Saturday, July 31, 2004

Al-Jazeera to Terrorists: Kidnap Anyone and Leave the Rest to Us!

AYS agrees with the editorial board of Iraqi Bloggers Central that something must be done to sever the symbiotic link between the terrorists and their propaganda wings like Al-Jazeera.

It’s so easy for those insurgents and terrorists to kidnap and show their victims on TV because they have many friends who welcome them to do and say whatever they want to be seen and heard.

Those terrorists have allies, those channels are helping them..it’s clearly that they have the deal: “ all you have to do is to kidnap anyone you can and leave the rest on us”..there is a dangerous cooperation between the terrorists and those channels, if this relationship continues, I can say that Iraq will never be safe and secure…never..

Especially after the coward decisions of few countries, those who obeyed the terrorists and so gave them power..

Kidnapping will increase in the coming weeks, since the terrorists succeeded to frighten those countries, of course by the help of the channels.


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FOR LOCAL CONSUMPTION ONLY: The New York Post talks to a few servicemen after Kerry and Edwards leave the Wendy's.

July 31, 2004 -- SCRANTON, Pa. — John Kerry's heavily hyped cross-country bus tour stumbled out of the blocks yesterday, as a group of Marines publicly dissed the Vietnam War hero in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

Kerry was treating running mate Sen. John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, to a Wendy's lunch in Newburgh, N.Y., for their 27th wedding anniversary — an Edwards family tradition — when the candidate approached four Marines and asked them questions.

The Marines — two in uniform and two off-duty — were polite but curt while chatting with Kerry, answering most of his questions with a "yes, sir" or "no, sir."

But they turned downright nasty after the Massachusetts senator thanked them "for their service" and left.

"He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here shaking our hands," one Marine said, adding, "I'm 100 percent against [him]."

A sergeant with 10 years of service under his belt said, "I speak for all of us. We think that we are doing the right thing in Iraq," before saying he is to be deployed there in a few weeks and is "eager" to go and serve.


Better go retrieve those medals, Johnny Boy.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Ayad Returns from a Trip to Iraq

You can now go to Ayad's blog, Live from Baghdad, and read about his recent trip to Iraq. Scroll to the bottom and ride along with Ayad.

I just watched an hour on Al-Hurra about the differences between Iraqis and Arabs vis à vis Saddam, and in particular, the matter of Arab lawyers offering to defend him in court. For the defense was an Egyptian lawyer who has volunteered to defend Saddam. He had the unfortunate name Nabeel al-WaHish, waHish meaning beast, monster or wild animal, a word often used to describe Saddam and aggressive violent people. It was used against the Egyptian by the Iraqis on the program, even the host, Saleem Mashkoor, an Iraqi, as they went a bit out of their way to say his last name. The program started out nicely, as they insterspersed survivors' testimonies with commentary from three main panelists -- the Egyptian lawyer, an Iraqi lawyer in London, Fayiq Shaykh Ali, and an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad, Ibrahim Zubaydi, who was a childhood friend of Saddam. The Egyptian's main line of defense, and he was sticking to it, was that he was defending Arab dignity and honor, against "the United States of Terrorism" and "the Zionist entity." The discussion went along fine, for a bit, with the Iraqis wondering what dignity and honor Saddam represented, and how nobody stood up for Iraqis' dignity, honor and lives when Saddam was slaughtering them. It then descended into name-calling between the two lawyers, with the Egyptian calling the Iraqi(s) mercenaries and traitors, a description he applied to the Iraqi court and those who worked for it, as they were illegitimate, not representative of an elected Iraqi government and agents of the UST and the ZE, who had raped Iraq and put it under brutal occupation. He also questioned the manner in which Saddam had been "repressed," referring, I suppose, to his removal. The Iraqis defended American involvement as legitimate, and accused the Egyptian -- meaning Egypt -- of regulary taking billions from the United States and visiting Tel Aviv, etc. The Egyptian brought up the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib and asked if that was democracy, referring to the United States. The Iraqi lawyer, upset at the Egyptian for interrupting him, wondered aside, "What kind of animal is this?" and later described the Egyptian as "illiterate" in matters of the law. Well, this program, called "Kelimett al-Nahrayn" (Word from the Two Rivers), was all good and well.

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FOR LOCAL CONSUMPTION ONLY:

Andrew Sullivan announced a few weeks back that he would be voting for Kerry. Then came the speech last night.

THE CANDIDATE: Well, I guess there was always going to be a reality check. The first and most obvious thing to say about Kerry's speech was that it was far too long. You have to believe that this was a conscious decision, and not an accident. The man couldn't edit it, or his advisers couldn't decide whose soaring rhetoric was better, or no one had the authority to remove the third that should have been removed to give the rest of it time to breathe, and the audience to respond. But perhaps the result was, in some ways, beneficial. Kerry rushed through this speech and so lost some of the deeply ponderous boredom of his usual speaking style. But the effect was still hurried, breathless and because he kept having to calm the crowd down, condescending. There were passages toward the end when he picked up and seemed to do better. But it was a B - performance, not as disastrous as Al Gore's rant in 2000, but nowhere near the level of the best. I mean, even Dole was better eight years ago. Some of it was so pompous and self-congratulatory I almost gagged. Can you believe he said this:

I was born in Colorado, in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, when my dad was a pilot in World War II. Now, I'm not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? I'm not making this up. I was born in the West Wing!

One thought sprang into my mind immediately: what an arrogant jerk.


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Michael J. Totten has called himself an "undecided swing-voter." Here's his reaction to Kerry's speech.

John Kerry hurts me. I yelled at him on the TV tonight. (I mean I yelled at my TV, not that my yelling was broadcast on the…oh, you know what I mean.) It annoyed my wife tremendously, but I yell at Bush, Kerry, and hack pundits on the TV so I don’t have to do it here and annoy all of you. (Sorry, Shelly. You hear it so everyone else doesn’t have to.)

John Kerry is a Politician. I’d give him a 50-50 grade on the content of his speech. Only trouble is he’s such a self-contradictory phony parsing his speech isn't worth any effort. He says he won’t let any nation veto our foreign policy. Excellent. Glad to hear it, John! So what, exactly, was the point of your 18-month whine-fest because Bush more or less stuck to your promise?

Ah, why bother even wading into it that far? It’s only worth arguing with somebody if I have at least a flickering notion they take their own words seriously. Maybe Kerry is serious about not letting Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin veto our foreign policy. I certainly hope so. But how am I supposed to know? I was the intended audience for that line, and of course I know he could be trying to sucker me. Then again, maybe his 18-month whine-fest was a way to sucker the left and maybe it worked.

I do not know. But I do know that I do not like him. It’s a good thing for Kerry he’s running against George W. Bush. Because I can think of plenty of other Republicans who could easily mop the floor with his head.


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FUNNIEST GAFFE: When Kerry complained about "hair pollution."

Indeed.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Big Pharaoh and His Neighborhood

Big Pharaoh looks around the neighborhood and has a few suggestions.

Now we turn to Qatar. This tiny country loves to wear oversized shoes. It hosts the US' largest military base in the region and competes with Saudi Arabia in who will have better relations with Washington. However, the Qatari government finances Al Jazerah channel that has mutual beneficiary relationships with Al Qaeda and had a direct link with Saddam's intelligence. The channel employs some of the most radical figures in the Arab media and never ceases to spill out the most awful anti-America propaganda. This channel incites violence in Iraq and indirectly caused the death of hundreds of coalition forces and Iraqis. A recent Saudi Arabian hostage who was kidnapped in Iraq and released after a US raid on the terrorist hideout filed a law suit against Al Jazerah accusing the Qatari channel of directly collaborating with his kidnappers. What was the US' response? A few harsh words from Colin Powell to his Qatari counterpart that did absolutely nothing to change Al Jazerah's propaganda. Does the Emir of Qatar have influence on the channel? Sure he does (he's its money pipeline!). Al Jazerah is allowed to fiddle and mess with any Arab country except Qatar. If Colin Powell really wants to influence Qatar, he could simply pick up the phone and call the Qatari foreign minister and frankly tell him "dude, if you're not going to fix that out, we're out of Qatar". The Emire of Qatar will simply pee in his pants and might do a little bit of change to his mouth of horror. Has the US made that phone call? No.

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Let's join CBFTW on a raid in Iraq.

I never take uppers like caffeine pills, Hydroxycuts, Ripped Fuels, Red Bulls, or any of that heart attack crap before a Raid, because as soon as you show up to the target house and that ramp drops and you dismount from the back of the vehicle, your heart is going a thousand Rpm's and your wide awake from the adrenaline. You have no idea what the hell your about to get yourself into or what lies ahead, how chaotic its going to be, if the house is booby trapped, how many people are armed in the house, how hostile the situation is going to be, if the target individual is in the house or even if your going to enter the right fucking house. You know absolutely nothing about what you might face.

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FOR LOCAL CONSUMPTION ONLY: Check out this 14-minute documentary on John Kerry's flip-flops on Saddam Hussein and Iraq over the last few years. It's a very well-done piece and Kerry comes off as a damned phony.

A very good commentary on the ultra-bizarre narcissistic speech given by Ms. Heinz.

Leave aside the weirdness of having the wife of a candidate give a major speech two days before he accepts the nomination. We’ll return to that subject shortly. She is a strange person, and the mysterious and off-putting nature of her eccentricity was heightened by her performance before the mildly cheering crowd at the Fleet center.

