:: Friday, November 08, 2002 ::
US & UK 15, Saddam 0
:: Thursday, November 07, 2002 ::
The combined will of the USA and Britain even managed to push Syria, one of the world's leading terrorist states, into completing the diplomatic isolation of Saddam at the Security Council. The political situation is as favorable for us now as it realistically could be. As for what happens next, the two people in charge of deciding that aren't leaving much room for doubt:
The President: Now comes the hard part. The Security Council must maintain its unity and sense of purpose, so that the Iraqi regime cannot revert to the strategies of obstruction and deception it used so successfully in the past. The outcome of the current crisis is already determined: The full disarmament of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq will occur. The only question for the Iraqi regime is to decide how. The United States prefers that Iraq meet its obligations voluntarily, yet we are prepared for the alternative. In either case, the just demands of the world will be met.
The Prime Minister: Saddam must now make his choice. My message to him is this: disarm or you face force. There must be no more games, no more deceit, no more prevarication, obstruction or defiance. Co-operate fully and despite the terrible injustice you have often inflicted on others, we will be just with you. But defy the United Nations' will and we will disarm you by force. Be under no doubt whatever of that.
Finally, I have a message for the Iraqi people. We have no quarrel with you. We want you to be our friends and partners in welcoming Iraq back into the world community; an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbours, its people prosperous and strong. You are an immensely talented people with a rich history and culture. You have much to give the region and the wider world. Whatever happens, the territorial integrity of Iraq will be absolute. Whatever happens, we will work with you for a fairer and better future for the Iraqi people. You have suffered from long years of war, government corruption and repression. I hope an Iraq free of WMD, a Government unable to use them to oppress its people and its neighbours, is a symbol of change for you and hope for the future.
We knew it all along...except when we didn't
National Review Online had some rather widely ranging pieces in the last two days on the ill-fated California gubernatorial campaign of Republican Bill Simon:
Mark Joseph on the day of the election: Simon Could Still Win This
Arnold Steinberg two days after the election: Simon Never Had a Chance
I have no idea what this search was about
:: Wednesday, November 06, 2002 ::
Google: irish play the troubles according to my dad
A plan for dealing with North Korea
Two officials from the first Clinton administration, national security adviser Anthony Lake and ambassador at large Robert Gallucci, offer advice for dealing with North Korea's nukes:
We should be prepared to go to the table with the North, as we were in 1994, to use a combination of sanctions and rewards to stop its new nuclear weapons program. We must recognize that we can neither move the North Koreans nor build support from South Korea, China and Japan if we refuse ever to talk, directly or indirectly, with Pyongyang. Instead, we should, first, persuade our allies to suspend economic and political engagement with the North, except for vital food aid. Second, we should suspend our own performance under the Agreed Framework until the North shows us the destruction of its uranium enrichment facilities. Third, some changes to the agreement are needed in light of the North's clandestine activities: immediate initiation of full-scope inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency; prompt shipment of the stored spent fuel out of North Korea; and agreement by the North to accept any future requests from the IAEA for special inspections. Lake and Gallucci rightly defend Clinton against fatuous charges of appeasement, but their own advice points to the flaw of the 1994 deal--"some changes to the agreement are needed in light of the North's clandestine activities." Assuming back then that North Korea would be anything but evasive and clandestine was obviously a mistake. Putting all the blame for the North's nuclear program on the Clinton agreement, as Republicans have been eager to do, is simplistic and shallow, but it's true that we should have done better then and need to do better now.
The Senate falls to GrOuPthink
:: Tuesday, November 05, 2002 ::
Oh, did I say that? I meant the GOP, of course, that noted bastion of ideological flexibility and diversity of opinion. It'll still be tough for them to get anything really big through with such a narrow margin in the Senate, but judicial nominations will certainly swing right. Maybe the Democrats will understand next time that they should run against the Republicans instead of just pretending that they aren't different from them.
Didn't the Republicans say this about Clinton?
Nicholas Kristof mentions this gem from the partisan politics of 200 years ago, which makes today seem civilized by comparison:
The Connecticut Courant warned in 1800 that Thomas Jefferson's election would mean that "murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced."
