Spencer Blog Archives 3-03

Spencer Blog Archives

Click here for Mr. Spencer's latest blog entry.

Boy, you ought to get a load of this analysis by the UPI. It's quite sobering.

Here's just a bit of it:

Success, President John. F. Kennedy famously said, has many fathers. Defeat is an orphan.

Even though President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are continuing to claim everything is going to plan in their war on Iraq, perhaps the most ominous development from the U.S. point of view, 11 days into the war, is the scramble to assign or deny blame within the Pentagon. That kind of thing never happens when things are going well.

Last week, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the tough, highly capable commander of the U.S. V Corps and the top-ranking U.S. Army ground commander in Iraq, said frankly that the war he and his embattled troops were having to fight was not the war they had war-gamed for or had been led to expect.

The April 7 issue of the New Yorker magazine, which will be released on Monday, contains an article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who reports that Rumsfeld at least six times overruled regular Army ground commanders and sharply reduced the number of troops in the initial U.S. thrust.

The article also claims that Rumsfeld had overruled cautious theater commander Gen. Tommy Franks, when he urged that the invasion be delayed until the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division, having been denied access to Iraq overland through Turkey, could be deployed in the Gulf instead.

On Sunday, Rumsfeld denied that he had overruled uniformed Army war planners.

Now that Rumsfeld is lying in public, isn't it about time for him to go?

You know it's only a matter of time before it becomes very obvious he's lying. I expect somebody to turn over a document that shows he's lying any day now. Of course, the entire administration is lying about all sorts of things at the moment -- attempting to pass the buck on the warplan and cover up the administration's incompetence and obvious misjudgements.

Doesn't all of this make you long for the day when all the president lied about in public was blowjobs?

Posted by Tom at 10:41 p.m. CST

I've got a couple of things you should go read that are quite troubling.

First of all, Seymour Hersh's devastating expose of the incompetence of Rumsfeld and the hawks in the New Yorker is here. It's quite a sordid tale folks -- once again the Pentagon is going after Rumsfeld.

You also should go read this post by Josh Marshall about this article citing three senior administration officials claiming that the"bad scenarios" were essentially kept from W by those around him. The big news is that this story is apparently a leak from the White House inner circle.

According to Josh, the White House is trying desperately to blame others for the flawed warplan:

It's a narrow enough designation that I think you can say clearly that there simply aren't"three senior administration officials" at the State Department. Indeed, this has all the looks of a story leaked right out of the White House. Presumably, we can scratch Dick Cheney's name off the list since they finger him as the person most responsible for selling the president a bill of goods. Of course, we said months ago that Cheney was the living, breathing disaster at the heart of this administration. But we'll get back to that later.

In any case, the attribution is what makes this such a big story. The White House is in such a state of pandemonium and implosion that they are discarding the policy -- indeed, they are positively undermining it -- in the hopes of insulating the president from the immense fall-out that they can see barreling down the track. Consider also that, saying the president was"out of the loop" -- seemingly a family failing -- on the central policy of his administration is a devastating admission of incompetence on its own. So that tells you what they think of the consequences of remaining attached to the policy.

If you need some evidence that our country is in some trouble, there it is.

In short, W is trying to shift blame for this warplan.

For W, the buck always stops somewhere else, doesn't it?

Is W ever going to accept responsibility for ANYTHING?

Well at least W and the boys haven't tried to blame Clinton's penis for this one -- yet.

Posted by Tom at 5:28 p.m. CST

account of the war in Al-Nasiriyah.

I'll warn you though. It's likely to make you sad and angry at the same time.

Even if you're for the war, this piece ought to make you wonder what the hell we're doing over there and whether much good can come of a war that is prosecuted like this.

Why am I having to go to foreign media sources to find things like this?

Posted by Tom at 1:23 p.m. CST

points us (blogspot permalinks are not working) to these coonass geniuses who are saying all anti-war protesters should be shot for treason.

Get this:

"This has been going on since World War I, and it's the reason they have the right to feel the way they do," [radio talkshow host Richard] Condon said, pointing at the peace protesters marching down Stanford toward LSU.

Despite that right, he concluded,"I think these son-of-a-buggers deserve a bullet in the head."

This followed his proclamation to the crowd at the beach about American military aims that ended with:"And it's about time we nuked Canada's ass!"

These are some really bright folks, these members of the Bush Fedayeen, aren't they?

Atrios comments (again, permalinks on blogspot are not working):

Now, if I were the liberal equivalent of the New York Post, I would seize on this opportunity to point out that the entire pro-war movement is made up of fascist thugs who believe that execution is the proper sentence for disagreeing with an administration's foreign policy.
Or, better yet, Atrios might have just said"Now, if I were the liberal equivalent of Glenn Reynolds..." However, fortunately for all of us, Atrios has got much more class and tolerance than Glenn does. Glenn frequently tries to lump all of the anti-war folks together into one boat by making these types of outrageous claims. In fact, Glenn's claims are often even more outrageous in fact.

I just thought I'd point that out.

Posted by Tom at 1:23 p.m. CST


From what I can tell so far, it sounds like MSNBC and NBC wimped out to me.

Score one for the White House"patriotic correctness" police. It's not like Arnett didn't say anything that most of us aren't thinking or, in my case, writing.

I guess he shouldn't have said it on Iraqi TV. I guess.

You can watch Arnett's apology and get a lot more background on this by clicking on the video link at the top of the page as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:19 a.m. CST

Fanatical Apathy. Atrios blogged about it this morning and I went and read it. It's quite good. I'm particularly fond of his most recent (at the moment) post here.

I've also just added Adam to the blogroll.

Off to grade.


Posted by Tom at 8:27 a.m. CST

Atrios and the new hit monster of the blogosphere, the Agonist, I had a record day for hits today. I've had nearly 4,600 visitors and nearly 6,200 hits just today -- and I've still got an hour left in the day!

Amazing, huh?

I think so.

I always marvel at things like this. I still remember a time during my first few weeks of blogging when I dreamed about having 100 hits in a day.

Posted by Tom at 11:02 p.m. CST

it again. He reprints an e-mail he has received from an unnamed career diplomat who clearly has an excellent sense of history.

Here are this unnamed diplomat's three scenarios for the end of the war:

1. We will hesitate to enter the city for fear of losing large numbers of US casualties in urban warfare. We therefore will have to engage in major bombing in Baghdad, including in civilian areas. To use the Vietnam era phrase,"we had to destroy the village in order to save it." International outrage will be overwhelming, and we will pay the price in the Arab and Muslim worlds for years to come. Operation Iraqi Freedom becomes Operation Iraqi Conquest.

2. Like the Russians against Napoleon and later the Nazis, there is"defense in depth." Let them get deep inside your country, and then start nibbling at them and making their life miserable. It's already happened -- we were rolling to Baghdad with little opposition against our main and heavily-armed forces, and then all hell broke loose against our lighter armed but critical logistics chain that is in the rear. Following this pattern, Saddam eventually will make it"easy" (that's in quotes, because it won't be that easy) for us to enter Baghdad as a ruse, and once we are there, with only 20 to 30K troops inside an unfamiliar and large city of 5 million, his forces will engage in hit and run, guerrilla, terrorist tactics against us. We will have to retreat from the city, bloodied and demoralized -- to borrow your phrase, this is the chickenhawk down scenario. There will be calls from within the US (and certainly from Britain) to pull out of Iraq all together, because the mission has failed. How do you spell"Dunkirk?" We will have to get us forces safely out of the country across 300 miles. (Is that the distance from Baghdad back to Kuwait?) Remember April 1775? The British lost more troops marching back to Boston than they did at Lexington and Concord.

3. This is what I think is the most likely scenario. Cooler heads such as Colin Powell and our senior military leaders will be able to convince Bush that Option 1 and 2 are not"viable," to use a USG phrase. (It will be a tough sell, because Bush personally will prefer Option 1, the stay the course, show the world (and Daddy) how tough and determined and"focused" I am). Our military leaders, already mad at Rummy and company for not giving them the forces they needed to do the job, will simply not want to engage in such butchery or subject their forces to heavy casulaties. Tony Blair will make the same point. But what to do? We will need to surround the city, secure the rest of the country, and then play the game of"political standoff." Somebody will have to blink.

Of course I hope this guy's wrong. However, I'd be irresponsible not to share this with you. Go read the rest of Josh's post, there's a great deal more to it.

Posted by Tom at 2:31 p.m. CST

these brave souls in mind at all times when we think about this war.

You'll notice that most of these brave Americans were in their thirties with children.

And this is the main reason why this nation shouldn't go to war unless it's really necessary.

Correspondingly, it's also why, when we do go to war, we should be as prepared as possible.

Posted by Tom at 1:35 p.m. CST

This column from the Independent is quite good.

Here's the"money" quote but you should read the whole thing:

From before 11 September Iraq was"on the agenda" of the divided Bush administration for reasons that would require the assistance of a psychiatrist, as well as political and military analysts. They decided on war long ago and then went about searching for the precise reasons. Even less thought has been given as to how the war will end and what will happen in the immediate aftermath. In Britain, Clare Short was quite open about this in a Commons debate held last month. She said then that the UN did not want to contemplate the aftermath of a war that many of its members strongly opposed. Of the many statements from the Bush administration about the war none conveys a clear sense of what will happen afterwards. It has been a constant theme in US newspapers, most of whom support the war, while despairing over the lack of planning. That is what is so worrying about the shifting arguments and statements from the political leaders. They do not know what they are doing or why they are doing it. They are fighting an unnecessary war and are still trying to find the reasons to justify it, even though the conflict has started and lives are being lost.
The MoDo is also quite good today. She has a column today that sarcastically rips Rummy to shreds. Go give it a read.

Apparently the U.S. media has apparently decided to begin doing their jobs and examine the warplan. So that's what it takes to wake the media up, huh? After the conflict starts and it isn't working out at all as advertised, as in it's not the" cakewalk" the Cheney-Perle-Wolfowitz cabal promised, that's when folks in the media suddenly decides to start asking questions.

As I've said numerous times, I hold our incompetent and flag-waving media as responsible for this damn war as the administration. If they'd been doing their jobs the last six months, all of the lies in the case for war would've been exposed and we wouldn't be here in the first place. Americans would've rose up in demonstrations by the millions and public opinion would've reflected it, thus being evenly split on the war between those who couldn't believe the folks in the administration were lying to them about the war and those who knew they was lying to them.

Oh wait, I'm sorry, come to think of it, those last few things did happen even without a competent media (which then chose to ignore the enormous protests of course). W and the boys also chose to ignore the protests and dismiss them as just representing the opinions of a few rabble-rousers. Now we're in this war and there's no telling how long it's going to last or how many lives it's going to claim.


That's all for now.

It's an awfully busy day for me folks. I'm sure I'll blog some more today but it may be a while.

Update: I hope Hesiod's right about this too.

Posted by Tom at 7:16 a.m. CST

Talking Points Memo and look what happens! Josh produces an impressive avalanche of posts about the Neocon Hawks ill-conceived warplan! Go read TPM right now.

Josh backs up much of what I've said here -- and he's got inside sources in D.C. that I don't have!

Posted by Tom at 8:42 p.m. CST

known that Rumsfeld is at fault for the mistaken assumptions that were part of the warplan:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected advice from Pentagon planners that substantially more troops and armor would be needed to fight a war in Iraq, New Yorker Magazine reported.

In an article for its April 7 edition, which goes on sale on Monday, the weekly said Rumsfeld insisted at least six times in the run-up to the conflict that the proposed number of ground troops be sharply reduced and got his way.

"He thought he knew better. He was the decision-maker at every turn," the article quoted an unidentified senior Pentagon planner as saying."This is the mess Rummy put himself in because he didn't want a heavy footprint on the ground."

It also said Rumsfeld had overruled advice from war commander Gen. Tommy Franks to delay the invasion until troops denied access through Turkey could be brought in by another route and miscalculated the level of Iraqi resistance.

"They've got no resources. He was so focused on proving his point -- that the Iraqis were going to fall apart," the article, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, cited an unnamed former high-level intelligence official as saying.

Goodness. Hersh took Perle down a couple of weeks ago (sort of, Perle's still on the Defense Policy Board) and now he's moved on to Rumsfeld.

BTW, our supply lines are so stretched at the moment that some marines are only getting one meal per day and some are being fed by Iraqi civilians.

I would assume that both of these things aren't"part of the plan," are they?

Update:Agonist readers, earlier posts of mine on this are here, here, here, here, and here.

I also blogged a bit about it this morning (3/30) as well.

Posted by Tom at 5:27 p.m. CST

reminds us that, despite what you hear from our historically ignorant media, relations with France are not at"their lowest point in history."

You see, there was this little thing called the"Quasi War" with France in the 1790s. I think when we were involved in naval battles against the French in the Caribbean our relations were, er, just a wee bit worse than they are right now, don't you?

Longtime readers of mine here at HNN know that I've written about the Quasi War before. Last June, in my pre-blog days, I suggested that W was using the"War on Terror" as Adams and the Federalists had tried to use the"Quasi War" -- for partisan political advantage.

Given the events that followed and the odious patriotism questioning by W of Democrats in the November campaign, I think I've been proven absolutely correct.

However, I would argue, just as I did last June, that the administration risks an eventual backlash (like what happened to Adams and the Federalists) from Americans who think W and the boys are simply using the war on terror as a political club with which to beat their enemies. I'd argue that many more Americans are convinced of this now than were in November.

It's become increasingly obvious to many Americans that the"war on terror" is what this administration trots out when all of their other dogs have ceased, as the old phrase goes, to hunt. It's the neo-McCarthyistic stand-by card that is played by this administration in moments of desperation, such as when it looks like you're going to lose control of congress.

Therefore, you really should expect to hear much more about W's"Quasi War on Terror" in the days ahead -- especially if the war begins to go poorly.

Posted by Tom at 1:19 p.m. CST


I originally posted this passage six days ago, long before it began appearing everywhere, quoted by both the media and by bloggers.

Update: For an excellent Dana Milbank article on this, go here.

Posted by Tom at 12:06 p.m. CST

Atrios and say there's no glee here either about the state of the war. In fact, there's a great deal of sorrow. Sorrow for the unnecessary loss of life -- both of our soldiers and of Iraqi civilians. Sorrow for what has become of our nation to pursue a war like this. Sorrow for our soldiers who find themselves involved in what is sure to be a very difficult war. Now that we're involved in it, I'd like to have been wrong about everything I said about the war

Nope. No glee here at all Glenn -- but thanks for mischaracterizing us anti-war folks for the umpteenth time.

Glenn really is becoming the Bill O'Reilly of the blogosphere, isn't he?

Update: Hesiod comments on this today as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:26 a.m. CST

terrorism against U.S. soldiers in Iraq has started.

You should expect more of this in the coming days.



Posted by Tom at 9:08 a.m. CST

Boy, get a load of this story from the Los Angeles Times about just some of the misjudgements that were part of the warplan.

Here's just a bit of it:

Current and former intelligence officials criticize the Pentagon for overly optimistic assessments and predictions of how Iraqis would respond to a U.S. invasion.

Judith Yaphe, the chief CIA analyst on Iraq during the Gulf War, said the Pentagon this time relied on overly optimistic assessments and predictions from Iraqi opposition groups in exile, particularly the London-based Iraqi National Congress. The CIA, she and current officials said, has been more skeptical of such claims.

"It was a fantasy," said Yaphe, who teaches at the National Defense University in Washington."They had a strategic vision that we would face no opposition, that everyone would surrender, that Iraqis would throw rose petals and rice, and people would welcome us as conquering liberators. Clearly those judgments were not based on reality."

A current intelligence official offered a similar assessment.

"The intelligence community was not overly optimistic at all," said the official, who is involved in discussions on Iraq.

"There was very healthy debate on all the key issues: Who's going to hold together? Who's going to defect? Who's going to fight?"

But the official said many in the analytical community were convinced that administration hawks had little interest in hearing pessimistic assessments. Some were also concerned that CIA Director George J. Tenet and others appeared more focused on helping the White House make the case for war than on calling attention to potential problems.

As I've said before, the Cheney-Perle-Wolfowitz cabal were apparently about as wrong as they could be about how this war would develop. The fact that we're hurriedly sending more than 100,000 soldiers to Iraq in the next few weeks should be all you need to know about whether all is really going to plan, no matter what W or Rumsfeld are saying in public.

My understanding is we may siege Baghdad for a long time and mount an increasingly nasty air campaign. We're already apparently killing a few hundred civilians per day in Baghdad at the moment. You should expect the carnage in Baghdad to correspondingly get worse.

Like all Americans, I'd really like this war to be over soon with a minimum loss of life. However, I don't expect that. I think we'll be lucky if this war is over in a month. It appears we may not even begin the assault on Baghdad for another month at this point.

As I've said several times, I'd really like to have been wrong about this war but I haven't been so far.

BTW, you really ought to go read a couple of good posts about the war by Kevin Drum here and here.

It's been a busy day so I haven't been blogging as much. I graded a ton of papers and then when I got home my wife and I started steaming four layers of wall paper off our bathroom walls. It was a wearying last several hours finishing that job.

Tomorrow is the first day of the soccer season. However, I'm just coaching a game tomorrow morning. I won't be coaching a game and then refereeing two games like I usually do. That starts next week.

I'm exhausted folks. I'll see you tomorrow.

Posted by Tom at 11:35 p.m. CST

this is very bad and so is this -- although not unexpected.

This little adventure of ours is going quite poorly, isn't it?

The region could easily blow up into a larger conflict at any time now. Fortunately, it's only private citizens and not the actual armies of Iran and Syria moving into Iraq at the moment.

I also suspect we're going to get more and more indiscriminate in our selection of targets around Baghdad as the days go by. We've just killed 50 civilians in Baghdad with one inaccurate missile folks. I can't help but wonder how many more we've killed that we don't know about? How many more will follow in the coming days?

Don't anyone say I didn't warn you. These are exactly the sort of things I worried about and talked about for months here on this blog before this war started.

Posted by Tom at 3:32 p.m. CST

Rhetorica. It wasn't that long ago that I had my 120,000th visitor.

