Friday, April 11, 2003

What he said

I am going to print out this post from The Primary Main Objective and hand it out to my lefty friends.

It was originally posted in the comments section as a reply to the standard ravings of a peacenick. I love it all. Here is a small taste...
On the other points, though you speak with passion, you weave statements, misinformation and conspiracy theories into a broad banner that proclaims that, while you care, you don't care enough to get the facts straight. Forgive me if I ascribe motivations to you (even though you freely did so to others), but I believe you are simply repeating the tired pseudo-arguments of a dozen different groups without having any coherent thoughts or analysis of your own.
The justification for the war has never changed. Some aspects may be emphasized more than others. Let me tell you what that is, "Disarmament of Iraq, through regime change", with the inevitable result of liberation of the Iraqi people.
Finally, don't ascribe your euro-derived cynicism to us. We really believe the world can be a better place and we're one of the few who are willing to risk our lives to do something about it.

Go read it all - it is a masterful dressing down of peacenick pablum

Whoever Chuck W is he needs a blog. At the very least I need to buy him a drink.

Funny Stuff

Andrew Sullivan linked to a very funny piece on - Sex Tips from Donald Rumsfeld.

In order to fully appreciate this you may have to obsessively watch Rumsfeld's press conferences - as I do. The format is cross between the format of an advice collumn and that of a Rumsfeld press conference. A favourite bit...
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld: My husband and I have an active love life, and I'm generally satisfied, but sometimes I'd like him to go "down there." —Kate Waterman, Enid, Oklahoma

Secretary Rumsfeld: Down where? I'm here to answer legitimate questions about sex in a frank and candid way, but I'm not doing this just to waste my time. Do you mean your belly button? Your knees? Your toes? Boca Raton? Argentina?

I think it is hysterical! However I may be a bit biased as I am madly in love with 'Rummy'.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Marines meet Wankers

BuzzMachine links to a great story in the San Francisco Chronicle that deserves a lot of attention.

The story details Marines entry into the city of Baghdad. From the fierce fighting in the outskirts to the shocking ease with which they entered the center of the city. One part that was striking was the fact that the Press corps requested protection from the Marines.
Then the press corps showed up. They'd lost their escorts and minders earlier in the day, and they felt at risk from looters, robbers and Fedayeen.

When McCoy saw them, he asked permission from senior officers to proceed to the Palestine Hotel and Sheraton area, where the Marines would set up a defense for the press corps and for local hospitals. Permission granted.

That led to what turned into the triumphant march to Firdos Square, and the toppling of the Hussein statue, a picture the Marines knew would be an instant symbol seen around the world.

For all the complaints of the Press who were killed when the Hotel Palestine was under fire it is telling that they "felt at risk" from the Fedayeen. Of course the first thing they did was go to the Marines for protection.

Now comes the most suprising part of this story. "Human Shields" were there in central Baghdad and had the temerity to tapproach the Marines.
There was a lot of smiling and laughing. One Iraqi slapped high-fives at passing Marines and Western reporters.

Some American and European "human shields" were there, antiwar activists who had come to Baghdad and placed themselves in front of power plants and other potential targets. They chastised the Marines for attacking Iraq and promoting war.

That angered some of the soldiers. "I didn't bury two of my fellow Marines just so someone like that could call us murderers," said one, angry and teary, referring to an Iraqi artillery attack that killed two of his colleagues on Monday. "They died for this country."

These "Human Shields" clearly did not get the memo that they were 'opposing the war while supporting the troops'. It takes a special kind of evil person to 'chastise' and make a Marine 'teary'. Keep in mind that these 'useful idiots' were in the midst of Iraqis who were celebrating their new freedom.

Iraqis came up with the perfect response to the "Human Shields"
Meanwhile, two Iraqis held up a sheet bearing the message: "Go home Human Shields, you U.S. Wankers."
While I appreciate the sentiment - I hope that they don't come back here. Perhaps France will take them in.

Update - I found two more articles that have a bit more detail about the Marines interaction with the "Human Shields"
From the Times Online
“YANKEE bastard,” yelled the young British peacenik at the first American tank to roll up to the Palestine Hotel. “Go home.”
She picked a man who had waited for 576 days to give his answer. Marine First Lieutenant Tim McLaughlin leant from the turret of his Abrams tank — nickamed “Satan’s Right Hand” — and screamed back: “I was at the Pentagon September 11. My co-workers died. I don’t give a f***.”
From the Independant
When one of the few remaining "human shields" in Baghdad, Uzma Bashir, from Rickmansworth, baited the troops with shouts of "Yankee murderers", Cpl Ibrahim Rahim exploded: "I scooped up the brains of two young marines ... They died fighting to liberate Iraq. And you stand here insulting them with this shit." He added: "I am a Muslim ... and I know this region. That woman is seriously abusing her right of speech."
Nice to know that for once somebody yelled back at a peacenick - I almost rather that they had acted a bit more proactively to shut them up.

I am still amazed at the actions of the "Human Shields" these are clearly people who just don't get it.

Must Read

Please go read a missive from Mrs. Smash over at LT. Smash.

She writes hauntingly on the challenge of being a spouse on the homefront.

So I carry on, trying to keep myself occupied. The home improvement projects certainly help! Mealtimes are the hardest. I’m not crazy about cooking in the best of situations, and I can’t abide cooking “for one.” LT’s parents take pity on me and have me to dinner a couple of times per week, and I go out with friends from time to time. But when I don’t have plans, and dinnertime rolls around, that’s when I feel the most alone.

I happen to know a couple of women who are living through the same challenges and they are very strong brave women. I have commented on this site before about the importance of remembering the families that are here on the homefront. Perhaps reading Mrs. Smash will remind us that more than just the men in uniform have made sacrifices.

If you have a friend, neighbor or coworker who is waiting for news from the ‘sandbox’ take a minute to invite them to dinner or lunch. That can be the best way to support the troops, by helping their family here at home.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

What Next?

No matter what the images on the television there are those who still think the worst. I asked myself what the next cause for the “blame America first crowd” would be.

