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Saturday, April 05, 2003

ANOTHER PASSPORT: British author Iain Banks has burnt his passport and sent the remains to Tony Blair
"I just couldn't think of any other non-violent way to express my shame at being British and at the fact that this immoral and illegal war is being waged, supposedly, in my name,"
Hang on a minute; if you burn your passport then you then can’t leave your homeland. So this seems more like a patriotic gesture of solidarity than a protest. But it is non violent , so 5 out of 10 for the gesture.

THE REAL QUAGMIRE: The guerilla war on the ground is nothing compared to the one on paper.
SENSE BACK: The pragmatist militia have been sighted on the streets of Paris! A group of French thinkers realise that it is possible to have oppposed the war, support democracy, dislike the Bush regime but still support the allies over Saddam in the war. Oh the complexity, the complexity.
BLOWBACK: After the war grave desecration, we now have Jewish anti war protesters being attacked while

Protesters shouted "Vive Chirac! Stop the Jews".”

“Jean-Pierre Raffarin, sought to rein in public sentiment, saying that people should "not choose the wrong enemy
".”

Since their foreign minister recently refused to answer who he thought was the real enemy, is it really surprising that the mob choose the usual suspects as their scapegoat?

Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister, was however more forthright and:

warned demonstrators not to use the war in Iraq as an excuse for violence. "Whether it is a case of French Muslims or French Jews, each has the right to pray, believe and live his faith as he sees fit," he said.”

Here, here, French Jews should stop their cowardly attacks on Mosques in Paris as well!
Unsurprisingly, no comments from Chirac, the Leader of France and the Free world.

Meanwhile British embassy staff in Paris have been told:

to "play down our Britishness" after several reported being harassed.
At a security briefing they were told to avoid speaking English in sensitive situations, to avoid directing taxis to the embassy building in the rue Faubourg St Honore and to change their diplomatic car plates. The ambassador, Sir John Holmes, has been given extra French police protection
. “

Has it been necessary to issue similar advice to French diplomatic staff in London? Ah well, vive la difference.

TWINING: what is it about the British army and twinning – first of all Hoon twins Um Qasa with Southampton – this was swiftly overruled by the military and Um Qasa was quickly retwined with Portsmouth. Now Brigadier Binns has claimed Basra as “Birmingham squeezed into Derby”. So, before they level it, it might be a good time to ask where are they going to twin Tikrit with? I’d say Paris would be a good choice.


THE FIRST CASUALTY OF WAR: so it looks like the Tottenham Ayatollah is to be stripped of his citizenship. Somehow I’m saddened by the news – not just for free speech and all that –but also by the spineless New Labour opportunism of it all. Hamza is an easy tabloid target but is he anymore deserving of a being stripped than say, Robert Fisk? To me it just looks like Blunkett is sacrificing the principles British soldiers are sacrificing their lives for the price of a purr in a Sun editorial.
WAREHOUSING CORPSES: British forces have discovered about 200 bodies in a barracks in southern Iraq. Apparently many have been dead for some time, which raises the question - why would a regime want to warehouse the bodies of those it executed. Maybe it ties in with the reports last year about how the Saddam regime would often charge the families of those executed a fee for the cost of the execution and not return the bodies if the family could not afford to pay.


Friday, April 04, 2003

FISH: Its all about fish!
QUAGMIRE ALERT: The Arab media is steadfast. Or maybe its not? Interesting that the first 3 of the BBC’s quotes come from Iraqi papers. But not suprising.
DIEN BIN PHU 2: a commander fighting an essentially guerrilla enemy establishes a military base at a supposedly easily defended position, deep in enemy territory in order to draw the enemy out into a fight, confident that long supply lines can be maintained, by air if necessary. Baghdad Airport? Or Plan Navarre?
UNEXPECTED: Remember the bemusement last year about why Saddam would want to empty his jails? Oh dear, another one that escaped the planner’s attention; how many troops were earmarked for policing duties? Not many I suspect, and even fewer who speak Arabic. Time to call on the Kuwatis for a bit of policing assitance?
BHAJI ON THE MOON: Some good news - the Indians are going to the Moon.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

NO, I CHANGE MY MIND: It was a noble gesture of Chiraque to apologise to the Queen. Entente is in our interests …… but maybe not entirely just yet.
AIRPORTS: what is it about airports that make us feel that they are strategic? Sure if you captured Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead then London would be virtually uninhabitable by any civilised person who needed a 60 quid flight to the Costa del Sol. But somehow I don’t think that the Baghdadis are like that…….


