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Catfish and Cod
Thursday, May 27, 2004
What a complete joke!
(Link path: UPI)

This is most blatantly ignorant "news analysis" I've ever read.

* We didn't necessarily think it would be "easy" to knock out al-Sadr. We just knew we had to.

* Riding the coattails of his father: true, but said coattails have now been run ragged.

* "There is no closure". Hmm. Fallujah is quiet. Karbala is quiet. Basra is quiet. Kufa has been taken, and Najaf is under a cease-fire. Is this not "closure"?

* "Shi'ites stick together". Normally that is indeed the case. But al-Sistani is bucking the trend, and upbraiding those who blindly rally 'round the flag no matter who raises it or for what cause.

Bottom line: only someone ignorant or prejudiced could possibly have written this.

I'm going to write him.
Family's here.
(Catch of the day)

This weekend's blogging forecast is light...

Monday, May 24, 2004
Oh no! Undue accumulation of power!
(Link path: Yahoo/Reuters)

You know, I bash the Right sometimes for seeing "media bias" where there isn't any. But there are some media that are biased, and European media tend to be worse at that than others. The Beeb's bias was exposed when its man-on-the-scene took Baghdad Bob's pronouncements as straight news during the invasion. The Mirror's was made evident by its eagerness to swallow the British soldier abuse hoax.

Now here's a Reuters release on the newest UN resolution:

Iraq Resolution Gives Wide Powers to U.S. Forces

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Monday asked for U.N. endorsement of a hand-over of power to an interim government in Iraq (news - web sites) but proposed the U.S. force there could "take all measures" to keep order and set no date for it to leave.

Gasp! You mean they didn't provide the enemy with the schedule they needed to set up their coup? How could you do that? And you actually authorized force? Used by Americans? Don't you know the only legal military actions are those undertaken by peacekeepers, and then only when they don't have the authority to blow their own noses without explicit orders from New York?

Okay, sarcasm off. Seriously, what other possibility could there be? Unless the other powers of the world want to take responsibility for Iraqi stability, there has to be a US presence in Iraq. And unless you want that force to be completely pointless, you have to give it authorization to shoot.

And unless you want to give terrorists, anarchists, mafiosos, and other assorted "bad guys" a light at the end of the tunnel, you don't broadcast the date of your departure, either. You leave when you feel you can leave without the place collapsing behind you.

Look, not only does the draft mandate a yearly review, the Iraqi government can request review (in other words, ask us to leave) at any time. And this is only the first draft. Do you really think the UN is going to pass this resolution as is? You never start a negotiation by giving the other side what it wants!

What Reuters is really concerned about, but won't talk about, is that the US will continue to be in effective occupation of Iraq, and that we will control the Iraqi government. As if setting a date of departure or restricting troop powers in a UN resolution would stop such a thing! The real negotiation is over what powers the Americans will have over Iraqis in a sovereign yet foreign-occupied Iraq. That's the real issue; if the diplomats want guarantees about undue influence, they ought to discuss such things directly.

This raises another point. Isn't anyone worried about the US - Iraq relationship being spelled out by a UN resolution? If Iraq really is going to be sovereign, shouldn't it make its own decisions about its relationship with ths US?

Okay, okay, Iraq isn't going to be fully sovereign yet. The same principles that justified going to war (nations have the right to defend the law despite UN deadlocking, and sovereignty is not absolute) also justify the UN acting in loco parentis while the Iraqis are not fully sovereign. But how far does this go? How much right does the rest of the world -- the US or anyone else -- have to go mucking about in what are, after all, Iraqi affairs?

Something tells me that Iraqis are not happy with the French, or Russians, or Chileans, deciding what their rights and duties vis-a-vis the Coalition are any more than they're happy having Americans do it. Iraqis should be running Iraq, they say. And so they should; but how do we get to that point? And what precedent does this set for the future?

These are not easy questions, and pat answers such as UN hegemony or Pax Americana will not solve the problems raised.

And it certainly doesn't help to have Reuters be clearly skeptical of proposals that are simply practical in nature.

(Link path: The New York Times, free and pointless registration required)

I don't know if Joseph Wilson is telling the truth or not about his wife and that trip to Niger. I don't know if the Yellowgate accusations were true or false. What I do know is that a CIA agent had her cover blown for political purposes, and that's wrong at best and criminal at worst.

But Joseph Wilson made one statement that resonated with me perfectly:

Wilson is not antiwar. Rather he is "anti-dumb-war."

That's it exactly. I'm not anti-war, I'm anti-dumb-war. I supported the broad purpose of taking out Saddam but think the diplomacy, the postwar strategy, and the implementation were all muffed. If we are to succeed in Iraq, it will be by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin, and no thanks to the neocons who planned this whole escapade. And it's still not clear at all what we do after Iraq.

Many elements of the Second Gulf War were planned out far in advance of 9/11. This was not really due to some grand conspiracy. Everyone knew Saddam had to be taken out sooner or later, because the sanctions couldn't (and shouldn't!) last forever and Saddam would attack someone the minute he got the chance. After several failed coups, the US started planning the war that was now recognized as inevitable. 9/11 changed the circumstances and even the meaning, but it was still an inevitable war.

A lot of the planning up to now was made in two stages: in the 1990's planning regarding Saddam and in the frantic days after the Eleventh. We've now run out of steam. What's the next step? We're not really sure, although the new sanctions against Syria give a hint of what the neocons envision. If there are any specific policy ideas here, though, no one has shared them with us.