I came up with a few possibilities…

- Far to many civilian casualties. No matter that we have made every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties and no matter that the civilian casualties to weapons used ratio will be the lowest in history – this rallying cry will be heard loud and clear.

- There was no need for a war Containment would have worked until the regime collapsed like the USSR. Our ‘easy’ victory proves that the Saddam Regime was weak and ready to topple under it’s own weight.

- A US created Democratic government will be ‘Imperialism’. No matter that this would be a truly elected government “of the people, by the people and for the people” it would not be a traditional middle Eastern form of government.

- Iraq must be rebuilt NOW Any delay in creating a comprehensive infrastructure in the next month will be seen as a total failure.

- What about the Children? If humanitarian aid is delayed by a nanosecond, in fact if Iraqi children are not at this moment being cared for by a comprehensive program from the UNICEF and UNHCR we must be a total failure. Never mind that fighting is still going on and the fact that children are ill today is because of Saddam robbing the food for oil program to build his weapons.

- The “Wild Westification” of the world by ”Cowboy” President Bush. The perceived ease of our victory in ‘violation’ of the UN will lead to a world where nations once again solve all problems through violence rather than words.

I look forward to seeing what the next move of the ‘Peace Movement’ will be. If you have any other ideas of what path they will follow please drop me an e-mail. If I were a gambling gal I would even start a pool on this one.

Happy Day!

I eagerly await the choruses of “I was wrong” from everyone who proclaimed that this war would be an abject failure.

I know that these apologies will not be forthcoming – it is enough for me to know that they should be.

However, an apology from Janeane Garafolos is sure to be forthcoming. As reported at Little Green Footballs Garafolo promised an apology on O’Reilly.
O’Reilly: “If you are wrong, all right, and if the United States -- and they will, this is going to happen -- goes in, liberates Iraq, people in the street, American flags, hugging our soldiers, all right, we find all kinds of bad, bad stuff, all right, in Iraq, you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?”
Garofalo: “I would be so willing to say I’m sorry, I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say you were wrong, you were a fatalist, and I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, hey, you were right, I shouldn’t have doubted you. But I think to think that is preposterous.”

It may be preposterous but the time is here - I still won’t be holding my breath.

Tears of Joy

I watched the pictures from Baghdad today and wept. Wept with happiness for the liberated Iraqis and with sadness for those, both Iraqis and coalition members, who did not make it to see this day.

I think that Tim Blair has said it best…
I SHOULDN'T be so happy. After all, I'm a right-wing deathbeast, and the end (or near end) of a war should upset me, because we conservatives lust for war all the time. Except when we have to fight it ourselves, of course. Being chickenhawks and all.
And the toppling of a fascist dictator should have me all weepy and nostalgic for Hitler. Because I'm a fascist, according to much of the mail I receive.
Those Iraqis dancing in the streets? That should really piss me off, because I want to oppress them and steal their oil. Why are they even able to dance? I was promised 500,000 murders, yet thus far only 1,000 or so innocents have died.
So why am I so damn happy? I really can't explain.
I'd go and ask some oppression-hating anti-fascist peace activists about it, but for some reason they're all incredibly depressed.

The most amazing thing I have seen is the joy in the eyes of the Iraqis who realized that this time it is for real. This time they are finally free of the Ba’ath regime that oppressed their country for so long.

The brave men and women in the coalition who made the ultimate sacrifice to liberate Iraq are vindicated on this day. It is most important that we take a moment on this amazing day to remember them. You can see a picture of coalition troops along with a brief bit of info on each one at CNN. If anyone knows of a better site for biographical capsules please drop me an e-mail, I would love to link to them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I don't even know how to react to this story

From Yahoo news - Jailed Iraqi children run free as marines roll into Baghdad suburbs

Around 150 children spilled out of the jail after the gates were opened as a US military Humvee vehicle approached, Lieutenant Colonel Fred Padilla told an AFP correspondent travelling with the Marines 5th Regiment.

"Hundreds of kids were swarming us and kissing us," Padilla said.

"There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back."

"The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party," he alleged. "Some of these kids had been in there for five years."

I am so very happy that these children have been freed. At the same time I am angry and disgusted at the fact that they were imprisoned in the first place. I know that there are children who are imprisoned here in the US. However, none of them are there because they failed to join the Boy Scouts. Even in the third Reich the Hitler Youth was voluntary.

Additionally Children in US detention facilities will never be, to quote the article "wearing threadbare clothes and looked under-nourished". What kind of regime of horrors has been running Iraq?

What I really want to do is find some of the 'anti-war' crowd and ask them to respond to this. Ending the practice of imprisoning children as political prisoners is very powerful reason to end a regime in my book.

As usual - when I have no words it is because Lileks has said it better. Go read today's Bleat it is up to the usual standard of greatness.
My favorite headline of the day

From the Sun in the UK - "I sat on Saddam's throne"

The picture that accompanies it is priceless.

Monday, April 07, 2003

”How long have they been lying like this?”

This is London has an interesting piece about the luxury that has been found in Saddam’s palaces.

This is the first time that I have seen the sentiment that I feel so strongly expressed – “There was a sense of mounting anger. This was bought with money from oil sales which should have been buying food and medicine for Iraqi children.” I strongly feel anger about the luxury of the Palaces. Some of them have been built since the first gulf war with the ‘oil for food’ funds that were intended for starving children throughout Iraq.

The article ends with a haunting moment that deserves an article of it’s own. From the Baghdad airport “A captured Iraqi colonel being held in one of the hangars listened in astonishment as his information minister praised Republican Guard soldiers for recapturing the airport. He looked at his captors and, as he realized that what he had heard was palpably untrue, his eye filled with tears. Turning to a translator, he asked: "How long have they been lying like this?”"

The answer to that is far to long...but the lying is about to end.

I found this via Sgt. Stryker (a blog I love), he found it via American Realpolitik (a new blog to me - but it looks great).

Iraqi exile returns home - and brings the Marines!

This story in the AP is amazing Iraqi Exile's Homecoming Celebrated.

Khuder Al-Emeri has returned to his hometown in Iraq after 12 years away. He was a leader in the Shiite uprising in 1991 and fled Iraq after the Iraqi regime placed a price on his head.

