Pontificator: News and Commentary

Saturday, April 05, 2003 :::
Fair and Balanced Throughout History

Fark.com reviews some screenshots of old Fox News footage

::: posted by Pontificator at 5:34 PM

Iraqi Civilian Body Count

Somewhere between 859 and 1032

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:51 PM

Friday, April 04, 2003 :::
One Track Mind

The British Ambassador to the United States is saying that Bush wanted to attack Iraq immediately after 9/11, and had to be dissuaded from doing so by Tony Blair:

US President George Bush was persuaded by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair not to attack Iraq in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks, it has been claimed.

According to a former British ambassador to Washington, the US president had come under intense pressure from some in his own military to attack Saddam Hussein in the days after the 2001 terrorist outrages in the US.

But, said Sir Christopher Meyer, when Mr Blair met the US president at his Camp David retreat a few days later he succesfully argued for al-Qaeda and the Taleban regime in Afghanistan to be confronted first.

"Tony Blair's view was: 'Whatever you're going to do about Iraq, you should concentrate on the job at hand and the job at hand was get al-Qaeda, give the Taleban an ultimatum'," Sir Christopher said.

The former ambassador was speaking on a documentary that will be screened on the PBS network in America on Thursday.

Called Blair's War, it looks at the prime minister's attempts to try and maintain an alliance against Saddam Hussein.

. . . .

He said that after listening to Mr Blair's argument, Mr Bush decided to "leave Iraq for another day".

Now, eighteen months later, we're at war with Iraq, and there is still absolutely, positively no evidence whatsoever connecting Iraq to the 9/11 attacks.

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:35 PM

Thursday, April 03, 2003 :::
Iran's Next

Apparently, Iran will send its militants into five Iraqi cities in order to fight U.S. forces after the fall of Saddam. Sounds like a "tripwire" for war to me. If these militants start harassing our troops, next thing you know, they'll end up killing a few. Then Rumsfeld will bomb Iran to "send a message." Following the bombing, Iran will step up its harrassment of U.S. troop, perhaps even sending in suicide bombers.

And, presto, war with Iran is next.

Unless, of course, we attack Syria first.

Looks like we should prepare our Imperial Army. We're going to need it!

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:59 PM

Wednesday, April 02, 2003 :::
Witness Relocation

Al Jazeera just announced that Iraq was expelling one of its reporters and that another would no longer be permitted to file reports from Baghdad. More importantly, its live broadcasts are being suspended.

It looks like Iraq is eliminating the potential witnesses for the coming battle for Baghdad. This action indicates that, in the battle, Iraq will:

1. Use chemical weapons and deny it;

2. Kill civilians and blame coalition forces; and

3. Destroy cultural and religious monuments and blame coalition forces.

The expulsion of Al Jazeera journalists is one of the scariest things I've seen Iraq do yet. Without live footage, the only evidence for these war crimes will be the word of the American soldiers, who are not likely to be believed by the "Arab Street." Things in Baghdad could be getting very ugly, very fast.

::: posted by Pontificator at 6:39 PM

Heat Wave

On Sunday, the temperature in Baghdad could reach 104 degrees.

This heat wave could be bad news for our troops in the event of a chemical attack:

Simply put, if Americans have to fight in chemical suits in desert heat, enemy fire will not be their only worry: The Persian Gulf region becomes a furnace by early spring.

"The end of March or the first of April is when it really turns hot," said retired Army Lt. Col. Tim Eads, a Gulf War veteran who spent most of his military career in Army Rangers and Special Operations. He now works in the Washington, D.C., area."You'd like it (a war) to be over by then," Eads said. "The Army will tell you they can operate in hot weather wearing protective suits, but it slows the pace down. They (soldiers) wear out real quick."

. . . .

U.S. military planners calculate that wearing a [chemical] protective suit is like adding 10 degrees to the outside temperature and worry that extended operations in such suits could cause heat casualties once temperatures reach the 90-degree range. At the least, hot weather would significantly slow things down.

"The weather can be what we call a force multiplier," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Wes Robinson, a meteorologist stationed at Charleston Air Force Base.

"Force multiplier" is military jargon for any unusual circumstance that military commanders must deal with when ordering troops into combat. In Kuwait, where Robinson spent the month of August, 2001, he said, "A typical high temperature was 120 to 125 degrees.

"The typical low was around 90. Sand storms also hit the area. And while the weather only occasionally interfered with operations, our people weren't wearing (protective) suits."

The protective suits are heavy head-to-toe overgarments that soldiers must wear whenever they suspect an enemy may attack them with chemical weapons. They cover the entire body.

