Saturday, March 29, 2003

I'd appreciate being politely disabused of the dark fancies outlined below ...

It occurs, you see, that the PNAC chickenhawks and thei buddies need not launch attacks on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt (etc etc etc) one at a time. If these mad boffins have been cleverer than they've been letting on (I mean, who isn't?), they might indeed have expected people in Iraq would defend their homeland - much as anybody else would rise to defend theirs against unprovoked invasion.

The distinct improbability of a post-carnage US-sympathetic democracy in the Middle East mightn't have bothered them too much; they might well be satisfied with the default setting of modern empire - a few bought-and-paid-for pet thugs in charge (although those of a dismarrhoeaic disposition would see even this as a recipe for perpetual bloodshed, chronic uncertainty and escalating costs, both in financial and PR terms).

Had the chickenhawks anticipated a difficult and bloody invasion, they'd surely have anticipated an intensification of Arab indignation and Muslem suspicion. After all, had they wanted to be diplomatic, they could have been, but they were certainly never that. Nope, they'd been telling the people of the Middle-East of their intentions for years, and, in case Tehran wasn't listening then, Shrub later publicly confirmed it, officially pronouncing Iran 'evil' in a speech historians will discuss for centuries to come.

If come those centuries do.

Anyway, covert assistance to Baghdad on the part of other countries on the PNAC menu would only be expected. Whether such assistance would initially be forthcoming was hardly the point. People who could be made to believe an invasion of an impoverished and weakened third-world country on the other side of the world constituted an act of self-defence on the part of the mightiest land the world had ever seen could certainly be made to believe something that actually made sense.

And the more pressured and antagonised the neighbouring countries and people would become, the more likely would become their overt antipathy.

Thus would a convenient case for extending America's 'defensive' war unto a massive all-in-one Day Of Reckoning practically make itself ...

It all looks like a gamble so massive no sane mortal would entertain the idea for a second. But it doesn't say anywhere that a democracy can't fall into the hands of a pack of wall-biting maniacs.

Let's face it, it's happened before.

Anyway, those given to such bleak suspicions would be looking for stories like this one:

'US turns sights on Syria and Iran
By Roland Watson and Tim Reid in Washington and Michael Evans
Rumsfield accuses Damascus over arms ...

THE war in Iraq threatened to spill over into neighbouring countries yesterday when Washington warned Syria and Iran to stay out of the fight.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, accused Syria of arming President Saddam Hussein. He said the shipments, including nightvision goggles, were a direct threat to US and British forces and he added that Washington would hold Damascus accountable for “hostile acts” if the traffic continued ... Asked if he was threatening Damascus with military action, he replied: “I’m saying exactly what I’m saying. It was carefully phrased ... Mr Rumsfeld also said that hundreds of revolutionaries of the Badr Corps, who are trained, equipped and directed by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard, were operating inside Iraq. He said American forces would be forced to treat them as enemy “combatants” and the Iranian Government would be held responsible for their actions ... The surprise threats raised the spectre that the war could suddenly and quickly spiral out of control ...'
Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I've just been watching Ari Fleischer explaining why it's an outrage to compare the Iraqi display of US POWS with what the US are doing to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The latter were caught during the War On Terror, he argued indignantly, whereas the Iraq war is an altogether different conflict.

So we have it from the prez's spokesdork - nice and official-like. The Iraq invasion is not part of the war on terror. It is something else.

This didn't seem a remarkable point to the hackery there assembled; certainly, no-one followed up. Seems huge to me. What am I missing?
Monday, March 24, 2003

Whilst I have always felt more libertarian than anything else, I typically find myself in disagreement with those at the Australian Libertarians' team blog as to what liberated humanity might look like. That said, the latest two posts from 'Strawman' and '24601', respectively on the display of POWs and associated quandaries and on the personal responsibility of each and every soldier who represents a liberal democracy strike me as thoughtful and well argued.

So I've had to add the buggers to my links list.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

The news bulletins mention Big Mike's acceptance speech every time, but we get to hear only Nicole's selfless appeal to art in times of turmoil. Thanks to Paul Zarembka of the Progressive Economists' List (pen-l), here is the transcript:

"Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from
Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow
documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to ? they're
here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction
and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have
fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in
a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.
Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we
are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And
any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is
up. Thank you very much."

Sums it all up nicely, for mine ...

Work commitments shall keep me quiet for a few days. But before I skip jauntily back to the satanic mill; one last thoughtlet. What's Rumsfeld on about with that 'it's against the Geneva convention to show pictures of prisoners of war' line? Haven't we been treated to about a thousand repeats of those two Iraqi soldiers passing into captivity?

I suppose editorial mistakes do happen, even a thousand times in a row. And it does seem the mistake has been rectified.

I have to admit I haven't seen a single frame of that entire 51st division wot
surrendered to a man on day two.

I mentioned a couple of days ago we'd have to keep our eyes open for the bullshit bombardment that would foreshadow phase two of the neocon agenda. I'd thought we'd have to wait until Baghdad had been laid waste and a suitable period of sombre tsk-tsking had been observed. I'd assumed some time would be put aside for some apparent reconstruction - maybe even the odd hint of nascent 'peace', 'freedom' and 'democracy' rising from the ruins. But even Yours Cynically has underestimated the blind arrogance of those mad boffins at the Project for a New American Century. Writing from the comfort of his 'Freedom Chair' at the American Enterprise Institute (mothership of the PNAC), Michael A. Ledeen feeds the *New York Sun* (March 19, 2003) a lovely drop of copy called 'After Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, Riyh

Ledeen opens strongly - riffing off the all-purpose 'everything's different now' refrain and then moving straight to something of a John Howard moment. You know the one, 'if we don't bomb now, er, stuff could happen'. The intro closes with the one definitive PNAC moment - or, to put it another way - the madness of the blinkered idealogue.

"Once upon a time, it might have been possible to deal with Iraq alone, without having to face the murderous forces of the other terror masters in Tehran, Damascus, and Riad, but that time has passed. We have given them more than a year to prepare for this moment, and they are ready. The Iranian, Syrian, and Saudi tyrants know that if we win a quick victory in Iraq and then establish a free government in Baghdad, their doom is sealed. It would then be only a matter of time before their peoples would demand the same liberation we brought to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thus, they must do everything in their power to tie us down in Iraq, bleed us on the ground, frustrate our designs, and eventually break our will."

The same liberation we brought to Afghanistan?! Good Grief.

Anyway, then comes the tried-and-um-tried-again Colin Powell moment:

Just two weeks ago, for example, Hezbollah's founder, Mohtashemi Pour, traveled to Beirut and Damascus to coordinate the terror strategy, and then returned to Tehran where he met with Iraqi representatives. The terror network today is right out of The Godfather. The heads of the five families have met and agreed upon a war strateg."

Oh, and there's the mandatory Orwell moment, too. Apparently, we must keep killing if dying is to be avoided. Cop this:

"It would be a terrible humiliation for America and Britain to fall prey to needless bloodshed because we blinded ourselves to the larger war in which we are now engaged. Iraq is a battle, not a war. We have to win the war, and the only way to do that is to bring down the terror masters, and spread freedom throughout the region."

But wait; there's more! Here comes the Goebbels moment:

"Rarely has it been possible to see one of history's potential turning points so clearly and so dramatically as it is today. Rarely has a country been given such a glorious opportunity as we have in our hands. But history is full of missed opportunities and embarrassing defeats.

We'll know soon which destiny we will achieve."

At least I'm with the bloke on that 'turning point' bit ...
political economic and cultural observations in the register of dismal dilettantism

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