Friday, October 11, 2002

Daily Bummer: Occupation Edition

Linky to the New York Times regarding post-war Iraq.

Asked what would happen if American pressure prompted a coup against Mr. Hussein, a senior official said, "That would be nice." But the official suggested that the American military might enter and secure the country anyway, not only to eliminate weapons of mass destruction but also to ensure against anarchy.

Interesting. Now 'regime change' is no longer the operating principle. Perhaps it wasn't always about Saddam and WMD after all. In that case, what else could the war be about?

It would put an American officer in charge of Iraq for a year or more while the United States and its allies searched for weapons and maintained Iraq's oil fields.

For as long as the coalition partners administered Iraq, they would essentially control the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world, nearly 11 percent of the total.

I'm sure it's just a coincedence.

Well, I'm sure Bush is getting a fair and balanced view of the issues involved, right? Uh, no.

"Analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But this is a rational evolution to consistent US policy, right? Not really.

These days, we see Iraq as an imminent threat to our way of life, while just a couple of years ago it was perceived as a pathetic dictatorship hardly worth the bother of bombing. What changed? Not Iraq, but rather our own sensibilities after 9/11.

Old monsters like Libya, North Korea and Iran have proved — well, not ephemeral, but at least changeable, less terrifying today than they used to be. And the Iraqi threat, for which we're now prepared to sacrifice hundreds or thousands of American casualties, just a few years ago was simply another tinhorn dictatorship where C.E.O. Cheney was earning his bonus.

At least expert military leaders with a history in Iraq are on board, right? Well.....

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who preceded Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks as head of Central Command, told a meeting at a Washington think tank that the United States has other priorities in the Middle East.

I wish I could write a blistering summary, but it's just too depressing. We are going to war, thousands of Americans will die, we will occupy Iraq, we will be there for years, and we still won't have any credible reason for doing so, other than because the Bush Administration is conducting a campaign of, well....."terror" is a too strong and politically loaded word. An aggressive campaign to scare up support for war by borrowing the fright from a different source might not be "terrorism", but it certainly is a terror of some sort.

And it seems to have worked so far. Of course, the same tactics of fear and misinformation got us the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, and we know how well that all worked out.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

The Daily Bummer: Michael Kinsley is Dead On, As Usual

But Bush cannot have it both ways. He cannot insist that Saddam Hussein is able and eager to do so much harm to the United States that we must go to war to remove him, and at the same time refuse to acknowledge the increased risk of such harm as one of the costs of going to war.

Read it here. Honestly, sometimes Kinsley sucks all the joy out of instajounalism, because he monopolizes all the good points, and makes the best case. What's a lowly non-Microsoft-subsidized chipper like myself supposed to do? Did you read his piece? Go read it again.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Guns Don't Kill People, Democrats Do

From the latest "Gun News Round-Up" by the Illinois State Rifle Association (motto - We're even 'shootier' than the NRA!):

"Of course, most of you have heard about the sniper killings in Maryland this week. And, as expected, the gun grabbers are blaming law-abiding firearm owners for the carnage. Squawks include demands that centerfire rifles be placed under Class III jurisdiction," states the Roundup.

"Far be it from us to advance conspiracy theories, but the timing of this sniper activity is unsettling,'' the newsletter continues. "Maryland has one of the hottest governor's races in the country, certainly hotter than that in Illinois. The central theme of the Maryland race is gun control. Things heat up. There is this off the wall series of sniper killings. Murder made to order for the antigunners. Hmmm, weren't there some other high-profile mass gun killings at strangely convenient times?"

I couldn't find a link the "Gun News Round-Up," but here's a link where this quote is confirmed to be accurate. I'm not going to pile on, but the link is to an op-ed piece in the Chicago Sun-Times with some more choice quotes, not to mention the President of the ISRA defending these statements.

And gun-nuts wonder why they are often potrayed as dangerous yahoos.....If you've got a few minutes for some cheap yuks, check out their website: ISRA.

It's all the more likely that the MD shooter (Or "God" as he now apparently ) identifies with positions that the NRA and affiliated organizations routinely take on all matters political and gun (which is the same thing to most of them), and that's probably what really makes the gunners uncomfortable. Much better to blame a vast left-wing conspiracy.....

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Circular Saw Logic

Saw this Washington Post article today. Most of it standard boilerplate, and I suspect any half-bright line reporter could have punched it out before the speech even began. However, George Tenet's views are interesting to me:

Saddam Hussein's apparent policy of not resorting to terrorist attacks against the United States could change if he concludes a U.S.-led attack against him was inevitable, CIA Director George Tenet said as President's Bush bid for congressional support to use force hit a snag in the Senate.

