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March 31, 2003

Say it ain't so!

French President Jacque Chirac's former foreign policy advisor recieved significant cash donations from French oil compay Elf Aquitaine?    Sacre Bleu!    Not the same French oil company that reportedly has informal agreements with Saddam Hussein to re-develop several Iraqi oil fields after sanctions are lifted?

And they wonder why we call them weasels.  (Hat tip to Stephen Den Beste)

March 31, 2003 at 05:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Arnett now fired by National Geographic as well...

I just watched Arnett apologize on MSNBC for his "error of judgement" over the weekend in agreeing to appear on state-run Iraqi television.   MSNBC also reported that National Geographic has decided to cut all ties with Arnett because of his interview with a hostile foreign state-run news agency during a time of war.   Maybe Al Jazeera is hiring?

Also, MSNBC reported that Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was being expelled from Iraq by CENTCOM for providing tactical information in one of his broadcasts and violating the guidelines agreed to as part of his "embedded" status.   More good riddance, as far as I'm concerned.   I never understood why Fox agreed to hire this shameless opportunist in the first place.

March 31, 2003 at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good overview of recent Arab political history

Amir Taheri, the Iranian-born journalist and mideast expert, has a great piece in the National Review Online.  (Hat-tip to the indispensable Instapundit.)

Taheri's column begins with an interesting overview of the development of the modern Arab states and includes some ideas on future political developments in Iraq and elsewhere in the mideast.   It is definitely worth a look.

March 31, 2003 at 01:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More in sorrow than in anger, my ass!

Margaret Atwood, the Canadian writer and academic, published a "Dear America" letter in Friday's Toronto Globe and Mail.   I don't have the time (or the stomach) for the detailed Fisking it deserves.   However, here is a little taste of this sauted tripe:

We've always been close, you and us. History, that old entangler, has twisted us together since the early 17th century. Some of us used to be you; some of us want to be you; some of you used to be us. You are not only our neighbours: In many cases -- mine, for instance -- you are also our blood relations, our colleagues, and our personal friends. But although we've had a ringside seat, we've never understood you completely, up here north of the 49th parallel.

We're like Romanized Gauls -- look like Romans, dress like Romans, but aren't Romans -- peering over the wall at the real Romans. What are they doing? Why? What are they doing now? Why is the haruspex eyeballing the sheep's liver? Why is the soothsayer wholesaling the Bewares?

Perhaps that's been my difficulty in writing you this letter: I'm not sure I know what's really going on. Anyway, you have a huge posse of experienced entrail-sifters who do nothing but analyze your every vein and lobe. What can I tell you about yourself that you don't already know?

This might be the reason for my hesitation: embarrassment, brought on by a becoming modesty. But it is more likely to be embarrassment of another sort. When my grandmother -- from a New England background -- was confronted with an unsavoury topic, she would change the subject and gaze out the window. And that is my own inclination: Mind your own business.

But I'll take the plunge, because your business is no longer merely your business. To paraphrase Marley's Ghost, who figured it out too late, mankind is your business. And vice versa: When the Jolly Green Giant goes on the rampage, many lesser plants and animals get trampled underfoot. As for us, you're our biggest trading partner: We know perfectly well that if you go down the plug-hole, we're going with you. We have every reason to wish you well.

I won't go into the reasons why I think your recent Iraqi adventures have been -- taking the long view -- an ill-advised tactical error. By the time you read this, Baghdad may or may not look like the craters of the Moon, and many more sheep entrails will have been examined. Let's talk, then, not about what you're doing to other people, but about what you're doing to yourselves.

March 31, 2003 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peter Arnett fired by NBC News

Just heard an announcement on MSNBC that they are "severing ties" with veteran war correspondent Peter Arnett because of his inappropriate recent appearance on Iraqi state television.   Arnett, you may recall, was the announcer for CNN's infamous and now-discredited "Tailwind" story about the US military alleged use of chemical weapons during the Viet Nam war.

Good riddance.   Now, if only the National Geographic would follow suit...

