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April 2003 Archives

April 30, 2003

Photo of the Day

By Joe Katzman at 23:02

From the "I don't know art but I know what I like" department:

A creation by Iraqi artist Zerak Mera made from Iraqi army boots is seen where a statue of toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein once stood, in the center of Kirkuk, April 29, 2003. (REUTERS' Shamil Zhumatov via Yahoo! News)

I assume I don't need to explain the symbolism in the the implicit Arab shoe reference...


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  • zerak mera: HI AYAM ZIRAK MIRA ARTEST AIRQ read more
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The Iraq Battle is O-Vah!

By Joe Katzman at 20:28

President George W. Bush's coming address to the nation? Yeah, that too. Actually, I was really thinking of Rand Simberg's article:

"The nation rejoiced as one of the last redoubts of resistance in the war fell. In a sudden and unexpected collapse, the New York Times finally conceded that the Saddam Hussein regime had disintegrated, with none of the dire pre-war predictions borne out....
Rand has done the occasional parody before. This one's his best, and after this opening it only gets better.


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Remember.

By Joe Katzman at 04:03

Dean Esmay had as fine a post yesterday as I've yet seen from him, one that neatly picks up where yesterday's Bard's Breath poem left off:

"...Try to wrap your mind around that. You can't, can you? It becomes simply a number. A numbing, appalling number of wives, grandmothers, daughters, fathers, grandfathers, sons--all ages, all groups, it didn't matter. You were a problem for the regime, and then you were gone.

We think of the Nazis when we think of genocide. Well, why shouldn't we? They were as evil as evil can get, and they were efficient at documenting their crimes. Proud of them, even. They should always be remembered as a unique evil, and the specter of their philosophy should always be feared.

My only regret is that not enough people remember the others."

Dean is a fine blogger, but he may have have just topped himself with this one.


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  • Lyn Watson: The reason why worry kills more people than work is read more
  • zombyboy: C'mon. It's Dean. 'nuff said. read more
  • Jay Solo: Indeed! I made sure to link and point it out read more

The NewGirl of His Dreams

By Joe Katzman at 03:28

That's what Joey thought. Cute. Loves videogames, comics, clubbing and dancing. Avowed carnivore. Owns a keyboard synthesizer. Web programmer, to top it all off! Did we mention spanktastic cuteness?

This link explains it all... but you need to keep scrolling, and reading, or you'll miss the rest as this true story takes a sharp left turn and veers right into the twilight zone. Will Joey be saved by his blog?

One of the strangest and most interesting posts I've seen from the blogopshere in a long time. Given that one of my friends was involved in introducing this couple, I can assure you that it's definitely for real.


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April 29, 2003

Germs, Germs, Germs

By Joe Katzman at 17:56

Other news today from the world of germs, in Iraq and China (Hat Tips: M. Simon):

  • Allied forces have captured Amir Rashid Muhammad al-Ubaydi, whose nickname was "Missile Man". He was the Six of Spades. His wife is the infamous Dr. Rihab Taha, a microbiologist known as "Dr. Germ" who was in charge of the secret Iraqi facility that weaponized anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflotoxin. "Missile Man" helped develop the delivery systems. Really, the joke opportunities here are just too easy.

  • China is taking serious steps now with SARS, putting hospitals and even Beijing itself under partial or full quarrantine. Following recent directives to the Army, they've also been forced to deny that martial law is imminent. Whether the denial turns out to be true probably depends on the information that comes in to them over the next few days.

  • If you want an excellent front-line blogger view of the developing SARS situation in China, Peking Duck is on location and has lots of good stuff. (Hat Tip: NoCreativeTitleYet)

  • So, why Toronto as the North American SARS hotspot?


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    • Linda Carlsson: [Long Swedish rant of anti-Semitic nonsense deleted]... but doesn't this read more
    • JH: This just in:the anthrax case in Brazil a false alarm.I read more
  • Does Israel Have a Right to WMD?

    By Armed Liberal at 17:16

    During the run-up to Saddam's War, a number of critics of the war raised the issue: "What's wrong with letting Saddam have WMD?? We have WMD. Israel has WMD. Why is his possession of them suddenly a cause for war?"

    I never unpackaged my responses to that, which were superficially that it was a stupid argument not worth responding to. Recent discussions here raised the issue, and I realized that my own thinking needs to be taken out and exercised a bit to see if it can really walk around.

    There are two parts to this. First is that it's OK for he U.S. to have WMD.

    I'm not going to get into this in depth here except to point out that the Americans who take the opposite position (no WMD for the US) have apparently transcended nationalism, which would be a good thing if it weren't for the unpleasant fact that the keys to our lives then get handed to a panel where Robert Mugabe gets equal billing with Tony Blair. Great concept, I foresee some problems in implementation.

    I'm an American, and further I'm an American who buys into that whole messy "exceptionalism" thing, so I'm probably not the best audience for that argument.

    The second argument, however, is a very interesting one. If the assertion is that it's OK for Israel to have WMD, we open up an interesting discussion.

    Because the discussion is so fundamentally tribal, I've put up some comments on my own background over at Armed Liberal, in the event that anyone thinks it matters. Actually, I think it's important to do so in order to make such limits as there may be on my perspective clear to everyone.

    OK?? Let's go…


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    read the rest! »

    • Diana: The CNN article is from 1996. I believe that there read more
    • Babylonian: Yehudit wrote: But in the case of the Palestinians, we read more
    • Yehudit: BTW here's one Benny Morris piece. I believe he also read more

    Brazil's Anthrax Incident: Some Questions

    By Joe Katzman at 15:40

    Given our ongoing coverage of "nukes, bugs and poisons" here at Winds of Change.NET and beyond, yesterday's chilling blog post and analysis concerning the Egyptian sailor discovered dead in Brazil with a suitcase that appears to contain anthrax is worth another look.

    First see additional coverage:
    * Brazilian police curious about mystery bag
    * Bioterrorism suspected... (but the RCMP are downplaying it)

    Some details are unclear or conflicting, including the sailor's place of death - though most seem to agree that it was a hotel room in Trombetas.

    This is still a breaking story, and even though many reports match up, it's worth scrutinizing closely. Steven Den Beste drew my attention to one odd detail: Brazilian federal police spokesman Fernando Sergio Castro told Reuters that Ibrahim Saved Soliman Ibrahim "had been given the suitcase in Cairo by an unidentified person..."

    I'm curious about that detail. Dead men don't talk. I wonder how they knew that so quickly?

    I'm pretty sure Ibrahim didn't declare to customs: "Oh, this suitcase? some unidentified person gave it to me in Egypt before I boarded." Nor is it likely that the Egyptians had been tracking him, otherwise the Brazilians would be hopping mad that he was allowed into their country at all. He certainly wouldn't have been left alone in Brazil long enough to contract anthrax and die from it. The suitcase might have been noted as a carry-on in his manifests or declarations, but even then how could they be sure it was the same suitcase? Puzzling.

    This detail doesn't make sense, on several levels. The Egyptian government watches Islamists closely, and arrests them often; it makes little sense to believe they would have produced the anthrax there. If it came from an outside source, contacts with Iraqis or Syrians would be at high risk of surveillance these days. Why do this exchange in Egypt at all, when Brazil itself is a much safer environment? No sense at all.

    Letting the same courier carry the real thing all the way from the Middle East is equally foolish. Far better to smuggle the goods seperately from their source directly, confirm their arrival, then trigger the courier. Even if the smuggling fails, this way you'd still retain the valuable courier uncompromised. Carrying and declaring a "clean" suitcase from the origin point of maximum susspicion, followed by the old switcheroo with an identical-looking suitcase in Brazil, is a basic trick any junior drug-runner knows.

    Which is why the account as given raises questions for me. Of course, if he received the suitcase in Egypt, Brazil doesn't have to look into the possibility of a serious terrorist problem of its own - in Iguazu region, for instance.

    We're still not 100% on all the details of this case, as commenter Mike Spenis noted yesterday. There may yet be some twists and turns, especially if Health Canada discovers anything on the quarrantined ship itself. Nevertheless, the report as given has my antennae up. If this is anthrax, we need to know the truth. The whole truth.

    UPDATE: Some very good Comments, including updates from former Brazilian resident Alan Myette and excellent links from Yehudit detailing the terrorist connection in the "tri-border" region neaqr Iguazu. Our coverage of the situation continued May 1 - with even more questions arising as the Brazilians backpedal.


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    • Yehudit: The Forward has been following the "terrorism triangle" connections with read more
    • Alan Myatt: I hope that the report from Belem is correct and read more
    • Erich Schwarz: On the one hand, good if true that this isn't read more

    Saddam's Archives: Iraq's Media War

    By Joe Katzman at 12:01

    Revelations concerning Saddam's network of influence are coming thick and fast in the wake of his regime's collapse. Take "Saddam's Cash," a very interesting article in the current Weekly Standard.

    Saddam's media campaign was actually based on a very common intelligence practice, the concept of "agents of influence." What's especially interesting about Iraq's approach is the completeness of its infrastructure... not to mention the likelihood that this is just the beginning of a flood of revelations. Remember this?

    REUTERS, April 1, 2003 (Merissa Marr): "IRAQ IS WINNING the battles in the propaganda war with a modest media strategy, despite a multi-million dollar U.S. campaign featuring painstakingly choreographed briefings and Hollywood-style sets. Undeterred by America's elaborate media plan, Iraq is making its mark on the airwaves with its decidedly basic approach, media pundits say..."
    It certainly was basic. Just not modest. Or cheap:
    "Some of the transactions were straightforward cash payments, often in U.S. dollars, handed out from Iraqi embassies in Arab capitals - luxury cars delivered to top editors, Toyotas for less influential journalists. "This was not secret," says Salama Nimat, a Jordanian journalist who was jailed briefly in 1995 in that nation for highlighting the corruption. "Most of it was done out in the open."

    Other transactions were surreptitious or deliberately complex--coveted Iraqi export licenses for family members of politicians, oil kickbacks through third parties, elaborate "scholarship" arrangements. In a region where leaders count their fortunes by the billion and workers by the penny, such payoffs are common. The Saudis, of course, have financed public works throughout the Middle East and Africa. But no one played the game like Saddam Hussein."

    The rest of the article describes a network that reached throughout the Arab world, and into Europe and the United States too. Arab publics, stunned already by the obvious reality inversion they were subjected to during the war, should brace themselves for another set of shocks. They probably won't be the only ones.
    One "top Egyptian editor" told the Wall Street Journal back in 1991 about a conversation he had with Saddam. "I remember his saying, 'Compared to tanks, journalists are cheap--and you get more for your money.'"
    Yes, you do. Just ask CNN. Nor is this the end of the matter.

    Like the Soviet and Nazi states upon which Ba'athist ideology is based, Saddam's bureaucracy kept documents. Lots and lots of documents. In the war's aftermath, Saddam's bureaucratic paper-mine has a lot of claim-stakers. Sifting through the haystacks has just begun, and there are sharp needles aplenty to be found. With help, of course, from Iraqi factions and Western intelligence agencies. They, too, have reasons to cultivate journalists.

    British MP Geroge Galloway, known to be living beyond his obvious means for years, was simply the first revelation. He made himself a large and obvious target; clearly, some digging has been done to ensure his exposure. He was first, but he will not be the last. Nor should he be.

    UPDATE: Laughing Wolf comments.


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    • Raymond Onar: I think 1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC said it read more
    • harhar: Vietnam: the first real media war. read more
    • Joe Katzman: Avoided? Not at all, unless you believe a raging mob read more

    The Bard's Breath: Warsaw Remembered

    By Joe Katzman at 06:09

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through these times: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory.

    With the ebbing of the war in Iraq, this feature will scale back to an irregular schedule. Expect it to run approximately once per week.

    Sixty years ago the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto, already close to death from starvation and disease and with only a few hundred poorly-armed fighters among them, took on the German Army in a fight to the death. The 55,000+ casualties on the Jewish side meant near-annihilation, but the Germans had paid for their victory. Indeed,the 27 days it took them to conquer the ghetto was longer than it had taken the Wehrmacht to occupy entire European countries. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the first instance in occupied Europe of a mass uprising by an urban population, and is still remembered in poems, historical accounts (incl. German reports), even a museum. Not to mention the current hit film The Pianist.

    In memory of that uprising, today's poem comes via the Jerusalem Post (Hat Tip: reader M. Simon). As the poet Haim Gouri wrote in memoriam:

    "From this fire, which enveloped your tortured and burnt bodies
    We ignited a torch for our souls,
    In which we lit the blaze of freedom,
    And with which we marched into battle for our land.

    We have avenged your bitter and lonely deaths
    With our fist, heavy and warm;
    To the burnt ghetto we built here a monument,
    A monument of life - a life which shall never be forsaken.
    "

    Never again. Never.


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    April 28, 2003

    Things That Make You Go "hmmm..."

    By Armed Liberal at 22:38

    Just to toss a few pebbles into the pond and watch the ripples, I'll suggest that you go visit Network Solutions' whois server and look up "jessicalynch.org". You'll get this:

    Domain ID:D95934086-LROR
    Domain Name:JESSICALYNCH.ORG
    Created On:17-Mar-2003 19:57:52 UTC
    Expiration Date:17-Mar-2004 19:57:52 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:R71-LROR
    Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
    which my tinfoil-hat wearing friends have pointed out is five days before she was captured.

    I'm sure there is an innocuous explanation (bad record in the database, clock mis-set on a server), but it'll be a fun thing to talk about at parties!

    [Update: I barely had time to get a cup of tea when the conundrum was answered in the comments below. Go to www.missnycity.org. Note the winner's name...]


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    • Armed Liberal: I love the Internet! Disinformation and correction whil I make read more
    • JD: Subject: Re: Hi, regarding Jessica Lynch.org Please refer to http://www.missnycity.org. read more

    Anthrax: Curiosity Killed the Courier

    By Joe Katzman at 21:49

    I've written about bio-chemical terrorism before, from past incidents to its likely future ("Toxic Terror Tick-Tock"). Looks like some of that may be coming true already.

    LGF has a link to a disturbing Reuters report. An Egyptian sailor was in Brazil, where he would join his ship as it traveled to Canada. He opened the suitcase he was carrying in his hotel room, says the report... and now he's dead from anthrax. Apparently, several hotel emplyees who found him in that room also became ill with symptoms.

    "A spokesman for Brazilian federal police in the Amazon state of Para said on Monday an autopsy of the Egyptian man, whom he named as Ibrahim Saved Soliman Ibrahim, showed that he had died after vomiting, internal bleeding and multiple organ failure.

    "He was the victim of anthrax," said Fernando Sergio Castro, adding that police were 90 percent certain that Ibrahim had died of anthrax."

    Initial Canadian reports concerning the now-quarrantined aluminum ore carrier were saying the sailor died on board ship, but subsequent articles now concur that he died in Brazil.

    Even so, 90% isn't 100% yet. There will undoubtedly be more information to come. Still, this is at the very least least highly suggestive. It's exactly how you'd do it, if you wanted to slip bioweapons into the United States. Here's the sequence...


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    read the rest! »

    • John: Jay Currie Canada is an easy and important point of read more
    • Jay Currie: John, While I sincerely hope you will not be surprised read more
    • D. Raymond: Montreal? OK, Class, and Ahmad Ressam was traveling from where....? read more

    Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing Up & Down

    By Sparkey at 15:28

    Thank you Joe, for allowing me the opporunity to post on Winds Of Change.

    As many of you have already know by now, the Sarge's website went offline over the weekend along with several other blogs. Stryker's webhosting service has been having fun with their server provider. (Thanks for the tip Glenn!)

    Cornerhost has moved everything to new servers, so Stryker's blog is back up now, except for one thing, we can't post (Permission denied error writing to the local path). So it appears it's on the server side, and hopefully we'll have this resolved soon.

    To add one piece of commentary here, I think it's pretty obvious now that Steven Den Beste was right about the French.

    UPDATE: SSDB is back up and ready for business!

    [JK: Breaking story - Egyptian sailor acting as courier dead of anthrax. Destination: Canada. Bioterrorist plot likely.]


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    • Sparkey: I'm sorry folks, I was able to get on the read more
    • Joe Katzman: Uh, not quite Sparkey. doesn't work in Netscape 7.02/Mozilla for read more
    • Wind Rider: wow. one little error message and the server admins come read more

    North Korea: Zero Wing Summary

    By Joe Katzman at 11:52

    For those who need a quick summary of where things stand, in a way that cuts beyond all the complexity, we present...

    North Korea: Someone set up us The Bomb!

    China: What you say?

    Rumsfeld: How are you gentlemen!! You'll have no chance to survive, make your time.

    Japan: Don't make us move every Zig for Great Justice.

    Saddam: All my base are belong to U.S.!


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    • Hannah: Hi! who is zero?where did he from?can i hear him read more
    • Randall Parker: Joe, I need to take pithy comment practice from you read more
    • M. Simon: Beautiful!!!!!! read more

    Winds of War: 2003-04-28

    By Joe Katzman at 08:15

    APR 28/03: Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    We Want YOU! Casting call for the new Winds of War editor. Want to make this your Winds of War?

    Special: Toronto's left-wing daily The Star just ran a front page article on Iraq -- al-Qaeda links, including some exclusive documents! I'm stunned. The UK's Telegraph has its own piece, and there's also evidence that France was actively passing secret information to Saddam right up until the war.

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield...

  • The role of U.S. Special Forces in Gulf War II, as it's being experienced in Diwaniya. See also these reports from Afghanistan for a similar kind of background on who these people are and what they really do.

  • Richard Sinnreich, on relearning some old military lessons.

  • 82nd Airborne War Diary. Plus even more really great stuff if you follow the link.

  • The human cost of war, as experienced by some of the soldiers of 3rd Infantry's Cyclone Company, 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment. Unsettling and honest.

  • Very thorough analysis of allied casualties in Gulf War II, including an examination of why they were so low. What has saved troops' lives?

    Inside Iraq

  • Which "cards" have we captured so far? The list. And the visual version. (Hat Tip: Israeli Guy)

  • Victor Davis Hanson says don't get too stressed, Time Is On Our Side in Iraq. One of his better articles, and that's saying something.

  • Tipping Points: how occupations go sour. Surprisingly, it's the little things.

  • Even the NY Times is admitting that Iran is playing a large role in fomenting trouble among Iraqi Shi'ites. This fatwa being just the latest example. My thoughts on what to do. And why it will work.

  • Happy Birthday, Saddam Hussein. (Hat Tip: The Agonist) So... what'd you think of our present: making "to Saddam" a new international verb!

  • Too bad you didn't get a "Phraselator" instead. It's a limited translator device from DARPA. Here's a picture of one in use inside Iraq.

  • Calpundit on some of the problems with our WMD "exploitation teams", and what he thinks the issues are.

  • Winds of Change.NET, April 3: "The idea of embedded reporters was a masterstroke, since the reporters have to... live with the troops, and go through events with them.... they come to question many of the unspoken assumptions that lie behind the undeclared war." UPI, April 21: "This reporter took his leave of Bravo 1/5 on April 15. It was one of the hardest farewells I've ever had to make." (Hat Tip: Donald Sensing)

  • Democracy! In Umm Qasr, where civic involvement is a success story that has even the Americans and British impressed. (Hat Tip: Dean Esmay) Karbala and Najaf will be harder, but Rick Heller has a very sensible suggestion to fix that.

  • Whiskey! Lots of it.

  • Sexy?

  • The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

    AND BEYOND...

  • Buzzmachine has an update on the Sina Montallebi arrest in Iran, explains how you can help, and notes the growing influence of Iranian bloggers. (Hat Tip: Dean Esmay)

  • Apparently, July 9th is the planned date for a massive general strike in Iran to protest Khameni's rule.

  • You want U.N. reconstruction? You've got it. Welcome to Afghanistan's botched rebuilding. (Hat Tip: Command Post)

  • I try to close on a lighter note if possible. Since I'm from Toronto, Detroit hired our hockey team's goalie away only to lose in round 1 of the playoffs... presenting Baghdad Bob, Detriot Red Wings spokeman! (Hat Tip: The Agonist)


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    • Dave: We need Baghdad Bob to rep the Tigers right now! read more
  • SARS: Losing the 'Mandate of Heaven'

    By Trent Telenko at 08:05

    In China, there is a term for the people's loss of confidence in a dynasty. They refer to is as "Losing the Mandate of Heaven." This was normally associated with natural disaster or war hammering corrupt dynasties. SARS seems to be bidding fair to do that to the Communists in China. The Chinese are used to their government lying to them. They are not used to the government killing them through unsafe medical practices and plagues.

    This is from the Asian Times (Hat tip to Conrad over at the Gweilo Diaries):

    "The histories of both HIV and SARS in China have one striking shared characteristic - Beijing's knee-jerk suppression of all relevant information out of fear of damaging China's economic growth. In the face of AIDS and now SARS, the Chinese government has spared no effort to suppress information regarding either illness. In both cases, the Chinese population is paying the price. The Chinese government said that by 2003 there would be a million cases of HIV on the mainland, roughly the same number of infections as in the United States. While a million infections in a population of 1.3 billion is only 0.08 percent of the population, it is still a disturbingly large number of people in a country whose government, even after Annan's visit, has made next to no efforts to inform its people about the virus. Last summer a UN report warned that if the Chinese government did not radically change its HIV policy, the number would reach 10 million by 2010.

    HIV/AIDS, luckily for Beijing, has still been relatively easy to cover up, at least domestically. It appears that SARS is about to change things very quickly. As of Wednesday, Henan province - again, a poor province of more than 95 million - was referred to by Chinese state media as one of the provinces hit hardest by SARS, this despite having only officially reported two confirmed cases as of Wednesday. Henan is next to Shanxi province, which as Asia Times Online reported on location (SARS wreaks havoc in Shanxi province, April 18) has been suffering from its own SARS outbreak for weeks already. Just as China's links to the world have fueled the international spread of SARS, China's massive web of domestic air, rail, bus and boat links combined with the world's largest population indicate that SARS will soon be in every province, city, and town soon, if it isn't already.

    Beijing has admitted to covering up SARS statistics in order to preserve the image of normalcy. This seriously hurts the CCP's credibility. When one considers the HIV cover-up in Henan, combined with Henan's location at the center of the Chinese transportation nexus, it is also quite plausible that Beijing was fudging its numbers when it said last summer that there would be a million HIV cases in China by the start of this year. This was the number given long before Beijing came clean about its SARS cover-up. It is obvious that the highest levels of government in China are not averse to lying to its constituency or the world in order to maintain an image as a safe, stable environment for foreign direct investment.

    Assuming that SARS makes its way to every populated area of China, it is quite plausible that China's SARS deaths could experience a ferocious increase. SARS is an atypical pneumonia caused by a coronavirus. AIDS sufferers are particularly susceptible to pneumonias. Indeed, the most common serious infection among AIDS patients in the United States is a type of pneumonia called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), which is typically fatal if not identified and treated quickly. Identification requires a laboratory test of fluid or tissue from a patient's lungs. Unfortunately, most of the people with AIDS, in Henan in particular, do not have access to laboratories, nor the money to pay for tests and treatment.

    Continued...


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    read the rest! »

    • from China: trent telenko i dont want to help you fabricate stories, read more
    • Trent Telenko: From China: You may want to see the article at read more
    • Trent Telenko: "from china" said: >I had dinner with a couple of read more

    April 27, 2003

    Huxley's Patio

    By Armed Liberal at 06:07

    So at the conclusion of predictable but truly strange chain of events, I wound up spending the day at Aldous Huxley's house in the Hollywood Hills with his widow, Laura, and some other folks (including Littlest Guy and Tenacious G), and had an odd kind of epiphany.

    We were sitting out on the back patio, overlooking the canyon and looking up to the Hollywood sign, chatting, cutting up fruit and watching the kids play, when I realized that this scene - perhaps this exact scene - must have played out on this exact spot, except that the people standing around on the deck would have included Huxley, his friend and sometime writing partner Christopher Isherwood, and the rest of the wartime expatriate intellectual community.

    Two of whom would have been Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, founders of the Frankfurt School and root figures in the rise of 'critical theory', one of the roots of what I would today call Bad Philosophy.

    Huxley himself, with his search for transcendence, fits into the Romantic tradition which I've discussed as a further part of the cultural conflict in which we find ourselves.

    I think that the cultural /philosophical battles are just now rising to everyone's consciousness, and are not yet seen as critical, but will ultimately determine the outcome of this conflict.

    And here I was sitting on that very patio, chowing down on excellent pineapples and pears, and realizing that I'm a part of a Reformation aimed in part at the very man whose lovely home I enjoyed today, and all his friends and colleagues.

    Sometimes reality is just too damn weird.


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    • david: I was reading Huxley in 1972 and based on something read more
    • Porphyrogenitus: Very cool. Of course you know I agree with you read more
    • M. Simon: I met Laura in 1975 when she gave a talk read more

    April 26, 2003

    Shabbat Shalom!

    By Joe Katzman at 23:59

    As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. In that spirit, our Saturday posts to this blog will always be "good news". We will share Sufi wisdom, highlight the acts of good and decent people, laugh at humourous events, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. My Muslim, Christian, and non-religious colleagues have graciously agreed to respect and work within this Winds of Change.NET tradition.

    Why did that tradition begin? Why not just highlight these things as they occur?

    One reason is practical: because they tend to become lost in the shuffle, background items surrounded by the attention-getting dramas of other events. Stopping to focus and acknowledge the other side of the coin, to see the light that also shines in our world, keeps our perspective and analysis from becoming flawed. The other reason is : the practice of filling my entire day with a different perspective - not what's broken, but what's working.

    So, welcome to Winds of Change.NET... and Shabbat Shalom.


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    Nanotech: The Path Ahead

    By Joe Katzman at 17:26

    I discovered Tim Oren's "Due Diligence" blog during the war, and I'm very glad I did. He works with Pacifica Fund, a Silicon Valley venture fund specializing in early investments in select, emerging information technology and materials science companies. What he does is therefore of interest for me on many levels, and I'm impressed by the fact that his blog is hosted on their domain.

    Yesterday's entry threw a bit of a spotlight on nanotech's immediate future, via presentations from famous VC Steve Jurveston of DFJ and Dr. Eric Drexler of the Foresight Institute. As it happens, WIRED editor and book author Kevin Kelly was also there to ask the ultimate question of the day.


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    Defending Aziz: Jihad vs. Harabah

    By Joe Katzman at 17:04

    The week just gets stranger. Horseman of the Ablogalypse and Great Khan of the Green Hordes Charles Johnson linked into our debate with Aziz. It certainly fit well into one key theme of his blog, which is to shine a bright spotlight on some of the hateful talk, conspiracy theories, and worse coming from significant parts of the Islamic world.

    Charles also has the liveliest and most unruly comments section in the blogosphere - the light and dark side of his refusal to delete comments regardless of viewpoint, except under extreme provocation. As I expected, some knowledgeable LGF readers made very useful contributions. We'll discuss some of those on Monday. Other commenters took issue with one of Charles' addendums - and fairness requires that I join them.