Al-Emeri is in Iraq as a translator with the Free Iraqi Fighters travelling with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

"When news got out that Al-Emeri was back, crowds of men flooded into the streets and pressed around him, cheering and clapping and pushing up against Marines in defensive positions. One man rushed up to an American with a wreath of plastic flowers to hug him, rifle and all, despite the Marine's best efforts to maintain his distance.

His family were among those who rushed out to greet him — including his 15-year-old son, Ali, whom he hadn't seen since he left Iraq. When they first saw each other, they embraced tightly and wept.

Ali Al-Emeri said he was afraid to ever let his father go away again, but Al-Emeri assured him: "Stay home. You are safe. I am here, the U.S. forces are here." "

That last sentence says it all - a father assuring his son that he is now safe because 'the U.S. forces are here'.

Update - a more complete version of the story can be found in the NY Times

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Colin Powell Rocks!

On April 3, 2003 Colin Powell was interviewed for German TV. The State Department has posted a transcript of the interview on their website.

This is a phenomenal interview. In no small part because of the smackdown that SoS Powell serves to the interviewer. I pulled out a couple of key sections below but you should read it all.

Question “But Germany and others clearly want to have the U.N. in the driver’s seat, in control, in the leading the role. This is not what you intend, or is it?”
Secretary Powell “But as I said, and I’ve said this several times, the coalition that went in, that was willing to put at risk its young men and women, and lost lives, paid a great amount of money to conduct this campaign and also paid a political price for this campaign as well. We are committed to making sure that that sacrifice and that investment is not lost. We believe we have to play a very significant, perhaps a leading role, in order to make sure what replaces this corrupt, rotten regime is a democratic system that is responsive to the needs of its people and will reflect all of the people of Iraq, and will use the treasure of Iraq, its oil, to invest in the people and not invest in weapons of mass destruction.

I love this. I love that he is clearly stating that those who take the risks are responsible for the outcome. I think that this says something about the American way. We are a nation of risk takers and we are taught from an early age that it is greater thing to take a risk for potential rewards than to be too afraid to risk anything. I think that this is contrary to the European thought process it is a continent that is risk averse. We are the descendents of the people who took the big chance and came to the ‘new world’ they are the descendents of those who figured that they could cope with tyranny. Every once and a while we seem to be responsible for pulling out the cousins that we left behind out from under the dictator of the day. Why Germany does not see the historical similairities amazes me.

In response to Powells statement above Question “I hear what you are saying. What many people in Europe will hear, through your words, is this is how the new partition of labor will be: America is looking for its Allies, is going its course with or without Allies, any number that’s available, and be it zero. And then the U.N.’s role is to go in as a good Samaritan and clean up the mess. That’s all they can do. America is already looking at its next destination.”
(This is the point that Powell opens a can of whupass)
Secretary Powell “That’s absurd. It’s an absurd, simplistic, shorthand response to what people think we’re doing. In fact, we went to the U.N. in the first place with respect to this problem. It was a problem that belonged to the U.N. for twelve years -- this terrible regime that tortures its people, that developed weapons of mass destruction, that used them against its own people and then invaded its neighbors on two occasions. And we finally said to the United Nations, “If you would be relevant, if the international community would be relevant, we must deal with this.”

Powell continues along the same line – read it all – it is nice to know that the German public was exposed to an angry ex-soldier defending his nation. The whole thing is brilliant! Powell brings up the fact that we have helped many nations in the past and that none of them are now a colony – it is wonderful.

Surreal images

On the Command Post (why aren't you there now?) Judith posted a great slideshow of US troops securing the Baghdad airport. She terms them surreal – and I would have to agree.

Pictures number 8 and 9 struck me in particular. Not often do you see US soldiers fighting through a 70s era airport terminal. I have never been to Baghdad but I have been to enough airports for the images to be surreally familiar.

Images like this that are coming out of Iraq have to be driving Hollywood crazy. For instance – in Hollywood the airport that the soldiers are fighting through would never be so intact. Interestingly what makes these images so compelling is the very everyday quality of the environment. Hollywood had created a perfect fictional image of what war looks like in all of our heads. Now that we have seen what (some parts of) a real war looks like they have to start all over again.

Friday, April 04, 2003

War Crimes

I have noticed a disturbing trend in media reports from Iraq. There seems to be a refusal to label any actions by Iraq as a “War Crime”.

An example is in the article that details attacks on US troops from Iraqis firing from ambulances. The report describes this as “unconventional Iraqi tactics”.

In the “Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field.” It is clearly stated ”Article 1. Ambulances and military hospitals shall be recognized as neutral, and as such, protected and respected by the belligerents as long as they accommodate wounded and sick.
Neutrality shall end if the said ambulances or hospitals should be held by a military force.”

The despicable actions taken by Iraqis who used an ambulance as a vehicle of battle erodes the neutrality of all ambulances. The report I linked to above was not an isolated incident. Today outside Baghdad the AP reported “ U.S. troops patrolling checkpoints south of Baghdad found an ambulance left behind after an accident. Inside, along with a stretcher, were rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, military uniforms and helmets.”

These are not ‘unconventional tactics’ they are war crimes. I have not studied the law and I have never received any training in what defines actions war crimes. That said - even I can read the Geneva Conventions and figure out what a war crime is. Why can’t the media?

Great reading

The Dissident Frogman has written a lovely essay entitled "Consecration".

I am so very happy to read such thoughtful commentary from France. It is always important to remember that nations are made up of individuals. As long as individuals take the time to teach their children the important lessons of history there is hope for the nation.

via Instapundit
The ‘loyal’ Opposition?

A fellow scrapbooker (thanks Kerry) sent me this link to an article on MSNBC “Protesters plan to stop war shipments”.

These protestors infuriate me to no end. When one was directly asked they worried about jeopardizing soldiers the response of one of the organizers responded “We feel like the war is what’s putting their lives in danger. This is an effort to save lives by stopping the war as quickly as possible.” These people think that undersupplied troops will shorten the length of the war?!?

