Archive:

April 2003, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics



Pseudo-Random Thoughts



The Ideal United Nations would be a force for peace and human rights.   The actual United Nations is often an obstacle to both.  Anne Applebaum reveals the actual United Nations in her description of the operation of its Human Rights Commission, now chaired by Libya.  (Libya has recently been accused by anti-slavery activists of buying slaves from Sudan.  The rest of its human rights record makes it all too likely that the charge is true.)  Applebaum is right to say that the West, though better than much of the world on human rights, has been inconsistent.  France, naturally, has been terrible.  The French are now doing their best to block even the investigation of the Sudan, where perhaps 2 million people have died and thousands have been enslaved.
- 7:43 AM, 17 April 2003   [link]


John Keegan has a sensible discussion of the inevitable rivalry between allies, in this case Britain and the United States, over whose troops are the best.  Each country has strengths, he thinks, and each could learn from the other.
- 7:28 AM, 17 April 2003   [link]


The Population of the United States is, by current estimates, about 290 million.  When Robin Cook, who resigned from the Blair cabinet over the war on Saddam, looked for Americans to admire among those 290 million, he found these three:
The US is not just the country of George Bush, it is also the country of Michael Moore, Martin Sheen and Woody Allen.
Michael Moore is a liar and a hater.  His recent "documentary", Bowling for Columbine, is filled with lies, as many people have documented, including responsible people on the left, like those who run the Spinsanity site.  After the 9/11 attack Moore posted a statement on his web site implying that the attack would have been acceptable had it targeted Republicans.  Martin Sheen is an actor with a long history of supporting extremist causes, including left wing dictators and murderers.  Woody Allen is best known these days for seducing the adopted daughter of his common law wife.  These three are not the worst Americans one could find; that Robin Cook thinks they are among the best says something devastating about his judgment.  Prime Minister Blair and Britain are better off without him.

Since this is a Guardian column, one expects errors, and there is a big one.  Mr Cook thinks that Al Gore won a majority of the popular vote in the 2000 election; in fact he won at most a plurality.   (I say at most because American voter rolls include so many who should not be there, especially since the passage of the 1994 "Motor Voter" act, often called for good reason, the "Motor Cheater" act.   For a discussion of the issue, see my analysis of the 2000 election.)   There is nothing terribly unusual about the winner of the popular vote not winning control of the the government, by the way.  It has happened twice in Britain since World War II.  And, it has happened twice in the United States during the same period, 1960 and 2000.
- 7:11 AM, 17 April 2003   [link]


Tom Friedman of the New York Times has a new moral compass:
For me, the best argument for pressuring Syria is the fact that France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said on Sunday that this was not the time to be pressuring Syria.  Ever since he blocked any U.N. military action against Saddam, Mr. de Villepin has become my moral compass: whatever he is for, I am against. And whatever he is against, I am for.
I wouldn't say that's the best argument, but it isn't a bad one.  I have been skeptical about the minister's judgment ever since I learned that he thought that great disaster for France, Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, was glorious.

A better reason would be the one that Friedman calls second best:
And that leads to the second-best reason for regime change in Syria: it could set Lebanon free.   Lebanon is the only Arab country to have had a functioning democracy.  It is also the Arab country that is most hard-wired for globalization.  Trading and entrepreneurship are in Lebanon's DNA.   Lebanon should be leading the Arab world into globalization, but it has not been able to play its natural Hong Kong role because Syria has choked the life out of the place.
Freeing Lebanon from Syrian occupation is the right thing to do, and might have many of the good effects Friedman thinks it will.  From the American point of view, an even better reason to press for regime change is the one he places third.
The third reason for taking on the Syrian regime is the fact that next to Saddam's regime, Syria's is the most repressive in the region, and the one most deeply implicated in protecting terrorists.   Syria must get out of Lebanon, and Israel also needs to get out of Syria (the Golan), but that is going to happen only if there is a reformed Syrian government that no longer needs the conflict with Israel to justify its militarization of Syrian society.
Since France controlled both Lebanon and Syria between World War I and World War II, one would think they would have an obligation to clean up some of the mess they left behind.  Friedman has the outline of an idea, which he calls "aggressive engagement", for how to do that.
- 3:05 PM, 16 April 2003   [link]


Single Mollusc Seeks Same for serious relationship.   Freshwater pearl mussels are now an endangered species in England, in part because individuals have become too spread out.  British scientists are considering moving some of the males closer to females to help them out.

