Friday, April 11, 2003

THE THREE MONKEYS MEET: Chirac who sees nothing wrong with the regime he sold a nuclear reactor to, Schroder who’s heard nothing to dispel his belief that the Saddam administration was anything other than a legitimate peace loving government and Putin who just turns up to these meetings and plays the say nothing gimp. What is their view on what should happen next? Who cares.

Tony Blair seems to have been on the ball on this one:

Mr Chirac called Tony Blair on Wednesday night to ask if France could be included in the immediate supply of humanitarian aid which he said was "the absolute priority". Mr Blair, who has been one of the targets of Mr Chirac's attacks, did not release his reply.

Yer right, Jacques, ere, ava another banana.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

CASUALTY BENCHMARK: Before the vastly inflated civilian casualty figures come out it’s worth bearing in mind how many people die on Iraq’s roads every year. Unfortunately no figures are available from the Iraqi authorities but assuming that the death rate is similar to that of its neighbour Jordan, then every year you could expect 2,500 people to die on the roads. But even after they died the country was still a dictatorship....


But there are times when peace must be made before it can be kept; and Europe as a whole has seen such moments as none of its business, relying on the US, and then usually blaming it for carrying the can.”
This is an edited extract of an article from this week's New Statesman, explaining ex-editor John Lloyd's reasons for resigning as a columnist."

A SPIV: perhaps the most telling story about the Saddam regime is how 48 palaces have been built since the last Gulf War but most of them appear not to have been lived in. A bit like the Republican Guard Divisions, manned, but not properly armed. If there are words that encapsulate this regime they must surely be "cheap" and "callous".
A MILLION MOGADISHU’S: If a phrase needs fisking it is this. While John Kegan has wondered what on earth the Iraqi strategy was, I think it is clear what the strategy was; emulate Mogadishu. Instead of fighting in tanks and with artillery, the Iraqi army opted to go back to the past, fleeing their tanks and armoured cars they put their faith in AK–47 and RPG-7’s (both 40 year old technologies) on the basis of the “success” of the Sudanese (a 3rd world country) in Mogadishu. Like most regressive philosophies this idea has crumbled like a tower of sand, but not for the “superior technology” arguments popularly bandied about.

The first Fisk is the argument that the Americans lost in Mogadishu. As any reader of Black Hawk Down will attest, not only did the Americans complete their mission (however misplaced it was) but also the body count was of the order of 50-1 on their side. Though they pulled out soon after, there can be little doubt that the Sudanese militia would not have been able to face a second Mogadishu; they only won because Bill Clinton decided that they didn’t have to.

The second Fisk is that in Mogadishu the Americans were in Humvees and lorries neither, of which were good protection against small arms fire, let alone RPG’s; in Baghdad they were in Bradley’s and Abram’s. Now advanced though these systems are, in the present war, their competitive advantage has principally been that they are totally impervious to small arms fire and virtually impervious to Rocket Propelled Grenades. This isn’t high tech – after all the first 70-ton tanks were rolling nearly 50 years ago. Rather it’s simply recognition that well protected soldiers live longer and learn to think and act faster; and that they have done. The Iraqis, by contrast, have voluntarily stripped then selves of any means of resisting the enemy and, understandably, frustrated and often quickly eliminated, have found themselves unable to react – for the simple reason that there was no way they could react.

So if there is a victor in the tactical war it is cold, simple American analysis; we didn’t loose Mogadishu, we’d definitely have won the battle overwhelmingly if we’d had tanks, armoured personnel carriers and Attack helicopters and we’d have won the war if we’d left the initiative to the soldiers not the politicians.

By contrast the Saddam government has displayed all the wishful thinking of the Nazi’s in their last years. While Hitler pushed increasingly bizarre hi tech war winning weapons, Saddam seems to have become intoxicated with the New Age warrior philosophy - the meme of the freedom fighter armed just with an AK fighting the overwelming forces of evil - that haunts much of progressive thinking these days. And maybe suffered the same fate?

SORRY: Instapundit thinks Ken Layne has one here. And its OK for the first paragraphs but once it gets to:

“That's what the Americans always guessed Saddam's regime was made of, although they did their best – in the late Seventies and early Eighties – to arm him and service his economy and offer him political support, to turn him into the very dictator he became.”

Well its all down hill from there. Next please.

AN UN-FISKABLE FISK ?: While Iraqis celebrate in the streets, there seems to have been a veritable explosion of Fisking on the Blogosphere over the last couple of days. However like A-levels, Fisking just ain’t what it used to be, it's just so bleedin easy. So how about this; can anyone find an article by Fisk that is un-Fiskable? Prize? I don't know - a "Go Home Human Shield Wanker T -shirt"?
MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK: First they loot the UN, then they loot the French embassy; these guys seem to have an instinctive nose for dictatorial regimes. There’s hope for democracy in Iraq yet!

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

ANOTHER SUITCASE: Buster finds another Fayadeen hideout and more suitcases of cash.
HUMAN SHEILDS: I’ve just watched the Al Jazera footage before they got shelled and I’m pretty sure at the bottom of the frame you could see shell casings shooting up from a machine gun.
Last week the Times reported that:-
"Al-Jazeera has suspended reports from its entire Iraq-based team in protest at the treatment of two correspondents by the Baghdad regime, the Arab-language broadcater said today"
What was the treatment they were complaining about? That they were being used as human shields? Watch this space.