    Charles writes, in reference to a previous run-in with Aziz:

    "UPDATE: Here is the offensive post I mentioned above. Aziz emailed the link to me, apparently thinking that it will somehow vindicate him; but on rereading it I am just as offended as the first time. A suicide bomber, a mass murderer following the jihad ideology espoused by Hamas, slaughters children on a bus and Aziz responds with "Jihad will always succeed. Harabah will always fail." Then he follows with "Mohammed al-Dura will welcome the innocents to heaven, as the cohort of the victims of injustice grows," invoking the name of the Palestinian Arab child who has become the poster boy for anti-Jewish propaganda the world over. At the very least, these remarks are incredibly tasteless."
    In response, LGF comments regular Trevalyan writes:
    "I don't pretend to be a large student of Arabic. But Aziz was CLEARLY not impressed with the results of the suicide bombing in that post he sent you. In addition, you truly should have considered the way in which he wrote the article. To me, he clearly wrote that Hamas is fighting a harabah (war of intimidation) and will FAIL, and that all their claims about jihad are worthless: jihads win, and Aziz clearly feels that Hamas will fail brutally."
    I side with Trevalyan on this one, and also with "KN" who chimes in along similar lines. I can see how the use of "jihad" might be seen as tone-deaf, and the Al-Dura reference refers to an controversial urban legend of its own. I also have a serious problem with Aziz's conduct in our recent debate, and I stand by my criticisms of him.

    That said, his earlier article is what a convincing argument against Palestinian terrorism looks like in an Islamic context. Aziz could hardly fail to address the jihad issue, and placing Palestinian bomber victims alongside an Islamic symbol of Israeli violence definitely offers a sharp and necessary whack upside the head to many in the Islamic world.

    If our goals are victory and a more peaceful future, Charles is wrong on this one. My 2 cents.

    UPDATE: Charles and I have further discussions in the comments section.


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    Sufi Wisdom: Idries Shah Interview

    By Joe Katzman at 16:59

    As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, the Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). For instance, this article discusses the history and role of the Sufis in the Indian subcontinent.

    Idries Shah (1924-1996) may well be the leading exponent of Sufiism in the modern age. A remarkable man in all respects, not some phony guru but the real deal. Elisabeth Hall's July 1975 interview with Idries Shah in Psychology Today offers both an introduction to the Sufi approach, and an example of how their multi-layered stories are used in practice:

    EH: Before we go any farther, we'd better get down to basics and ask the obvious question. What is Sufism?

    IS: The most obvious question of all is for us the most difficult question. But I'll try to answer. Sufism is experience of life through a method of dealing with life and human relations. This method is based on an understanding of man, which places at one's disposal the means to organize one's relationships and one's learning systems. So instead of saying that Sufism is a body of thought in which you believe certain things and don't believe other things, we say that the Sufi experience has to be provoked in a person. Once provoked, it becomes his own property, rather as a person masters an art.

    EH: So ideally, for four million readers, you would have four million different explanations.

    IS: In fact, it wouldn't work out like that. We progress by means of Nashr, an Arabic word than means scatter technique. For example, I've published quite a number of miscellaneous books, articles, tapes and so on, which scatter many forms of this Sufi material. These 2,000 different stories cover many different tendencies in many people, and they are able to attach themselves to some aspect of it.

    EH: I noticed as I read that the same point would be made over and over again in a different way in a different story. In all my reading, I think the story that made the most profound impression on me was "The Water of Paradise." Afterward, I found the same point in other stories, but had I not read "The Water of Paradise" first, I might not have picked it up.

    IS: That is the way the process tends to work. Suppose we get a group of 20 people past the stage where they no longer expect us to give them miracles and stimulation and attention. We sit them down in a room and give them 20 or 30 stories, asking them to tell us what they see in the stories, what they like, and what the don't like. The stories first operate as a sorting out process. They sort out both the very clever people who need psychotherapy and who have come only to put you down, and the people who have come to worship.

    One day Nasrudin lent his cooking pots to a neighbor, who was giving a feast. The neighbor returned them, together with one extra one - a very tiny pot. "What is this?" asked Nasrudin. "According to law, I have given you the offspring of your property which was born when the pots were in my care," said the joker. Shortly afterwards Nasrudin borrowed his neighbor's pots, but did not return them. The man came round to get them back. "Alas!" said Nasrudin, "they are dead. We have established, have we not, that pots are mortal?"
    IS: In responsible Sufi circles, no one attempts to handle either the sneerers or the worshippers, and they are very politely detached from the others.

    EH: They are not fertile ground?

    CONTINUED...


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    April 25, 2003

    The Difficulty In Combatting Big Lies

    By Celeste at 17:30

    Joe is right - it is Conspiracy and Truth Week. A.L's unsettling dinner, and subsequent discussion, combined with the latest tinfoil hat conspiracy theory advanced by Aziz Poonawalla brought to mind my first experience with the conspiracy fantasy crowd.

    How many people have heard the fairy tale that the CIA was responsible for the spread of crack cocaine in Watts? It all started with an expose written by Gary Webb, and published in the San Jose Mercury News, titled "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion." In it, he claimed that the CIA was directly responsible for the spread of crack cocaine use in Watts. The San Jose Mercury News later retracted his story due to lack of credible evidence.

    Continued:


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    More on CNN, Gatekeepers, and Media Trends

    By Joe Katzman at 17:29

    After penning a number of intelligently ferocious Guest Blogs for us about CNN and the modern media (Casualty in An Undeclared War | CNN and The Chicago Way | It's the End of the News As We Know It, And I Feel Fine | The "Holy" Media), "Laughing Wolf" went on to set up a blog of his own.

    His latest article, "Pots and Kettles," continues and extends this series.

    "Where to start, how much to cover – these were just a few of the challenges facing me in doing a good, concise piece.

    That changed a little while ago when the comments of the Director General of the BBC came to my attention. It seems that Greg Dyke feels that the coverage provided by U.S. Networks was so biased that it "threatened the credibility of America’s electronic media."

    This one statement vividly illustrates many of the points I have made in the past, as well as the one I face this morning. Nothing could better illustrate the self-obsessed grandeur of The Media; nothing better shows how a self-selected group has anointed itself as the knower of all and protector of the masses who don’t know any better; and nothing better shows the rampant bias of The Media and its so-called elite."

    As you might expect, the rest deals with both the BBC and CNN, with lots of links for the curious. He also highlights the likelihood of more strident media attacks on the blogosphere as these trends play out. I'll leave the final word to him:
    "As individuals, you need to be informed, so go and read some links and dig. Then, make your decisions and vote with your pocketbook. Your viewership rewards those to whom you give it, and your switching channels does indeed make a difference. Choose wisely, for a lot more than ratings rides on your decisions."
    UPDATE: We'd be remiss if we didn't link to this excellent Cox and Forkum cartoon: "Report No Evil."
     


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    Conspiracy and Truth Week

    By Joe Katzman at 14:50

    Looks like Conspiracy and Truth Week here at Winds of Change.NET. From Armed Liberal's Unsettling Dinner and its comments section, to the follow-up covering conspiracy theories generally, to Celeste's post on the one about the CIA and crack cocaine in L.A. That one wasn't funny, but the Jewish Sex Gum conspiracy meme was.

    On the side of truth and consequences, entries include Trent's piece about SARS in China and the costs of organized lying, Laughing Wolf's follow-up on CNN and honesty in the media, and Armed Liberal's post about the link underlying them all. Meanwhile, Sina Motallebi is arrested in Iran, where the truth is a conspiracy as far as the government is concerned.

    M. Simon would say his police officer interview and today's Guest Blog piece about the War on Drugs debunk their own set of myths; we'll let you make up your own minds.

    Just when we thought it was all over, the real bomb drops yesterday: Aziz Poonawalla's slippery defense of his "Anti-Arab genetic bioweapons" claim, aimed at the Israelis without serious evidence (some might say: in the face of impossibility) and fitting patterns of organized hatred straight out of Medieval times, was a depressing episode. All the more depressing in that it seemed to fit so well into the patterns we've been discussing.

    Intelligent people can say of believe foolish things, and it's worth engaging people you respect if the belief in question has serious implications. This one did... and the fallout is serious too.

    Speculation about motives is a poor approach, but argument style and structure are legitimate grounds for critique. Beyond my issues with the truth of his claims, Aziz' very mode of argument is deeply dishonest.

    I won't tolerate a debating style where any accusation can be made, however outrageous, with no serious evidence but with the expectation that it will be taken seriously and treated as a topic for moral debate (even condemnation, whic Aziz did ask for) as if it were true. Then the next invented charge is brought out, of course, and the pattern continues in this vein. That's the game. By accepting those terms, one makes the charges themselves seem respectable and true... and they're neither.

    I won't play that game. And I don't respect or trust people who invite me to do so.

    Fittingly, I'll give Armed Liberal the last word here:

    "If someone can show me that any country - the U.S., Israel, Iraq, or whoever - is seriously researching or planning for development or deployment of a WMG [weapon of mass genocide], then we have something to talk about.

    Otherwise it is a racist fantasy - both from the POV of those who would consider it and deliver their fantasy of a racially-pure world, and from the point of view of those who use the possibility of it as a rhetorical weapon to smear a race.

    It's damn hard to respond to that. And my interest in particpating in a racist discussion - on either side - is pretty low."

    UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus says yesterday wasn't the first time Aziz has used this approach. That said, if folks are considering emailing Aziz to express their displeasure, please don't. It serves no-one; at best, it will waste your time.


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    Guest Blog: Drug Problem, or Pain Problem?

    By Guest Author at 11:37

    Guest Blogs are an idea that started with our Aussie mate Bruce Hill, whose official blog War Now! is no longer operational. We run them to bring you new topics. We run them to bring you new voices, some of whom now have their own blogs. We run them to bring you new perspectives, even if we're not sure we share them, as long as we believe the debate will be enriched by their presence.

    M. Simon has been a frequent guest blogger here, mostly on environmental technology issues. We've had an interesting discussion about this issue that began before the war; I remain unsure of its value as a basis for policy, but then again what we're doing now doesn't seem to have such a hot track record either. Given my belief that the drug trade and associated activities will spawn and finance significant threats in an age of increasingly-accessible superweapons (Terror, Inc: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3), the debate needs to be opened wide.

    Capitalism, Pain and the War on Drugs
    by M. Simon

    Let me start this little essay with an idea. A very simple idea. An idea that strikes at the very heart of the drug war and its moralistic foundation. The very idea that those who use unapproved drugs are the lawful subjects of religiously motivated government persecution.

    What we call addiction is in fact self-treatment of undiagnosed pain. I know from experience that this idea is hard to accept, so let's talk about some concrete examples.

    CONTINUED...


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    April 24, 2003

    Aziz & Genetic Bioweapons

    By Joe Katzman at 17:08

    Aziz Poonawalla has earned a certain amount of respect in these circles, and we've been glad to link his works before. Recently, however, he stepped way, way off the deep end in a manner that recalls Armed Liberal's unsettling dinner conversation.

    In an April 17th post about Israel's WMDs, Aziz asserted that Israel is trying to build "a bioweapon targeted at Arabs which would leave Jews unaffected." Um, Aziz... a significant proportion of the Jews in Israel ARE ethnic Arabs. They fled there from Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and other countries where their families had lived for many hundreds of years.

    In case you hadn't noticed, Aziz, "Jew" is not an identifiable race. There are Caucasian and Negro Jews, Indian, Arab and Hispanic Jews. Some are born into the religion. Some covert. It's like any other religion, really. Including yours.

    <sarcasm>In related news, Pakistan is building a bioweapon that targets people of Indian anscestry, but leaves Muslims unaffected. It's expected to be an even bigger success than their Super Boomerang Bomb.</sarcasm>
    It's bad enough to post such transparently false and hateful tripe. It's worse to defend it, which is exactly what Aziz proceeds to do in his comments section. Nor has he retracted this statement when confronted with the obvious. Indeed, a week later he's still promoting that post.

    E. Nough has a fine Fisking that builds on his remarks in Aziz's comments section (April 19, 2003: Blogger's archiving is broken) - but that's no longer the issue. The issue is now Aziz Poonawalla's credibility, in the face of a piece that can best be described as an updated "blood libel" for the 21st century.

    Aziz? Your window to do the right thing here is closing fast....

    ROUND 2: Aziz responds...

    "Do I fear a Israeli WMG? no. even if they had one, I doubt it woudl be much of a threat to the world (i dont lose much sleep over the US nuclear arsenal either). But given the unique history of teh Jewish people, mere consideration of the idea is monstrous and I am disappointed that amongst all the critiques I have earned for my post, a denunciation of the concept has not been consistently put forth. "
    I appreciate his response at Unmedia, which goes beyond just this quote and is quite gracious in places. The wider issues Aziz raises re: WMD in the Middle East do deserve a reply in another post.

    Re: this specific charge:

    Yes, Aziz, the concept of genetic bioweapons is morally monstrous in a way that goes beyond any other kind of weapon I can imagine. Regardless of one's history or lack thereof. Then again, a nova bomb powered by an overloaded warp-drive core and meant to wipe out the entire planet is also monstrous. Neither is a plausible research subject right now for the Israelis. The similar ethnicities, family intertwinings (which you'd have to have fully mapped to understand, and no one does), tendency of genes to operate as combinations as well as distinct entitites (so, what mind-boggling number are we dealing with now?) and potential side-effects in untargeted but similar genetic populations... no, I'm pretty confident this is still a complete technicolour fantasy. It certainly makes no logical sense in this case - aside from Israeli Jews being about 40% Arab, E. Nough has noted that even unimaginable success would be a suicide key of its own. Like I said, utterly illogical on any level. Part of my irritation here is that Aziz should know better.

    My other problem is the logical consequences of this particular lie if believed.

    Let's take the recent Iraq debate, and the argument that even the potential threat of WMD in the hands of an enemy who might be tempted to use it covertly is too much. It doesn't matter if he's threatening us directly now, we aren't safe until he's gone. Now remove all issues around the silliness of the "Jew-safe genetic bioweapons" meme, and note what this lie legitimizes: That peace with Israel is a dangerous illusion for any Arab, because as long as it exists every Arab is ly in danger from covert, deniable acts that attract no international consequences.

    The only logical protection is to wipe out the imaginary program's sponsors, and in the Middle East that doesn't just mean the Israeli state - that means Israeli JEWS. Just as it did in the Middle Ages, when thousands and thousands of Jews died thanks to a similar meme that their witchcraft (update to genetic engineering) caused the Black Plague (update to disease that targets Arabs, or even starts in Arab countries). You may not like the "blood libel" charge - but the allegations you're making fit an ugly pattern.

    What you published, Aziz, is not so much a cry against genocide as a legitimation of it in "self-defense." You didn't mean to do it - but that's the practical effect.

    For the record, I do not believe Aziz hates Jews. Those who originated and propagated this nasty little meme do, however, and Aziz is still helping it spread. Allegations that a black man raped a white woman were possible in the pre-Civil war U.S. South - after all, they might be true. But the consequences of making and spreading such an allegation (lynchings) force good and sensible people not to make such allegations casually lest they promote something monstrous.

    The same dynamic applies here.

    CONTINUES WITH ROUND 3+, A SCIENCE BREAK, AND OTHER BLOGS' RESPONSES...


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    Grumpy Old Engineers

    By Armed Liberal at 15:19

    Today's L.A. Times takes the current NASA team back to school:

    Shuttles' First Engineers Exasperated

    By Scott Gold, Times Staff Writer

    Some of the original architects of America's space shuttle program told investigators Wednesday that they never designed the spacecraft to withstand a forceful strike from any object, much less the large chunks of foam insulation that pounded the Columbia 16 days before it disintegrated.

    At a boisterous public hearing that at times felt like a production of "Grumpy Old Engineers," several men who helped NASA realize its dream of building a reusable spacecraft 25 years ago said they were flabbergasted that today's space agency shrugged off the threat posed by the liftoff accident.

    Independent investigators now believe the foam insulation, which fell from an external fuel tank and struck the edge of the shuttle's left wing after liftoff, opened a breach that allowed superheated gas to penetrate the craft and bring it down two weeks later.

    NASA has known since at least 1997 that pieces of foam insulation periodically "popcorn" off during liftoff and strike the shuttle.

    Robert Thompson, 77, former vice president of the shuttle program for contractor McDonnell Douglas and the manager of the shuttle program in its formative years, said he believes today's NASA engineers were lulled into complacency because early foam insulation strikes were harmless.

    The strike on Columbia was crippling, Thompson said, because of the large size of the foam insulation and the fact that it came 81 seconds after liftoff — meaning the insulation struck the wing while traveling at 700 feet per second. Thompson told the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, the independent panel charged with finding the cause of the Feb. 1 disaster, that it took an understanding of "high school physics" to grasp the impact of that incident.

    "That's a hell of a speed bump," Thompson said.

    "There were indications that there was a problem," he said. "And people didn't address it fast enough. People didn't understand: this can do a lot of damage."

    "People didn't understand..."

    Right.


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    Sina Motallebi Update

    By Joe Katzman at 14:56

    Hossein Derakhashan has an update concerning the Iranian blogger/journalist recently arrested by the government. Remember, you can still sign the petition, and/or write to any of the addresses in it.


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    Guest Blog: Limits and Societal Progress

    By Joe Katzman at 07:03

    Foreword - by Joe Katzman

    Every once in a while, we're sent Guest Blog submissions here at Winds of Change.NET. My policy is to publish submissions I find especially interesting, which doesn't always translate into agreement (welcome to political whiplash... just you wait until tomorrow's Guest Blog). "Limits and Societal Progress" is a philosophical, unvarnished and well-written essay from a rare species in America: the classical conservative.

    It's long, but if you're serious about politics I'd invite you to read it and truly grapple with his points rather than sidestepping them. The process will be educational no matter what wavelength of the political spectrum you hail from. As always, we also have a Comments section for your thoughts and reactions.

    Limits and Societal Progress
    by William Breathitt Gray

    Aldous Huxley, in "Brave New World, Revisited," examined in essay form some societal conditions manifest in 1958 that worried him: over-population, over-organization and the mass marketing of irrational propaganda. These were dangers, he said, not to civilization as such but to liberty, for they push the state toward greater influence, self-preservation and totalitarianism, away from civic engagement, constituent choice and independent thought. His arguments are clear and are supported by examples and the ponderings of his great intellect, articulately expressed without straining our patience and with occasional humor. I recommend the essay to students of history and political science, and to concerned citizens all.

    It is unfair to criticize post-mortem an individual or his work, as he cannot respond to such commentary, rephrase his position, or refute an accusation. I do not intend to criticize Mr. Huxley, whose credentials are far beyond what I may imagine or hope my qualifications could ever be; rather, I will take his concern regarding over-organization as a starting point for my discourse. I too believe that there is cause for concern, but worry that other aspects of the issue have not been well examined.

    A balance needs to be made between anarchy and roboticism. Both libertine independence and Spartan regimentation are unsustainable and transitory. Both are inefficient, wasteful and detrimental, in terms of societal progress and human benefit. They cannot last in governance, because for society to succeed it must be moving forward, and such extremes are detours perpendicular to that progression. Forward societal movement - that is, attention to the needs and goals of individual constituents without too burdening each of the next - requires coordinated group effort and investment. Endeavors not to that end weaken the foundation of, and justification for, society.

    CONTINUED...


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    April 23, 2003

    The Drug Wars: Interview with a Police Officer

    By Guest Author at 17:02

    M. Simon writes:

    I have been discussing the ramifications of the War On Drugs (WOD) with a Canadian police officer, John A. Gayder. He has started a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Its most prominent American member is Sheriff Bill Masters of San Miguel County, Colorado, who has been an elected Libertarian Sheriff since 1980.

    MS: John, tell me a little about your police career?

    JG: I am a currently serving Constable with the Niagara Parks Police Service in Niagara Falls, Canada. Having said that, I need to tell you right off that the opinions I express regarding drug policy reform are strictly my own! They may or may not reflect the official position of my employer.

    The policing profession has always been a central part of my life. My late father was a career police officer who rose through the ranks to eventually become a Chief of Police. My sister was a police matron for a time. I grew up in a policing household. I was hired in June of 1989 and have almost exclusively worked uniform patrol, which I consider to be the best job in the whole field of policing. I am also a certified health and safety worker representative and am the services rope rescue team instructor and coordinator. A partial c.v. is viewable on the web.

    MS: What is your opinion on the war on drugs? What made you come to that conclusion?

    JG: The war on drugs is classic proof that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is a noble idea to not want people to ruin their lives through drug abuse. Unfortunately, the way society continues to go about achieving that aim via the WOD is not working. In fact it is making things worse. Almost everything we hate about drugs is a result of them being illegal. CONTINUED...


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    China and SARS -- A Chernobyl Event?

    By Trent Telenko at 14:32

    The fall of the Soviet Union was speeded by two events that completely undermined the faith everyone had in the system. The first event was the Chernobyl nuclear melt down. The second was the botched relief effort for the Armenian earthquake. Together they revealed to everyone the shear corruption and sloth of the Soviet system.

    SARS by itself is doing everything those two Soviet disasters did and more. That seems to be the sub-text to this Washington Post article.

    Given that SARS lives for more than 24 hours outside the human body in snot, sweat, spit, urine and fecal matter, there are a number of things people haven’t considered about total Chinese SARS infections, airline industry liability, and the economic fallout they will cause.

    Continued...


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    Winds of War: 2003-04-23

    By Joe Katzman at 07:14

    April 24: Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    We Asked, You Answered: Should we keep "Winds of War"? The answer back seems to be yes, so we're working on how to do that, how often, etc. In the immediate term, it will be less frequent and I'll try to focus on just the most important and/or neatest stuff.

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield...

  • Great montage of war and sacrifice re: Iraq. Quiet, even understated in some ways, but makes its point. Worth your viewing time if you have a broadband connection.

  • 2 good After-Action Reviews: Review of the Apache attack near Baghdad March 24th, and 3rd Infantry assesses the key turning points of their mission.

  • Australian SAS raided a location near Baghdad, and came up with quite a lot. Here's a photo - it's hard to tell, but the plane looks like a Mig-31 Foxhound.

  • A story of uncommon valour at Baghdad International Airport. Unfortunately, any medals will be posthumous. (Hat Tip: Team Stryker)

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Which "cards" have we got so far? The list. And the visual version. (Hat Tip: Israeli Guy)

  • WMD search update.

  • British MP George Galloway, traitor in the direct pay of Iraq? The Telegraph says they have the documents to prove it. Blogs of War also has a compilation of some of his comments about the war. Gweilo Diaries remind us that he may be an embezzler from a charity fund, too.

  • Outstanding post by Bargarz about the Shi'ites in Iraq. Lengthy, insightful, includes some good update debates, and covers Iran too. Except it seems to be wrong - Iran is moving aggressively in Iraq, effectively occupying Kut (an Iraqi officer had noted this earlier) and fomenting civil war among the Shi'ites.

  • U.S. response is hardening, but do they have a plan? Welcome to the Iraq Conflict, Stage 2.

  • Our coverage of Syria's role and position re: Iraq. The USA is securing its rear by taking them out of the equation. Then Stage 2 really begins.

  • Oxblog and Calpundit debate the role of the U.N. in Iraq. What exactly does David have against letting the UN have a say in rebuilding the Iraqi government?

  • Glenn Reynolds has more on the idea of an Alaska-type National Trust Fund for Iraqi oil. This is a very important idea, and could do more to put Iraq's private economy and civil society on the right footing than anything else we do.

  • There may be more privatization in store, too. (Hat Tip: IShouldBeDoingHomework.com)

  • The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

    AND BEYOND...

  • Quick reminder about arrested Iranian blogger Sina Montallebi. Hossein Derakhshan's site is down, but Jeff Jarvis has a great post covering it. Sign the petition!

  • Armed Liberal had dinner with an Iranian friend, and sparked a debate that's still raging in our Comments section. This gives you the links to participate, and some follow up thoughts.

  • The Human Shields of Arab Journalists. Good article.

  • Maintaining his spotless record of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, Yasser Arafat is busy shutting down reform efforts. Looks like the "Palestinian Authority Prime Minister" is about to quit. Or be replaced arbitrarily. (Hat Tip: reader M. Simon)

  • A good analysis of what's going on in the "Palestinian Authority," including the role of EU aid. Or is this just a round of "good cop, bad cop"?

  • Attacks on schools are escalating in Afghanistan. Expect to see a similar pattern of terrorism and intimidation in Iraq once reconstruction is underway. (Hat Tip: reader M. Simon)

  • Colombia update.

  • The current North Korea talks are a very big non-event. But here's a timeline of the NK nuclear crisis. Would be a lot more useful if it started in Oct. 1992, rather than Oct. 2002. (Hat Tip: Command Post NK)

  • I try to close on a lighter note if possible. This poster absolutely qualifies.


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    • Jim Treacher: Be sure to check out Brian Perry's prank posters too: read more
    • Bob: Definitely glad that Winds of War is back - especially read more
  • Cancer, CNN and the Shuttle

    By Armed Liberal at 06:34

    One reason I haven't blogged much in the last few weeks is that a friend's wife was dying. Note the past tense; she died yesterday morning, after losing a year-long struggle with cancer.

    When she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer, she and my friend jointly decided to pursue alternative therapies - alternative to the mainstream therapies of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. She radically altered her diet, alternating juice fasts with healthful eating, and took a zillion supplements a day; she visited a number of alternative practitioners of a variety of arts.

    When they started on this path, I took her husband aside, and asked him about it. Are there statistics that support this? I asked. He had a number of stories - testimonials - of people who had been cured in these ways. I dug a bit, and came up with some numbers (can't find them now) that suggested that the cure rate for alternative therapies was essentially the same as the cure rate for doing nothing; cancer just goes away sometimes.

    I'm no oncologist, and both as an observer and a friend, I'd be careful about asserting that she would have lived had they only...(pick something). But I will confidently assert that they followed a path that was more based in belief and hope than provable fact.

    They were not alone. Honesty has been much in the news lately.

    [Update: It's apparently in the air, as well. Not only has Trent got a piece up on this, but Glenn Reynolds has one at TechCentralStation]


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    • Sartorius: Your friends probably thought anything different had a better chance read more
    • Dave: Your friend and his wife were in a very hard read more

    Winds of Change.NET Comments Policy

    By Joe Katzman at 04:17

    (First posted April 23, 2003; last updated June 26, 2005); "Disagreement Hierarchy" added October 19, 2008.

    Welcome, reader, to Winds of Change.NET!

    The Comments sections were some of the things I most looked forward to when Winds of Change.NET left Blogger for Movable Type. Since then, our readers have been a frequent source of insightful and thoughtful discussion. That kind of conversation is important to me. So is the liberty of commenters to express their point of view, pro or con. That said, my moderation time is limited. Playing referee is something I'd rather reserve for the most serious situations only.