Tenet, in a letter read before a joint hearing of the House and Senate intelligence committees Tuesday, said that "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or chemical or biological weapons."

But Tenet went on to say that should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack against his country could not be deterred, "he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action."

So now we've got the classic self-fulfilling prophecy: Bush says Saddam will use terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and proves it by attacking him, causing Saddam to use them. I'm not going to go out on a limb and place the "life of a single American on Saddam's word" as the Prez put it (more or less), but it seems the Administration is rushing in to place hundreds if not thousands of these "American lives" on their word.

Because after the big speech, all we have is their word. No evidence, no proof, just more ghosts and feints dreamed up by Cheney and Rummy in another late night bull session. Vague evidence that a terrorist once travelled to Iraq. Incredibly implausible links to 9-11. (Saletan's piece in Slate covers this pretty well.) Suspicious leaked photos and videos that purport to show a missile attacking a US plane. (Question: if we retaliate by blowing up launchers whenever missiles are fired or even targeted on US planes, where are they getting replacement launchers from? Question the second: If they have been attacking American planes daily for years, how have they missed every single one? Question the third: If they are expending their missiles so frequently, where are they getting more of them? All of this stinks of lies and half-truths about the actual peril US planes are in in their patrols.) Another conveniently released satellite image that purports to show rebuilding activities at a nuclear site. Fear of a nuclear threat. Fomenting agitators and terrorists against the US. It all makes a great case for attacking someone.

Maybe Pakistan? Maybe Saudi Arabia? In terms of nuclear missile threats and money for terrorism, these nations dwarf Saddam. Pakistan launched a nuclear-capable test missile just the other day, are run by an anti-democratic dictator, threaten the stability of the region, sponsors terrorism, and are at the brink of war with their neighbors. Furthermore, the link that the Bushies so desperately want between Al Qeada and a nation-state are in abundance there. Saudia Arabia still provides the bulk of the funds for support of terrorism worldwide, and are by and large anti-US, it's current TV PR campaign notwithstanding.

The ONLY good news about the War on Iraq from the Bush speech is that he admits that it just might happen that unlike his daddy, he can't just win a battle and declare the nation secured. His half-handed, lukewarm endorsement of post-war nation-building was the only victory for rationality in yesterday's speech. If we have to have this war, we might as well make this one actually be the mother of all battles, and settle the Iraq issue once and for all by building the democratic free state that will best serve the interests of peace and stability in the region. I fear the Bushies will screw the pooch on this, too, but here's hoping I'm wrong.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Supremes Deny Cert

I guess they forgot about the GOP activism that is the bedrock of recent court decisions.....What? Was Scalia unavailable for some partisan hackery? I guess I should be grateful, but the bitter taste of Bush v. Gore still lingers. Now let's see if Forrester can beat a semi-retired 78-year old.....

The Daily Bummer

The Daily Bummer, the place for coverage of the ongoing crisis that is War on Iraq returns with the results of a new poll (see question 22):

  • A slim majority (51%) of Americans support a War on Iraq if the casualties are less than 100
  • The percentage in favor of the War falls to 46% if the casualties are below 1000
  • The percentage plummets even lower (33%) if the casualties number 5000

Of course, the direction towards the negative in a poll question like this is hardly surprising; no one likes flag-draped coffins leading the Evening News Hour. What is surprising is the low threshold to begin with.

Putting this poll next to a recent Slate article about casualties is scary juxtaposition. While the Adminstration sells us "Desert Storm 2" with its low body count, we're more than likely to get a mass-scale combination of Panama and Somalia. The poll shows Americans won't support this, yet the war drums beat on.....

Commodify Your Dissent

Welcome to another semi-regular feature of SdB! The genesis of CYD is to express disdain and sometimes outrage at the way marketers co-opt 'the rebel attitude' to shift more unit product. Frankly, it has been done better by smarter people, such as the folks at The Baffler or Adbusters. And frankly, I'm not sure who is at fault for this phenomenon: the marketeers who deploy it, the artists who make a buck doing it (or more likely, the corporation who owns the work), or the consumers for buying it.

The inaugural CYD Winner is: Wrangler Jeans, using Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" to sell pants. In a peaen to American patriotism in a time of psuedo-war employed in pushing denim, Wrangler has chosen a war protest song, this scoring bonus points in the categories of Irony and Misappropriation.

Partial Lyrics to "Fortunate Son":

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue.

And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no!

Of course, Wrangler only uses the first two lines (in bold), thus editing out the inconvenient bits about the inequality of who dies in wars. Congratulations, Wrangler Jeans, for winning the first CYD Award!