She began by leaning out from behind the backdrop, seeming to peek at the audience as the cameras focused on her entrance. Slightly bent over, she walked out with her hand over her heart, then patting her heart, as if to reassure herself that her big moment was actually happening, and that she would be just fine. Blowing kisses to the applauding audience, she embraced her son Christopher, stepson to the presumptive Presidential nominee, who had declared his love for her in his introduction of her.

She was dressed in a near-ketchup red suit. The crowd waved ketchup red placards with “We love TERESA!” printed in big white letters. What is the message in this choice of colors? That her fortune is based on a tomato-derived sauce? That she is hoping to relate better to red state voters? That she is nostalgic for communism?

Acknowledging the applause, and maybe the signs, her first words were, “Thank-you. Thank-you. I love you, too.” Nothing about how honored she is to be addressing the convention and the nation. Just an acknowledgement of the assumed love for HER. Though the crowd had already stopped cheering and applauding, she gestured with her hands to quiet them, as if her body were programmed in advance to do so. The hands lingered a few moments too long, hanging there in front of her while the audience was silent.


Read the whole article. It's very good.

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Michael J. Totten on Michael Moore's "Minutemen."

Meet the new Iraqi fascism. Same as the old Iraqi fascism.

70 civilians who were going about their day were torn to pieces on the streets of Baghdad today by Michael Moore’s heroes of the so-called Iraqi “resistance.”

He described them this way:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow—and they will win.

I know very well what Moore means when he writes the word REVOLUTION. It's not, you know, a bad thing, especially since he explicitly compares the jihad to the American Revolution. "Minutemen," my foot. I think Mr. Mike is actually more revolting to me than even Ann Coulter – an impressive feat if that’s what you’re aiming for.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Death in Baquba

My sympathies go out immediately to all those innocents killed and their families and my anger and utter hatred is focused on the terrorists and jihadists and Baathists and ANYONE WHO SUPPORTS THEM. Today's carnage:

The latest attack was the worst since the 28 June transfer of power, and the bloodiest since a blast in the holy city of Najaf last August killed more than 80 people.

Among those killed in Wednesday's car bombing were 21 people travelling in a minibus, a health ministry official said.

"I saw a car overtake a minibus and it slammed right into the queue of people," said Riad Abdul Latif, an internal affairs officer at the police station, who was 100m away when the bomb went off.

Police said young men had come to the police station to join the force. Because of the number of applicants, some had to queue outside.

After the blast, police put the dead and wounded in the back of pick-up trucks and drove them to hospital.

Men used hoses to douse the burning wreckage at the scene. Several bodies were also on fire amid the debris in what correspondents said were horrific scenes.

"God bless them, what have they done?" shouted one man.


I can feel Sam of Hammorabi's anger all the way here in New York.

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I have been reading the Al-Jazeera English-language website daily for half a year and I have yet to read ONE positive article about Iraq.

On yesterday's comments pages we started a dialogue about what to do with what has truly become the propaganda arm of Al-Qaeda.

Any thoughts?

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Mohammed at Iraq the Model looks at Buquba and places it in a larger context.

Can you answer the question what will be the response of Iraqis towards these horrible attacks? I’ll help you; These victims came to volunteer to serve their country as IP members and this is not the 1st time this happens and the response of Iraqis to such attacks was always more volunteers and longer lines. What does that tell you Philippine and Spanish government? If this is bravery and wisdom, then how should your actions be labeled? Maybe it’s not your business? That would’ve been a more honest answer had you said it, but you’re not just cowards or stupid, you’re also hypocrites. This include all the "anti-war" crowd with all the clowns there such as Michael Moore and George Galloway and their likes. You make me SICK when you support the "Iraqi resistance" and call these killers a revolutionists. Did you watch your "resistance" today? This is what you support and this is how history will view you; supporters of murderers and criminals, and for what? Fame and money! Enjoy it. It won’t last, as the truth will soon be revealed and you'll be exposed to all as the disgusting parasites you are.

I doubt that we can forgive you all for your cowardice, stupidity and hypocracy just as we’ll never forget the sacrifices and the help of the Americans, Australians, British, Italians, Japanese and all the other coalition members.


Hey, Michael Moore, why not talk to Mohammed?

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Stop by Sam's Hammorabi (like opening the door on a blast furnace, the flames licking your nose). Sam urges the government to root out spies within their security system.

We may write anything about today's suicidal attack in Baqoba north east Baghdad in which at least 70 Iraqi volunteers to join the police force were killed and more injured. We could say that the attackers are bastards, sons of bitches, dirty cockroaches, catamites, filthy, unclean, cowards, devils, barbaric alien killers, flesh eating zombies, blood sucking vampires and so!
We may say all that but the most important thing and very obvious is the same attack under exactly similar circumstances happened at least twice before in Baghdad alone! Therefore there is more than one weakness in the security system. More than that there are obvious penetration in the systems of the Iraqi security and government!


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Firas: Iraqis are busy!

Firas over at Iraq & Iraqis is just one example of an Iraqi whose energies have been released to build a good future for his family and Iraq.

Since I have started bloging, and its nine months now I have never stopped for this long period . Three or four site visitors e-mailed me asking if there is any thing wrong. Well there is nothing wrong, actually every thing is fine here, except I have lost two assistants at the same day (one of them got married and her husband is taking her out of Iraq the other one found her self another job with triple of what she used to get with us), happy things as you can see. I had to take over of what they used to do and find my self another assistant to train and teach, and that’s not easy in a country where anybody with a little determination can find a job with a good salary. I even got the idea that I can do good business and make good money if I opened a school with three months course of English language, Accounting and Computer. These are whats most needed these days here.

Doing alone what three people used to do is what took from me most of my time and kept me away from writing something to post. But I was dieing to post something from time to time and when I start to write I hear my boss calling or my phone ringing or my alarm timer buzzing for a meeting or some problem needs to be solved. But when you love your work and the pay is good you can never stop, especially when you know there are thousands of people are doing the same to build the country by building a small part of it ............Themselves.


What do the terrorists, jihadists, and Baathists offer to Iraqis? The terrorists offer total destruction of Iraq and the creation of a populace afraid of stepping outside their homes. The jihadists offer total destruction and chaos and then a theocracy under Sharia law. The Baathists offer total destruction and chaos and then a return of the Whole Sick Crew and the resumption of mass graves and palace-building projects and Uday torturing Iraqi athletes.

What do you think? Any of these offers sound good to the Iraqis?

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Hoshyar Zebari has been my personal hero for a long time now. Remember when he went to the UN and told Kofi Annan TO HIS FACE in front of everyone that he and his organization had abondoned the Iraqi people? That was a great moment, watching Kofi Annan sitting there and looking like he had a canary in his mouth.

Now Hoshyar Zebari has Al-Jazeera and the other Al-Qaeda mouthpieces in his sights.

DUBAI—Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari accused regional satellite channels of inciting violence and hinted Iraq might stop Al-Jazeera operating in the country.

"Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, Al-Manar and Al-Alam have all become channels of incitement and opposed to the interests, security and stability of the Iraqi people," Zebari told Al-Jazeera television yesterday.

He said there was "strong talk from some Iraqi government officials about closing Al-Jazeera." Al-Manar is owned by Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, Al-Alam is Iran's Arabic-language television channel and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya is mostly Saudi-owned.


Can you imagine if one of the major networks here played any and all kidnapping tapes and simply became the part of the propaganda wing of Al-Qaeda? Every day Al-Jazeera grabs any tape dropped in their mail slot and runs it non-stop and bracketed by incendiary commentary. If Al-Jazeera is kicked out of Iraq, my guess is that the country will immediately become much safer.

Any thoughts?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Prison Visit in Iraq: Yoo-Hoo, Anybody Home?

The Guardian has an article on Mr. Bakhtiar Amin, just returned from a prison visit to see Saddam Hussein and the other Cards from the Deck.

The intriguing glimpse of the former dictator's daily routine as he awaits trial on charges of war crimes and genocide was given to the Guardian yesterday by Iraq's human rights minister, Bakhtiar Amin, who visited Saddam in detention on Saturday.

Mr Amin, a longtime Iraqi human rights campaigner who had family members killed by the former regime, said he could not bring himself to speak to Saddam but observed that he was "in good health and being kept in good conditions".

However, Mr. Amin said the former president "appeared demoralised and dejected".

Saddam is being held in a white-walled air-conditioned cell, three metres wide and four metres long, Mr Amin said. He is kept apart from the other prisoners, who can mix freely with each other during the daily three-hour exercise periods.

Since appearing in court, Saddam had taken to reading the Qur'an and writing poetry, Mr Amin said. "One of the poems is about George Bush, but I had no time to read it."


Later Mr. Amin stopped in to see some of the others.

US and Iraqi officials have said that the former president has not provided extensive information during interrogation. Some of Saddam's aides have been more cooperative.

They include Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali, who reportedly gave the orders to use chemical weapons against Kurds in the late 1980s; Hussein's half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti; as well as Hussein's influential personal secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti.

Mr Amin said that during his visit he was approached by Barzan al-Tikriti, who was standing next to Ali Hassan al-Majid. "Mr Minister, what am I doing here?" Mr al-Tikriti said. "I am not like the others, I am not like Ali Hassan al-Majid. Please tell that to Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani and to Ayad Allawi."

