|View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, March 31, 2003
Maskirovka is the Russian word for deception, especially deception in warfare. There's been a little discussion about that over at NRO, and I wanted to add in a couple of possibilities as well. Reports say that Republican Guard troops, from Tikrit, no less, were the ones defending the bridge at Hindiyah today. Given their ineffectiveness, I hope it really was them, and not just irregulars given their uniforms. I also hope all those tanks we're hitting are occupied or intended for use. Is it possible that Saddam had Bradley-fodder drive them down, whil ethe real deal is still waiting for us in Baghdad? I don't know, and I assume that communications traffic is being analyzed for these possibilities.
Here's the official prayer being circulated by the Union of Orthodox Synagogues, and the Rabbinical Council of America, both organizations representing the preponderance of Orthodox synagogues in the US:
I challenge the mullahs in this country, who portray themselves as patriotic Americans, to say the same thing. If they want to replace the Biblical quotes with Koranic ones, so be it.
Sunday, March 30, 2003
I'm not sure what all the blathering about having miscalculated the number of troops we'd need is about. The troops being sent over were due to be in theater weeks ago, and as soon as it looked like Turkey really would keep us out, we started sending the ships south towards the Suez Canal. These troops were supposed to be in the north, but it's not clear that would have affected the fighting in the south all that much. The pause to regroup, and let the Air Force take care of softening up the Guard was planned - as soon as the troops crossed the border, one of Fox News's embeddees was reporting that they were to take 5 days' food and water with them. That means they were expected to be on their own for that long, and then they'd take stock and go from there.
Deacon of Powerline claims the conservatives and liberals alike are deluded by the mirage of changing our image in the Arab world by doing good deeds. Instead, he claim, as the major power in the region, we'll just get blamed for everything that goes wrong, even after we've been gone for generations.
One more WWII posting. Paul Fussell complains in Wartime about the softer, comforting tone of E.B. White as, if not dishonest, at least misleading. But here, in a Harper's article from February of 1942, Mr. White complains about press opacity:
Le plus ca change, er, the more things change...
Saturday, March 29, 2003
As it begins to sink in that we're facing an enemy that has more in common with the Nazis than with the Taliban, more WWII reporting, this from Autumn 1941, and Howard K. Smith:
Here, there is reason for hope for us. Because is becomes increasingly clear to our troops and reporters on the ground that the biggest fear for normal Iraqis is the Baathists. If Jed Babbin is right, and we're facing a boiling pot of terrorist intervention throughout the country, I suspect most Iraqis will turn on them, too. If we bring them freedom, they surely have no desire to descend back into the Saddamite pit, nor to turn themselves into the West Bank. I think this does argue for asking, as Mr. Chalabi suggests, the Iraqi people to take a larger part in their own liberation. They'll be that much less likely to give it back if they've helped fight for it themselves.
I happened to catch a little bit of former senator Gary Hart's, er, performance, on Hannity and Colmes, and it was one of the most dishonest appearances by a supposedly leading politician not named Clinton that I have ever seen. He attacked the notion of the war while, in the same sentence, saying that we need to come together and support the effort. Then, he attacked Hannity for impugning his patriotism by calling him a "liberal." Why was Gary upset? Was it that liberals are patriotic, or that he's not a liberal. When Hannity (somewhat ineffectively) pointed out that Hart is is a liberal, he went ballistic, pointing out that McGovern was a bomber pilot, and that the anti-war movement is supported by right-wing lunatics, too. For all the world it sounded like he was trying to deny his liberalism.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
So Syria want to play, huh? With what, exactly? They might be able to complicate the diplomatic situation, but it's hard to see how that's going to change much. Near as I can tell, New Europe doesn't care as more for Assad than they do for Saddam, and it's not like Syria has much to offer on the world market.
I'm a little afraid that, for whatever reason, the President seems to want to re-involve the UN in this whole mess afterwards. The Matthew Kaminski has a fine WSJ op-ed explaining why it doesn't even do relief work well. I could see a Palestinization of the Iraqis - eternal dependence on a self-important and self-righteous bureaucracy, leading to bitterness and radicaliztion of the population. And Claudia Rossett had another WSJ op-ed a few months ago exposing the Food-for-Oil program as a UN jobs program. Fortunately, once again, our opponents may prove to be their own worst enemies, and the French seem determined to torpedo this proposition.