YOU JUST WAIT AND SEE: Simon Jenkins makes the French case that the UN should refuse to help in the reconstruction until the US comes to them begging for help.
As occupation turns sour, Washington will see the UN as it did in 1991, not as a problem but as a solution, a dump truck on to which can be loaded the disposable refuse of military adventurism. Someone must guarantee Iraq’s internal security when it starts to bore the Americans, or Iraqis will kill each other again.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, should bide his time. He should say nothing and do nothing. He should sit in his office and let the used-car salesmen of empire come to him. They will offer him an old banger of a country, careless owner, badly dented. What would he need to take it off their hands? Then he can name his price.

Aside from the cringing schedenfreude encapsulated in this piece it very succinctly makes the case about why the UN should never be involved. Yes the US will “bore” of Iraq, which is why it will try to rebuild it as fast as possible so it can leave it to the Iraqis before it outstays its welcome. For the UN “experts”, it is just an opportunity to drive past camels in a 30,000 dollar SUVs – for ever. Don’t sell them the chance, George.

WAGES OF WAR: The Times reports that Fedayeen generously get paid 50 quid for each allied soldier they kill. And on retirement they can then look forward to being beaten within inches of their lives by 50 screaming Basrans. Great Job.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Prime Minister Helen Clark said New Zealand's role had still to be clarified.
"Everyone is trying to work out a way in which they can help despite not having been part of a war and not being part of an occupying force," she said.
"It's a question of the platform and that's what a lot of minds have been exercised [around] around a lot of capitals
. “
No it’s a question of Humble pie. And by the sound of the quote today, its a big pie
“The Prime Minister has made a further effort to heal wounds in Washington created by her remarks on the war with Iraq, this time praising United States President George W. Bush as an "engaging and likeable person". “
No, I’m still unhappy, let me see ... now make like you’re a rooster, ok, now squeal like a pig. … I can see the US State department having a hoot drafting the “peace treaties” with some of these “minds”.

THE DANGER OF UN INVOLVEMENT: A great article by Rees Mogg on why the UN should not be involved, and one I hope Tony Blair reads before meeting Bush. Now many in the media think that this summit is Blair’s Baghdad – the moment when he should overwhelm the neo-cons in the Bush administration hell bent on the destruction of the UN. However the key point in the article is that: -

Having failed to disarm Iraq for 12 years, ending with the fiasco of the volte-face over Resolution 1441, the UN does not have the capacity, the self-confidence or the unity to take the decisions that will soon be required. The UN is far from useless; it is the best UN we have got.”

And for a small power like Britain it is worth saving. However, if the UN were to take charge, it is hard to see how it could result as anything but a disaster. By arguing for the UN to take a role for which it lacks both the moral and administrative authority to perform, Blair would not save the UN but bury it.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

"US troops proudly wore flowers given to them by townsfolk, a 25-year-old said he could not understand opposition to the war.

He asked: “Everyone who refuses this war — why?”

Pointing to the statue, he went on: “Come here and live two days with this man, and then refuse this war

THE PRICE OF DINAR: Two stories caught my eye last week regarding British counter insurgency operations in the South of Iraq. In the first story, “an Iraqi colonel driving a car with a briefcase full of cash refused to stop and was shot dead”; "I didn't know what to do with the money so I gave it to the kids, bundles of the stuff," the Royal Marine said. In the second, a sleeper cell is indicted by a squad from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and, again, large wads of dinars unearthed (200,000 apparently). Now it may be coincidence but it looks like Saddam’s undercover fighters were given large bonuses or pay in advance to take part in an insurrection against the invading allied forces. However, while money can initially be a good incentive to fight, the plan may contain the seeds of its own destruction. First of all, if this is a general phenomenon then the Iraqi mints must have been working overtime in the last few months – both stories mention that the notes were new. And, as any economist, will tell you printing money willy nilly inevitably leads to inflation.

The danger for Saddam is that by debasing his currency he may be undermining his regime. As mentioned the first effect may be on the fighters; when they were given these lump sum payments 200,000 dinars would have seem like a fortune worth defending. But as this money is injected into the economy (by British soldiers and children in the first case) then inflation will take off and what once seemed like a fortune will increasingly become worth a pittance. More significantly this effect may well, as most inflations do, snowball; in particular as the area of allied control advances, the fighters will fall back taking their money with them; thus most of this inflationary injection will be concentrated in Baath held areas. Secondly, in allied held areas, troops and aid agencies will increasing need local people for logistical support; presumably they will be paid in dollars and as money is converted then more dinars will flow north to Baath held areas, further exacerbating the inflationary situation there. As in any falling market, getting out early is the key and in this case that means getting into an area under allied control as soon as possible.

The question for the allies is therefore what is to be done. From their perspective, debasing the currency is to be encouraged for the reasons above as well as for the symbolic value of removing a potent symbol of Saddam’s power (his face appears on the currency). The other consideration is how this will impact on the Iraqi people. Again economics tells us that inflation is principally a tax on savings; and who holds most of the savings in Iraq? Members of the Baath party and Baath fighters. So the inflation will carry some justice with it, but also extreme dangers if left unchecked, as the Weimar republic proved, and so some plans for a replacement currency must be implemented as a matter of urgency. The dollar would seem the obvious candidate but the dilemma is whether dollarization might be perceived as colonisation. Over to you, General Franks.

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