    Authors as Moderators

    As of today, therefore, each team member will be the primary moderator for comments to their posts. If it's Armed Liberal's post, the conversation is with him and so he's the Steward with the power of comment deletion. He can also escalate and request that you cease participating in his post's comments, or even ask you to cease commenting in any of his posts.

    That way, each team member can pursue the kind of conversations they'd like to have. Readers, meanwhile, will decide whom they wish to engage in discussion and how.

    Winds of Change.NET's Deadwood Marshals

    In addition, we have our roster of Deadwood Marshals. They speak softly and tend to work by persuasion more often than not, but don't mistake that for docility or helplessness. Our Marshals carry large post-deleting cyber .44s to back up their diplomatic skills. They can also ask you to leave a specific thread, or call for reinforcements if necessary. You really don't want them to do that.

    The Big Guns

    Disobeying a formal request from a post's author or a Winds Marshal forces our hand - and a site-wide ban is the result. You can take up any issues back-channel with joe@... or armed@... or bill@... if you wish, but if an Author or Marshal calls you out, you need to comply in the meantime.

    Finally, when it comes right down to it, the site admins. reserve the right of imperium proconsulare across all posts, and for site-wide issues like banning. It's not something we've used very often, but we have used it.

    Da Rulz

    Broadly speaking, here are the rules. There are very few.


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    • Nortius Maximus: You're welcome. The follow-up comments to Graham's article are also read more
    • Michael Anderson: Sometimes you encounter something that is so obviously true or read more
    • Nortius Maximus: Marshal Festus, that there's some might purty shootin'. I'm adding read more

    ...And 2 Make 10

    By Joe Katzman at 03:33

    Thanks for the feedback. With the addition of Talkleft (Liberty) and James Lileks (Humanity), The Circle of 8 representing bloggers who exemplify the 4 elements of Winds of Change.NET's motto has grown to 10.

    Team voting on other categories is in progress.


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    • Don Dogerty: I have an idea- i think it might put a read more
    • Perry de Havilland: You need to add Samizdata.net: Liberty: We are all for read more
    • Armed Liberal: Hey, "sorta cute"?? May I beg to differ (in most read more

    April 22, 2003

    The Bard's Breath: The Present Crisis

    By Joe Katzman at 16:45

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times every Tuesday and Thursday. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through these times: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory.

    In the 1800s, a poet named James Russell Lowell penned "The Present Crisis". It was mostly about slavery, but Porphyrogenitus notes that it has current relevance too:

    "When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth's aching breast.
    Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,
    And the slave, where'er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
    To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
    Of the century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time."....
    There's a lot more, and since I found it via Porphyrogenitus it's only fair to send you there for the link to the rest.
     


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    • Joe Katzman: The Present Crisis extends beyond just Iraq, of course. I read more
    • iggy: Yeah? Well I don't see the "enslaved" Shi'ite cleric in read more

    Sina Motallebi, arrested

    By Iraniangirl at 16:36

    Sina Motallebi, an Iranian journalist that also had a popular Persian weblog & was one of the first real journalists that started writing weblog with his real name is arrested...because of his notes in newspapers, some of his interviews & as he said himself in his weblog his notes in his weblog...that has made lots almost all of Iranian bloggers & readers of his weblog extremely sorry...I just hope that nothing bad happens to him.

    Hosein Derakhshan has also something about it, here. You can also Sign the free Sina Motallebi, Iranian journalist petition
     


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    Unsettling Dinners: Follow-Up

    By Joe Katzman at 16:05

    Armed Liberal's Unsettling Los Angeles-area Dinner with an educated Iranian friend whose world view was impervious to evidence touched a real chord. Some great responses, and the Comments section of that thread is still open. If the subject really interests you, I recommend 3 additional blog posts:

    1. Dean Esmay's dissection of conspiracy theories;

    2. Kamil Zogby on The Arab Media as a reflection of their current culture; and

    3. Dean Esmay again on the brain teaser that changed his world, and taught him to question his opinions.


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    • Joe Katzman: Here's a model that may help us get a handle read more

    Guest Blog: Stories from Germany

    By Joe Katzman at 15:17

    by "Lone Star Intruder"

    As the hot conflict in Iraq cools off, the task of rebuilding Iraq and re-evaluating national relationships with the Axis of Weasels will begin in earnest. Of particular interest is what to do about Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Shroeder. They are the elected leaders of two countries that have been long-time allies of the United States, at least in name. Their behavior in the run-up to GWII has been that of outright enmity and in so doing, they may have succeeded in damaging the United Nations and NATO beyond repair, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Now, they are clamoring for attention as if nothing ill has transpired.

    This won't fly. My sense of it is that many Americans will maintain this "F*** the French" attitude for a long time. This passionate disgust does not appear to extend quite so intensely to Germans or German products, however. My belief is that the American population detects some very basic differences between the two countries.

    I don't have all the answers, but I have some interesting anecdotal information that illustrates German attitudes in some segments of their population. I am a former member of the American military and communicate with a number of former and current members of the services. This week, I received several emails from American officers and their families that responded to queries about their security and sense of well-being as American military living in Germany during the war. Each remarked how sympathetic their German friends were to the American position and how irritated these friends were with their compatriots’ vitriolic street demonstrations. These friends were mostly older who honor the sacrifices of the US in freeing Europe from fascism and hold in high esteem Americans and the democracy that came with them.

    The following accounts were communicated to me by service folks in Germany at this time. (Formal names have been removed for security purposes).

    CONTINUED...


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    • linden: bastian, I appreciate your post, but I must say I read more
    • _bastian_: First of all I'm happy to see that you do read more
    • xavier: Jeff: It's precisely that attitude of looking for reasons to read more

    Winds of Change.NET's Circle of 8

    By Joe Katzman at 14:46

    We're about to have something here we've never had before: a blogroll. Group voting is a yomp, so I'm invoking Administrator imperium maius and starting with a select group - people who sit beyond the conventional blogroll.

    Our motto at Winds of Change.NET is "Liberty. Discovery. Humanity. Victory." These categories are intended to recognize bloggers that are outstanding representatives of each of these principles, 2 per category. The political alignment of these choices varies, ranging from left to right to non-political. I also have a bias toward people contributing in ways that go beyond just their blogs.

    As noted below, there were also a few close runners-up - we'd be interested in your thoughts.

    The Winds of Change.NET Paragons? Knights of the Blogosphere? The Circle of Eight? I don't know. Perhaps the most fitting titles are simply the categories they exemplify.

    CONTINUED...


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    • Kevin: Thanks for the blog recommendations and descriptions. I'd also be read more
    • Gordon: I'd nominate The Horses Mouth for something...but I don't know read more
    • r3d1p5: Michal W. to stary gej read more

    Syria: The Next War?

    By Joe Katzman at 13:59

    As the volume of warnings from Washington increases, there's growing speculation that Syria may become the next country to tangle with the U.S. military. While Bashar Assad could always play his hand poorly, those on the left and right floating invasion scenarios misunderstand the policies and strategic calculations driving both Syria and Washington.

    The rest of my thoughts can be found at Tech Central Station ("Syria Surrounded") including some excellent analysis from Asymetrical Information commenter Mike Plaiss.

    As an addendum, Zogby Blog details the extent of the economic damage from shutdown of the Iraq pipeline to Syria. He then notes the additional threat represented by reintroduction of the Syria Accountability Act in Congress (see exact text).

    Finally, a piece of langniappe for readers of the blog. Though it was removed from the TCS article, Iran came up in discussions with Mike Plaiss while he was giving me permission to use his comments. My thoughts were as follows:

    "Syria's ally Iran, meanwhile, becomes a covert action playground conveniently supported from nearby Iraq. It's clear that Iran has already decided to try and make the U.S.A.'s presence as difficult as possible in Iraq, so the Americans should have no issue with payback in kind. You want to play that way, Mr. Khameni? Fine. We'll make your occupation of Iran hell. How do you like them apples? While internal pressure mounts, pinpoint strikes on key nuclear and WMD facilities etc. become serious possibilities if developments require it. As a bonus, the very act of doing so would further destabilize the War on Terror's true center of gravity, by providing a clear display of the Iranian regime's weakness. As we've seen in Iraq, displays of that nature can be very dangerous to unpopular regimes.
    Mike's reaction?
    MP: "Fully understanding what motivates dictators is half the battle. An administration that "gets it" (and I think this one does) can exert tremendous pressure. Expect to see policies that clearly display [their] weaknesses as a way of making these regimes vulnerable."
    UPDATE: Michael Ledeen has more on Iran and the current situaiton in Iraq.


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    April 21, 2003

    Idea: Blogger Trip to Israel

    By Joe Katzman at 14:01

    Winds of Change.NET correspondent Artemis writes in with the following idea:

    "A blogger trip to Israel. How does that sound? I know, getting a bunch of working people together is a pain, but if it's meant to be it will happen, and (to paraphrase Jesse Jackson) if someone throws the meme out, it may happen, and if no one throws the meme out, it'll never happen."
    True enough. Of course, this visit would be open to bloggers and associates of all religions.

    So, if there was a blogger trip to Israel, and it involved a combination of sight-seeing group activities and get-togethers with Israeli bloggers, and it happened some time before October... who would at least think about going if the details fell into place? Any especially recommended or desired activities?

    Use the comments section below to let us know.


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    • Rosie: I thank you for your comment. read more
    • Alice Bachini: Wow, what a brilliant idea. I would love to join read more
    • ExpatEgghead: You will all be very welcome. Let me know if read more

    Iranian Blogger Arrested

    By Joe Katzman at 13:28

    There's also an online petition, which includes a number of email addresses you can write to.


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    • kevin: Hi. How can i be linked with you guys? I read more

    We're Blogparents!

    By Joe Katzman at 13:10
    "....and that would make Rachel Lucas my blogmother. Also, given all with your site, does it also make you The Blogfather of Soul? :) "
    I feeeel gooood!!! Heh! Papa's got a brand new blog!

    After penning a number of intelligently ferocious Guest Blogs for us about CNN and the modern media (Casualty in An Undeclared War | The Chicago Way | It's the End of the News As We Know It, And I Feel Fine | The "Holy" Media), C. Blake Powers went on to set up a blog of his own at LaughingWolf.NET. His recent article "Free Speech Is Never Free" is definitely worth a look.

    Drop by and drop him a welcoming comment... he's still recovering from "Iron Chef Day," so he may not get back to you immediately.

    Congratulations!

    In other Blogosphere news, Blogcritics.org has a new look and some new features, including Radio Free Blogcritics. Way cool! In addition, Calpundit has joined the exodus from Blogger and into the promised land of a Movable Type site.


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    April 20, 2003

    An Unsettling Dinner

    By Armed Liberal at 15:56

    So last night our friends returned a favor and made dinner for us. She is American, and he is Iranian; he served in the armed forces under the Shah, and fled after he fell by walking out of the country (quite a story).

    She & I have been discussing the war, and my journey to supporting it; I lent her my copy of Pollack, but I was obviously very interested in hearing what he had to say.

    To be honest, it both scared and enlightened me.

    He is a highly educated man, an engineer from an upper-middle class family. Every time he goes back to Iran, he is sweated by the religious police, but always let go (his parents are alive there, and he has very strong family ties). He works for the airline industry, and we've joked about the security examinations he's been through - "with a proctoscope" he says.

    But when we started talking about the war, his affect changed dramatically. I suggested that this might help bring about the fall of his detested mullahs, and he responded that only the decision of the Iranian people would make that happen.

    But most telling was our discussion of civilian casualties. I commented that the largest numbers I have seen (which I felt were unreliable) were in the 5,000 range, and that reliable sources tended to cluster in the 1,000 - 1,500 range.

    He replied that there had been "at least" 75,000 civilian casualties.

    I laughed, thinking he was joking, but quickly stopped when I realized that he wasn't. I asked him where he got his information, and he replied that he'd had some phone calls with friends who lived near the border, and they had talked with some refugees.

    I suggested that this might not be the most fact-based approach, and he waved his hands.

    "What are your facts? From the media that tells you what the government wants you to hear? They are an arm of the government, a part of the government. They are told what to tell you and you believe it."

    I stopped him and suggested that, thanks to the Internet, I'm reading everything from the London Times and Le Monde to Arab News, and that none of them came close to supporting what he was saying.

    He gave a dry laugh and suggested that for a price - a price the oil companies were willing to pay - the media would say anything.

    I gently suggested that his upbringing might have had something to do with this; that in Iran, now and during the era of the Shah, the media were pretty much a joke. But that here, in the West, while I saw structural issues in the media's coverage of government, that I could not conceive of the media missing out on a chance to embarrass the government in this way.

    He gave a knowing smile and we agreed to change the subject.

    What does it say about the millions of Arabs in the Middle East, and the gap between us, if this Westernized, educated, security-cleared man believes that we're essentially living in "The Matrix"? And what does that mean to our plans and hopes for the region?

    I need to think more about this...

    [JK Note: The comments section gets that process off to a great start, with some excellent sharing of context and experiences from Sub-Saharan Africa to Yugoslavia.]


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    • lindenen: Unfortunately, I think the Europeans are just as susceptible as read more
    • Yehudit: Just FYI: After about 4 of Chuck's posts I started read more
    • Eye Opener: re: Wretchard, Dave, Dean, ArmedLiberal... Coming late to THIS discussion read more

    German Treachery?

    By Joe Katzman at 05:15

    A little while ago, Steven Den Beste caused quite a stir by asking "Suppose There Was Treachery?" when seeking explanations for the behaviour of the French and Germans with respect to Iraq. Chris Muir of Day by Day wondered the same thing in his cartoon strip.

    The preponderance of German corporations listed in Hans Blix reports were suggestive. So is this story in the Telegraph (Hat Tip: M. Simon), which notes that:

    "Germany's intelligence services attempted to build closer links to Saddam's secret service during the build-up to war last year, documents from the bombed Iraqi intelligece HQ in Baghdad obtained by The Telegraph reveal."
    The records also note that:
    "In return, the Iraqis offered to give lucrative contracts to German companies if the Berlin government helped prevent an American invasion of the country...."
    As Den Beste notes in his analysis of the Telegraph's scoop, it's not solid proof. That said, it will be very interesting to see what else comes out of the Iraqi bureaucracy's files. Meanwhile, the German government - who coincidentally vowed they would oppose any invasion if even sanctioned by the U.N. - has a lot of explaining to do.


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    • Richard Aubrey: While I agree that more proof is needed, there is read more
    • Ralph: I'd not get too excited about this right now. read more
    • Zogby Blog: Joe, I don't think there will be much explaining, at read more

    North Korea: Nuclear Exodus

    By Joe Katzman at 04:19

    Cooler than the new talking Iraqi Information Minister doll. More hush-hush than Kabul's new pub:

    "A swath of North Korea's military and scientific elite, among them key nuclear specialists, has defected to the US and its allies through a highly secret smuggling operation involving the tiny Pacific island of Nauru....

    The operation – dubbed Weasel – has been largely facilitated through non-government organisations and private citizens from South Korea, the US and its allies. It has deliberately been kept at arm's length from any government."

    More details of "Operation Weasel" here. As for the operation, it may be at arm's length from any government, but it undoubtedly included the cooperation of several intelligence agencies. Fantastic job!

    By the way, one of the key implications of this operation is that it is likely to reveal the exact locations of many North Korean nuclear program sites, which makes them open to targeting. If Kim was sweating post-Iraq, he's really sweating now. Which is probably why the existence of this operation was leaked. Talks or no talks, the U.S.A's negotiating position just improved. Again.


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    STS-107 Columbia: Doomed At Takeoff

    By Joe Katzman at 02:35

    Sad news, courtesy of loyal reader and free-market green M. Simon. The evidence comes from the remarkably fortuitous discovery of one of the Space Shuttle's Columbia's instrument recorders. In the words of ABC News:

    "It shows an unusual temperature increase in a key sensor just behind the leading edge of the left wing near the spot where foam that fell from the shuttle's external fuel tank is suspected of striking the shuttle, just 81 seconds into the flight.

    The temperature spike happens within the next 40 seconds. Usually during this phase of flight, the temperature would be decreasing or holding steady, sources said."

    Alas, this data was not available to Ground Control during the shuttle's flight.

    For a happier follow-up, read about the the successful unveiling and test flight of Rutan's private SpaceShipOne system, and how it solves the re-entry problem that destroyed the Shuttle.


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    April 19, 2003

    Private Manned Space Plane Unveiled

    By Joe Katzman at 20:30

    Loyal reader and occasional Guest Blogger M. Simon sends this along:
    "Some of the biggest names in space, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, space tourist Dennis Tito and military officials, were on hand for Friday’s demonstration at the Mojave Airport, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. In its first public flight, the White Knight lifted steeply off the windswept tarmac, framed in the distance by dozens of mothballed commercial airliners. The jet easily handled steep climbs and turns in the blue desert sky before soaring up to about 9,000 feet and slowly spiraling down to a soft, extremely short landing..."
    White Knight is the carrier vehicle for SpaceShipOne, and both are privately built and financed. They're Rutan-designed aircraft, and you can see their beautiful lineage in the photo above. These aren't concept demonstrators or prototypes, either; the testing is preparation for a real space flight. Interesting solution to the re-entry problem, too.

    For more details about these aircraft, Rutan's plans, the X-prize, and SpaceShipOne's potential uses, read the rest of the story. Scaled Composites, which assembled the aircraft, has even more photos, plus data seets and full cutaway diagrams for SpaceShipOne and The White Knight.

    UPDATES:


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    • ccjg: This is so exciting, this machine is so beautiful and read more

    Iraq Reminders

    By Joe Katzman at 17:41

    Kindness Is A Weapon, Too reminds us of the decency and courage some Iraqis have shown, and includes a riveting story from a repentant human shield.

    The 10 Plagues of Iraq reminds us of the suffering the Iraqi people have endured, and the road ahead, by noting the direct parallels to the Passover story's 10 plagues, liberation, and subsequent difficult journey to true freedom. May the Spirit guide them on that path.


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    And Matt Welch is on Vacation...

    By Armed Liberal at 16:02

    From this morning's L.A. Times:

    BAGHDAD -- Two Army sergeants went searching for saws Friday to clear away branches that were blocking their Humvees. But they stumbled across a sealed-up cottage that aroused their curiosity - and ultimately led to the discovery of an estimated $650 million in cash.

    The sergeants tore down a cinder-block and concrete barricade at the cottage door and found 40 sealed galvanized aluminum boxes lined up neatly on the stone floor. Breaking open one box, they were stunned to discover 40 sealed stacks of uncirculated $100 bills — $100,000 per stack, or $4 million in the box. In all, the 40 boxes were assumed to contain $160 million.

    Now one of the pre-war discussion was on the cruelty of the U.S. government in maintaining sanctions which impoverished the Iraqi people, and led to stories of starving children, as Matt Welch noted:
    Are "a million innocent children...dying at this time...in Iraq" because of U.S. sanctions, as Osama bin Laden claimed in his October 7 videotaped message to the world? Has the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) discovered that "at least 200 children are dying every day...as a direct result of sanctions," as advocacy journalist John Pilger maintains on his Web site? Is it official U.N. belief that 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 are dying each month due to its own policy, as writers of letters to virtually every U.S. newspaper have stated repeatedly during the past three years?
    I hope we're starting to get the idea about why the Iraqi people suffered during the B'aath regime. And I hope that in other Middle Eastern countries run by brutal kleptocrats, this news get out...

    ...me, I'm going to go rent "Three Kings" again tonight.


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    • Michael Lonie: Kudos to those sergeants who, faced with untold wealth, did read more
    • Howard Veit: Re; accusations of children dying because of sanctions. I think read more
    • Dave: The story didn't say it, but am I to assume read more

    April 18, 2003

    Theory and Philosophy

    By Armed Liberal at 21:48

    As a break from thinking about issues of life and death, I want to weigh in on a fairly abstruse discussion that has been going on in the more rarified neighborhoods of the Blogosphere (here, here, and here, for example); the discussion concerns "political philosophy" vs. "political theory".

    The discussion is pretty abstract and academic, but I think it is an important one. It is important both because I think that these kinds of questions are important - that philosophy matters, as shown by the role that an obscure Muslim philosopher played in 9/11 and the current geopolitical situation - and because this distinction helps mark a break point between where I stand and where I believe Joe stands, in encouraging what we call "4th Generation" politics and where some other commentators seem to be.

    Part of where this difference lies is in the notion that instead of looking at "one unifying truth", it is often best to let that truth develop through the elicitation and communication of "many small truths". I'll expand on this at some point.


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    • M. Simon: Listen to a Lou Rawls record. You will get more read more
    • Patrick Brown: AL - OK. I will read about John Rawls and read more
    • Charles Rostkowski: A.L. Over the past decade my politics have moved rightward read more

    Keep Winds of War?

    By Joe Katzman at 15:55

    Yesterday I reactivated our "Winds of War" feature, after a short hiatus following the collapse of Saddam's regime. With the CNN complicity revelations et. al. and Passover on the agenda, we had other fish that needed frying. It's back again today, but here's a provocative question, and I'd love to hear your answers:

    Should it come back at all?

  • Do you read Winds of Change.NET mostly for that collection of links? Would we still be a stop on your blogging journeys without it?

  • Is that feature an important aspect of what makes this blog unique, or something you already get from other sources like Instapundit, Agonist, LGF, et. al.?

  • If we keep it, any suggestions on how to keep Winds of War going as a high quality offering without inducing burnout...I love being able to recognize more good bloggers, but I'm finding the time and focus required prohibitive for one person. My current colleagues have other foci, and I'd like to do more analysis pieces. So, I'm wrestling with what to do.

    Is the daily "Winds of War" feature still important to you? If not, please be honest and say so. If it is, tell us that - it's important for us to know how much effort is justified in preserving it. Any thoughts to add on how we might keep it rolling?

    The Comments section is all yours!


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    • Bright: I'm chinese people.I want to know how many people sarsed read more
    • J Farr: I would like to see some intelligent pieces done on read more
    • jeanne a e devoto: Make it weekly, perhaps, if scaling back to weekly will read more
  • U.N., EU Prefer Iraqi Suffering

    By Joe Katzman at 14:34

    Let's take this one from the top. Since Saddam is gone, the sanctions are unnecessary. U.S. President Bush and Tony Blair have, reasonably, moved to end them. They had a human cost, that cost was considered necessary to avoid a worse outcome, the problem is gone now. So, let's do the humane thing quickly. Hard to argue if you have a single humanitarian bone in your body. Or so you'd think.

    In fact, France, Russia and the EU bureaucrats would rather have Iraqi civilians continue to suffer under the sanctions. France and Russia want to use this as a blackmail tool to collect on the monies they gave to Hussein... so he could continue torturing and killing the same Iraqi people hurt by sanctions. The EU?

    "This issue could prove very divisive right now," one EU diplomat observed. "If you lift sanctions you lift the control of the United Nations in what is going on in Iraq."

    European morality on display. Again.


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    • Perry de Havilland: "There is nothing liberal or left about Chirac. He is read more
    • MommaBear: Does the name 'Napoleon' ring a bell with anyone?! More read more
    • Dave: Geez Louize, Barry, have you even conversed with anyone from read more

    Thought for the Day: 2003-04-18

    By Joe Katzman at 13:26

    "The first rule for dealing with cannibals, is to establish that you are not food. Until you do that, you can't accomplish much, except get yourself eaten. The Arab/Muslim world should be getting the idea that Americans are a poor choice for prey..."

    (Cato the Youngest, Hat Tip to Cold Fury for the find)


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    Where are the WMDs?

    By Joe Katzman at 04:51

    Since "Where are his WMDs? We haven't proven that he has them..." is likely to come up one of the latest set of excuses and evasions from the anti-liberation camp, it seemed like a good idea to send you to this post by Andrew Northrup, a.k.a. The Poor Man. Besides which, it's damn funny. My favourite excerpt from his imaginary dialogue:

    "Q: Yes, but why would he go through this decade-long ordeal and then not use them? What is the point? Why stake so much on having a WMD program and then, when everything is on the line, not use them? Did he write off tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue to develop these weapons just so he could sneakily hide them and make the US look stupid after they've killed him? Did he do it all just to set up a kind crazy poison Easter egg hunt? Will the locations of the WMD caches be revealed through a sequence of rhyming riddles, each one more fiendishly cunning than the last? What kind of sense does that make?

    A: What kind of sense does any of this make? Why not just do what the UN asked in 1991, or in 1994, or in 2002, for crying out loud, and then, when all the inspectors are gone and your record is cleared, start over? How long would it take to restart your programs if you could spend all that oil money freely? A year? Three? Five? In twelve years this never occured to you? And who fights a war like this? Who thinks they can beat tanks by sticking a machine gun on top of a Honda full of Syrians? Who waits for the French to ride to your rescue? What kind of military strategy is this? Name one action by Saddam Hussein over the last year, or twelve years, or twenty, which could even charitably be described as sensible? Who acts like this?

    Q: I think I'm supposed to be asking the questions ..."

    Alternatively, you can go with the Joe Katzman short response: "Relax, the war has only been over for a little while. We need to give the inspections time to work..." Then smile.


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    Winds of War: 2003-04-18

    By Joe Katzman at 03:03

    April 18: Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    We're Asking YOU: Should we keep "Winds of War"? Is it an important feature that makes us special, or something you can find in many other places?

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • "My old unit is in combat now, without me." Phil Carter on who they are, and what it feels like.

  • One an Major, now a Minister, Rev. Sensing saw the stories about a military chaplain in combat at "The Battle of Curly, Larry & Moe". He talks about the precedents, legalities, and theological permissability involved. Then he asks: "what would I have done?"

  • Where did those all Iraqi divisions vanish to? Where was the Republican Guard? Here's part of the answer. And here's another part of the answer.

  • And why did the fedayeen keep charging tanks in pickup trucks? Here's your answer - we used the French tactic from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Good thinking, troops!

  • Slate's Fred Kaplan has some good questions for the Pentagon and CENTCOM. Phil Carter has some answers.

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • With Saddam's regime gone, the allies want U.N. sanctions lifted quickly. France, Russia, and the EU would rather keep the sanctions, in order to hold Iraq to ransom. They've miscalculated. Badly. Again.

  • "Stabilization." Law and Order in Iraq." Sounds so easy. Well, here's what it's really like to be a soldier trying to keep order in Baghdad. Great reporting, and thanks to uber-reader Mike Daley for pointing it out.

  • Got another one: the 4 of Clubs. What a brilliant communications strategy, by the way. Want to see the deck? Want a deck of your own?

  • Another referral from Mike Daley, this time about the looting of Iraq's National Museum. Good news: Seems the really good stuff was kept safe. The post also has some good background on what really went down there. Bad news: Our recovery proposal in "Preserving Babylon" may not work.

  • Jay shows us how the Ba'ath Party kept "order". There's definitely something creepy and cruel about the recent cry for order, coming as it does from so many people who supported the dictatorship.