Clearly the magical power of reason has evaded the protestors. Note to protestors – undersupplied troops will just have less extra MREs to pass out to civilians and be more likely to be put in danger because of equipment breakdowns. Not every box in the container ship is filled with weapons – many are filled with medicine and food.

When I read stories about this I fight the urge to find every person who claims that they are ‘against the war – but for the troops’ and introduce them to the Marines who may be jeopardized by the delay of vital supplies. Perhaps if the protestors meet one of the fine men and women who serve our nation they will understand that their actions have potentially deadly consequences.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

You have to ask?

The BBC website asks "Is the war coverage balanced?"

This is a 'talking point' on the website and is not an article but rather an opportunity for readers to respond to the question.

There is a fairly good variety of responses to the question. I would suggest that you read through them all.

One sentiment was striking. Several posts suggested that the BBC should run unedited footage. I would never have imagined that BBC readers would be such a bloodthirsty lot. Nick Fraser from Berlin, Germany wrote "I believe that our governments and media should have a duty to deliver uncensored footage of war, even if this means showing graphic and disturbing images of dead civilian and soldiers on TV."

One post amused me - Rod Devonshire from the UK wrote "I don't believe the BBC's propaganda any more than I believe Al Jazeera's propaganda." I would love to see Andrew Sullivan's response to that one.

Pfc. Lynch - Heroine

I just read the most amazing article about Pfc. Lynch. 'She Was Fighting to the Death' Details Emerging of W. Va. Soldier's Capture and Rescue

"Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday."

She is truly my heroine.

I found this at The Command Post - why aren't you there now?

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Lessons from history

In the last week I have been working on a project that included reading my grandfathers letters home from WWI. He sent these letters to my grandmother who at the time was just his sweetheart. It has been bizarre to read these letters as I watch news reports of action in Iraq. Some things seem to have not changed at all in the last 85 years.

I knew I would want to write about this experience here on Geographica but was unsure how to connect the stories. Unfortunately some idiot vandals made the connection for me. If you have not seen the story before the what has happened is that the largest cemetery of British dead from WWI in France has been defaced. I can not adequately espress my anger and disgust at the fact that some French idiot with a can of red paint wrote "Dig up your rubbish it is fouling our soil" in French.

I just want to combat that statement with an few lines from my grandfathers letters. He was in the 132nd Infantry - I am not yet sure of exactly how much or what kind of fighting his unit saw but I do know that my grandfather was briefly blinded by Mustard Gas and saw many of his friends die.

On Oct. 21, 1918 He wrote "Oh, if the boys would only sing. But then, the best singers are not here now including Mack. He will never come back and many others never will. It is so very lonely, why did they take all of our best? The hike was terrible. Never a song, never a joke, very seldom a word. You must pray for my boys. You pray for all our boys, but make it for my boys now. They have paid a terrible price for the honor they have gained." "I have not suffered physically, but think I have put in enough mental agony to make up for it."

"I have learned a great deal in the past few days. Many times before I have seen a man hurled into Eternity. I have seen many companies go into battle and come out with vacent files. I have also seen losses in my own outfit but this time we got a snootfull. When a man suddenly stops talking to me in order to give an account of his Stewardship before the Seat of Judgement I am compelled to think. The chance of losing ones life in this argument is rather slim as a rule, but at times it is almost a certainty."

On the topic of France and the French my grandfather was not particularly impressed. He wrote "Didn't I tell you enough about Paris? I was only there 8 hours. With a parade in the middle of that there is only a few minutes left. I saw most of it from the train. I don't care if I never see Paris again. Rather see Chicago any old day. The girls over here are not so great at all. American girls have it all over the French."

I agree - I don't care if I never see Paris again either. In the light of recent actions by the French - Chicago is just fine for me too.

The men who lie in the cemetery that has been defaced were young men like my grandfather. Men who made the ultimate sacrifice for FRANCE. If the cretins who vandalised the monument do not understand that they are not worthy of the honor of those graves on French soil. Steven Den Beste has an excellent post on the subject of French land made holy by the sacrifices of young men in war. He has put his finger on why this vandalism occured "Our war dead have been targeted because they can no longer fight back."

It is up to us to fight back against the vandals and the French who would create a society in which this is acceptable behaviour - just another expression of displeasure at the actions of the coalition. We must stand witness to the sacrifices that those young men made for Europe and we must ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten. The French have shown that they are unwilling to pay proper tribute and to protect their protectors - it is up to us. For that reason I posted the quotes from my grandfather. They are his messages through time to all of us to honor his fallen comrades.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Jessica Lynch - American Hero

By now everyone knows the wonderful news that Jessica Lynch, who had been listed as MIA, has been rescued.

The most telling statement in the news story I linked to was by the spokesman for General Franks "America doesn't leave its heroes behind. It never has, it never will".

Jessica Lynch evidently joined the Army to see a bit of the world and get money to go to college. While following that path she also became an American Hero.

In Praise of L.T. Smash

I really appreciate the updates on the blog "Live from the Sandbox" by 'L.T. Smash' (a pseudonym).
There have been some great additions to the blog recently.

Mrs. Smash added an entry about how she is keeping busy at home - doing those 'While we're at it' chores that always happen in life when one is stressed and trying to keep busy. This reminds me of the importance of remembering the families on the homefront. If you have a neighbor or friend of a friend who has suddenly found themself a single parent due to a deployment - gieve them a call. Sometimes just the offer of help can do wonders - perhaps you can give a hand around the house or just meet for lunch.

L.T. Smash's Dad posted a heartwarming story that happened on CNN this morning. Go read the post - it brought proud tears to my eyes. The upshot of the story is that the quote from the CNN reporter was "Where do they get young men like this?". What 'Dad' couldn't say - is that they come from fine families like the one that produced L.T. Smash. That is the great strength of our nation - the patriotic families throughout America that produce good men like the Marines in 'the Sandbox' today.

Arnett and the cockroaches

Peter Arnett - argghh.

By now everyone is aware of the fact that Peter Arnett gave an interview to Iraqi TV. He has claimed that it was some sort of professional courtesy that led him to give the interview. I may not be a 'journalist' but I did think that he is supposed to report the story - not make it.

If you have a strong stomache - you can read the transcript of his interview here.

