Michael J. Totten

Saturday, March 29, 2003

UN Out of Iraq

The UN must have nothing to do with rebuilding Iraq. If the UN takes over, Iraq is almost certain to be run into the ground, and will be smothered in incompetent bureaucracy and international cannibalism.

Lawrence F. Kaplan at The New Republic explains why.

[The Administration believes] the effect of inserting the world body into the minutiae of Iraq's political life and believe the country's future would be far better served if the United Nations were confined to digging latrines there after the war. "I'm praying [the French] keep this up," says a senior administration official. "If the U.N. has a say in [postwar] Iraq, the first thing they'll probably do is put Saddam back in power." Specifically, they worry that Iraq could be transformed into an arena of competition among Security Council members and a laboratory for U.N. ineptitude. Equally worrisome is that an all-powerful U.N. proconsul in Baghdad could diminish rather than encourage the prospects for democracy in Iraq. British and EU officials invoke the "Kosovo model," which calls for a U.N. commissioner or administrator to wield ultimate authority in the realm of Iraqi politics as well as humanitarian affairs, as a useful precedent. But, for good reasons, that is not yet the official U.S. position.

One of those reasons derives from the avowed purpose of this war: the liberation of Iraq. Just as Iraqi exiles argue that an extended period of American rule will retard the growth of Iraqi democracy, they argue that a similar period of U.N. rule would be, if anything, an even greater impediment. "A U.N high commissioner will be easily manipulated by outside forces," predicts Entifadh Qanbar, Washington representative of the Iraqi National Congress, who worries particularly about the influence of antidemocratic Arab governments. "The U.N. will give us bureaucracy at the expense of democracy." Indeed, while it may have other virtues, the United Nations, where Libya currently presides over the world body's Human Rights Commission, has hardly distinguished itself as an agent of democratization. Whether in Bosnia or, more recently, in Kosovo, U.N.-sanctioned administrators have repeatedly expressed a preference for order over liberty subverting nascent democracies through procedural gimmicks, arbitrary edicts, and the summary firing of democratically elected officials.


In Iraq, the likelihood that the aims of a U.N. proconsul would run counter to the aims of democracy may be even greater [than in Kosovo]. To begin with, says Ralph Wilde, a U.N. scholar at the University of London, "what we find in the arena of civil administration is the considerable use of appointees to the United Nations former officials of national governments, for whom U.N. service is an interlude in a career of state service." And State Department officials predict that, were the United Nations to appoint a high commissioner for Iraq, the post would almost certainly be filled by a native Arabic speaker most likely an Arab diplomat such as U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi or chief nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei who balances the interests of the Iraqi people with the broader agenda of the Arab states, not one of which qualifies as a democracy. "Arab governments would much rather have a U.N. administrator in Iraq," says liberal dissident Kanan Makiya, "and, if [the administrator] is a member of one of those governments, Iraqis will simply be governed by the lowest common denominator of Arab politics, which is certainly not democracy."


The prospect of a national government rigging a multilateral operation for its own purposes is hardly without precedent. In Bosnia, French representatives repeatedly thwarted U.S. attempts to capture war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic by alerting them beforehand, and, in Kosovo, they even passed along NATO military secrets to the Serbs. In Iraq, too, Chirac's opposition to "giving the American and British belligerents the right to administer Iraq," as he put it last week, plainly suggests that, having failed to prevent an American-led war, France intends to subvert an American-led peace.


The prospect of a national government rigging a multilateral operation for its own purposes is hardly without precedent. In Bosnia, French representatives repeatedly thwarted U.S. attempts to capture war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic by alerting them beforehand, and, in Kosovo, they even passed along NATO military secrets to the Serbs. In Iraq, too, Chirac's opposition to "giving the American and British belligerents the right to administer Iraq," as he put it last week, plainly suggests that, having failed to prevent an American-led war, France intends to subvert an American-led peace.

The irony is that even the Bush team's hawks do not envision the administration of postwar Iraq being a wholly American enterprise. On the contrary, they hope to cede political control as quickly as possible to the Iraqis themselves lest American soldiers come to be seen as oppressors rather than liberators and precisely because they fear the taint of imperialism. In their view, the debate is not about U.N. versus U.S. rule. It is about U.N. versus Iraqi rule

It's time to simply ignore the UN. Just ignore it. Let it bleat all it wants. The UN hilariously wanted Iraq to chair the Comission on Disarmament. It has no right to complain that free Iraqis will run their own country. But if it does, at least the UN will be consistent with its position before the war started.