I've had over 193,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

As always, I thank you profusely for dropping by and hope to give you a good reason to come back.

Posted by Tom at 1:19 p.m. CST

warns us that, if a draft is suddenly necessary for yet another imperial neocon war, it is now much harder to claim the status of" conscientious objector."

Read this post. If you're younger than 22 or so, I would suggest you read it a couple of times and think quite a bit about it.

Posted by Tom at 12:23 p.m. CST


Posted by Tom at 10:37 a.m. CST

this. Fox News once again earns its real moniker as the Faux News Network.

Andy Borowitz's satire piece that I linked to last night is looking dead-on accurate now, isn't it?

Yeah, they're really journalists.


[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 10:24 a.m. CST

9:46 a.m. CST

Borowitz Report:


Assigned to Cover"Fair and Balanced" Network for Duration of War

As part of an experimental new program initiated by the Defense Department, a journalist has been embedded with the Fox News Network, giving him unique access to the"fair and balanced" network for the duration of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

David Peterson, a reporter for the Akron Beacon-Journal, will be the only journalist living, working, and eating with Fox News staffers in the weeks to come.

Mr. Peterson said that although he felt very much"like an outsider" at the beginning of his stint with Fox News, he said that a mutual respect has grown between him and his hosts.

"I think at first it was weird for them to have a journalist around," Mr. Peterson said.

Mr. Peterson said that he does his best to stay out of the way of his Fox News comrades, adding,"They have their job to do and I have mine."

While the veteran journalist said he was excited about being embedded with Fox News, he admitted that his first days at the news channel had provided him with more than a few hair-raising moments.

"You can prepare all you want to be embedded at Fox News, but until you're in the thick of it, you have no idea how scary a place Fox News can be," Mr. Peterson said.

The journalist added that even with the unfettered access he has been given to Fox News, the news channel has been careful to protect him from situations that it deems too dangerous.

"I'm not allowed to talk to Bill O'Reilly when he's in the makeup chair," he said.

Posted by Tom at 9:55 p.m. CST

resigned his position as chair of the Defense Policy Board.

This looks like a significant development but it really isn't. It looks like W is trying to rid himself of the guy who was so wrong about Iraq and who apparently is profiting from his unpaid (except for the six figure lobbying fees) position.

But W and Rummy are actually doing nothing of the kind. Now Perle can happily continue to profit from his connections and, since he remains on the board, he can still shape policy. I've blogged about Perle a lot lately (tons of blog entries about him in the last two or three weeks) because he's one of the leading neocon empire-hungry IraqWar hawks who thought this war would be a cakewalk.

I assume this means his libel lawsuit against Sy Hersh is off, right? I mean now that he's resigned because apparently Hersh was right he wouldn't be crazy enough to still sue, would he?

Posted by Tom at 7:45 p.m. CST

Posted by Tom at 4:29 p.m. CST

Agonist, the army is hurriedly deploying 100,000 more soldiers to Iraq in the next few weeks.

Hmmm. I'm guessing the warplan isn't working out like it was supposed to.

Furthermore, Sean-Paul is also hearing that intelligence officials are peeved that they had warned about strenuous resistance from the Iraqis. However, they were ignored and this information was not passed on to coalition commanders.

Yep it is as we suspected. Even though W, Rumsfeld, et. al, are trying to pretend things are going exactly according to plan, they clearly aren't.

Posted by Tom at 3:24 p.m. CST

this column:

And it is going to be far too important to be decided on the basis of the sort of ad hominem attacks launched against Novak this week by former White House speechwriter David Frum. Frum is among those who can’t seem to accept the fact that those who disagree with him may not be in league with the devil. His vituperative attack on one of the nation’s most respected conservative columnists marks the man as neither conservative nor intellectually respectable. Like many other conservatives, I happen to disagree with Novak’s analysis of what’s going on in the Middle East. But to suggest, as does Frum, that his disagreement with Bush’s Iraq policy stems from a hatred of the president and the country is scandalously and irresponsibly absurd.

Frum seems to know little of Novak’s background or history, but anyone who can read a newspaper should know that Novak was opposing this nation’s enemies before Frum was even born. One can question the man’s judgment and sometimes even his facts, but to suggest that Novak is no different from the crypto-fascists and Marxists organizing “peace” rallies these days says a lot more about David Frum than it does about Bob Novak.

I'm pretty sure Keene wouldn't defend me or my case against the war quite so vociferously as he does Bob Novak's but I do believe he's right in his defense of this war's critics.

Personally, I believe this is an immoral and unnecessary war. To say so and worry about the war's progress and the impact of this war on the world isn't unpatriotic. It's our duty as good Americans to speak up about it. To do so also doesn't mean you don't support the troops. I have friends who are in Iraq right now -- a couple of faculty colleagues in fact. I'm very worried about their safety and I keep hoping this damn war will end right now so I can quit worrying about them.

It sickens me when war supporters, whether they are brainless ditto-monkeys or W sycophants like David Frum, question the patriotism of Americans who don't agree with this war.

In fact, I would contend it's these misguided war supporters who apparently don't understand just what it truly means to be an American. It means speaking your mind without fear of being labeled"un-American."

Posted by Tom at 1:36 p.m. CST

adequately fund the 9/11 commission.

If you recall, W and the boys fought tooth and nail against the creation of this commission and then, when public pressure was intense, grudgingly gave in. Now they're stripping the commission of funding and otherwise quietly obstructing it.

I'll ask this once again: What are they hiding?

Posted by Tom at 12:10 p.m. CST

As I watch my second class suffer my blue book torture, I have another link to pass on to you.

You have to go read this excellent article by Josh Marshall.

Here's just a bit of it, so you'll go read the rest:

Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. Across the border, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, our conquering presence has brought street protests and escalating violence. The United Nations and NATO are in disarray, so America is pretty much on its own. Hemmed in by budget deficits at home and limited financial assistance from allies, the Bush administration is talking again about tapping Iraq's oil reserves to offset some of the costs of the American presence--talk that is further inflaming the region. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has discovered fresh evidence that, prior to the war, Saddam moved quantities of biological and chemical weapons to Syria. When Syria denies having such weapons, the administration starts massing troops on the Syrian border. But as they begin to move, there is an explosion: Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon blow themselves up in a Baghdad restaurant, killing dozens of Western aid workers and journalists. Knowing that Hezbollah has cells in America, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge puts the nation back on Orange Alert. FBI agents start sweeping through mosques, with a new round of arrests of Saudis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Yemenis.

To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated.

In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. Prior to the war, the president himself never quite said this openly. But hawkish neoconservatives within his administration gave strong hints. In February, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq, the United States would"deal with" Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Meanwhile, neoconservative journalists have been channeling the administration's thinking. Late last month, The Weekly Standard's Jeffrey Bell reported that the administration has in mind a"world war between the United States and a political wing of Islamic fundamentalism ... a war of such reach and magnitude [that] the invasion of Iraq, or the capture of top al Qaeda commanders, should be seen as tactical events in a series of moves and countermoves stretching well into the future."

In short, the administration is trying to roll the table--to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism. So events that may seem negative--Hezbollah for the first time targeting American civilians; U.S. soldiers preparing for war with Syria--while unfortunate in themselves, are actually part of the hawks' broader agenda. Each crisis will draw U.S. forces further into the region and each countermove in turn will create problems that can only be fixed by still further American involvement, until democratic governments--or, failing that, U.S. troops--rule the entire Middle East.

There is a startling amount of deception in all this--of hawks deceiving the American people, and perhaps in some cases even themselves. While it's conceivable that bold American action could democratize the Middle East, so broad and radical an initiative could also bring chaos and bloodshed on a massive scale. That all too real possibility leads most establishment foreign policy hands, including many in the State Department, to view the Bush plan with alarm. Indeed, the hawks' record so far does not inspire confidence. Prior to the invasion, for instance, they predicted that if the United States simply announced its intention to act against Saddam regardless of how the United Nations voted, most of our allies, eager to be on our good side, would support us. Almost none did. Yet despite such grave miscalculations, the hawks push on with their sweeping new agenda.

Like any group of permanent Washington revolutionaries fueled by visions of a righteous cause, the neocons long ago decided that criticism from the establishment isn't a reason for self-doubt but the surest sign that they're on the right track. But their confidence also comes from the curious fact that much of what could go awry with their plan will also serve to advance it. A full-scale confrontation between the United States and political Islam, they believe, is inevitable, so why not have it now, on our terms, rather than later, on theirs? Actually, there are plenty of good reasons not to purposely provoke a series of crises in the Middle East. But that's what the hawks are setting in motion, partly on the theory that the worse things get, the more their approach becomes the only plausible solution.

If you want to know what's on the minds of these crazy empire-hungry neocon hawks, Josh is your man. Go read the rest of it.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 10:10 a.m. CST

editorial from the WaPo by Harold Myerson of The American Prospect is a good quick fix on what's wrong with W's foreign policy and this war itself.

You really should read how well this war is playing in the Iraqi exile community. They're moving to distance themselves from the war -- calling it a"war of conquest" not of"liberation."

And be sure to keep in mind these were the folks that Richard Perle thought were going to fight the war for us just a few months ago.

Posted by Tom at 8:33 a.m. CST

this WaPo story:

Despite the rapid advance of Army and Marine forces across Iraq over the past week, some senior U.S. military officers are now convinced that the war is likely to last months and will require considerably more combat power than is now on hand there and in Kuwait, senior defense officials said today.

The combination of wretched weather, long and insecure supply lines, and an enemy that has refused to be supine in the face of American combat power has led to a broad reassessment by some top generals of U.S. military expectations and timelines. Some of them see even the potential threat of a drawn-out fight that sucks in more and more U.S. forces. Both on the battlefield in Iraq and in Pentagon conference rooms, military commanders were talking today about a longer, harder war than had been expected just a week ago, the officials said.

"Tell me how this ends," one senior officer said today.

While some top planners favor continuing to press north, most Army commanders believe that the pause in Army ground operations that began today is critical. A relatively small force is stretched thin over 300 miles, and much of the Army's killing power, in more than 100 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, has been grounded by persistently foul weather or by battle damage from an unsuccessful pre-dawn raid on Monday. To the east, the Marine Corps advance on the city of Kut was also hampered by skirmishing along its supply line and fuel shortages at the front.

Boy, when the hawks are wrong they're REALLY wrong, aren't they?

Go read the rest of the story although I'll warn you, it's pretty depressing.

[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 9:15 p.m. CST

piece by Gideon Rose in Slate and you should also go read several entries on the Mahablog as well.

Both of these pieces make it clear how wrong Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and other IraqWar Part II hawks were about the strategy necessary for this war. As recently as just a few months ago, most of this powerful cabal believed a Bay of Pigs-style invasion by Iraqi exiles would've been sufficient to overthrow Saddam. If you recall, the word is that Rumsfeld and these guys only wanted 60,000 soldiers for this operation early on but the Pentagon wouldn't go along.

Boy, what a disaster would that have been?

I have to say (and you won't hear me say this sort of thing very often) that W showed good judgement when he ignored their strategic device and went with that of the actual military experts.

Of course, W obviously agreed with them for the most part because it apparently was their idea to have this immoral and unnecessary war in the first place.

Posted by Tom at 5:16 p.m. CST

Here's more on the bombing of the market in Baghdad. It's pretty irritating that the military is trying to shirk responsibility for it. Come on folks, just fess up. I know it's possible that it was an Iraqi missile but damned unlikely.

Weapons miss. We're going to kill innocent people -- that's one of the things that makes this war immoral. At least give us the common courtesy of fessing up to it when you screw up.

If current reports appearing on the Agonist are correct, there apparently are two large tank battles going on at the moment, one near Basra and another south of Baghdad.

The battle south of Baghdad is in the midst of the sandstorm and apparently involves at least 1,000 Iraqi vehicles.

Update:It now appears that the Brits may be in trouble south of Basra. There's been a major Iraqi offensive south of Basra.

This doesn't sound good so far. We'll see of course.

We're also still claiming that the weapon that hit the market in Baghdad wasn't ours. Again, it's possible that it could've been an Iraqi missile but not very likely.

Posted by Tom at 3:07 p.m. CST

accuracy of our weapons. And give me a damn break about the GPS jammers, will you?

Apparently Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the boys thought this was going to be a quick war but, apparently, the military didn't. This article recounts several other things that were misjudged as well -- such as the strength of the Fedayeen.

This is going to be awful folks.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 a.m. CST

It's Wednesday morning! It's Gene Lyons time!

Underestimating the Enemy

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

--Theodore Roosevelt, 1918
Tooling along I-430 for an early morning assignation with a horse, I noticed a woman in the inside lane with a patriotic message in her rear window. In big, carefully-scripted white letters, it read: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS IN IRAQ. Then beneath: REMEMBER 9/11.

Having hoped to avoid this accursed war for a couple of hours, I found myself marveling at the thought processes--if those are the right words--that created this manifestation of patriotic zeal. Support our troops? Absolutely. Now that the fighting has begun and it's clear that the bewildered little man with the cocky swagger and the fear in his eyes has staked his political future upon overthrowing Saddam Hussein--as odious a tyrant as the U.S. has ever armed and supported--one can only pray that American and British soldiers get the job done quickly, with maximum effective force and minimum loss of life.

Alas, it's already beginning to look as if Bush's advisors, serene in their certitude, have badly underestimated the Iraqis' willingness to defend their homeland against foreign invaders. But hold that thought.

What a people we Americans are becoming. War as a"real time" 24 hour cable TV event."Mediathons," Frank Rich calls them; war as the logical successor to the O.J. Simpson trial, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and the quest to find Chandra Levy. All war, all the time."Embedded" correspondents in flak jackets live from the front. The ultimate reality TV. And now, a few words from our sponsor.

But"REMEMBER 9/11?" Madam, that was a different Arab, called Osama bin Laden. Not an Iraqi, but an exiled Saudi. Osama denounces Saddam as an"infidel," and would enjoy seeing him dead quite as much as you would. Not one Iraqi among the 9/11 hijackers. Attacking Baghdad in response to 9/11 is the equivalent of attacking China to avenge Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, many who support President Junior either don't know or don't care."Whatever anyone may say about weapons of mass destruction, or about Saddam's savage brutality to his own people," writes the eminent biologist Richard Dawkins in The Guardian"the reason Bush can now get away with his war is that a sufficient number of Americans, including, apparently, Bush himself, see it as revenge for 9/11. This is worse than bizarre. It is pure racism and/or religious prejudice. Nobody has made even a faintly plausible case that Iraq had anything to do with the atrocity. It was Arabs that hit the World Trade Center, right? So let's go and kick Arab ass. Those 9/11 terrorists were Muslims, right? And Eye-raqis are Muslims, right? That does it. We're gonna go in there and show them some hardware. Shock and awe? You bet."

Dawkins points out that al Qaeda can only feel"gleeful." Provoking a worldwide conflict with the Great Satan is precisely what the 9/11 attacks were intended to do.

Junior unashamedly used fear to sell this war. In his ultimatum to Saddam, he claimed that responding to"enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide." Suicide, the man said.

Yet Bush promises to bring democracy to the Middle East. So here's my problem: if millions of Americans, like the lady with the slogan in her rear window, seek vengeance against an enemy they can't identify, what would Arabs vote for if they could?

Writing in the Washington Post, veteran Middle Eastern correspondent Youssef M. Ibrahim summarized a poll taken by Zogby International in six Arab countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. And guess what? Huge majorities favor greater political involvement by Islamic clergy than their governments allow. Fewer than 6 percent think the U.S. is attacking Iraq to bring democracy. Instead," close to 95 percent were convinced that the United States was after control of Arab oil and the subjugation of the Palestinians to Israel's will."

Look at a world map. The U.S. can't fight everybody from Morocco to Pakistan. Shock and awe notwithstanding, there are too many of them, too few of us, and too much territory. There are already signs that ideologues who talked an ignorant, easily manipulated Bush into this global game of"Risk" had no idea of Iraq's determination to fight. The joyous mobs they foresaw greeting U.S. troops haven't materialized. Retired U.S. generals are telling reporters that precisely as they'd warned, American and British forces are in danger of becoming overextended and having their supply lines interrupted. For patently political reasons, the war began before sufficient force was assembled. The outcome's not in doubt, but it's looking like a far longer, bloodier struggle than anybody wanted.

It's a busy day. I'll be back to blogging in a bit.

Posted by Tom at 9:49 a.m. CST

Go read this excellent post on how we really should quit bitching about how the Iraqis are treating our soldiers. As I've said before, we're breaking the Geneva Convention thousands of times every day in Guantanamo.

You'll note that Kos says the military was against this"enemy non-combatant" designation for Taliban prisoners precisely because they believed it would make it harder for us to insist that enemies treat our prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

But W and the boys would hear none of it. Therefore, they really should bear some of the responsibility for how our soldiers are being treated. Once again, they've really screwed up.

Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CST

BTW, I thought it was interesting watching the media sharks blast away at Rumsfeld today about providing false expectations of a quick war. While it appears that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz all believed this would be a quick war, I'm pretty sure that only Dick Cheney ran his mouth about it in public. For more on this, go here.

Taking a page from Hesiod, does anyone have an unsettling feeling about the sandstorm that has stopped our advance? In fact, get a load of this picture.

If one believed in providence, you'd think this would give them pause. It's almost as if the powers above are saying"Stop. I mean it. Right now."

Just a thought.

As my wife just said,"What's next, locusts?"

Update: Nope -- definitely not locusts plaguing our soldiers at the moment.

Posted by Tom at 3:42 p.m. CST

12:08 p.m. CST

going well.

In response, the predictable"anonymous sources" at the Pentagon are beginning to stab the hated Don Rumsfeld in the back. Rumsfeld has never been popular in the Pentagon.

Here's the most eye-opening parts of this last article, which contains a withering critique of Rumsfeld's warplan:

Five days into the war, the optimistic assumptions of the Pentagon's civilian war planners have yet to be realized, the risks of the campaign are becoming increasingly apparent and some current and retired military officials are warning that there may be a mismatch between Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's strategy and the force he's sent to carry it out.

The outcome of the war isn't in doubt: Iraq's forces are no match for America and its allies. But, so far, defeating them is proving to be harder, and it could prove to be longer and costlier in American and Iraqi lives than the architects of the American war plan expected.

And if weather, Iraqi resistance, chemical weapons or anything else turned things suddenly and unexpectedly sour, the backup force, the Army's 4th Infantry Division, is still in Texas with its equipment sailing around the Arabian peninsula.

Despite the aerial pounding they've taken, it's not clear that Saddam Hussein, his lieutenants or their praetorian guard are either shocked or awed. Instead of capitulating, some regular Iraqi army units are harassing American supply lines. Contrary to American hopes - and some officials' expectations - no top commander of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard has capitulated. Even some ordinary Iraqis are greeting advancing American and British forces as invaders, not as liberators.

"This is the ground war that was not going to happen in (Rumsfeld's) plan," said a Pentagon official. Because the Pentagon didn't commit overwhelming force,"now we have three divisions strung out over 300-plus miles and the follow-on division, our reserve, is probably three weeks away from landing."

Asked Monday about concerns that the coalition force isn't big enough, Defense Department spokesperson Victoria Clarke replied:"... most people with real information are saying we have the right mix of forces. We also have a plan that allows it to adapt and to scale up and down as needed."

Knowledgeable defense and administration officials say Rumsfeld and his civilian aides at first wanted to commit no more than 60,000 American troops to the war on the assumption that the Iraqis would capitulate in two days.


"Military casualties normally soar on both sides; innocent civilians lose lives and suffer severe privation; reconstruction costs skyrocket," Collins said, adding that fighting for the capital would cancel out the allied advantages in air and armor and reduce it to an Infantry battle house to house, street by street.


He said the Air Force was bombing day and night, but its strikes have so far failed to produce the anticipated capitulation and uprising by the Iraqi people.

One senior administration official put it this way:"'Shock and Awe' is Air Force bull---!"

Dorff said:"Expectations were raised for something that might be quick and relatively painless. What we're seeing in the first few days probably ought to dispel that. Part of the problem is that expectations were raised that we would march in and everybody would surrender - sort of the four-day scenario of 1991."

Instead of streams of surrendering Iraqi soldiers, the American and British forces report that they are holding around 2,000 enemy prisoners.

So much for the brilliant war plan, eh? And we haven't even got to Baghdad yet. Depending on how the battle develops, we could lose most of our firepower advantage there.

Again, I keep hoping this war will end right now. Apparently, it's not going to, is it?

[The first link is via an e-mail from my wife and the last is via Atrios]

Update:Here's an article from the WaPo that is critical about the warplan.

Also, here's the latest from Nate Thayer in Baghdad.

Posted by Tom at 11:44 a.m. CST

I explained it and, from what I can tell from her further questions, she honestly didn't know what a primary was.

I think her question demonstrates exactly why we're fighting this war. She, like many Americans, is so uninvolved in our political system she doesn't even know how it works.

It's just this sort of ignorance and willful apathy on the part of Americans that has led to the present, with Smirky as president and the immoral and unnecessary war raging on in Iraq.

It's not really her fault though. We now have a culture that encourages such ignorance. And we now have an administration that plays upon this ignorance for political advantage.

Posted by Tom at 11:04 a.m. CST

Krugman's column this morning is pretty good. It's describing how these pro-war rallies (which were pathetically small but much uglier in rhetoric in comparison to the anti-war rallies) are the product of media behemoth Clear Channel trying to curry favor with the administration.

Good stuff. Go read. I'm off to class number 2.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 a.m. CST

It's about class time -- I've got two classes back-to-back this morning. While I'm busy, go read this column by Phil Carpenter.

Here's just a bit of it to pique your interest:

The Bush administration's pathology of deception continues unabated. Its most recent outbreak of conning the already conned public is the claim that the United States' illegal, virtually unilateral and unprovoked military aggression against Iraq is but a partial expression of widespread international accord. France, singularly, is made out to be the global bad guy and martial party pooper; not the world's majority voice of opposition to America's depraved conduct abroad.

Why shoot, says the administration, we've got allies up to our eyeballs. The count has, at times, been a bit fuzzy -- how odd for this customarily precise White House when it comes to mathematics, especially on fiscal policy -- with diverse officials spouting diverse numbers. Aside from today's principal party line of 45 allies (which really means 30, because one-third, in a display of true solidarity with the U.S., prefer to pretend they've never heard of us), we have also been treated to allied counts of 35 and 40. In any case, all the estimates are within a comfortable 33-percent margin of error, a considerable improvement over the administration's budget forecasts.

Whatever the actual count, which includes the conveniently anonymously committed, 30 nations have been so bold as to raise their hands and be named. And a few of them have gone even farther. As we all know, allied Britain has promised the greatest number of troops -- ultimately 45,000 -- coming in at 12.9 percent of total" coalition" forces expected in Iraq. That's the good news. The bad news -- as some naysaying leftists such as columnists Robert Novak and Paul Craig Roberts might characterize it -- is that after Britain's contribution, 302,548 troops are still needed.

And it gets better from there. The ditto-monkeys are already swarming Phil's comment boards.


Posted by Tom at 7:49 a.m. CST

comment board to this post by Kos and decided I'd post about it as well.

Several bloggers are talking about how our weapons apparently aren't killing many civilians. I have a couple of caveats about that. First of all, apparently civilian casualties are much worse in cities other than Baghdad. For example, according to Iraqi officials it appears that at least 100 or more civilians have been killed in Basra so far.

However, I would warn you about any casualty numbers we get from Saddam's government. History has something to teach us here about the truthfulness of Iraqi casualty numbers. For example, Saddam's government still claims fewer civilian casualties in IraqWar Part I than we do! Saddam was dishonest about this because the lie was necessary for him to remain in power.

For some background on this, go read this piece by a weapons specialist, Patricia Axelrod. Axelrod visited Iraq in the months following the Gulf War. This is an excellent piece that I would suggest you read anyway. It really gets to the horrors of modern warfare for civilians quite well.

Here's enough of this piece to make my point:

A few days after arriving in Iraq--and assuring officials that I was not an American spy--I became a Desert Storm sightseer, complete with a botched guidebook entitled The Destruction, courtesy of Takliff, the head of the Iraqi Press Center. Its ink wet from the propaganda mill, The Destruction related the tale of Desert Storm according to Saddam Hussein. One chapter enumerated thousands of civilian structures destroyed, while another touted miraculously low civilian casualties. These numbers tallied so that two and two made three. Defying basic arithmetic, The Destruction claimed"8,243 civilian martyrs and injured."

Remembering the U.S. estimate of about 13,000 Iraqi civilians killed, this was a find that prompted a series of questions: Why not inflate rather than deflate that total? Why not use a natural propaganda tool and make the Allies look worse rather than better? How could it be that the only thing Saddam Hussein and George Bush agreed upon was that so few had died, when more than 10,000 tons of mostly U.S. explosive power had bombarded Iraq non-stop for 43 days?

Hoping to gain Takliff's confidence, I held my silence. Assigned a car and Walid, a driver/guard, I went along for the ride to the Desert Storm War Museum, where the curator showed me The Destruction exhibited in pictures pasted next to missile shrapnel. Then, like a warhorse with blinders, I was driven through the city, allowed to see only what Walid permitted. Civilian bombing damage was strictly off limits. Barreling through Baghdad, Walid pointed to bombed but reconstructed government factories and ministries as well as restored power and water plants. Along the route I glimpsed flattened houses and apartment buildings and asked Walid if this was bomb damage."Yes," he answered,"but nobody dies."


Left alone that night, I slipped out of my hotel and came to know Baghdad as an armed funeral parlor where everyone was afraid, most of all Saddam Hussein. Fearing assassination, the Iraqi president would send look-a-like stand-ins of the same age, coloring and stature into crowds. They would stop bullets and knives meant for him. This is the secret of his life as a despot.

Like Big Brother, he believes his own press, securing his omnipotence by order that every home and business display his picture. No one speaks ill of him. Any dissenter risks death or imprisonment, and his or her cellmates will be family and friends. Phones are tapped, and Hussein's spies are well treated with payment of food and money.

The next day, Takliff set me free to roam the streets of Baghdad. Joining me to translate was a young Iraqi reporter assigned to write the story of an American researcher investigating the Iraqi death toll of Desert Storm. Walid sped around Baghdad until I told him to stop at a teeming city block. Getting out, I posed questions to randomly selected passersby, many of whom had come to their capital city from other parts of the country: Where were you during the bombing of Desert Storm? Did family or friends die? How many people do you think died? Do you think more or less than 9,000 civilians perished?

It was like opening a floodgate.

"Do you think we are the Roadrunner cartoon--you bomb us and we don't die?"

"There is no house safe from the bombs."

"Every night and day, the planes brought death."

"Even in a picture, the children scream when they see an airplane."

"Every person lost at least one from their family."

"More houses than I can count exploded."

All day long, in varying degrees of outrage and sadness, from neighborhood to neighborhood, these were the answers I received.

People eager to talk to an American invited me to cafés and to their homes, calling in neighbors to recall incidents of bombed bridges, marketplaces, bus stations, factories and mosques where civilians died. Even the poorest served drinks and biscuits, along with condemnation of the"American government-controlled press."

"How can you think only 9,000 died?" was also frequently asked.

Staring at ever-present portraits of Saddam Hussein, I was loath to say that the source of my information was their government, not mine.


Going on, my friend explained how, in the first days of the bombings, Iraqi television announced a nightly civilian death toll, but when the"bodies mounted" the practice was discontinued. Already the war was"not popular" and becoming less so when Iraq aligned with its old enemy Iran to allow for the flight of Iraqi fighter jets to Iran. With the country fresh from fighting and killing Iranians, this move"disgusted Iraq's citizens," he said.

"We did not know our angels from our demons. We were tired of dying and did not want this war."

High civilian casualties became politically untenable for my friend's illustrious relative. Fearing overthrow, with the Allied army approaching Baghdad and battling a coup assisted by the dual-faced Iran, the beleaguered Hussein plotted to save face and make the dead disappear.

The U.S. military custom of burying dead enemies disposed of the problem, the man said, when"thousands of Bedouins and other families were buried side by side with warriors in mass graves around Iraq." Fire, as well as inadequate and decentralized record keeping, assisted in making the dead vanish. Afterward, my friend explained, Iraqi officials planted the idea of the" clean war" by furnishing American census-takers with the same casualty count, 8,243, listed in The Destruction.

As you can see, we should treat casualty numbers from Saddam's government with extreme suspicion -- they're probably way too low once again. He's probably playing the same game as he did in IraqWar Part I.

How many civilians really died in the war? No one can be certain but one American demographer, Beth Daponte, lost her job because she tried to accurately estimate civilian casualties for the U.S. government.

For more on this story, go here. This story was first broken on this blog in November.

Posted by Tom at 9:09 p.m. CST

Daily Kos. Be sure to pay Kos back for me with a visit -- he has a particularly touching post at the top of his blog at the moment.

I've also had nearly 179,000 hits since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

It wasn't that long ago (only four days in fact) that I had my 110,000th visitor.

As always, I really do appreciate your reading this blog. I hope you'll come back for more!

Posted by Tom at 6:35 p.m. CST

entry 1, entry 2, and entry 3.

If you want to know if the bombing is making Iraqis feel like giving up, the answer is NO.

BTW, this entire"Shock and Awe" battleplan is based on the mistaken notion that bombing breaks the will of the government and the people that are its targets. History has shown that sustained bombing only angers the people in the city being bombed and makes them even more loyal to their government than they were before you started dropping bombs on them.

I really do hope there isn't a"Battle of Baghdad" but there apparently will be. I was hopeful the Iraqi government would surrender before then. It could get awfully ugly pretty fast folks. My understanding is also that we've lost a great more soldiers than the 50 or so we're admitting to at the moment and that the Pentagon is, predictably, withholding accurate casualty numbers from the media.

As always, if you want the most up-to-date news, go read the Agonist.

Sean-Paul apparently has inside sources that are providing him with the inside scoop. His news is running significantly ahead of the news networks at the moment -- and it's more accurate as well.

Posted by Tom at 4:48 p.m. CST

ass out of himself.

I don't think the folks at the National Review are going to be very proud of this issue in a couple of months.

They've fallen prey to the most embarrassing thing that happens during a war, the desperate desire on the part of a war's proponents to associate dissent with a lack of patriotism or, to use Frum's rather clumsy phrase, that those who are opposed to the war somehow"hate their country."

Yes, I know we should've all expected it. After all, Frum was the genius that came up with"Axis of..." by the way. (He apparently wasn't even bright enough to come up with the"Evil" part by himself.)

This is the most obvious example of the New McCarthyism I'm aware of at the moment.

And I can't say that I'm surprised it comes first from the National Review.

Update: Given recent history at NRO, which includes one of their columnists trying to, sheesh, defend McCarthy, I really should've seen this coming. I'm sorry I didn't remember this right off and only provided this link a few hours later.

Posted by Tom at 12:38 p.m. CST

John Lott has about done himself in by now. He's become a punchline and a punching bag. He's about done. Again, the hot buzz is that the American Enterprise Institute is looking for a way to quietly let him go without drawing too much attention.

Here's one example of a recent thing written about him -- and here's another. Both of these are courtesy of Tim Lambert's update website.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, go catch up at Tim Lambert's website.

For a couple of representative posts of mine about the controversy, go here and here.

Maybe"gun enthusiasts" like Insty and Clayton Cramer still think Lott's credible but, apparently, no one else does.

Posted by Tom at 9:38 a.m. CST


BTW, I'm hearing CNN conducted a poll showing support for the war over the last two days has dropped thirty points to 44%. Can someone send me a link or tell me a bit more about that poll? Until I hear more about it, I'm remaining skeptical.

Again, anyone who knows anything more please let me know!

Also, Dear Raed has been updated.

I'm back at work. The Spring Break from Hell is over. My kids finally recovered from the flu on Saturday. My son was sick for eight days and my daughter seven. It was their spring break too. My wife and I ran temperatures for three days in the middle of the week.

Because I was taking care of kids, I didn't get a lot of work done that I was planning to do last week. It's going to be an awfully busy week for me.

Update:Here apparently is the poll in question. What dropped was the number of Americans who think this is going to be a"quick" war, dropping from 62% to 44% from Saturday to Sunday. That makes a bit more sense. 70% of Americans still support this war --"Baah. Baah." Ah, the American people are like sheep, aren't they? They were evenly split on this thing only a week ago.

W really should get a serious"rally around the flag" effect for a while -- until Americans realize, once again, that the economy sucks and that this president has no plans to do much about it except reward his rich contributors with tax cuts. That realization should set in sometime early next year -- just as the presidential campaign gets started. About that time Iraq should become increasingly expensive and chaotic as well.

As always, we'll see.

Posted by Tom at 8:46 a.m. CST

post about treatment of POWs:

“The United States of course avoids showing prisoners of war,” Rumsfeld said. “We have thousands of Iraqi prisoners that are in POW camps … but we avoid showing photographs of them.”

Hm. While I agree that Iraq should follow the letter and spirit of the Conventions, the U.S. has been less than thorough in keeping true to these protocols itself, weakening its case. The prisoners at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay have been held in a legal limbo for months now. Some have been shipped to other countries that employ horrific interrogation methods. Human Rights Watch has urged the Bush Administration to determine the detainees’ status and then launch criminal prosecution “where credible evidence exists.” Indefinite detention is not legal under the Conventions, despite President Bush’s claim to be upholding the “principles” of the Third Convention. As the report from HRW said:

This shortsighted transgression sets a dangerous precedent that could come back to haunt U.S. and allied service-members who are captured by enemy forces in this or future wars. Washington’s refusal to treat the detainees as POWs is perplexing because it would in no way inhibit legitimate U.S. efforts to interrogate or prosecute people who have participated in terrorist acts.
Is it my imagination or have all of the news networks shown pictures of Iraqi POWs in the last couple of days?

I also would warn you of the convenient timing of this supposed" chemical plant" that has been discovered in southern Iraq. Just now MSNBC is claiming there's a second weapons site that has been found but, of course, no location is being provided at this time.

Hmmm. Like Hesiod, I'm having a little trouble believing this isn't an attempt to offset some really bad news for the U.S. in the war today. Some world media sources are saying we've actually lost more than 100 soldiers today. All the Pentagon will admit is 25 to 30 combat deaths today.

Many in the world press are also already openly talking about how we'll"plant evidence" if necessary of WMD to justify the war -- and arguing that's what's going on with these supposed chemical sites.

This paranoia on the part of the world press tells you how much damage our flimsy and astonishingly evidence-free case for war with Iraq has done to our credibility worldwide. The pack of lies Colin Powell presented at the U.N. has really impacted world opinion. Most Americans don't know how flimsy our case was because our media did such a piss-poor job of pointing out the weaknesses in our case for war. Essentially, the entire thing came apart upon close examination.

People in the world don't trust us any more.

Thanks W. I'm really proud of what you've done to this nation's credibility.

Posted by Tom at 11:14 p.m. CST

However, it appears that our weapons aren't as accurate as we may have been led to believe. At least two cruise missiles have apparently ended up in Iran. It appears that one bomb has landed in Turkey. It also appears that at least one of our bombs landed smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Baghdad.

It also appears that our Patriot missiles have shot down four missiles and one British Tornado fighter. However, one should be very suspicious of that"kill" number -- despite constant bragging about their accuracy of these missiles diring the last war, experts eventually decided that Patriot missiles didn't shoot down a single missile in IraqWar Part I.

Hesiod points out that our rhetoric about the accuracy of our weapons has really got us in a bind. Many Iraqis in southern Iraq are outraged that we're killing innocent folks after Rumsfeld has prattled on and on about the accuracy of our weapons.

In short, once again, the administration has painted itself into a corner. I understand that these weapons may be more accurate than any before them. However, they've convinced many -- even Iraqis who should know better -- that we have these"wonder weapons" that will only hit the bad guys. Inevitably, they've created unrealistic expectations because we're also hitting innocent civilians too.

And from this point in the war I only expect the problem to get worse, not better.