March 31, 2003 at 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mideast peace process: count Syria out

MEMRI today published an interview with Syria's President, Bashar Al-Assad.   It does not look like Assad is a big fan of negotiating a peace with Israel.

Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, granted an interview to the pro-Syrian daily Al-Safir (Lebanon). The interviewer was the editor Talal Salman. The following are excerpts:

Assad: "…They [the Americans] removed their masks and said that they wanted oil and that they wanted to re-draw the map of the region in accordance with the Israeli interests. Israel has a vested interest in dividing Iraq into small ethnic, national and ethnic mini-countries, so that Israel could enjoy legitimacy. There are countries in the Middle East with diverse nationalities, but they have social and historic cohesiveness. Despite the ethnic diversity within each nation, the social fabric of the region by and large is one. On the other hand, the [social] structure in Israel is an anomaly. It is a country with one characteristic, which is a religious characteristic. Its democracy stems from this characteristic. It is not a democracy based on the state's boundaries. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Israel will become a legitimate state even if the peace process is implemented, because its structure deviates from the region's norm, and maybe from the whole world…"

March 31, 2003 at 01:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2003

New coalition leaflet ideas

Very funny ideas for new leaflets to drop on Iraq.

March 30, 2003 at 03:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peeking through the fog of war

Interesting article from the Saudi english language website Arab News on Iraqi support for Saddam.   As you know, Arab News is hardly a pro-US new outlet.   Therefore it is somewhat surprising that their reporters are endorsing the view that the public support for Saddam in Iraq may be due to fear of reprisals. Here is an excerpt (via the Volokh Conspiracy):

When we finally made it to Safwan, Iraq, what we saw was utter chaos. Iraqi men, women and children were playing it up for the TV cameras, chanting: “With our blood, with our souls, we will die for you Saddam.”

I took a young Iraqi man, 19, away from the cameras and asked him why they were all chanting that particular slogan, especially when humanitarian aid trucks marked with the insignia of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, were distributing some much-needed food.

His answer shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.

He said: “There are people from Baath here reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces. If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam. In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else.”

Different versions of that very quote, but with a common theme, I would come to hear several times over the next three days I spent in Iraq.

The people of Iraq are terrified of Saddam Hussein.

March 30, 2003 at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DU from downunder

Professor Bunyip has a great post on Iraq's Dr. Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash and her past role as the western media's favorite spokesperson on the alleged environmental hazard posed by use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions.   Dr. Ammash, you may recall, is the woman sitting at the table in Saddam Hussein's most recent appearence on Iraqi tv.   The talented Dr. Ammash is also credited with having reinvigorated Iraq's bioweapons program.   Dr. Ammash earned her Ph.D. at the University of Missouri and has a day job as a professor at Baghdad University.

March 30, 2003 at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Agitprop? I don't think so...

Here is another story about an Assyrian cleric of Iraqi descent, who visited Iraq to promote peace and prevent the current war but returned with a completely different message.   You can read the full text of Ken Joseph, Jr.'s description of his experiences in Iraq here.   (Thanks to Andrew Sullvan, for unearthing this story.)

The original report on Ken Joseph's conversion was filed by Arnaud de Borchgrave on March 21st via UPI.   Now UPI has fallen on hard times, and was acquired by News World Communications (the publisher of the Washington Times and whose founder was Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church) in May 2000.   I'm not sure that I can put a lot of faith in a news organization owned by a fellow who marries thousands of people at a single sitting, turns folks out on the street to beg money for his church, and otherwise runs what appears to be a cross between a multinational corporation and a religious cult.   In spite of this, I often find interesting, well-researched and credible articles in the Washington Times.

One reader posted a comment on my original post about de Borchgrave's article reporting that Ken Joseph, Jr. was unknown to officials at the US branch of the Assyrian Church. (See a link he referred to here.) However, if you scroll down the page of comments at this site, there are numerous posts providing details and references supporting Joseph's bona fides.

I think, pending additional evidence, that Ken Joseph, Jr.'s story of his experiences in Iraq is credible.   I look forward to watching his upcoming interview with (ahem) Barbara Walters on ABC.

March 30, 2003 at 01:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack