Even Blind Chickens …

find a kernel of corn every now and again. William F. Buckley on our War President:

    What exactly will President Bush do about the Iraqi mess? He has said over and over that a president must be prepared to make decisions, however difficult, and stick to them. But surely one decision he can have arrived at during the political purgation is that things are not going well in Iraq. It is one thing to reiterate during a political campaign that a president must make hard choices and stick to them, quite another to say that a president cannot draw back and recalculate at very basic levels.

Too bad the jubilant young “conservatives” over at Natty Review don’t listen to their elders.

In other news, Matt “Don’t Sweat the Dead Babies” Welch pretty accurately pegs what libertarians and everyone else should expect of Bush 2.0:

    1) There is zero reason to believe Bush will ever listen to libertarians, about anything. …

    2) Energized Republican majorities in Congress will seek to re-write rules at the expense of the “obstructionist minority.” I heard Republican congressmen use that exact phrase twice during Election Night.

    And look for the congressmen to continue spending money like drunken sailors. Pork works, especially if there is no veto to scale it back, and now that this approach has been given a handsome popular-vote mandate, why change now? …

    3) Bush will even feel less constrained in conducting an aggressive, occasionally go-it-alone foreign policy. In the words of Bush voter Stephen Green, “On the plus side, we’ll stop jerking around with the insurgents in Fallujah. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and CENTCOM won’t have to worry any longer about delicate domestic sensibilities. Finally, they’ll be free to do the killing—and there’s no nicer word for it—that needs to be done there.” …

I’ll resist the temptation to say “I told you so” and just link two of my own essays – one from February, the other from last Saturday. For posterity’s sake, of course.

Mutilated bodies found near Green Zone

THREE mutilated bodies have been found under a suspension bridge in central Baghdad, an Iraqi interior ministry spokesman said yesterday.

The river patrol police found the unidentified corpses on Tuesday beneath a bridge that leads across the Tigris river into the Green Zone, home to the Iraqi interim government and the United States and British embassies, the spokesman said.

Well, at least there won’t be any gay people getting married legally in the US. Nobody can say Americans don’t have their priorities straight.

What’s Up, CNN?

Brad Biggers writes:

    I wanted to point out the tremendous discrepancy between CNN’s “transcript of [bin Laden’s] remarks” and al-Jazeera’s “full English transcript” of bin Laden’s videotaped speech released last week, as reported on those networks’ Web sites.

    The al-Jazeera version is 2,299 words long, and states that it was translated from the subtitles that appeared at the foot of the screen in Arabic.

    CNN’s purported “transcript” is only 699 words long, and says it was translated by an editor.

    Numerous other differences can be found between the two transcripts. These differences are mostly omissions on CNN’s behalf; however, at one point the two transcripts were in polar opposition to one another:

    (from al-Jazeera) We have found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half which are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents.

    (from CNN) We found no difficulties in dealing with the Bush administration, because of the similarities of that administration and the regimes in our countries, half of which are run by the military and half of which are run by monarchs.

    Perhaps CNN is unaware of the meaning of the word transcript?

Elections for Emperor & the Balkans

Today is that most holy day in the American statist pantheon, when millions of believers gather at makeshift temples and wait in lines to worship the State. (What, you didn’t know I hated Democracy? After this? Come on!) Even though this election is being pitched as “crucial” and “fateful” – which one isn’t? – regardless of which New England patrician gets to be the new Emperor, nothing will fundamentally change in the way the Empire works. Continue reading “Elections for Emperor & the Balkans”

On the eve of the destruction of Fallujah

Sovereign Iraq’s appointed, parliament-less “Prime Minister” says a military assault on Fallujah is still really, really close, closer than it was yesterday – imminent, even. Although the US persists in putting forth the farcical line that the great and powerful Allawi is the triggerman who will launch the assault to crush Fallujah once and for all, Allawi claims that he has “no choice but to secure a military solution” if they [peace talks] fail. Meanwhile, Interim President Gahzi “I’m Not Your Monkey” al-Yahwer continues to imperil his US-Puppet career:

A military assault is the wrong way to end the insurgency in Fallujah, and a bloodbath is exactly what Saddam Hussein followers and foreign fighters want, Iraq’s Interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said.

“I absolutely disagree with those who believe a military attack is necessary,” al-Yawer said in a newspaper interview during a visit to Kuwait.

“The way the coalition is managing the crisis is wrong. It is as if someone shot his horse in the head to kill a fly that landed on it. The fly flies away and the horse dies.”

Now, as the razing of Fallujah awaits whatever mysterious combination of events and opinions that will begin it, I’ll quote extensively from this very important post by Rahul Mahajan:

A recent study in the Lancet concluded that, as of September, at least 100,000 Iraqis had been liberated from life as a consequence of the American liberation. I was in Fallujah during the siege in April, and I want to paint a word picture for you of what such an assault means.