Posted by Tom at 5:44 p.m. CST

this piece. Apparently the happy Iraqis in Safwan aren't so happy anymore:

S A F W A N, Iraq, March 22 — They were unforgettable images: Residents of this southern Iraqi town openly welcoming coalition forces. They danced in the streets as a picture of Saddam Hussein was torn down.

That was yesterday.

Traveling unescorted into Safwan today, I got a far different picture. Rather than affection and appreciation, I saw a lot of hostility toward the coalition forces, the United States and President Bush.

Some were even directed towards the media. (It was the first time I heard somebody refer to me as a"Satan.")

To be sure, conversations with people on the street here begin relatively calmly. But the more they talked, the angrier they got.

In part, much of their discontent stems from the unknown. In speaking with them, the newly-liberated Iraqis ask the same questions that seem to nag many outside Iraq.

Why are you here in this country? Are you trying to take over? Are you going to take our country forever? Are the Israelis coming next? Are you here to steal our oil? When are you going to get out?

But also fueling the simmering animosity among Iraqis here is the lack of physical aid and comfort, promised by the United States before the conflict began.

The U.S. military said in press briefings today that supplies of food and medicine have been stockpiled and will be delivered to the Iraqi people as soon as possible. But for the residents of Safwan,"soon" isn't soon enough.

We were told that some people here have been wounded. And we saw one man taken to a car so they could drive him to Kuwait for treatment.

Others told us that three or four people had been wounded during the first night of the war and people were very bitter about that.

The notion that the military has things under control isn't quite clear in other aspects as well. Some very reliable Western journalists I spoke with, said they had traveled down a road that the British military told them was clear. Twenty-minutes later, they discovered land mines on the highway.

Elsewhere, journalists were running into gunfire. This is all within about 6 miles of the Kuwaiti border.

I couldn't help but feel that today was a dicey day, a very dicey day.

So much for being regarded as"liberators," huh?

I guess Dick Cheney was wrong.

It won't be the first time.

Hang on folks. This may get awfully rough shortly.

Posted by Tom at 3:08 p.m. CST

Derrick Jackson has an excellent column today about W's imaginary coalition. Here's a bit of it:

The reason the word ''coalition'' flows every five seconds from the lips of the Bush and Powell is because they do not want us to know that no such thing exists. The United States has 250,000 troops bearing down on Iraq. Britain is contributing 45,000. After that, the next greatest contributor is Australia, with a grand total of 2,000.

After that, it is a gathering of street-corner brothers, the kind who are legendary for loudly threatening to start a fight, but at the moment of truth runs back to his buddies and screams, ''Fellas, hold me back! You gotta hold me back before I kill this guy!''


Bush's 35 nations is less about fear of Saddam Hussein than fear of not wanting to end up like Turkey. When Turkey waffled on allowing the United States to deploy troops on its border with Iraq, the United States pulled a $15 billion aid package. That is why Ethiopia and Eritrea, which need aid to fight starvation, are ''coalition'' partners. That is why Colombia, which needs our aid in the drug war and to fight rebels, is a partner. That is why the Czech Republic, which is just getting into the Western economic game with wonderful products like cigarettes, put their name on the list.

Bush needs none of them to waste a rust-bucket like Iraq. He needs them to add a veneer of morality to his aggression. He could not convince the UN to become the coalition of the willing. He was so eager to go to war, he settled for a coalition of welfare states.

If Bush does not spare innocent civilians from harm in Iraq, we will find out very quickly who has his back.

I've blogged about this several times. It's good to see some in the media talk about this -- even if it is a bit late.

Posted by Tom at 2:23 p.m. CST

raised by Dick Cheney last weekend that this will be a quick war, is wondering why this is taking so long. I can already hear anger in the voices of folks on the television in response to these stories what may be happening to these P.O.W.s

I'm afraid we may be watching at this very moment the development of an ugly bloodlust on the part of Americans. The folks on MSNBC are asking why we're not bombing Baghdad even more. I'm hearing in their voices the attitude of"Bomb them. Bomb them. Bomb them into the Stone Age!"

Here's where we see whether the military and the administration has the patience and, let's be honest, the humanity to resist the impulse to just level Baghdad.

I had always wondered what this sort of thing looked like. Now I think I'm seeing it.

I want to remind you once again that we didn't HAVE to undertake this war and that we've invaded a sovereign nation. They very well may resist our invasion folks.

Once again, I'm really hoping I'm wrong here.

Update: What did Dick Cheney say about the nature of the war last weekend?

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I’ve talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. And like Kanan Makiya who’s a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, he’s written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.

Now, if we get into a significant battle in Baghdad, I think it would be under circumstances in which the security forces around Saddam Hussein, the special Republican Guard, and the special security organization, several thousand strong, that in effect are the close-in defenders of the regime, they might, in fact, try to put up such a struggle. I think the regular army will not. My guess is even significant elements of the Republican Guard are likely as well to want to avoid conflict with the U.S. forces, and are likely to step aside.

Now, I can’t say with certainty that there will be no battle for Baghdad. We have to be prepared for that possibility. But, again, I don’t want to convey to the American people the idea that this is a cost-free operation. Nobody can say that. I do think there’s no doubt about the outcome. There’s no question about who is going to prevail if there is military action. And there’s no question but what it is going to be cheaper and less costly to do it now than it will be to wait a year or two years or three years until he’s developed even more deadly weapons, perhaps nuclear weapons. And the consequences then of having to deal with him would be far more costly than will be the circumstances today. Delay does not help.

Thanks Unca Dick. You just made people expect a quick war.

Posted by Tom at 10:38 a.m. CST

better. Insty is now linking to anti-Muslim bigots.

Impressive, eh?

For my last Insty-related post, go here.

Update: Julian Sanchez lets Insty have it as well:

There's something unseemly about watching a law professor behave like a five year old for months at a time.
As the father of a four-year-old, I'm not really sure he's acting like a child that is really that old.

Posted by Tom at 12:04 a.m. CST

column tomorrow. It's about little Ricky Perle. Taken with Sy Hersh's recent piece about Perle's questionable financial portfolio and the this work by Hersh that raises questions about his past conduct, Perle is clearly ethically-challenged.

Why is it that the folks in government who talk the most about morality are generally the ones who are the most ethically-challenged?

Why does Perle still have his"unpaid" job (except that it enables him to receive enormous six figure lobby contracts of course) at the Pentagon?

Posted by Tom at 11:27 p.m. CST

points us to this WaPo story and wisecracks that"Operation Lower Expectations" has now begun. It's a good line.

However, there are good reasons W is saying this. This war isn't going as swimmingly as some in the administration and the media would like you to think. There hasn't been much resistance in southern Iraq, which is good, but no one really expected any. It's not that southern Iraq has been completely devoid of resistance. For example, it appears that it actually took longer to take Umm Qasr than the Pentagon thought it would because they met more resistance than they expected. There have even been conflicting reports on whether we really control the city as of yet.

There are other troubling problems as well. We have now had at least two acts of terrorism within Iraq today, killing and injuring quite a few people, including several U.S. soldiers. Further complicating matters, the Turks are threatening to send soldiers in (some media outlets say they're already there) which could make an absolute mess in northern Iraq, leaving our soldiers caught between the Kurds and the Turks. We also apparently haven't had much luck negotiating with commanders around Baghdad, which is where the real serious resistance is supposed to be. No one expected that much resistance in northern and southern Iraq. It's always been Baghdad that will be the real problem.

There are good reasons W wants to lower expectations. Cheney's rather rosy statements about this war being a cakewalk on the Sunday morning talkshows last weekend may end up looking like a major mistake. It has made many Americans believe this will be a quick and easy war -- and there's no reason to believe that will be the case as of yet. So, once again, Cheney has complicated things for this administration. As Josh Marshall will tell you, this is not the first major mistake Cheney has made as vice president.

So W is right -- this war may end up being"longer and more difficult than some [such as my vice president, Dick Cheney] had thought."

I'm well aware that I predicted some of these problems in my pre-war blogging here but, as usual, I would've preferred to be wrong.

I still think this war is immoral and wrong -- but, given no other choice, I would prefer that it end soon and with the lowest casualties possible. I keep hoping to hear that they've got an agreement to surrender from the folks in Baghdad and this can all end peacefully and soon.

I'm afraid it won't happen but I can't help but hope. It's all I can do right now.

Posted by Tom at 5:52 p.m. CST

Agonist. Sean-Paul is keeping up a torrid pace on war updates.

He's also getting an incredible amount of traffic. If I'm reading his hit counter correctly, he's had about 50,000 hits in the last three days or so. His blog was reviewed on NPR this morning as well. He sent me 1,100 visitors in an hour yesterday! He also has a fair number of righty readers at the moment because several of them promptly went over to his comment boards and called me un-American because I'm not a servile and obedient flag-waver. In fact, I'm pretty sure the ditto-monkey on the comment boards below came from there.

Anyway, I appreciate his efforts. I have to get away from the horror of this war fairly often but Sean-Paul has more or less immersed himself in it. Heck, he's even watching Faux at times! What a commitment to duty he has to subject himself to that torture!

Speaking of the immoral war, I just caught the last couple of minutes of the Pentagon briefing. At least we were spared greasy Don Rumsfeld today. I keep waiting for him to sprout pointy ears and a tail at any moment.

BTW, for those of you who saw the briefing, was that a tacky jacket Victoria Clarke had on or what?

Also, did you see the replay of Smirky's radio address on MSNBC this afternoon? Did you note the astonishing irony of them playing the audio of W talking about Saddam's control of"murderous weapons of mass destruction" at the same time they were replaying video tapes of the cataclysmic explosions from last night?

Posted by Tom at 3:49 p.m. CST

demonstratedon this blog, Americans were absolutely split down the middle on this war just five days ago, despite how the media tried desperately to spin it otherwise.

About this latest development all I can say is:"Baaah. Baaah. Baaah."

Watch for this increase in support to embolden the administration and supporters of this immoral war to launch vicious attacks on the war's remaining opponents or at least anyone who dares to speak out against this war.

I'm seeing some of this even on some internet comment boards where you wouldn't expect it -- from people you wouldn't expect it from either. It's like they just can't help themselves. Now that the war's started, they get irritated at those of us who won't now go along like the rest of the sheep.

BTW, have you noticed on internet comment boards that the only thing more annoying than the ill-informed and willfully ignorant ditto-monkey is said ditto-monkey's genuinely shrill and rather vicious wife? Just an observation.

With regard to yesterday's airstrikes, one of Digby's readers put it best:


They left out"...that will live in infamy."

I think Hesiod has come up with a very good name for this war:"Operation Orwellian Cliche."

Anyone else find it obscene that the media is still jonesing for their nightly"war porn?"

I haven't watched in a while. Have tonight's war crimes started yet?

Posted by Tom at 1:11 p.m. CST

point this morning:

I'm tired of the latest rash of columns by well-meaning liberal do-gooders, and their enablers on the right, who are pleading for the anti-war left (ignoring, as the rest of the media does - the rather sizeable anti-war right), to change their focus to ensuring that that post-war Iraq is a pleasant place.

Wake the hell up - in case you haven't noticed this is the Administration That Can Do No Wrong - criticizing the post-war reconstruction is going to be just as unpatriotic and treasonous as criticizing the war has been. The same people who embraced humanitarian reasons to sell this war are going to be sneering at any human rights concerns once Great Satan Saddam is gone, once again labelling human rights and aid organizations as America haters every time they point out that things aren't going quite as swimmingly as we hoped.

I'd rather spend my time on things I might be able to influence.

Amen. These folks are guilty of astonishing naivete in the face of the most shameless administration in a generation -- constantly using fear-mongering and questioning its political opponents' patriotism at every turn.

Of course Republicans will question your patriotism as you point out in the coming months that Iraq is going the way of Afghanistan into chaos and that we have not really improved the life of the average Iraqi very much.

In fact, they'll get really angry with you when you point that out to them and they'll try to deny it's true.

I've already seen this as righties try to ignore the horrible truth in Afghanistan that is right before their very eyes. Afghanistan is back to being #1 in opium production and President Karzai is little more than the Mayor of Kabul these days and, most ominently, it appears Al-Qaeda is moving back into the country as well.

The administration's screw-ups in Afghanistan endanger the security of this nation and the world. Heck, the administration didn't even appropriate any money for aid to Afghanistan in the last federal budget -- that's how little attention they're paying to it.

I expect the same sort of brilliance from the administration with regard to administering post-war Iraq. That's why the rest of the world isn't real hip on IraqWar Part II -- they know how we've screwed up Afghanistan. In fact, they find it offensive that we're committing such astonishing amounts of our resources to fighting this war against a nation that is a much lesser security threat while ignoring Afghanistan to our peril.

However, fortunately for the administration, just as with Afghanistan, I'm sure the media won't pay any damn attention to it so the average ignoramous American who gets his news from the idiot box won't know anything about it.

Then, when the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq deteriorates so far that you can no longer ignore it, the administration and Republicans will probably try to blame it on Clinton or something.

Wait for it folks. This is going to happen for sure.

Posted by Tom at 9:44 a.m. CST

Now, this is an excellent review of the lies, half-truths, and prevarications by this administration that got us to the present -- all conveniently in one essay. It's quite comprehensive and worth your time.

Here's a bit of it:

The first time that a President Bush sold a war against Saddam Hussein, the PR package came wrapped in the flesh and blood of babies torn from incubators. On the second go-round, you might say that the media kit lacks what salesmen call the"touchie-feelie" dimension — for this year's propaganda season has been sponsored mainly by the cold alloy of 81mm high-grade aluminum tubes.

Comparing the advertising techniques of 1990-91 and 2002-3, I can't point to anything as dramatic as the White House/Kuwaiti/Hill & Knowlton fabrication of the great baby-incubator atrocity, allegedly committed by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwaiti hospitals. But I can cite numerous fraudulent assertions — aluminum tubes, in particular — by a Bush PR team that scatters Enlightenment notions of reason and logic (to paraphrase Bush the First's baby-killing metaphor) like so much firewood across the U.S. Capitol's floor.

Government manipulation of public opinion is an old story, of course, but the two Presidents Bush seem especially gifted in the black arts of publicity and sloganeering. In 1990, Bush the First — with brilliant support from a Kuwaiti"witness" named Nayirah — harnessed the fake baby-killing atrocity to help drive a reluctant Senate and public into rescuing the Kuwaiti royal family (and, as Bush the First's U.S. trade representative, Carla Hills, told me,"to guarantee the right to import oil"). The"liberation" of a tiny emirate that had never known liberty remains one of the great propaganda coups of recent times, and its lessons were not lost on Bush the Second. But in seeking to"liberate" Iraq itself from Saddam Hussein, the younger Bush and his counselors have shown themselves every bit the equals of the father.

Twelve years ago the case for war was easier to make — Saddam had, in fact, invaded Kuwait. More recently, George W. Bush possessed no such advantage. Except for the far-fetched (now refuted) connection between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and the Iraqi government, George W.'s team began its race for congressional war authorization from a standing start. But beginning on September 7, they accelerated quickly, launching their campaign with a near total fabrication that was nothing more than a calculated scare story.

It was then that the president and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had issued a"new" report describing a revived nuclear-weapons project in Iraq, built on the foundations of the old. Inarticulate to a fault, Bush backtracked a bit from"new" and stated that"when inspectors first went into Iraq and were . . . finally denied access, a report came out of . . . the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need."

Effective propaganda relies on half-truths and the conflation of disparate"facts" (like Saddam's genuine human-rights violations), so the notion of new IAEA evidence at least sounded plausible. Saddam almost certainly harbored ambitions to build an A-bomb — it was this that caused Israel to bomb Iraq's first and only nuclear reactor in 1981 (a pre-emptive act of war that drew unanimous condemnation from the U.N. Security Council). The trouble was that no such"new" report existed. Nor had there ever been an IAEA report containing the"six months away" assertion — not in 1991 after the war; not in December 1998 when the U.S. weapons inspectors pulled out of Iraq; not in September 2001.

More than three weeks elapsed before The Washington Times (not the"liberal" media) took the trouble to straighten out the story, but by then the administration was well on its way to panicking the Congress into authorizing war. The day after the Bush-Blair confidence trick, the newspapers and talk shows were flooded (through the good offices of Michael Gordon and Judith Miller of The New York Times) with an administration leak about Iraq's attempt to buy special aluminum tubes, supposedly destined for its"six months away" nuclear program. Suddenly (along with the phantom IAEA report), aluminum tubes had brought the world to the brink of a nuclear Armageddon.

The rest of it is just as good. Go give it a read.

There's also a new Get Your War On. You should go read it.

Posted by Tom at 6:08 p.m. CST

I know I blogged about this yesterday but you should read this story that just abolutely destroys the administration's claim that there's much of a" coalition" behind this war.

Here's the most damning part of it:

The Bush administration has frequently compared the level and scope of international support for its military operations in Iraq to the coalition that fought the first Persian Gulf War. But the statements are exaggerations, according to independent experts and a review of figures from both conflicts.

Yesterday, for instance, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters:"The coalition against Iraq, called Operation Iraq Freedom, is large and growing. This is not a unilateral action, as is being characterized in the media. Indeed, the coalition in this activity is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in 1991."

However, the current operation in Iraq is almost entirely a U.S.-British campaign, with virtually no military contribution from other countries except Australia.

"It's a baldfaced lie to suggest that" the coalition for this war is greater than that for the 1991 war, said Ivo H. Daalder, a former Clinton administration official now at the Brookings Institution who supports the war against Iraq."Even our great allies Spain, Italy and Bulgaria are not providing troops."

The administration asserts that 44 nations are part of the coalition, but officials reach that number by lumping nations providing military units or logistical assistance with an eclectic group of nations -- such as Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Honduras, Rwanda and the Solomon Islands -- that are voicing only political support. The administration further suggests another 10 or so nations support the campaign but do not wish to be publicly identified.

The first Persian Gulf War was prosecuted by a 34-nation military force, with each nation listed in the coalition contributing troops on the ground, aircraft, ships or medics. (The list is sometimes reported as 31, because four Persian Gulf states provided a combined force.) Dozens of others nations voiced support for the war against Iraq in 1991, meaning that under the standards used by the current Bush administration, the size of the 1991 coalition likely topped 100 countries.