Mr al-Tikriti was once head of Saddam's intelligence service and is suspected of involvement in the murder of several thousand members of the Barzani clan in the 1980s. "I tried to control my emotions, but to be honest I wanted to vomit," Mr Amin said.

"There before me were the men responsible for the industrial pain of Iraq - mass murderers who were responsible for turning Iraq into a land of mass graves."

But he insisted: "There will be a just trial and a fair trial, unlike the trials that he inflicted on his enemies, on the Iraqi people."


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Sunday, July 25, 2004

Likker in Iraq?!

CBFTW does a double-take in Mosul.

We had a patrol bright and early this morning. It was in a neighborhood way the fuck out there, on the other side of the river. It was a nice change of scenery for us, we've never been to this neighborhood before. New things to look at. I noticed something bizarre about this neighborhood though, the women in our AO usually wear the traditional dresses with a scarves around their heads, and they hardly ever make eye contact with you, when they walk they usually look straight down. In this neck of the woods, a majority of the women wore no headgear, and wore T-shirts and summer pants and sandals. These women were extremely friendly, almost too friendly, and they'd all smile and wave like crazy at us. Weird. Then I noticed a small little liquor store on a street corner. (!!!!) I've NEVER seen a liquor store here in Iraq before, ever. The outside of the shop had several beer advertisements of European brands I've never heard of. I had to do a double take to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing. The shop owner in the store saw my facial expression and wide eyed reaction at the sight of a liquor store and he chuckled at me. I haven't seen or steped in a liquor store or had a drink in 9 months. Damn. Anyways, it seems like every street in Mosul that has shops, usually has a store that sells tombstones. I guess there's a high death rate here, the cemeteries here are huge, so the demand for tombstones must be high. Well anyways, a couple shops away from the liquor store was a small shop that sells tombstones, on a couple of the tombstones outside the shop was a bright red engraving of a Christain cross. Then I pieced it all together and I realized that we were in a Christain part of Mosul. I've heard about this place, but we've never been here.

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Have terrorists been practicing dry-runs on airlines recently?

Moments later, the last man came out of the bathroom. As he passed the man in the yellow T-shirt, Mrs Jacobsen saw him draw his finger across his throat and mouth the word "no".

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Ass Monkeys and Other Professionals in Iraq

Eric Jewett gives us a day-in-the-life of a security worker for Negroponte in Iraq.

The security lead had made a call back to their team room in the palace and miracle of miracles they decided to send up the Blackwater aviation “Littlebirds” to rescue us. Since my first days here I’ve wanted to fly in one of the littlebirds, but the opportunity had never arisen. For the most part everyone agreed that to get a flight you’d have to be a woman, and worthy of their attention, but I had found the loophole! We hoofed over to the visitor helipad and a half hour later in came Blackwater’s MD-80 Littlebirds. A littlebird is a very small helo, just a pilot, co-pilot and room for two people to sit in on the floor in the back with their feet on the skids below. The Blackwater aviation team is affectionately called the “Ass Monkeys” since when they aren’t flying cover for Negroponte’s (or previously Bremer’s) motorcades they sit out by their hangers and just pass the time. That is all a façade though since they are all former Special Forces pilots and are consummate professionals, but there skill and work load allow them to ferment a certain laid back attitude that belies their seriousness once in the air.

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Belmont Club offers continuing commentary on Gloria Arroyo's capitulation to the terrorists and its consequences. Check here and here.

Ever since the Philippines capitulated to terrorists in Iraq armed gangs in the region have been ever more ready to intimidate sovereign governments and extort money. The Arroyo surrender differs qualitatively from the Spanish case because Zapatero had already announced his intention to withdraw Spanish troops long before the Madrid attack of March 11, 2004. In the case of the Philippines that sovereign nation, which guards its "dignity" and "sovereignty" jealously when dealing with the United States, obsequiously bowed and scraped before a nameless group of extortionists.

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I have to include this link provided by the ITM Brothers to a story about Samir, the guy who pulled Saddam Hussein out of his spiderhole.

Samir says, "I was like, 'I got him.'" We all reached him and pulled him out. And we say Saddam Hussein he looks really old. He looks disgusting." There was also anger. "You want to beat the crap out of him. He destroyed millions in Iraq. I'm one. I left my family 13 years ago because of him."

Saddam couldn't fight back, but he did speak out. "He called me a spy. He called me a traitor. I had to punch him in face. They had to hold me back. I got so angry I almost lost my mind. I didn't know what to do. Choke him to death. That's really not good enough."

For Samir, this was sweet justice. One of Iraq's own, now a U.S. citizen, helping arrest one of the world's most wanted fugitives. "I said 'Who are you? What's your name?' He replied, 'I'm Saddam.' Saddam what, I asked. He said, 'Don't yell. I'm Saddam Hussein."


*

I just finished reading the first chapter of the online edition of The 9/11 Commission Report. I am so angry I can't see straight. I am a registered Democrat. If a Democrat were in the White House for 9/11, nothing would have been done after this tragedy. I voted for Gore but I admit that he would have said something like, "Hey, let's all talk about this." Screw that. Vote Bush in November if you have any sense.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Amrikan in Iraq

J over at Iraq Calling reports from work detail. (Nice photo too).

While our sergeant was having lunch I watched the crew. Most of them come from the village just off base, many of them were in the military in Saddam's time. I had a great time chatting with them. Some of them could speak a little english and I exhausted my full arabic vocabulary. Several guys asked me if it was possible for me to get them a permanent job on post instead of doing it day by day. I said I couldn't. Then I was offered a large selection of fake rolex watches to buy. I declined. Then I was asked if I would sell them my crappy Timex watch. From what I've been offered before I think I would get $3.00. One guy wanted me to give him some boots to replace his worn out plastic shoes, then 5 of them wanted footwear. I had none to give.

Some of the guys had distinctly different opinions from some of the other Iraqis I talked to. One guy said that Saddam, Bush, Alawi and every other leader was bad. He said that he thought his life would be better by now. Another guy told me he was not a Muslim, nor a Christian and it was just between him and God. He upset the muslims when he said "Mohammed no good". One of them told me not to listen to the old man because he is crazy from the sun.


*

Eric at Dagger JAG has moved on to another village.

Ash Sharqat is a very rural town. Mainly farmers and shepherds. Like so many other towns the people were left to fend for themselves under the former regime and the infrastructure really shows it. It is isolated from the other larger cities surrounding it; there are no phone lines running outside of the city.

While it is small and isolated it is also very, very historic. Just outside of present day Ash Sharqat are the 3500 year old ruins of Ashur, the ancient capital of Assyria. Apparently it's isolation saved it from much of the destruction that damaged other, more accessible, ruins. We drove by the ruins and it was truly amazing to see the three arches of the main gate still standing. In my five and a half months here I have often wondered how human civilization could have flourished in such a desolate and harsh environment. In many respects it seems like not a whole lot has changed for a large part of the Iraqi population. The farmers still cluster around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and use ancient irrigation techniques, supplemented with water pumps, to grow their crops. The shepherds still herd their flocks on the barren ground searching for vegetation. They all live in mudbrick houses, albeit most of them have satellite dishes somehow attached to the thatch roofs. It seems to me that the fall of the former regime made very little difference to their lives. They were probably the least affected by the terrors under Saddam and life hasn't gotten much easier for them in the last year.


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Regular commenter Whisper offers us the basic picture on the ground in Iraq (and he's in the Tikrit area).

Don't have much time to give it a full response, but the short answer is, it really varies...

However, the majority of the ones I run into out there are VERY happy that we got rid of Saddam for them... the majority apparently don't want us to occupy Iraq over the longterm, but I run into more people who think we ought to be here and stick around a while longer, until security is firmly established under an Iraqi force, than people who just want us to leave now.

Quite a few of the Iraqis appreciate us, though plenty of them are a little worried about being around us if any shooting starts-- we've actually got more firepower than most insurgents and are better at applying it, but they have the legitimate fear that it's not so easy for us to always tell who the bad guys are and who the innocents are-- they ALL look like Arabs to us (it's true of dealing with a lot of different cultures-- they can tell the difference between a Kuwaiti, an Iraqi, a Saudi, on sight-- for us Westerners whose only experience in the Middle East is this war and possibly the last one, it ain't that easy, especially if an explosive device has just gone off or someone took a few shots at us). We're easily distinguishable from other Westerners to them only because of our uniforms (individuals I've talked to have reinforced that impression by what they've said).

The vast majority of Iraqis, both the ones who think we should stick around a while longer, AND the ones who think we should leave sooner are thoroughly disgusted by the insurgents and their activities, and want ALL the violence to stop. They're also finally getting it through their heads that the insurgents are the ones starting most of it, so we're getting a lot more information from the locals to help us get the insurgents.

That's the basic picture. BTW-- I'm operating in the vicinity of Tikrit most of the time. They still feel this way even in Saddam's hometown. So, Janice and other folks' continued whining that we should leave *right now* is not backed up by the folks around here... we get more complaints that we should speed up the rebuilding process and suggestions on what projects we should undertake next, and advice on how to do it, than 'yankee go home' comments.


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CBFTW, another Amrikan in Iraq, just posted and of course I'm going to paste him up here.