  • Things are starting to settle down, though. Some of the materials are even being returned, thanks to a "no booty calls for booty-haulers" ruling by a local imam. Lysistrata, call your office!

  • Outstanding post by Bargarz about the Shi'ites in Iraq. Lengthy, insightful, includes some good update debates, and covers Iran too.

  • Glenn Reynolds has more on the idea of an Alaska-type National Trust Fund for Iraqi oil. This is a very important idea, and could do more to put Iraq's private economy and civil society on the right footing than anything else we do.

  • The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

    AND BEYOND...

  • Did the Russians pass military advice to Iraq via Iraqwar.RU, supposedly a GRU (Glavnoye Rasvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie, military intelligence) site many bloggers were referencing? Daniel Forbes has done the research, and written a good article.

  • Well, looks like Iraq is having some effect at home, too. A Pakistani paper notes that a number of American Muslims are welcoming Daniel Pipes' appointment to serve on the board of the US Institute of Peace. They praise his commitment to distinguishing between the radicals and Islam, and also say they're glad he has the radicals' number. Names are named, so you'll know who the good guys are.

  • I try to close on a lighter note if possible. This story of justice for a young man who tried to fire frogs from a potato gun works for me. Serves him right.


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  • April 17, 2003

    Winds of War: 2003-04-17

    By Joe Katzman at 18:58

    April 17: Back from hiatus... our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    TO IRAQ...

  • There are stories from Iraq that need to be told. Stories of horror, yes, and stories of Iraqi kindness too. As we face down the Axis of Evil, we're learning an important truth: kindness can be a weapon.

  • Where did those all Iraqi divisions vanish to? Where was the Republican Guard? Looks like we may have our answer now.

  • Even if Iraq had the same weapons and technologies as the USA, it could not have used them the way the USA did. Glenn Reynolds drives Victor Davis Hanson's thesis home, using Iraq as an illustration.

  • "Jester's Dead." Guess they'll need a new Iraqi Information Minister, but really it's quite an act to top. He was also a perfect illustration of what Glenn is talking about.

  • The U.S. has Abu Abbas, thanks to its daring commando raid. Now everyone wants him. Reader M. Simon points out that the Palestinian Authority is demanding that he be freed ("Another publicity coup for the PA," he writes). Italy wants him tried there. The daughters of Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound senior citizen mudered in the Achille Lauro highjacking, want him tried in the USA. UCLA Law student Phil Carter agrees with them.

  • At the Al-Istikhbarat Al-'Askariya facility, U.S. Marines found 123 prisoners, including five women, barely alive in an underground warren of cells and torture chambers. They're using heavy equipment to get them out. UPDATE: Similar "buried alive" situation in Basra? (Hat Tip: WATCH/)

  • I know I linked this yesterday in "The 10 Plagues of Iraq," but Iraqi dissident Kanan Makiya's thank you is worth another mention.

  • British Foreign Minister Jack Straw also has some thoughts about what's next.

  • Outstanding post by Bargarz about the Shi'ites in Iraq. Lengthy, insightful, includes some good update debates, and covers Iran too.

  • Iraqi debt repayment? U.S. Senator John McCain has a great idea. If that fails, however, the new government can say "Non!" thanks to a concept invented by a French lawyer, and an American legal precedent involving Cuba. Oh, the irony!

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

  • The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

    AND BEYOND...

  • You know your military campaign has been a raving success when the Israeli military is taking notes and revising its thinking.

  • Daniel Drezner has a North Korea update. Seoul-based blog The Marmot's hole follows with the view from South Korea.

  • Looks like the French are feeling the pinch in their pocketbooks already. Mes Belettes, my weasels, you have just begun to pay.

  • Samizdata notes the passing of E.G. Ross. I didn't know who he was either, but David Beatty also linked to "The Terrible Swift Sword" penned Sept. 14, 2001. Superb essay, and interesting to look back a year and a half later.

  • I try to close on a lighter note if possible. Saddam in gay porn films? Kuwaiti revenge, I think, but it sure is funny to see it publicized. The real beauty of it is that Arab world is so big on conspiracy theories et. al., it will probably be believed.


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  • Iraq: Carnage & Culture, Redux

    By Joe Katzman at 17:56

    Glenn Reynold's new Tech Central Station article builds nicely on Victor Davis Hanson's thesis in his best-selling book. Yes, the USA has weapons and communications systems that give it unique advantages. Those capabilities don't just exist in a vacuum, though - they're closely tied to a specific culture that makes them possible.

    As Glenn points out, even if you gave many of the USA's opponents the same capabilities, they wouldn't be able to use them the way the USA does. (Cross-posted to Blogcritics.org)


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    Kindness Is A Weapon, Too

    By Joe Katzman at 17:16

    Some interesting items scrolled by me as I was flipping back and forth from the Jays-Yankees game a couple nights ago. Just one-liners rolling by on the screen, but they got my attention.

    Iraqi police took up collection to buy food for American POWs. (Hmm, I think we could use some ranking police officers in Baghdad.) Doctors treated American POWs well because "they wanted to demonstrate humanity of Iraqis". That sort of thing.

    Of course, I did a bit of digging. The Washington Post's "Days of Darkness, With Death Outside the Door" is far and away the best source on these story, confirming some details and placing other in context. Great first-hand details on the 507th Maintenance Company's firefight, too (ended it seems by sand-jammed weapons - pity they didn't have Galil SAR rifles instead), and the Apache pilots' attempted escape. I'll let you go read that story. It certainly wasn't all sweetness and light over there.

    That said, this paragraph stuck with me:

    "More than once, a doctor said that they wanted to take good care of me to show that the Iraqi people had humanity," Johnson said. Asked what she thought of that now, she said: "I appreciate the care that I was given. But I also know that there was a reason behind it. They didn't give me care just for the humanity of it."
    Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe it's my distance from events speaking, too, but I'm inclined to believe the doctors just might have been for real. Not because of any general belief in the goodness of humanity, but because of some of the other things we've seen in Iraq.

    Who would have guessed that the James Bond who would tip off the Americans and go back to gather information about PFC Lynch's captors would be an Iraqi lawyer? Or imagine residents of Baghdad protecting the city's few remaining Jews and their property, even at risk to themselves? Marines in Baghdad owe their lives to Iraqis who warned them about a suicide bomber.

    My greatest debt of perspective, however, is owed to a human shield. Yes, you read that right. Recall the Assyrian minister who changed his mind. After his change of heart about the war, he was caught red-handed on the way out with videotapes he had taken about the reality of life in Iraq. By an Iraqi soldier. I'll let him take it from here:

    "Suddenly the guard began to pat me down. 'Oh, no!' I thought. 'It's all over'. We had been told of what happened if you got caught with videotape, a cellular telephone or any kind of electronic equipment that had not been declared....

    He immediately found the first videotape stuffed in my pocket and took it out. I could see the expression of terror on the driver as he stifled a scream.

    The guard shook his head as he reached into my pocket and took out another tape and then from pocket after pocket began to take out tape after tape, cellular telephone, computer camera - all the wrong things.

    We all stood there in sheer terror - for a brief moment experiencing the feeling that beginning with my precious family members every Iraqi feels not for a moment but day and night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That terrible feeling that your life is not yours that its fate rests in someone else's hands that simply by the whim of the moment they can determine.

    For one born free a terrifying feeling if but for an instant.

    As the guard slowly laid out the precious video tape on the desk we all waited in silent terror for the word to be taken back to Baghdad and the beginning of the nightmare.

    Suddenly he laid the last videotape down and looked up. His face is frozen in my memory but it was to me the look of sadness, anger and then a final look of quiet satisfaction as he clinically shook his head and quietly without a word handed all the precious videotape - the cry of those without a voice - to me.

    He didn't have to say a word. I had learned the language of the imprisoned Iraqi. Forbidden to speak by sheer terror they used the one language they had left - human kindness."

    Resistance takes many forms. Under the right circumstances, kindness is a weapon too.

    As the POWs head back for treatment and "decompression," and the allies lay the foundations for a new Iraq, these stories need to be told. In a region awash in hate, they offer kindness. In a region awash in bluster, they offer an example of quiet courage that ties to deeper cultural stories of hospitality and kindness. In a region where pride is purchased with death, they offer a kind of pride purchased instead with grace and decency under pressure.

    May their stories, too, be told.


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    April 16, 2003

    Dayenu 2003

    By Joe Katzman at 20:29

    This piece comes from my, uh, secret correspondent Artemis (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!). It's a very funny riff on a traditional Passover thanksgiving song, definitely worth sharing.

    "In every age they rise up to destroy us. But the Holy One, blessed be he, delivers us from their hands...

    How many levels of favors has the Omnipresent One bestowed upon us:

    If He had destroyed the Ba'ath party, and had not carried out judgments against their allies the French, the Germans and the Russians, Dayenu, it would have been enough!

    If He had carried out judgments against their allies the French, the Germans and the Russians, and not against the Ba'ath party idols, Dayenu!...."

    And on it goes in this vein. The main post is over at Israpundit, so head on over if you want to see the rest!


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    Thought: Al-Qaeda, Then and Now

    By Joe Katzman at 13:26

    About 19 months ago, Al-Qaeda was ramming airliners into buildings. During the war in Iraq, the best they could manage was ramming pickup trucks into battle tanks.

    Discuss.


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    The 10 Plagues of Iraq

    By Joe Katzman at 13:03

    Passover begins tonight. Family and food. The first great joyous festival of freedom, echoing through the ages. Bound up in Jewish history, in Christian culture and even in the Negro spirituals of the American south:

    "Go down Moses,
    Way down in Egypt land,
    Tell de ol' Pharoh,
    Let my people go."
    Every year we gather together at our Seders, links in the chain of a long and proud story. This year, that story has special relevance. Again. In freedom and liberation, yes. And in the Passover wine, drops spilled from the cup as we mourn the blood spilled by the heaven-sent plagues that eventually ended Pharaoh's rule.

    Iraqi dissident and human rights activist Kanan Makiya wrote on April 9th: "Baathism died in Iraq yesterday". Beyond all hope comes the force of a mighty hand, and Pharaoh is fallen at last. Along the way, however, the Iraqis too have suffered their own version of the 10 plagues. This Passover, as we sit at our Seders, let us spare a thought for them:

    1. Blood: The purges, the disapperances, the wars Saddam started. Over a million Iraqis dead, a tide of blood that stains all of Iraq's waters.

    2. Frogs: In Pharaoh's Egypt, the blood brought a plague of frogs out of the Nile. In Saddam's Iraq, the spilled blood of the southern Shi'ite "Marsh Arabs" was followed by large-scale projects that deliberately destroyed a huge ecology. The plague is not the frogs, but their absence and what it implies.

    3. Vermin: "That effluent, combined with pollution upstream, has killed most of the fish in the Shatt al-Arab river and has left the remainder unsafe to eat. The government can no longer spray for sand-flies or mosquitoes, so insects have proliferated, along with the diseases they carry." (Anthony Arnove, "Iraq Under Siege: Ten Years On", Monthly Review, December 2000) Ah, but doing what was required would have imperiled Saddam's real priority: pesticides to control human, rather than insect populations.

    4. Untamed Beasts: An apt description of Saddam's security services. What else does one call a creature who bears the title "violator of womens' honour" (i.e. official rapist)? Or those who torture small children to make their parents confess? Or the minions who operated people-shredders and fed victims in feet first?

    5. Cattle Disease: "The government-maintained irrigation and drainage network has crumbled, leaving much of Iraq's prime agricultural land either too dry or too salty to cultivate. Sheep and cattle, no longer shielded by government vaccination programmes, have succumbed to pests and diseases by the hundreds of thousands." (Anthony Arnove, "Iraq Under Siege: Ten Years On", Monthly Review, December 2000) Odd. The north of Iraq seemed to flourish without these problems, even under U.N. sanctions. But then, Saddam didn't rule there.

    6. Boils: See under "Vermin." A common by-product of insect infestations. Not to mention a regime so interested in using biotechnology to kill people that it pursues these efforts even at crippling economic cost. The resulting cascade of effects on sanitation, living conditions, and medical programs creates a lot of boils and related medical conditions, while making treatment and prevention less affordable for the common people.

    7. Hail: Not of ice, but of bombs, artillery shells, and steel. And not just (or even mostly) from the United States. Hail could also represent the toxic chemicals that fell from above on the Iraqi and Kurdish people, courtesy of Saddam, "Chemical Ali," and their cohorts.

    8. Locusts: The terror of locusts in ancient times was closely linked to starvation - once the locusts had been through, the people would be forced to survive on what they had managed to preserve from the plague. As we come across palaces of gold and shag carpet and warehouses of undistributed food stockpiled by Saddam or slated for the Republican Guard, vs. the emaciated and haggard condition of even Saddam's army, it's hard not to look at the Ba'ath Party and make the comparison.

    9. Darkness: For the physical darkness of the oil fires set alight by the regime in the south and around Baghdad. For the spiritual darkness suffered by the Iraqi people over the last 20 years.

    10. Slaying of the First Born: Another byproduct of the wars and endless killings. Few families in Iraq remain intact; most have lost one family member and many have lost several. Leading causes are the war Saddam deliberately started with Iran, and the killings performed by his own security forces. Infant mortality in the areas Saddam ruled (again, in conspicuous contrast with northern Iraq where he did not rule) also contributed.
    The Iraqi people have lived through plague and darkness and death. They are liberated, and the joy of liberation is real. We accept that joy as their birthright, in the spirit of Passover. To diminish it diminishes us all.

    We know, too, as the Israelites learned, that physical liberation is only the first step. To make the rest of the journey requires changes in the human heart. Even G-d's mighty hand cannot command this, a subtlety whose 2 sides are demonstrated by the 2 key events of Sinai: The Golden Calf, and the people of Israel's required shout of assent to the 10 Commandments. Failure, and freedom. Illusion, and responsibility. Idols, and truths.

    Iraq, too, faces a difficult journey from plagues to plenty. Old idols may yet be worshipped, idols of blood and hate, of passivity and mistrust. To succeed is to inherit the promise of a land of milk and honey. To fail is to wander in an endless desert, both spiritual and material. A desert that has swallowed many of their brethren in the Arab world.

    Perhaps this time will be different. Perhaps this time, there is hope again:

    "The road ahead is, no doubt, very difficult. And now the burden shifts onto our shoulders, the shoulders of Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq. We thank you people of the great United States for the gift that you have bestowed on us. I cannot promise that we will succeed in making good of it. But I do promise that we will try very hard." (Kanan Makiya)
    As we remember their suffering this Passover, let us pray that the Iraqis too learn to break the chains of hatred and passivity that have bound them, and embrace a set of higher ideals and practices that will make their enduring freedom a reality.
    "No more in bondage shall they be,
    Let my people go
    Then shall all humankind be free,
    Let my people go."
    May the spirit of the Lord guide them, children of Abraham, along the path to true liberation.

    UPDATE: Diana Moon writes to point out that fittingly, there will be several Passover Seders held in Baghdad this year.


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    • Bob: Khomeini???? That was IRAN and not IRAQ. I know they read more
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    More Iraq Haiku

    By Joe Katzman at 09:53

    Well, yesterday's installment of The Bard's Breath drew a creative reaction. First Donald Sensing, then Commenter Scott H. stepped up to submit haiku of their own.

    See "Haiku From the Front" and its in-line comments for the full roster, and feel free to add (or link to) your own when you get there. Here's one of Scott's, to whet your appetite:

    Found your flat, Saddam
    Shag carpet is way groovy
    No more porn for you
    He's referring to this incident, of course.


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    • tri tran: Victory's insight, Iraq, a fallen nation, White flags, fluttering. read more
    • scott h.: Hey Natalie Maines No cowboys in Syria Your audience gone read more
    • Cassandra: How about a Hollywood Haiku? There's enough material there to read more

    Ashes to Ashes, Blogs to Dust...

    By Joe Katzman at 08:33

    Well, this was distressing to read. Letter From Gotham is no more:

    "Diana Moon announces that due to problems at work, she must not only stop blogging but take down her blog altogether. She will return to blogging as soon as possible."

    To make the day complete, Cold Fury's roundup of changes and blog tales informs me that Robert Prather's "The Mind of Man" is also closing down.

    The good news is that there are more good bloggers out there every day. Nevertheless, two bloggers of proven talent left the stage yesterday. The blogosphere's extended conversation is as diminished by their absence as it was enriched by their presence.


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    • lurker: Was SDB referring to Diane? read more
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    • Dave: There certainly do seem to be more excelent blogs popping read more

    April 15, 2003

    Preserving Babylon

    By Joe Katzman at 18:41

    I find it fascinating that several people in the Blogosphere reacted so strongly to the looting of Iraq's National Museum, after all that has happened.

    It's a concern I share, a concern heightened by the fact that I think the allies are taking exactly the wrong approach in dealing with the situation. As Rick Heller points out, their policies are likely to encourage the destruction of priceless artifacts. There's a better way, and Rick explains it.


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    • Malthusiast: JK, Very kind of you! Best, M read more
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    War on Spam Heats Up

    By Joe Katzman at 17:36

    Here's another positive story for you. AOL is ramping up its anti-spammer efforts with lawsuits targeting "the command and control facilities in the ongoing fight to get spam into the inboxes of our members." They're not alone, and the lawsuits are beginning to have some effect.

    UPDATE: Armed Liberal has a less happy take on this, worth paying attention to. See the Comments.


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    The Bard's Breath: Haiku from the Front

    By Joe Katzman at 16:45

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times every Tuesday and Thursday. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through what's coming next: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory.

    Captain Steve passes along some gems with his recent report from his current launching pad at Prince Bandar airbase:

    Republican Guard
    Accustomed to all power
    Now just a pink mist

    Ah, Peter Arnett
    Finally they realize
    What a fool you are

    Chemical Ali
    The millions you killed slowly
    Welcome you to hell

    The rest of the article is well worth reading. As always.

    UPDATE: Donald Sensing explains the haiku format, and offers another one. Anyone else out there want to submit a War on Terror Haiku?


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    • Cassandra: Poor news anchormen So many words to eat... Feeling full read more
    • Cassandra: Silly protesters. Watch Iraqis dance for joy: Not in your read more
    • Mac: Again he promised "The Mother of All Battles." Not even read more

    Paradoxes of Politics I

    By Joe Katzman at 06:33

    Classical conservatives publicly despair of progress, but in their hearts they secretly believe in it. The Left seemingly talks of nothing else but progress, but will go to nearly any lengths rather than believe in it.

    Discuss.

    FOLLOW-ON THOUGHT: In American politics, the paradox is lethal. The central challenge for both left and right is thus to transcend it.


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    • Ken Barnes: Even though this thread is old now, I find it read more

    Air Force Academy Rape Scandal Update

    By Trent Telenko at 05:41

    There was a change of command at the USAFA last week, in case anyone missed it. From this article in the L.A. Times:

    "Cadets in military dress blue uniforms stood at attention as Lt. Gen. John Dallager, the academy superintendent, transferred the leadership title and duties to Weida from Brig. Gen. Sylvanus Taco Gilbert, the former commandant of cadets. Nearby was Col. Debra Gray, who took over as vice commandant.

    Weida also was named acting superintendent until Maj. Gen. John Rosa, the incoming superintendent, arrives. Another new officer assigned as training group commander is due this month."

    A change of command with full honors sends absolutely the wrong message in the case of this scandal. It signals that the cosmetics shall continue until the heat is off. Then it will be business as usual. "Our USAF institutional values shall remain unsullied by the civilian world."

    The way the USAF Brass hats are approaching orders from their civilian superiors is very French.

    I particularly like the last two paragraphs from the article:

    "The new leadership is part of an overhaul that began after dozens of female cadets said they were reprimanded or ostracized when they reported assaults. The allegations are under investigation by the Air Force and the Defense Department.

    Academy officials plan to cluster female cadets' rooms and establish round-the-clock security. They will also offer amnesty to cadets raising sexual assault allegations and expel cadets for underage drinking."

    So what happens when the female cadet is raped while drinking before she is 21? Like what has happened with most of the rape victims?

    Catch 22 for female cadets is still alive and well at the USAFA.


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    April 14, 2003

    The Love Life of Tyrants

    By Trent Telenko at 19:48

    What is it about Arab dictators that they keep making the Onion's humor real? It apears that Saddam's "love shack" was a send up to Austin Powers.

    From the article:

    "The home's 1960s look - parodied in the series of "Austin Powers" spy spoofs - inspired a round of imitations from soldiers slogging door to door.

    "Yeah, baaabeee," said Carter, doing his best imitation of actor Mike Myers' character.

    "Shagadelic," another soldier shouted.

    Indeed, the carpet was navy blue shag."

    Meanwhile, when troops went through Odai Hussein's place, they found the, errr, something even more disturbing:

    There were also some unusual discoveries in Odai's palace.

    In addition to finding a lot of liquor, electronics, Cuban cigars and porn -- U.S. soldiers say they found pictures of President George W. Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush.

    They say the pictures were hanging in one of Odai Hussein's gymnasiums.

    Ick! I don't even want to go into the implications of that one.

    The world will be a better place with Saddam and his whole male line at the bottom of a compost heap.


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    Winds of Change.NET Looks at the Media

    By Joe Katzman at 17:19

    CNN's complicity in Iraq has kindled a white-hot passion over here at Winds of Change.NET, which is why we're focusing so hard on the media and its role today.

    As Trent points out, there is something deeply satisfying about having our focus in sync with Victor Davis Hanson's today.

    C. Blake Powers has already penned a few guest blogs about this subject, beginning with an April 3rd look at how the embedded journalists in Iraq were about to change the war between America's journalists and its military ("Casualty in an Undeclared War"). Five days later, UPI noticed it too.

    This Sunday, he continued his sharp media criticism by suggesting that there may be more to the CNN scandal ("The Chicago Way"). Powers may well be right, and I hope there are enough real journalists out there to do the digging on that subject. The entire incident brings the very functions of news organizations into question, and the truth needs to get out. What really happened? How widespread is it? How badly is coverage of Iran, Zimbabwe, The "Palestinian Authority" and other tyrannies compromised even now? Enquiring minds want to know.

    Today, Blake brings us two more complementary pieces. They don't look at the CNN scandal directly. Rather, they pick up where "Casualty In An Undeclared War" left off and examine the media class, its beliefs, and its changing role in society.

    "The Holy Media" looks at the some of the attitudes that still remain part of the undeclared war, as exemplified by incidents in Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. Until those attitudes are overcome, he argues, the news media's malaise will persist and its societal role will continue to erode.

    In "It's The End Of The News As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," Powers extends Glenn Reynolds' excellent "New Class Crackup" piece about the erosion of the news media's societal role, looking at the phenomenon through the lens of the fall of Saddam's statue and how it was covered.

    Welcome to Winds of Change.NET. Welcome to the debate.

    UPDATE: As Dailypundit points out, he did indeed have the embeds story and its implications covered as early as March 20th. Tip if the hat to Bill for being the first person I know of to write about this.


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    VDH on the Media

    By Trent Telenko at 16:38

    In keeping with Joe's theme of media irresponsibility today, I would be remiss in not pointing out this Victor David Hanson column.

    The money paragraphs:

    "ly, I was more intrigued that in passing the same reporter at last fessed up that during all of her previous gloomy reports from the Palestine Hotel of American progress, she and others had been shaken down daily for bribe money, censored, and led around as near hostages. It is impossible to calibrate how such Iraqi manipulation of American news accounts affected domestic morale, if not providing comfort for those Baathists who wished to discourage popular uprisings of long-suffering Iraqis.

    There is something profoundly amoral about this. A newsman who interviewed a state killer at his convenience later revisits a now liberated city and complains of the disorder there. A journalist who paid bribe money to fascists and whose dispatches aired from Baghdad in wartime only because the Baathist party felt that they served their own terrorist purposes is disturbed about the chaos of liberation. Now is the time for CNN, NPR, and other news organizations to state publicly what their relationships were in ensuring their reporters’ presence in wartime Iraq — and to explain their policies about bribing state officials, allowing censorship of their news releases, and keeping quiet about atrocities to ensure access.

    In general, the media has now gone from the hysteria of the Armageddon of Afghanistan to the quagmire of Iraq to the looting in Baghdad — the only constant is slanted coverage, mistaken analysis, and the absence of any contriteness about being in error and in error in such a manner that reflected so poorly upon themselves and damaged the country at large at a time of war. It is as if only further bad news could serve as a sort of catharsis that might at least cleanse them of any unease about being so wrong so predictably and so often.

    In the weeks that follow, the media, not the military, will be shown to be in need of introspection and vast reform. Partly the problem arises from the breakneck desire of reporters to obtain near celebrity status by causing controversy and spectacle. Many (especially executives) also came of age in Vietnam and are thus desperate to recapture past glory when once upon a time their efforts made them stars and changed our national culture. Reporters are cultural relativists, who never ask themselves how many more people are tortured and die because of their own complicity with a murderous regime. Ignorance also is endemic. Few read of history’s great sieges and the bedlam that always follows conquest, liberation, and the birth of a new order. Arrogance abounds that journalists are to be above reproach and thus deserve to be moral censors in addition to simply recording the news."

    I make the following observation here on media. One of the post-Watergate reforms was to forbid American businesses from bribing foreign government officials for foreign government contracts. By in large this has proved to be a profoundly good law in that it promoted good business practice and reduced corruption in American business.

    It is a measure of the corruption of the American media that if such a law was introduced aimed at such media practices. It would be fought on "1st Amendment grounds."


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    Guest Blog: The "Holy" Media?

    By Joe Katzman at 05:59

    CNN's complicity in Iraq has kindled a white-hot passion over here at Winds of Change.NET, which is why we're focusing so hard on the media and its role today. C. Blake Powers called me a real journalist once, during the Maine Educators Controversy. I took it as the complement it was intended to be, and forgave him immediately.

    This article puts some flesh on the meaning of that description. It focuses on the incidents at Iraq's Palestine Hotel, where reporters and media staff have been caught in the crossfire and killed. Their reaction to this chain of events is revealing on many levels, and illustrates exactly the attitude he believes they must overcome in order to become serious journalists again. Though it was submitted April 9th, its subject and events of the last couple of days give it continued relevance.

    The Holy Media
    by C. Blake Powers

    Will the Palestine Hotel now be given the same designation as a Mosque or other historic site?

    Of the many questions that focused on The Media at this morning’s CENTCOM briefing, none better captures the hubris of The Media than this one. Or more clearly demonstrates how said media views itself: as priests in a religion. Priests that have full immunity, should be allowed to go anywhere, do anything, and be worshiped for so doing.

    This truly is how many see themselves: an elite, intelligent group that is above law and petty mortal concerns, tending the shrine of holy truth – as they see it. Any who don’t see it that way are at best part of the great unwashed brainless masses, and at worst a dangerous enemy to be destroyed.

    As I said previously, the military has long been the enemy and clearly in the latter category. This morning’s briefing clearly showed that this mindset is still in the hearts and minds of many in the media. As someone who no longer uses the title of journalist, let me say to all of them: Get Over It.