As for Jed Babbin's fears, he may have properly pinpointed Saddam's Jenin strategy, both the State Department and Britain have shown a clear willingness to pursue ends with means they would deny to Israel. We appear to be willing to sustain whatever short-term diplomatic damage we need to, and we're not dependent on another country for economic or military survival.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Much has been made of the reportage, and the uniqueness of this war's embeddingof reporters. Rumsfeld is right to point out that the last case of embedding was on a weekly, rather than instantaneous, new cycle. But I still thought it might be instructive to look at the Library of America Reporting World War II, which includes eyewitness reporting from that era's best. When I come across good passages, I'll wrote them.
I guess some people never learn.
The Canadians asked two questions this morning about depleted uranium shells. Repeated studies have shown that it's not any more toxic than normal poisons, and the greatest danger lies in being in a building where one lodges. But the two questioners just assumed this was more dangerous than regular shells. The briefer seemed to get a little impatient with the question the second time, bringing to mind the idiocy of the questions during the first Gulf War.
CNN is reporting on a mural that the Marines in Iraq have come across. It has to be seen to be believed. Be prepared to be shocked & not at all awed.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Some sort of French trade representative is on FoxNews right now explaining why we're wrong to be mad at them. He didn't win any friends by starting out whining about how we're singling them out when the "rest of the world also disagrees." Neil Cavuto tried to take him on, but sort of dancde around the point. He did say that part of the reason for our anger is that the war's started, and "why don't the French just shut up already?" It would have been better if he had told them they were missing an opportunity to shut up. All the more ironic that this fellow said that the boycott was "silly, because it doesn't add anything to the debate, and we want to raise the level of the debate."
Rally Pictures from Sunday
We got over 2000 people:
Including the ubiquitous Congressman Tom Tancredo:
A Dog of War. You'll notice he still leashed:
They're using dolphins to help clear mines. Where's PETA?
The Army is claiming over 500 Iraqi soldiers killed in the last 2 days of fighting in the south. This apparently does not include those killed by Marines. We're reporting a total of 12 killed - 1 Army and 11 Marines, 9 of whom were killed under a white flag - and 7 captured. I know we don't want to get into a body-count kind of war, but it underscores what Victor Davis Hanson calls the lethality of our armed forces.
Monday, March 24, 2003
I think by now everyone agrees that embedding the reporters has been a terrific success. It gives credibility to the reports, credibility to the military, and promotes sympathy for the troops among the reporters with them. There are some problems of perspective - every firefight ends up being the decisive battle of the war, and the reporters still focus on the little that's going bad as opposed to the large strategic picture which is terrific. But on the whole, I think it really helps to have reporters with the troops talking about operations going off like clockwork, praising the morale, professionalism, and coolness of the troops under fire.
We had a fine pro-War, pro-troops rally here in Denver yesterday, getting about 2000 folks to show up on a gorgeous Spring day at the State Capitol. Pictures to follow. The afternoon host on KHOW-630, no raging conservative, harped on two points throughout the event he hosted. First, we were to "demonstrate how to demonstrate," as opposed to the decidedly non-peaceful peace demonstrators. Secondly, this is not about politics any more. It's time to stop that while we're actually fighting.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
The Colorado Coalition for Israeli Surrender, er, Middle East Peace, is planning a mournful prayer vigil to protest the freeing of Iraq this afternoon at 5:00PM at the State Capitol. Americans Against Terrorism is planning a peaceful, non-confrontational counter-protest across the street from them at 5:15 PM. Bring flags (American and Coalition), signs, and voices.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Colorado has finally liberalized its concealed-carry laws, moving from "may-issue" to "shall-issue" status. If you're over 21, not a felon, and have passed a training course, you qualify for a permit. This is a major victory for those who honor the 2nd Amendment.
Australia - http://www.austemb.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Azerbaijan - http://www.azembassy.com/ - email@example.com
Bulgaria - http://www.bulgaria-embassy.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Colombia - http://www.colombiaemb.org/ - email@example.com
Czech Republic - http://www.mzv.cz/washington/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Denmark - http://www.denmarkemb.org/ - email@example.com
El Salvador - http://www.elsalvador.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Estonia - http://www.estemb.org/ - email@example.com
Ethiopia - http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/index.shtml - http://www.ethiopianembassy.org/faqs/index.shtml
Georgia - http://www.georgiaemb.org/Home.asp - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hungary - http://www.hungaryemb.org/ - email@example.com
Italy - http://www.italyemb.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Japan - http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/ - No Email?
South Korea - http://www.koreaembassyusa.org/ - email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Latvia - http://www.latvia-usa.org/ - Embassy@Latvia-USA.org
Lithuania - http://www.ltembassyus.org/ - email@example.com
Macedonia - http://www3.sympatico.ca/emb.macedonia.ottawa/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Netherlands - http://www.netherlands-embassy.org/ - No Email?
Nicaragua - http://www.un.int/nicaragua/ - No Email?
Philippines - http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/ - email@example.com
Poland - http://www.polandembassy.org/ - No Email?
Romania - http://www.roembus.org/ - Ambassador@roembus.org
Slovakia - http://www.slovakembassy-us.org/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Spain - http://www.spainemb.org/ingles/indexing.htm - Online Form
Turkey - http://www.turkishembassy.org/start.html - email@example.com
United Kingdom - http://www.britainusa.com/ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Uzbekistan - http://www.uzbekistan.org/ - email@example.com
Afghanistan, Albania, and Eritrea don't seem to have an online diplomatic presence, but the latter two might have some appropriate governmental sites.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Hans Blix says that Iraq won't use WMDs becuase it would turn world opinion against it. This reminds me of the State Department official who didn't want to bomb to railways leading to Auschwitz because that would only make the Nazis more vindictive towards the Jews.
Herb Keinon, the diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, and native Denverite, was back here on a US speaking tour, and I got a chance to see him address a small and mostly sympathetic crowd at the University of Denver. He spoke at some length, but in my notes, I have a number of places where I've note similarities between the PA and the old Soviet state.
Not all of this should be a surprise, since Arafat is something of a holdover from Soviet days, learned a lot from his old patrons. Still, it's stuff that has been adopted by other, demonstrably non-Communist Arab leaders as well.
While I agree that Bill Clinton will pretty much say whatever he thinks will get applause out of whomever he's speaking to, I also think that he's got a point with the thing about creating a world we'd want to live in if we're not top dog. The problem is, as usual, he draws the wrong conclusion.
The world I want to live in, if America weren't the World's Sole Superpower, isn't one where tinpoit dictators could impose their will on their neighbors. It's, instead, one where liberty and freedom are widespread. The war we're about to wage will bring *that* world one step closer.
Monday, March 17, 2003
Why don't we hear more about Jose Maria Anzar of Spain? He and the Prime Minister of Portugal, who hosted yesterday's summit, are real heroes here. They're not taking as much political flack at home as Blair is, but then again, we don't have any traditional alliance with Spain. From about 1798 to 1898, our main relationship with Spain was taking over bits of their crumbling empire. After WWI, Spain first swung communist, then fascist, and they only came to liberal democracy in the late 70s.
Maybe that's it. Maybe they understand Iraq so well because, like New Europe, they haven't gotten used to a US-defended democracy.
Monday, March 10, 2003
Rep. James Moran (D-Riyadh, well, actually Virginia, I'm ashamed to say), made some comments at an anti-war rally the other day to the effect that Jewish leaders were dragging the country into the war, and could stop it if they wanted to.
Sunday, March 02, 2003
In today's Washington Post, Anne-Marie Slaughter has an analysis of the UN that only an academic attorney could love. Her essential point is that the UN was hijacked by the Cold War and that now, with the return of "normal" foreign relations, the Security Council and the UN are behaving as intended, in a multi-polar world. God forbid that she's right.
The founders may have thought they were being realistic compares to the Wilson. But it's hard to argue that France was of major importance in the "power structure" in 1945. Ravaged by war, having folded like tin foil, in possession of a colonial empire yearning to breathe, well, not in French, anyway, France was given a permanent seat on the Security Council to preserve the fiction that they were part of the power structure. Likewise, I'm not quite sure I understand the presence of China as a permanent member at that point, either, unless it was with an eye to the future. The Japanese still occupied parts of the country, some controlled by the Communists, some controlled by the Nationalists. For years, we were taught in school that the Five Permanent Members were also the five nuclear powers, but this was only true after China exploded their bomb, and ceased being true when Israel developed hers.
Last night, we attended the Colorado Symphony with some friends of ours. The program consisted of a suprisingly unoffensive Richard Strauss serenade, an unsurprisngly grating Strauss tone-poem, and Beethoven's 5th. The Strauss tone-poem was his Don Quixote, and we all agreed that we would rather have heard selections from Man of La Mancha. But the real concert was Ludwig.