30 March 2003

US Marines turn fire on civilians at the bridge of death [London Times, reg/sub required]:
"Amid the wreckage I counted 12 dead civilians, lying in the road or in nearby ditches. All had been trying to leave this southern town overnight, probably for fear of being killed by US helicopter attacks and heavy artillery ...it was also the turning point when the jovial band of brothers from America lost all their assumptions about the war and became jittery aggressors who talked of wanting to 'nuke' the place."

10:29:33 PM  #   your two cents []

Why give out water and food and bomb us?: "I see a lot of British tanks coming in my town, but they seem to pass through. Do not ignore the south. Saddam's people are still here. They are watching and waiting. You cannot leave us to them."

5:16:41 PM  #   your two cents []

The London Independent correspondent in Baghdad reports what seems to be the serial number on the missile that hit an Iraqi market, killing up to 62:

[T]he missile was guided by computers and that vital shard of fuselage was computer-coded. It can be easily verified and checked by the Americans - if they choose to do so. It reads: 30003-704ASB 7492.

The letter "B" is scratched and could be an "H". This is believed to be the serial number. It is followed by a further code which arms manufacturers usually refer to as the weapon's "Lot" number. It reads: MFR 96214 09.

The piece of metal bearing the coding was retrieved only minutes after the missile exploded on Friday evening by an old man whose home is only 100 yards from the 6ft crater. Even the Iraqi authorities do not know that it exists.

5:09:02 PM  #   your two cents []

Arabnews.com: "I ran back to Arab News’ SUV and yelled at Abdul Rahman and Mohammed to get in. Of course, they asked why I was screaming at them like a mad man. I explained that the opportunity to get into Iraq was driving away from us."

4:53:13 PM  #   your two cents []

Front page, London Sunday Times: Cook Urges Blair: Bring Army Home:

ROBIN COOK laid down a challenge to Tony Blair last night by condemning the war against Saddam Hussein as "bloody and unnecessary" and urging the prime minister to bring Britain's forces home.

...In an article published today Cook, who resigned from the cabinet 13 days ago in protest at the conflict, declares: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war. I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed."

..."Nobody should start a war on the assumption that the enemy's army will co-operate," Cook says in the Sunday Mirror. "But that is exactly what President Bush has done. And now his marines have reached the outskirts of Baghdad he does not seem to know what to do next."

The current encirclement of Iraq's second city of Basra, he writes, gives a chilling foretaste of what could be in store for the capital. "There is no more brutal form of warfare than siege. People go hungry. The water and power to provide the sinews of a city snap. Children die."

However, new polls show that 84% of Britons believe the war should be followed through to its conclusion.

2:39:50 PM  #   your two cents []
Perfect for a Sunday afternoon! Scrounge.org: "How to acquire cheap hardware and what to do with it once you've got it."
2:23:26 PM  #   your two cents []

Scripting News: NY Times: "The most influential antiwar coalitions have shifted away from large-scale disruptive tactics and stepped up efforts to appeal to mainstream Americans."

...Oddly, the disruptive tactics seem to be very much an American approach to protest and, IMHO, rather self-destructive. Why alienate people who are already onside or those you are trying to persuade by blocking traffic/offending people/frustrating people (perhaps this is a remnant of the Vietnam anti-war protests and no one has moved on...?). I understand the anger but it's being expressed in a pretty pointless way. Why not block the entry to a military base or government offices rather than commute routes in downtown San Francisco? Tactics, folks, tactics.

In Ireland, marches (even smallish ones) are allowed and formally planned for -- you get permission, the police arrange to close down streets in the city centre in an orderly way and to serve as wardens to the marchers, and the march takes place. I think 100,000 people peacefully marching in Dublin a few weeks ago -- that's about a tenth of the Dublin population, an amazing figure -- says more, and accomplished more in its calm dignity, than another incident in which a silly woman pounded with a hammer on the side of a US plane parked at Shannon (and became, not a noble figure of protest, but the butt of endless jokes).