    CONTINUED...


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    Guest Blog: End of the News As We Know It

    By Joe Katzman at 05:58

    CNN's complicity in Iraq has kindled a white-hot passion over here at Winds of Change.NET, which is why we're focusing so hard on the media and its role today.

    Today, Blake brings us two complementary pieces. "The Holy Media" looked at the some of the attitudes that still remain part of the undeclared war, as exemplified by incidents in Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. Until those attitudes are overcome, he argues, the media's malaise will continue and its societal role will continue to erode. In this article, he extends Glenn Reynolds' excellent "New Class Crackup" piece about that erosion, looking at the phenomenon through the lens of the fall of Saddam's statue and how it was covered.

    It's The End of the News As We Know It
    (And I Feel Fine)

    by C. Blake Powers

    Yesterday, my noon local TV newscast was broken into by what appeared to be a very grim Tom Brokaw, supported by an equally grim and upset reporter at CENTCOM. The subject of their discussion was the horrifying miscalculation by American soldiers in the fight for Baghdad. The repercussions of this miscalculation were going to be formidable, with implications of a terrible backlash not only in Iraq, but the entire Middle East.

    This dire team not only offered their own take on this reprehensible situation, but had gone so far as to seek CENTCOM comment and take on it. What was this major screwup to the war plan, the campaign, and any chance for a lasting Mid East peace?

    A soldier, a common soldier, had raised the U.S. flag. The Stars and Stripes had been raised in Baghdad, and its display was the source of the grimness, angst, and dismay at NBC News. Which, upon mature and considered thought and reflection, led me to ask myself: Was Tom Brokaw A Snitch In School?

    Other questions also occurred to me. They have cut the last five minutes off the newscast for this? Are they really this desperate for stories? Is this all they can come up with to manufacture a crisis? Are they auditioning for Baghdad Bob's slot and trying to do his job for him by creating trouble?

    The entire situation reminded me not so much of a major news organization covering a major story, but of high school. Of the class snitch running to the assistant headmaster to rat out the latest minor infraction of the rules in self-righteous smugness.

    CONTINUED...


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    China, 9/11 & Laying on the Brag

    By Trent Telenko at 03:18

    I have been cleaning out old e-mails and files and I ran across this one I sent to Jerry Pournelle in April 2001. Jerry was on a tear on Republic versus Empire over on his site and I sent this to Jerry and a number of the "usual suspects."

    Given it was written several months before 9/11, I think it has held up rather well, if I do say so myself:

    Jerry,

    It isn't a matter of Republic or Empire.

    It is a matter of culture.

    The DoD is on this mad quest for a 'near peer competitor,' a monolythic nation state we can play Cold War II with.

    There isn't going to be one.

    The threat is failed nation states with WMD and an irresponsible ruling elites. Just as freedom anywhere is a threat to tyranny everywhere. Successful nation states are a threat to failed nation states simply through their existance. America is the most visible and successful nation state, bar none.

    American pioneered 'Popular Culture' is highly corrosive of societies and cultures without the cultural memes for adaptating the norms of western civil society that shield people from the worst effects of it.

    China and Taiwan are a wonderful controlled experiment for this. Both are ethnic Chinese cultures. One is a failing oriental depotism and the other is a functioning capitalist western democracy.

    CTD


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    April 13, 2003

    The Battle of Curly, Larry and Moe

    By Trent Telenko at 20:22

    Gary Haubold sent me a story from the Toronto Star titled "The Battle of Curly, Larry and Moe." Since it did not have a link, I goggle searched for it and found it here. The same search also lead me to this London Telegraph story on the same battle, which also included a map of the battle area.

    Contrary to early reports of the "Thunder Run" being something of a cake walk, it was a very near run thing. The supply company for one of the two armored battalions involved was pinned down by Iraqi fire and nearly over run more than once. From the Toronto Star article:

    In the centre of it all, light-armoured Supply Company 3-15, tasked with keeping open the refuelling and re-arming route between the three companies holding down Curly, Larry and Moe. Many of them not trained for front-line combat - fuel-tank drivers, medics, ammo specialists, technicians, even a chaplain who, fortuitously, had been an infantryman during Desert Storm in 1991. Chaplains aren't even issued firearms but this one, Steve Hommel, had the foresight to order his assistant to carry two M-16 rifles, just in case. And this was that case.

    "He did what he felt he had to do," Maj. Denton Knapp was saying yesterday, as his platoon rested on ornate settees inside the Baath party museum in a now-secured sector command post codenamed China. "He did what was necessary to protect himself and his soldiers."

    The chaplain helped kill the enemy - upwards of 300 dead paramilitaries in all, taken out by this unit, their corpses strewn about the macadam, the locations of the most intense fighting still marked yesterday by char-blackened Bradleys, the mangled remnants of fuel tankers, blown-up buses and cars.

    And...
    And Capt. J.O. Bailey, logistics officer for the battalion, taking nine or 10 soft vehicles up the road and to the rescue when the platoon was pinned down at Curly, victims of a perfect ambush that had attacked both the lead scout Humvee and the maintenance truck bringing up the rear, boxing in the convoy. But then Bailey's cavalry charge got ambushed, too.

    "We got to just south of Curly when about 150 fighters came running out at us from one side, some 60 from the other. We took two RPGs, one missed but the second one hit the third and fourth vehicles. There were mortar rounds coming at us, too, but they dropped about 20 feet off the road.

    And...
    Then the fighters turned their sights on Cannan's unit. "I guess they came to us because we looked more vulnerable. And they just kept coming. We're taking hits everywhere. Guys getting shot in the arms, the legs, every part of the body that isn't protected. We must have spent two hours defending ourselves at 360 degrees, with fire coming from all around. They were on the buildings, on top of the overpass, entrenched around the intersection."

    Cannan's men - all 40 of them - fought back with everything they had, from a machine-gun to hand grenades. Finally, reinforcements arrived in the form of another platoon from the south, Capt. Ronnie Johnson in charge. "That made us able to clear a trench-line to medevac our casualties, and evacuate their casualties, too."

    CONTINUED...


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    Good News on the Afghan Front

    By Trent Telenko at 18:31

    In all the reporting on Iraq, most people missed this article in the LA Times on the growing success of US Army "Provincial Reconstruction Teams" in rebuilding Afghanistan.

    From the article:

    The PRT program has $38 million for reconstruction and operations, twice the Afghan civil assistance aid budgeted by the U.S. military the year before. It chose Gardez for its first base, the town in the unsettled southeastern portion of Afghanistan so racked by violence that it had become a no man's land for aid agencies.

    Since the PRT opened in Gardez with its special armed cohort of 20 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, violent incidents have declined sharply. Their fears assuaged, half a dozen aid agencies have opened their doors in Gardez since the first of the year, U.S. embassy officials say.

    So far, PRTs have been so successful, officials here say, that the program may be copied for reconstruction efforts in Iraq once the war there has ended.

    Those successes have also lowered resistance in the aid community. Francesc Vendrell, the EU's special representative to Afghanistan, said in a recent interview that he had overcome his initial doubts about PRTs, saying they may be the only way to deliver security to some areas.

    The biggest problem with the PRT concept appears to be with the bigotry of international non-government organizations to the US military. It isn't just knee jerk Anti-Americanism by the usual Transnational Progressive types. The "Suits" in these organizations see the U.S. Military as a business competitor.


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    Guest Blog: CNN's Still Hiding Something

    By Joe Katzman at 16:32

    We've covered this story before in "Complicity," and Bill Hobbs has an excellent collection of background and links. Winds of Change.NET Guest Blogger C. Blake Powers understands journalism from the inside... and he doesn't think this thing is over.

    The Chicago Way
    by C. Blake Powers

    "The Chicago Way." Anytime I hear those words, I hear them in the voice of Sean Connery. His film speech in "The Untouchables" truly does represent the Chicago way, from life to journalism. Yes, there is a Chicago school of journalism: a rough, tough, no-holds-barred way that remains unique on the American scene.

    Journalism had to be tough in Chicago for a number of reasons. The Machine, the Mob, Life in General all played a role in shaping one of the most feisty, boisterous, and hard-charging brands of journalism around. Reporters got roughed up, arrested, and even killed. The news still got out, and in the end the bad guys often got what they deserved while the good guys got some good press. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it tried.

    I am proud that I was schooled in that way of journalism by some of the best in the business. By Darryl Feldmeier of the old Chicago Daily News, by Les Brownlee who was one of the first black broadcast journalists in America, and by several others who have taken me under their wing. To be a true Chicago reporter, you had to have been arrested at least once, so I failed in that respect. Came close once trying to get a picture, but didn't quite make it. But the tenacity, the charge in and do what it takes spirit that is its heart is at the core of what I think it means to be a reporter, to be a journalist.

    Honesty compels me to say that journalism is only one part of what I do in life. I make my living through words and images, and journalism has been just a part of that. Most of my words involve science and finance, some involve fiction, and others involve whatever it may take to pay the bills. There are things I will cheerfully do for money, and I take a certain amount of pride in the fact that while I may be a whore, at least I am not a cheap whore.

    There is an easy shot here, but I am not going to take it. Part of me wants to apologize to my teachers, friends, and mentors for not living up to my potential, for not doing more, for my part in letting journalism sink this low. That sort of touchie-feelie thing is popular these days, and certain talking heads and politicians seem to make a career out of it. The part of me that will always be Chicago says "Frell that, and them."

    Guys, there is a story here. A good, juicy story. And to make it better, it comes out of the ichor of self-aggrandizing self-flagellation so popular with the worst part of America. It comes from the bastion of proper think, the New York Times. It comes from an organization that has tried to bill itself as the best of broadcast journalism. And guess what, it isn't the "give me a hug because of all these horrible things I've seen" that the spin meisters are going to try to give it.

    There is something buried here. There is something that someone is trying to keep hidden, or deflect. Every bit of the Chicago school that remains in me just hit the end of the chain with a snarl. Somebody is hiding something. Somebody is scared that something really bad is going to come out. Let's find out what it is.

    Everyone and their pet dog are going to go after the obvious and justifiably castigate CNN for doing what they did. I will limit my shots to the following: You can't cut it in Chicago. With what you knew, you should have pulled out, protected what you could, and gone in with everything you had to expose the regime. From the first time one of yours was hit, you should have hit back twice as hard. The hell with your obligations to your viewers that you trashed, you owed it to your people, including your sources. You look after your own. That is one thing the Chicago school and good militaries have in common. CNN failed their viewers, their stockholders, the American public, and most of all - their people. An organization that fails on any of these fronts, but particularly the last, is beneath contempt.

    That off my chest, let's get to the real meat of this. What are they hiding? It is clear that they are hiding something. What is going to come out from Iraq about CNN that caused this form of pre-emptive strike in such a high profile manner? Now, it could possibly be that this really is the self-aggrandizing conscience clearing that the outer surface shows. But, I know my history. I know my history of journalism. I know what this means in Chicago, and to any reporter with half a brain and a nose for a story.

    Somebody wants the obvious story pursued. Somebody is willing to live with the howls of outrage and calls for boycotts and such that will be generated. Why? Why are they willing to live with this? What scares them so badly that this is preferable?

    Let's find out. Let's see if there are any real reporters left out there who can and will get to the real meat of this story. Let us keep the feast.

    -30-


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    April 12, 2003

    Shabbat Shalom?

    By Joe Katzman at 23:59

    As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. In that spirit, our Saturday posts to this blog are traditionally "good news". That's a tradition I will continue, even with the current war on. "Shabbat Shalom" will continue to mean just that for me.

    Under these circumstances, however, the informal agreement with my non-Jewish team members no longer holds. They are welcome to post updates and news as they wish.


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    Sufi Wisdom: Sanity

    By Joe Katzman at 05:42

    As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, the Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). For instance, this article discusses an interesting Sufi sheikh in the USA.

    Here's a story that seemed kind of appropriate this week. Like all Sufi stories, of course, it has a number of deeper meanings as well:

    "A man was passing a mental hospital, and called out to one of the patients peering through the bars: "Ho! How many madmen are in that hospital?" The inmate paused, staring for a while at the questioner, then bellowed back: "Leave us be! And tell me, how many sane people are out there?"
    A question we've all asked ourselves more than once.


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    Some Rethinking Going On...

    By Armed Liberal at 01:08

    Nathan Newman is one of the first serious Lefty commentators to step back and look at where the peace movement went wrong.

    I'm not a pacifist (a pacifist Armed Liberal? A double oxymoron...), and while I certainly don't consider my self a hawk, probably stand a little more on the "kill Americans and you're toast" side of the spectrum. But I think we need an engaged and useful peace movement, if for no other reason than to keep the true nutcases on the right in check.

    And we haven't had one. We've had a form of bad psychodrama in which various unhappy people act out their issues with Authority.

    Newman raises most of the right issues:

    The antiwar argument had to be about whether there was an alternative way to achieve the goal of a freer and more democratic Iraq (and questioning the good faith of war proponents to achieve that result).

    The antiwar movement lost the argument on timing and on the efficacy of alternative means of addressing peoples broad concerns on Iraq. And I attribute that partly to their simplistic focus on "no war" unity over developing a more sophisticated positive message that also would have required more outreach to non-rallygoers (and probably less focus on rallies).

    And I continue to argue with a range of activist friends that when we allowed groups that defended the Hussein regime in the past to lead some of the rallies, many folks who don't like Hussein rightly could think that such a movement has no real plan for an alternative challenge to Hussein's regime.

    For some of the left, they've retreated to almost isolationist pacificism as all the argument they need, without any need to address strategy and why THIS PARTICULAR WAR is the wrong direction.

    The left in this country has an honorable history of leading the fight internationally for human rights, from challenges to Belgium's mass murder in the Congo at the end of the 19th century (led by among others Mark Twain) to denunciations of the fascist regimes in Europe in the 1930s to attacks on colonialism in the 1950s to denunciations of death squads in El Salvador and Apartheid in South Africa, the left has always called for challenges to bad regimes.

    Well, there's a start.

    Nathan places more emphasis on techniques of organizing and less on thinking through positions than I would, but that's a post that's coming soon. I'm glad to see that someone with credibility on the Left is talking critically. It's a start...


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    April 11, 2003

    All About Oil: A Canadian Connection

    By Joe Katzman at 19:35

    While we're on the subject of complicity, here's a very interesting point from Mark Steyn, courtesy of the folks at IShouldBeDoingHomework.com:

    "The Western oil company with the closest ties to the late Saddam is France's TotalFinaElf. That's not the curious fact, that's just business as usual in the Fifth Republic. This is the curious fact: As Diane wrote in February and again last week, "Total's biggest shareholder is Montreal's Paul Desmarais, whose youngest son is married to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's daughter."

    Let's see if I've got this straight: TotalFinaElf's largest shareholder is a subsidiary of Montreal's Power Corp, whose co-chief executive is Jean Chretien's son-in-law, Andre Desmarais. Mr. Desmarais' brother, Paul Desmarais Jr., sits on the Total board.

    For months, the anti-war crowd has insisted that "it's all about oil," that the only reason the Iraqi people were being "liberated" was so that the second biggest oil reserves in the world could be annexed in perpetuity by Dick Cheney and Halliburton and the rest of Bush's Texas oilpatch gang. Instead, it turns out that, if it is all about oil, then the principal North American beneficiary of the continued enslavement of the Iraqi people is the family of the Canadian Prime Minister -- that's to say, his daughter, France Chretien, and his grandchildren."

    The Canadian Alliance needs to be all over this one.

    N.B. Some interesting information about TotalFinaElf, currently embroiled in a major corruption scandal involving arms and kickbacks. Instapundit on the scandals trial in France, and the preferential oil contracts.


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    Winds of War 2003-04-11

    By Joe Katzman at 18:39

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    Today's Must-Read: "Complicity." As in CNN's. Complicity in torture, and murder, and oppression. For what? For a scoop. For profit.

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Morning roundup.

  • Surrenders in Mosul, Kirkuk occupied unopposed by 173rd Airborne. More on the U.S. war plans in the north, currently described by one official as "winging it."

  • More on the fighting in Qaim, near the Syrian border. Time to get some reinforcements from the 82nd airborne there, I think. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • Sparkey of Team Stryker has an excellent report from a Marine at the front. Big thanks to the UN who paid the bill for the call, unknowingly of course. Don't miss the part where he busts an Iraqi general at a checkpoint, and the general cries like a baby!

  • Many thousands of Iraqi soldiers in northern Iraq, 75 km south of Kifri, are walking unarmed toward allied lines, in lines that stretch over the horizon. The Kurds have already confiscated their weapons. Some are barefoot.

  • Proposal: do as we did in Afghanistan. Offer them real pay in American dollars if they'll sign up for training, then put them in military police battalions to help maintain law and order in Iraq. Of course, there will be a lot of questioning to make sure we weed out the bad apples - maybe the Kurds can help with that.

  • "Speed and violence of action." The role it played in Iraq, and the role it's likely to play in the U.S. military's ongoing transformation. "Force Majeure," in Slate, is also very good as it traces how these changes came about.

  • Related item: how an Iraqi colonel's blunder led to the fall of Baghdad. We had covered the incident before, but from the standpoint of the regime too enmeshed in its own lies to know what was happening. This article describes what the U.S. military did with that realization.

  • The full story behind that American flag being raised over Saddam's statue yesterday. The LT. in charge was at the Pentagon Sept. 11, and the flag he used was given to him that day.

  • More going on re: the assassinations in Najaf than meets the eye. Stay tuned.

  • Here's more. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • "That's the real question. Are we safer?" Blaster's Blog asks, and answers.

  • Armed Liberal's "Hope," which refuses to leave all the optimism to the right (even if his fellow liberal bloggers will).

  • CNN's complicity makes this an especially great suggestion: "We webloggers should help Iraqis start weblog newspapers." Salam Pax, keep your head down for another week or so - esp. in light of what happened in Najaf. After that... ever wanted to be a newspaper editor?

  • Amateurs? Maybe. But could their predictions and analysis be worse than these?

  • What's the French word for "backpedalling"? Chirac looks like he'll need it.

  • Iraqi debt repayment? U.S. Senator John McCain has a great idea. If that fails, however, the new government can say "Non!" thanks to a concept invented by a French lawyer, and an American legal precedent involving Cuba. Oh, the irony!

  • LGF noted yesterday that the Iraqi Embassy in Brazil was burning documents. To understand the context, you'd need to recall the links between Brazil and Iraq's nuclear program. Or, as another commenter noted, the fact that Iguazu in Brazil's south is a hotbed for al-Qaeda.

  • Speaking of nuclear programs, note this. Still early, still cautious. We'll see.

  • Lileks. Until you understand this, you don't understand Iraq. Today, he nails the liberation scenes too: "All of a sudden, in a day, a guy can look at a car battery without crossing his legs. It’s just a car battery now. It’s just something you curse when it dies."

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

  • Speaking of the Poles, the USA has invited Poland be part of the allies' conference on Iraq's future. Smart on so many levels, not least of which is that Poland knows what the comoing transition is like.
    AND BEYOND...

  • Yemenis involved in the USS Cole bombing "escape" from prison there. Let's get real - they had inside help, and were let go. Yemen has been even less cooperative than Saudi Arabia in the fight agaist al-Qaeda, if that's possible.

  • Predictable but still disturbing report of al-Qaeda terrorists working with Mexican organized crime groups to get across the Mexico-U.S. border.

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • Victor Davis Hanson is a paragon, but he's human and makes mistakes. Slamming David Letterman was one - Dave is precisely not what VDH was talking about. Ken Layne defends David Letterman's honour.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. Iraqi Infirmation Minister "Baghdad Bob" is attracting imitators in the U.S. Air Force.
    N.B: Why Joe still links to Agonist posts, here and elsewhere.


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  • Hitchens Agrees With the Protestors

    By Joe Katzman at 17:51

    I saw this a couple days ago, when it appeared in my local newspaper The National Post. Big thanks to Instapundit for finding a more reliable URL that I could use to share Christopher Hitchens' "Giving Peace a Chance":

    "So it turns out that all the slogans of the anti-war movement were right after all. And their demands were just. "No War on Iraq," they said—and there wasn't a war on Iraq. Indeed, there was barely a "war" at all. "No Blood for Oil," they cried, and the oil wealth of Iraq has been duly rescued from attempted sabotage with scarcely a drop spilled. Of the nine oil wells set ablaze by the few desperadoes who obeyed the order, only one is still burning and the rest have been capped and doused without casualties. "Stop the War" was the call. And the "war" is indeed stopping. That's not such a bad record. An earlier anti-war demand—"Give the Inspectors More Time"—was also very prescient and is also about to be fulfilled in exquisite detail.

    ...What else? Oh yes, the Arab street did finally detonate, just as the peace movement said it would. You can see the Baghdad and Basra and Karbala streets filling up like anything, just by snapping on your television. And the confrontation with Saddam Hussein did lead to a surge in terrorism, with suicide bombers and a black-shirted youth movement answering his call. As could also have been predicted, those determined to die are now dead. We were told that Baghdad would become another Stalingrad—which it has. Just as in Stalingrad in 1953, all the statues and portraits of the heroic leader have been torn down....."

    The rest is a stand out even among Hitch's excellent work over the past 2 years. Yes, it's caustic. Yes, it's deeply ironic. Yes, it deeply questions the good faith of those who continue to protest the liberation of Iraq and feel sadness or gloom at the events unfolding now on TV. Deserved on all counts, and very very funny.


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    Complicity

    By Joe Katzman at 16:03

    You have just GOT to read this. As Matt Welch puts it:

    "Eason Jordan, chief news executive of CNN, explains in today’s New York Times what it’s like to suppress "awful things that could not be reported," in the name of keeping your bureau open inside a dictatorship.
    You have to read it, in order to understand just how awful. Essentially, CNN has just admitted to complicity with the regime in suppressing the truth about Saddam Hussein's rule.

    I don't ever want to hear the words "journalist" and "standards" come out of a CNN staffer's mouth in the same sentence again... and I don't want to hear a peep from "professional" news organizations about the "unreliability" of the blogosphere, either. The only word I have for their conduct: complicity. Complicity in torture, and murder, and oppression. For what? For a scoop. For profit.

    The Left claims to hate multinational corporations who fatten their bottom line on the blood of the opressed. Well, that has just happened. Literally. Expect utter silence from the Left - I do.

    UPDATES: Occam's Toothbrush was on this issue back in October 2002. What he found then adds more context to these revelations, and it's worth reading.

    Israpundit notes that this same conduct is routine in another tyranny, too: The Palestinian Authority.

    The Counterrevolutionary has a typically fine article. It brings the depth of CNN's betrayal to light, draws the similarities with the recent Wall St. scandals, and begins to offer suggestions for reform.

    Blaster's Blog comments, and says: "Flood the Zone!" He also asks what else they've been hiding. You mean like in Iran or the "Palestinian authority" maybe?

    Instapundit comments

    Note to the left re: my expectation of utter silence I could still be proved wrong. But every time a supposed core principle of yours is openly transgressed or conveniently ignored to protect dictators and thugs, and it has happened several times over the last year (heck, more than once over the past week), the case grows that there is no principle the left and its allies will not sacrifice on the altar of hating America and all it stands for. You may not like that conclusion... but it's certainly the impression being given. Only you have the power to change it.


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    • Rob Keogh: When I first read this piece I couldn't believe that read more
    • Joe Katzman: S'okay, Joyce. Hope you caught some sleep at last. Peace. read more
    • Joyce: just wanted to apologize again =D havent slept in like read more

    What's French for 'Backpedalling'?

    By Armed Liberal at 05:50

    Victory has many parents, but defeat is an orphan (from The Guardian):

    France faces isolation as strains show in anti-war axis

    Summit Chirac under pressure at home and abroad

    Paul Webster in Paris, Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow and John Hooper in Berlin
    Friday April 11, 2003
    The Guardian

    Jacques Chirac faced a backlash from his peace campaigning yesterday after warnings from his own party that France had gone too far in opposing Britain and the US, and now faced international isolation.

    The French president, described by the newspaper Libération as the "king of peace without a crown", was criticised by leaders of his UMP party for three weeks of silence since the invasion.

    Only yesterday, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, did Mr Chirac issue a comment. "France, like all democracies, rejoices," he said in a statement.

    Read the rest and try not to chortle.

    Has Chirac behaved less arrogantly and with more principle, his position in France might be more secure.

    Even the French, it seems, have limits.


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    • Kathleen: Speaking of support from abroad, if you missed this incident, read more
    • Dave: Gee, Chirac could try saying he's sorry, he was wrong. read more
    • Sanitation Engineer #6: WW2 happened over 50 years ago, most of the people read more

    April 10, 2003

    Winds of War 2003-04-10

    By Joe Katzman at 19:12

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    Special features: Everything in yesterday's WSJ Best of the Web. One long shout-out of happiness! To which we add Armed Liberal's "Hope," which refuses to leave all the optimism to the right (even if his fellow liberal bloggers will), and Iraniangirl's view from Iran.

    Special Explanation: Why I still link to Agonist posts, here and elsewhere.

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • The full story behind that American flag being raised over Saddam's statue yesterday. The LT. in charge was at the Pentagon Sept. 11, and the flag he used was given to him that day.

  • More going on re: the assassinations in Najaf than meets the eye. Stay tuned.

  • Syrian troops in Baghdad? What are they doing there?

  • Today's morning briefing comes from the Command Post.

  • Key officials presence the reason for fighting in Qaim, near Syria? Also fighting in Hillah, Imam Mosque in Baghdad, and other pockets. Most of the north is simply collapsing, but Mosul probably won't. We saw the same thing in Panama post-Noriega, and spent a few weeks cleaning out pockets of his thugs.

  • Good examination of what's left to do. Obviously, that set of tasks also includes establishing some kind of Law & Order in Iraq. Actually, just go read all of Phil's stuff today.

  • Some casualties are funny.

  • This is funny, too: "For the men turned out to be Arabs from Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Palestine. Not an Iraqi was among them... Only the foreign Arabs, like the Frenchmen of the Nazi Charlemagne Division in 1945 Berlin, fought on..." From Robert Fisk no less, yesterday. Bwahahaahahaa!

  • Tales from the Free Iraqi forces, in-country with American troops. Inspiring and sad all at the same time; a definite must-read.

  • Lots of tunnels in the U.S. military's immediate future.

  • Plus a last stand in Tikrit. 4th Infantry + MOABs being shipped in... cause WE'VE GOT THE BIGGEST BOMBS OF THEM ALL!

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Iraqi debt repayment? U.S. Senator John McCain has a great idea. If that fails, however, the new government can say "Non!" thanks to a concept invented by a French lawyer, and an American legal precedent involving Cuba. Oh, the irony!

  • LGF noted yesterday that the Iraqi Embassy in Brazil was burning documents. To understand the context, you'd need to recall the links between Brazil and Iraq's nuclear program. Or, as another commenter noted, the fact that Iguazu in Brazil's south is a hotbed for al-Qaeda.