Moreover, the list of 34 countries in 1991 did not include Japan, which pledged $4 billion to fund the multinational force and aid frontline states; the Soviet Union, which supported a United Nations resolution authorizing force; or tiny Luxembourg, which paid the fees of Dutch and Belgian ships passing through the Suez Canal.

Twenty-one of the 34 countries that contributed forces or materiel to the first Persian Gulf War -- such as France, Syria, Pakistan, Canada, Germany and Norway -- have either refused to support the current conflict or have asked not to be identified because of public opposition to U.S. actions. In 1991, for instance, France provided 17,000 troops, 350 tanks, 38 aircraft and 14 ships. Syria provided 19,000 troops in Saudi Arabia and 270 tanks, and Germany provided five minesweepers, three other ships and eight aircraft.

The administration's current list is further padded by including countries that did not exist in 1991. Six countries now listed as supporters were then part of the Soviet Union. Czechoslovakia, which in 1991 provided 200 troops and 150 medics, has now broken into two countries, both listed as supporters of the current war.

The administration has struggled to demonstrate international support for the war since it failed to win passage of a U.N. resolution authorizing military force. The first Gulf war was backed by a U.N. resolution that was opposed by two members of the 15-member Security Council; the administration earlier this week withdrew a resolution when it became clear it could muster only four votes in support of it.

In internal talking points issued earlier in the week, when the administration claimed 30 countries as public supporters, officials were urged to compare the number of current supporters to the size of the military force assembled in 1991. Yesterday, officials announced the number of countries had topped 44.

Yet another lie by this administration exposed in an effort to prop up this unilateral war.

Boy, we've got a really long list of lies told in the name of this war by now, don't we?

Posted by Tom at 3:44 p.m. CST

1:37 p.m. CST

12:02 p.m. CST

CNN reports that the Pentagon is saying this is the start of the"Shock and Awe" air campaign.

I hope that's just some more psychological warfare on our part.

I'm trying to work on a conference paper folks. I'm in the office for the first time in several days (remember, we're on Spring Break).

More later.

Posted by Tom at 11:41 a.m. CST


Tonight's air strikes begin on Baghdad.

I guess we'll have an answer to the question raised in our last post in just a moment -- at least for tonight.

Posted by Tom at 11:12 a.m. CST


Atrios suggests today that the"Shock and Awe" stories were just a ploy and is irritated that the news media seems disappointed it's not happening:

Literally every broadcast"journalist" should be ashamed of him/herself. I never talked much about shock and awe here because I assumed it was probably a scare tactic - something we could do, but not something we would necessarily do. But the whores on TV are pissed. They were promised their shock and awe and they aren't getting it. Literally every report wonders when it is going to happen.


I really do hope it was a ploy. I hope Atrios is right.

I've been shocked by the disappointment in the voices of the folks at CNN and MSNBC that they haven't got their"Shock and Awe" yet. (I simply won't watch the servile Faux propaganda network at all. However, I can only imagine the salivation that's been going on over there in anticipation of"Shock and Awe" by the unreconstructed Faux ogres.)

BTW, what kind of a sick mind would come up with such an evil idea -- even as propaganda -- anyway? It tells you enough about the morality of this administration that they would even sanction the passing on to the public of this idea even if they didn't plan to do it.

Here's to no"Shock and Awe" tonight -- or any night.

Posted by Tom at 10:04 a.m. CST


David Appell has a blog entry about this ridiculous and intolerant post by Insty today:

Troops are marching north through Iraq and its capital is being bombed into submission, and Glenn Reynolds still can't stop taking potshots at the antiwar movement. What's the matter, Glenn, worried that there might be one or two Americans somewhere who haven't yet knelt in complete deference to the new American empire?

There's something fundamentally disgraceful about a professor of law who can't see the value of dissent--or at least its honest respectability--whether it's one person, a hundred, or a hundred thousand. Without dissent we'd probably still be mired in Vietnam, only with a body count five times higher.

Of all people, a professor ought to be able to see the gray between the black and the white.

[Link via Atrios]

Oh no, you shouldn't expect that from Glenn. You do wonder how in the world this guy can even teach law or consider himself a"libertarian" -- especially considering he supports Herr Ashcroft's administration.

I mean, hell, that sure would be embarrassing to show your you-know-what like that for all the world to see, wouldn't it?

I'm teaching a class in Constitutional History this semester and that has raised even larger doubts in my mind about how Glenn can align himself with W and the boys.

As many of my long-time readers know, I'm a frequent critic of Insty the Intolerant. I've nailed him countless times here on this blog.

I consciously decided a while back to ignore Glenn but, hey, I think I'll share for old time's sake. You can go here for a post that has links to some of Insty's"Greatest Hits." (You can also just browse around this post for a few other doozies by Insty.)

Enjoy. BTW, the one I'm most famous for has to be this one. I still can't believe Insty was this ignorant of fairly recent U.S. history.

Posted by Tom at 10:26 p.m. CST

THE PAUSE 03-20-03

Apparently"Shock and Awe" is on hold for the moment. It's our twenty-pound sledgehammer we're holding over the Iraqi government as their punishment if they don't give in easily to us. The ground invasion has begun. It appears that U.S. forces are on their way to Basra as we speak.

Lots of speculation at the moment on the idiot box. That's what happens when you have 24 hour cable news networks after all. But, anyway, the speculation is that negotiations are under way with Iraqi military commanders or maybe even members of the Iraqi government itself for surrender.

Sean at the Agonist, who apparently has some official U.S. government sources, says the pause is meant to give time for a coup, covert strikes on the ground or, at the very least, to draw out prominent government leaders so their locations can be divined and further strikes sent their way.

I think it's very possible the missile strikes last night have killed several important members of the Iraqi government, including Tariq Assiz, who hasn't been on the television today. The strike apparently missed Saddam but it may have killed many other important Iraqi leaders. This would explain why Saddam looked so drawn and shocked in his statement last night. He looked like he'd lost a good friend last night, didn't he?

If Saddam's government would just collapse and the folks in Iraq would just allow the U.S. forces into Iraq, that would be the best possible outcome for this whole sordid affair. I'm actually hopeful that will happen. That outcome would spare the lives of both our soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Wouldn't it be something if W rolled the dice, risking the safety of tens of thousands of Americans soldiers and Iraqi civilians in the process, but still lucked out and the Iraqi government fell because of a couple of well-aimed missiles?

I'd really prefer that outcome to the nightmarish"Shock and Awe" doomsday scenario however. I'm most concerned about lives here -- and that outcome would spare the most lives.

I don't like it when so many lives are put at risk. It's foolish, immoral, and unnecessary.

As always, we'll see.

Update: Could this missile strike have killed Hussein? This WaPo story raises some interesting questions about Saddam's fate.

Posted by Tom at 6:38 p.m. CST

HOLY MOLY! 03-20-03

Boy when Rick Shenkman said the new HNN template was going to be different, he wasn't kidding!

I'm just trying to get used to it.

You are in the right place folks -- this is"Thinking It Through" and I'm your host Tom Spencer.

Update: This is HNN's new template. I knew Rick said it would be a big change. I've gotten a couple of complaints already -- the type is awfully small -- which I'll share with Rick.

Posted by Tom at 4:04 p.m. CST


Smirky just claimed on the idiot box that the U.S. is at the head of a growing coalition or some such other ridiculous claptrap. I want to remind you how unimpressive this"coalition of the willing" is -- only three nations (U.S., U.K., Australia) are really providing combat troops.

This post by Kos sums it up quite well.

This is not really a broad coalition at all -- it's the U.S., U.K., Australia, Spain, and several very small rather pathetic nations that just want to curry favor with the U.S. (in other words, get more foreign aid from us).

ABC News's Terry Moran is trying to spin this the administration's way right now -- and it's pretty lame.

I blogged about this a little over a week ago here.

Posted by Tom at 2:06 p.m. CST


Missouri Republicans are proving their true commitment to democracy it appears by suggesting we just"skip" the presidential primary next year.

It costs a whole $3.7 million after all. That's a pittance in a $19B budget.

Oh yeah. Who gives a damn about democracy, anyway? Why don't we just ask the Supreme Court to pick our president right now? Then we can coronate him.

That method sure has worked well so far, hasn't it?

We really got the right man for the job, didn't we?

Posted by Tom at 1:25 p.m. CST


The major air campaign, and probably the ground war, has begun.

Even if you believe the Pentagon's estimate of 80% accuracy (I'm not sure I do), out of 3,000 weapons that means 600 will miss their targets over the next couple of days.

God help the Iraqi people. If this bombardment is really of the scale it is supposed to be, this is unforgivable. Forget the Christmas bombing of Hanoi by Nixon -- this'll be the atrocity by the United States that people remember.

I really do hope I'm wrong.

But so far the last month or so I've been right about everything -- the falsehoods in Powell's presentation, the overreaching by W and the boys to justify this war, the lame attempts at"diplomacy" as a stalling tactic, even the timing of when the war would start. Heck, I was even right about the timing of the large airstrike tonight!

I'd really prefer to be wrong -- just once.

Posted by Tom at 12:33 p.m. CST


is on ESPN -- this afternoon at least.

I just thought I'd update you all about that.

Posted by Tom at 11:05 a.m. CST

THANKS AGAIN! 03-20-03

An hour ago or so it appears, I had my 110,000th visitor via a link from Buzzflash. It was only five days ago that I had my 100,000th! I've also had over 166,000 hits since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

As always, thanks! I hope to give you reasons to come back for more.

Both of my kids have backslid this morning and are now running temperatures over 100 degrees again. I'll be busy for a bit.

If you want flash updates on this immoral and unnecessary war, go check out the Agonist.

Back later.

Posted by Tom at 8:34 a.m. CST


Operation Iraqi Freedom? Boy, this gang isn't even good at giving military operations snazzy names apparently.

Well, we didn't get Saddam, did we?

Is it my imagination or did Kyra Phillips, the sorority girl who's moonlighting as a reporter on CNN these days, a little while ago give away the fact that carrier aircraft are launching from the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln loaded for airstrikes?

I noticed they yanked her off the air right after she did so.

Impressive, eh?

It's bedtime. More tomorrow folks.

I would guess that"Shock and Awe" starts tomorrow night. The morally questionable stuff regarding civilian casualties really gets started then.

I heard one of the military analysts this evening say that cruise missiles are accurate 80% of the time (I don't buy that number either). That means that, if"Shock and Awe" is going to involve 800 cruise missiles, only 160 or so will miss their targets.

160 cruise missiles missing their targets in Baghdad within a couple of days, huh?

Do you think that'll cause a little" collateral damage?"

Posted by Tom at 12:17 a.m. CST


I'm adding this blog, Dear Raed, directly from Baghdad to the blogroll. His perspective is a needed one I think.

Here's his last post:

there is still nothing happening im baghdad we can only hear distant expolsions and there still is no all clear siren. someone in the BBC said that the state radio has been overtaken by US broadcast, that didn't happen the 3 state broadcasters still operate.

:: salam 6:40 AM [+] ::

I'm not sure how long he can stay on but I'll be reading him.

Three of the best blogs so far for up-to-the-minute updates on the war are the Agonist, Back to Iraq 2.0, and, of course, Dear Raed.

Posted by Tom at 10:39 p.m. CST


U.S. has launched its first strikes in this unnecessary and immoral war.

Smirky is addressing us right now. He just now said we're facing an enemy that doesn't follow the rules of war. Well, bud, you're describing us I'm afraid.

He also just said we have no ambitions in Iraq. Right.

This really does sound like the Spanish-American war now.


Posted by Tom at 9:17 p.m. CST


Get a load of this story, slickly buried by the administration in the last couple of hours before the outbreak of war:

The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official."We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."

A Senate Intelligence Committee staffer familiar with the resignation agreed that it was not a protest against the war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein but confirmed that frustration is widespread in the anti-terror establishment and played a part in Beers' decision.

"Randy said that he was 'just tired' and did not have an interest in adding the stress that would come with a war with Iraq," the source said.

The source said that the concern by the administration about low morale in the intelligence community led national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to ask Beers twice during an exit interview whether the resignation was a protest against the war with Iraq. The source said that although Beers insisted it was not, the tone of the interview concerned Rice enough that she felt she had to ask the question twice.

"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and intelligence expert James Bamford."There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

Bamford cited a recent address by President Bush that cited documents, which allegedly proved Iraq was continuing to pursue a nuclear program, that were later shown to be forgeries.

There's more to the article -- if you want to read the rest of it, click the link.

Great. Just great.

So people in the intelligence community agree with us rational souls who don't like a government that lies about its reasons for war and puts the rest of us at greater risk of terrorism in pursuing said immoral and unnecessary war.

[Link via Agonist]

Posted by Tom at 6:33 p.m. CST

FOR WAR UPDATES... 03-19-03

check the Agonist, Back to Iraq 2.0, and Counterspin.

The war has apparently begun, B-52s are en route to Iraq with cruise missiles, there has been a reported skirmish near Basra, etc.

As I run across additional websites that are providing up-to-date war news, I'll pass them on.

If any of you know of other websites that are providing up-to-date war news, feel free to pass the links on to me as well and I'll post them.

Posted by Tom at 4:37 p.m. CST


My wife and I are downing handfulls of ibuprofen and keeping our temperatures at around 100 degrees. I had a one hour coughing fit between 3 and 4 a.m. that was just awful. My son, the first one to get sick six days ago, has backslid. He's over 102 again. On the bright side, my daughter is much better today. She has a normal temperature.

So that's the infirmary update.

Is it my imagination or is Miles O'Brien on CNN going to start leading war cheers any second now?

Posted by Tom at 1:31 p.m. CST


Eric Rauchway sends along a link to this excellent piece he wrote for the Financial Times that was published yesterday. In it, he draws connections between the Phillipine Insurrection of the early 1900s and the coming occupation of Iraq.

Eric and I made a similar point on the same day a couple of weeks ago, that this war reminded us of the second coming of William McKinley-style imperialism. (My post is here, Eric's is here.)

In fact, I didn't link to anything about imperialism in my"big review" -- so there you go folks, something else to review.

An additional post of mine on imperialism and IraqWar Part II is here as well.

Posted by Tom at 1:06 p.m. CST


This column by Julies Witcover is quite good.

So is this column by former liberal hawk Thomas Friedman.

It's too bad Tom gave W's war a boost for months with his wishful thinking, huh?

It's really too late now Tom but I'm glad you've finally come to your senses.

Posted by Tom at 11:42 a.m. CST


Get this:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from an appearance Wednesday where he will receive an award for supporting free speech.

The City Club usually tapes speakers for later broadcast on public television, but Scalia insisted on banning television and radio coverage, the club said. Scalia is being given the organization's Citadel of Free Speech Award.

"I might wish it were otherwise, but that was one of the criteria that he had for acceptance," said James Foster, the club's executive director.

Do you think somebody in that club, give...

3-11 TO 3-18 ARE GONE 04-22-03

Sorry folks but the blog entries for 3-11 to 3-18 are gone -- they disappeared in a computer glitch of some kind. Sigh.

Posted by Tom at 8:26 p.m. CST


I posted this earlier to the Political State Report, I've been meaning to post it here.

For background, here's my earlier post on this topic.

Here's the text of Walters' letter of resignation.

I'll give you a bit of it:

As the Bush administration moves toward certain war in the Middle East—a war which I believe nothing good will come from, a war which is unjust, unnecessary, and a war which will undoubtedly widen, perhaps even into world war, thereby placing our nation in dire peril—I have made a decision regarding my position as Boone County Republican Chairman.

Wars are easy to get into, but very difficult to get out of. They can sap the moral and spiritual fiber of a nation, squander lives and resources, deplete scarce funds, cause undue hardship on all involved, destroy families, and engender hopelessness.

I have questioned both the motives for military action at this time, and the ever-changing, illogical justifications presented to us in what has to be one of the greatest media propaganda blitzes ever force-fed a populace. Any time ground troops are deployed, serious questions must be asked and real answers demanded. The jingoistic rhetoric we are receiving does not constitute legitimate answers.

The consequences of our planned attack on Iraq (and also probably Iran, given the size of our forces and their location in proximity to Iran), should cause us all to pause. The Pentagon has announced that we will hit Baghdad with a force almost equal to the bombing of Hiroshima. Obviously many thousands of civilians will perish, with untold thousands maimed. And for what? To liberate them? To bring them freedom? Or democracy? Or is it to really secure the world’s second largest oil reserve and establish a base from which to subjugate other Middle Eastern nations? Is it also the plan for Israel to use the cover of war to forcibly relocate the Palestinian population (as has been publicly stated by some members of Israel’s current government)?

How on earth have we arrived at this crucial juncture in our country’s history? How has a war on terrorism been converted into an attack on Iraq? What threat does Iraq pose to us? We must lay the blame squarely on our congress, who according to our Constitution, only has the power to declare war. For congress to cede it’s war-making power to the executive branch is unconstitutional on the very face of it and effectively destroys our three branches of government. Circumventing our Constitution is very bad, and the undeclared wars, which have resulted in our recent history, have had disastrous results. Undeclared wars have no declared objectives, and therefore can widen at will, and our foray into the Middle East will likely set in motion a long-term wave of retaliation. Indeed, I believe that the administration would like to entice Iraq into firing the first blow so some justification could be paraded at the United Nations. If the United States government can adopt this unreal doctrine of preemptive attack on any nation, anywhere, at any time, so can other nations! This is how world wars begin. If the President goes into Iraq alone without a UN resolution, he will be in violation of the war powers given him last October by congress which was contingent on UN approval. A constitutional crisis will occur.

What we are about to do in the Middle East is abhorrent to me. It is made doubly so since this is a contrived and fraudulently justified war with hidden objectives. The coming mass slaughter of innocents, the harm our own troops are being placed in, and the potential for wars on several fronts have brought home to me the sobering realization that by remaining Boone County Republican Chairman, I would be giving tacit approval to this imminent war, and tacit approval to the belligerent and reckless language coming from the White House. The safety and integrity of our country outweighs politics.