We spent a month in Sammara and shortly after that we arrived in Mosul, we all got hit center mass with a PT test. That was a pathetic sight. We were all way out of shape from being out in the field, chowin on way too many MRE's and for those of us that smoke, our lungs were all charred black from non stop chain smoking of Iraqi cigarettes. Iraqi cigarettes are like smoking cardboard. Harsh.
Today we drove out to the range to fire our weapons, practice, and blow shit up with some explosives. Once we got to the range, which was way, the fuck in the middle of nowhere, we had our PLT SGT teach us a class on explosives. Like almost every guy I've ever met in the Army who's demo qualified, my Plt Sgt loves to blow shit up. He taught us all a class on C4 explosives, breaching, and how to blow up a bridge and/or house with some det chord and some C4. It was a cool class. Timothy Mcveigh would have liked it. I even got to play around with some explosives today. I got several sticks of C4, cut them into smaller squares, got some det chord, and made some charges. Felt kinda like arts and crafts class.


*

WE INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM FOR A VERY SERIOUS LETTER FROM SOMEONE WHO NEEDS YOUR HELP:

Dear Sir:
I am a senior citizen. During the Clinton Administration I had an extremely good and well paying job.

I took numerous vacations and had several vacation homes.

Since President Bush took office, I have watched my entire life change for the worse.


Read the whole letter over at Sam's Hammorabi and click on "Sincerely" to learn the identity of the one in need.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Gloria Arroyo: "This is how a leader squirms!"

Before being killed by terrorists, Fabrizio Quattrocchi struggled to pull the hood off his head and defiantly yelled at his captors, "This is how an Italian dies!"

The other three Italian hostages were rescued by Coalition forces. There were NO negotiations.

Italian hostages return home: Last week, a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq rescued three Italian hostages - Salvatore Stefio, Umberto Cupertino and Maurizio Agliana - who since April 12 had been held captive by terrorists calling themselves the Green Brigade. When the Italians returned home, they said they had joked with one another to ease the tension and quell their fears. Although they told reporters they had not been physically abused, their lives were constantly threatened. Only after the rescue did the former hostages discover that their captors had murdered their friend, a fourth hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi. Just before the terrorists shot and killed Quattrocchi, he tried to pull off his hood and yelled, "This is how an Italian dies." He was buried in his home city of Genoa on May 29. Dying with dignity - and honor - is brave.

Then we have Gloria Arroyo: "THIS IS HOW A LEADER SQUIRMS!" With her negotiation and then capitulation to terrorists, she has put all those from other countries helping the Iraqis in danger. As expected, the terrorists immediately rounded up six more, thinking of the great success they had with Gloria Arroyo.

Gloria Arroyo is a disgrace.

*

Belmont Club has several new blogs on Arroyo's *ss-licking of the terrorists. Check it out.

*

Some of the best commenting on Arroyo and the Philippines situation is happening over at Sam's Hammorabi.

*

HAD TO INCLUDE THIS: Dilnareen on the comments pages over at Kurdo's World quips:

By the way iraq beat turkmenistan today as well. They seem to be playing pretty well, i guess they play better without the extra torturing thrown in.

*

Check out Belgravia Dispatch's Postcard from Basra

Imagine a New York City precinct station on any number of the TV series that dominated the airwaves through the seventies and eighties but seem to have gone out of fashion after “Law & Order,” and you begin to get the feel of Basra City Hall. You just have to substitute the crew of extras with bearded men shouldering or otherwise fondling Kalshnikovs, through in a touch on 19th Century Tammany Hall and adapt wardrobe accordingly and quadruple the cast to get the full picture. City Hall is the center of action here, because this is where business is done, and all types come to be heard. On a city map laid over the council chairman’s conference table, there are a series of busy dots and lines indicating the aerial view of Iraq’s second largest city. On the other side of the river, though, the view is blank because it is Iran.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Sounds of Silence

Riverbend.

Heeeeelllllllooooooo! Anybody home?

*wind whistles through trees*

Raed.

Heeeeelllllllooooooo! Anybody home?

*dry leaf scrapes across porch*

Faiza.

Heeeeelllllllooooooo! Anybody home?

*wind blows open a shutter with a rusty hinge*

Khalid.

Heeeeelllllllooooooo! Anybody home?

*tall grass rustles*

*

Well, I guess they've all joined the Baathist exodus and moved to Amman.

*

UPDATE: Nope, the Jarrars are back in Baghdad. Oh, shite. Let the moaning and bitching begin.

*

CBFTW reports from both the sunnyside and shadyside of the street in Mosul.

One of our Iraqi interpreters had a money making scam of charging soldier five to ten bucks for him to do a full bag of laundry. He looked kinda like Saddam and he was always wearing these sleazy 1970's sunglasses on. Good guy, but he had that used car salesman thing going on about him. Always trying to sell "Joe" crap to make a buck or two. Anyways, he had a laundry scam going for awhile, and I went through him for awhile to get my laundry done. The guy had a wife and kids, so I had no problem giving him my money to do my laundry. Everyday he would go home with bags and bags of dirty laundry and a fat stack of cash. He did a good job, it would come back the very next day, smelling nice and clean. And he was making fat bank for awhile doing this. Finally we got KBR to do our laundry for free, which pretty much put him out of business. You can't compete against FREE. Then he had a scam of selling B-B guns to soldiers. Chain of command find out about that and banned BB Guns. So now he's out of business again. I'll keep you posted on what his next scam is.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

One Happy Iraqi: Hearts and Minds and ????

CBFTW today gives us an example of cultural diffusion of Western ideas -- and skimpy underwear -- in Iraq.

Later on in the afternoon another Iraqi contractor came up to our gate and kept on saying "Massem??" What the hell is "Massem???" After 10 minutes of trying to figure out what the hell "Massem" was, we finally figured out that he was asking us if we had a Maxim magazine. In case you don't know, Maxim is one of those magazines that has all the trashy pin up photos of women in it. Every Stryker pretty much has a Maxim inside of it. The ceilings to some of the insides of the Stryker vehicles are actually covered in pin up girls from Maxims. So we lent him the latest issue, and he just sat there turning the pages with an ear to ear smile, wide eyed and saying "Good! Good!" every time there was a photo of some girl in skimpy underwear. After flipping through the Maxim, he handed it back to us, thanked us and walked off. Happy.

*

SUPPORT OPERATION IRAQI BONER!

If a terrorist is wearing one of those flimsy dishdashis and has a mighty stiffy he is less likely to step outside of his house and cause mischief! Imagine the embarrassment trying to place an IED will the tent pole for everyone to see!

This Saturday your local high school will serve as a collection point for all of those old Victoria Secrects catalogues. They will be bundled and sent to Iraq and distributed to the general populace. (Hat tip: Tammy)

Support Our Troops! Support Operation Iraqi Boner!

*

Gloria Arroyo is beneath contempt in my eyes. Does anyone know if it's true that she also paid the terrorists 6 million dollars for the release of the hostage?

Many people around the world will die because of Gloria Arroyo's decision to negotiate with terrorists.

Any thoughts?

*

Eric over at Dagger JAG visits the town of Bayji north of Baghdad.

The town of Bayji sits along the Tigris river at the point where it has worn its way through the Jebal Hamrin, a large ridgeline that runs east-west across northern Iraq. At night, when you step outside, you can look northeast and see the flames of natural gas fires burning from the tops of smokestacks. During the war the coalition left the factories alone on purpose, understanding that they would be vital for the rebuilding process. They all escaped the rash of looting that followed in April because the citizens of Bayji banded together and protected their livlihood. Now they feel like they are being forgotten again by the new Iraqi Government.

The city itself is a hodgepodge of tribal neighborhoods and the local government, including the police and the courts, represent the blend of tribal affiliations. The courts generally work well in Bayji. We initially tried to help them with infrastructure and equipment improvements. We renovated the building, provided office furniture, built a small building outside for the local lawyers to use and provided the judges with computers. But it now seems that before we can help them become more efficient we need to help them with more substantive issues like working more closely with the police, getting better security for the courthouse, and training them to use the computers we gave them. Right now they still handwrite everything and the computers are nothing more than big paperweights.


*

From the YOU GOTTA LOVE THIS file: Linda Ronstadt thinks Michael Moore is a romantic Desperado???!!! Sheesh. Talk about desperate.

LOS ANGELES: Singer Linda Ronstadt was thrown out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas on the weekend after dedicating a song to liberal film maker Michael Moore and his movie Fahrenheit 9/11.

Ronstadt, who had been hired for a one-show engagement Saturday night at the Las Vegas Strip casino, dedicated a performance of Desperado to Moore and his controversial documentary, which criticises US President George W Bush and the US-led war in Iraq.

That dedication angered some Aladdin guests who spilled drinks, tore down posters and demanded their money back, said casino spokeswoman Sara Gorgon on Tuesday.

"We had quite a scene at the box office," she said.

About a quarter of the 4500 people in the audience got up and left before the performance had finished, Gorgon said.


Monday, July 19, 2004

By Noon If Possible

James Lileks ended his blog on Friday like this:

Our present enemy will nuke us as soon as they can, because it means heaven, period.

I hate this; God I hate this. But I don’t have any longing for normalcy, as Noonan put it the other day, because normalcy was a delusion, a diaphanous curtain draped over the statue of Mars. Nor do I want a time out, a breather, an operational pause. I want to cut to the chase. I want Iran in the hands of its people and leaning to the West again, I want Lebanon independent of Syrian rule, I want Syria isolated and cowed, Arafat dead and buried in the land of his birth – or Paris, symbolically – and the Saudi Civil War done and over with pragmatists in power. I'd like this all tomorrow please.

