Monday, March 31, 2003

Out on a jolly

The Hersh story. Here’s a good quote about the Iraqis, marred by the fact that it’s from an anonymous “senior Administration official”: “They’re not scared. Ain’t it something? They’re not scared.”

Iraq has begun using shock and awe...oops, pardon me...terror tactics. The family of the first suicide bomber is given $34,000. I believe we pay $6,000 for a dead soldier. A lifetime discount at Exxon would also be appropriate.

I should have given more of the quote from the British soldier fired on by a US plane (if only so I could use it in a subject line). He called the pilot a cowboy “out on a jolly.” Given the use of amphetamines in the Air Force, he may be more right than he knows.

Still, the British are having some fun. They’re currently engaged in Operation James, named after James Bond. Don’t know what the Iraqis think about their positions being designated as “Pussy” and “Galore.”

Ari Fleischer fan club. Be afraid, be very afraid.

The US is starting talking about non-uniformed Iraqi fighters as “unlawful combatants,” to be sent to Guantanamo. The International Red Cross and indeed the British say that all such people are to be treated as POWs, but the US is not doing so. Here we go again.

Colin Powell repeats Rummy’s threats against Syria and Iran. And guess what diplomatic place our chief diplomat chose in which to make that announcement: AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby. He did, however, also say that settlements were a bad idea, and that Israel shouldn’t humiliate occupied Palestinians quite so much. They hissed him.

The firing by NBC of Peter Arnett for un-American activities has gotten rather more publicity than the expulsion of Geraldo Rivera from Iraq for being generally obnoxious and giving away the position of troops. Also in war reporter news, the correspondent for Swaziland’s state radio turns out to have faked his broadcasts; he never actually left Swaziland.

This is perhaps cuter than it needs to be.

Compare and contrast the following. First, from the 1st story in the British news section of the Guardian: “Senior British military officers on the ground are making it clear they are dismayed by the failure of US troops to try to fight the battle for hearts and minds. They also made plain they are appalled by reports over the weekend that US marines killed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, as they seized bridges outside Nassiriya in southern Iraq.”

Next, the 1st story in the US news section of the WashPost: “Girding against Iraqi attackers who have blurred the line between what's military and what's civilian, U.S. commanders have instructed troops to assume the worst and employ a range of tougher tactics aimed at weeding out and hunting down Iraqi militia, defense officials said yesterday.” The next paragraph says that civilians with their hands in their pockets are to be shouted at (that is how American tourists communicate in foreign countries, by speaking, in English, very loudly), and then shot. Says someone at the Pentagon “Everyone is now seen as a combatant until proven otherwise.” Thus the 7 women and children shot dead in a car today. Remember when we didn’t have anything against the Iraqi people? Someone else (loads of unattributed quotes) says that we’ll win hearts and minds by winning the war. This is roughly what officials said about the rest of the world, that once we won they will say they supported us all along. Forget about the sheer cynicism; what world do they live in where everyone likes a winner?

Incidentally, that car they shot up was told to stop by a “Psychological Operations loudspeaker team,” of all things. Must be strict Freudians.

Back in the Guardian article, General Sir Mike Jackson (who used to go by Michael Jackson and for some reason has changed it), says “We have a very considerable hearts and minds challenge. We are not interested in gratuitous violence.” Oh yeah, he is so not an American.

Unable to find Saddam Hussein, American officials have taken to taunting him to appear in public so that we can shoot 50 or 60 more cruise missiles at his head.

Along similar lines, Kim Jong Il hasn’t been seen, or his location mentioned in the N Korean media, in 7 weeks. North Korea thinks it’s going to be attacked, has even been trying to provoke it (my guess is that they think another Korean war is a done deal, and were trying to ensure it happened at the same time the US was fighting another war), and a NK that feels threatened is a very dangerous thing indeed.

So if this war is being fought by a “coalition,” how is it that the post-conquest Iraqi government will consist of 23 departments, headed by 23 Americans? Colin Powell has said that this will happen with the “full understanding” of the international community. And how do we impart full understanding to foreigners? As I said earlier, by speaking very loudly in English to them, and shooting them.

This proconsulate will be advised by Iraqis, including such darlings of the Pentagon’s right-wing as Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, who hasn’t lived in Iraq since 1956 and has been convicted of fraud in the collapse of a bank in Jordan (he fled before the trial).

A list of American atrocities.

Several British soldiers have refused to fight any more. Only one American conscientious objector, whose name is, um, Funk.

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