So much for freedom of speech in the Boone County Republican Party, eh?

[Link via Counterspin]

Posted by Tom at 3:56 p.m. CST


A friend of mine just sent me an e-mail that made me do a google search. I came back with a rather interesting item:

According to Seymour Hersh's book, The Price of Power on page 322:

In mid-October 1970, [Henry] Kissinger testified, when a second wiretap was authorized for Helmut Sonnenfeldt, who was Kissinger's closest friend on the NSC [National Security Council] staff, his role was even more tangential.... Richard N. Perle, a foreign policy aide to Senator Jackson, was overheard discussing classified information that had been supplied to him by someone on the National Security Council Staff..... Kissinger - perhaps seeking to ward off a Nixon explosion - handed him (Haldeman) the FBI wiretap on the Israeli embassy and requested that the FBI be assigned to determine which NSC staff member was in contact with Richard Perle... Kissinger had to know that Hoover and Haldeman would suspect Sonnenfeldt, who was known from previous wiretaps to have close ties to the Israelis as well as Perle.
So that's what this may be all about. Hersh blew the whistle on Perle's passing of classified information to the Israelis thirty years ago. Isn't passing classified information on to a foreign government a crime?


This certainly helps to explain that rather over-the-top comment, doesn't it?

Update: I verified this passage in Hersh's book last night. If you want to read the entire passage, you can go read it here in Atlantic Monthly.

I'm removing my link to the website where I first found the passage and changing this post a bit because, to my horror, I've discovered it is a website run by David Irving, a Holocaust denier.

I'm not sending him any more traffic!

Posted by Tom at 2:22 p.m. CST


Is this story legit?

It appears so.

Is Poppy really speaking out against W's war? If so, why haven't I heard about this from our (lapdog) media?

If true, this is really important news -- and our media shouldn't be ignoring it.

Posted by Tom at 1:51 p.m. CST

I'VE GRADUATED TO... 03-10-03

large mammal!

Posted by Tom at 1:36 p.m. CST


Is there anything funnier than the warmongers' breathless excitement about Saddam's radio-controlled airplane?

Folks, I thought this was suppsed to be about WMD? Did they find any WMD with said model airplane? If not, then this is apparently irrelevant to your case, isn't it?

You'll notice from the article that the last time Saddam was looking into buying such drones was back when we were supplying him with the WMD in the 1980s. Heck, we probably sold it to him or helped him get it.

I also love the accusatory tone that the Shrubbers are using about how this was"withheld" or"suppressed." Hey, morons, it's in the freaking report. That's how YOU found out about it. Do you think that people are that stupid to try and get away with the claim that it was being"withheld" from us all?

BTW, you'll also notice that W and the boys haven't told us about Saddam's little airplane before today so obviously our own intelligence services didn't know that Saddam had it before now either. That's impressive, isn't it?

W and the boys have told us a lot of stuff that turned out to be false though.

This just gets sillier and sillier day by day, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 1:16 p.m. CST

I REPEAT... 03-10-03

I repeat for emphasis: it's time to fire Richard Perle.

You've got to read this one to believe it -- go read it.

I'll wait.

And this guy is a major architect of W's imperialistic foreign policy!

If you write a story that irritates Perle, you're a terrorist.


Is it safe to say the warhawks are becoming just a little unhinged?

Isn't it nice to know that it's madmen like Perle that W is listening to?

Posted by Tom at 8:17 a.m. CST


From Andy Borowitz:


Oil Stocks Rally on Rumors

The U.S. may be close to finding Vice President Dick Cheney for the first time since he disappeared in late 2001, sources close to the search for Mr. Cheney revealed today.

While the White House refused to comment on the rumors indicating that the U.S. was" closing in" on Mr. Cheney, oil stocks rallied on the speculation that the missing Vice President might soon be located.

"Oil investors hate uncertainty," said Joe Belson, a petroleum stock analyst for Morgan Stanley."Knowing that Dick Cheney is alive and well makes them feel like they'll be taken care of."

While officials conducting the search for Mr. Cheney would not specify the Vice President's precise coordinates, speculation centered on a PGA golf course in one of the Western states.

One official said that a laptop seized from Credit Suisse First Boston's fallen star Frank Quattrone contained a"treasure trove" of information that may have aided in the search for the elusive veep, but he added that optimism about finding Mr. Cheney remained"guarded at best."

"As anyone at the General Accounting Office can tell you, in Richard Cheney we are dealing with a sneaky, sneaky man," the official said.

"He is also a master of disguise," the official warned."Remember, during the 2000 campaign, he posed as a 'compassionate' conservative."

In other international news, the White House today attempted to galvanize U.N. support for its Iraq policy by issuing a list of one million more reasons to go to war with Iraq.

"In our view, these million reasons are better than one good reason," press secretary Ari Fleischer said.

Posted by Tom at 2:55 p.m. CST

HMMMM... 03-09-03

Please go read this post and this post by Hugo at HugoZoom.

I don't know if Slate's Suellentrop really is a plagiarist in this instance but it sure raises the question, doesn't it?


[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 1:04 p.m. CST


Atrios notes that, in addition to Kevin, Sean-Paul of the Agonist (just added to the blogroll -- been meaning to do that for weeks!) has also had a conversion experience today regarding IraqWar Part II.

Atrios, as he so often does, lays out the problem in just a couple of well-worded paragraphs:

Remember, back in the summer when the Iraq chatter started heating up in the media we would have Rumsfeld saying things like"why is everyone talking about Iraq? There are no plans for Iraq!" Then Andy Card mentioned the post-labor day marketing rollout. Suddenly we had the patriotism of people like Max Cleland being questioned. At every step, explosive new exciting evidence of Just How Dangerous Saddam Really Is was just around the corner. At each new unveiling, it was always conjecture at best and more generally lies and deception.

The worst part of all of this were the deliberate attempts to link Saddam Hussein to the events of 9/11. Nice way to exploit the deaths of 3000 people. I've been informed by readers that Republican congressmen have been telling their constituents during town hall meetings that there is"secret evidence" that Hussein was behind 9/11. Well, if Hussein was behind 9/11 why the hell is it secret and more importantly why the hell haven't we fired a missle up his ass yet?

I do have some sympathy with the liberal hawks. These guys just didn't want to admit, like all of us, that the presidency has become so powerful in the last fifty years that a president can decide to go to war for no good reason and a majority of sheep-like Americans and the media would fall in behind him.

We all wanted W to have a real reason for this war. We all kept hoping (take a look at my very first posts when I began this blog in August and September) that W was suddenly going to wow us and convince us to go along. Unfortunately, as we all know, that never happened.

Eventually, after the war had helped them win the midterm elections, W and the boys began to pile lie on top of lie to justify this war. They only went to the U.N. when it became apparent that it was going to take until March to get our soldiers in position for the war they wanted so badly.

This war has always seemed a rather ad hoc enterprise. First it began as a way to win the midterms and increase the president's popularity, then it was about vanquishing evil and ending terrorism, and now it's about bringing democracy to the region. At times, confusingly, it seemed to be about all three of those things.

As I've said before many times, I'm afraid this war is actually about none of those things. This war is about a new powerful American stance in the world. It's about creating a Pax Americana. It has nothing to do with terrorism. It has a little to do with oil but mostly it's about a second coming of William McKinley-style imperialism.

Of course it isn't a surprise that W, the only president who may have a lower IQ than McKinley did, is the one who is pursuing this policy. He's surrounded by people (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle) who are bright guys and who are telling him this is the proper path. W, being incapable of judging for himself, feels he should go along with them.

It's a frightening thing to acknowledge that we have a president who can be led around by his nose but that's the case at the moment.

God help us all. God help the world.

This is madness and we have a president who isn't bright enough to see that.

This war, I'm afraid to say, is the bitter and terrifying legacy of the bizarre and unjust election of 2000 -- and this nation and the world is ultimately going to pay one hell of a price for it.

Posted by Tom at 7:34 p.m. CST


Yet another liberal hawk gets off the war wagon. This time it's Josh Marshall.

Welcome back my man.

I've been expecting you for a while.

Who's next?


Update: Boy, was I onto something or what? A little before I wrote this, Kevin got off the war wagon as well.

Welcome back, Josh and Kevin.

Posted by Tom at 4:04 p.m. CST


Now this is impressive:

A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations' chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed"not authentic" after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the U.N. Security Council.

ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim -- made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday -- that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors.

"There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities," ElBaradei said.

Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The documents had been given to the U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence. The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away -- including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials said.

"We fell for it," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency did not blame either Britain or the United States for the forgery. The documents"were shared with us in good faith," he said.

So, we have to admit we lied or were incompetent by not checking out the evidence thoroughly before presenting it at the U.N. So, like Ronald Reagan in Iran-Contra, given that choice, we'll claim incompetence.

BTW, is there anything left from Colin Powell's presentation that hasn't been either proven a fake or otherwise had major questions raised about it?

Boy, that sure was a pack of lies, wasn't it?

For more on how I was properly skeptical about Powell's presentation, go here and follow the links back to my earlier posts.

I've noticed the folks who were crowing earlier about how wonderful his presentation was about a month ago have suddenly become awfully quiet.

I know guys. I'm embarrassed and disillusioned too.

Posted by Tom at 1:57 p.m. CST


It's a busy weekend for me. I probably won't be back for more blogging until tomorrow afternoon.

I know. I know. It may be hard to last that long without my"wisdom," but I'm sure you can.

I'm just trying to get you prepared because I'm likely to -- get this -- be out of blogging range for a few days week after next on a short vacation.

I'm just glad things are back to normal around here. At one point this morning I wasn't sure things were going to be okay.

Posted by Tom at 7:46 p.m. CST


All is repaired I'm happy to report. As you were!

Hey, our Roy Blunt Award winner has responded! Isn't it funny how some guys can dish it out but they sure as hell can't take it?

Oh and he's a libertarian. Isn't it cute how all the pro-war Republicans are calling themselves libertarians these days?

If they were really libertarians they'd actually be pretty damn upset about Herr Ashcroft's policies, wouldn't they?

The fact they don't say anything much about it -- and this means you Insty -- tells you how important liberty truly is to them, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 2:58 p.m. CST


I accidentally deleted document number"900" with the HNN webeditor. I'm a moron who really shouldn't work with complicated computer programs -- especially programs that put the"save" and"delete" buttons right next to each other.

Anyway, this screwup means that when you type in the normal address for this blog, you get nothing at all. Rick is apparently incommunicado at the moment so I don't know when I can get this fixed.

For now, I'll just move the blog over to this alternate location here in document number 1297. I have noticed that quite a few of you have discovered the blog already at this alternate location.

If any of you can pass the word on my new location to others (whether through your blogs or e-mail), I'd appreciate it.

I'm trying to get this problem fixed ASAP.

Posted by Tom at 12:19 p.m. CST


this genuinely offensive joke.

You ought to read this guy's pathetic attempt to defend this joke on the comment board to this post by Ted Barlow.

And, of course, Insty thought this was hilarious.

I'm not surprised.

Isn't it astonishing how insensitive the pro-war crowd is to those who disagree with them?

They pretend to understand the other side and then make jokes about millions of frenchmen being killed by natural disasters.

That's a real laugh riot, eh?

Posted by Tom at 10:27 a.m. CST


There was a steep rise in unemployment last month. 308,000 jobs were lost. Unemployment now stands at 5.8%.

Boy, the economy really sucks, doesn't it?

W and the Republicans aren't proposing anything that will ease the pain either.

Posted by Tom at 9:57 a.m. CST


Are we about to capture Osama bin Laden?

I hope so.

Update: ABC News is reporting we've captured bin Laden's sons in Afghanistan.

Posted by Tom at 9:04 a.m. CST


Tom Shales, the media critic for the Washington Post, has an excellent column today about the incoherent over-the-counter sleep aid that was last night's press conference.

Here's a bit of it:

George W. Bush kept seeming to lose interest in his own remarks last night as the president did that rarest of rare things -- for him -- and held a prime-time news conference. Televised live on all the major networks from the East Room of the White House, the occasion found Bush declaring this to be"an important moment" for America and the world, yet he spoke with little urgency and no perceptible passion.

Have ever a people been led more listlessly into war? It's tempting to speculate how history would have changed if Winston Churchill or FDR had been as lethargic as Bush about rallying their nations in an hour of crisis. There were times when it appeared his train of thought had jumped the tracks.

Occasionally he would stare blankly into space during lengthy pauses between statements -- pauses that once or twice threatened to be endless. There were times when it seemed every sentence Bush spoke was of the same duration and delivered in the same dour monotone, giving his comments a numbing, soporific aura. Watching him was like counting sheep.

Network commentators by and large tippy-toed around the subject of Bush's curiously subdued performance. But at least Terry Moran of ABC News dared to say that the White House press corps had definitely seen Bush"sharper" than he was last night. Tactfully and gingerly, Moran said Bush seemed to be"trying to keep his mannerisms as cool as possible" as he fielded questions and spoke of ultimatums. The lethargy was contagious; correspondents were almost as logy as Bush was.


The contrast between the foggy Bush of last night and the gung-ho Bush who delivered a persuasive State of the Union message to Congress not so long ago was considerable. Maybe Bush thought he was, indeed, coming across as cool and temperate instead of bored and enervated, and this was simply a rhetorical miscalculation. On the other hand, it hardly seems out of order to speculate that, given the particularly heavy burden of being president in this new age of terrorism -- a time in which America has, as Bush said, become a"battlefield" -- the president may have been ever so slightly medicated.

He would hardly be the first president ever to take a pill.

There were brief interludes during the news conference -- especially the long languid pauses -- when some viewers might have flashed back to the presidency of Richard Nixon. That is, the Nixon Years at their most tumultuous and Twilight Zoney, when the old Trickster would come on TV and you'd sit there not just fascinated but a trifle terrified of what he might say, who he'd accuse of persecuting him, and whether he might come completely unglued or just melt into a hideous puddle right before your horrified eyes.

Obviously Bush was not likely to inspire anything approaching that kind of fear last night, even in the most paranoid of viewers. But by his tone and his demeanor, he certainly didn't inspire a great burst of hopeful confidence, either. It was as if he didn't quite realize he was on national television and being watched closely by millions of people who were hanging on his every word and on his every expression and gesture, too.

And that we might be a nation at war in a matter of days. Or . . . might we?

I think the most frightening thing is that W is the leader of this nation and he clearly has a brain that can hold four paragraphs and very little else. Some have already argued the press conference was scripted -- W's part of it clearly was.

That was a thoroughly unimpressive performance. W wasn't even capable of effectively answering the softball questions last night.

Of course, we all have our bad days but he's had two years to get better at this -- and he clearly hasn't.

I'm not sure I want any more of these press conferences. They remind me of just how inarticulate and uninspiring W is as president. He's better in delivering prepared remarks -- let's just let him stick to the script, shall we?

I mean, heck, that's what he did last night anyway.

Posted by Tom at 8:33 a.m. CST


Excellent Krugman column this morning about the shameful conduct of this administration towards Mexico in the last few days:

But Mexico's seat on the U.N. Security Council gives it a vote on the question of Iraq — and the threats the Bush administration has made to get that vote are quickly destroying any semblance of good will.

Last week The Economist quoted an American diplomat who warned that if Mexico didn't vote for a U.S. resolution it could"stir up feelings" against Mexicans in the United States. He compared the situation to that of Japanese-Americans who were interned after 1941, and wondered whether Mexico"wants to stir the fires of jingoism during a war."

Incredible stuff, but easy to dismiss as long as the diplomat was unidentified. Then came President Bush's Monday interview with Copley News Service. He alluded to the possibility of reprisals if Mexico didn't vote America's way, saying,"I don't expect there to be significant retribution from the government" — emphasizing the word"government." He then went on to suggest that there might, however, be a reaction from other quarters, citing"an interesting phenomena taking place here in America about the French . . . a backlash against the French, not stirred up by anybody except the people."

And Mr. Bush then said that if Mexico or other countries oppose the United States,"there will be a certain sense of discipline."

These remarks went virtually unreported by the ever-protective U.S. media, but they created a political firestorm in Mexico. The White House has been frantically backpedaling, claiming that when Mr. Bush talked of"discipline" he wasn't making a threat. But in the context of the rest of the interview, it's clear that he was.

I knew about this but have you seen anything on MSNBC? CNN? (Giggle) Faux?

Of course not.

Posted by Tom at 8:10 a.m. CST


Here's an excellent column from the Toronto Star about how our media is failing us.

Here's a bit of it:

Now, as much as we Canadians like to rag on our nearest and dearest neighbours, telling ourselves that they're so stupid, we have to cut them some slack.

That's because they are so ill-served by their news media. Not all of it, mind you, but certainly most of it, and definitely by the most pervasive of it, whether local or national.

They package and market this"Showdown" thing like info-burger: Pre-ground, overcooked, and then served with a side of processed cheese, just like the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

No wonder more than two dozen authors, historians, scholars and journalists this week signed a group letter to media organizations charging them with overplaying military tactics while ignoring significant and relevant issues.

Can we say oil, kids?

Or ask about how some of the weapons of mass destruction got to Iraq in the first place? (Read the memo at http://www.tompaine.com.)

The media's failure to serve the public interest helps explain why, as the Internet audience measurement company Nielsen NetRatings revealed last month, Americans are turning more and more to news sites outside the country for a more accurate and balanced picture of the world.

How else would they have learned, for example, that, as reported by the London Observer on Sunday, the U.S. government had pulled out its bag of"dirty tricks'' to spy on recalcitrant members of the United Nations Security Council?

While the U.S. media ignored the story, the Star had it immediately. CBC Newsworld had one of its co-authors on the line by Monday. But, as he told Salon.com, NBC, CNN and Fox had all booked him — and then backed out. That despite how, even when directly questioned about the surveillance, neither the White House nor the U.S. State Department denied the charges.

The U.S. mainstream media — in the past few days alone — have also largely ignored reports by the brave and brilliant British correspondent Robert Fisk exposing how CNN ("By Appointment To The Pentagon'') war reports will undergo a new and especially rigorous screening process and how doubts have been cast on the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has been mysteriously promoted from a minor scowling face on the FBI's terrorist list to, as MSNBC put it the other day,"Al Qaeda's CEO."