Curiously, British citizens, and Europeans generally, are also in danger of extinction, since they have been having too few children for at least a generation.  As yet, this does not seem to be a big concern to any of the European governments.  Some nations, like Italy, are already so far along the path that it is hard to see how they could turn back, even if they chose to do so.
- 9:39 AM, 16 April 2003   [link]


Seattle Backs Troops:  It took three weeks for the coalition forces to defeat the bulk of the Iraqi forces.  It took a month for the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution of support for the troops.  The delay was caused by a struggle over the language.  The council thought that the phrase "foreign tyrants and aggressors" in the original resolution was "bellicose", to use the word chosen by the Seattle Times reporter.  They also decided that lefty language about "unnecessary combat" was needlessly provocative, with most major combat over.

When I came back to Washington state some years ago, I chose not to live in Seattle, in part because of this kind of political nuttiness.  (And the fact that Seattle then discriminated openly against people of my race and sex.  Washington state initiative 200 ended that discrimination formally, but it still continues, less openly, in Seattle.)
- 9:28 AM, 16 April 2003   [link]


Who Fought for Saddam?  Most Iraqis did not, though many died for him.   But he did get support from fanatical terrorists from other Arab countries.  
The foreign fighters were given money, and operated alongside Fedayin units rather than Baath party militias, and never the regular army.  What is now apparent is that it was these foreign fighters who led the resistance inside Iraq's second city.  [Basra]
Many were well trained in guerilla tactics, and fanatical in their desire to die as martyrs.   American sources put their numbers in the thousands, higher than the current British estimates.   This difference may reflect nothing more than the numbers each nation's troops encountered.   An American commander also observed that their willingness to come to Iraq to die in fanatical attacks against coalition forces probably will save us trouble in the long run.

These radical Islamists got their ideas from the anti-American propaganda that has permeated the Arab world for a generation.  There will be more of them in the years ahead, until their ideas change through the force of our military success, the Iraqi example, and our own ideas.   Changing those ideas will take more than three weeks, more than three years, and, probably, more than three decades.
- 9:06 AM, 16 April 2003
Update:  Here's the Washington Post article on the terrorists, with one Marine's view of their tactics:
Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, expressed outrage at the tactics employed by Arab fighters and some of the Iraqi paramilitary members.  "They lack any kind of courage," he said.  "They literally hide behind women and children, holding them in their houses as they fire. . . . They really lack manhood. They're violating every sense of decency.  They're as worthless an example of men as we've ever fought.
I think he doesn't like them.
- 3:18 PM, 16 April 2003   [link]


Power or Principle?  Matthew Parris, writing in the Times of London, made one of the best arguments against the war on Saddam, shortly before it started.  He has, since then, weakened his own case by a series of overwrought columns, including one that questioned Tony Blair's sanity.  In this latest column, he destroys it completely, lapsing into paranoia:
Today there is only one hegemon, the United States of America; but there is no less a need than existed during the Cold War for a wary defensiveness towards the appetite, the pretensions and the dreams of a great and unchallenged power.  If the US eagle is to be contained, collective action is needed by the smaller mammals.
This is a very old way of thinking, in which only power matters between nations.  Machiavelli thought that way, as did Metternich, Talleyrand, and Bismark.  Kissinger is often accused, with some justice, of having this view of the world.  For Parris, and those who take this view, the United States must be opposed, not because its actions are wrong, but because its power is "unchallenged".  Nations often act this way; as British historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote:
In the world of sovereign states, each does the best it can for its own interests; and can be criticized at most for mistakes, not for crimes.  Bismark, as usual was right when he said of the Austro-Prussian war in 1866:  "Austria was no more in the wrong in opposing our claims than we were in making them."  As a private citizen, I think that all this striving after greatness and domination is idiotic; and I would like my country not to take part in it. As a historian, I recognize that Powers will be Powers.  (Origins of the Second World War, 2nd edition, pp. 278-279)
That nations often act this way, only from motives of power, does not mean that they always act this way.  Nearly every nation sometimes acts on principle, and some nations often do.  The United States has acted on principle regularly through much of our history.  (Of course, within a few decades after independence, we were so secure that acting on principle came easier to us than to less fortunate nations.)  The suppression of the slave trade by the British navy is a powerful example of a nation acting on principle, and it is easy to find other examples.