1:59:53 PM  #   your two cents []

Blogger (Memex 1.1) and Observer columnist John Naughton on blogging the war: Bloggers spearhead offscreen opposition... John N. quotes extensively from John Robb's excellent blog -- which has increasingly turned to focus on war tactics. John is an ex-Special Ops guy in the US military, and his analysis is always thought-provoking, clear, and he has tended to be right in his assessments. over and over again (better than Rumsfeld, that's for sure). And he doesn't bang a big macho drum like so many of the warbloggers who actually have NO experience other than that of their armchair when it comes to considering strategy, weighing up what information filters out of Iraq, and assessing what should happen next. Essential reading.

1:50:24 PM  #   your two cents []
Haute Tech. Cyber-ranges and Internet-ready refrigerators: A look into the kitchen of the future. [New York Times: Technology]
1:48:41 PM  #   your two cents []
Struggling to Regain Technological Buzz After Bubble's Burst. Like many once high-flying technology businesses, the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could now use a greater buzz factor. [New York Times: Technology]
1:48:05 PM  #   your two cents []
Susan Ertz. "Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon." [Quotes of the Day]
1:47:29 PM  #   your two cents []

Irish Sunday Independent: Poll reveals 2-1 against the war, 75% anti-Bush [free; reg required]:

THREE out of four Irish adults are unhappy with US President George Bush's handling of the Iraq crisis and a majority is also unimpressed by the Taoiseach's performance over US planes refuelling at Shannon. But 54 per cent agree that it is in Ireland's national economic interest to support the US in its war against Iraq. The poll shows 31 per cent disagree with this view.

...The most striking finding of the poll, however, is the very high level of disapproval for President Bush and his handling of the Iraq crisis. Those dissatisfied were 75 per cent, only 18 per cent were satisfied, and 6 per cent had no opinion or did not know. This contrasts sharply with the post-September 11 period, when a Sunday Independent poll found that 56 per cent of Irish people felt Bush was doing a good job in responding to terrorism. At that point, only 34 per cent were dissatisfied with the president's performance.

In the latest poll, carried out nationwide on Thursday last with a sample of 1,075 people questioned, 62 per cent said they disapproved (only 29 per cent approved) of the US-led invasion to secure Iraq's disarmament and remove Saddam Hussein. The latest poll shows the growing uneasiness among Irish people over US and British foreign military policy in response to the threat of international terrorism. In the immediate aftermath of September 11, support for the US and its allies taking action against countries believed to be giving aid and comfort to those who carried out the attacks on New York and Washington stood at 48 per cent.

Other findings: The Irish remain strongly divided over allowing the use of Shannon airport for refueling US military aircraft. Some 49% oppose this use, while 43% support it. Immediately after 9/11, 63% of Irish people supported the use of Shannon for this purpose. A majority of Irish people, 54%, now feel this use of Shannon compromises Irish neutrality.

The Irish government is falling in popularity as well -- a drop from 39% in core Fianna Fail support at the last poll to only 31% now. General support for the government stands at only 33% (down from the extraordinary 58% at the time of the elections last May, but up from 31% in October).

12:46:22 PM  #   your two cents []

Reuters on New Yorker article to be published Monday, in which a former intelligence official describes the war as having reached a "stalemate":

Rumsfeld ignored Pentagon advice

WASHINGTON, March 29 Reuters - U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected advice from Pentagon planners that substantially more troops and armour would be needed to fight a war in Iraq, New Yorker Magazine reports.

In an article for its April 7 edition, which goes on sale on Monday, the weekly said Rumsfeld insisted at least six times in the run-up to the conflict that the proposed number of ground troops be sharply reduced and got his way...

...It also said Rumsfeld had overruled advice from war commander General Tommy Franks to delay the invasion until troops denied access through Turkey could be brought in by another route and miscalculated the level of Iraqi resistance.

"They've got no resources. He was so focused on proving his point -- that the Iraqis were going to fall apart," the article, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, cited an unnamed former high-level intelligence official as saying...

Hersh... quoted the former intelligence official as saying the war was now a stalemate.

Much of the supply of Tomahawk cruise missiles has been expended, aircraft carriers were going to run out of precision guided bombs and there were serious maintenance problems with tanks, armoured vehicles and other equipment, the article said.

"The only hope is that they can hold out until reinforcements arrive," the former official said. The article quoted the senior planner as saying Rumsfeld had wanted to "do the war on the cheap" and believed that precision bombing would bring victory.

12:47:40 AM  #   your two cents []