In fact, as the media are playing guessing games over whether this guy is being tortured and what might be found in his laptop, almost nobody seems to be questioning how it was only last September, when the U.S. netted Ramzi bin al-Shibh, that President George W. Bush was crowing how they had nabbed"one of the chief planners and organizers'' of 9/11.

I, of course, knew all this stuff but most Americans haven't heard any of this stuff I'd imagine. Why is it that the foreign media is actually doing a better job than our own media of covering this irrational build-up to war?

I am finding myself reading foreign newspapers online more and more -- that's the only place to get real investigative reporting these days it appears.

Our news media sure is pathetic, eh?

Posted by Tom at 9:33 p.m. CST

REPETITIVE... 03-06-03

Is it my imagination or does he have about four paragraphs that W repeats over and over again no matter what the question?

Update: Now that was lame, wasn't it? How many times did W going repeat the same"Saddam's a threat to us" and"supports terror" statements over and over again with absolutely no evidence?

I don't like it when a president tells me something I have to take on faith. That's Ronald Reagan territory there.

Oh yeah -- CalPundit has already got some fairly extensive analysis up!

I'm impressed.

Posted by Tom at 7:47 p.m. CST

EVIDENCE? 03-06-03

I'm still listening to W's opening statement. Does he have evidence for any of these statements?

What are weapons of terror?

These are questions that just occurred to me.

Posted by Tom at 7:07 p.m. CST


Pat Cherundolo:

How much money is the Bush family going to make off these wars he has planned through the Carlyle Group? And Halliburton? I haven't seen anyone questioning this.
Sally Quinn has several questions:

I'd have more that one:

Mr. President:

In a recent story in the British newspaper, The Independent, reports that you personally agreed to use CS gas and pepper spray in combat. Is it your personal position that the US will violate the Chemical Weapons Convention against a rogue state that may or may not possess weapons or mass destruction?

[This will not get a follow-up question]


Mr. President:

Are you concerned that the American people may not share your vision for a return to colonialism, mandates, and protectorates?

Follow up:

Isn't the administration which you plan to set up in Iraq comparable to the British mandate over Palestine or the French mandate over Syria following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918?


Mr. President:

One of your stated reasons for going into Iraq is to vindicate the thousands of Iraqi victims of Saddam Hussein's regime. If our air strikes also cause the thousands of civilian victims that Pentagon planners have admitted, how do you think the Iraqi people will react to US-led liberation, not to mention the citizens of other countries in the region.

Follow up

But how do we win hearts and minds if we start out by committing wholesale slaughter?


Mr. President:

During the process of marshalling agreement for Resolution 1441 in the Security Council, the French government made it known that it favored a 2-step approach in solving the Iraq crisis--a first resolution calling for Iraq to disarm, followed by, if necessary, a second resolution that would outline the response if Iraq did not comply in heeding the first resolution. Isn't it a stretch to insist that 1441 does indeed call for military intervention when the ambiguous wording,"or face serious consequences" was in fact added to address French concerns and leave the door open for other options? Why is it being claimed that such wording commits the UN to military intervention?

Follow up

Again, sir, what constricts a set of options to a military intervention.


Mr. President:

How do you address concerns that the military participation of Australia, the UK and the US will be perceived as a de facto Anglo-Saxon alliance.

Follow up:

Are you concerned that the US is so diminished as a world leader by a maverick military option that it has forced the French and the Germans to seek security partners outside of the European Union?


Mr. President:

Are you concerned that by declaring total war on Iraq, the perception will be that the US is taking its cues from Sharon's treatment of the Palestinians rather than from worried allies?


Are you aware that half the Iraqi population is under the age of 15?


How many times have you been arrested and what were the charges?
Allen Glazier has a prediction:

It will be stacked with reporters who are sympathetic to the President's POV. No one who might actually ask a potentially difficult question will be allowed to do so. Okay, maybe one token hard hitting one, but I doubt it.

This isn't a press conference, it's a public relations move.

Thanks for the questions folks!

Posted by Tom at 6:57 p.m. CST


Since I'll be incommunicado for a little while, feel free to use the comment boards at the bottom of the page to submit your questions for the president. I notice one reader has already done so.

I don't use those boards much (I actually prefer e-mail from readers), but this seems like a great time to use them.

I'm waiting -- let me hear it!

Posted by Tom at 4:34 p.m. CST


I've gotten just a few questions so far. I'll be heading home in about 20 minutes. If you want your question to get through, send it ASAP!

Larry Davis:

Why do you think the Pope thinks your unprovoked war is not justifiable or just?
Joe Moran:

I yield my question to Helen Thomas. Sic 'em, Helen!
George Bradford:

Mr. President: Jow will you settle with all those who knew better then you once the war is over and they are proven wrong?


Mr. President: Even if we win the war without a single loss of life on either side, wouldn't we have set a precedent contrary to those traditions that, until now, have made us, despite our unparalleled strength, the most respected nation in the world and why not sir?

Thanks folks! Send some more my way in the next few minutes! I might have time to put some more up before the press conference but probably not.

Posted by Tom at 4:12 p.m. CST


This interesting news story from Australia, suggests how events are going to play out next week:

PRESIDENT George W. Bush will next week give Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to disarm within 72 hours or face war.

Mr Bush met his security team at the White House overnight for top secret talks before making his final decision on whether to launch a military strike on Iraq.

It is believed the President plans to deliver a last-minute challenge to Saddam as early as Wednesday to destroy his weapons of mass destruction immediately or face attack.

Reports from Britain last night even set a date for war: bombing will begin on March 13 before a full-scale invasion on March 17.

The move means the US plans to act whether or not a new disarmament resolution succeeds at the United Nations. All the coalition forces lined up in the Gulf region – including Australia's – indicated yesterday they were prepared for battle.

Someone explain to me how Saddam is going to prove he's disarmed in 72 hours?

Whatever he does, I can guarantee you it won't be good enough. After all, this isn't really about disarmament at all -- that's what's so fraudulent about all of this.

Keep those questions coming!

Posted by Tom at 3:06 p.m. CST


The media sharks ought to be circling for W tonight. If I recall correctly, W's last press conference was an abolute disaster. Given everything that's going on right now, tonight could be quite pivotal for W and the boys. If our press is doing its job, there should be some very pointed questioning of the president tonight. However, I suspect the subservient scribes for this administration won't ask him the tough ones.

So, since we're not likely hear any tough questions, I'm going to open up the floor. What questions would you like to hear W answer? Send me an e-mail and I'll include them here later today. You'll have to be limited to one and a potential follow-up, since that's all the members of the press will get tonight -- except for the Fox News and the Washington Times reporters of course.

Here's my question:

Mr. President, many have speculated that this proposed war with Iraq has little to do with terrorism, removing the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, or gaining control over Iraq's oil resources. Some have argued it has more to do with asserting a new more aggressive -- some have even suggested imperialistic -- U.S. foreign policy as Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Perle have wished since the early 1990s. Doesn't this war against Iraq have more to do with a"new American imperialism" as some are suggesting?

And my follow-up:

But haven't the major architects of your foreign policy advocated this new approach to foreign policy for more than a decade?

All right now, let me hear it America! What questions do you want to hear tonight?

Posted by Tom at 1:16 p.m. CST


Josh Marshall points us to this effective critique of how the hawks are misusing Pollack's argument to justify W's rush to war.

Here's the"money quote":

Six months after The Threatening Storm's publication, however, Pollack's book reads as much like an indictment of the Bush administration's overeagerness to go to war as it does an endorsement of it. A more appropriate subtitle for the book would have been The Case for Rebuilding Afghanistan, Destroying al-Qaida, Setting Israel and Palestine on the Road to Peace, and Then, a Year or Two Down the Road After Some Diplomacy, Invading Iraq. In interviews and op-ed articles, Pollack himself still supports the war, saying that now is better than never. But it's fair to say that his book does not—or at least not Bush's path to it.
It's a good piece. Go read it.

Pollack's book does not back the Bush policy. Pollack lays out a very different and much more cautious path than W's hasty imperialistic war for"benevolent hegemony."

You should keep these things in mind the next time you hear somebody crank up about how Pollack's book sanctions the current administration's policy on Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 12:11 p.m. CST

NEWS UPDATE! 03-06-03

It's been a busy morning -- and I've missed a lot of things. I'll try to catch up here real quick:

Democrats win on Estrada -- Republicans were unable to break the Democratic filibuster.

Now it's time for the Democrats to do some more of these -- many in fact.

W the warmonger will be holding a press conference tonight -- he very well may issue his ultimatum for the war with Iraq. We'll see.

I guess since he's about to lead us into war, it's about time to actually talk to the people and the press. How long has it been since his last one?

Finally, Bush is now BEHIND a generic Democratic candidate in this Quinnipiac poll.

I think it's safe to say that the press should quit referring to W as a"popular president." He isn't anymore.

W is not having a good couple of weeks, is he?

And the war may help his approval for a few weeks but that support will vanish quickly if the economy doesn't pick up.

W's in big trouble folks.

[Last link via Counterspin]

Posted by Tom at 11:39 a.m. CST


I do assume that taxpayers didn't pick up the tab for the time a White House lawyer spent drafting this letter to WhiteHouse.org.

We're getting ready to go to war and threatened by terrorists and Dick Cheney's worried about what's on a parody website?

Frightening, huh?

Posted by Tom at 7:59 a.m. CST


Here's an update from the Anchorage Daily News about the story that appeared in a Korea newspaper claiming missile parts from a North Korean were found in Alaska.

Apparently the newspaper was referring to an earlier test when the third stage of a missile"splashed in the water hundreds of miles from Alaska."

Therefore, I feel a little better -- although since this administration lies about damn-near everything I'm not sure I trust what they're telling me about this.

After all, it would be in their best interest to lie about this too, so folks don't get too wound up about North Korea being a threat to the United States.

Posted by Tom at 9:31 p.m. CST


One of my readers, Greg Novak, told me to go read the MahaBlog, so I went and checked it out.

It's really great! I had to add it to the blogroll immediately!

The one drag is that there doesn't appear to be any permalinks on the blog but at the top of the blog right now is a wonderful post about the parallels between the situation in the Philippines now and a century ago. I taught a graduate course last night in which I was saying many of the same things that are in this great post.

BTW, while you're at it, also go read this article from the October 2002 issue of Harper's (you'll need Adobe Acrobat). (This link comes courtesy of another reader, Ann Pagel Newman, by the way.)

As I've said before, IraqWar Part II is really mostly about the beginning of a new Dick Cheney / Paul Wolfowitz / Richard Perle-inspired American imperialism or, as they like to call it,"benevolent hegemony." They tried to roll this out in 1992 during the election and got laughed right off the stage. The press and most experts in foreign policy just made fun of it back then. These experts argued it was a sign of how out-of-touch these guys were with the real world.

But 9/11 provided these guys with an excellent excuse to roll this puppy back out and pretend it was a new idea. IraqWar Part II is more about the ascendancy of this new aggressive imperialistic foreign policy than anything else.

I've said many things in several different posts about this over the last six months on this blog but this article has all of these insights gathered in one place. Go read it!

What we are seeing is an administration that wishes to pursue a dangerously misguided imperialistic foreign policy.

God help us all.

The critics of this administration's"war first" foreign policy really should think about calling themselves"anti-imperialists" because that's a more accurate name for them.

However, I'd argue that Iraq is actually an even weaker sister now than Spain was in 1898 -- which is pretty pathetic, huh?

Update: I just now discovered that Eric Rauchway, sitting in for Eric at Altercation, also blogged today about the parallels between imperialist policy in the 1890s and now.

Posted by Tom at 8:03 p.m. CST


Josh Marshall officially states that he's got buyer's remorse about W's war with Iraq in his weekly column for Hill News.

I like the analogy he uses. Here's a bit of it:

Today, many others are seeing those parallels too. They argue that Pollack’s sort of logic amounts to the same flawed reasoning that brought us to grief in Vietnam: i.e., continuing a misbegotten or botched policy just because it’s too hard to turn around or because pulling back might lead to a loss of ‘credibility.’

Unfortunately, as bad as things look right now, I’m not convinced it’s that simple. There’s more than just our credibility on the line.

The situation we’re in right now looks something like this:

Imagine you’ve got a sick child in serious need of medical attention. You could take him to the hospital yourself but it’s hours away over some difficult roads. You decide to bring in the pros. You call an ambulance, hand over your sick child over to them, and tell them to be careful!

Now fast-forward a few hours. They’re almost to the hospital. But a few problems have cropped up along the way.

Before hitting the road, the ambulance driver went and downed a quick six-pack. He scraped up half a dozen cars getting out of the liquor store parking lot. On the way to the hospital — in a mix of drunkenness and zeal — he’s already hit two cars and four pedestrians. Now they’re being chased by cops from two different counties. And there’s a lynch mob on their trail looking for revenge for the trashed cars and mowed-down relatives.

Knowing what you know now, if you could do it over again it’s probably safe to say you would have chosen a different way to get Junior some help. But you can’t turn back the clock. Do you stop the ambulance and risk your child’s health or do you let it keep going and risk a lot else?

No analogy is perfect, of course. And this one breaks down on several fronts. Maybe your child wasn’t that sick in the first place. Or maybe there’s some way to call the whole thing to a halt and try it over again with someone more responsible at the wheel.

Whatever we make of the specifics of the situation, our predicament is dizzyingly similar. It’s obvious that the White House has made a hash of the situation. But recognizing that fact doesn’t tell us what we should do now. We can’t rewind to a year ago and do it better. We have to figure out what to do now.

If Saddam is a serious threat to our security and if we won’t get another bite at this apple, then we may have no choice but to plow ahead, as ugly a prospect as that may be. That’s especially so since if, after all this, we let Saddam remain in power now without even having made a nod to disarmament, he will almost unquestionably be stronger than he was when we started.

We’re all hostage to the Bush administration’s incompetence, whether we like it or not.

I just wish folks like Josh and other liberal hawks hadn't enabled W during the fall and helped to make this war the inevitable thing that it is today.

However, I'm still not sure we wouldn't be getting this war anyway regardless of the enabling of W by the liberal hawks.

W seems hell-bent to kill Iraqis and no one apparently can dissuade him.

History is not going to look upon this kindly.

Posted by Tom at 4:59 p.m. CST

IT'S OFFICIAL 03-05-03

It's official folks -- Shock and Awe is going to happen.

And if you really believe that 80% of the bombs are going to be"precision-guided," I've got some Louisiana swampland I'd like to sell you.

The military folks have to talk about how precise their weapons are in order to assuage reasonable public concerns about civilian casualities.

Never mind the fact that the civilian casualty numbers they're using from IraqWar Part I are cooked. (For more on this, go here.)

Don't fool yourself folks, we're going to kill tens of thousands of civilians in Baghdad.

I think I'm going to be sick.

Posted by Tom at 11:58 a.m. CST


Is this story really true?

If so, North Korea just became a MUCH bigger threat to the United States than Iraq -- and W's handling of the situation with North Korea looks quite foolish indeed.

The U.S. media should be asking about this -- right now.

I'm not holding my breath however.

Posted by Tom at 10:46 a.m. CST


Russia and France have now insisted they will block the U.N. resolution authorizing IraqWar Part II -- by using their veto power if necessary.

Not that the administration apparently cares about world opinion or support.

The rest of the world is already counting the days until the next U.S. presidential election.

I just hope we aren't involved in two or three wars by that point.

This is sheer madness, isn't it?

Posted by Tom at 10:26 a.m. CST


You've got to read this story in the KC Star about the"right to carry" legislation that the legislature is preparing to pass and send to the Governor.

The same people who are insisting they can't raise taxes because the people don't want it and voted down a tax in the last election are arguing that it's okay to push through the"right to carry" legislation -- which has also been rejected by the voters a few years ago.

Ah, the sweet stench of obvious hypocrisy.

My favorite part of the story is this one:

Supporters noted that the 1999 referendum passed in 104 of the state's 114 counties, though it lost overall, 52 percent to 48 percent. They said people in urban areas and suburbs who voted against the 1999 proposal had been misinformed and manipulated by gun-control advocates.

"Proposition B (in 1999) passed overwhelmingly in counties where we had a fair press and people understood the issue," said Rep. Larry Crawford, the bill's sponsor.

Guys, those ten counties had more population than the other 104 combined! Manipulated by gun-control advocates? The NRA outspent the other side by a factor of at least 10-1. You couldn't listen to the radio for five minutes that spring without hearing one of their spots -- and the thing still failed 52-48 percent!

If you want more background on this, read this column I wrote about it for HNN.

Be sure to read the hysterical comment boards below the article too. They're filled with bombastic comments from the same folks who are now killing themselves defending John Lott.

Posted by Tom at 8:55 a.m. CST


It's Wednesday morning! That means it's Gene Lyons time!

Bait and Switch

Many people say the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed everything. Americans realized that the oceans can no longer protect us in a hostile, dangerous world. Alas, the Bush administration ideologues fondest of saying that haven't changed their thinking at all. They've been gung-ho to invade Iraq at least since 1997, and their motives have little to do with any genuine threat from Saddam Hussein.

To many patriotic Americans, attacking Iraq has the two-fisted appeal of an Arnold Schwarzennegar or Bruce Willis action/adventure film. They imagine something like the Reagan administration's adventures in Grenada or Panama. U.S. soldiers go in, kick some cowardly Arab butt, crush an evil villain, hand out candy bars to grateful children, and, tranquility restored, return home to a peaceful and prosperous America.

Although our feckless commander-in-chief has been calculatedly deceptive about it, disarming Iraq has never been what Bush administration holy warriors really wanted. Even"regime change" isn't the primary goal of America's first"preemptive" war, although White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's use of the phrase in connection with U.N. arms inspections recently produced an angry, incredulous outburst from that traditional American foe, the Prime Minister of Canada.