Before turning to my general argument, let me note a point that should be obvious, but is not.   Nuclear weapons make many old balance of power arguments obsolete.  A nation with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles can not be coerced by other nations as it might have been before they were invented.  To be blunt, nuclear weapons can make any attempt at conquest so horrendously expensive as to not be worth while.

Now then, what about Parris's two main arguments, that the United States has "unchallenged" power, and that other nations, especially Britain, should combine to check the United States?

The first argument is obviously false, as the period before the war on Saddam showed.  Canada and Mexico, our two closest neighbors, refused to go along with us on the war.  Turkey, a long time ally located in a key position, refused to allow our troops passage just before the war, complicating our war plans greatly.  If we are "unchallenged", someone forgot to tell those three nations.  Nor is there any evidence that these three nations will suffer much from their break with us.  Trade disputes may take a bit longer to be resolved, and Turkey will receive a little less aid, but that's all.

There is nothing unique about the pre-war period.  It is easy to find other examples of nations defying our policies with little loss.  Some years ago, for instance, our former possession, the Phillippines, ordered us to leave our bases there.  We went.  (It was probably a good move for both nations, by the way.)  In the last election in South Korea, the winning candidate argued for a reduced dependence on the United States and closer ties with North Korea.  As soon as he was elected, we began planning for withdrawal of part of our forces.  Those with long memories will recall that De Gaulle ordered us and the rest of NATO out of France, and we went.  Far from being "unchallenged", the United States is easy to challenge, and it usually costs the challenger little.

Even if the United States had "unchallenged" power, would it be the right policy for Britain to combine with other nations against us?  That would depend, I think, on what policies we were pursuing.  Let me illustrate with a historical example, and a current one.  During our Civil War, Britain and France, from traditional ideas about power, toyed with the idea of intervening on the side of the Confederacy.  Many of their leaders wanted to weaken the United States so as to give their own nations more power.  After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, making the war unquestionably about slavery, as well as other issues, Britain and France stopped serious consideration of the idea.

The current example is even more striking.  Since the 1960s, the nuclear powers have often cooperated to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons.  They have done so even though spreading these weapons would often be the easiest way to check the power of their rivals.  The Soviet Union did not provide Vietnam with nuclear weapons during the Vietnam war.  The United States has not armed Taiwan with nuclear weapons, even though that would almost guarantee Taiwan against an attack by China.  For all the bitter rivalry of the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union sometimes acted from principle, rather than power.

I said that Britain's stance toward us should depend on the policies we are pursuing.  Parris says little about the policies he would have Britain support, but it is easy to deduce what they would have to be from his choice of allies.  He mentions Germany, France, and Russia prominently, and adds China in another list.  If Britain were to align with those four nations, it would have to accept some of their policies.  Germany has not had much in the way of a foreign policy for many years, but they have made a practice of selling the tools for building chemical weapons to many disgusting nations, including Saddam's Iraq.  Does Parris want to accept that?  Like Germany, France has been willing to sell tools for building chemical weapons, and many conventional weapons, to some truly disgusting regimes.  France has also pursued a neo-colonial policy in Africa that has done much damage there.  Worst was their support for the Hutu forces that committed genocide in Rwanda, both before the genocide and after.  That policy has helped to destabilize central Africa and led to millions of deaths.  Does Parris feel comfortable with all those corpses?  Russia, of course, has been fighting an incompetent and brutal war against the Chechens, along with arming and supporting Saddam.  Are those policies Parris wishes to support?  China, of course, is still a totalitarian nation politically, with a history of brutal suppression of Chinese and non-Chinese within its borders.  If Parris prefers to ally with them, will he be silent about their policies toward religious minorities, including Muslims, Christians and Buddhists?