In cold temperatures, the suits are almost welcome. In hot weather, they can be unbearable.

. . . .

Eads, now a lobbyist for a Fortune 500 company in Washington, emphasized how important the weather, especially the temperature, will be.

"The risk rises with the heat, and risks mean casualties," he said. "If you're at war there in mid-April, you really need to think about what you're going to be doing."

Let's hope for the best; but also, let's hope that we're adequately prepared for the worst.

::: posted by Pontificator at 1:19 AM

Tuesday, April 01, 2003 :::
Could someone tell the Cogent Provacateur that we're all waiting for his analysis of GWII.

::: posted by Pontificator at 10:35 PM

Monday, March 31, 2003 :::
The Big Mistake

All this endless chatter about the war effort and whether we gave the troops enough food rations or whether the “logistical tail” has enough air support or whether Donald Rumsfeld misapprehended the strength of Saddam Fedayeen is really beside the point. You see we’re not really being threatened in Iraq. Nothing that particularly dangerous or troubling to the United States’ interests is happening within Iraq proper at the moment.

The real danger is in Morocco, where 150,000 protestors want to suicide bomb American targets. The real danger is in Egypt, where thousands of Egyptian University students are burning American flags. The real danger is in Iran, where newly-energized protestors are chanting “death to America,” over and over and over again. The real danger is in Pakistan, where the Islamic radicals are knocking on Musharref’s door.

We were hated before this war, of course. Al Qaeda proved that. But as terrible as Al Qaeda is, it is the fringe of Islamist extremism. We could have limited its danger, or even, in the long run, eliminated it through targeted actions against the extremists, while simultaneously making grand gestures of tolerance towards, and discussing peaceful engagement with the more than one billion Muslims who inhabit this Earth. Those actions would have stopped the killers, while persuading the masses in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan that the path of the killers is unjustified.

Instead, we chose to unleash hell. Driven by our paranoia, we attacked a Muslim country, one with a history of being attacked by the West, a history that has fed the Islamist movement and philosophy. In doing this deed, we have strengthened the radicals in their fight for the hearts and minds of the skeptical and undecided millions. While we thought we had justifications for the war -- perhaps there were weapons of mass destruction (mustard gas!) which might be “slipped” to terrorists – we didn’t really know how realistic these dangers were. Although we knew some of these weapons were probably there, we didn’t really know how likely it would be that those weapons would be slipped to the Islamists. All we had was the possibility that they would be, and the paranoia of the American people. This paranoia, however, was stoked and abused by the people in power, with their sly references to “secret” information which only they knew and which they assured us proved the danger, and by their media lapdogs who peddle fear as a business, and who were all too willing to turn the speculative danger of Iraq into a false impression of a clear and present spear pointed at America’s forehead. And thus, war.

But what we should have known, and what we likely did know but yet ignored, is the long terms effects this war would have in turning a problem of a small band of extremist terrorists into a mighty struggle of civilizations equipped with the weapons of Armageddon. The decision by the Bush administration to unleash hell, to start a thoroughly unnecessary war in the one part of the world where the potential for consequential violent actions, for blowback, for radicalization of the population at large, for one Al Qaeda to become 10 or twenty such extreme radical Islamists groups, is nothing short of suicidal.

We need the restoration of sanity. But we also need to save face. If anyone knows how to do that, please let me know!

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:50 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2003 :::
General Eric Shinseki for President (or maybe Senator)!

Why? General Shinseki predicted that we would need hundreds of thousands of troops to occupy Iraq, and, for his efforts, was publicly upbraided by Rumsfeld and called a Clintonite (a huge insult in the Bush administration) behind his back. He was also taken out of the loop on war-making plans.

Now, it looks like General Shinseki's predictions will be vindicated, and like Rumsfeld's plans for a much smaller invasion force could be a catastrophe.

General Shinseki suffered a severe wound to his career in the war between the generals and the political hacks. For that, he deserves a Purple Heart. More importantly, he deserves a shot at the Presidency (or at least at one of Hawaii's Senate seats!)

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:35 PM

Iraqi Civilian Body Count

Somewhere between 433 and 541

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:11 PM

Fortress America

As I exited the New York City subway tonight, from an upper-westside subway stop, I was shocked to see soldiers in combat fatigues brandishing menacing-looking automatic weapons. They were just standing there, looking bored, alongside a number of rank-and-file police officers.

Is this unusual show of force based on specific intelligence related to a possible attack on the NYC subway -- or just typical orange-alert, war-with-Iraq panic?

Whatever it is, I think I'll stay away from the subways for awhile. Taxis only cost a few dollars more, after all.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:12 AM


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