The Soft Side of Arab Culture

You might think Arab culture is little more than violence and extremism if you don't pay too much attention. Here's an astonishing act of kindness and generosity that I won't easily forget.

CENTRAL IRAQ (AFP) - Iraqi civilians fleeing heavy fighting have stunned and delighted hungry US marines in central Iraq by giving them food, as guerrilla attacks continue to disrupt coalition supply lines to the rear.

These people are incredibly poor, and are giving food to invaders from the richest nation on Earth. It's hard to imagine, but so are a lot of other things that happen in that country.


Bill Whittle at EjectEjectEject has published a new essay, called simply History. Go read it already.

Friday, March 28, 2003

The Brutal Vietnam Sandstorms

Mark Steyn yuks it up again.

After little more than a week, is this war coverage in trouble? Already questions are being raised about whether the media's plan was fatally flawed. Several analysts are surprised that, despite overwhelming dominance of the air, television and radio divisions have so quickly repeated the mistakes of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the ground, rapidly advancing columns become stalled in Vietnam-style quagmires around the second paragraph.

Speaking live from his armchair, General George S. Patton says, "Look, I'm just an armchair general, but, when I lean forward, pick up the remote and switch on the TV, it seems clear these media sonsofbitches pushed ahead too fast in the first 48 hours and then found their supply lines stretched far too thin. The supply of lines just wasn't getting through. OK, it's fun to write 'embedded' the first half-dozen times, and 'shock and awe', but then what? So the bastards got bogged down, then panicked and went into a complete reverse in a desperate manoeuvre to protect their rear.''

Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery (Retd) agrees that the media are in trouble, but blames it mostly on a confusion of war aims. "The problem is they relied on this two-pronged 'shock and awe' business. On the one hand, you'd have these reporter chappies embedded with your Royal Marines and so forth, 'awed' at how absolutely ripping it is to be in a tank. On the other hand, you'd have your crack columnists in Baghdad, 'shocked' at the scale of Anglo-American carnage, with hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, smart bombs landing on every hospital, nursery schools blown to kingdom come, etc.

"Well, the bally carnage never showed up, so it was a week of awe and no shock. The editors assumed that, by the weekend, they'd have Bush and Blair on the run. Instead, we now stand on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe: even as I speak, George Galloway, John Pilger and thousands of others are being systematically starved of material.

He's a little tough on these guys. After endless bleating about the Brutal Afghan Winter (50 degrees in January) I expected by now to hear about the Brutal Iraqi Summer, which really is brutal.

I shouldn't give them too much slack, though. If the war is still going at the end of April, it could be the next big thing. Unless the Marines get stuck in the rice paddies first.

TV and the Pentagon

From a reader:

Your entry about scoffing at "...the idiot babbling on the screen..." sure struck a chord with me.

I work at the Pentagon. While I am not (this time) in the front lines, I am intimately involved with the war effort and almost cannot bear to watch TV reportage of it. It's even more "fun" at work, when a group of us will scream derisively at some idiot reporter on TV as they either ask the "Dumb Question of the Day" or try to cleverly pry classified information from a briefer.

Anyway...you struck a chord...

Marty in Virginia

Grass Roots Liberators

TV commentators, newspaper columnists, bloggers, and probably everyone else are worried about the civilian reaction to American soldiers in Baghdad.

Every report of Iraqi opinion I've found says we will be greeted as liberators. When reporters interview Iraqis with Ba'ath Party minders present, the reports are completely worthless. I discount them all.

Nevertheless, there are some legitimate concerns. Our army is foreign. The national pride of Iraqis is certainly wounded by the invasion. They won't know how much to trust us because we've been daily bombing the crap out of them. They know nothing else but brutality and oppression. A long bloody street fight won't exactly make for good public relations.

I propose a simple solution. It won't be a cure-all, but it damn well should help.

Surround the city with tanks. And send in the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Into the Mailbag

I've been getting a lot of mail lately from people like this guy.