Noon is fine, if it works for everyone else.


*

CBFTW helps us imagine what it is like to work the observation post in Iraq.

If you want to know what an OP in Iraq is like, here's what you do: go put on some boots, longs pants, long sleeve t-shirt, some skateboarding knee pads, gloves (Mandatory in my unit, don't ask why) grab your high school football helmet, and a huge backpack. Not no first day of school backpack either, grab one of those outdoorsy heavy duty ones.

Now that you've got all that on you, go down to the nearest fitness center, like a 24 hour nautilus.

Go to the weight room and throw a 45 pound weight in the backpack. No wait a minute, lets make this accurate, the machine gun I carry weighs 27.6 pounds, I carry about 400-600 rounds of 7.62, that's like say, 25 pounds (Its probably more than that), the body armor which are two ceramic plates weighs about say 10 pounds each, and you have your pistol, knife, first aid kit, camera, night vision, and whatever crap you need to carry, lets just say it all comes out to: 80 pounds. So throw in your back pack a 45 pound plate and a 35 pound plate. Don't forget water, grab a gallon of water and throw that in your backpack as well.

Ok, now that you have all that in your backpack and you have your football helmet on, go walk into the Sauna. Every good gym has a sauna. Once your in the sauna, crack open a National Geographic magazine, and rip out the centerfold of the third world country landscape that's inside every issue, and tape it to the wall of the Sauna. Now sit there, inside that sauna, with all that crap on, and stare at that centerfold photo for 8, 10 or 12 hours. Now if you really want to make this realistic, bring a jar full of mosquitoes, flies, and as many different exotic disease carrying bugs as you can find and open up that jar in the sauna and let em fly!


*

BLOGGERS OUT FRONT ONCE AGAIN: John Leo for US News & World has a piece called Blogging the Watchdogs.

On June 28, Paul Bremer gave a farewell speech as he stepped down as U.S. administrator in Iraq. Some Iraqis, at least, found the talk moving. Ali Fadhil, 34, a resident in pediatrics at a Baghdad hospital, watched it on television with a group in the cafeteria. He said Bremer's words choked up even a onetime supporter of April's Shiite uprising. We have this information about the Bremer speech because Fadhil and his brothers are bloggers who file their own reports on the Internet ( iraqthemodel.blogspot.com). I had never heard of "Iraq the Model," but Margaret Wylie of Newhouse News Service produced a good story June 29 about Fadhil's blogging and Bremer's talk.

Word that Bremer actually gave the speech is something of a collector's item among American reporters. The Washington Post said Bremer left without giving a talk. The Los Angeles Times did worse. It missed the speech, then insulted Bremer for not giving it. A July 4 Times "news analysis" said: "L. Paul Bremer III, the civilian administrator for Iraq, left without even giving a final speech to the country--almost as if he were afraid to look in the eye the people he had ruled for more than a year." This is a good one-sentence example of what readers object to in much Iraq reporting--dubious or wrong information combined with a heavy load of attitude from the reporter.


Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mohammed on the Media

Mohammed at Iraq the Model today discusses basic topics related to Iraq, the Middle East, and the media.

Our Muslim and Arab leaders are good at making their worst defeats look like great victories and they’re great experts in this field. And I see that the free world is an expert in making their great victories look like defeats and this is the reason why Arab leaders lose again and again while the free world triumphs again with less sacrifices.

The sharp criticism to each process enables you to avoid the mistakes of the previous experiments and turns errors to useful lessons, and this is great. But this time I see that the western media has went beyond the limits of objective criticism and rational pursue for truth.

The media are not displaying their view point leaving the decision making to the audience. I see that the media are pushing us to adopt their opinions and this is totally unacceptable.

The media is losing credibility among audience and this is happening so fast and it is a huge mistake.

I want to say to the media: by continuing like this you’re taking the dictators and terrorists’ side and you’re feeding their arrogance when you say "We were wrong when we went to Iraq" or "Iraq was better off before the war and Iraqis and the world are suffering because of the war" and you’re using the failure to find the Iraqi WMDs and the casualties among Iraqi civilians as a weapon in this media war.


*

Sam at Hammorabi gives us a history lesson about July 17, 1968.

The Iraqis in 17 July 1968 at around 6 AM wake up to listen to their radios about a new gang controlling the power. They announce that by what is called (Baiyan Rakam Wahed) or announcement number one. This time they call themselves the Revlution of the 17 of July! They haven't announced who they are because they know the people don't like them. The Iraqis hold their breath and prayed that it is not the Baathists again!

Few days later the coming back Baathists initially admitted their mistakes in 1963 and promised that it will not be repeated again.

Few days later a new cycle of terror and killing started. This was escalated when Saddam controlled power 2 weeks later on 30 July 1968. He and his half brothers and relatives betrayed and executed many of their colleagues and controlled the power.

Later he announced that the 8 Feb 1963 coupe was the pride of all the revolutions. That was the time of the National Guards in which Saddam was a member. As you can see they denounced their crimes earlier and later Saddam considered it the bride of all revolutions!


*

CBFTW clues us in on the jagged little pill called the Car Bomb.

Last night a car bomb was discovered along a busy freeway here in Mosul. My platoon was placed on QRF while 3rd PLT rolled out to secure the area and blow up the thing up. Car bombs are starting to become a very popular thing here in Mosul. The car bombs here in Iraq, are not like the car bombs you see in the movies, where they just blow up and the car just catches on fire. These psychopaths who are making these things have got the art of Car Bomb making down to a fucking science, where they can produce the highest amount of casualties and damage humanly possible. Its mind blowing the amount of damage one single car bomb can do. It can literally almost take out an entire city block. I've got pictures to prove it. When they blow up, they create these huge mushroom clouds of dust that can been seem miles away, and they leave a huge crater in the ground where the car used to be, cars that were around it are literally thrown up in the air and flipped over and on its back from the explosion, windows on buildings blocks and blocks way will have shattered from the concussion of the blast. Its un-fuckin real the amount of destruction these things can do.

*

Kurdo asks some good questions.

The Arabic satellite channel, Al-Jazeera, broadcasts anti-Iraqi messages all the time. They show terrorist people kidnapping innocents, and threatening to behead them. Why Allawi's government don't kick Al-Jazeera out ?

Al-Jazeera is violating freedom of press. Al-Jazeera is a threat to Iraq's security.
Why not stop them ?

Why should American Collin Powell condemn Al-Jazeera why not Allawi's government?


*

Jason at Iraq Now smashes Michael Moore repeatedly in the face with his new Children Flying Kites in Iraq Series.

"Last October another bride, 18, was dragged, resisting, into a guardhouse on one of Uday's properties, according to a maid who worked there. The maid says she saw a guard rip off the woman's white wedding dress and lock her, crying, in a bathroom. After Uday arrived, the maid heard screaming. Later she was called to clean up. The body of the woman was carried out in a military blanket, she said. There were acid burns on her left shoulder and the left side of her face. The maid found bloodstains on Uday's mattress and clumps of black hair and peeled flesh in the bedroom. A guard told her, "Don't say anything about what you see, or you and your family will be finished."

Time, May 25, 2003


This one is for you, Janice. Janice wanted Saddam and Uday and Qusay to stay in power. She could sleep easily every night knowing that Uday was raping and throwing acid on new brides.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Out and About in Mosul

CBFTW reports from Mosul:

Every time we drive around Mosul I notice small improvement or step forwards for these people. Little things. Like today I noticed that a lot of the Iraqi police were now wearing black kevlar helmets. That's new. I remember when we first got to Iraq almost a year ago, a lot of the Iraqi police didn't even have uniforms, just a baseball hat and an AK47. Now they wear slacks, work shirts, bulletproof vests with the words POLICE written in yellow Arabic, they carry brand new AK47's and Glock 9mm pistols and they drive around in new white police cars and trucks. I'm noticing Internet caf‚'s one by one popping up on every street. New stores opening up. Billboards. Satellite dishes on rooftops, that were non-existent awhile ago. Things are slowly improving for these people out here.

*

Denbeste at the helm of USS Clueless essays on appearance and reality.

Who are these "allies" we've alienated? Who are "those we need for ultimate victory" we must enlist? It wasn't the UK, clearly, or Australia. It wasn't Japan. It wasn't the majority of the members of NATO, given that more than half of them have contributed troops to operations in Iraq. We got those.

Er, um, France and Germany, mayhaps? Are those the allies to which they refer?

And what's this business about "extending a hand,not a fist"? What's with this dedication to persuasion instead of bullying? Sounds an awful lot like exactly the kind of foreign policy the EU, and many nations in Europe, have been relying on in the last couple of years, which have been notable failures.

The underlying message in all this has been consistent: Approval is more important than achievement. Awards are more important than accomplishments. Credentials are more important than knowledge and capabilities. Justification is more important than purpose.

Form is more important than substance. Motives are more important than results.


*

Over at the Dar Al Hayat website one can read Abdulhamid Al Ansari's commentary on Saddam's gaggle of trial lawyers.

