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March 28, 2003

No updates today

I'm in meetings and such. Just so you know.

--------------------

March 27, 2003

Yeah, that's what we need

Steve Forbes has a suggestion:

How about Newt Gingrich as our high-commissioner-equivalent in Iraq? He is politically skillful. He knows history as well as anyone. He has the absorbent mind to learn quickly what he'd need to know about the area, both before and after he arrived on the scene. And experience has taught him how to be politically nimble, a necessity in dealing with the treacherous political and social currents over there.

Would this be the same Newt Gingrich who had to resign in disgrace because he so badly bungled his brief shot at Congressional leadership?

The prince of darkness resigns

Cites conflicts of interest. He's still on the board though, just giving up the chair.

The war at home

From the Village Voice:

Briefly, the dots connect like this:

The administration's refusal to release Patriot Act-related records to Congress, the refusal to release the names of detainees and open their court hearings to the public, and the Freedom of Information Act exemptions under the Homeland Security Act add up to a secretive government, acting outside the scrutiny of the public and its representatives.

The development of the Total Information Awareness program, the mining of individuals' shopping and library records, and the melding of spy and arrest functions add up to government invasion of privacy and restriction of expression.

The indefinite detention of U.S. citizens deemed by Bush to be "enemy combatants," the secret detention and deportation of immigrants not charged with a crime, and the tracking and questioning of nationals from particular countries add up to unilateral executive power to deprive people of their physical liberty.

I thought we were going to be done in 48 hours
Despite the rapid advance of Army and Marine forces across Iraq over the past week, some senior U.S. military officers are now convinced that the war is likely to last months and will require considerably more combat power than is now on hand there and in Kuwait, senior defense officials said yesterday.

The combination of wretched weather, long and insecure supply lines, and an enemy that has refused to be supine in the face of American military might has led to a broad reassessment by some top generals of U.S. military expectations and timelines. Some of them see even the potential threat of a drawn-out fight that sucks in more and more U.S. forces. Both on the battlefield in Iraq and in Pentagon conference rooms, military commanders were talking yesterday about a longer, harder war than had been expected just a week ago, the officials said.

"Tell me how this ends," one senior officer said yesterday.

More, via Cursor.

The truth revealed

Check it out.

More news from the coalition of the willing

Sure, sometimes most members of the "coalition" seem to support us in the well-intentioned but utterly useless way that you might "support" a charity to which you never actually donate any money.

But not Morocco. They've offered 2,000 monkeys trained to detonate land mines.

Truly does the world rally around us.

--------------------

March 26, 2003

Shuck and jive

Good Carol Lay cartoon here.

The new face of journalism: sitting on your butt and taking credit for the work of others

I've ranted about this recently, and now the incomparable Neal Pollack chimes in:

This war is complicated, and I fear that traditional media aren't up to the task of explaining its complex complexities. The embedded reporters are plagued by combat inexperience, night blindness, or, in the case of the turncoat Brits, anti-American Fifth Column traitor tendencies. Not so us bloggers. We see through the muck that fills our TV and computer screens as we monitor them obsessively, not "pathetically," as our detractors in the old media say, 24 hours a day. We see what no one else can, because no one else is looking in the same places that we are. Our minds are very sharp pencils, and we're poking the world in the collective eye.

Just look at all the ground broken, on this site alone, since the war began:

--I was the first writer, by nearly 20 seconds, to declare the anti-war movement completely bankrupt because of the stupid actions of a small radical fringe group in San Francisco. Subsuquently, I beat everyone to the gym by accurately suggesting that American combat deaths are quite possibly the fault of anti-war protesters.

--snip--

--Last Friday, I wrote that Saddam Hussein had done something bad to someone at some time in the past, and that the time for debate was over. This is war, I said. Our enemies can do no right, and we no wrong. Except for Shepherd Smith, the lack of moral courage on the part of journalists continues to stun me.

