Friday, May 16, 2003

Good Theater

The rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nassiriya was definitely the cinematic high point of the war in Iraq. It had all the elements of a Hollywood war action movie - troops moving in under heavy fire to rescue a comrade who had gone down fighting, a brave native risking his life to gather intelligence information. Good stuff.

According to the Guardian, it had something else in common with a Hollywood action movie.

It was staged. There was no opposition. The guns were firing blanks. Doctors and patients were carefully kept out of the way.

This story has gotten no play in the US media (one squib in the Seattle Post-Intellegencer, and I rather suspect this is as far as it will go. The BBC is supposed to air this story on Sunday; we'll see what happens.

So now we see the future. No matter how bad the real situation gets, our beloved Government will have cheerful, staged, media events to keep our minds off of our troubles. Scary thing is, this will probably work. To most people, what they see on the Toob is more real than their own lives, and we seem to have a collective attention span of about two weeks. The war in Iraq is already Old News; nobody's interested in it any more.

(Link via Atrios)

LATER - Turns out this is old news. The Toronto Star published essentially the same story on 5 May.

STILL LATER – Older news! Here's an article from the London Times that's more than a month old.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

So What Are They Doing?

You can do anything with a bayonet except sit on it.

-- Talleyrand

Let's see. We didn't stop the looting of the Baghdad Archaelogical Museum or the National Library. Yeah, the damage seems to be a lot less than we thought. Excellent news, but still no excuse.. We didn't protect hospitals, banks, or Government or Ba'ath Party records. We didn't secure known nuclear materials, which have disappeared. Our WMD teams are going home. Iraqi civilians are rooting through the latest batch of mass graves looking for family members instead of waiting for forensic help that would give much better results. Looting proceeds apace; many Iraqis are afraid to leave their homes. The "shoot to kill" order is an admission of failure. In these situations, you always shoot the wrong people.

So what are we doing in Iraq? We have, what, 150,000 troops "in theatre"?

Well, my guess is that the combat troops are doing patrols looking for an army, the maintenence guys are doing maintenence, the logistics guys are schlepping supplies around for the rest of the military. The brass is holding meetings.

In short, just what they've been trained to do. They have no training with "nation building" whatever the <bleep> that means. They have no training as cops. Very few of them speak any Arabic at all.

We base our operations on "war games". When the "game" is over, everybody goes home and writes their "after action report". Well, we've achieved our objective. Our training says that, when the exercise is over, it's over. No more need be done. We have no training for dealing with an occupation.

The "occupation" seems to have no planning at all behind it. Except, perhaps, "Move Chalabi into Iraq. He'll do what's necessary."

It's too early to call this a "quagmire". What we have here is a mess. If we don't find the handle on this soon (and I see no signs of this), we will have a quagmire on our hands.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Stuff I Read

Note the new "Stuff I Read" block over on the right, replacing the "war info" links.

The original Useless Web Pages were inspired by some guy posting a listing of his CD collection as a Web page. This seems to be the classic "Who cares?" item. My "Stuff" list is probably in this category, but what the heck, it's my blog. I read 'em, but they're not in the category of "things that I think that you should read".

Of course, I reserve the right to move them around, add or delete items, and move them in and out of the "must read" block at whim. I will try to keep them current; far too many folks' "blogrolls" never get maintained and are full of dead links and blogs that haven't been updated for years.

Anyway, here they are. Enjoy. Or ignore. Your call.

Looking in the Right Place

Seems like we've been looking in the wrong place for Saddam's <echo_chamber>Weapons of Mass Destruction</echo_chamber>.

Guys, this is the Twenty First Century. Internet Era. Global Economy. Get with it! Digging around through caves is absolutely nineteenth century.

Billmon has the scoop.

Note that Billmon's Whiskey Bar has been added to the list over on the right of Blogs That You Should Read. He has a mixture of humor and analysis like I try to do, but he does it better.

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