Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A hell of a lot more determined

Sadr refused to meet the delegation from the national conference. At first I thought this was a PR mistake. But the delegation (which was flown out by the US military) was not going to Najaf to negotiate, whatever some news sources have said, but to issue an ultimatum for him to leave the Imam Ali shrine so he could be arrested and/or assassinated without pissing off a lot of Shiites and Sunnis. And the American forces didn’t take a break from bombarding the city, almost as if they didn’t want the mission to succeed or something.

Those forces are Marines, who replaced the Army this month and, as in Fallujah, decided they needed to mark their territory, a decision the NYT claims they made all on their own. Here’s my favorite bit: "The ferocity of the rebel resistance surprised the marines, who had seen Saddam Hussein's army disintegrate last year as they marched north to Baghdad. ‘The ones we fought the other day are a hell of a lot more determined,’ Lt. Scott Cuomo said." And you’ve been, what, napping in a dark cave in the year and half since then? Hadn’t heard they shoot back now? Slow learners, very slow learners.

The Village Voice’s very gay gossip columnist Michael Musto is amusing about McGreevey & Cipel.

Voter registration in Afghanistan is now up to 9 million. of the 9.8m. eligible. It won’t be really impressive until it hits 10 or 12 or 15 million. A story in today’s London Times describes a team of registrars entering a village with their bodyguard of American soldiers. Maybe it’s me, but when the Motor-Voter drive involves armored personnel carriers and begins with a fire-fight, I begin to wonder if the Afghans are being protected while they eagerly register, or are registering at the point of a gun held by a foreign national. Addendum: the Toronto Star says voter reg is actually over 10m. It also points out that women in burqas are best able to get extra voting cards, which puts the boast that 43% of registered voters are women in a new perspective.

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