1- The delirious race by many Arab lawyers and legal experts to defend Saddam. Does Saddam really need 1500 lawyers to defend him? Does this sudden interest by these legal experts to reflect their political inclinations and their specific ideologies? When Saddam Hussein was captured by the coalition about a year ago he defended himself adequately. When he was asked about the reason he invaded Kuwait, he simply said: Kuwait is a part of Iraq! When he was asked about the reason he used chemical weapons in Halabjah in 1988 he said: Iran was behind it. He justified the mass graves by claiming that these people were thieves and that they escaped the battlefields in the war against Iran and Kuwait! When he was asked about his tyranny and oppression against his people, he replied by saying that he was a firm leader because the Iraqi people needed someone like him since leniency, democracy and forgiveness do not work with the Iraqi people.

2- What is the reason for all this snivel and attachment to the issue of legitimacy and international law especially the Geneva Convention, for someone who did not give any consideration to any notion of international law and international agreements? Where is the conscience of these people regarding the mass graves? Why were these legal experts silent when the ruler of Iraq murdered more than 3 million Muslims including Arabs, Kurds and Iranians?


Friday, July 16, 2004

Alaa Places Tongue Firmly in Cheek

Alaa over at Mesopotamian pens a Swiftian letter:

Also, somewhat it seems to us that cutting the heads of hostages is not a particularly good way of illustrating the Arab and Islamic nobility of spirit; especially if it is done in the name of Allah. I mean we are puzzled, because we thought that Allah was The Merciful; the Compassionate. But hard as we try to understand our brothers, we don’t seem to be able to comprehend the merciful nature of their actions. Perhaps we are not sufficiently well trained philosophically and too ignorant to appreciate the finer points of theology and the relationship between beheadings and various forms of murder to monotheism and Jihad in the name of The Merciful, the Compassionate.

...

Also we thought that our religion preached tolerance and kindness towards others, but it seems that our lamentable ignorance of theology led us to these erroneous misconceptions. But then this is your fault, venerable Sheikhs. You have not made sufficient effort to enlighten and train us in the true precepts and ways of piety. We have yet to appreciate that the true way of the Lord calls for drenching the earth with human blood.


*

Michael Totten reports from Tunisia.

Some former French colonies are Third World disasters, but Tunisia is rich. If it lags behind Europe, you'll hardly know it. Tunisia doesn't have much oil, but what it does have is worldliness, sophistication, smarts, and an acute business acumen.

*

Eric, some kind of assistant for Negroponte, is blogging from Iraq.

Today I made my fourth, and final, trip to Hilla. I left early yesterday morning on a Blackhawk accompanied by my friend Allyson, who works for USAID and was assisting with the advance of a Water Treatment Plant USAID, is working on. After the long hot flights I’d been on the last few times out it was great flying to Hilla which is less than a half hour flight south of Baghdad. This was Allyson’s first time in a helicopter and she was terrified. I was listening to the crew’s conversation over the headsets and they were having some real fun with her. One of the pilots commented that he thought “we have a first-timer” onboard and the crew chief sitting just in front of her commented that “her knuckles are turning white on the seat”. After a few minutes she started to relax, and the pilots took it very easy on her going over power lines and by the time we got to Hilla she was having the time of her life. I told her next time she had to sit in the back with the door open to get the real Blackhawk experience.


*

Fayrouz came to my rescue today. If any other bloggers are perplexed by the new Blogger format, here is Fayrouz's message to me:

Jeff,

They changed the posting layout. It confused me at first too.

When you click on "create post" or "edit post", by default it opens the posting screen in "Compose" mode.

Click on "Edit HTML" (Look at the top right corner). It will let you do the stuff (cut/paste/link) we did before they upgraded their posting screen.



Thursday, July 15, 2004

An Iraqi Reviews Fahrenheit 9/11

Sarmad of Road of a Nation takes a look at Michael Moore's propaganda piece.

MICHAEL MOORE, the director of "Fahrenheit 911".
This movie - I won't even call it a movie - it's like a "cut and paste" movie - I wonder what he is thinking when he shows his "cut and paste" movie: "cut and paste" for explosions and fighting, and terrorists covering their faces; statements by GWB playing golf (I didn't know playing golf in America was a crime. I know it was in Iraq before 9/4. It was only for presidents.) I wonder if it took MICHAEL MOORE hard work to produce this "cut and paste".

I wonder if you've lived under dictators, extremists, terrorist rule, or if you are just living under the gift of being free - free to say anything, free to do anything, free to make a film from "cut and paste" to win trophies and awards and $26 million. I just wanna remind you where you are, because there are brave men fighting for where you are. I wonder if you live safer and safer for all your life - safer for hope, safer for justice - and if there's fear in your life. I wonder why we always try to think of ourselves, why we evaluate hard work and achievements, and show them like dark spots.

...

Mr. MICHAEL MOORE, what will be your reaction after several years, when you see a free country and a modern and civil one? That we should say thank you to the brave men who did that, or see your "cut and paste" movie, or sue you for being an imposter?
Your troops will be home as soon as they have done their job. This is a promise from Iraqis.

I have talked with many soldiers. They were happy to work here. Some of them even say, "Iraq is our home. We work to rebuild it."


...

Moore shows scenes of Baghdad before the invasion and in his weltanschauung, it’s a place filled with nothing but happy, smiling, giggly, overjoyed Baghdadis. No pain and suffering there. No rape, murder, gassing, imprisoning, silencing of the citizens in these scenes.

Excuse me is this my Baghdad you talk about, that Baghdad I live in for more than 20 year, with all what we lived through, how could we be happy and smiling, and we got people bored to death, under ground, live, because, I cant give you a cause, maybe you can, you seems to know more than us, how? we can be Happy, and I got friends executed, I got bothers in jail, how? We can be happy, and we got nothing to eat, how? we can be happy, and we got nothing to live for, Iraq was ruled by a regime that had forced a sixth of its population into fearful exile, maybe you have the answers?


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Wretchard: Effin Eff at a Rolling Donut (Gotta love that)

Omar over at Irag the Model comments on the recent IP sweep of crimials in Baghdad.

Something that worth mentioning is that when you walk in these areas you can see pro-Saddam slogans covering most of the walls and in my opinion there’s a strong relation between ordinary criminals and the “resistance” as each group serves the other’s interests; as a thief would love to see chaos spread everywhere and would make use of attacks that target the security forces because this would provide a favorable environment for his work. On the other hand, the “resistance” and their allies would like to see more crimes to prove their theory that things were better off in the past and that the change in Iraq has made things only worse. The routes through which drugs are being smuggled are most likely to be the same ones used to smuggle explosives.

This operation was accomplished with almost no casualties among the security forces and in a remarkably short time. The action was highly organized and performed in coordination with the special intelligence department in the IP, as a senior officer stated in an interview for Al-Hurra TV, he also mentioned that satellite images provided by the multinational forces made the job much easier as it helped to specify the exact locations of the suspects and prevented unnecessary casualties among IP members or civilians.


*

Sam at Hammorabi posts a few thoughts on the Burlgarian and Filipino hostages.

One of the two Bulgarian hostages has been killed by the terrorist group which holds him for the last few days. They threatened to kill the second hostage within 24 hours. The news came by a video broadcasted by the mouthpiece of terror Al Jazeera which said that it apologize not putting the whole video because it contains intolerable scenes.

On the same time the same thugs threatened to kill another Egyptian hostage within 72 hours or the Saudi company for which he works pay them one million dollars or pull from Iraq! The company offered 25,000 dollars. The terrorists now studying the offer!
What a fucking dirty thugs unable to differentiate between their anuses and their mouths including the Saudis who pay them money yet they are the source of the terrorism!

The Philipino hostage situation is gloomy as the Philpino government bow and bends on and off. It is not known when and where they are going to bend fully and give up willingly!


*

Wretchard at Belmont Club provides the context the details for the ambiguous responses of the Philippine goververment.

The subtext of Baghdad's message must certainly be 'if you expect to place
your workers here, stand fast'. This is particularly cruel to Philippine
officialdom because, despite protestations to the contrary, neither the corrupt
Philippine bureaucrats nor its equally corrupt leftist swells really care an
effin eff at a rolling donut over the fate of Angelo de la Cruz. The Left in an
unguarded moment referred to overseas workers like de la Cruz as the "toilet
bowl cleaners of the world". But what both really care about is money, the money
that overseas labor contracts bring, the kind they can deduct from overseas
workers like Angelo "toilet bowl cleaner" de la Cruz. Now that Baghdad has put
Manila on notice, it raises a danger far graver than terrorism. It imperils the
gravy train for leechlike leftist front organizations like
Migrante and bloodsucking
government institutions like
OWWA
.


*

UPDATE: CBFTW at My War: Fear and Loathing in Iraq clues us in on how the military locates IEDs.

We had an IED Sweep for a mission this after noon. An IED (Improvised Exploding Device) Sweep is when we drive around town for hours until we hit an IED speed bump, or until one of us visually finds an IED along the road. No lie, that's how we find IEDs on IED Sweeps out here, we drive around until one literally blows up on us or if one of us visually finds one.


*

ANOTHER UPDATE: Do you guys remember Jeremy Botter's Letters from Iraq? He was one of the first soldier bloggers and he's back home now, but you can download an e-book of his Letters from Iraq at his new weblog. Very cool. Just go here for his e-book. Jeremy's unit was part of Operation Red Dawn that captured Saddam Hussein.