There's little evidence of dextrous, careful implementation of the grand strategy in the Administration. There isn't even a sense of carefully engendered experimentation, what is usually called "fumbling around". Instead, we send interns to manage national budgets.

I'm no peacenik, and I know what a tough slog we have to go. I just would like some competence to be displayed by "All the President's Men". I'm not antiwar. I'm just anti-dumb-war.
First, remove the beam in thine own eye.
(Link path: The Footballs of Rabid Pro-Semitism, Hollywood Reporter)

LGF links a story noting that Bush, inexplicably, has chosen not to request airtime on the Big Four networks for his Army War College speech defending his Iraq policy.

Before clicking on the comments button, I said to myself, "You know, this is poor strategy on the part of the White House. If they intend to convince the voters, they really should get their attention. But I suspect that LGF and its commenters will blame the media for not being pro-Administration."

And you know what? I was right.

Only one person -- one person! -- was willing to consider that the Administration might have made a mistake:

I think everyone has missed the point. The question is:
Why hasn't the Bush Administration requested that these networks carry the speech??? This is a critical time and POTUS should be demanding them to carry it.

And, by long tradition, if the White House had insisted the networks would have carried it, and everyone would have heard about it beforehand. There are few ways to get a hundred million people's attention, but cancelling their favorite TV show is one of them.

But is that Bush's fault for not asking. Not a chance! To balance the one comment that maybe this was a mistake, most of the other eighty-seven blame the media. Let's listen in:

The big four don't give a damn about patriotism. they accuse others of caring only about the bottom line, well well, looks who is only caring about the bottom line now?

I'm not sure what you mean about "accusing others", but I'm quite certain that the Big Four networks don't hand out free airtime because they feel like it. And if national security is at stake, then isn't the Administration's job to insist?

It's now clear that the bushitler junta has a total control of the media and no dissent is any longer allowed.

I see. So FOX News is just a fluke, then, I take it. They put Hillary Clinton on this Sunday, clearly indicating that they have succumed to the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. Rupert Murdoch is being brainwashed right now, and Sean Hannity is next in the chair.

This shit is beyond the pale. The airwaves belong to the people, and to not air a speech intended to update the population on the situation in Iraq is appallingly stupid.

Let's see, the speech will be on all three cable news networks, the Internet, and radio. It will be dissected in tomorrow's newspapers. Very few people have nothing but broadcast television as a news source anymore. You can hardly claim that the President is being muzzled.

Down towards the end, Blackman accurately assesses the situation:

Maybe the major networks can recognize political speech when they see it and for the most part, that is what it is. an attempt to stop the hemorrhage of falling popularity numbers. The networks have no obligation to give Bush or Kerry free air time for political purposes. Bush already gets an enormous amount of free coverage just by virtue of being the president. Yet, spin that the press is liberal and antiBush as the cause of this slight naturally follows.

But the problem is not just that the Right spends its time bashing the Left and other perceived aggressors against their point of view. It's that they use these tactics as a means of avoiding their own problems, such as bad strategy on the part of the White House, or excessive credulousness when presented with enticing WMD data by Ahmed Chalabi & Co.

The Footballs regularly points out, and rightly so, that the Palestinians and other Arabs routinely use their "victim" mentality to avoid fixing their own internal problems, preferring to spurn their enemies and construct elaborate conspiracy theories around them. It is ironically tragic that the LGF community cannot perceive the similarities in their own behavior.

Neither the Left nor the Right wants to deal with their own systemic problems right now; they're far, far happier bashing away at each other.
And whose fault is this?
(Link path: CNN)

Headline: Sharon proposes revised withdrawal plan

Palestinian response: "Palestinians opposed Sharon's withdrawal plan, saying it is unilateral and leaves out Palestinian interests."

To which I say: why should Sharon negotiate with Arafat? Why shouldn't he act unilaterally?

* You don't carry out your agreements. Why do Palestinian schools still deny the existence of Israel?

* You're not capable of enforcing a cease-fire. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah are independent players from you and make their own decisions.

* You kept rejecting proposed peace plans, even when they were in your favor, because it still wasn't enough.

* You continue to hold to impossible "red line" demands, such as a full "right of return", long past the time when holding them became diplomatically counterproductive.

* You walked away from the negotiating table and restarted conflict rather than compromise, or even rather than presenting an alternate plan.

* You undercut the authority of Palestinian prime ministers empowered to make further deals to secure your own power.

So what good is negotiation? It can't be enforced anyway, and as long as the Palestinian people don't rise up against Hamas et al. Palestinian good will won't stop the attacks. (Besides which, Israeli policy is not much geared towards encouraging Palestinian good will at this time.)

At this point, I don't have any problem with Sharon acting unilaterally at all. I do criticize him, but it's because I don't think is government is acting in Israel's best interests. It would make far more sense to abandon all the isolated settlements, pull in behind one single wall, and defend their borders rigorously. That means, for example, paying damages to the villagers whose olive groves were dozed to build the wall, so they don't try coming through, and so forth. It also means leaving fool settlers who insist on staying in Palestinian territory without the protection of the Israeli army. If Israel really means to relinquish sovereignty over the Palestinian territories, if it really means to leave Palestinian problems to the Palestinians, then it had best do so.

That means Palestinian civil war; everyone knows that. I doubt there's any way to stop that war now. But 'twere best done quickly -- and with as many Israelis out of the crossfire as possible.