Neal's also got a couple of (non-satirical) guest entries from his military correspondents, so go spend some time there.

* * *

Not too much more from me today, probably--deadlines loom. And as any true patriot understands, the only thing more important to the war effort than blogging is, of course, cartooning.

Signs of the times, part two

I've seen some bluster on the right lately, to the effect of, "If those protestors get in my way, I'm going to run them down!"

Of course, if you do that, you will end up where you belong: jail.

A truck driver from South Fairmount was arrested Monday after he drove toward a group of anti-war protesters with his tractor-trailer rig in the West End.

"It (the semi cab) stopped about 10 feet from the nearest protester," Larry Schartman, one of the about 40 people who were participating in a "Peace in Iraq" rally, said Monday night. "Thank God nobody got hurt."

Police charged James Watters, 49, with aggravated menacing, inducing panic and reckless operation in the incident that occurred about 6 p.m. on the Ezzard Charles Drive bridge over Interstate 75.

According to the police report, an officer observed Watters drive his truck onto the sidewalk of the pedestrian walkway toward a large group of protestors causing them "to run in fear of being hit."

"It was an antiwar demonstration. We were holding up signs so the people on the interstate could see them," said Mary Ann Reese, 46, of East Walnut Hills. "There were 30 or 40 of us standing there holding our signs and I turned around and he was on the sidewalk coming towards us leaning on his horn.

"The general prevailing sentiment was that some of us were going to get hit. One person was in a wheelchair, so he really had to scatter. It was frightening. It (the semi) did stop before he hit anyone."


Signs of the times, Wed. edition
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- On eBay, the highest bid wins -- unless the item on sale is a laser printer from CompAtlanta and the bidder happens to be Canadian.

That's what a tax consultant discovered last week when he tried to buy a printer on eBay, but was refused by the vendor when it was discovered he lived in Vancouver.

David Ingram received notification that his winning bid of $24.50 had been canceled, along with this message: "At the present time, we do not ship to, or accept bids from, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany or any other country that does not support the United States in our efforts to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. If you are not with us, you are against us."

Fortress America, here we come.

Our new bomb?

Blogger and journalist Steve Perry is on the Case of the Missing E-Bomb.

Oh the irony

I talked recently about the split between the fantasies of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page and their frequently admirable news coverage. Case in point, brought to my attention by reader Jeremy Dorin: yesterday's edition, on the editorial pages of which one can find a piece by Christina Hoff Summers which declares, "Suppose we got rid of the hyperbole [by feminists], half-truths, and untruths. Surely, some would argue, it would still turn out that women in our society are worse off than men? There is simply no evidence for that."

Meanwhile, on the front page, a news item announces, ""Women Remain well behind men in reaching the highest salary bracket, and are far more likely to live in poverty, the Census Bureau said."

--------------------

March 25, 2003

Time to rename Canadian bacon

From the Globe & Mail:

Toronto — Washington delivered a stern message to Canada on Tuesday, saying Americans feel disappointed and betrayed by the Canadian decision to stay out of the war in Iraq.

At a breakfast speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Paul Cellucci, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said "there is a lot of disappointment in Washington and a lot of people are upset" about Canada's refusal to join the United States in its efforts to depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Full story.

--------------------

March 24, 2003

Oh boy

This doesn't sound like a promising development.

CAIRO, Egypt - The United States and Britain should withdraw their troops from Iraq (news - web sites) immediately and without conditions, and the U.N. Security Council should hold an emergency meeting on the issue, the Arab League said Monday.

The coalition attack on Iraq violates the U.N. Charter and threatens world peace, the 22-member league said in a resolution that did not receive full support.

Kuwait entered the lone no vote because the resolution omitted any reference to the 10 Iraqi missiles that have landed on its soil since the conflict began Thursday.

Several summit delegates chose their words carefully because their nations are hosting U.S. forces. But the chief Libyan delegate, Ali al-Treiki, received sustained applause when he spoke of "Iraqi heroism" battling American and British troops.