After a brief mis-step of 'we support our guy' from NBC they have now Fired him. National Geographic also gave him his walking papers. Amazingly - considering that he has now been fired from CNN, NBC and National Geographic - Arnett already has another job.

Arnett has been hired by the Mirror and has written an unapologetic column. Reading it angers me to no end - I would not suggest you read it if you have any blood pressure issues.

What I have learned from this is that in case of nuclear disastor - all that will remain is cockroaches, and Peter Arnett (as if there is a difference).

Monday, March 31, 2003

A great new blog

Go read this blog. I love it!

Popular Culture & Peace

Instapundit has linked to a great post on Quare.

The entry discusses the concept of "World Peace through shared popular culture" a tagline of a US distributor of Japanese cartoons. I really like this idea - it fits well with the old axiom that 'no two nations with McDonalds restaurants have ever gone to war'.

This reminds me of why I believe that they EU will not succeed as a cohesive political unit for a long time to come - beyond the blindingly clear fact that France and Germany seem to believe that the EU was created purely to give them control over the continent without having to fire a shot. I believe a real problem for the EU is a lack of a common European popular culture.

I took some classes at the London School of Economics in the mid 90s. I really enjoyed my class on the development of the European Union. As the only American in the class I often disagreed with my fellow students (who were all European). One discussion in particular springs to mind - I was trying to explain that in the US we have a society rife with members who move from coast to coast depending on the financial opportunities. I believe that what best enables that is the commonalities of our culture in all 50 states. I argued that until there was a common literature and popular culture crossing borders in the EU it does not matter that there are common passports or a common currency. If moving from Copenhagen to Lyons feels more like moving between countries than between states the economic advantages of moving will be muted by the cultural disadvantages.

The example I often used was the fact that virtually every person raised in the US read 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' as a student and at the same time most every person (for better or worse) knows the words to theme song of TVs 'Brady Bunch'. These shared experiences bind us as a nation and also provide us with a common vocabulary of experiences.

As far as I can tell the Eurovision song contest is not enough to bind together the disparate peoples of Europe. The best common popular culture that they share is imported from the US. For example - not long ago in London I was struck by the McDonalds ads in the Underground. Each one had a picture of a McDonalds food with the phrase "A taste of home" in one of many languages. That is what US culture has become - 'home' for people in many countries around the world. Crossing borders the shared experiences of many peoples include eating McDonalds and watching Friends.

I believe that this shared popular culture can only help us to understand each other in the future - I will go along with the idealistic goals of "World Peace through shared popular culture".

The Essayist

Bill Whittle has posted a new essay on his site - "History".

Please take a moment and read the whole thing. Bill has a first class mind and is a very talented writer.

All of the essays he has posted on his site are worthy of your time. In the last couple of hours I re-read several of the essays and am not ashamed to admit that tears are still running down my cheeks. Bill writes about the America I want to live in - a nation of men changing the world for the better.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

The Still Image

This war is entering all of our homes through our televisions. The moving images that we see are not only emotionally moving but physically 'moving pictures'.

What suprises me is the fact that I find myself drawn to and most moved by the still images that I see.

These still image gives the mind and heart time to take in the details. From the fact that a young US soldier is handing out M&Ms to the weariness and commitment in the eyes of a Marine during battle.

Perhaps my distrust of all the video footage of this war is a result of having seen one to many movies. The footage has a certain sense of unreality - almost as though it is another movie. Things happen so fast and we are only watching through one small lens in a video camera - it is hard to get a sense of scale or of what is actually happening. Yet at the same time the video seems to claim that it is telling the whole story - like in a movie.

Still images do not try to tell the whole story. They are giving you only the briefest of glimpses in to what happened and how. Yet because they freeze time we have the ability to reflect on and investigate what these images have captured.

I feel somehow connected to the person behind the still camera. Perhaps it is because I love photography so much and perhaps it is because I have developed and printed my own pictures. For whatever reason I think that virtually every person feels that connection. We have all at some time in our life put a camera up to our eyes and captured a moment in time.

Decades from now there will be images that we will all indelibly connect to this war. I know that for me they will be still images - even if this is a video war.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Oprah clearly does not get it

So today when hundreds of thousands of brave military men and women are risking their lives in a vicious war… Oprah does a show on – media covering the war!

I just do not understand what Oprah’s producers were thinking. I understand that the embedded reporters are in danger but they are not in nearly the danger of the actual fighting men and women.

As a part of the show Oprah is interviewing the wife of one of the journalists. I am sorry but I just don’t feel for the woman all that much. She gets to see her husband on TV every day and be assured that he is safe. She and her husband speak on the phone fairly regularly. These are luxuries that the average military spouse could only dream of.

Why not do shows on the sacrifice of the spouses of the deployed military? Perhaps with suggestions of how their friends and neighbors can help them out. I know that many people are looking for ways to help the military – and often the best way is to help the loved ones they left behind.

Oprah presented this show on top of the fact that she has had 2 shows this year with Michael Moore spewing his lies and misrepresentations. If she keeps this up she might not stay Americas favorite living room guest – I know she is less and less welcome in my home.

Sorry about that

Sorry to not post in the last couple of days.

I have posted on The Command Post (why aren't you there now?) when I have posted anything at all.

Trying to live on Baghdad time here in the midwest finally caught up with me and I finally just about collapsed.

I have no idea how the Marines fighting can possibly keep going - just watching them and I am exhausted. God Bless them and keep them safe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I was not angry…

The New York Times reports “Some of the Army mechanics captured on Sunday after they took a wrong turn in the Iraqi town of Nasiriya were apparently executed by their captors, probably in front of townspeople, American officials charged tonight.”

I cannot describe my fury at this news so I will fall back upon the words of Shakespeare.

During the battle of Agincourt in the play Henry V the luggage boys are murdered by the French. An act which is described thusly "'tis expressly against the law of arms: 'tis as arrant a piece of knavery, mark you now, as can be offer't" A description that holds for the actions described in the NYT article.