  • Speaking of nuclear programs, note this. Still early, still cautious. We'll see.

  • The Iranian Blogfather writes: "The only thing here is that I think there is no need to worry about Iran and it's influence on the future of Iraq."

  • How to Help Iraq Achieve Democracy, Bust up OPEC and Decrease the Ability of the Saudis to Fund Terrorism via Zogby Blog. Well, that's a fine start.

  • Lileks. Until you understand this, you don't understand Iraq. Today, he nails the liberation scenes too: "All of a sudden, in a day, a guy can look at a car battery without crossing his legs. It’s just a car battery now. It’s just something you curse when it dies."

  • Gweilo Diaries offers a similar understanding of the U.N., and why they need to be watched closely if they're brought into Iraq.

  • Dare we hope for the traditional post-liberation ritual of beating up Robert Fisk? C'mon Baghdad, we know you have it in you!

  • Dearborn, MI [near Detroit] has a very large Arab expatriate community, many of whom are Iraqis. As you might expect, there were big celebrations there yesterday. Here's a report from the scene.

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]
    AND BEYOND...

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. Michael Totten's excellent parody of what it would sound like if George Bush really was like Saddam Hussein is hilarious!


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  • Repayment... Non!

    By Joe Katzman at 17:21

    What to do about Iraq's debts? Senator John McCain has a brilliant suggestion, one the administration should push around the world for all it's worth.

    If that fails, however, they can always rely on a U.S. legal precedent... and a French legal concept. Political Science Professor Barry Cooper of the University of Calgary writes:

    "But there is plenty of debt left – some $95 billion or so according to a recent study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Additional relief might come from repudiation, as was done after the regime change in Cuba following the Spanish-American war. The US declared that neither the new Cuban government nor the US would be responsible for the debt incurred without the consent of the Cubans and without regard for their benefit by Cuba’s deposed colonial rulers.

    After World War I a French international lawyer, Alexandre N. Sack, formalized the American procedure with the concept of "odious debt," debt incurred by tyrants on their own account that was not transferred to a successor government. What makes this dusty French concept to delightfully applicable to the current situation is that a large chunk of the Iraqi debt is owed to odious French banks."

    Merveilleux! Oh, the irony! Oh the schadenfreude!

    UPDATE: There's a serious discussion of "odious debt" going on in the comments section of this post at Jane Galt's site. (Hat Tip: Erik of Bite the Wax Tadpole)

    Some upsides and downsides to invoking it, but one upside is that other odious dictators like Mugabe would suddenly find themselves considered to be a huge lending risk. Plus, there's the endless humour value of watching the Left suddenly come out against their pet concept of Third World debt repudiation.

    For a very good article about Iraq's economic future, I found this Wharton background piece via the Agonist.


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    The Bard's Breath: AC/DC Parody

    By Joe Katzman at 15:14

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times every Tuesday and Thursday. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through what's coming next: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory.

    This one comes from anti-war blogger Tatiana of Russian Beauty. Her March 31 entry (the blog lacks permalinks) features "Big Bombs," a very funny parody of everyone's favorite metalheads AC/DC. Though it's intended as an anti-war song, I for one love it as a war anthem of victory. With her husband Sean-Paul noting that the USA is now shipping its 21,000 lb. MOABs into theater, it seemed utterly appropriate today:

    "Well I'm upper upper upper class society
    God's gift to war room notoriety
    And I always fill the war room
    The event is never small
    The social pages say I've got the biggest bombs of all...."
    If you've got the connection for it, go listen to the whole song (MP3, 2.8 MB).

    Why do I think it might suck to be in Tikrit shortly? All together now: 'CAUSE WE'VE GOT THE BIGGEST BOMBS OF THEM ALL!


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    • Joe Katzman: Folks, I ran this because it's funny. Tatiana has her read more

    Iranian Media & News of War...

    By Iraniangirl at 08:52

    In this situation that world is talking about happiness of Iraqis & reports from Iraq, the reaction of Iran mass media to the fall of Saddam is interesting;

    Iran TV channels that used to follow news of War how they wanted & also were proud that at least for the first time some other medias in the world are against US, now are in a hard situation & try to do anything to don't show the happiness of Iraqis & celebrations in Baghdad...

    It is really funny for me, switching to News channel of Iran just after watching BBC & hearing other news; they just mention the celebrations as they are American soldiers who are happy not Iraqis & Iraqis are really angry with US; & when they don’t find any better subject to lie about, they start to talk about US crimes or try to prove that this war was just a collusion...

    Anyways, no matter what they do, all of us know that their time is over too & they can not fool people with wrong news & reports any more.


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    Answers About The Agonist

    By Joe Katzman at 05:23

    I've had a couple people ask me why I still link to The Agonist in Winds of War and other posts, given the Stratfor plagiarism controversy. While I would much rather cover more pressing issues, (a) it's a fair reader question; (b) many more people are probably asking it silently; and (c) Winds of Change.NET is being used as part of an argument that even if Stratfor is satisfied, The Agonist deprived other deserving bloggers of attention instead; shunning him now is therefore seen as a punishment that fits the crime. Dean Esmay's blog probably contains the fairest exposition of that argument, and on its face it's not unreasonable.

    For the record, here's my answer...


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    read the rest! »

    • guest pirate: then there are the vast majority of the ppl who read more
    • Joe Katzman: Thanks for writing, Richard. I appreciate it. Wholesale re-acceptance is read more
    • Richard A. Heddleson: I am one who asked the question silently. Obviously what read more

    Hope

    By Armed Liberal at 00:16

    It's a great day today. I've watched the news with anxiety over the last few days, because as I looked at the war, I saw two possible futures arising from it; one dark and bloody, couched in the resentful glare of the Iraqis who silently watched their conquerer's tanks roll by; and another, hopeful, future - couched in the joyful kiss of a dark-eyed child on the cheek of a helmeted Marine.

    Today I saw the joy and the hope - and the kiss - on the streets of Iraq, and a weight on my heart lifted.

    Hope is the vital ingredient.

    John Balzar, a columnist in the L.A. Times who I find intermittently fascinating and frustrating has a great one today. He is looking at the current mood in the country, and contrasting the determined hopefulness that the conservative, pro-war group has with the equally determined despair of the liberals and those who oppose the war.

    Back to politics. Here at home, conservatives are mining this vein of American optimism and prospering as a consequence.

    [Update: Check out Dan Hartung's eloquent take on this.]


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    read the rest! »

    • Matt McIrvin: Conservatives aren't all optimists, either. Reagan gave them (among other read more
    • Dan Hartung (blogging again): M. Simon has been peddling his all-liberals-are-socialists Dittohead BS on read more
    • Dan Hartung (blogging again): See my April 9 post, AL: I anticipated you. read more

    April 9, 2003

    Saddam's Fall: Sic Semper Tyrannis

    By Joe Katzman at 16:22

    Watching MSNBC (thank-you, Chand Sooran), as the statue is hauled down in Baghdad and celebrations break out on the streets all across northern Iraq. "This is the Berlin Wall all over again," says Chand. "Incredible." As for me, I think instead of Shelly:

    "I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear --
    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.' "

    -- Percy Bysshe Shelly

    The cautions are not wrong, as we saw in Panama. There is fighting ahead. All True. So is the joy. So is the celebration. So is the end of the regime.

    Sic semper tyrannis. Thus, always, to tyrants. In our name.

    UPDATE: Hat Tip to War Photos for the picture. Donald Sensing goes one better with some great video of the statue's fall, plus stills of "the funeral shroud of tyranny," the "human shields go home" sign, etc. Start here.


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    • Mr Soze: I would like to point out couple things. First President read more
    • BarCodeKing: You can't fault the Iraqis for wanting to do the read more
    • catman: I can't help but have my doubts about the future read more

    Winds of War: 2003-04-09

    By Joe Katzman at 09:08

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    Special feature: Everything in today's WSJ Best of the Web. One long shout-out of happiness!

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Crazy Write Winger has a good morning round up. (Hat Tip: Command Post) For a full briefing, The Agonist will fill you in on a number of other details.

  • Tales from the Free Iraqi forces, in-country with American troops. Inspiring and sad all at the same time; a definite must-read.

  • Contrast of the Day: "We went there to help them liberate their country [Iraq], and all they did was shoot us in the back." An American soldier? No, a Lebanese Hamas/Hezbollah terrorist. His colleagues in Iraq aren't in good shape, either. Ahhh, victory is fun!

  • Lots of tunnels in the U.S. military's immediate future.

  • Plus a last stand in Tikrit.

  • Oxblog has a thoughtful piece on that wacky Iraqi spokesman "Baghdad Bob," and why he does what he does. Nasserite Egypt was the same. Team Stryker shows you how it affects military effectiveness, including some mind-bogglingly stupid actions. But then, Victor Davis Hanson could have told you that beforehand.

  • Very good analysis of British tactics in Basra in the NY Times. The operation had 5 key principles: patience, isolation but no siege, information, very visible but calibrated use of force, and the hearts and minds campaign. What the NYT doesn't see is that this solution is not some new universal blueprint, but an intelligent adaptation to particular circumstances.

  • Sucks to be a Saddam Fedayeen in Basra now. Or an anti-war America-hating columnist, for that matter. Prediction: it will get worse.

  • The Americans are looking hard for POWs, though some of the early indications are not good. Let's hope Scott Speicher is still on their minds too.

  • War Photos continues to amaze with great, great pictures.

  • It has to be acknowledged that risk is always part of military operations, and that the invasion of Iraq has gone very well. Yet debate continues, as it should. Andrew Sullivan publishes a letter that provides some very thoughtful criticisms of the war plan, and highlights many of the key trade-offs made. Highly recommended no matter which side you take.

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Lileks. Until you understand this, you don't understand Iraq.

  • Cartoonist Chris Muir of Day by Day is on a serious roll. Yesterday's "Dooowntown!" strip was a classic. Today, he nails Iraq's "Information Minister" to perfection.

  • USA's rebuilding team for Iraq arrives.

  • If you want to analyze Iraq's future prospects and U.S. Mideast strategy, you need to understand Paul Wolfowitz. He may not be exactly who you think.

  • Photodude says it's time for some accountability over Iraq, on the right as well as the left. He's correct.

  • It's certainly way, way past time for some accountability at the BBC World [Radio] Service. How did they spend April 5th? Reporting, like the Iraqi Information Minister that American troops were nowhere near the airport - as a FOX embed reporter broadcast from the tarmac. Next day, they reported the Americans were nowhere in Baghdad - as the rest of the world saw American tanks cruising up and down the streets. Disgraceful. Unethical. Typical. (Hat Tip: reader and sometime guest blogger M. Simon)

  • Speaking of disgraceful and unethical, some good news: Iraqis holding signs that say "Go home human shields!"

  • Cold Fury says Victory is Fun! Unless you're one of the people argued against the war, that is. Dare we hope for the traditional post-liberation ritual of beating up Robert Fisk? C'mon Baghdad, we know you have it in you!

  • This isn't fun. Mind of Man takes us to a Basra prison, and a very good CNN article. I watched that - here's what he doesn't tell you. At the end of the shoot, they focused in on a small red book they found about the principles of interrogation. Written in Arabic, of course -- and French.

  • "America's ability to lead effectively in the future will depend a lot on how this war is understood and remembered by the world. This battle is just beginning, and if the administration can be as clever in diplomacy as it is in war, it can win that one, too." Robert Kagan has a worthwhile column, and Alex Knapp has some good points. To which I'll add: Chirac must become an example that makes his fellow Europeans never want to follow in his footsteps, or we'll see this pattern again and again.

  • Fixing the textbooks will help in Iraq. The first thing that must stop is the systematic incubation of hatred in the region. I hope the new Iraqi textbooks start a whole industry based in Basra.

  • This will help too: war crimes trials. No Belgians. No U.N. kangaroo courts. Why not? See this follow-up post.

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]
    AND BEYOND...

  • Ah, yes, the Great Arab Backlash. Oxblog has an extremely intelligent post on the subject.

  • On a related topic, our un-friends the Saudis have quite the article to contend with in the current Atlantic Monthly. Unlearned Hand and Matthew Yglesias are on it.

  • As we deal with Europe post-war, do trade sanctions make sense? Winds of Change.NET covered this one a while ago, with commentary by Arnold Kling. Conclusion: no... but some Europeans may push them anyway.

  • U.S. just committed to moving its troops out of Seoul, South Korea. As in, out of range of initial North Korean strikes. A good and sobering message.

  • Another accused American al-Qaeda man pleads guilty. That makes 4/6... and the facts keep getting worse. The good news: they were turned in by community members.

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. Ladies and gentlemen, it is still hard to top Saddam Hussein's blog, still up and on the air. This guy has serious talent. UPDATE: On second thought, it is possible to top Saddam. Michael Totten's excellent parody is hilarious!


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  • How Appropriate

    By Joe Katzman at 05:23

    Nice to see that Ms. Corrie is keeping such appropriate company these days. Birds of a feather... and she even has the right Aryan look. The haters know their own. (Hat Tip: Israpundit)

    David Duke Online screenshot

    CAVEAT: David Duke's site changes frequently, and has no search function. Nor was this cached by Google. However, there are a number of other timely links to this on Duke's front page from various parts of the blogosphere, incl. Liquid Courage and Red Letter Day as well. It wouldn't be the first time we've seen this phenomenon.


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    April 8, 2003

    Winds of War: 2003-04-08

    By Joe Katzman at 20:59

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    Special feature: "Where They Get Young Men Like This." Some interesting additional thoughts, too.

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Firefights in Hillah. Analysis from Phil Carter.

  • We made the Iraqi leadership cry!!! You just can't make this stuff up.

  • Or these. War Photos continues to amaze with great, great pictures. Including today's photo of the day.

  • Did we get him? We certainly tried. Wonder if there will be anything left to identify? Phil Carter also notes that this strike is a prime example of Col. Boyd's "OODA Loop", oft-discussed on this site.

  • Chemical Ali: Obituary of a Madman.

  • Report from the front lines: a battle in Baghdad gets hot for 3rd Infantry. In the evening, more fighting. Same winners.

  • U.S. Marines: "thank god the Iraqi's can't aim." Who trained these guys, Mr. T and the A-Team? Mind you, an army with great marksmanship training might be hazardous to a dictator's health.

  • Yes, there is a moral difference. (Hat Tip: Command Post)

  • Laser guided concrete bombs: a useful urban weapon. "Gee, Sgt., why is this really big one called the Jimmy Hoffa Special anyway?"

  • Tales from the Free Iraqi forces, in-country with American troops. Inspiring and sad all at the same time; a definite must-read.

  • Letters from the Front Lines: "The War Within."

  • Good map of Basra (Hat Tip: Acepilots.com), but British positions are now in the city. Looks like it's just mopping up from here. Meanwhile, some Basra citizens are revenging themselves on Saddam Fedayeen. No hiding place down there!

  • Trent Telenko's "V Corps Lessons Learned" comes from front-line 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in Iraq - and contains an excellent set of tips for any soldiers heading into the theater. We've enhanced it with HTML that pops up key definitions and acronyms for you!

  • It has to be acknowledged that risk is always part of military operations, and that the invasion of Iraq has gone very well. Yet debate continues, as it should. Andrew Sullivan publishes a letter that provides some very thoughtful criticisms of the war plan, and highlights many of the key trade-offs made. Highly recommended no matter which side you take.

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Iraqwar.RU isn't the GRU, and they're going off the air. No, they're not the public arm of Russian military intelligence (duhhh - can't believe people bought that), but an outfit much like Stratfor. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • James Lileks has some useful things to say about the reality of war and how it should be conveyed.

  • Something the BBC will never understand. It's so bad that British sailors on the aircraft Carrier HMS Ark Royal refuse to watch the BBC any more. Rival broadcaster Sky News is now being used instead.

  • "His statues have fallen and the massive portraits burned, but for many in Basra and elsewhere those images will remain indelibly hammered into their memories until death." Diablogger, in a perceptive essay.

  • The U.S. State Department clings to the past. Doesn't bode well, especially if this forecast for Iraq's future is accurate. Even if it isn't, it's a very useful guide to the ethnic groups and factions jockeying to shape Iraq's future.

  • But there are a growing number of Arab intellectuals who believe that a meaningful and culturally appropriate Iraqi democracy is a real possibility. And this blog campaign believes it too (here's the code if you want to join).

  • Fixing the textbooks will help. The first thing that must stop is the systematic incubation of hatred.

  • This will help too: war crimes trials. No Belgians. No U.N. kangaroo courts.

  • The other thing that must stop is the corrupting effect of oil on government accountability. Why not give the public a direct share in oil revenues? It works in Alaska, and boy would that ever make a meaningful statement about American intentions in Iraq and beyond. Just implement it during the transition period, and no government will dare repeal it. (Hat Tip: Instapundit)

  • Caerdroia explains the full scope of what's at stake in this fight - it's major! To really drive it home, follow that up with this read about "the Toyota Taliban" and the mess they've made in Kosovo. The similarity between UNMIK and the Albanian anmik ("enemy") is eerily appropriate... but this is what the U.S. State Department and the U.N. want for Iraq, unless public pressure creates a different outcome. (Hat Tip: watch/)

  • A very good discussion of the limits to what we should do in Afghanistan - and Iraq, too.

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

    AND BEYOND...

  • Armed Liberal on Risk & Politics (#4/6)

  • I have no idea whether the verbal beating Colin Powell's laid on a German TV interviewer shocked the Euros, but by G-d, it certainly shocked me. In a good way. For a change.

  • Maybe this will help bring some of the Europeans out of their dream palaces, which even European observers are starting to notice bears little resemblance to objective reality.

  • In past reports, we've predicted the shock of the Arab world once they realized they'd been conned again by their media, and the USA had "suddenly" won. Right on schedule. "Even worse than the Arab Media of 1967," says one commentator... in an Arabic language newspaper, no less.

  • New Palestinian cabinet and reforms could be over even before they've begun. Why aren't we surprised? The only way to fix this situation is to kill Arafat. The problem may not solve itself in his absence, but it definitely will not solve itself as long as he lives.

  • Andre Glucksmann discusses "The Cult of Guaranteed Sovereignty". Great translation of the Le Monde article by Winds of Change.NET affiliate watch/

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • More on the Agonist affair, which we covered last week. The comments are worth your time, and the link to yesterday's WIRED article is in there too.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. Looks like we've found a new Iraqi missile. Should have suspected all along.


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    • Joe Katzman: Yes. It's listed lower down in Winds of War. Haven't read more
    • old maltese: Joe -- Do you realize the irony of mentioning Agonist read more
  • Photo of the Day: Reunited

    By Joe Katzman at 17:31

    Yesterday's photo got some great feedback. Today's is better, and comes via a great blog called War Photos.

    Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It: Free Iraqi Forces soldier Ali, whose full name was withheld for security reasons, hugs a nephew he had never seen before as he is reunited with family members Saturday in Umm Qasr, Iraq. Ali, 40, a former officer in the Iraqi army, escaped from Iraq in 1991 after being involved in the Basra uprising and had been working as a taxi driver in St. Louis, Mo. He is serving with U.S. troops in the Free Iraqi Forces, which are made up mostly of Iraqi exiles opposed to Saddam Hussein. They're helping a lot.


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    • Jeff Brokaw: That is simply awesome. Combined with the news that 100+ read more
    • michele: I've got goose bumps. What a wonderful picture. read more

    Canadian Imam Calls for Jihad

    By Joe Katzman at 15:47

    Most of you have probably seen this report already, about the Muslim Imam in our nation's capital who called for jihad against the United States.

    Charles Johnson covered it too, of course. Every once in a while, The Great Green Khan's comments brigade get off a good one. For instance:

    #19: "Maybe the 4th ID can start a queue, where all these bonehead jihadists can just line up for their chance for glorious martyrdom.

    Step right up! 72 virgins await! You, sir! Wanna take a chance? Sure you do! You look big & virtuous! C'mon! Hang onto this hand grenade, and run at those big guys over there!

    Awwwww..... that close!

    Next! Who's next!? Step right up!"

    Tempting. Bet we could even charge admission for the privilege, though the bus ride there would be free. Still, my vote has to go to "T.I. James":
    #20: "We shall defend our fantasy ideology, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight from the exploding taxis, we shall fight from behind women and little girls, we shall fight with our nails and teeth and moustaches, we shall fight from within the hospitals and holy sites; we shall never surrender."
    Yes you will.


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    Surveillance Society

    By Joe Katzman at 09:10

    I heartily endorse Jeffrey Harrow's "Harrow Technology Report." It's an excellent source of thought-provoking items about the advances technology is making on many fronts - and on the societal changes these advances bring in their wake.

    In light of yesterday's bit about Privacy International's Stupid Security Competition, I thought this item from Harrow's reports was rather timely. Calpundit asked if we should laugh or cry, a valid question in light of his excellent January 21, 2003 post. Well...

    "Today a company or agency with a $10 million hardware budget can buy processing power equivalent to 2,000 workstations, two petabytes of hard drive space (two million gigabytes, or 50,000 standard 40-gigabyte hard drives like those found on today's PCs), and a two-gigabit Internet connection (more than 2,000 times the capacity of a typical home broadband connection).

    If current trends continue, simple arithmetic predicts that in 20 years the same purchasing power will buy the processing capability of 10 million of today's workstations, 200 exabytes (200 million gigabytes) of storage capacity, and 200 exabits (200 million megabits) of bandwidth.

    Another way of saying this is that by 2023 large organizations will be able to devote the equivalent of a contemporary PC to monitoring every single one of the 330 million people who will then be living in the United States."

    "Surveillance Nation"
    MIT Technology Review: April, 2003
    (May require a registration on the site.)

    Bottom line, says Harrow? "We will get the type of society that we allow ourselves to create. We have been warned..."

    Not entirely. To be fully warned, consider this: international organized crime will also have access to this level of computing power. What if the government wasn't the worst of your worries?


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    • M. Simon: We need organized crime for two reasons. 1. To deliver read more

    The Bard's Breath: Spamming Saddam

    By Joe Katzman at 06:09

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times every Tuesday and Thursday. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through what's coming next: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory.

    On that note, Russell "Mean Mr. Mustard" Wardlow believes it's time to take the kid gloves off if we really want to finish the last phase. Just in case last night's bombing didn't work, there's always the really mean stuff:

    "GREETINGS AND GOOD DAY MISTER SADDAM HUSSEIN!

    I REALIZE YOU ARE BUSIED MAN WITH COALITION FORCES AND THEIR BOMBINGS AND SOLDIERS KNOCKING AT THE STEP OF YOUR DOOR, BUT ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF: I AM GEORGE BUSH OF WASHINGTON D.C. IN THE AMERICAN UNITED STATES, AND I AM MAILING YOU WITH UTMOST CONFIDENTIAL AND TOP SECRET BUSINESS PROPOSITION OF GREATEST MAGNITUDE TO BE PROSECUTED WITH REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE.

    WE ARE TOP OFFICIAL OF UNITED STATES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WHO ARE INTERESTED IN REMOVAL OF FUNDS FROM HIGHEST CONGRESS BUDGET MONIES TO INTERNATIONAL AREA. IN ORDER TO COMMENCE THIS BUSINESS WE SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE TO ENABLE US TRANSFER INTO YOUR ACCOUNT THE SAID TRAPPED FUNDS...."

    From Shock and Awe to Shuck and Jive, the mighty allied force rolls on to victory. You know you want to read the rest!
     


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    • Chrees: Brilliant idea. Ah, if it would only work. Of course, read more

    1 and 1... Here's the Pitch

    By Joe Katzman at 03:01

    If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Looks like Chemical Ali went up in a big exothermic reaction, but what about Saddam? The Americans have just had another go at a "leadership target of opportunity" in south Baghdad, using some pretty serious ordnance. Some think it might have been Saddam, but I have no idea why that guy would be anywhere but underground right now.

    "Yer out!!!" or "strike 2"? We'll know more in the next few days.


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    April 7, 2003

    Photo of the Day: Miller Time

    By Joe Katzman at 21:05

    Guess who? Guess where! (Hat Tip: Dar Steckelberg, Rantburg)

    "Ahh, Miller Time! Pass me a cold one from that gold-plated fridge, willya?"


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    • Joe Katzman: Displays just fine to me... read more
    • http://www.pcpages.com/abyssal: WHERE IS THE PHOTO?... read more
    • Catman: Servicemen of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division make themselves comfortable read more

    Risk and Politics (Part 4/6)

    By Armed Liberal at 13:30
    [Read Part 1: Risk | Part 2: Risky Business | Part 3: Risk & Reality | Part 4: Risk & Politics | Risk, Reality, & Bullsh-t ]


    When I started this series, I said:

    ...it turns out that Tenacious G and the boys haven't seen the Branagh 'Henry V', so we jump it to the head of the Netflix queue, and it shows up in the mail. We watched it the other night, and it was still wonderful (Yes, Bacchus, I'm still supporting Branagh's erotic reward). My boys loved it as well; Littlest Guy, who is six, wanted to watch it again the next day, and spent the time after bath and before bed wandering the house in his blue PJ's-with-rocket-ships-and-feet and a stern look, declaiming "No King of England if not King of France." I love my sons and they are wonderful, but they are a bit ... odd, sometimes. Somehow that line over all the others had caught him, and he and I had a long discussion in which I explained that Henry wanted to be King of France, and that he was willing to risk losing England to get it.

    I'm somehow amazed that only a few people have made the G.W. Bush > Prince Hal comparison.

    And in this case, I think the comparison is apt; Hal became Henry, who staked his crown on defeating and conquering France.

    We know that he won, and that at Agincourt, his technology (the longbow), strategy (setting up across a muddy and plowed field), and luck made him King of France and kept him King of England.

    And I believe that Bush staked his presidency on the War with Iraq (and the consequent wars we will have with interests - I am hoping that we don't have to fight any more nations - in the Middle East.

    I believe that the 2004 election is being settled this month in Baghdad, and that Bush is about to win it.

    Does that mean that all will play out as Bush & Co. intend in the Middle East? We'll have to watch and see.

    Remember that Henry won France, but ultimately his children lost his crown.


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    read the rest! »

    • Patrick Brown: Mike - history would have judged Henry more harshly if read more
    • mike van winkle: And what if Henry had lost England...how would history have read more
    • Meyer Rafael: I absolutely agree with your observations on the excellence of read more

    Winds of War: 2003-04-07

    By Joe Katzman at 13:10

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    Still getting comments for "Where They Get Young Men Like This." Some interesting additional thoughts, too.

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Elements of the 4th Infantry Division heading north for a charge to Tikrit? Getting similar reports from British papers, too, including a good background piece on 4ID in the Guardian of all places.

  • Trent Telenko on the battle for Baghdad and capture of Presidential Palaces and the Information Ministry: "Going Down Town!"

  • Welcome back from the weekend. More background on the Day 1 strike against Saddam Hussein... Damn. I deeply wish there was something we could have done.

