Saturday, April 24, 2004

By now we have all heard the sad story in North Korea. A rail car ammonium nitrate or thermonuclear weapons crashed into an electrical pole or other detonating device on Thursday, and either 3,000 or 150 people were killed. Reports are still sketchy because, let's face it, North Korea is sketchy. While their death toll rises and falls, North Korea's allies, and enemies, have heeded their calls for succor.

South Korea has pledged to send a whopping $1 million in aid. Not to be outdone, China has decided to up the ante to $1.2 from their overflowing coffers. So far, nobody else has stepped up to the bat in offering North Korea anything at all. I wonder why that is?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Monday, April 19, 2004

In yet another move that shows the close ties between the House of Saud and the House of Bush, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, "promised President Bush the Saudis would cut oil prices before November to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day". This information came from Bob Woodward, senior editor with the Washington Post.

Woodward, half of the famous Woodward and Bernstein team that broke the Watergate story to the Washington Post in the early 70's, is promoting his new book "Plan Of Attack" about the lead-up to the Iraq War. This book may be even more incendiary than Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies", which just about threw the whole 9/11 attack into Dubya's lap. Woodward's book more closely scrutinizes the details and motives leading to the overthrowing of Iraq. His reputation as one of the best pure reporters helps to add some credibility to his latest work, although I have no idea how he came about some of the secret phone calls and internal memos that are quoted in this book. Perhaps "Deep Throat" still lives in the halls of the White House.

Anyway, we can see how the Saudis are pumping up their little American puppet in the hopes that falling gas prices will somehow be accredited to Dubya, and not the Saudis' willingness to keep him in office and keep the 9/11 panel off their backs. While I would like to pay less at the pump as much as the next guy(remember, that is why I was pro-war in the first place), I don't know if I could pump with a clear conscience knowing that this kind of shit is going on in the background. Sure, I'll pump. I just might not like it.

This is the kind of thing that's happening with the current administration now. Bush is pulling every last string he can get his dirty little hands on in order to save his re-election. Two consecutive books have scorched his image as a leader caught unaware to an attack like 9/11, and he is attempting to buy his way out of slipping popularity polls. I'm not saying Kerry is that much better, but at least he doesn't have his hand down the pants of the enemy.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

This Just In!

U.S. troops have surrounded the city of Najaf, in Iraq, in preparation of capturing Moqtada al-Sadr. Now, the rebellious Shiite cleric who has threatened the peaceful transition of the Iraqi government to the hand of the Iraqi people and also started a hunger strike six short days ago, has decided he can enter into unconditional talks with the U.S.-backed coalition. This same coalition has only one mission in regards to Sadr, kill him or capture him.

Sadr has decided to drop his concessions that the U.S. leave residential areas, release Iraqi detainees, and end the continuing siege on Fallujah before talks could go on. That's mighty big of him, considering there are about 2,500 Marines out to blow his head off right outside his door. This leader of the Mahdi Army, who just a few days ago swore that he would die to expel the coalition infidels, has developed M16-ophobia, and has wisely decided that his victory is untenable.

Although he is feeling the heat from our Marines, he is still pissing a little vinegar, stating that any attempts by coalition forces to enter Najaf, one of the holiest cities in Iraq, would be met with armed resistance by the Mahdi Army. This threat hasn't done him much good in the past, but he is fairly new to fighting the U.S., and there is a slight learning curve.

Like Saddam before him, Sadr's actions remind me of the old Yosemite Sam/Bug Bunny cartoon, "Oh, yeah? Well, i dare you to cross this line!" Or the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, " Okay, we'll call it a draw...". He's backpedaling so hard from his statements last week you can almost hear the "beep beep" from his reverse gear all the way over here in California.

It's possible that all these concessions will come to naught, as the Army has not made any response as to whether it will negotiate with Sadr. It would be in our best interest to do so, but when have we acted in our best interest during this drawn-out engagement? Sadr's spokesman, Sheik Qais al Khazali, has said that our handling of this situation could have far-reaching consequences.

"This isn't about ... Muqtada, this about the Americans facing off with the marjahs (revered clerics) of Najaf," Khazali said. "These marjahs have influence with Shi'as over the whole world. There wouldn't just be fighting against the Americans here, there would be fights against the Americans everywhere."

True dat, Holmes. Except for the fact that most of the international Shi'a community have denounced your actions and wouldn't touch you with a ten foot imád. Most Islamic communities have seen what a crazy religious zealot can do with a powerful army, and don't want to cross Bush again. With a little luck, we can take Sadr into custody without a serious incident. Break out your lucky rabbit's foot.

I just found this article, written last month, on the public opinion polls for how Iraqis feel about their current state of affairs. The editorial tries to make it seem as though things are going well in Iraq, with the large portion of the population seeing an improvement in the country compared to the same time last year. While the polls are correct, we must think back to the state of Iraq in March of 2003.

Iraq was at war with the coalition. Saddam's regime had yet to be ousted, and civilians were being routinely shot by jumpy American servicemen at checkpoints across the country. I was decidedly pro-war at that time. I thought that taking control of Iraq would allow us to steal all the oil we wanted and drop the prices on gasoline. I was cheated.