What best describes my response to the news is the words of King Henry upon his discovery of the act

I was not angry since I came to France
Until this instant. Take a trumpet, herald;
Ride thou unto the horsemen on yon hill:
If they will fight with us, bid them come down,
Or void the field; they do offend our sight:
If they'll do neither, we will come to them,
And make them skirr away, as swift as stones
Enforced from the old Assyrian slings:
Besides, we'll cut the throats of those we have,
And not a man of them that we shall take
Shall taste our mercy. Go and tell them so.
--Henry V act 5 scene 7

If the story of the public execution of POWs is proven may the treacherous Iraqis who killed helpless POWs receive the swift justice they so richly deserve.

Flipper is on our side

Fox news reports that the US Navy has brought specially trained dolphins to help de-mine the waters surrounding Iraq.

This proves two things conclusively…

Firstly, that our 'coalition of the willing' is now so large it crosses the boundary between species.

Secondly, the dolphins joining our coalition is definitive proof that dolphins are smarter than the French.

Friendly Advice

For the best round up of updated reports on the war check out the Command Post.

I am a contributor there and that will likely diminish my posts here. The Command Post is news links and updates. I will continue to write an essay or two daily here on Geographica but the bulk of my links to news of the day will be at the Command Post.

Have I mentioned that you should all be reading the Command Post? You should. Often.

Turning night into day

The result of the live news coverage of the war is that I cannot sleep. Not because I am worried about what is happening in the war, I am confident in our forces, but rather because I am starting to live on Iraq time.

I find the coverage very compelling and personally much prefer the coverage during the Iraqi day – when things are actually happening. What is shown during the Iraqi night is distant bombings in Baghdad as talking heads try to make sense of things. That is just not as appealing to me.

Particularly amazing to me about the coverage overnight here in the US is when members of the armed services are interviewed in the field live. Without fail these young men are polite, smart and determined. They are my heroes.

Even though the media spun themselves into a tizzy in the last couple of days that we are somehow lost the war what I see is different. The men who we see working with the embedded journalists don’t appear to be able to lose anything. I have the utmost faith in them and wish that I could adequately convey how very proud of them I am.

It is almost as though I feel that even though I cannot personally thank all of the soldiers I must watch them. I can’t explain it – somehow I feel as though by watching them I am somehow supporting these brave men and women. That is why I have ended up turning my US nights into Iraqi days.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Is that unbiased?

ABCnews is presenting a special report this evening on Iraq.

To be completely unbiased and only present the facts ABC started with the words of the young son of a Serviceman.

So very unfair to show this boy who looked to be 8 or 9 as he said "I am angry at my dad for leaving us". Of course - he is to young to understand that his father is doing a great thing on his sons behalf.

Note to news media - don't use innocent children to further your cause.

I wish that I could write like that

I could not gather my thoughts for an adequate response to the Oscars.

Lucky for me - Rachel Lucas has posted the definative essay on the subject of last nights Oscars.

Go read it all!

How weird was that?

Saddam just finished his speech – it leaves me with some questions – How weird was it that…

He did not mention the fact that the Iraqis had any POWs?

He did not clearly state that he was not injured?

He did not mention the bombing of palaces?

He did not mention the fact that he survived the first nights bombing?

He did not mention how close the coalition is to Baghdad?

He did not mention the losses on the Coalition side?

He did not mention the grenade attack at the commanders in Kuwait?

Motion sickness

I am watching Saddam speak in his ‘historic’ (more like historical) speech. I wonder if this really works to convince the Iraqis? So far all that this speech has inspired in me is motion sickness. The edits are very annoying. While the translation is obviously not synched accurately it seems that the edits are a transparent attempt to cobble together a speech that applies to the situation today from something that he likely recorded a week ago.

I understand that something is lost in the translation. However, I can watch Hitler’s speeches without knowing a word of German and still see that he was a compelling speaker.

Saddam is just babbling away – there appears to be no fire or emotion – particularly considering the fact that his nation is under attack and he is supposed to be rallying his troops to fight.

We can only hope that the Iraqis can see through this falsified tape.
Sorry about that

I took the weekend off from my blog. I just couldn’t stand to write anything as I was simultaneously watching news and reading everything I could find.

Sunday I knew that if I wrote anything it would be over the edge.

I am radiant with anger at both the waste of skin that attacked his leaders in their tents. Hanging him is a waste of rope. I hope that he gets a court martial that results in al lifetime of hard labor and the hatred of his fellow prisoners.

Incandescent with rage is how I felt when I first heard about the videos of the US POWs. We must retrieve them quickly and safely and find the war criminals that created the video of the prisoners. Following our control of Iraq it is time for some good old-fashioned war crimes tribunals. No need for an ICC – we can use the “Judgment at Nuremberg” template.

Friday, March 21, 2003

At least I taped it

I missed watching the fabled “Shock and Awe” because I had to go to my Friday afternoon class. The class is entitled ‘Narrative Image’ and this afternoon we discussed the difference between images that are documenting and those that are documentary.

What I found to be striking was the fact that the professor did not bring up what I feel are the most stunning images to come to us in since 9/11 - those that are being taken by the embedded reporters in Iraq.

Finally, I brought the topic up – commenting that I found these pictures to be intensely narrative in quality. I believe that these images are blurring the line between documenting what is happening while at the same time creating a massive documentary of the war that we are watching at this very moment. The professor looked at me blankly and then changed the topic.

I don’t know what to make of that. I know that he and I are from opposite sides of the political spectrum but it seems ridiculous for him to ignore the images that the world is watching.

I have a feeling that many liberal professors are doing their best to ignore a lot of images that we are starting to receive… Images of US soldiers handing out chocolate to young Iraqi boys, the images of Iraqis embracing their liberators and the images of Iraqis dancing in the streets in thanks for their deliverance from the evil that is Saddam Hussein.

I will not be ignoring these images, nor will I ever forget them. I hope you won't either.

Art of War

A very cool site - a collection of leaflets dropped on Iraq.

I found this at The Command Post.
Hats off to the bloggers there - they are creating a great document of the war from the perspective of the homefront on a minute by minute basis.

No suprise

Salam Pax has updated his blog.