  • Here's some good news on the shadowy aspects of this war, which can claim very notable successes. Plus, "The destruction of Saddam's regime will result in the greatest intelligence coup in history." Thanks, I needed that. (Hat Tip: Instapundit)

  • Calling Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, et. al... we think we've found some of Saddam's chemical weapons. Can you say "environmental disaster?"

  • Whoa! BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, equipped with mustard gas and ready to fire. From NPR Radio and Reuters. Can you get more left than that? Dunno, but you know it's their army of the clueless when they write about "Marines with the 101st Airborne Division"

  • A number of soldiers also came down sick while guarding a complex, symptoms consistent with low level nerve agent exposure. Team Stryker has the details.

  • Speaking of unlawful combat, Mark Kleiman responds to Calpundit's question re: the legality of allied commando tactics with a very good breakdown on U.S. Special Forces scenarios and the laws of war. (Hat Tip: Intel Dump)

  • A great map of Basra, incl. British positions. (Hat Tip: Acepilots.com) Trent Telenko notes that the Brits are now there to stay, and pushing hard on all fronts. Meanwhile, some Basra citizens are revenging themselves on Saddam Fedayeen. No hiding place down here!

  • The 101st Airborne are working to take Karbala, as this superb and detailed account demonstrates. Money quote: "It's a beautiful morning... Kiowas, Black Hawks, JDAMs, mortars, smoke."

  • For more background on the religious significance of Karbala, see "War in the Houses of Ali".

  • Trent Telenko's "V Corps Lessons Learned" comes from front-line 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in Iraq - and contains an excellent set of tips for any soldiers heading into the theater. We've enhanced it with HTML that pops up key definitions and acronyms for you!

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 7, 2003].

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Why media coverage of the war is usually so poor overall. To help you get past that, Acepilots has Ten Rules for Making Sense of War Coverage.

  • More liberation coverage! Only thing these street parties are missing is a rock n'roll band.

  • Sigh - not if the U.S. State Department can help it. Doesn't bode well, especially if this forecast for Iraq's future is accurate. Even if it isn't, it's a very useful guide to the ethnic groups and factions jockeying to shape Iraq's future.

  • But there are a growing number of Arab intellectuals who believe that a meaningful and culturally appropriate Iraqi democracy is a real possibility. And this blog campaign believes it too (here's the code if you want to join).

  • Caerdroia explains the full scope of what's at stake in this fight - it's major! To really drive it home, follow that up with this read about "the Toyota Taliban" and the mess they've made in Kosovo. The similarity between UNMIK and the Albanian anmik ("enemy") is eerily appropriate... but this is what the U.S. State Department and the U.N. want for Iraq, unless public pressure creates a different outcome. (Hat Tip: watch/)

  • A very good discussion of the limits to what we should do in Afghanistan - and Iraq, too.

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

    AND BEYOND...

  • Parapundit has an update on the mood in Iran and on its nuclear weapons programs. The news is not good.

  • The sensitive and sensible folk at Privacy International ran an international competition to discover the world's most pointless, intrusive, stupid and self-serving security measures. Presenting, the winners.

  • Evan Coyne Maloney's latest must-see video from the "peace" movement: "Peace, Love, and Anti-Semitism." Even one of the protesters he spoke to was frightened by what she saw.

  • Amnesty International may be more concerned about its political friends than human rights, but Human Rights Watch is criticizing the Iraqis and taking positions truly based on human rights concerns. Other members of the decent left also chime in.

  • WEASELS' FUTURES: Interesting bit from Newsrack on Germany's future political alignments. And from BusinessWeek on potential trouble brewing in France for Chirac (Hat Tip: Command Post).

  • via Emperor Misha, John Hawkins lucidly explains Conservative Thinking Behind the War on Terror. Leftie parody link offered as a bonus.

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • More on the Agonist affair, which we covered last week. The comments are worth your time, and the link to today's WIRED article is in there too.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. This joke about Saddam's doubles certainly fits the bill, and may be quite timely.


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    • Rod: Sigh: Maybe this is why the 3rd ID shot at read more
    • zombyboy: Actually, it's kind of cute when the liberal types say read more
  • Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing

    By Joe Katzman at 11:18

    updated April 7, 2003

    In order to really understand what's going on in Iraq and beyond, it's useful to have certain information at your fingertips. The goal of this briefing is to put all that basic reference material at your fingertips in one place. Link and/or cite it on your own blogs, or email it to friends who want to keep better tabs on what's going on!

    If there's something you'd like to understand better but don't see included here, email me or drop a post in the Comment section. Ditto if you've got a link for an essential basic resource worth including.

    Military Basics

    • Soldiers, Marines, troops - what's the difference? Plenty, says Major Donald Sensing (ret). Use the wrong term, and you'll give all kinds of people high blood pressure and/or make them mad at you. Presenting the style guide you need. UPDATE: "Royal Army" is not a correct term.

    Additional categories include:


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    read the rest! »

    • Joe Thorpe: Good to see a proper backgrounder amidst all the fluff read more
    • Matt Johnson: Also, there's a great collection of *maps of Iraq at read more

    Going Down Town!

    By Trent Telenko at 07:02

    The US Army just took Saddam's Presidential Palace in Baghdad and the Information Ministry besides.

    Since US troops were ordered not to raise the US flag over the Palace, some wise acre brought a University of Georgia bulldog banner to use instead. I guess we can thank the Turks for holding up the deployment of the Texas based 4th Mech and 1st Cavalry Divisions. We would have seen a Texas Lone Star flag and someone playing both "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and "Gary Owen" on a really big boom box.

    Update 1:

    It also looks like the 101st Airborne Division found sarin nerve agent the hard way in barrels marked as 'agricultural chemicals.' The article and comments are at this FreeRepublic.com link:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/886686/posts

    update 2:

    Okay, I'm not sleeping and I am hanging out here. Fox New Channel just had this exchange between a reporter and a soldier over "Baghdad Bob," Iraq's Information minister:

    "Greg Kelly is interviewing soldier. Greg asks "The Info minister doesn't believe you're here, what do you say".

    Soldier says "Well, he's right across the street from here, we'll go talk to him.""

    And now Bob and everyone around him is running like hell. It looks like US forces are a block away from the Al Rasheed hotel.

    Update 3:

    The people over on the FreeRepublic.com are posting a FNC report that the British have positively I.D.ed the body of "Chemical Ali" in Basra.

    Update 4:

    Sound the Bagpipes! The Black Watch is on the attack!


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    • MommaBear: Re: Update 4 "The Ladies From Hell" are on the read more

    The Stupid Security Competition

    By Joe Katzman at 05:19

    While doing some research regarding new airport scanners that display nude pictures of airline passengers, I came across this gem. Privacy International has hit upon a brilliant concept:

    "If you thought the accounting profession was bad news, just wait till you hear how stupid the security industry has become. Even before 9/11 a whole army of bumbling amateurs has taken it upon themselves to figure out pointless, annoying, intrusive, illusory and just plain stupid measures to "protect" our security.

    It's become a global menace. From the nightclub in Berlin that demands the home address of its patrons, to the phone company in Britain that won't let anyone pay more than fifty pounds a month from a bank account, the world has become infested with bumptious administrators competing to hinder or harass you. And often for no good reason whatever.

    The sensitive and sensible folk at Privacy International have endured enough of this treatment. So we are running an international competition to discover the world's most pointless, intrusive, stupid and self-serving security measures."

    Over 5,000 nominations came in, from 40 countries. On April 4th, they announced their winners in the following categories:

  • Most Inexplicable Security Measures
  • Most Intrusive Security Measures
  • Most Counter Productive Security Measures
  • Most Annoying Security Measures
  • Most Egregious Security MeasuresUPDATE: Calpundit asks if we should laugh or cry. Today is definitely the laugh. Now, here's the cry.
     


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  • Peace, Love & Hating the Jews

    By Joe Katzman at 04:52

    Welcome to the 21st century. The best golfer is black (and Thai), the best rapper is white... and the best guerilla political video comes from the center-right. Evan Coyne Maloney has become a rising star just by taking his video camera to "peace" protests, interviewing the people who attend, then putting together a Quicktime video and distributing it online. It's the new millennium's political version of Candid Camera, hilarious and disturbing in ways Michael Moore once achieved and no longer does.

    Rallying cries like "Vive Chirac - stop the Jews" aren't just a problem in France. Hatred of the Jews is becoming more and more common within today's Left, as Maloney's "Peace, Love and Anti-Semitism" video so brilliantly demonstrates. Winds of Change.NET has covered this subject before, and seeing it on video really drives the points home on a whole new level. Highly recommended.


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    • someone: The best golfer is Thai. read more

    Human Rights Watch: Credit Where It's Due

    By Joe Katzman at 04:30

    Recently, I took a large brickbat to Amnesty International for betraying its founding purpose. Deservedly so. Organizations who only care about some countries' human rights violations, don't really care about human rights at all.

    Here's one human rights organization that's making more of an effort to stay true to its calling, by sharply criticizing Iraqi perfidity as well. Kudos to Human Rights Watch:

    "Feigning civilian or noncombatant status to deceive the enemy is a violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today. On March 29 at a U.S. military roadblock near Najaf, an Iraqi noncommissioned officer reportedly posing as a taxi driver detonated a car bomb that killed him and four U.S. soldiers. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said at a Baghdad news conference that such attacks would become "routine military policy."

    When combatants disguise themselves as civilians or surrendering soldiers, that's a serious violation of the laws of war. Any such blurring of the line between combatant and noncombatant puts all Iraqis at greater risk."

    Eugene Volokh has more.

    P.S. Here's another person with real ethics. A well-known Chicago-based film critic protests Iran's recent arrest of Iranian film critic Kambiz Kahe. Because it's wrong and should be opposed, even if the USA isn't responsible. Or read Nat Henthoff's excellent "Why I Didn't March This Time" in The Village Voice. That's what a decent left looks like - and most of the time, does not.


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    April 5, 2003

    A Very Victorian War

    By Trent Telenko at 15:38

    We seem to be fighting a very "Victorian war," with the Iraqis playing the role of Kipling's "Fuzzie Wuzzies." The reports I am seeing here and here say we are killing armed Iraqis in ground combat at ratios of between 200 and 400 to one.

    For example, the 3rd Infantry Division took the bridge over the Euphraties with a single mechanized infantry battalion (two Bradley companies, one Abrams) from two battalions of Iraqi infantry, one Fedayeen and one Republican Guard, killing them all with not a single KIA. And this was in an urban area!

    The following is an e-mail Bill O'Reilly got from a commander in the 3rd Indantry Division:

    "The Third (31D) is making history here. In the past 48 hours, we have destroyed two (Iraqi) divisions, and six other divisions decided not to fight or have formally capitulated. Of course, this is never reported in the news. I do daily air recon in a Blackhawk escorted by Apaches, and we have probably killed close to 10,000 (Iraqi soldiers). We are continuously sniped at and receive periodic mortar fire. Bottom line, they shoot -- they die. Every American soldier (here) is getting a chance to engage and kill the enemy.

    "Iraq has these maniacs, death squad guys called Saddam Feddyen, DGS forces, IIS, and Ba'ath Party forces that we spend most of our day killing. They continuously make suicidal charges at our tanks, brads (fighting vehicles) and checkpoints. We are happy to send them to hell. You would not believe the carnage. Imagine body parts about knee deep, with hundreds of (Iraqi) vehicles burning, occupants inside. We fill up trucks with body parts daily.

    "The plan is going exactly as scripted. The news is full of s---. We have almost total control. Don't know how much longer the division can keep up this pace, but we are prepared to do it."

    The British seem to have racking up similar impressive kill ratios early on over running the Al Faw penninsula, but they are not hitting the numbers of suicidal Fedayeen the USMC and 3rd ID have in the dash for Baghdad. Point in fact, they are more afraid of American "Friendly fire" than Iraqis. They have lost more troops to American planes than to Iraqis and are flying big Union Jacks in an attempt to ward them off.

    Please note that the 10,000 the 3rd ID commander estimates his division has killed does not include Iraqis who have died in air strikes that are not close air support. We have no idea how many have been killed in those.

    Concerns Glenn Reynolds mentioned of Allies killing "too many" Iraqis may be well founded.


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    • The Reaper: Time to meet the Reaper whom is in laid upon read more
    • Devil's Advocate: Referring to the enemy as non-human (varmints, pests, hostiles) is read more
    • zombyboy: Trent-- A filibuster-proof Republican Senate. Ahh, to dream a beautiful read more

    Shabbat

    By Joe Katzman at 06:04

    As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. In that spirit, our Saturday posts to this blog are traditionally "good news". Unfortunately, today is also a very difficult anniversary for me. I have no good news in me right now.

    In the face of a war that promises similar anniversaries for many, the informal agreement with my non-Jewish team members no longer holds. They may post updates and news today as they wish.

    Welcome to Winds of Change.NET - and thanks for reading.


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    • David: I am not aware of the anniversary you are speaking read more
    • Macallan: [sigh] All I can say is... I know what you read more
    • inkgrrl: My sympathies on the occasion of this anniversary, and shabbat read more

    April 4, 2003

    Baghdad Unintended Consequences

    By Trent Telenko at 22:14

    I wrote previously about the American way of urban combat. Tom Holsinger updates this over on Strategypage.com with his article "Baghdad 2003 - Grozny 1995 or Manila 1945?" with a overview of the British, Israeli, USMC and US Army doctrines of urban combat.

    However, the interesting part of the article is less about that than the world Islamist movement's "international brigade" that is in or heading for Baghdad:

    But thousands of Islamic terrorists have recently arrived in Iraq to fight Americans. Some Arab tyrannies, notably Syria's and Iran's, are happily exporting inconvenient people to Iraq in this fashion, knowing those won't be problems at home after we kill them. Such tactics are time-honored in the Middle East - 2 Samuel 11 (David, Bathsheba and Uriah) - and elsewhere. A notable recent example is the 1968 Tet Offensive when the North Vietnamese expended their southern brethren (the Viet Cong) in head-on attacks against American and ARVN forces. It was a two-fer - that both broke American will and removed a potential post-war threat to Hanoi's rule of the South.

    Al Qaeda intervened in Somalia 1992-93 to fight American forces (Blackhawk Down), and in Chechnya 1995 to fight Russian forces attacking Grozny. Al Qaeda claimed a victory both times, and it is such purported victories which drive intervention in Iraq by Islamic extremists, analogous to the Spanish Civil War's International Brigades, but with far less training, organization and discipline. We encountered many such, chiefly Pakistani, in Afghanistan where they were at most target practice.

    The chief role of such idiots, as for their International Brigade equivalents, will be propaganda for their faction. They'll just get themselves killed, but hope they'll take a fair number of Americans with them, based on experience fighting equally incompetent Russians in Grozny. That won't happen - there just aren't enough suicidal Islamic idiots in Baghdad to be more than a nuisance to American forces, save that they'll murder thousands of Iraqi civilians when they get desperate while their mere presence will require our first significant urban combat in over 50 years.

    But the idiots aren't the only Islamic volunteers - there are many well-trained Islamic terrorists in Iraq who were reasonably effective in Afghanistan. There will be a real fight for Baghdad if there are enough of them, which is definitely possible, even after Iraqi resistance ceases.

    I will be sorry if these "Islamikazis" manage to kill thousands of innocent Iraqis. In the end we cannot protect them. We can only kill their murders.

    As for the danger to us of all these Islamic extremists showing up to fight the US Army and Marine Corps in Iraq, bring them on. I would prefer they fight us where we can bring all our toys to the fight, rather than to have to sweat these people infiltrating the USA to gas a NY City high rise or slim D.C. with more anthrax.

    UPDATE: Patrick Walsh's points in the Comments section of this post are excellent.


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    V Corps Lessons Learned

    By Trent Telenko at 21:10

    This "lessons learned" message came to me a couple of days ago, and while the team hasn't been able to validate it's origins, early feedback suggests that it's the real thing.

    I would disagree with the thought that the Fedayeen are "smart." Ruthless and suicidally fanatical, yes. "Smart?" Never. Suicidal resistance to American firepower increases the body count for the resistor to no effect.

    The points on the need for more thermal sights (PAS-13) on Bradley's rather than image intensification gear (PVS-7B) was noted before the war. This is what those of us in the military procurement community call a "money solvable issue." This is in the same class of problem as identification friend or foe (IFF) devices for American armored vehicles.

    It also looks like those two Abrams knocked out in the 3-7th Cavalry were not the victims of either Russian Koronet missiles or rocket propelled grenades. Both were initially hit by Fedayeen "technical" mounted 23 mm autocannon through the rear engine grill in the middle of a sand storm. It is hard to protect any armored vehicle when visibility is at 5 meters.

    Last, looks like it's back to the drawing board for US Army anti-missile countermeasures designs. The current device on the Bradley is a result of the 1991 Gulf War, and while it will work in testing, the man/machine interface is such that the crew cannot use the missile jammer and weapons at the same time. Counterfire against the missile launchers works better at the short ranges the Fedayeen are fighting.

    CONTINUED...


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    • Rob: Maybe the word "cunning" would be better. Great stuff. read more

    Dark Thoughts Revisited

    By Trent Telenko at 20:24

    I said this in an earlier post when I heard the first details of the Lynch rescue:

    I fear the following things are true:

    1) Americans prisoners shown on Al Jazeera, as well as the Apache pilots captured later, were all tortured and then executed.
    2) There are snuff videos of their torture/execution that will soon go into circulation on the Arab street.
    3) Lynch was reatedly gang raped and only survived because a senior Al Qaeda/Fedayeen wanted to keep her as a "trophy."

    We have since learned that nine of the 11 bodies found with Pfc. Lynch were Americans. The Army is in the process of identification and notification of next of kin.

    We also learned that the stabbing and gunshot wounds in the initial Washington Post report were as accurate as some of my sources on military dependent child abuse. (The Post still hasn't seen fit to run a correction.)

    I think the Al Qaeda recent announcement of the capture of American prisoners in Iraq, and their wanting to trade them for Al Qaedaites on Guantanimo, means they bought Lynch's fellow 507th's prisoners from their Iraqi Fedayeen captors and perhaps those Apache pilots as well.

    CTD


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    Salam Pax, Responsibly

    By Joe Katzman at 17:56

    We've written about Salam Pax recently, and offered him some advice. Looks like he's taking it, which is a good thing. That has only deepened the mystery for many journalists, however, and some crossed important lines along the way.

    In "Where Is Salam Pax? Iraq's Web writer has disappeared" David Barton of the Sacramento Bee proves that you can cover this story and still do it responsibly. I was glad to help him out - and happier still when I saw the quality of the final article. Good job! (Hat Tip to loyal reader and correspondent Mike Daley)

    David's point about numerous theories re: Salam Pax's identity is especially well taken. The truth is, the reports are conflicting and the popularity of various accounts doesn't necessarily make them accurate. If Salam has any brains, it's also quite likely that some details he has revealed on his blog aren't 100% correct. Reporters and others looking for the real Salam Pax might do well to keep that in mind.


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    Winds of War 2003-04-04

    By Joe Katzman at 17:20

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    A couple of specials today: Zen Master Rumsfeld's beat poetry, and an answer to Martin Savidge's question that explains "Where They Get Men Like This."

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Trenht Telenko's "V Corps Lessons Learned" comes from front-line 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in Iraq - and contains an excellent set of tips for any soldiers heading into the theater. Today's must-read.

  • We've moved all of the basic military and Iraq reference materials into their own post. Presenting the Winds of Change.NET Essential War Briefing [Updated April 1, 2003].

  • Some important battlefield setbacks have occurred over the last 48 hours. Frontline Dispatch explains. (Hat Tip: Cold Fury)

  • Well, this really breaks down the barriers. Michael Kelly becomes 1st embedded journalist casualty. The former Atlantic Monthly editor and Washington Post columnist was a real talent, and I'll miss him. Here's his last post from the front. Rest in Peace.

  • Is Saddam dead? The Optimate thinks so. Diana Moon points at another source. Iffy, but then they're all iffy. My take: don't know, don't care until they surrender. But the pathetic Iraqi performance and failure to do simple things like blow up bridges, let alone use chemical weapons, is a point in Jay and Diana's favour. That Day 1 surprise strike may have been hugely consequential.

  • Airpower 101 - what air dominance means on the battlefield. See also: 6-Day War, 1967. (Hat Tip: Emperor Misha I)

  • Her's some really great news concerning the PFC Jessica Lynch POW rescue: a bona-fide Iraqi hero made it all possible; he even went back to spy on the hospital and draw maps. Get this: he's a lawyer. Give this man a medal - and give his family green cards.

  • Parapundit has put together some thoughts and research on how to deal with Baghdad. This how-to map should help. And this is how the Israelis do it: planned unpredictability.

  • Well, this is damned disturbing. Saddam's child army. Not content to emulate the SS, he has a Hitler Youth program as well. Quite a few of those ended up on the front lines in the dying days of WW2, and we might expect the same here. If not, expect an out of control violent crime problem after Baghdad falls.

  • UAV robot planes played a big role in the recent battles outside Baghdad, and will probably play a similar role as the allies enter the city.

  • Rand Simberg on "mini-sieges" like the one we're seeing around Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, etc.

  • Some die-hards still holding out in Najaf and Karbala. "War in the Houses of Ali" looks at the battle from a different perspective, giving some background on Ali and the sites in Karbala and Najaf venerated by Shia Muslims everywhere. From Saddam's strategy to history to battlefield reports.

  • A great map of Basra, incl. British positions. (Hat Tip: Acepilots.com) Gotta love the job those British snipers are doing!

  • Anything can happen, but the Iraqi regime now looks like it's coming apart faster than a stripper's costume. This cartoon pretty much sums it up.

  • The north is disintegrating.

  • Also up north, we're seeing the aftermath of Ansar-al-Islam's rule. (Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan) What is it with the al-Qaeda types that they invariably piss-off the locals, who seem to look on them as twisted cultural imperialists?

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Liberation!

  • Sigh - not if the U.S. State Department can help it. But there are a growing number of Arab intellectuals who believe that a meaningful and culturally appropriate Iraqi democracy is a real possibility. And this blog campaign believes it too (here's the code if you want to join).

  • Another liberation of sorts. Orianna Falacci reruns an interview with an Iraqi POW in 1991. Compelling and human. (Hat Tip: Vodkapundit)

  • Interrogation techniques: theirs, and ours. Read interrogator David Robinson's comments about torture. (Hat Tip: Command Post)

  • Meanwhile, the Iranians are planning terrorism and guerilla campaigns in Iraq.

  • Umm Qasr aid efforts not going well yet. C'mon, guys, this is a key spot if we're going to start shipping in stuff to help the rest of the country. Let's get it done! (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

  • Everything you need to know about the 4th Infantry division, now arriving in Kuwait, and how it's getting there.

    AND BEYOND...

  • Quote of the day: "It seems the only Palestinians who know how to fight fair are from West Virginia" (PFC Lynch reference). Untrue, of course. The Texans are OK too.

  • via Emperor Misha, John Hawkins lucidly explains Conservative Thinking Behind the War on Terror. Leftie parody link offered as a bonus.

  • In contrast, read this from Amitai Etzioni, as he pushes some smug Euros to offer solutions instead of carping and smarm. Etzioni is the founder of the center-left communitarian movement, and a professor at GWU.

  • It's Reuters, so treat it with a truckload of salt, but this article notes that Afghanistan's new dawn is stalled in some important ways and worries for its future. No realistic solutions offered. Bueller? Anyone? (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • Ah, thanks Ray! A very good discussion of the limits to what we should do in Afghanistan - and Iraq, too.

  • Mike Hendrix does the Mellow-Harshing War Dance of Doom on the head of that fraud of false piety, Kofi Anan.

  • Airport scanners that show your Full Monty. Just another innovation from the Dept. of Honmeland security, currently in service at several U.S. airports.

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. Presenting, The U.S. Redneck Special Forces


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  • Rumsfeld's Poetry: The Unknown

    By Joe Katzman at 03:33

    This is beyond hilarious. Hart Seely of Slate has taken excerpts from U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's press conferences, and reformatted them as poetry. The amazing this is, they're good. Courtesy of American Realpolitik, but my favourite isn't listed on his site:

    "As we know,
    There are known knowns.
    There are things we know we know.
    We also know
    There are known unknowns.
    That is to say
    We know there are some things
    We do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns,
    The ones we don't know
    We don't know."
    -- Feb. 12, 2002 news briefing
    Very funny, and very poetic. It also refers to a basic tenet of successful spycraft, one that has serious relevance to the War on Terror.


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    Remarkable Readers

    By Joe Katzman at 00:04

    Without a doubt, one of the best things about this site is the consistent intelligence and humanity in our Comments sections. To all our readers who have been part of that accomplishment, thank you from the Winds of Change.NET team!


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    April 3, 2003

    Where They Get Young Men Like This

    By Joe Katzman at 17:25

    Well, LT. Smash's post sure struck a chord (Hat Tip: Howard Veit). As well it should. It also links right into a couple of articles today - on Winds of Change.NET, and beyond. Here's the short version:

    "Martin Savidge of CNN, embedded with the 1st Marine battalion, ...turned to the four [Marines] and said he had cleared it with their commanders and they could use his video phone to call home. The 19 year old Marine next to him asked Martin if he would allow his platoon sergeant to use his call to call his pregnant wife back home whom he had not been able to talk to in three months... Savidge recovered after a few seconds and turned back to the three young Marines still sitting with him and asked which one of them would like to call home first.

    The Marine closest to him responded without a moments hesitation "Sir, if is all the same to you we would like to call the parents of a buddy of ours, Lance Cpl Brian Buesing of Cedar Key, Florida who was killed on 3-23-03 near Nasiriya to see how they are doing."

    At that Martin Savidge totally broke down and was unable to speak. All he could get out before signing off was "Where do they get young men like this?"

    A prime example of a trend Blake C. Powers wrote about today: the slow collapse of the journalists' long, undeclared war on America's military. The shift will be noticeable from here on in.

    Now, to answer Savidge's question.

    CONTINUED...


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    Winds of War 2003-04-03

    By Joe Katzman at 15:17

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • What to do about Baghdad now that the skyline is in sight? (Hat Tip: The Agonist) Think fast, because the FOX embedded reporter is standing on the tarmac at Baghdad's Saddam International Airport.

  • Given reports of Iraqi preparations to use chemical weapons, see "Devils in the Details" at Techcentralstation.com. It's my analysis of Saddam's chemical and biological options on the battlefield, and an honest look at both allied weaknesses and potential responses.

  • 3ID's 2-69 [3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment] has been leading the charge from Day 1 of the allied invasion, fighting the whole way and performing splendidly. Their embed writes: "...the men of 2-69 come off as a cross between "The Dirty Dozen" and "Cool Hand Luke" on steroids." Phil Carter explains how 2-69 got so good - and why the Army's policies work against creating more units like this.

  • The Euphrates crossings near Baghdad yesterday were easier than I thought they'd be.

  • Rand Simberg on "mini-sieges" like the one we're seeing around Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, etc.

