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Starting Points

Posted by Ogged
on 03.29.03

Glenn Reynolds says "Yep" to Steven Den Beste's

Russian President Putin says that the war in Iraq has pushed the world into its most serious post-Cold-War crisis.

I think that it was the attacks on Washington and New York in September of 2001 which pushed the world into crisis. The only difference is that the US recognized that fact. Most of the rest of the world have been in denial about it ever since.

Wrong. September 11 made clear that the world was already in crisis and only historical myopia or nationalistic fervor can keep us from admitting that the US bears some responsibility for the shape of the current situation. It's perverse that otherwise intelligent people argue, after some 80 years of heavy-handed regime changing, border drawing, dictator coddling and deposing, that what we really need now is some radical more of the same.

September 11 was shattering, but it wasn't the beginning of history. The war in Iraq is the right move, but it has to be executed in the right way and the depth of our grievance and the purity of our motives don't protect us from making familiar mistakes.


 

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What to do in Lansing?

Posted by Unf
on 03.26.03

I pose the question because I have to fly there for the day tomorrow. Is there anything in the world worse than having to fly somwhere for just a day? Well, sure there is, but it doesn't feel like it right now.

Until I get back, enjoy these rantings from many, many different ornery people. Actually, they're sorta funny, and the rest of the site isn't too bad either.


 

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Assignment Desk

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.03

I've been speculating about Saddam's fate and mystified by the diplo-speak from Iraqi officials that in more normal times would mean, pretty clearly, "Saddam is dead." But here's a thought. It's to the Iraqi government's advantage to have the US believe that Saddam is dead (because it will make America overestimate the chances of an insurrection and may make targeting Saddam a lower priority) but, at the same time, to have the rest of the world, and ordinary Iraqis, believe that Saddam is alive. They accomplish both these goals with their recent statements. So, until further evidence comes along, put me in the "he's alive, but they want us to think he's dead" camp.


 

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War comma Complicated

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.03

The Herald Sun of North Carolina has dozens of excellent pictures related to the war in Iraq (via Lucianne). Here are a couple.

Injured Child, Near Basra (Nabil AP) 03/22/03

US Marine with Iraqi POW, Um Qasr (Tam McDonald AP) 03/23/03


 

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Al Jazeera in English

Posted by Ogged
on 03.25.03

Al Jazeera now has an English web site (link via Drudge--slow loading at the moment). This is real alternative media. Now we can see the assumptions and news others are working with and we can see our own biases in contradistinction to theirs. Demystification, dialogue, I love it!


 

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Chuckle, chuckle

Posted by Unf
on 03.25.03

Every now and again, you discover an excellent new site or author. And what's even better, you discover that this author/site has been writing/posting for quite a while. So you have all sorts of things to read after you discover them/it.

This is the site I discovered today.

Unf - completely behind the curve since February, 2003.


 

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I'm back

Posted by Unf
on 03.25.03

Man, who does this Ogged guy think he is? Hogging the blog and thinking he's all that. Let's not forget kids, you can't spell unfogged without unf.

So I was away this weekend, and though I was only away for two days, it felt like I was away for a while. Maybe that's because so much is happening in the world and I, a certifiable news junkie, didn't pick up a paper, turn on the TV or even see what was new on the Internet (well, not much, anyways). This allowed me some time to reflect and I think I learned a few things. Allow me to share.

You learn very little by checking news sites all the time. There is much heat, little light.

It is more or less impossible not to check news sites all the time.

You don't realize how easy it is not to watch the Oscars until you actually skip them.

We are unlikely to be able to assess the success or failure of this war for several years.

That isn't going to stop a lot of people from trying.

Don't rent a car from Hertz. Or National.

Sit someplace on an airplane other than the back row.

In these times, it is good to have friends and family you love. I am lucky in this respect, though not as lucky as some.


 

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Athens vs. Sparta, A Prediction

Posted by Ogged
on 03.24.03

Kevin Drum, the CalPundit, makes a great point about the difference between having the most powerful military and an all-powerful military. Kevin draws a conclusion with which I agree. "This is the reason that we do need to bother with the difficult business of diplomacy and alliance building that George Bush is so obviously frustrated with: because we can't win on our own." But will others come to the same conclusion? When everyone eventually is forced to accept that the US military is not powerful enough to win "on its own," will people concede the necessity of alliances or will they argue that the military should be still more powerful? I think many will argue the latter and that it will be one of the major policy debates of the coming years. If Iraq is just the first stop, we may be entering a long period of high-intensity battle and it's not hard to see the argument coming that increasing military spending is another way to "support our troops." And the ambivalence of mainstream discourse with regard to the military (military-industrial complex bad / soldiers good) will be resolved in favor of "soldiers good." When you begin to see revisionists arguing that Sparta has gotten a bad rap, you'll know this is in full swing.


 

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Let Me Hear You Say It

Posted by Ogged
on 03.24.03

I noted earlier that the Iraqi information minister didn't explicitly say that Saddam was alive, and now Tariq Aziz has given a press conference in which he said that Saddam is in "full control" and that the leadership is in "good shape." (I didn't see the conference, but apparently he said these things in English.) Call me unduly suspicious of wartime propaganda, but as I keep trying to tell my more rigorous-minded scientist fiancee, "two's a pattern!"

UPDATE: Ok, even scientists admit that three is a pattern. I just saw a clip from this morning's Today show where the Iraqi UN ambassador, Mohammad al-Douri was asked whether Saddam was alive and his first response was "I can't answer that question, I think he is alive." Later, he said that he was basing his response on Saddam's recent television appearance. What's going on?


 

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The Powell Doctrine

Posted by Ogged
on 03.24.03

The Economist argues that the Powell Doctrine that "force should be used only in defence of America's vital national interests and, when applied, should be decisive," has been revised by Colin Powell himself, who has lowered the bar to engaging in action in response to the new-"ish" threat from terrorists. What the Economist does not say is what has happened to the second part of the Doctrine, regarding decisive force (also called "overwhelming force"), which also seems to have been abandoned in this campaign in favor of a fast push through Iraq. At least in these early stages, this second revision seems to have been a mistake: while the military is satisfied with the campaign, soldiers are dying who might otherwise not have been killed and the campaign seems far messier than the last one, even as we are told that Iraq is far weaker than it was in Gulf War I. Witness the now common distinction between a "military threat" and the deaths of soldiers. That may be a valid distinction, but it won't hold up if soldiers keep dying as a result of the new strategy.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer has a different take on differences between this war and Guf War I.

UPDATE II: Here's an excellent analysis of precisely the point I was making (via Kausfiles).


 

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