Salam is watching Iraqi news and one quote says it all "This leaves two channels: Iraq TV and Shabab (youth) TV. They are still full of patriotic songs and useless “news”, they love the French here."

This blog is ostensibly written from Baghdad. I read it witha large grain of salt - however, it does seem very real. True or not, it is always good reading - check it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

What do they think this will accomplish?

Protestors have now shut down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

What is this supposed to accomplish? So far all it has accomplished is that two anti-war friends of mine called me from the ensuing traffic jam to tell me that they now agree with me.
I can't keep up

I am not going to try to keep up with the constantly changing stories.

My time has been spent at The Command Post. I would suggest that you watch the updates there too. New posts are being added constantly.

One particularly great post linked to this great collection of maps of Iraq. They cover just about every variety of information you could ask for. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Some French are fighting…(on the wrong side)

Driving home yesterday I listened to NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’. I nearly drove into a tree when the following statement was made

Journalists were taken outside Baghdad to see a group of Muslim fighters from FRANCE, Algeria, Morocco, and Libya.

This was followed with a quote from a young man who claims that they plan to blow themselves up following the ‘Palestinian method’.

Perhaps this has been covered elsewhere but this is the first I have heard of it.

You can hear it for yourself at Baghdad Rejects Bush Demand the key quote is at 2:40.

Beware – bad maps are coming

We will all be exposed to a lot of maps in the coming days - some good, some bad.

In a time of crisis media outlets rush to produce maps to illustrate what is happening in the war. Some news outlets will have huge maps on the floor of a studio somewhere that commentators will walk around on top of like giants. I even noticed the other night that ABC news had some sort of computer-generated map that enables the camera to ‘fly’ over Iraq

As I see it there are three ways that a good map can go bad –

To much information. A great temptation when making a map is to put every bit of available information on the same image. The resulting information overload makes it glean any relevant information from the map.

News producers should determine what the commentator is discussing and find a
map that fits the topic. When a map includes cities, town, waterways, roadways, ethnic concentrations, allied forces, Iraqi forces etc. all on one image it is virtually impossible to sift out the appropriate information.

The wrong information. There are many things that can be shown on a map. The key is for the correct information to be expressed on a map at the right time.

I recently saw on the local news a map that showed the waterways of Iraq but no roads. This would be fine if the topic at hand was invading Iraq by rowboat. However, at that moment the commentator was discussing the potential plan for the allied forces to gain control of the main highway that runs north to Baghdad. As far as the viewers could tell no such highway exists. Hopefully, in the coming weeks news producers will make the effort to select the appropriate map for the point that is being made.

Forgetting the purpose of the map. This happens when the mapmakers are so very proud of the technology they have created that they forget to use it in service of the goal of a map – to rapidly communicate information.

The worst example of this that I have seen was on ABC. On Monday evening Peter Jennings demonstrated a ‘new map’ that gives the impression that a camera is ‘flying’ over Iraq. It is very cool technology and perhaps they will be able to use it effectively in the future. Unfortunately the first time out it was a disaster. The camera zoomed in on the wrong sections and was inevitably about 20 seconds behind whatever Peter Jennings was referring to. One can hope that Peter and his team takes a few minutes to practice using the map before it comes into heavy rotation.

When I see a bad map on TV it is time to change the channel. Hopefully news producers will take the time to use the right map at the right time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I think I am in love....

Tony Blair just may usurp Rummy in my affections.

I just read the full text of Tony Blair's speech to the house of Commons in support of war.

This was stirring - phonomonal - I actually teared up. Read it all and you will be a better person for it.
Stop using that word!

What word you ask?


For the love of God - our ‘coalition of the willing’ now has 30 members.

Only in the UK

I just came across this story on the BBC.

What is striking about this to me is the fact that in the UK law abiding citizens have virtually no right to own a gun.

With that in mind – how is it possible that there could be a drive by shooting?

Perhaps criminals have guns in violation of the UK laws?

The mind boggles at the possibility that criminals would break the law.


The weapons inspectors have left Iraq.

I am somewhat surprised that Saddam Hussein actually let them go.

It almost worries me that he has not taken any hostages yet - it seems that he has forgotten his lines in this old play.

Did you not see it coming?

According to this article the French presidency has released a statement in reply to President Bushes speech. There are no surprises.

Firstly the French have claimed that the issuing of an ultimatum is a “Unilateral decision”. Only because the obstructionist French made darn sure that the Security Council imploded.

A second statement was that the ultimatum was “Contrary to the will of the UN Security Council”. Only because the obstructionist French used the Security Council to promote the French goals alone. The French presidential administration has succeeded in confusing the difference between the ‘will of the Security council’ with the ‘will of the French’.

I cannot imagine why France imagines that anyone in the world cares what they say about this anymore. In their single-handed destruction of the UN they have officially made themselves irrelevant in world affairs.

Here’s an idea

Why not resolve all international disagreements this way.

Perhaps this should be a new plank in the ‘anti-war’ platform. Thus far no peacenik that I have debated with on Iraq has ever given an alternative to war. At this point I am desperate for any suggestion – no matter how ridiculous.

Right back at ya

I received a copy of 'A Grateful Briton' as a forwarded e-mail. I loved it so much that I found this link to share.

My favorite section
I, James Black, a man who simply wants his children to live in a future where all good and constructive things are possible, a future where we can discover, invent, enjoy, without fear of fanatics or madmen or the weapons and pain they may wreak, pledge my assistance to the United States in its fight against evil.
This is not brainwashed verse, but based on the honorable history and proven friendship the United States has with Europe.

I know nothing about James Black, but I am glad of his support and that of his nation. Reading an article like this makes up for a lot and reminds me of why I love the UK so much.

Read it all as they say.

Now I am convinced


What exactly were these ‘protestors’ trying to accomplish? Did they think wanton destruction will make me agree with them?

As far as I am concerned these idiots have accomplished the exact opposite of their goal. If going to war will stop them from being destructive idiots then all the more reason to fight.

This is another classic case of people destroying a thing of beauty that they could never create. This story is not unlike when the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas.

Memo to ‘Peace Activists’ - Destruction is never a good way to make your point.