  • Special forces blow up Iraqi oil pipeline to Syria, which provides an important source of currency to the Syrian regime. Now that we have your full attention, guys, please stop sending weapons and terrorists in, and start sending high-ranking Iraqis out. Important message, well delivered. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • More special forces: British SAS team rescued near Mosul. Looks like they've learned from Bravo Two Zero's 1991 experience. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • Saddam playing the long game? "Phase I assumes eventual defeat in a conventional war...The second phase would be a protracted guerrilla war against the "occupation," which the American-British coalition bills as liberation... Phase III would then be to amass enough semi-conventional power to overwhelm the U.N. and interim government mechanisms" (Hat Tip: Command Post)

  • That may indeed be his strategy. Too bad it will fail miserably. Here's why Saddam's "long game" is likely to be very short. Once this sort of thing is gone, it's over.

  • Arthur Silber's "When Ideologies Bleed" explains part of the reason why. It certainly applies to Ba'athism.

  • A great map of Basra, incl. British positions. (Hat Tip: Acepilots.com) Goes well with the following situation update.

  • "War in the Houses of Ali" looks at the battle from a different perspective, giving some background on Ali and the sites in Karbala and Najaf venerated by Shia Muslims everywhere. From Saddam's strategy to history to battlefield reports.

  • An interactive satellite map of Nasariyah. Very cool.

  • As you view it, here's what "Ambush Alley" means in practice. (Hat Tip: Command Post)

  • Still in Nasariyah, with an even rougher story. The website you're headed to is run by wackos, but the article is from The Times. This, too, is the reality of war.

  • Trent had more details and some thoughts on the PFC Jessica Lynch POW rescue yesterday. If this is true, it may dispel some of the darker thoughts about PFC Lynch's recent fate. I think we have to retire the insult "fights like a girl." UPDATE: And this takes us to darker places again. Sigh.

  • On a less happy note, Tim of Political Lomcevak has the Al-Jazeera tape that was shot of the dead POW's and the prisoners, as well as the battle scene. I don't know if it's the full tape or just the Al-Jazeera clip, because it requires certain software to see (Tim has links). Could someone give a look and tell me?

  • Big shout-out to our allies the Czechs, whose Iraq troop contribution is a chemical defense specialist group. Poland, Slovakia, and the Ukraine also sent these - see the pattern? The Soviets expected to use these weapons in Europe (and did use them elsewhere), so Warsaw Pact countries are well trained.

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • British companies and others being shut out of reconstruction? If true, it's beyond stupid and USAID needs to have its butt soundly kicked.

  • Life, Liberty... And the Pursuit of All Who Threaten It.

  • Everything you need to know about the 4th Infantry division, now arriving in Kuwait, and how it's getting there.

  • Um Qasr still not open to commercial shipping, though it is open to military shipping. Mines still an issue. Big salute to the Aussie dive teams there.

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

  • Na na na na, na na na na, Geraldo - goodbye!

  • Senators kick State Dept. butts, get Iraqi Opposition's "Liberty TV" back on air.

  • The Iraqi caretaker government remains a source of controversy.


    AND BEYOND...

  • Airport scanners that show your Full Monty. Just another innovation from the Dept. of Honmeland security, currently in service at several U.S. airports.

  • Powell secures agreement from Turkey: fuel and humanitarian aid can be transported through their country to northern Iraq.

  • The remarkable phenomenon of blogs in Iran, from the guy who may have done more to spark it than anyone.

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. Saddam's Blog continues to be extremely funny!


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  • Guest Blog: Casualty In An Undeclared War

    By Joe Katzman at 14:48

    by C. Blake Powers

    No, this is not talking about innocent civilians being used as human shields in Iraq or anywhere else. Nor is it a discussion of special operations being conducted across the globe as a part of the war on terror. What the title of this piece is about is the undeclared war between mainstream media and the military.

    This war, such as it is, has been ongoing since around the time of the Korean war and came fully into its own in Vietnam. There are just causes for conflict on both sides, and both are guilty of atrocities. Yet, it is the media that has been continuing to fight a battle against the military, and fails to see that it is losing the war.

    CONTINUED...


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    X-Ray Visions

    By Joe Katzman at 08:53

    In the "Keeping Us All Safe?" Department, Good Morning Silicon Valley notes that a company named BodySearch has devised a scanner designed to look beneath clothing. Its use of low-powered X-Rays should cut health risks, by penetrating only a couple of millimetres below the skin. Sounds like a win all around, much easier than doing full body searches on everyone. It's the Superman ideal of X-Ray vision.

    Well, maybe the schoolyard fantasy of X-Ray vision. Scans are so sharp that the shape of a person's navel is visible. As you might imagine, that level of detail applies... elsewhere:

    "David Banisar, deputy director of Privacy International, said his colleagues were shocked when they saw an image recorded by the device. "If you look at the pictures, you could literally see everything..."
    Welcome to the airport version of The Full Monty. U.S. Customs uses BodySearch at international airports in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York's John F. Kennedy.

    Privacy advocates rightly focus on the effect this may have on the public. As I recall some of the beaches I've been on, we might also pause to consider the potential trauma this represents to federal employees. The Horror!

    UPDATE: The results of the scan are now displayed superimposed on the figure of a sexless mannequin. This should eliminate a lot of trauma lawsuits from both sides.


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    The Bard's Breath: In the Navy

    By Joe Katzman at 04:12

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times every Tuesday and Thursday. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through what's coming next: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory.

    Today's entry comes via Team Stryker, who posted this picture of the U.S. Navy's new recruiting poster. A definite winner, and very appropriate given the significant role Navy-launched cruise missiles and carrier-based aircraft have played to date in Iraq:


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    The Agonist's Controversy

    By Joe Katzman at 02:05

    Recently, a controversy has arisen regarding the popular war-news blog "The Agonist." Sean-Paul has addressed this issue himself, but it's serious enough to deserve treatment here, too.

    To my mind, this controversy has been unique in a couple of heartening ways:

      [1] It ended well - nobody got hurt along the way; and
      [2] Everyone involved conducted themselves properly.

    The controversy began with a post from Strategic Armchair Command, who noted extensive similarities between key Agonist posts and STRATFOR's briefings/ information feeds. Since "pre-media" news posts had played a major role in the site's rise to prominence, this was fair comment and good detective work. People running SAC down for doing this are out of line.

    Over to Sean-Paul.


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    April 2, 2003

    An Exchange of Views

    By Joe Katzman at 20:28

    Winds of Change.NET reader and loyal correspondent Tom Donelson passes on this email from a friend in Washington, D.C.:

    "To nobodys surprise there were protestors today in DC, they attempted  to disrupt the metro system and block the Key Bridge, a leading artery into DC from Northern Virginia. I got hosed twice because I come in from NoVA on the metro and it is raining hard which makes traffic worse any way. My commute was long and arduous and only caused further resentment for protestors... Anyway, I'll get to the point.

    I got off my train in Rosslyn because I had to use the bathroom and the train was moving quite slowly. When I was getting back on the train, there were protestors on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America. I politely declined to take one.

    An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20ish) female protestor offered her a pamphlet, she politely declined. The young protestor put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a guesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Ma'am, don't you care about the children of Iraq?"
     
    The old woman looked up at her and said: "Honey, my first husband died in France during World War II so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth your country. And if you touch me again, I'll stick this umbrella up your ass and open it."

    I'm glad to report that loud applause broke out among the onlookers and the young protestor was at a total loss for words."

    Yes, there are well-intentioned people on the other side of this debate. Still, I'm with James Lileks when he wrote:
    "To be honest, though: lately I say this more out of habit than conviction. It's become something I feel obligated to say, because I do want to make a distinction between the sensible dissenters and the moral cripples who superimpose Bush's face on bin Laden's head and proclaim the president the real terrorist. But the dissenters' arguments grow thinner every day."
    Those out demonstrating against the war at this point aren't the sensible types, or well intentioned. Glad to see people calling them on it.


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    Winds of War 2003-04-02

    By Joe Katzman at 17:45

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Free bus rides for Palestinian terrorists headed to Iraq. You've got to see this one to believe it... definite Darwin Award potential.

  • I've been meaning to post this link, but it wasn't working until now. Oxblog has a very good post re: allied war strategy to date. Compare and contrast with Kos' post of analysis from "Officer X".

  • Reports coming in that the big fight may be starting near Karbala. Truth is, we can't truly know whether it's a series of skirmishes or the Republican Guard's last stand until tomorrow at the earliest. These BBC blog entries are certainly suggestive, though. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • More good analysis of the coming fight here.

  • "War in the Houses of Ali" looks at the battle from a different perspective, giving some background on Ali and the sites in Karbala and Najaf venerated by Shias everywhere. From Saddam's strategy to history to battlefield reports.

  • An interactive satellite map of Nasariyah. Very cool.

  • Speaking of Nasariyah, Trent has more details and some thoughts on the Jessica Lynch POW rescue.

  • Fierce fighting in Ad-Diwaniyah beyween Marines and Iraqi forces after what appears to have been a bait-and-draw operation.

  • This isn't on all maps, so for Ad-Diwaniyah, imagine a town of 25,000-100,000 about 25 miles E of Najaf. Hilliah and then Hindiyah lie to the NW, and Samawah sits to the SE about half way to Nasariyah.

  • A great map of Basra, incl. British positions. (Hat Tip: Acepilots.com)

  • STRATFOR with an analysis of the Basra situation. And the British commander with his stated views.

  • Sgt. Eugene Williams, one of 4 Marines killed in a suicide bomb near Najaf the other day.

  • Two American soldiers just spent a week stranded and forgotten in the Iraqi desert. Great story, exemplary conduct.

  • Flit has a good post on "The Mixed Blessings of the M-1 Tank." In its element, the M-1 is a class above. But it comes with some limitations, too, as Flit explains.

  • Given reports of Iraqi preparations to use chemical weapons, see "Devils in the Details" at Techcentralstation.com. It's my analysis of Saddam's chemical and biological options on the battlefield, and an honest look at both allied weaknesses and potential responses.

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • Everything you need to know about the 4th Infantry division, now arriving in Kuwait, and how it's getting there.

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Now international, with some links for Brits and Australians! Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003]

  • Peter Arnett: Isn't It Ironic?

  • Instapundit with a post on the crack-up of the "anti-war" movement, at least in America. Something that's even being acknowledged by many on the Left these days. As the saying goes, folks - "this is a dead parrot!"

  • What if we had the U.N. on side instead? Eugene Volokh makes a compelling case that our situation would be significantly worse. (Hat Tip: Instapundit)

  • "A democracy that immediately self-destructs after the first election, a la Algeria, or that merely lends popular sanction to blundering bellicosity at home and abroad, a la Pakistan, is of little use to its people or the world at large. How, then, to tame the inherent instability of popular choice? How do we curb the all-too-likely extremes?" Tacitus offers some thoughts on Islam & Liberty.

  • Oxblog with a good post on "Celebrity Occupation," and the tug of wars between the U.S. State Department, Defense Department, and 10 Downing St.

  • Seems Kanan Makiya's suggestion is finally being listened to. The Department of Defense has asked the Iraqi National Congress to find 250 Iraqi expat volunteers willing to return to Iraq on 48 hours' notice. Recruiting has begun in a number of U.S. cities, and the slots are reportedly filling quickly. These people could really help.

  • Charles Freud of Reason Magazine has a very good post that examines recent military press coverage, and also notes that "The debates that emerge from negative press stories are not a distraction, they are a necessity." You would prefer Al-Jazeera instead? But even there, he notes, there's some hope for the future. (Hat Tip: Matt Welch)

    AND BEYOND...

  • We're not seeing Ledeen's nightmare scenario or anything, but Tacitus is concerned about developments in Syria and Iran vis-a-vis Iraq.

  • "A Vile Business" by Iraq Watch, looks at the shady dealings that many companies have conducted with Saddam's regime to help him create and deliver his worst weapons.

  • More background on Egyptian democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim's freedom. To Canada's credit, MP Irwin Cotler of the governing Liberal Party acted as his lawyer, and helped prepare the appeal that finally resulted in Dr. Ibrahim's freedom. Want to thank Irwin Cotler yourself?

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • I try to close on a more humourous note if possible. "Janeane Garofalo To Be Lowered Into Shredder" is an appropriately satirical riff on a world in which lefty moral equivalence theories described reality.


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    • Hero: Niccceee pagee read more
    • Bill Woods: # Instapundit with a post ... As the saying goes, read more
  • Stupidity I: Get On The Bus!

    By Joe Katzman at 16:03

    Free bus rides for terrorist volunteers from their point of origin into Iraq? We really ought to take up a collection ourselves and send over some busses.... mind you, theft is common over there so GPS locators will be a neccesary security measure.

    Aside from being nearly self-satirizing, this will make so many things much easier later. Bring 'em on.

    N.B. If you want some help satirizing this, the Hordes of the Green Khan are pleased to assist.


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    • Matt Johnson: I believe this is what the dot.com world euphemistically calls read more
    • james warfield: I would be glad to commute there myself and, if read more
    • Barney Davis: I've got enough cash on hand to cover about 100 read more

    Calling Alanis Morissette

    By Armed Liberal at 15:24

    Irony always makes me happy. In today's LA Times, a story that conclusively proves that Peter Arnett either has a completely tin ear, is a fool, or most likely, simply belives in saying whatever his audience wants to hear.

    Arnett Fuming at Loss of NBC Job

    By Elizabeth Jensen, Times Staff Writer

    NEW YORK -- Peter Arnett said Tuesday he was upset with how NBC severed ties with him the day before, and sounded more defiant than apologetic over his decision to grant an interview to state-run Iraqi TV.

    In an interview from Baghdad, where he hopes to stay if he can find enough work, Arnett called the controversy a "storm in a bloody teacup." He said he was irritated that he had spent 19 days helping NBC, whose own reporters left citing safety concerns, and "then I'm being trashed." Arnett's official Baghdad employer was National Geographic Explorer, which agreed to let him report for NBC. National Geographic fired Arnett on Monday.



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    read the rest! »

    • Richard Filion: Peter Arnett's latest faux pas is just the most recent. read more
    • Joe Katzman: Sort of like those T-Shirts I saw once in Los read more

    War in the Houses of Ali

    By Joe Katzman at 05:55

    It's hard to adequately explain the role or importance of Ali. The Prophet Mohammed's first and best follower, a peerless warrior whose integrity in public office was unimpeachable, a man who often endured injustice rather than fight for his due if his actions might weaken the faith entire. I can't actually think of an equivalent Christian archetype, unless you crossed the Apostle Peter with Sir Galahad. This story illustrates one facet of Ali as Muslims see him.

    Ali is of especial importance to the Shi'ite branch of the faith, whose founding is based on the premise that the rightful succession of the Caliphate flows through him. Aziz "Shiapundit" Poonwalla is obviously distressed at the thought of fighting around sacred sites like the holy city of Karbala, and also Ali's tomb in An-Najaf. Knowing that Saddam has always hated the Shi'ites and would happily see these sites damaged or destroyed can't help.

    A whole series of posts on Unmedia and Shiapundit have followed, detailing everything from historical background to Saddam's likely strategies and battlefield details.

  • Unrest in Karbala? [March 18]
  • Karbala Watch: Apache Down [March 24]
  • Karbala Watch: Saddam's Strategy [March 25]
  • Karbala Watch: Bleeding Sand [March 25]
  • Too Close... and lanat on Saddam and his Fedayeen [April 1]
  • Karbala and Najaf [April 1, Unmedia]
  • Coalition Enters Najaf [April 2]UPDATE: This news should help Aziz breathe a bit easier.


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  • The Lynch Rescue: The Dark with the Light

    By Trent Telenko at 04:13

    First, the good news: PFC. Jessica Lynch was rescued yesterday by a team of USN SEALS and US Army Rangers in a hospital in the town of An Nasiriyah. MSNBC reports the following on how she was found:

    "Military officials in Qatar told NBC’s David Shuster that U.S. Marines got a lead on Lynch’s whereabouts Monday during a raid into Shatra, just north of An Nasiriyah, in search of Ali Hassan al-Majeed, a cousin whom President Saddam Hussein was believed to have put in charge of the southern front. Al-Majeed is known by the nickname “Chemical Ali” for overseeing the use of poison gas that killed 5,000 Kurdish villagers in 1988.

    "While searching a headquarters building in Shatra, the Marines developed intelligence that at least one U.S. prisoner was being held in Saddam Hospital near An Nasiriyah. Military officials said they believed Lynch was held in the hospital for the entire time since she was captured March 23."

    Accounts vary as to what shape Lynch is in. Some reports have her sporting several gunshot wounds. Others say she is "fine" and "unhurt."

    Now for the darker news...

    Various posters over on the Freerepublic.com are relaying cable reports that nine dead American servicemen were also in the same headquarters/ hospital as Lynch.

    Now Reuters is reporting 11 American bodies.

    I fear the following things are true:

    1) Americans prisoners shown on Al Jazeera, as well as the Apache pilots captured later, were all tortured and then executed.
    2) There are snuff videos of their torture/execution that will soon go into circulation on the Arab street.
    3) Lynch was reatedly gang raped and only survived because a senior Al Qaeda/Fedayeen wanted to keep her as a "trophy."

    I don't think we will find out if my suspicions are true until we are fighting in Baghdad, and not until Bush and CENTCOM ready to "take the gloves off."

    I hope I am wrong about this, but I fear that my gut instinct is right.

    Admin. Note: We can conjecture, but we can't know. Beyond a certain point, I'm not sure it's necessary to know. Someone from Wirt County makes a very good set of points in the comments - before you post a comment of your own, read them.

    So - let's just assume that Trent is right. The points I'd like to see addressed are more along the lines of: What to do about it? Does this affect the concept of sending women into combat-possible positions? If we do, how should we prepare them? What kinds of responses might deter future enemies from even considering such things? That sort of thing. Iraq won't be the last time the USA deals with such opponents, after all.


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    read the rest! »

    • F. Horan: I was among those who felt great relief when PFC read more
    • Joe Katzman: Dogman, we're quite certain that some of the POWs were read more
    • dogman: Well, it seems that the POW's have been returned. Alive. read more

    Blogshares Listing

    By Joe Katzman at 00:00

    Listed on BlogShares


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    April 1, 2003

    Winds of War 2003-04-01

    By Joe Katzman at 14:38

    Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused. If you find something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". Welcome!

    TO IRAQ...

    On the Battlefield

  • Armed Liberal's piece on risk and "Military Misperception" is very worthwhile.

  • POW Jessica Lynch of the 507th Maintenance Company has been rescued by American forces. A successful Delta Force operation based on intelligence from locals? Or troops in Nasariyah who came across her holding place in the middle of an operation?

  • Greatest Jeneration reminds us that we need to find a couple others too. ly, I don't hold out much hope after this discovery... but who knows?

  • Fierce fighting in Ad-Diwaniyah beyween Marines and Iraqi forces after what appears to have been a bait-and-draw operation.

  • This isn't on all maps, so for Ad-Diwaniyah, imagine a town of 25,000-100,000 about 25 miles E of Najaf. Hilliah and then Hindiyah lie to the NW, and Samawah sits to the SE about half way to Nasariyah.

  • British forces rescue 2 Kenyan truck drivers captured by the Iraqis, from their holding place in Al-Zubayr near Basra.

  • In case you needed reminding, war sucks. It's just that sometimes the alternative sucks more. UPDATE: If this is true, it's a good example of why "peace" can't be anything worthy of the name here.

  • As always, a good roundup at The Agonist's Morning Recap.

  • The battle for Basra is on in earnest, and Donald Sensing has some updates on "Operation James" (as in Bond). More from StrategyPage - and here's why I'm happy.

  • A great map of Basra, incl. British positions. (Hat Tip: Acepilots.com)

  • "...another told of how an Iraqi colonel driving a car with a briefcase full of cash refused to stop and was shot dead. "I didn't know what to do with the money so I gave it to the kids, bundles of the stuff," the Royal Marine said."

  • Major Sensing (ret.) also has a military primer or three on artillery. How it operates, and what people mean when they talk about different kinds of artillery rounds.

  • DefenseTech on the 10 kinds of aerial drones (UAVs) at work in Iraq.

  • Given reports of Iraqi preparations to use chemical weapons, see "Devils in the Details" at Techcentralstation.com. It's my analysis of Saddam's chemical and biological options on the battlefield, and an honest look at both allied weaknesses and potential responses.

  • Phil Carter has some thoughts to add on the coming battle for Baghdad.

  • Heretical Ideas has more on Iraq/al-Qaeda links.

    Beyond the Battlefield

  • The Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. Anyone got some links for Brits, Australians, Poles and Czechs?

  • Uzbekistan: this is a familiar script. I'm all for humouring some folks while we take care of business elsewhere, but we'd better have a Plan B once Iraq and Iran are dealt with. This policy helped create enough damn trouble in the Arab world; we don't need a repeat.

  • Every day, it's looking more and more likely that Steven den Beste was correct. The Germans sure are nervous. (Hat Tip: Inscrutable American)

  • The Russian view of the Iraq campaign. Explains how the Russians managed to take an opportunity to keep their oil contracts and become the supplier of choice for the new Iraqi army, and systematically throw it all away.

  • The Pentagon has apparently vetoed several State Dept. choices for key roles in a post-war Iraq. Let's hope that includes Barbara "al-Qaeda investigation blocker" Bodine. (Hat Tip: The Agonist)

  • Peter Arnett and Young Frankenstein: separated at birth?
    AND BEYOND...

  • Anybody have any remaining doubts that North Korea is ruled by a certifiable lunatic? On the other hand, maybe he's just reading this.

  • The USA will give "extemely high priority" to halting the nuclear program in neighbouring Iran once the war ends in Iraq. Expect Iran to start shipping terrorists inot Iraq (above and beyond the Badr Brigades, which it already sent), in order to prolong the war. Many are likely to be Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists from Lebanon.

  • "Toxic Terror Tick-Tock" looks at the issue of terrorists with biochemical weapons: the past, our present, and possible futures.

  • I try to close on a more upbeat note if possible. This picture will do. The British armored vehicles identify the location as Basra. (Hat tip: War Photos) Captions may be suggested in the Comments:


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    • Joe Katzman: Given what went on under the Soviet regimes, it's hard read more
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    • Chrees: "I wish Rumsfeld had bothered to revamp KP duties when read more
  • Military Misperception

    By Armed Liberal at 07:50

    Like most people, I read the news in a kind of emotional spin cycle of pride, grief, anxiety, determination and wonder. And then every so often I manage to change my perspective, and grasp at something that amuses me. Usually it's dark amusement these days, but it's amusement nonetheless.

    Recently, it's been the litany from those who opposed the war in the first place who now trip over themselves to tell us how badly it's going. They seize on the casualties and delays to explain that if we're not actually losing the war, we're certainly approaching a stalemate.

    And, thinking about the misperception of risk in this, I manage a dry chuckle.

    See, it's like this.

    The population of South-Central Los Angeles is about 300,000, last time I checked. Goes up and down as you define neighborhoods in and out.

    Last year there were over 250 murders there.

    Two hundred and fifty people died. Moms, dads, kids, grandparents, teenagers. Going to the grocery store. Selling groceries. Leaving church. (Yeah, some were selling drugs.)

    That's about twenty deaths a month, a little over two every three days.

    In one neighborhood.

    In all of California, we had about 2,066 murders (including non negligent manslaughter) in 2000. The total population of California in 2000 was about 38 million (as compared to an estimated population of Iraq of 29 million). That's about five and a half deaths a day.

    In one state.

    Based on the list of deaths in Fox News, we suffered 43 deaths...including hostile action and accidents from March 20 to March 29. Ten days, 43 deaths. Each one a tragedy, as are the deaths here in California. Four and some tragedies per day.

    So what does this tell us?

    That in a country about the size of California, in a FREAKING WAR ZONE, the daily number of deaths among our soldiers is comparable to the daily number of murders in California as a whole. If I were to pull out the accidents from the war deaths...14 of them...there are fewer war deaths than murders. (Note: I know that some Iraqis are dying as well, and that the rates per population are higher...)

    Let's use a real population as a comparison. Figure that the population of South-Central LA is roughly the population of the US forces (it's probably close); it is roughly five times more dangerous to be a soldier in Iraq than to simply go out and buy groceries in South Central.

    Does this detract from the courage of the troops in Iraq? Of course not. Does it mean there are too many murders here in California? Of course it does.

    But before we panic at the 'slaughter' of our troops caught in a 'quagmire', let's remember than in any group of a third of a million people, a certain number will die every day. Add heavy equipment and guns, and even with no hostile action, we will see a significant number of deaths.

    And our troops have a whole army facing them, and in spite of it, they are being killed at a rate comparable to that of the average resident of neighborhoods in California.

    Now, I'm not a military historian or a tactician. And there are some alternative ways to look at the data. But I will suggest that this suggests that the opposition our troops are facing ... relative to their individual abilities, training, determination, technology, and tactics ... isn't doing a very good job of fighting them.

    Look, these numbers aren't exact. I'm pulling them from quick Google searches and public databases, and if I was going to hold them up, I'd need to do a lot of refinement and adjustments (correcting time bases, getting exact populations, etc. etc.).

    But they aren't off by an order of magnitude (factor of 10).

    So the next time you read someone who tells you that we're being fought to a stalemate, that the war is lasting too long and there are too many casualties...ask yourself how it can be true when one can look at these numbers and have them be even roughly comparable.

    I can only think of one answer, and it is that the war is going pretty darn well from our side.

    Let's hope it keeps doing so.

    And let us keep in mind that those deaths that statistics can dismiss are real, and that to the loved ones they leave behind, it is no consolation that only a few died if it is their daughter, son, wife, husband, mother or father who comes home under a flag.


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    • Armed Liberal: TB - with all respect, I think you're misrerading the read more
    • TB: I am Californian, I am in the military on my read more
    • Armed Liberal: Sorry softdog, I wasn't comparing the murders/100,000 in California - read more

    The Bard's Breath: Litany for Dictatorships

    By Joe Katzman at 04:50

    "The Bard's Breath" is a Winds of Change.NET feature bringing you art, quotes and verse related to our times every Tuesday and Thursday. We all need a bit more than just news to make it through what's coming next: Spirit. Perspective. Faith. Humour. Reminders of humanity, and horror, and the shape of true victory. This one can be found in full at Dean Esmay's site.

    Litany for Dictatorships
    by Stephen Vincent Benet, first published 1935

    For all those beaten, for the broken heads,
    The fosterless, the simple, the oppressed,
    The ghosts in the burning city of our time...

    It continues, deeply eloquent, and ends thusly:

    ...We thought we were done with these things but we were wrong.
    We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
    We thought the long train would run to the end of Time.
    We thought the light would increase.
    Now the long train stands derailed and the bandits loot it.
    Now the boar and the asp have power in our time.
    Now the night rolls back on the West and the night is solid.
    Our fathers and ourselves sowed dragon's teeth.

    Our children know and suffer the armed men

    It's definitely worth reading in full.
     


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