He might sign up for all of these brutal policies.  He already favors a dirty peace in Iraq, filled with horrors, thinking that might force the United States to change its ways.

(Parris mentions three policy areas in which the rest of the world might differ from the United States, and is wrong in his understanding of all three.  He claims that the United States might move away from free trade, although it has been moving toward it under every president for more than a half century.  President Bush made some early compromises, probably essential to get the "fast track" authority from Congress necessary for most negotiations, but has since pursued consistent free trade policies, far better than those of, for example, Chirac's France.   Parris complains about our lack of support for the Kyoto agreement, apparently not knowing that (1) it was rejected unanimously by the Senate before Bush even took office, and (2) it would not produce any significant improvement in the environment, though it would damage the American economy.   Parris complains about our unwillingness to agree to the International Criminal Court, not realizing or not caring that it is incompatible with our Constitution.  That the United States might be more in the right on these issues than his preferred allies, Germany, France, Russia, and China, does not seem to occur to him.)

Parris is not the only European to hold these view, to favor death and brutality for many outside Europe, if it means a check on American power.  This analysis of polls done in Europe finds that Europeans agree that Saddam is a brutal dictator and that removing him will improve the Middle East, but still oppose American action.
Of course, Europeans see the necessity and justness of our cause, but they strongly resent American military and economic power and wish to thwart and stymie it at every possible avenue.
Regardless of the effects on the Iraqi people and others in the Middle East.  Parris has much company in his willingness to sacrifice the interests and even lives of those outside Europe—as long as it means a check on American power.  The single minded pursuit of national power for its own sake often leads to that result.
- 3:20 PM, 15 April 2003   [link]


Punishing Canada and Chretien:  After Canadian Prime Minister Chretien joined the Axis of Weasels by refusing to support the war on Saddam, there were dire predictions about the revenge President Bush would inflict on him and other, similar leaders.   (Many of these predictions had something of a fantasy quality about them, implying that for the United States, or any other nation, to reward friends and punish enemies was unprecedented.   Paul Krugman wrote a particularly funny column along these lines.)  Well, the punishment for Chretien is here, and it is dire indeed.  President Bush has postponed a state visit to Ottawa.  To add insult to this great injury, Bush has invited an ally, Australian Prime Minister Howard, to visit him at his ranch.  That's it.  I think that Canada, and even Chretien, will survive the postponement.  (Don't expect Krugman, or similar commentators, to note the mildness of the rebuke.)
- 9:48 AM, 15 April 2003   [link]


Teasing the "Peace" Protestors:  I have been bothered by confrontations between those who support removing Saddam and those who opposed removing him.   There is always a risk of violence, and confrontations are a poor way to debate any issue.  But, I like this humorous counter protest, with slogans like "Except for Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism, War Has Never Solved Anything" and "Saddam Only Kills His Own People. IT'S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!".  Humor is often the best way to make an argument, and it makes violence much less likely.
- 9:27 AM, 15 April 2003   [link]


To Encourage the Others:  One reason, though not the most important reason, I favored overthrowing Saddam was the lesson it would give to other hostile dictators.   This Wall Street Journal editorial recounts some of the evidence that the lesson is already beginning to sink in.  Both Iran and North Korea have made diplomatic moves toward the United States since the fall of Saddam.  Even Syria is now desperately denying the obvious, that it supports terrorism.

(Voltaire's famous phrase, about encouraging the others, comes from a remark he made after England courtmartialed and executed Admiral Byng in 1757 for his failure to do his utmost in a battle against a French squadron.  The remark is worth quoting in full:
Dans ce pays-ci it est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.  (In this country [England] it is thought well to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.)
The quotation, with the transalation, is taken from the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.)
- 9:14 AM, 15 April 2003   [link]


More on Who Armed Saddam:  Even before the first Gulf War, Saddam's brutal record was well known, but many nations had little reluctance about selling him the means to make chemical weapons.   (Click on the graphic to see the numbers for different nations.)  Germany was the biggest declared supplier of the equipment to make poison gases, with France second.  (Others, like Russia and China, may not have declared all their sales.)  The German role in providing Saddam the means to make chemical weapons is especially infuriating given their record.   Germany was the first nation to use chemical weapons in World War I.  They were about to supply an entire complex for making chemical weapons to Libya during the Reagan administration, until we objected.  (Even worse, we had to object publicly and make a big stink before the German government halted the sale.)  Kurds and Iranians died to provide a little extra profit for German chemical companies.

