or noisily, privately or publicly, sending prayers and/or good wishes for the men and women in uniform who will be doing it.

posted by Joel Sunday, March 16, 2003