LET LOOSE THE BITCHES OF WAR: Nothing I’ve heard about her suggests she’s anything but the sort of woman you’d want to chat, have a beer with or just hang out with – so why the BBC snarl? Well that’s what gets you into the BBC or Independent.
*(except in that strange American way, that’d it’d be illegal)

TIS BETTER THAN IS WAS BEFORE: Even if you take the most BBC/Al jazzevera view of events – max 1000 Iraqi dead and 100 allied dead, seems like win-win scenario compared to all the outcomes that were thought of before. But then again, as we all know, the future's a harsh housewife!
FISKING FISK: Even Fisk seems to think the end is inevitable; on the basis of past forecasts I'd take the opposite view. Two dogs that haven't barked: the Republican Guard - it’s hard to believe that they've been destroyed entirely – remember how they were wiped out during Gulf War! Only to resurrect to defeat the Kurds and Marsh Arabs in no time at all. Secondly the Iraqi air force, said to number 300 aircraft before the war- but not seen so far – so surely to be unleashed, however unsuccessfully before the beginning of the end can begin? NB Despite His regular panning by the right wing Robert Fisk is closer to the reality than most look not just to this defeatist statement but also to his assessment of the reality of Iraqi resistance.
FISKING FISK: Even Fisk seems to think the end is inevitable; on the basis of past forecats I'd take the opposite view. Two dogs that haven't barked: the republican Guard - its ard to belive that they've been destroyed entirely
Welfare could be a narcotic, Roosevelt said, "a subtle destroyer of the human spirit". That is a lesson of history that should, if anything, be more apparent to us a lifetime later.


MESSAGE TO YOU BBC: It looks like there itsn't a plot by the Americans to shoot up the Brits. Or perahps this is just an attempt to cover their tracks.................
THEY SEEK HIM HERE THEY SEEK HIM THERE: It looks like the yanks seek the Iraqi army everywhere. So as I said below, isn’t it time the British army flushed the British media scaremongers out of Basra.
THE VELVET PYTHON: While British commanders have been keen to extol the virtues of their softly, softly strategy of slowly closing in on Basra, all the while trying to win “hearts and minds”, perhaps we should remember the last few months when we tired to win the hearts and minds of the French and Germans. Seize Basra and the Hearts and Minds will follow.

"BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Wednesday he hoped Saddam Hussein's government would collapse quickly, marking a stark turnaround from Germany's previous opposition to regime change as a goal of the U.S.-led war"
WHEN FACTS CHANGE, I CHANGE I CHANGE MY MIND: While many may doubt the wisdom of Colin Powell when he set the US on its ultimately futile mission to the UN, no one can doubt his intelligence to adapt to the reality that prevailed. Et tu Tony?
THE REAL THREAT: Lawlessness rather than Feyadeen terrosim may well turn out to be the greater threat to success. Where are the 100,000?
JE NE REGRETTE RIEN: after the audience Jacques played to during the last few months repaid him by desecrating a British graveyard commemorating the British dead who liberated France, a letter has been sent to the Queen. How should she respond? I suggest she offer, no compel, him to marry Fergie. Or Princess Anne!! Let British Justice be done, for tis a terrible thing!
AND AS A SECOND EXAMPLE: of a biased question Mr Last gives this example:

James Forlong of Sky News: Do you accept, given the footage that we saw today of the hearts-and-minds operations going on, the immense damage to that that incurs when incidents such as this checkpoint shooting take place? And do you also accept that a contributory factor to that may be that U.S. forces on the ground simply don't have enough experience of this sort of policing operation within an area like this?

...without reciting any examples of when the US (or Britain) policed a similar situation, because there havent been any in the last 50 years - so sensible question methinks. Of course the question perplexed Major Muppet Brigadier Brooks, but then again so would asking him the way to the gents.

BUT THAT SAID: I think that Jonathan Last is a little bit thin skinned in his defence of the US media fanatics and their questions at US Centcom. As an example of the “foreign media’s” detachment from reality he quotes as examples of biased questions
Kevin Dunn of Britain's ITV News: General, going back to the friendly fire incident in which a British soldier was killed, his colleagues have said or found it inconceivable that the pilot of the A-10 was unable to identify the British armor, and he is said to have made not just one, but two passes over the column. In fact, they described his actions as being that of a cowboy. What do you say to the family of the dead soldier?
Unfair question? No, fair as a sunny day. So why the reticence to face up to a sensible question? To me it seems that while the military plans have been relatively on target, the PR strategy has been a disaster; as a reaction against the Clinton smulch, it seems that the Bush administration has chosen as its front spokesman a guy with as much charisma as a tin of creosote. While Rumsfeld has urged on the military the idea of to respond flexibly, as their spokesman they’ve chosen a Muppet who would have difficulty convincing even the most “orders only” indoctrinated marine. Watching his interviews he seems totally incapable of responding to even the most mildly critical question without reverting to briefing notes and ham lines. The allies don’t need 100,000 more troops half as much as they need an adaptable and eloquent spokesman

CALM DOWN BOYS: personally I’m not impressed with the froth that is being run up about “blue on blue” casualties. So far we’ve suffered 6. The first was when a Patriot missile hit a British plane – this to me looks like a bad system (although considering that Iraqi silkworm missiles now seem to enter Kuwait at will, doesn’t this suggest that the missile batteries have been programmed not to intercept anything subsonic in order to save British Harriers? Bit tough on the Kuwaits’).