We will discover many of the chemical weapons that the Germans helped Saddam build, in spite of some false alarms along the way.  (If you wonder why there are so many false alarms, see this article.   The field tests are designed so that they don't miss poisons, even if that means many false positives.)   The chemical weapons we find may not have "Made in Germany" or "Made in France" on them, but they should.
- 8:23 AM, 14 April 2003   [link]


If True, this small story is good news.  One should treat any story from the Arab media with even more skepticism than one brings to stories in the Western media, but I don't see any obvious reason not to believe this one.
Iraqi Muslims came to the aid of Baghdad's tiny Jewish community yesterday, chasing out looters trying to sack its cultural center in the heart of the capital.
I certainly hope it is true.  Meanwhile, other Iraqis were certainly hunting down terrorists from other Arab countries.
- 8:19 AM, 14 April 2003   [link]


Iraqi Documents Will Indict Many:  Already, there have been sensational stories from captured Iraqi documents.  The Telegraph has the biggest so far.  The Russians spied on Tony Blair and passed the information on to Saddam, provided Iraq with names of assassins in foreign countries (presumably to be used against Iraqi exiles), and assisted Iraqi intelligence in hundreds of other ways.  Intelligence agencies in the two nations were so close that the head of the Iraqi intelligence, Taher Jalil Habosh, sent Christmas cards to his Kremlin counterpart.  The leftist Observer has an important find of its own, files showing how Iraqi intelligence was ordered to hide illegal weapons from the UN inspectors.  Not quite full cooperation, was it?  The San Francisco Chronicle found documents showing the extensive training that Russia was providing to Saddam's intelligence agents.  Perhaps the Russians also provided the Iraqis with these cyanide guns.   There will be many more revelations in the days to come; the Marines just captured Saddam's secret police files.   The Wall Street Journal points out, in this editorial, that the captured terrorist training camps have already begun to provide many leads.

We need to start thinking soon about how to present this material in the most convincing way.   Letting the newspapers put it out will help in the US and Britain.  We should try to get French, German, and Russian journalists involved in this great document hunt, too.  Above all, we should encourage Arab and Muslim journalists to see for themselves.  Later, we will want to set up, or even better, encourage the Iraqis to set up, independent commissions to examine all this material and to hear witnesses.
- 8:05 AM, 14 April 2003   [link]


Apologizing to the Queen:  When vandals defaced a British war cemetery in France, President Chirac was obliged to apologize to Queen Elizabeth, and sent her this letter.   The Times of London seems to take some satisfaction that Chirac at least got the form right:
M Chirac closed his letter with the formula appropriate for correspondence between heads of state.   In French this reads:

Je vous prie de croire, madame, à l'assurance de mes très respecteux hommages."  In English: Madam, please accept the sincerity of my very deep respect for you.
So there you are.  If you are a head of state and have to apologize to another, that's the formula to use.
- 10:46 AM, 13 April 2003   [link]


What Kind of Man Reads Playboy?  Saddam Hussein, judging by this description of one of his hideaways:
The doors of the town house opened to reveal a playboy's fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a mustached hero battling a crocodile.
Only the hero battling a crocodile would be out of place at a Hefner residence.
- 10:31 AM, 13 April 2003   [link]


Norwegian Opinion is Beginning to Shift, as you can see from the details in this article on a recent poll there.  Of those asked in the first three days of the week, 69 per cent opposed the war; of those asked later, after the reports of Coalition victories, just 56 per cent opposed the war.  I would expect further shifts as more reports of celebrating Iraqis reach Norway.  
- 9:30 AM, 11 April 2003   [link]