Of course things are better than they were then. The war is over, and some of the shit we blew up last year is being rebuilt. This article was written before the insurgency and the Mahdi Army had really begun to grow, so if the same poll were put out today, I would be very interested in seeing how the Iraqis feel about the occupation now. Although there are some signs that the bloodbath in Fallujah and elsewhere might calm down some, we are still on very shaky ground. The insurgents are still ambushing our troops, and our troops are still falling for these ambushes. We have now begun to occupy abandoned buildings in the city and are setting them up as ambush points and sniper nests just like Sadr's minions, so we are starting to learn how to fight an effective urban battle with them. But the British are a little concerned with our tactics in this new upsurge in violence.

The British chain of command have stated that they are concerned that our response to the attacks in Fallujah are out of proportion with the threat we are under. They believe that American forces are fighting as if every Iraqi is out to kill them, and they have no concern for innocent lives. Now, while not all Iraqis are out to kill our troops, a good portion of the residents of Fallujah are. Even if they don't pick up a weapon, collaborators allow gunmen to hide in their houses, feed them, and sometimes act as "meatshields", standing in the line of coalition fire so that U.S. forces can't get a good shot at militiamen. This is just plain dirty pool. Although attacking a mosque was not the greatest idea we've ever had, the lion's share of the blame falls on the religious leaders who allowed gunmen into their compound and begin firing on our soldiers. These tactics are used to undermine the occupation, and are largely successful. We hate hearing about the "innocent" civilians caught in the crossfire almost as much as we dislike seeing the corpses of our countrymen hanging from a bridge in some shitpot town on the other side of the world. I have a hard time believing that the residents of Fallujah thought that we weren't going to go in and lay waste to their town in retaliation. I was hoping we wouldn't, because this action has further sullied our reputation as a just and good army, but I guess that was just wishful thinking.

So, yes, things are a little bit better than they were a year ago in Iraq, but not by much.

Friday, April 09, 2004

The outlaw Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has gone on a hunger strike until U.S.-led coalition forces leave Iraq, and has told President Bush that he will lose his forthcoming election if he does not order the withdrawal. Well, Bush may or may not lose the election anyway, but I have a bad feeling that Bush isn't very concerned with Sadr's health after the trouble he's been giving us.

Sadr has said that the entire country of Iraq is against the coalition occupation and his militia will fight to the death until our troops are withdrawn. While he may be full of shit, he has been able to drum up a pretty good army. For the last six days, coalition troops have seen the fiercest fighting in Iraq since the war was declared over a year ago. The body count has been piling up, and this new militia is far more disciplined than the army of Saddam Hussein. They are fighting furiously, and some 20,000 troops have been told that they must remain in the country past their normal tour of duty in order to quell this uprising. I think that some troops who are already home might be called back to help in the fight. I doubt many will be happy with that request.

The troops already stationed there were supposed to be leaving at the end of June in order to turn over the country to the new Iraqi government, but Sadr has called this new governing body " traitors" and has vowed to oust this new governing body in order to replace it with a more religious group. Kinda sounds like the Taliban, doesn't it? Well, there is no way that the coalition will withdraw when such an obvious threat has been issued. And it is apparent that the police who have been installed in a lot of the towns where the fiercest fighting has happened are either miserably undermanned and understaffed, or are actually in cahoots with the insurgents. Many of the police stations in these towns are now in the hands of Sadr's militia, and the police there say that they were simply overwhelmed by sheer numbers and gave up the stations and guns without incident. This doesn't sound like the guys we have been fighting at all. And there is the allegation that the cops who were escorting the caravan which included the four Americans that were killed and started this whole mess actually drew the motorcade into the ambush and blocked any escape while the attack commenced. So Sadr might be right; we are fighting the whole goddamn country again. But this time, they are much more prepared to make the fight last. If Sadr manages to starve himself to death, will the struggle live on? In a word: yes! He will become a martyr for the movement, and we will lose our chance at bringing some sort of peace of mind to the beleaguered people of Iraq.

Sorry, guys. We tried.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

It seems like things are really starting to boil over out in Fallujah. Marines have been engaged in some of the fiercest firefights since the war has been declared over these last three days, and as the body count rises, we all shake our heads and wonder how it all went wrong.

We have all seen the pictures of four American security contractors desecrated by a group of anti-Yankee dumbasses who even mugged for the cameraman while standing next to their handiwork. I guess they thought that coalition forces would decide to leave this Iraqi city alone because they had killed a carload of ex-Marines. Well, guess what? Things have not worked out that way. The Marines have decided to lay siege to this city, even going as far as destroying a mosque with a 500 lb. bomb. I had thought that a reaction like this by American forces was a terribly bad idea. Sure, American civilians had been attacked and mutilated, their bodies hung from a bridge, but if we punished the entire town, we would look like fascists. The four Americans killed would be completely overshadowed by the many Fallujah citizens killed by indiscriminate bombing by a vengeful foreign military. I was right. Not only have 40 civilians been killed by the large bomb we dropped on that mosque, but uprisings have been sparked all across Iraq.

America is still committed to withdrawing from Iraq on July 30, but these attacks seem destined to push back that date, as we won't readily hand over the keys while there is still fighting in the streets. Edward Kennedy recently said that the Iraq war was "Bush's Vietnam", and he may be right. I can't see any resolution or peaceful transition for this country while a holy war is about to begin on it's soil.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Just wanted to pop in to let you know that today was the 2nd Anniversary of this blog! I totally forgot all about it, and to tell you the truth, I didn't think I would even have kept up this blog for this long when I first started it. I should have come up with an interesting article to commemorate such an occasion, but not only do I have nothing really to say, but I have to get up in the morning and go to work. We'll see what I can cook up tomorrow.