Fallujah is dry and hot; like Southern California, it has been made an agricultural area only by virtue of extensive irrigation. It has been known for years as a particularly devout city; people call it the City of a Thousand Mosques. In the mid-90’s, when Saddam wanted his name to be added to the call to prayer, the imams of Fallujah refused.

U.S. forces bombed the power plant at the beginning of the assault; for the next several weeks, Fallujah was a blacked-out town, with light provided by generators only in critical places like mosques and clinics. The town was placed under siege; the ban on bringing in food, medicine, and other basic items was broken only when Iraqis en masse challenged the roadblocks. The atmosphere was one of pervasive fear, from bombing and the threat of more bombing. Noncombatants and families with sick people, the elderly, and children were leaving in droves. After initial instances in which people were prevented from leaving, U.S. forces began allowing everyone to leave – except for what they called “military age males,” men usually between 15 and 60. Keeping noncombatants from leaving a place under bombardment is a violation of the laws of war; conversely, if you assume that every military age male is an enemy, that’s a pretty good sign that you are in the wrong country, and that, in fact, your war is on the people, not on their oppressors.

The main hospital in Fallujah is across the Euphrates from the bulk of the town. Right at the beginning, the Americans shut down the main bridge, cutting off the hospital from the town. Doctors who wanted to treat patients had to leave the hospital, with only the equipment they could carry, and set up in makeshift clinics all over the city; the one I stayed at had been a neighborhood clinic with one room that had four beds, and no operating theater; doctors refrigerated blood in a soft-drink vending machine. Another clinic, I’m told, had been an auto repair shop. This closing of the hospital, which was not an isolated incident, also violates the Geneva Convention.

In Fallujah, you were rarely free of the sound of artillery booming in the background, punctuated by the smaller, higher-pitched note of the mujaheddin’s hand-held mortars. After even a few minutes of it, you have to stop paying attention to it – and yet, of course, you never quite stop. Even today, when I hear the roar of thunder, I’m often transported instantly to April 10 and the dusty streets of Fallujah.

In addition to the artillery and the warplanes dropping 500, 1000, and 2000-pound bombs, and the murderous AC-130 Spectre gunships that can demolish a whole city block in less than a minute, the Marines had snipers criss-crossing the whole town. For weeks, Fallujah was a series of sometimes mutually inaccessible pockets, divided by the no-man’s-lands of sniper fire paths. Snipers fired indiscriminately, usually at whatever moved. Of 20 people I saw come into the clinic I observed in a few hours, only five were “military-age males.” I saw old women, old men, a child of 10 shot through the head; terminal, the doctors told me, although in Baghdad they might have been able to save him.

One thing that snipers were very discriminating about – every single ambulance I saw had bullet holes in it. Two I inspected bore clear evidence of specific, deliberate sniping. Friends of mine who went out to gather in wounded people were shot at. When we first reported this fact, we came in for near-universal execration. Many just refused to believe it. Some asked me how I knew that it wasn’t the mujaheddin. Interesting question. Had, say, Brownsville been encircled by the Vietnamese and bombarded (which, of course, Mr. Bush courageously protected us from) and Brownsville ambulances been shot up, the question of whether the residents were shooting at their own ambulances, I somehow guess, would not have come up. Later, our reports were confirmed by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and even by the U.S. military.

The best estimates are that roughly 1000 people were killed directly, blown up, burnt, or shot. Of them, my guess, based on news reports and personal observation, is that 2/3 to ¾ were noncombatants.

But the damage goes far beyond that. You read all the time about the bombing of so-called Zarqawi safe houses in residential areas in Fallujah, but the reports don’t tell you what that means. You read about precision strikes, and it’s true that America’s GPS-guided bombs are very accurate – when they’re not malfunctioning, the 80 or 85% of the time that they work, their targeting radius is 10 meters, i.e., they hit within 10 meters of the target. Even the smallest of them, however, the 500-pound bomb, has a blast radius of 400 meters; every single bomb shakes the whole neighborhood, breaking windows and smashing crockery. A town under bombardment is a town in constant fear.

You read the reports about X killed and Y wounded. And you should remember those numbers. But you should also remember that those numbers lie – in a war zone, everyone is wounded.

Finally, on this topic. The first assault on Fallujah was a military failure. This time, the resistance is stronger, better-armed, and better-organized; to “win,” the U.S. military will have to pull out all the stops and indeed, as John Kerry would say, stop at nothing. Even within horror and terror, there are degrees, and we – and the people of Fallujah – ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

There will be international condemnation, as there was the first time; but our government won’t listen to it; aside from the resistance, all the people of Fallujah will be able to depend on to try to avert or mitigate the horror will be us, the antiwar movement. We have a responsibility, that we didn’t meet in April and we didn’t meet in August when Najaf was similarly attacked; will we meet it this time?