British Support for War continues to grow, as you can see in this YouGov survey done for the Telegraph on April 10th.  Two thirds now think that military action against Iraq was the right thing to do, up from 50 per cent on March 18th.  They are even giving George Bush higher marks for his handling of the crisis; 57 per cent now rate it good or excellent, while 41 per cent rate it poor or very poor, an almost exact reversal from the poll done March 18th.  That doesn't mean that they now trust Bush more in general; in all the polls done since March 18, those who expect him to make the right decisions about Iraq has stayed within a few points of its current level, 40 per cent.  Many are still surprisingly pessimistic about how much longer the war will last; 15 per cent still think it will take a few months to "defeat the bulk" of the Iraqi forces, while another 23 per cent think it will take a month.  Just 4 per cent share my opinion that the "bulk" of the Iraqi forces have already been defeated.
- 8:45 AM, 11 April 2003   [link]


Those Confusing Americans:  Iraqis, watching our troops, have been trying to figure out where all those diverse people come from.  Often they think that Mexican-Americans are Arabs from some neighboring country.  Other Americans simply baffle them, not fitting into any of the categories they know.  Here's the story of these often amusing guessing games.
- 6:50 AM, 11 April 2003   [link]


British and American Intelligence Officials have drawn some preliminary conclusions about the fall of Saddam, which David Ignatius shares with us in this column.   Saddam and his inner circle had either cracked mentally or were close to it, after the first attack.  The grip of fear on the Iraqi population was loosened gradually.  Most Iraqi troops were unwilling to die for Saddam.

And they shared one fascinating bit of information with Ignatius.
The intelligence officials offered a tantalizing coda for conspiracy-mongers.  They said the "crude forgery" received by U.N. weapons inspectors suggesting the Iraqis were trying to buy uranium from Niger as part of their nuclear program was originally put in intelligence channels by France.   The officials wouldn't speculate on French motives.
The forgery greatly embarrassed the United States and Britain, and did much to discredit the case we were making.  Would the French do that deliberately?  The intelligence officials can't speculate, at least on record, but we can.
- 6:40 AM, 11 April 2003   [link]


The View From Moscow:  This analysis from the Moscow Times of the Russian expectations about, and reactions to, the campaign in Iraq is worth reading.   The Russian military and many of the Russian people hoped for, and expected, a much different and much less successful war:
As the allies' push into Iraq seemed to falter, many hearts in Moscow and in Europe rejoiced.  In a poll taken in late March, 52 percent of Russians were of the opinion that the U.S.-led military action in Iraq was unsuccessful; 58 percent believed it would be a long war; 35 percent were convinced the United States would win in the end, while 33 percent assumed Iraq would prevail.
Our success will raise the obvious question for the Russians:
The worst possible outcome of the war in Iraq for the Russian military is a swift allied victory with relatively low casualties.  Already many in Russia are beginning to ask why our forces are so ineffective compared to the Brits and Americans; and why the two battles to take Grozny in 1995 and 2000 each took more than a month to complete, with more that 5,000 Russian soldiers killed and tens of thousands wounded in both engagements, given that Grozny is one tenth the size of Baghdad.
I think Putin is smart enough to understand what the war has revealed, and I expect that he will be working to reform the Russian military soon.
- 8:03 PM, 10 April 2003   [link]


Asteroid Hunters:  British scientists are proposing to send a spacecraft to the asteroid belt, which would release a swarm of smaller probes to examine different asteroids.  Here's the BBC article.
- 10:18 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


The Arab World reacted with shock to the fall of Baghdad and the scenes of Iraqis celebrating and welcoming the American troops.  Here's an article summarizing the reaction from Morocco to the Persian Gulf.  Like the Iraqi Information Minister, the al Jazeera network suffered an immediate loss of credibility.  Here's the lesson an Arab editor took from the scenes:
But by yesterday morning, the TV stations -- including that advocated the campaign to defend Saddam and his regime -- didn't succeed in hiding the images of the happy people celebrating in the capital.

That's why yesterdays' images, in which the people of Baghdad tore down their dictator's pictures and pissed on them, overthrew the biggest lie in the contemporary history of the Arabic world.
That lie is so important to many of those that believed it, to those still who want to live in what Fouad Ajami called the Dream Palace of the Arabs, that it will not be completely overthrown by the scenes from Baghdad.  But it has taken heavy damage, and the Arabs are better off for that.
- 10:12 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


The National Review Gloats, with its own list of failed predictions on the war in Iraq.  Wonder how many of those who were wrong will admit it?
- 9:56 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


In Victory, Magnanimity:  Churchill advised that at the end of World War II, and Robert Kagan thinks it should guide our policy toward those European governments that opposed us in the war on Saddam.  (We should not, however, cover up the evidence that will be coming out of Iraq about their complicity in Saddam's regime.  In fact, we should encourage the Iraqis to set up a commission of inquiry to publicize their past behavior.)  We should resist another temptation, as well.  We should not choose the Iraqi leader, even temporarily.
- 8:41 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


Iraqis Loot German Embassy and French Cultural Center:  For some reason, Iraqis don't seem to think those nations are friends, as you can see in the item I found in Le Monde's hour by hour coverage of the war, with my rough translation in parentheses:
- 11 h 39 : Pillage de l'ambassade allemande
L'ambassade d'Allemagne et le centre culturel français à Bagdad ont été mis à sac par des pillards, selon un journaliste de l'AFP. Les pillards sont rentrés dans la cour intérieure de l'ambassade d'Allemagne en voiture et même à cheval.  Ils ont démonté tout ce qu'ils ont trouvé, le mobilier, les néons, les réfrigérateurs, les appareils vidéo.  La scène est la même dans le centre culturel français.  Un groupe de sept Français employés par la chancellerie était resté à Bagdad pour assurer la protection des locaux, le personnel diplomatique ayant évacué la capitale irakienne.

(The German embassy and the French cultural center in Baghdad have been sacked by looters, according to a journalist with Agence France Presse.  The looters entered into the interior court of the German embassy in vehicles and even on horses.  They dismantled everything they found, the furniture, the neon lights, the refrigerators, and the video apparatus.  The scene was the same at the French cultural center.  A group of seven French chancellor employees had stayed in Baghdad to protect these localities, the diplomatic personnel having been evacuated from the Iraqi capital.)
Wonder why Iraqis would feel that way about the Germans and the French?
- 8:23 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


The Telegraph Gloats, with this list of predictions about the war, most of them wrong.  (I'll try to find a similar list with a more American focus.)
- 8:03 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


Russian Roulette:  In this column, Anne Applebaum wonders about some medals.
A few days before the United States invaded Iraq, two retired Russian generals received medals from Saddam Hussein's defense minister.
Why did they receive the medals?  She isn't sure, but her speculations are worth reading for the light they shed on our relations with Russia.
- 7:57 AM, 10 April 2003   [link]


More Good News from Afghanistan:  Seventeen students graduated from a computer networking class sponsored by Cisco.  Among the seventeen were six women, including Nabila Akbari, one of the star students.  Here's the full Reuters article.  
- 10:32 AM, 9 April 2003   [link]


Weird Rumor:  While skimming through Le Monde, I found a weird item in their hour by hour coverage of the war:
- 8 h 58 : Archives du régime "déjà à Moscou", selon la presse
Les tirs américains sur un convoi diplomatique russe dimanche pourraient s'expliquer, selon le quotidien Nezavissimaïa Gazeta, par une bataille entre services spéciaux russes et américains pour les archives secrètes de Saddam Hussein, qui seraient toutefois "probablement déjà à Moscou".  Le journal croit savoir que le président Vladimir Poutine a eu une rencontre à huis clos au Kremlin avec le chef du service de renseignements extérieurs, Sergueï Lebedev.  Le journal cite plusieurs circonstances de l'incident de dimanche qui, selon lui, appuient cette version. Ainsi, souligne-t-il, le commandement américain avait été averti à l'avance par les Russes du trajet qu'allait emprunter le convoi.

(The American shots on a diplomatic Russian convoy Sunday can be explained, according to a Russian daily newspaper (New World Gazette?), by a battle between the Russian and American special services for the secret archives of Saddam Hussein, which are "probably already in Moscow".  The newspaper is believed to know that President Vladimir Putin has had a secret Kremlin meeting with the chief of external intelligence, Sergei Lebedev.  The newspaper cites many circumstances of the incident on Sunday which, according to them, supports this version.  Thus, it emphasized, the American commander had been warned in advance by the Russians about the course the convoy would take.)
First, two skeptical thoughts.  First, as nearly everyone knows, Russian publications are not known for their accuracy.  Second, the archives of Saddam Hussein must be so vast that only a small part could be carried in a diplomatic convoy.  Despite this skepticism, the idea that the Russians are trying to remove embarrassing records seems all too plausible to me.

