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May 29, 2004

Obituary of the Week

From today's NYT:

Salvatore Verdirome, a carpenter whose singular religious vision transformed his backyard into a terraced shrine of bathtub Madonnas and became a place of solace for people who lost money at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, died in Norwich, Conn., on May 15. He was 84.
Read the whole thing.

May 29, 2004 at 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Time to send in the 'System Administrators'.   If only we had any...

Nick Kristof's column in today's Times lauds Bush administration diplomacy for having successfully brokered a peace agreement that will hopefully end Sudan's civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian south.   However, he is less sanguine about the prospects for avoiding humanitarian disaster in Sudan's Darfur region, where the government appears to be conducting a deliberate campaign to divert emergency food aid and commit genocide through mass starvation.

I've obtained a report by a U.N. interagency team documenting conditions at a concentration camp in the town of Kailek: Eighty percent of the children are malnourished, there are no toilets, and girls are taken away each night by the guards to be raped. As inmates starve, food aid is diverted by guards to feed their camels.

The standard threshold for an "emergency" is one death per 10,000 people per day, but people in Kailek are dying at a staggering 41 per 10,000 per day — and for children under 5, the rate is 147 per 10,000 per day. "Children suffering from malnutrition, diarrhea, dehydration and other symptoms of the conditions under which they are being held live in filth, directly exposed to the sun," the report says.

"The team members, all of whom are experienced experts in humanitarian affairs, were visibly shaken," the report declares. It describes "a strategy of systematic and deliberate starvation being enforced by the GoS [government of Sudan] and its security forces on the ground." (Read the 11-page report here.)

Why don't our humanitarian friends the French or the Germans do something (since we are rather busy elsewhere at the moment)?

(For more on what international "system administrators" are, see this post.)

May 29, 2004 at 02:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More details on that link between Iraq and 9/11

From Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.

May 29, 2004 at 01:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2004

A smoking gun in Iraq?

This is interesting: today's WSJ's lead editorial reports that a Lieutenant-Colonel in Iraq's Saddam Fedayeen was among those present at the January 2000 Al Queda meeting in Kuala Lumpur where the 9/11 attacks were believed to have been planned.

Call me cynical, but I wonder if the mainstream press will consider these developments newsworthy...   A quick scan of today's WaPo and NYT shows no mention of the story.

May 27, 2004 at 09:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Turkish thoughts on Iraq

Here are the thoughts of a couple of Turkish columnists on the situation in Iraq:

(From TurkishPress.com's daily email Press Review.)

May 27, 2004 at 08:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another must read...

I've long been a fan of Bill Whittle's... and not a little jealous of his talent as a writer and thinker.   I've just read his most recent contribution, and urge all of you to do the same.

May 27, 2004 at 01:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Catherine Seipp on the West Coast zeitgeist.   A must read.

May 27, 2004 at 01:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2004

Al Queda links to Saddam before the war?

Wait just a minute.   I thought Saddam's Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with Al Queda and that the war in Iraq was just a distraction from the war on terror?   Then why is ABC News, of all people, printing stuff like this?!   Haven't they been reading their NY Times?

During the 1990s, Zarqawi trained under bin Laden in Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban, he fled to northwestern Iraq and worked with poisons for use in potential attacks, officials say.

During the summer of 2002, he underwent nasal surgery at a Baghdad hospital, officials say. They mistakenly originally thought, however, that Zarqawi had his leg amputated due to an injury.

In late 2002, officials say, Zarqawi began establishing sleeper cells in Baghdad and acquiring weapons from Iraqi intelligence officials.

(Hat tip to Captain's Quarters.)

May 26, 2004 at 06:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not the way I would prefer to find out...

According to the BBC, a witness in a criminal trial in Leicester, England, learned that he was HIV-positive from a defense attorney during his cross-examination in open court.

May 26, 2004 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's firefighter, policeman or something else?

Dick Morris' column in today's NY Post likens the US military to the "The World's Firefighter":

Our military, with its weapons and offensive psychology, is uniquely suited to put out fires, crippling totalitarian and terror-sponsoring regimes like the Serbs in Kosovo and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Only our firepower and technology can bring these miscreants to heel.

But our ability to occupy and govern the territory we have conquered is by no means unique: Other nations could do as well, perhaps better. We must not tax the patience of our people or the optimism of our troops by forcing them into a quasi-colonial war occupying a nation like Iraq. The consequences are too dangerous.

Morris is correct that our military, as currently organized, is not well-suited to occupying and rebuilding "broken" societies.   But his proposed solution -- to leave this task to unnamed "other nations" -- is unrealistic.   Who does Morris think would be willing to assume these burdens?   The British? The French? Russia? The UN (which after all, does not have any troops or resources of its own but rather relies upon contributions by member states)?   Morris' vision is an attractive fantasy, not a practical policy prescription.

As these pages have argued before (see here, here, here or here), the US needs a new type of military capability; specifically recruited, trained and equipped to perform the mission of "nation building".   Think of something like Médecins Sans Frontières (the French-led international emergency aid group) but with the ability to defend themselves from armed attack and having their own organic transportation and logistical capabilities.

Tom Barnett, a professor at the Naval War College and consultant to the DoD, calls his version of this new force "The System Administrators".   (Personally, I'd prefer a less tech sounding name like the "Reconstruction Corps", but that's just marketing.)   Barnett has a great article in this month's Esquire outlining his views in greater detail.   (Unfortunately, its only available to subscribers but there is a free trial available.   If you are unable to get hold of it, let me know and I'll email you a copy.)   Barnett's piece should be essential reading for anyone concerned about the situation in Iraq and the future security of our country.

May 26, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack