Thursday, March 27, 2003

However long it takes

Iraqis are being called terrorists for practices such as threatening soldiers who don’t fight with execution. Presumably nobody’s looked at the US military code lately, although we haven’t actually executed a soldier for cowardice since Priv. Eddie Slovik in WWII (played by anti-war activist Martin Sheen in the tv movie). Also, Texas executed a mentally ill person yesterday, so again, let’s not be pretending too much moral superiority.

The Independent’s Robert Fisk on the Baghdad market bombing.

Funny how all those Republicans are planning to press a liberal agenda on Iraq. Bush’s $75b slush fund includes provisions for universal health care in Iraq, to Sen. Hillary’s bemusement (Actually the universal health care will be administered by some lucky American corporation, lowest bid or no bid, so Iraq is about to be introduced to the horrors of managed care). Pat Robertson came out in favor of the separation of church and state--in Iraq. Where R’s have been berating D’s like Daschle for daring to dissent mildly in time of war, Iraqis are being downright encouraged to do so. And of course they are encouraging Iraqis to engage in dancing, a practice John Ashcroft considers Satanic when engaged in by Americans.

That, sadly, was my last joke on the theme of dancing in the street. I thought I’d have more ideas, but too much viewing of CNN has reduced my brains to mush.

A drum-beat is emerging from the administration that the oil-for-food program needs to be restarted. Some, like France, object to this as legitimizing the Anglo-American condominium over Iraq. Actually, it’s worse than that, since it entails using the resources of Iraq without regard to the government of Iraq, which is theft even if used for humanitarian purposes: it is not our right to distribute Iraq’s wealth, nor the UN’s, but in practice any UN workers would have to be accompanied by US troops and be under their control and not go anywhere the US didn’t want them to be. And this at a time when we are conducting a siege (Basra) and may wind up conducting another one (Baghdad); denying food, water, electricity, etc to some people while feeding others is to use food as a weapon, like the Zimbabwean government does.

Richard Perle’s official government job was in theory unpaid and advisory only, so let’s not crow too much over his resignation. The Prince of Darkness can continue to fulfill the same function without the honorary title. (Later): oh, for fuck’s sake, he isn’t even leaving the board, he’s just stopped being the chairman of it.

Because of some superstition, all triplets born in North Korea are removed from their parents to state institutions.

Rumsfeld says the announcement that US forces are to be doubled is certainly no indication of anything not going to plan.

Still, the single worst answer I’ve heard was from Dubya this morning, and I don’t know that I can convey why to anyone who didn’t actually see it. He was asked at the press conference (three questions, if that counts as a press conference)(I just looked it up at the White House website--they call it a press availability) with Blair how long the war would last, months or days, and he said, several times, “However long it takes.” The thing is, he was asked a serious question and gave a piece of rhetoric in response, as if it were a real answer. My problem with it is that he doesn’t think he evaded the question (which is what the reporter doubtless expected), he thinks he answered it. No, I really can’t convey it. Actually it reminds me of when a 6-year old asked him what the White House was like, and he told her, with a smirk on his face as if he was saying something clever, that it was white. And then never actually answered her question.

A couple of quotes: The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberators' - Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defence Secretary, March 11. `I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators' - Vice-President Dick Cheney

In diplomacy/kindergarten news, the US ambassador to Canada threatened that country for not joining our little war, the British foreign secretary pissed off Israel by noting that the Arabs get pissed off when UN resolutions against Iraq but not Israel are enforced by the West, the US ambassador to the UN huffed off in the middle of an Iraqi speech....

Israel is to suspend the work of its religious police in enforcing the Sabbath (at the expense of all the rest of the country’s labor laws).

Maybe those of you who follow sports are familiar with this, but it was new to me: laser eye surgery to increase vision to 20/10, twice as good as perfect. Golfers like Tiger Woods have this done, but so increasingly do military pilots, Navy Seals and the like (it also greatly improves night vision).

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