Note:  If your French is better than mine, feel free to email corrections to my rough translation.
- 10:02 PM, 9 April 2003   [link]


Pockets of Resistance remain at the Guardian, as you can see in this column, by "military analyst" Dan Plesch:
Reports of victory may be premature.  The British and American forces could still face protracted and bloody resistance - and worse
They may be premature, but that isn't the way to bet, at this point in the war.  It is obvious from the column that Plesch hopes they are premature, hopes, in other words, that the overthrow of Saddam will be far more costly for the Iraqis and the coalition forces than it has been so far.
- 9:34 AM, 9 April 2003   [link]


900 Posts:  Every hundred posts, I usually mention several earlier posts that I think you might look at.  Today, as Baghdad is being liberated, I will mention just one, my analysis showing that a majority of Iraqis favored removing Saddam, even if it took a war to do so.  The progress of the war against Saddam suggests that I was correct when I wrote that "somewhere between 50 and 90 per cent of Iraqis want Saddam out, even at the cost of a war".  Not all wanted him out, but most did, and now they are getting their wish.
- 8:10 AM, 9 April 2003   [link]


Breakthrough in France:  The coalition victories in Iraq have made possible a breakthrough in France.  Yesterday, Le Figaro, the more moderate of the two French newspapers I have been scanning, printed a small article that mentioned the welcome that the British troops were receiving in Basra.  Today, their lead story has this to say about the welcome the American forces are receiving in Baghdad  (With my rough translations in parentheses):
Un petit groupe de jeunes Irakiens agitant leur T-shirt au dessus de leur tête pour saluer les Américains marchait sur l'avenue en direction de l'énorme statue de Saddam Hussein qui trône au milieu de la place.  (A small group of young Iraqis waved their T-shirts over their heads to salute the Americans marching on the avenue in the direction of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein enthroned in the middle of the place.)
. . .
Ailleurs, des Irakiens applaudissaient les Marines américains, déchirant un portrait géant du président irakien et pillant les ministères et bâtiments publics, à moins de 3 km du centre de la capitale.   (Elsewhere, some Iraqis applauded the American Marines, destroying a giant portrait of the Iraqi president and pillaging the ministries and public buildings, less than 3 kilometers from the center of the capital.)

A Hababiyah, un quartier du nord de Bagdad, des centaines d'Irakiens se sont précipités mercredi vers les transports de troupes américains en applaudissant et en scandant «Good, Good, Bush !» à trois kilomètres du centre de la ville.  (In Hababiyah, a northern quarter of Baghdad three kilometers from the center of the city, some hundreds of Iraqis rushed Wednesday toward the American transports applauding and shouting "Good, Good, Bush!")
The leftist Le Monde had not mentioned the welcome given the British yesterday, but today their lead story has the story from Hababiyah and this, too:
Un convoi des marines se dirigeant des faubourgs est vers le Monument aux martyrs, situé à trois kilomètres du pont de Joumhouriya sur le Tigre, a été applaudi par une foule d'habitants chantant, dansant et jetant des fleurs au passage des soldats américains.  (A convoy of Marines, steering through suburbs toward the Monument of the Martyrs, situated three kilometers from the bridge of Joumhouriya on the Tigris river, have been applauded by a mob chanting, dancing, and throwing flowers in the path of the American soldiers.)
It must have been painful for the editors at those newspapers to print these stories.  It will be painful for the Chirac government to read them.
- 8:45 AM, 9 April 2003   [link]


"Go Home Human Shields" reads the sign being carried by two Iraqis in Baghdad.  (It adds, "You US Wankers", showing that there will still be misunderstandings, since many Americans won't understand that insult.)  I think any remaining "human shields" should take that advice, since it is becoming clear what most people in Iraq think of the Saddam regime and its Western supporters.
- 6:30 AM, 9 April 2003   [link]