"We have to raise our heads high and salute Iraqi heroism as proof that Arab individuals are capable of confronting the mighty, the coercive and the arrogant," al-Treiki said.

Al-Treiki warned delegates at the session's opening, "If Iraq is to fall, many Arab countries will fall as well."

Ah ha

Readers may remember my uncertainty as to whether the Give it Back site (which advocates the return of the Statue of Liberty to the French) was serious or satire, given that it didn't really seem to succeed in either category.

Well, reader Mike Beers has figured it out: it's neither. It was a damn marketing ploy. The domain is now up for bid on eBay (current high bid: $14.50).

In the past week there has been more than 100,000 visitors!!!

This domain can be your ticket to success

And for all those that wanted this site to be taken down..Here is your chance to buy it and do what you wish with it!

So there you have it.

What do Iraqis think of the war?

Slate has a correspondent there. It sounds like emotions are running high and feelings are mixed, but we clearly haven't reached the promised "welcoming the liberators with open arms" stage quite yet.

The mood on the streets remains somber and sullen. Stores are mostly closed, and those that are open have run out of duct tape, gasoline, and aluminum foil (which is wrapped around computers to shield them from e-bombs). People seem sad, resigned, sometimes resistant, mostly fearful. There is universal opposition to the war: George W. Bush's name is spit with venom. Yesterday, a soldier saw me on the street and shouted, "George Bush, I fucked your mother. We will win this war because you are here. You are a human shield. We are all human shields and the world is with us." Still, Iraq's celebrated hospitality remains, even in wartime. I have been greeted with kisses and hugs as often as I have with people pointing fingers at me and yelling pow-pow.

More here, here, and here. Via Atrios.

And then there's this:

By deciding to pursue their enemy into the city center, the Americans appeared to have enraged many of the Iraqi civilians who live there, including those who said they were predisposed to support the American effort.

One of those, Mustafa Mohammed Ali, a medical assistant at the Saddam Hospital, said he had spent much of the day hauling dead and wounded civilians out of buildings that had been bombed by the Americans. Mr. Ali that said he had no love for the Iraqi president but that the American's failure to discriminate between enemy fighters and Iraqi civilians had turned him decisively against the American invasion.

"I saw how the Americans bombed our civilians with my own eyes," Mr. Mustafa said, and he held up a bloodied sleeve to show how he had dragged them into the ambulances.

"You want to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime?" Mr. Mustafa asked. "Go to Baghdad. What are you doing here? What are you doing in our cities?"

Afterthought: we took a lot of lessons from 9/11, but it occurs to me that there's one we might have overlooked--when you attack a nation, people tend to rally around their leader, even if they hate him.

Hope you remembered to send a card

Reader Walt Baxter wishes us a belated happy Afghanistan Day.

With everything going on in Iraq, I plum forgot about March 21. That was the 21st anniversary of Afghanistan Day. A transcript of the proclamation can be seen here.

This part chokes me up every time I read it:

"[...]Afghanistan Day will serve to recall[...]the principles involved when a people struggles for the freedom to determine its own future, the right to be free of foreign interference and the right to practice religion according to the dictates of conscience.

"Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate March 21, 1982, as Afghanistan Day."

If by "war correspondent" you mean "someone who watches a lot of television"

One of these days, someone who really understands the blogs is going to write the definitive story. But it hasn't happened yet.

According to Howard Kurtz, the hot new trend this war is Weblogging from the Front Lines. Or something like that.

This is backed up by the obligatory Instapundit quote:

"The most interesting thing about the blog coverage is how far ahead it is of the mainstream media," says University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, whose InstaPundit.com site has seen a surge in traffic as the Iraq crisis has heated up, doubling to 200,000 hits a day. "The first-hand stuff is great. It's unfiltered and unspun. That doesn't mean it's unbiased. But people feel like they know where the bias is coming from. You don't have to spend a lot of time trying to find a hidden agenda."