Whether or not Saddam destroyed missiles, Fleischer said, was of no consequence, since U.S.policy was"disarmament and regime change." Prime Minister Jean Chretien erupted."If it is a changing of regime, it's not what is [U.N. resolution] 1441," he said."And if you start changing regimes, where do you stop? This is the problem, who is next? Give me the list, the priority list."

Evidently Chretien, who spoke in French, after all, hasn't grasped the characteristic bait and switch tactics of the Bush administration. Going to the U.N. was a tactical feint. The idea was to trick Congress, appease Democratic critics like Sen. John Kerry, mislead foreign policy thinkers like Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brezsinski, Gen. Anthony Zinni, and Gen. Wesley Clark, and fool voters into thinking that a Republican vote wasn't necessarily a war vote. Feckless Democrats, including this column, took the bait.

But no, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 calling upon Iraq to disarm or face"serious consequences" says nothing about regime change. It would have stood no chance of passing, much less of passing unanimously, if it had. The U.N. wouldn't last six months if the Security Council started handing out DIKTATS about the legitimacy of member governments. (Although come to think of it, the U.N. might have done a fairer job refereeing the disputed 2000 presidential election than the U.S. Supreme Court.)

Anyhow, that was then. This is now. The Little King must have his dynastic holy war. Regardless of how cunningly Saddam Hussein plays out his hand, how many missiles he destroys, or caches of abandoned nerve gas or anthrax he digs up--mostly sold to him by the Reagan administration, in the person of Donald Rumsfeld, of course--Bush cannot afford to take yes for an answer.

To do so would be to abandon the messianic schemes of the Project for the New American Century, a close-knit clique of visionaries who see war in Iraq as beginning of a worldwide American empire. If the name sounds like something from the third voyage of"Gulliver's Travels," its acolytes--among them Rumsfeld, Asst. Secy. of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Vice President Cheney, and Richard Perle--spelled out their goals in an extraordinary Sept. 2000 report called"Rebuilding America's Defenses."

Here are two characteristic passages excerpted on the"Liberal Oasis" website:"The American peace has proven itself peaceful, stable and durable...Yet no moment in international politics can be frozen in time; even a global Pax Americana will not preserve itself...If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence."

"[T]he United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

Pardon me, but I'm not awed by the brainpower of people capable of writing that"peace has proven itself peaceful." But I can translate the last bit into simple English. It says"regime change" means turning Iraq into an American West Bank, a conquered province from which to launch further"preemptive" strikes against Syria, Iran and other impediments to U.S. and Israeli dominance in the region.

Meanwhile, Bush, who promised a"humble" foreign policy and sneered at"nation building" during the 2000 campaign, has morphed into an apostle of Wilsonian idealism."A new regime in Iraq," he said last week"would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region."

More bait and switch.

This isn't conservatism; it's utopian folly and a prescription for endless war.

As usual, Gene is absolutely on-target.

As this war approaches it becomes astonishingly obvious that W and the administration were lying to the U.N. when they insisted they were for disarmament. That was just a stalling tactic -- and the world has now learned a big lesson about the basic dishonesty of this administration.

Posted by Tom at 8:27 a.m. CST


Here's a good column about the state of the Bush presidency in the eyes of the world.

I'll give you just a bit of it:

So the truth is out: George W. Bush lied when he claimed to be worried about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Otherwise, Iraq's stepped-up cooperation with the U.N. on disarmament would be stunningly good news, obviating the need to rush to war. Instead, the U.N. weapons inspectors' verification of Iraq's destruction of missiles, private meetings with Iraqi weapons scientists, visits to locations where biological and chemical weapons were destroyed in 1991 and a series of unfettered flights by U2 spy planes have been met with a shrug and sneer in Washington. The White House line is that even if the Iraqis destroy all their slingshots, Goliath is still bringing his tanks and instituting"regime change." The arrogance is breathtaking. We have demanded that a country disarm -- and even as it is doing so, we say it doesn't matter: it's too late; we're coming in. Put down your guns and await the slaughter.

Abraham Lincoln once observed that even a free people can be fooled for a time -- and this, mind you, was long before Fox News existed -- and in his chaotic two-year presidency, Bush has pushed the Big Lie approach so far that we are seeing dramatic signs of its cracking: an international backlash, a domestic peace movement and whistle-blowing from inside our own intelligence and diplomatic corps.

"We have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of the American people, since the war in Vietnam," wrote John Brady Kiesling, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service in his letter of resignation last week to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Kiesling, who was political counselor in U.S. embassies throughout the Mideast, added that"until this administration, it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president, I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer."

And this brave man is not the only one who has caught on. The entire world is astonished that our president is lying, not about a personal indiscretion, but about the most sacred duty of the leader of the most powerful nation in human history: the duty not to recklessly endanger the lives of his own or the world's people. Yet lie he has.

Go read the rest of it. It's quite good. I do find it astonishing that our press hasn't picked up on the fact that the administration was so clearly lying when it insisted it wanted Saddam to disarm and work through the U.N. Now that he's taking steps to do so, W and the boys say"Not good enough."

As I've said before, the only reason W went along with this U.N. thing is because he knew it was going to take until mid-March to get the soldiers in position. It was all a big con game for him. He never did give a damn about U.N. approval -- it just fooled a few folks in Congress long enough to get his war resolution approved.

As Phil Carpenter said the other day, W really does lie about damn-near everything, doesn't he?

Posted by Tom at 7:52 p.m. CST


This is not exactly a big surprise but Janet Rehnquist is resigning her position as Inspector General of Health and Human Services.

We'll see if she avoids the slammer ultimately.

If she were a Democrat, the Republican congress would've already strung her up by her thumbs.

And she certainly would be looking at jailtime.

For my past posts on this go here, here, here, here, and here.

Posted by Tom at 6:29 p.m. CST


John Ashcroft proudly pronounces that we're"winning the war on terror."

The next time there's a terrorist attack in the United States, be sure to remember that this jackass said this.

Did Ashcroft even notice the terrorist attack in the Philippines today?

That sort of takes a bit of the punch away from Herr Ashcroft's pronouncement, doesn't it?

Posted by Tom at 3:54 p.m. CST


The buyer's remorse for prominent liberal hawks continues.

Now it's Richard Cohen of the Washington Post.

Again, I'm not going to say"I told you so."

Oh. I'm sorry. I just did.

Posted by Tom at 3:42 p.m. CST


Now here's an interesting story that makes it appear that the White House is getting a bit jittery about the political implications of Mr. Bush's unpopular and unnecessary war.

Senior aides to President George W. Bush say he faces a humiliating defeat before the United Nations Security Council next week.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, fresh from his latest round of meetings with representatives of countries on the Security Council, delivered the bad news to Bush on Monday.

"You will lose, Mr. President," Powell told Bush."You will lose badly and the United States will be humiliated on the world stage."

Some White House advisors are now urging the President to back off his tough stance on war with Iraq and give UN weapons inspectors more time.

"We have no other choice," admits one Bush advisor."We don't have the votes. We don't have the support."

Powell told Bush on Monday that Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. troops to stage at the country's border with Iraq doomed any chance of consensus at the UN.

"Many were watching Turkey," Powell told Bush."Had they agreed, it might have helped us sway critical votes."

Some Bush aides now admit privately that the President, for all his tough talk, may have to back down and postpone his plans to invade Iraq in the near future.

"The vote in Turkey fucked things up big time," grumbles one White House aide."It pushes our timetable back. On the other hand, it might give us a chance to save face."

"Saving face" means backing away from a showdown with the UN Security Council next week and agreeing to let the weapons inspection process run its course.

Is W smart enough to take Powell's advice?

Stay tuned.

[Link via Counterspin]

Posted by Tom at 11:37 a.m. CST


in the blogospheric food chain or ecosystem.

I'm number 62 in this blogospheric ecosystem consisting of a thousand blogs. That works for me -- considering I've only been doing this for six months!

Thanks for keeping up with this for me Bear!

Posted by Tom at 11:15 a.m. CST


Here's the relevant part of the transcript from yesterday's daily press conference with Ari Fleischer:

Q May I also ask you about a report in The Observer newspaper in London, of a memo purported to be from the NSA -- an email message from a man who actually works at the NSA they established -- in which he describes a surge in surveillance of U.N. Security Council members to see what these nations are thinking about an Iraq vote. What's your response?

MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, as a matter of long-standing policy, the administration never comments on anything involving any people involved in intelligence. For example, if somebody were to say to me, is Libya an object of American intelligence -- I would never answer that question yes or no. The administration does not answer questions of that nature. We don't answer who does or does not work in the intelligence community. Once you start that, you start getting into process of elimination and we do not do that about any question, about any report, as a blanket matter of policy.

Q But, then, if you're a Cameroonian diplomat or a French diplomat at the United Nations, because of what you just said, you're going to have to operate on the assumption that the United States is bugging you.

MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's a blanket matter of policy that we do not answer questions of that nature, whether it's true or not true, and I'm not indicating to you whether it is true or not true. It's a blanket matter of approach and policy that predates this administration.

You and I know Ari would deny it if he could -- but he can't.

Off to class number two!

Posted by Tom at 9:34 a.m. CST


to being #1 in heroin production!

Boy, that Afghanistan operation sure is going well, isn't it?

Off to class!

Posted by Tom at 7:55 a.m. CST

JOHN LOTT MAKES... 03-03-03

the comics page in the New York Times!

It's pretty funny too.

Go read it.

[Link via Tim Lambert's excellent Lott update website]

Posted by Tom at 8:10 p.m. CST


Lord Morgan, a member of the House of Lords and a historian at Oxford, gave his view of the historical parallels between the 1930s and the present in this column in the Guardian:

As a historian, I worry about the crude use of history, particularly our old friend the 1930s. Time and again we hear that this crisis is the 1930s come again - what nonsense. Saddam is not another Hitler. Where is his Mein Kampf? Where is his dream of universal conquest? George Bush is certainly no Churchill; it would be a calumny on the reputation of that great man to suggest it. It is a facile argument, and it disturbs me that Downing Street produces it, all the more because I taught one or two of them. My efforts were clearly in vain.
That about covers it, doesn't it?

Speaking of the Guardian, CBS News has picked up their story on the efforts by the NSA to spy on members of the U.N. Security Council. You'll notice the other networks in our disturbingly subservient media haven't mentioned this story at all. You'll also notice that this story isn't on the frontpage of CBS News website at the moment. Why is that? I wonder if this story even made the evening news.

This story is an absolute bombshell that our media is willfully ignoring.

Impressive, huh? Liberal media my, well, you-know-what.

Posted by Tom at 7:44 p.m. CST

THANKS -- AGAIN! 03-03-03

A little while ago, I had my 80,000th visitor via a link from Tapped, the American Prospect's Weblog. It wasn't that long ago that I was celebrating my 70,000th visitor!

So far, since I installed my hit counter on September 18th, I have had 124,000 hits as well.

As always, I appreciate the fact that you folks read my blog and I hope to give you reason to return for more.

Posted by Tom at 2:29 p.m. CST


Every now and then, it's a good idea to read things written by the average Joes supporting the other side, just so you can keep abreast of the bizarre lengths these hard-core supporters of the war will go in justifying this war.

Today's example is this re-damn-diculous letter that appeared in last week's Carteret County News-Times.

I especially like the parallel the letter-writer draws between IraqWar Part II and our successful"just" war in Vietnam. This letter is almost cartoon-like, isn't it? There are also enough factual and logic flaws in this letter to keep you busy for a while so don't even try.

I just present it for education purposes.

Posted by Tom at 1:11 p.m. CST

HOW DO YOU TELL? 03-03-03

How do you tell when W is lying?

South Knox Bubba has discovered what W's "tell" sign is.

I think he's on to something here.

Posted by Tom at 10:51 a.m. CST


Both Jim Henley and Hesiod blow Kenneth Pollack's argument for war against Iraq (a favorite of pro-war liberals) apart on their blogs.

In short, among other things, they both argue that Pollack accidentally makes a great argument for containment. Like most intellectuals who honestly look at the Iraq situation, he can't help but admit that Saddam often acts quite rationally. It's when Pollack tries to make the genuinely awful, but ultimately rational, Saddam Hussein into a irrational actor who is a threat to the rest of the world that his argument very quickly begins to come undone.

In my opinion, in order to make a convincing argument for war with Iraq, you have to do three things:

First, you have to convince me that the war will be worth the awful cost in lives of Iraqi civilians -- ultimately probably in the tens of thousands. That's quite a price to remove Hussein. This to me is the biggest argument against any sort of war. If you can achieve the objective of disarming Saddam peacefully through U.N. inspections, why pursue a ruinous war?

Second, you have to convince me that I should ignore the last twelve years in which Saddam Hussein's Iraq has not threatened its neighbors or even us at all. Saddam, as I said above, is a rational actor who has"stayed in his box" over the last twelve years. There's no evidence that he's going to get"out of his box" and threaten his neighbors any time soon.

Third, you have to convince me that this invasion will really improve the situation in the Middle East, not destabilize it. Will this invasion improve the lives of Iraqis? Do we have a sound overall plan for the future of Iraq? Will this invasion not lead to an outbreak of terrorism against Americans worldwide? Is it worth the risk? I will say that our results in improving the lives of the people in Afghanistan have not been very encouraging thus far. Afghanistan outside of Kabul is in chaos it appears. Iraq outside of Baghdad would likely be in similar shape within a few months.

You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about proving an Al-Qaeda-Saddam link. I think it's safe to say by this point that, given the current evidence, there is no such connection. The anti-terrorism argument is the most disingenuous one being advanced by the administration at the moment. Those who still try to advance this one are generally crackpots, political hacks, or ignorant folks who don't know much about the evidence that exists or don't really care.

Those who support this war might as well give up on this point and make their arguments for the war without it. It doesn't appear Saddam had anything at all to do with Al-Qaeda and September 11th.

I also have to say that another consideration is the damage this war is going to do to American credibility around the world. W is essentially destroying diplomatic ties that it took decades to build. The rest of the world sees this Iraq war as irrational bullying on the part of the United States.

I would argue that, given the fact that we haven't made a compelling case for war, the rest of the world is apparently right.

Posted by Tom at 9:55 a.m. CST


I kept telling myself that I wouldn't gloat when the liberal bloggers who supported IraqWar Part II began to have second thoughts, but, now that it's happened, maybe I will -- a little.

Kevin and I have had several e-mail exchanges about this.

I can't help but ask this question of these guys: how in the world could you guys trust this moron, George W. Bush?

Regardless, it's nice to welcome you back to the world of the rational.

We all make mistakes.

I certainly do.

Posted by Tom at 4:56 p.m. CST

A BUSY DAY 03-02-03

It's a busy day for me. Go read these things:

1. This story about how W is trying to blame congressional Republicans for his disastrous budget choices.

2. This column by Mary McGrory about this week of unreality in Washington.

3. This story about how the administration is admitting there will be thousands of civilian casualties in Iraq. Why haven't I heard this in the U.S. media?

4. This Whopper of the Week by Ari Fleischer.

5. MoDo's column today is pretty good as well.

I'll be back in a while.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 a.m. CST


I sure hope this story isn't true. If it is true, this should create a firestorm at the U.N. -- as well it should.

If Condi Rice essentially ordered this, then her days in government service should be numbered on one hand.

Again, I don't know quite what to think of this.

I can just hope it's not true.

That's all I can say at the moment.

Want to read the memo? Go here.

Posted by Tom at 7:53 p.m. CST


My goodness. Turkish lawmakers, hoping to get re-elected in a country in which 80% of the public is opposed to the war with Iraq, have rejected the U.S. troop deployment plan.

The Turkish parliament is turning down about $30B worth of loans and aid from the U.S. government in rejecting this plan.

This is quite amazing. The administration (and the U.S. media) clearly thought this was in the bag. I guess not.

It must be noted that the measure fell only three votes short (it had a plurality but it needed a simple majority according to the Turkish constitution), so it may be resubmitted next week.

Regardless of whether this measure ultimately passes or not, this is major blow to the Bush administration diplomatically.

Posted by Tom at 3:12 p.m. CST


Jeanne D'Arc has written an excellent post about"what the New York Times leaves out." It's an excellent critique about the habit of the Times to consciously avoid stories or refuse to make obvious connections that would embarrass the current administration.

The Times has a long history of doing this. In the post she mentions the groundbreaking reporting from Central America during the early 1980s but notes that the paper's editors reassigned the most remarkable of those reporters, Ray Bonner, when his story about the infamous massacre in El Salvador at El Mozote embarrassed the Reagan administration.

After this story appeared, the Reagan administration was behind a right-wing campaign to smear Bonner -- and the Times ultimately removed Bonner from Central America. And the terrible thing about this particular story is that every bit of it was true. It has been verified numerous times. Reagan's administration's efforts to protect the murderous Salvadoran regime -- which involved telling hundreds of lies to congressional committees -- was nothing short of evil. All of this, of course, was in the name of combatting the" communist menace" in Central America.

We now have many of the same folks in power now -- many of the architects of Reagan's Central America policy are in top advisory posts. If at times you wonder how the folks in this administration can think that launching a war against Saddam that will potentially kill thousands of innocent civilians is moral, you have to remember they've sanctioned this sort of thing before.

The folks in the Reagan administration believed the astonishing" collateral damage" in Central America that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Guatemala and El Salvador was acceptable. You would expect these same people to believe a high level of" collateral damage" is acceptable in Iraq as well.

If you think all of this raises very important questions about the morality of this administration (just as it did about Reagan's), you may be on to something.

Posted by Tom at 11:05 a.m. CST


I spent four years in grad school in Bloomington, Indiana at Indiana University. It's a great little town. A great place to live. I remember it quite fondly.

Little did I know that Bloomington was a hotbed for terrorism -- such a hotbed that it requires three surveillance flights per day by the FBI.

Besides individuals, Fuentes and Davis said, the aircraft is monitoring vehicles and businesses -- particularly those open late at night from which faxes or e-mails can be sent.

[FBI Agent Thomas V.] Fuentes said the aircraft is conducting surveillance flights over several communities near Indianapolis, the state capital.

I also would've never guessed that other small towns south of Indy merited surveillance flights either.

This, my friends, is really odd.

I don't know what else to say.

Posted by Tom at 9:52 a.m. CST

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