Thanks to Tim Blair (My hero) for the link.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Tick, Tock; Tick, Tock

Kofi Annan has announced that he has ordered the withdrawal of all UN staff. Evidently the UN invulnerability cloak had been sent out for cleaning.

I suggested on Michele’s site that this was the first step in the move to war. There is a great thread on her site where everyone is putting in their 2 cents on what they believe will happen.

Take a minute to read what others have predicted and put in what you think will be happening. Everyone’s suggestions are really interesting.

I am exhausted with anticipation and nerves. The weather is lovely here (finally) and I plan on dealing with my nervous tension about the world by going for a long bike ride.

It is doubtful that I will get another opportunity for a long bike ride. I am fairly certain that we will all spend the next couple of days in full news obsession mode.

Please remember our troops and their families here at home in your thoughts and prayers – it looks like they will need all the prayers they can get.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Time for the undo

President Chirac of France has announced on 60 minutes that he would be willing to accept a 30 day deadline for Saddam to disarm.

Clearly Chirac’s advisors have told him that 30 days is about how long it will take the Iraqis to remove the "Made in France" stickers from their weapons and spare parts.

I think that Chirac has taken far to long to come around to this point. I believe in Steven den Beste’s argument that the only explanation for the French delays to this point is a terrible collusion between the French and Iraq.

Past Made Present

I just spent a happy couple of hours at an awesome site that I found throughThe Ulitmate Insult. The site is filled with the kind of photographs that I wish I could take. They are moody black and white images that bridge the gap between then and now. Check out abandoned places.
Discomforting news

The BBC reports that the general best known for gassing the Kurds has been put in charge of the southern region of Iraq. His job is to stop any southern invasion into Iraq.

Putting this “General” in the same area that the bulk of allied forces are massed is tantamount to a threat. This man is a mass murderer who only knows how to fight using the dirty pool of poison gas attacks.

One can only hope that he is killed in the first barrage of missiles. A death that ‘Chemical Ali’ has cheated for far to long.

A Special Place in Hell

There have been increasing reports of “Peace activists” protesting outside of US military bases. I find this striking as in the beginning of the action against the possible war virtually every activist said that they were opposed to the war but supported the troops. Their actions have proven otherwise.

Andrew Sullivan linked to an article in Salon that was particularly disturbing. Here is the most striking section:

”Lumsdaine, the Military Globalization Project coordinator, is a 48-year-old who has been arrested at Vandenberg twice. He describes the base as "the electronic nerve center of the global-surveillance-targeting, weapons-guidance, and military-command satellites that will largely direct the war." The base is 99,000 square acres, with a perimeter running through rugged, wooded terrain. "If people are committed and determined and in halfway decent physical shape, it is possible to get in, because it's enormous and much of the land is still fairly wild," he says.

Within the base, Lumsdaine says, are "major off-limits security zones," that, when breached, "set off a series of responses in their own security procedures which require disruption and partial shut down of regular activities," which means the base can't operate at full capacity.

Other kinds of interference are also expected. "There's the possibility of people blockading roads and bridges inside Vandenberg and chaining themselves to gates," Lumsdaine says. "There are ways in which people can put small objects, aluminum foil or Mylar balloons in front of equipment to nonviolently get in the way of electronic telecommunications systems where they transmit attack orders or targeting data to Tommy Franks and his assault forces. We are not organizing people to disable equipment, but that potential exists. I can certainly say I as an individual do not oppose the disabling of equipment which is being used to conduct mass killing on the other side of the world."

These people think that it is acceptable to shut down the “electric nerve center” of the US military. No consideration is given for the added danger that this action will put the men and women of the military in.

Why is it that protestors seem to think that if their actions are ‘non-violent’ they are acceptable? The protestors do not understand is that their non-violent actions could lead to the very violent deaths of allied forces.

There is some good news on this topic, Sgt. Stryker linked to this storyVandenberg AFB authorizes ‘deadly force’ against trespassing protestors. The best part of this article is the quote from Maj. Stacee Bako “This is not fun and games anymore, We're living in post 9/11. We don't know what's going to happen with the war effort in Iraq. These folks have got to realize their actions. ... They're illegal intruders.'' One can only hope that these ‘illegal intruders’ is met by John Strykers’s friend while he is carrying a breaker bar.

What really gets me about protests at military bases is that the men and women who live and work on these bases have NO control over our national policy. They are doing their jobs – protecting the protestor’s freedom of speech.

The worst possible situation is that these protestors are closing down access to these bases. Imagine this – Your husband has been deployed to a very dangerous part of the world. You have no idea when he will be coming home let alone when you will be hearing from him again. Suddenly you have been thrust into the life of single mother and then you have to explain to your four year old that he can’t go home for a nap because protestors have shut off access to your base.

It is unacceptable that these ‘peace protestors’ will make a difficult situation more difficult for the men and women in uniform and their families. There are members of the peace movement who are acting out of deeply held beliefs. It is vitally important that they repudiate the actions of the extremists who are acting more as saboteurs than as men of conscience. If these saboteurs do succeed - they will have purchased what my high school theology teacher (Sr. Bud) called a 'special place in hell'.

What happened to the claims that while those in the peace movement opposed the war they would ‘support the troops’? I am hoping that claim was not a lie – but I worry that it was.

BBC – Informative and Insulting

I cannot decide what infuriates me most about this article on the BBC website.

The quote that put me over the edge is “Americans will talk of praying as if it were the most normal, rational thing to do.” Perhaps because if you believe in God then IT IS. As the article points out - 86% of Americans believe in heaven ergo - praying is a fairly normal activity to participate in here in the US. Also – if you are a person of faith it is a rational action within your worldview.

The BBC seems to make every effort to be condescending to Americans and any person of faith in this article. I understand that if you do not believe in God then living in a nation of believers may seem strange - but that is no defence for insulting believers.

Regardless of my beliefs I do know that mocking others for their beliefs is WRONG. Did Justin Webb’s parents neglect to teach him this basic lesson?
Meat is for more than just dinner

As a farewell to “Eat an animal for PETA day” I suggest that you check out this website.

This is one of those sites that I look at whenever I need to laugh. I hope that it makes you laugh too.