Okay, reality check: ninety-nine percent of bloggers--myself emphatically included--are doing nothing more than sitting on their ample bottoms in front of computer screens surfing various news sources and posting links. Woo-hooo! It's a damn revolution, from the comfort of our easy chairs.

Yes, there are a few "front line" bloggers who may or may not be providing reliable information (several of them are anonymous, and as the cartoon says, on the internet no one knows you're a dog), and there's Kevin Sites, who's been "asked to suspend" his warblogging. And I'm sure there are a couple of others I don't know about.

And then there's the rest of us, sitting on our asses and posting links and spouting off. "Ahead of the mainstream media"? Come on, Howie, apply a little critical reasoning. Depending on your perspective, blogging may provide a much needed analysis and overview, or it may just be a bunch of pathetic know-it-alls who desperately crave attention and approval--but the overwhelming majority of bloggers are decidedly not reporters. For the most part, bloggers are amateur commentators. So you "know where the bias is coming from." Well, what a leap forward! What a change of pace from all those inexplicable columns by professional commentators like William Safire and Molly Ivins and Robert Novak and whoever else, all those mainstream media types with their impenetrable bias and unfathomable hidden agendas.

Yessirree, this internet thing that the kids are all excited about--I think it may be more than a fad.

Christ.

Look, the relationship of bloggers to the mainstream media is roughly that of wood tick to deer, a parasite which draws sustenance from an unwilling host. Blogging is many wonderful things--a new form of independent publishing, giving voice to the voiceless, presenting a wide range of opinion and creating new communities and on and on--but this blogging vs. traditional media dynamic is just silly. Blogging vs. traditional punditry is really more like it, I think.

Afterthought: I stopped doing interviews about the blog when I realized I was being asked to talk about blogging more than I was being asked to talk about cartooning. There's so much nonsense being written, I think it's time for me to reconsider that policy.

Signs of the times

I really can't keep up. Somebody like the ACLU (hint hint) needs to start up an online database of this stuff.

In Oregon, the legislature wants to label protestors terrorists.

SALEM -- The harshest critics of the war protests in downtown Portland angrily called the demonstrators "terrorists" and wished aloud that the police and courts would treat them as such.

This morning, that idea gets put to the test at the Oregon Legislature, where a ranking senator has introduced a bill to "create the crime of terrorism" and apply it to people who intentionally cause injury while disrupting commerce or traffic.

If convicted, they would face imprisonment for life.

Look, if anybody "intentionally causes injury," they deserve to be arrested and dealt with in a manner appropriate to the crime. But life imprisonment? Have these morons completely lost their minds?

(I know that some people argue that protests aid terrorists by siphoning off valuable police resources and so on--but by that reasoning, so do St. Patrick's Day parades, the Oscars, and NCAA tournaments. The police exist, at least theoretically, to serve society--not the other way around. We need to try to remember that. Assuming that "we" are making such arguments in good faith, out of concern for society and not as an excuse to crack down on those with whom "we" disagree. Which of course "we" are not.)

They always bury the lede

Last paragraph in this New York Times article:

Other tents branching off the main room house the intelligence section, or G-2 (where CNN is on constantly); the air support unit, which coordinates with F-18 fighters, Harrier jump jets and helicopters of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing; the logistics section; and a liaison section, which coordinates among others with the engineers, chemical and biological experts and the British troops who today took over the positions the marines had established further south in the oil fields.

See it?

They're watching CNN. Not even the Marines trust Fox News.

It makes me think of the split between editorial and news in the Wall Street Journal, a paper which has some of the best reporting in all of journalism, alongside some of the most ludicrous editorials--because the businessmen to whom that paper is targeted may enjoy the editorial page's flights of fancy, but when it comes to making investment decisions, they need actual information, not ideological posturing.

(Not that I mean to praise CNN here, but at least they are, more or less, a news network, unlike Fox, which is a propaganda outlet posing as a news network.)

Signs of the times

I can't keep up.

"We hear you've been asking curious questions," U.S. Park Police officer Michael Ramirez said as he and fellow officer Karl Spilde approached me from behind a blossomless cherry tree. "Why are you doing that?"

Both officers carried 9mm semiautomatic pistols, Mace and batons. Perhaps because I had just left the Jefferson Memorial, where I'd read a few lines about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and "all men are created equal," I felt bold enough to pose a question of my own: "Why are you asking me that?"

What I really wanted to know was why my questions about the box had made me suspect. Or was it that an African American -- whom someone may have mistaken for a Middle Easterner -- was asking them?

The only way to get to the bottom of this, I thought, was to ask more questions.

"Let me see your ID," Spilde said.

"Why?" I asked.

Wrong response.

"Call for backup," Spilde eventually told Ramirez as he seized my notebook and pen and began to search me. Was I being arrested, I asked before turning over my driver's license.

Eight officers responded to the call for backup. One told me that, legally, I was not being arrested, just subject to "investigative detention."


More.

The skepticism of the liberated

John Donovan of ABCNews.com reports:

Traveling unescorted into Safwan today, I got a far different picture. Rather than affection and appreciation, I saw a lot of hostility toward the coalition forces, the United States and President Bush.

Some were even directed towards the media. (It was the first time I heard somebody refer to me as a "Satan.")

To be sure, conversations with people on the street here begin relatively calmly. But the more they talked, the angrier they got.

In part, much of their discontent stems from the unknown. In speaking with them, the newly-liberated Iraqis ask the same questions that seem to nag many outside Iraq.

Why are you here in this country? Are you trying to take over? Are you going to take our country forever? Are the Israelis coming next? Are you here to steal our oil? When are you going to get out?


Well, that's a relief

The good folks at French's mustard want us to know that "the only thing French about French's mustard is its name."

Big ups to Michael Moore

I can't watch award ceremonies--somehow my brain rebels, refuses to focus awareness, and I end up sitting in a vague, half-aware stupor, as if I am drifting out of phase, like the old Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk spends most of the episode floating transparently around the Enterprise in his shiny silver space suit until Mr. Spock figures out how to rescue him from his interdimensional purgatory.

Which is all to say, I didn't see the Oscars last night. But congratulations to Michael, for the award, and for the acceptance speech:

Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to — they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much.

As real as it gets

From Meet the Press yesterday (via Atrios):

MS. MITCHELL: And I think, as well, that frankly we in the media did not cover the anti-war movement as it was moving along on the Internet. We weren’t focused on that. And now, brilliantly, the Pentagon has accomplished the fact with embedding that we’re watching the war unfold in slices, if you will, maybe not getting the big picture, but trying to.
MR. RUSSERT: But real time.
MS. MITCHELL: But real time. And so this anti-war debate seems harder to get a handle on. It becomes less "relevant." Not that it is less relevant, but it is less dramatic. And I think we have to be careful about balancing that, frankly.
MR. RUSSERT: And when we see pictures tonight of American men being executed, Michael Elliot, it’s very difficult to have any tolerance for people who are saying, "Wait a minute," although that is what America is all about.

And why is that, exactly, Mr. Russert?

Why is it "very difficult to have any tolerance" for the people who never wanted to send American soldiers into this battle to begin with?

In the exceedingly unlikely event that the anti-war movement had won the day, those servicemen would still be alive this morning.

It all unfolds with ritualized familiarity. The people who clamor for war downplay or ignore the obvious consequence of war--that human beings on both sides are going to lose their lives. Until the dying starts, and then their anger is focused on those who opposed the war from the start.

Right.

