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Updated: 4/7/2003; 11:08:01 AM.


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Friday, March 28, 2003

"We'll Lick those Iraqis, Miss Scarlett"

In case your memory for inconvenient facts is fleeting, Salon has a list of recent "we'll lick those Yankees, er, Iraqis in no time, Miss Scarlett," proclamations made by administration members and hangers-on. The semi-disgraced Richard Perle is quoted ("Support for Saddam...will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder."), as is addled Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman, and, more importantly, vice-president Dick Cheney, who on March 16 said, "My guess is even significant elements of the Republican Guard are likely...to step aside." Maybe if the Iraqis surrender en masse this weekend he would get partial credit...

It's less surprising -- and alarming -- that an ambitious plan has not worked exactly as promised (it's working better than most plans do, even with all those additional troops we suddenly need, er, planned to send all along) than it is that the optimistic projections are getting shoved down the memory hole.

5:03:13 PM    
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If Iraq is to be the first campaign of a long war, then a bloody battle for Baghdad might serve notice that the US has the stomach for casualities (on both sides) and is committed for the long haul -- and I do believe that at this point a substantial portion of the country is in a grim and determined mood. A rapid conquest of Baghdad, on the other hand, would enhance our reputation for ferocious speed. The US can spin it either way.

James Lileks: "I did hear one Iraqi official insisting that the invaders would retreat once the people back home saw the pictures of POWs. Sure. Right...they don't understand what's changed. In a sense this is not West vs. Arab, or US vs militant Islam; it's a dynamic culture vs. a static one."

Saltire Stands Alone

Steve MacLaughlin is not writing about the war, at least not yet. Saltire -- a page that often covers Formula One racing from the heart of NASCAR country -- is not afraid to be different.

4:47:07 PM    
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Database Warfare

John Robb: "infrastructure for deBaathification of Iraq."

11:35:20 AM    
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"You Can't Handle the Truth"
Maybe Jack Nicholson should replace Ari Fleischer. He could snarl out his famous line from A Few Good Men when the questions got too hard.
Yesterday I wondered why we get so much propaganda and spin from our government. Two writers from different parts of the political spectrum say or imply it's because the US isn't ready to admit the big-picture reasons for fighting this war.
In the upcoming Washington Monthly, Josh Marshall writes: "The great majority of the American people have no concept of what kind of conflict the president is leading them into...(T)he White House really has in mind an enterprise of a scale, cost, and scope that would be almost impossible to sell to the American public. The White House knows that. So it hasn't even tried. Instead, it's focused on getting us into Iraq with the hope of setting off a sequence of events that will draw us inexorably towards the agenda they have in mind."
Over at the Weekly Standard, Jeffrey Bell has this to say about "Bush's Grand Strategy": "(T)he mass civilian killings of 9/11 triggered a world war between the United States and a political wing of Islamic fundamentalism, sometimes called Islamism....In a war of such reach and magnitude, the invasion of Iraq, or the capture of top al Qaeda commanders, should be seen as tactical events in a series of moves and countermoves stretching well into the future."
--Is this wider war scenario, trumpeted as the next world order by many in power, the actual current policy of the United States?
--If so, could the US public handle this truth? Is Marshall correct that most people don't even comprehend it, much less agree with it? Or does much of the US public already understand and perhaps accept this truth at some level?
Media Notes

A couple interesting articles in the NYT on media coverage of the war. Reality bites both US and Arab commentators.

In the Arab world, the Times reports, much of the news has been cheerleading for the home team, but a clearer view is now being advanced: "(E)ight days into the American and British assault on Iraq, Arab commentators began for the first time to criticize the war reporting of the Arab news media, saying its vainglorious tone does a disservice to the public."

Another article notes with barely-contained glee that some conservative pundits who now curse the media for its "negative" war coverage may bear some responsibility for the tone of the news: "Some conservatives said they believed the earlier, rosier predictions might have made battlefield situations seem worse than they actually were."

One news organization particularly despised for its perceived "anti-Americanism" is the BBC, which has a reporters' weblog

11:12:15 AM    
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