We heard the sound of the approaching helicopters, and in the darkness we could see the silhouettes of the Super Blackhawk choppers flying low overhead. We knew the Delta Force boys were in those choppers, and that's when the reality set in.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Why Iraq Will Be Unique in the Arab World

Sometime in January Iraqis will go the polls and elect their representatives. And in the Arab neighborhood, that will be something unique. Right now Al-Jazeera is parading "analysts" from the region through its studios. AYS at Iraq at a Glance responds:

It’s funny to listen to those Arab ‘analysts’ when they talk against the new Iraqi Interim government and that’s not an elected government, and does not have the legal rights to act or legislate the rules and laws and apply them on the Iraqi people!
Isn’t it strange to hear them talking like that, most of those are Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and many others from the rest of our ‘lovely’ Arab nation, in addition to those Islamists and clerics who have been occupying our channels recently, those who play the biggest rule in the ‘anti-everything’ opinions..

...


AND WHICH ONE OF YOUR LEADERS WAS ELECTED??

Let’s stop by some facts regarding the meaning of Democracy and Elections in Arab countries:

Syria: Hafez AlAssad and then his son have been controlling the country since 1971 and no one dares to open his mouth and talk about the government..
Palestine: Yassir Arafat is the ‘leader of Palestinians’ since 1969..
Jordan: Hussein then his son since 1950s..
Saudi Arabia: A well known Monarchy
Yemen: Ali Abdullah Saleh became the president since 1978..
Sudan: AlBashir and AlTurabi fought on power and then AlBashir got it!
Egypt: Mubarak since 1981..
Libya: is under that maniac since the 70s..


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UPDATE: Pete Townshend from The Who has a few words for Michael Moore.

Moore wanted Townshend's rock anthem "Won't Get Fooled Again" for use on the soundtrack of his anti-Bush documentary film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." Townshend refused, saying he thought Moore's previous movies amounted to "bullying." In response, Townshend said that Moore accused him of being a war supporter. Townshend says Moore's attitude was evocative of President Bush's war on terrorism credo: if you're not with me, you're against me.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Troop Rotation and Blogging

Rotation of US troops out of Iraq has left the number of military bloggers migthy thin there.

Jason of Iraq Now -- Home.

Kevin of Boots on the Ground -- Home.

Chief Wiggles -- Home.

Baghdaddy -- Home.

Lt. Smash -- Home.

We are very happy they are all safe at home, but we could use a few new soldier bloggers to carry the torch. Currently we have CBFTW of My War -- Fear and Loathing in Iraq blogging up in Mosul. We like his blog a lot and would encourage any other milbloggers to speak up. We need eyes and ears in Iraq just like with the Iraqi Bloggers. The media outlets, except for an occasional piece by journalists like John Burns, have decided to count bodies for the most part. You want eyes on the ground? How about this?

I will never forget the time when we were leaving the main gate of our FOB, and I was manning the machine gun out of the back airguard hatch to our vehicle, when a red SUV started honking its horn as it try to race in the gate, bullet holes all over it, the windshield, the sides. I remember thinking to myself: Holy shit, how can anybody survive that attack? I'll never forget the look on that drivers face when he was yelling "GET THE FUCK OUTTA THE WAY!" as they drove past us. I cant explain it. When they got passed us I saw that the back window was completely blown to bits and there was an individual laying down, completely covered in his own blood.

Less than 5 minutes after that we were driving down a busy street in mosul when I saw a white SUV parked crooked up on the middle divide. When we got closer I observed a lifeless body sitting in the drivers seat, with the seatbelt still on him. It was a global security guy. The vehicle, to me, did not look as shot up as the red SUV, but it was still covered in bullet holes, windows blown out, and there was fresh red blood splattered all over the white paint of the vehicle. Fuck. We stopped and dismounted to pull local 360 security around the SUV and to stop traffic. I looked around and realized that we were almost in the same location where we got attacked by a RPG several weeks ago. Our combat medic slapped on his latex gloves and started to begin the process of putting him in a body bag and separating his shit. The guy looked late 20's, maybe early 30's to me. Clean cut, athletic build. There was still fresh blood dripping from his face. My team leader ran around frantically with a terp. To see if anybody saw anything or knows anything about what just happened. Of course, nobody talked. Helicopters were now hovering overhead. Air support.

Or how about this passage from today's blog?

We did a mounted patrol along the Tigris river today, the river runs right through the middle of Mosul. The Tigris River reminds me a lot of the Sacramento River back home in California. My dad used to take me there a lot when I was a little kid to go fishing. Caught my first fish there. I thought about those times today, especially when we drove past an Iraqi man and his son slowly floating down the river in a small boat fishing. Looked very Steinbeck-ish. The kid waved as we drove by. I waved back. The sun set was out, and so were a lot of Iraqi families, all-hanging out along the river. Enjoying themselves, swimming and picnicking. A lot of them would wave and cheer as we drove by. It was very peaceful along the river. Even the stray dogs by the river looked to be at peace.

If anyone locates any other soldier bloggers, let us know and I'll add them to the sidebar.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Thunder Runs Were NOT in the Plan

Journalist David Zucchino, in an interview, discusses one of the key events in the 21-day Iraq War.

As I point out in the book, the U.S. military command clung to the conventional wisdom about armor in urban combat while planning the attack on Iraq. The Pentagon is still leery of fighting in cities, in part because of the disastrous Mogadishu raid described in Black Hawk Down. In fact, the plan in Iraq was for armor to set up forward operating bases surrounding Baghdad in order to provide blocking positions for the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division. The idea was to have infantry from the two airborne divisions clear the city block by block while the armor stayed on the city’s periphery.

The commander of the Second Brigade, Colonel David Perkins, turned that strategy on its head. Even when Perkins raced into the city with two tank battalions on April 7th, the higher commands at V Corps, CFLCC and CENTCOM were under the impression that this was just another thunder run – a quick strike in and out of the city, to be followed by a series of thunder runs over the next couple of weeks. The intent was to use the armored strikes to gradually wear down enemy resistance as, simultaneously, the airborne infantry cleared sections of the city.

But Perkins intended all along to speed into the downtown palace and governmental complex and stay there. He persuaded his superiors to let him stay late on the morning of April 7th – even before his infantry battalion was able to secure the supply lines along Highway 8. I think Perkins was successful because he blasted past the enemy’s heaviest defenses, which were along Highway 8, and penetrated the heart of the regime before the Iraqi military could react. He got inside their decision cycle and stayed a step ahead. He used speed, firepower and surprise to cut in behind enemy lines and collapse the regime from within.

Toward the end of the interview, Zucchino includes an article in which he interviews some of the Irqqi military about their views of the war.

Talal Ahmed Doori, 32, a burly Baath Party militia commander and former bodyguard for Hussein's older son, Uday, recalled turning a corner in his car early April 7 and coming face to face with an American M1A1 Abrams tank posted next to a tunnel in central Baghdad.

"I was absolutely astonished," Doori recalled. "I had no idea there were American tanks anywhere near the city."

After the information minister claimed that Iraqi forces had retaken the Baghdad airport from U.S. troops, two former commanders said, Republican Guard Gen. Mohammed Daash was dispatched to check out a rumor that four or five American tanks had survived the Iraqi counterattack.

Daash returned to his headquarters in a panic. "Four or five tanks!" the commanders quoted Daash as telling his fellow generals. "Are you out of your minds? The whole damn American Army is at the airport!"


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UPDATE: AYS at Iraq at a Glance responds to all the Arab "analysts" trooping through Al-Jazeera's television studios.

If G.W.Bush did not take the most important decision for Iraqis and topple Saddam, we would be under that tyrant till now..starving and dying and no one cares about us..

Instead of crying for Saddam, they have better help us in securing our borders and rebuilding our country.

However, let’s consider that there is a part of those Arab ‘analysts’ are paid for the few words they say on the TV, and the others are a bunch of mean, selfish and idiots... So.. just ignore all the Arab analysts who’re talking drivel and let’s listen to what the ordinary people in Arab countries say, where are they? What do they think?
If they have the same thoughts of their ‘analysts’ then they really deserve Saddam to be their great leader, for us we don’t want him..take him for free!


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ANOTHER UPDATE: Just came across a very good blog by an American soldier in Mosul. I've read all the entries to date. You should too. What do you need in Iraq? Here's one item:

SLINGSHOT: These are great when non-lethal force is needed. Like when they start throwing rocks and bricks at you. Tons of stray dogs out here with all kinds of crazy diseases, and they all love to chase and bark at American soldiers and give away your position. Slingshots are a good way to get them to move out and shut the fuck up.


Saturday, July 10, 2004

A Vote for Al-Kerry is a Vote for Al-Qaeda

Okay, folks, put your seat-belts on! I've decided to go off-road today and attempt to maneuver through and over the bumpy and rutted terrain of American presidential politics. Listen, Kerry is probably a decent guy, even though once elected Kerry would no doubt immediately drop US trow, bend over, and let us get reamed by Kofi Annan's Dictators 'R Us club. If elected, Kerry would only have four years to weep "mea culpa" to every tin-pot despot tugging at his bunched-up shorts in the tall Space Odyssey 2001 UN Slab along the East River in Manhattan. I wouldn't like it, but we could get through it.