Baghdad won't be Stalingrad
:: Monday, November 04, 2002 ::
William Arkin's "Dot.Mil" column in the Washington Post is always worth reading. In some of his recent columns, he argues that the often cited fear of urban warfare and massive casualties in a war with Iraq are greatly exaggerated:
The Iraqis aren't prepared or capable to carry out their threats. Sure, the regime will hide behind the civilian population, but not the Iraqi military. Saddam's legions are not formed around Western military notions of leadership or decentralized decision-making. Such initiative and self-confidence is required for urban combat or guerilla warfare. There are special units and security organizations that are entrusted with survival of the regime, but most of the hundreds of thousands of normal Iraqi troops are conscripts assigned to regular army units intentionally formed into tightly controlled and widely dispersed organizations that are kept under close watch far away from Baghdad to ensure that they do not rise up against the central government. Military training in the sense of how we think about it, being able to maneuver on the ground, is non-existent.
What is more, it would be as much a disaster for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime as it would be for the United States if these forces were placed inside Baghdad and other cities. There, they would either have to be supported as coherent military units--which would make them into a potential threat to the government--or they would have to be split up and sent out guerilla-style to defend the regime, an act that would put thousands of armed young men back into Iraqi society outside of the Stalinist command of the regime. Regime preservation stands in the way of Iraq implementing any urban war strategy...
The truth of the matter is that no one in the U.S. military is seeking urban warfare in Baghdad. If the preferred strategy of airpower and special operations doesn't work a la Desert Storm in 1991; if Saddam himself and his inner circle aren´t killed or so weakened by air and special operations attacks;if warfare doesn't create the expected split between regular conscript Army, and Saddah Hussein´s security apparatus thereby provoking internal unrest; if Iraqi conventional forces aren't utterly defeated in battle defending their country, then the United States might have to engage in some form of urban warfare. That's a lot of "ifs." Predicting that urban warfare will be a disaster for the United States requires assuming Iraqi competence and cohesion, two elements pretty much absent the last time it faced U.S. forces.
Boycotting the hand that feeds them
:: Sunday, November 03, 2002 ::
Politically motivated boycotts of western brand names is becoming ever more popular in the Arab world, but that doesn't bode too well for their economies, as reported this week in The Economist. The article is probably subscriber only even in the printer-friendly edition I linked to, so here are the opening and closing paragraphs, which sum it up nicely:
IT IS no joke. The self-appointed Egyptian Committee for Boycott wants consumers to stop buying Procter & Gamble's Ariel soap powder because, they say, it is named after Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon. The activists argue that Ariel's logo is really a star of David. “It's ridiculous”, says P&G. “Ariel was around long before the Israeli leader. Our logo represents an atom's path, not a religion.” Yet sales of Ariel in Egypt are suffering. Across the Middle East, America's war on terror and its threats to Iraq have inspired consumers to boycott American brands from Pampers nappies to Heinz ketchup...
In Egypt, P&G has spent $97m on factories and also community projects—building schools, financing health education and even paying for Muslims to go to Mecca. Coca-Cola is the second-biggest investor in Lebanon and Palestine. Steven Leroy, Middle East spokesman for Coca-Cola, says the group is delaying hirings and investments because boycotts have dented confidence. That is unfortunate in a region that, with 20% average unemployment, needs every job it can get.
Springtime for Hitler and Germany, winter for Poland and France...
For my birthday this weekend, I went with my parents to Cincinnati to see the musical "The Producers," based on the late '60s movie. It's about a failing Broadway producer and a nebbishy accountant who come up with a get-rich scheme: put on the worst show imaginable and keep all the money invested in it after it flops. They end up producing a musical called "Springtime for Hitler," whose title song is quoted above. Unlike in the movie, the main guys get out of jail at the end of the play, and they go on to produce other shows like "A Streetcar Named Murray," "South Passaic," "She Shtups to Conquer," and "High Button Jews" (as opposed to the original "High Button Shoes"). Hilarious stuff!