This is why it's important for those who would take us into war to treat us like grownups, to explain why this terrible last resort is unavoidable: so that the American people can make an informed decision about the costs of the war and the rationality of those who would lead us there. Of course, this is exactly why those leaders can't admit their underlying motivations, the real reasons, the ones they've been discussing in policy papers and op-ed pieces for half a dozen years. Like this bit from the Project for a New American Century report released in 2000:

Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"The need for a substantial American force presence." Not quite stirring enough to convince Americans to sacrifice their sons and daughters, is it? So instead we have weapons of mass destruction which may or may not exist, but which by the accounts of our own intelligence analysts posed little threat to us, at least until this war began. We have the liberation of the Kurds, except, oops, not really, as the Turks begin to roll into Northern Iraq. We have the liberation of the rest of the Iraqi population from the brutality of Saddam Hussein--an argument with genuine moral weight, but even at that, the question remains: will the price be worth it? And: why these oppressed people, but not others? Unless we plan to roll across the globe, liberating oppressed peoples everywhere, a virtual juggernaut of freedom and democracy and joy. But I'm guessing that's not in Richard Perle's playbook.

And if we'd had an honest discussion about motives and costs, we might also have spent some time looking at the lessons of history. How well has American impulse to impose our vision of How Things Ought To Be on other countries worked out in the past? Particularly in the region in question? The argument could plausibly be made that our current problems with fundamentalist terrorism can be traced back more or less directly to our support for the Shah of Iran. What rough beasts wait to be born this time around?

These questions were never asked, not in any meaningful way, and now it's too late. Now we have no choice but to sit and wait, and hope fervently that things actually do go as well as the proponents of this war have predicted, that the Iraqi people will soon lay down their arms and welcome us as liberators. And most of all, that human lives are not too great an abstraction to the men, and occasionally women, who sit in comfortable well-appointed rooms and dream of remaking the world in their own image.

--------------------

March 23, 2003

And then there's this...
A Japanese toy maker claims to have developed a gadget that translates dog barks into human language and plans to begin selling the product -- under the name Bowlingual -- in U.S. pet stores, gift shops and retail outlets this summer.

Tokyo-based Takara Co. Ltd. says about 300,000 of the dog translator devices have been sold since its launch in Japan late last year. It is forecasting far bigger sales once an English-language version comes to America in August.

The United States is home to about 67 million dogs, more than six times the number in Japan.

"We know that the Americans love their dogs so much, so we don't think they will mind spending $120 on this product," Masahiko Kajita, a Takara marketing manager, said during an interview at a recent pet products convention in Atlanta.

Cited as one of the coolest inventions of 2002 by Time magazine, Bowlingual consists of a 3-inch long wireless microphone that attaches to a dog collar and transmits sounds to a palm-sized console that is linked to a database.

The console classifies each woof, yip or whine into six emotional categories -- happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, assertion and desire -- and displays common phrases, such as "You're ticking me off," that fit the dog's emotional state.

I can only assume that the editors at Time magazine do not have much experience with dogs. Dogs are probably the most nakedly expressive creatures on the planet; a $120 device which translates their emotional state is pretty much the dictionary definition of "redundancy."

More suggested reading

This:

WASHINGTON, March 22 — The recent disclosure that reports claiming Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger were based partly on forged documents has renewed complaints among analysts at the C.I.A. about the way intelligence related to Iraq has been handled, several intelligence officials said.

Analysts at the agency said they had felt pressured to make their intelligence reports on Iraq conform to Bush administration policies.

For months, a few C.I.A. analysts have privately expressed concerns to colleagues and Congressional officials that they have faced pressure in writing intelligence reports to emphasize links between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda.

And this, which I actually should have linked to last week:

But how to explain that the vast majority of the world, with little to gain from it, is in the Franco-Russian camp? The administration claims that many countries support the United States but do so quietly. That signals an even deeper problem. Countries are furtive in their support for the administration not because they fear Saddam Hussein but because they fear their own people. To support America today in much of the world is politically dangerous. Over the past year the United States became a campaign issue in elections in Germany, South Korea and Pakistan. Being anti-American was a vote-getter in all three places.