A Kerry win, however, would be much worse than that. If Kerry wins, the terrorists will claim VICTORY and set up a trophy as they did in Spain. If that happens, the terrorists will reason that they can turn any election they want and it will be years before the throat-slitting and car-bombing ceases. Al-Jazeera will have to set up a sister-station just to show the flood of videotapes coming in from the likes of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates. The terrorists will be stretched so thin that they'll have to hire extras, guys like Raed to wrap his head in a kaffiyeh and hold a plastic AK behind the next Victim of the Hour.

This is not fair to Kerry, of course, but that's the reality on the ground right now. A win for Al-Kerry is a win for Al-Qaeda.

Any thoughts?

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YOSEMITE SAM SHOOTS A FEW HATS OFF LOONIE-LEFT HEADS: Sam at Hammorabi sniffs the air and smells a foul odor coming from Al-Jazeera and . . . oh-oh, the BBC and CNN! Take those hats off, mates, if you want to keep 'em in one piece.

Without the help of US to get rid of Saddam he may has stayed in power for hundreds of years by his sons with all his danger over the heads of all of us.

What GWB done is the right thing and it is good as far as that is going to change the Middle East into a better place for the whole world.

Nowadays one can smell the same thing which is in Al Jazeera from the BBC and the CNN!


Wow! Sam just shot Michael Moore-On's baseball cap off his head!!

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MOORE-ON WATCH: Denbeste at USS Clueless has a lengthy analysis in which he likens Michael Moore to Muqtada Al-Sadr. It it well worth your time.

Moore's stuff sells very well in Europe. It is comforting for the many Europeans who fear and hate America. They've found an "honest" American who bravely and forthrightly tells "the truth" about America: that the vast majority of us are stupid, venal, unsophisticated, uneducated, provincial, oblivious, and self-absorbed.

Moore's stuff sells in Europe precisely because it seems to justify and reaffirm the prejudices many there have about Americans. It is unlikely that Moore is actually changing any minds, however. The Europeans who buy and read his books and pay to watch his films are the ones who already agree with him. They consume his material so they can laugh as he makes fun of us, and nod sagely as he explains how Big Oil and Corrupt Businesses are actually behind it all. (And the Jews. And the Saudis.)

His primary audience here in the US is exactly the same. He's preaching to the converted. Non-LL's who have gone to see his movie have concluded that it was a total crock.


Hey, has Denbeste been reading Iraqi Bloggers Central? Nah, he's just intelligent, that's all.

Another Denbeste paragraph:

Moore has planted his flag smacko in the middle of the Holy City of anti-Americanism. To defend that position, the LL's will now vocally proclaim something many have long believed but avoided admitting: they hate America and everything it stands for. That is not a message that will sell well to the broad electorate. They will proclaim that they love this nation, but... and then make clear that they despise most of the people who live in it, and despise the very features of this nation that the majority of us see as its greatest virtues. And they will poison the leftist political position even for non-loonie leftists. (Since Moore's supporters constitute a significant base of support for the Democratic Party, they're going to represent an ongoing headache for the Kerry campaign by their antics. And that will force him to continue to equivocate about his position on major issues, to avoid alienating them, and at the same time avoid alienating the broad electorate.)


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A LOVE DEVINE: I fell off my chair laughing at this little masterpiece.
(Hat tip: NeonKnight over at Iraq the Model.)

Friday, July 09, 2004

Faiza Jarrar Spits on America and Americans

This is too much. Faiza Jarrar reads up on American history and this is her conclusion:

I just want you to feel my astonishment at how many wars that country has fought? Only one of them being a liberation war, and another internal civil war….the others against neighbors, near or far…and for what??? For supremacy, and more wealth, as if they are cursed somehow…do not feel satisfied…keep on fighting and destroying continuously…you will never know peace or satisfaction….

A depressing, sad history…to me, and I am not an American…

Only ONE war a liberation war?!!! She's referring here the the War of Independence? How in the hell does she view World War I and II as acts of American aggression against "neighbors"??!!

Faiza rambles on, spitting right in our faces.

Where does the problem lay? In the government or in the people?
Either it is a vicious people like its leadership, or ignorant, or a drugged people, by way of slobbering after daily bread and more material gains…while the government is convincing him that all this was accomplished by (the sacrifices) of the American people and its patience…because it is a peace and liberty loving people…

Screw Faiza. I can't tell you how pissed off I am at her constant irrational bitching.

Read the whole entry. It just gets worse. This stupid *ss can go to hell.

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READING ROOM: Victor Davis Hanson on Saddam's arraignment and the Moore-ons at Radio City last night.

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Saddam's single American lawyer, Curtis F.J. Doebbler, has a few words for our troops.

The world's most powerful army is an army of cowards. They are soldiers who are willing to risk the lives of innocent civilians to protect their own. I don't know about my fellow Americans, but I don't feel very much protected by such cowards.

Thanks Curtis for standing up and defending what and whom you believe in!

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YOU TALKING HEAT? AYS has complained about the heat in Iraq and now Michael J. Totten reports from the town of Rouz in the southern desert of Tunisia.

The heat in July is infernal – 120 degrees in morning shade. If you don’t wear a turban, a hijab, or a hat the sun will cook your brain. If you have no water the sun can kill in 12 hours. The desert is also a road killer, breaking the pavement to pieces and burying it in sheets of blowing sand.

Has Riverbend Hoisted the White Flag?

In the last 39 days Riverbend has blogged exactly ONCE, on June 18.

Not one PEEP since the June 30 (oh sneaky 28) handover.

Has the Doleful Dame of Baghdad grown weary of life in the New Iraq?

Has the Doleful Dame turned away from the enthusiasm shown by the other Iraqi Bloggers?

Is she just suffering from blogger's burnout?

Has she joined the Jarrars at their condo in Amman, Jordan?

Has she gone on a hunger strike until Papa Saddam's return?

*

Has Raed decided to don the black pajamas and hoist the family AK?

Has Raed decided to dance and hoist the AK in a tribal dance?

Has Raed decided to join Muqtada Al-Sadr's 7-million-man army?

Does Raed talk to Salam and "G" anymore?

Why in God's name do the Jarrars still display a picture of Dr. Death (panel 10) on their family-business website?

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MOORE-ON WATCH: James Lileks whups Michael Moore upside the head. Folks, it ain't pretty.

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THE YOSEMITE SAM OF THE IRAQI BLOGOSPHERE: I have always enjoyed reading Sam over at Hammorabi because he is a bit of a hot-head like me. This is free speech at its white-hot best and I absolutely dig it.

Mr Alawi use your Emergency Law on Sammara Immediately

There is no need to think twice and no worse than the thugs of Sammara. The EL starts here in Sammara. Curfew! Military roles! No walk from 6 PM to 6 AM! Any one violates the law expose himself to shooting on site! Just do it now today before tomorrow. Show the outlawed that the law have to be respected. Get it now! Sammara is now outlawed! Will you accept or use your power?! The thugs challenged the law. Let us see!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

France Loves Moore Because Moore Says Americans are Stupid

The French love Michael Moore because he tells them what they have always felt about Americans: Americans are stupid and have no culture. The French themselves believe that they should be the center of the world's attention.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is, of course, a big hit in France. Some French commentators, however, like Bernard-Henri Levy, have exercised some judgment and pointed out the film's obvious flaws.

Neither did Moore have a fan in France's celebrity philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy: "When Michael Moore describes Iraq, before the American intervention, as a sort of oasis of peace and happiness, where people flew kites ... there wasn't only that," Lévy told RTL radio. "Saddam Hussein was also a horrible dictator. And that is not in Michael Moore's film." Lévy opposed the American intervention in Iraq and is not a supporter of Bush.

Belmont Club steps back and offers us the long view.

When Napoleon reconnoitered the Duke of Wellington's position at Waterloo on June 18, 1815 he remarked to his Marshals that beating the English would be no more serious an affair than "eating breakfast". It was the Emperor's habit to disparage the enemy in front of his men, but inwardly his heart misgave him. Napoleon knew that if Wellington's ally Field Marshal Blucher could concentrate his additional forces on Wellington's left before the close of day that "France was lost". There remained but one chance: to rout Wellington before Blucher arrived. He ordered D'Erlon's corps forward at the pas de charge in one last desperate throw of the dice.

In 2004, French audiences flocking to Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 to laugh at the stupidity and weakness of their rivals are subconciously participating in a gambit of equal desperation: the notion that if George Bush's reelection can be prevented by a John Kerry victory, that the liberal project which had been thrown off the rails by the September 11 attacks can somehow be set in motion again and the world restored to its proper course. Absent is the Napoleonic self-awareness of the man concious of impending tragedy yet daring it nonetheless.


. . .

The real strategic problem of the Jihadis is that their power is so one-dimensional. They have the ability to slit throats, burn with acid, stone or destroy with explosives but none whatsoever to produce abundant food, medicine or clothing. One might join the Jihad to act out one's hate or satisfy a sense of adventure, but not to pay the rent. Analogously, the strategic problem of Europe is that it is in monotonic decline. It is shrinking in population and aging; growing at a slower rate than America and much slower than either China or India. Yet both are proud and ancient visions who imagine that they can reverse their fortunes with a few telling blows. Yet just as Osama Bin Laden discovered that destroying the World Trade Center only causes a new and taller one to be built, in addition to the loss of Afghanistan and Iraq to the Jihadi cause, the French may discover that not even the election of John Kerry -- which is by no means foregone -- will alter the underlying tale. Only by changing themselves -- and not by watching Michael Moore -- can they recover their dynamism and become competitive again.

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