The second incident however is what everyone seems to be focusing on and clearly from reports I’ve read it does seem that the A-10 pilot was just a little over eager to get their first kill…. But then again so is probably everyone in the 7th Armoured division, after all the 3rd friendly fire incident was when one Challenger tank took out another – so no excuses about not recognising the enemy tank can be proferred there methinks. So I go with the US media attitude that shit happens and to play on it only distresses the families concerned (a BBC objective?). I mean the question to be asked is would you prefer if UK troops had no US air cover? … Nah silly question, of course the trigger-happy troops would prefer if the yanks didn’t take out any heavy armour in their way… but their Mums would disagree and on this point I go with the Mums.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

OSADDAM: Gary Anderson has a good analysis of how the Iraqis are fighting the war, i.e. asymmetrically. But another angle that needs to be considered is what is Saddam’s personal strategy; he’s probably rightly assessed that Bush will see this conflict through to the end to has perhaps realised that the real war isn’t a military conflict but an one and this type of war is perhaps best not fought as a leader of a country but rather as a mysterious phantom. The undisputed leader of the Middle East on the street is not the leader of any country but a person no one knows is alive. So perhaps the mystery of whether Saddam is alive or dead is not a mystery but rather a strategy as Saddam attempts to emulate OBL. So perhaps by hinting that he is dead Saddam hopes to firstly to avoid being targeted and then live a mysterious life issuing occasional missives to the street. The days of the great Arab leader as head of a country a la Nasser have gone, but the age of the Internet and cable TV bestows greater power on the leader of rumour and defiance. All Saddam ever wanted was a place in history and perhaps this is his best opportunity. Of course this plan doesn’t involve the Iraqi people, but then again they were always pretty expendable anyway.

OSADDAM: Gary Anderson has a good analysis of how the Iraqis are fighting the war, i.e. asymmetrically. But another angle that needs to be considered is what is Saddam’s personal strategy; he’s probably rightly assessed that Bush will see this conflict through to the end to has perhaps realised that the real war isn’t a military conflict but an one and this type of war is perhaps best not fought as a leader of a country but rather as a mysterious phantom. The undisputed leader of the Middle East on the street is not the leader of any country but a person no one knows is alive. So perhaps the mystery of whether Saddam is alive or dead is not a mystery but rather a strategy as Saddam attempts to emulate OBL. So perhaps by hinting that he is dead Saddam hopes to firstly to avoid being targeted and then live a mysterious life issuing occasional missives to the street. The days of the great Arab leader as head of a country a la Nasser have gone, but the age of the Internet and cable TV bestows greater power on the leader of rumour and defiance. All Saddam ever wanted was a place in history and perhaps this is his best opportunity. Of course this plan doesn’t involve the Iraqi people, but then again they were always pretty expendable anyway.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

IT IS WELL THAT WAR IS SO TERRIBLE. WE SHOULD GROW TOO FOND OF IT While pundits everywhere are struggling to rationalise the “unexpected” Iraqi resistance, perhaps the real reason is not rational – it is nor nationalism, fear of the Baath part or hatred of the Americans. Perhaps it is simply the emotions of young men . The young British Squadie in this story seem to fighting first and foremost for fun not justice or patriotism. Maybe the motivation of the “fanatical” Fyadeen is not so different. But as Lee observed, the fun soon wears off as your mates die and you start to question whether you’ll live to tell these tall stories. The question is, for whom will the tipping point come first?
AXIS OF WEAVILS: Looks like the Iraqis think another worm has joined the Axis of Weavils - First we had Arnett doing his best impression of Lord Haw Haw arnett. Now it looks like that populist sap Helen Clark has wormed this seam too.
It’s interesting to ask what the people on the ground feel. While at home the pundits see the benefits of “ heart and minds” over “shock and awe” on the ground it seems the soldiers would prefer more “fussing and a fighting” while the southern Iraqis would prefer the same – their anger seems to be based more on why are you taking so long that why did you shoot my house.'All clear. Would the Nannies care to join us?'

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