Blogging around

Very Very Happy has a number of posts worth reading, including thoughts on the peace movement's real "worst nightmare":

As I watched a ten second clip on MSNBC of the middle aged father of one of the marines who was killed today holding up a photograph, choking back tears and asking the President to take a good look at the picture "of my only son," all the furious words in my head stopped, as did the accusations against people who mock those who did not want war.

Nothing I can say can be even half as effective a condemnation of Reynolds' attitude -- which is by no means unique to him; if it were, it would not matter -- as hearing a grown man's voice crack when he talks about his dead son.

I don't even care about pro-war and anti-war right now. Tonight, can we all just have the honor and basic decency to admit that that man who I saw on the news tonight was every American's worst nightmare?

Here's the story.


Things that make you go "hmmm"...
WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."

Story.

The real winners
War began last week. Reconstruction starts this week.

That, at least, is how it looks to government contract officers, who in the coming days plan to give American companies the first contracts to rebuild Iraq, a task that experts say could eventually cost $25 billion to $100 billion. It would be the largest postwar rebuilding since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II.
Advertisement

That comparison is being made at every opportunity by Bush administration officials, who emphasize American generosity and farsightedness. But the government's decision to invite only American corporations to bid on these contracts has added to the profound international divisions that already surround the war.

The United States plans to retain control over the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, allowing the administration to decide how it will spend the money needed to repair the country. These contracts will be financed by the taxpayer, although senior administration officials have hinted broadly that Iraqi oil revenue will also be used to rebuild the country.

"We're going to use the assets of the people of Iraq, especially their oil assets, to benefit their people," said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Friday.

More.

Yesterday in New York City

My friends and I stood along the sidelines for about forty minutes, watching a seemingly endless crowd of protesters march down Sixth Ave. We joined the march at about 30th street, walked down to Union Square, ducked out for a longish lunch, and came back out expecting to catch the tail end of the march--but it was still going on, still with no end in sight.

There were a whole lot of people out there yesterday. This being New York, there must have been someone up on a rooftop somewhere who took some photographs which show the extent of the crowd, so please send links if you have them--I'm not seeing any on the news sites. I guess it just didn't occur to them to try to get an aerial shot.

Here's an article from the Times, and here's one from the AP (headlined, oddly, "Tens of Thousands in US Protest War"--when by the article's own admission, there were at least a hundred thousand in New York City alone).


The shape of things to come

From a must-read article in the American Prospect:

For months Americans have been told that the United States is going to war against Iraq in order to disarm Saddam Hussein, remove him from power, eliminate Iraq's alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and prevent Baghdad from blackmailing its neighbors or aiding terrorist groups. But the Bush administration's hawks, especially the neoconservatives who provide the driving force for war, see the conflict with Iraq as much more than that. It is a signal event, designed to create cataclysmic shock waves throughout the region and around the world, ushering in a new era of American imperial power. It is also likely to bring the United States into conflict with several states in the Middle East. Those who think that U.S. armed forces can complete a tidy war in Iraq, without the battle spreading beyond Iraq's borders, are likely to be mistaken.

"I think we're going to be obliged to fight a regional war, whether we want to or not," says Michael Ledeen, a former U.S. national-security official and a key strategist among the ascendant flock of neoconservative hawks, many of whom have taken up perches inside the U.S. government. Asserting that the war against Iraq can't be contained, Ledeen says that the very logic of the global war on terrorism will drive the United States to confront an expanding network of enemies in the region. "As soon as we land in Iraq, we're going to face the whole terrorist network," he says, including the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a collection of militant splinter groups backed by nations -- Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia -- that he calls "the terror masters."

"It may turn out to be a war to remake the world," says Ledeen.

And see, the thing is, they think that's a good thing. Go read the whole thing, especially if you're under the impression that the liberation of the Iraqi people is anything but an afterthought. And start watching for the increasing demonization of Iran, like this bit (via Maureen Dowd):

(Leeden) called Iraq "just one battle in a broader war. Iran is . . . the mother of modern terrorism."

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