Dear Mr Totten;

Ever since about Oct. 2001, I've been following the blogs of Mr. Sullivan, Steven Den Beste, that delightful Vodka-guy of Colorado, Mr 'totally amazing' James Lileks, and several others. But increasingly, I'm turning to your blog for inspiration! I'm kind of new to your site, but I give you a million thanks for doing an incredible job. I love your direct style of writing and I'm am particularly pleased to see your recent addition of topical photos from Iraq. Very moving, this "photo blogging"!

As an 54 yr old liberal, and life-long Democrat, and also..... a gay male living in (oh, dear!) San Francisco, I simply melt in the presence of your words of sanity and wisdom! I did my college time "on the barricades" in the late 60s/early 70s, hating dictators, but seemingly hating this country even more because we always supported those dictators. So, it's been a logical and "total natural" for me to side with Pres. Bush in his efforts these past 18 months to GET RID OF dictators. I can't tell you the numbers of arguments I've had (and friends lost!) trying to convince people that by opposing Bush and his policies in Afghanistan and Iraq (and a whole lot of places down the road, I hope!), they are giving their tacit support to those dictatorships. It makes them all supporters of Islamofascists, misogynists, and homophobes!

Again, thanks so much for your excellent work!


Rod Barlow
San Francisco, CA

The left isn't over yet.

Kill Your Television

The editors of The New Republic blast TV journalism.

The dejection that has settled over many Americans as the war in Iraq begins to look like a war was to be expected. We were set up for this slump by the media, which inanely depicted the early days of the war as an Arabian adventure...

With all these screaming graphics and booming soundtracks, one half-expects Vin Diesel to turn up among the embedded. But the problem is not that television has reduced the war to a spectacle; at this late date in the history of electronic spectatorship, most Americans can see past the packaging of the image to the image itself and be in different ways moved. The problem is that television has made the war into a big thrill. There was something grotesque about the exhilaration of the media in the first days of the war. The excitement of the reporters who crossed into Iraq with the American forces already looks ridiculous. No doubt about it, they were enjoying themselves in the race through the desert. Have they ever been more important in their own eyes? Whether or not Americans were titillated by what they saw on television, the media were titillated by what they put on television.

But the race in the desert came to an end, and cruelties were visited on American troops, and the gravity of history reasserted itself, and the battle for Baghdad was begun. The thrill is gone. And the stimulations of the media have left many Americans poorly equipped for exposure to the actuality of the conflict.

I've begun to notice a pattern here.

If I sit on the couch and watch War-TV, I quickly become demoralized and depressed, even though the coverage is often riveting and impressive. And so I go downstairs, log onto the Internet, and search for something intelligent by someone who actually knows what they're talking about. It's like dumping a pitcher of ice-water on my head. My entire perspective shifts. The big black thundercloud dissolves like the remnants of a bad dream. I feel better about the war emotionally, and it seems I acquire fifty new IQ points. Then I go back upstairs, flick on the TV again, and openly scoff at the idiot babbling on the screen.

I'm ready to ban myself from television. Right now it's more unhealthy than it usually is.

More Disgraceful Atrocities

Once again, the Ba'ath Party reminds Iraqis who their friends and enemies are.

British officers reported that a "couple of thousand" Iraqi civilians tried to flee Basra, which is encircled by British troops, but were chased back into the city by mortar and machine gun fire from Iraqi paramilitary forces.

British forces hope to eliminate units still loyal to Saddam and open the way for badly needed humanitarian aid in the city, which has a population of 1.3 million.

There have been reports of significant numbers of civilians coming out of Basra daily to get food and then returning.

British soldiers from the 1st Black Watch battalion were trying to wedge themselves between the Iraqi gunmen and the targeted civilians, while others tried to evacuate civilians and treat casualties.

"Our interpretation of this is ... here perhaps are the first pieces of evidence of Iraqi people trying to break free from the Baath party regime and the militia," British military spokesman Col. Chris Vernon told Sky News. "And clearly the militia don't want that. They want to keep their population in there, and they fired on them to force them back in."

I doubt Jihad-TV (Al Jazeera) will report this.

Format Problems

I apologize for any formatting errors you might see. The Blogger server is having technical difficulties...

Photo Blogging

Thursday, March 27, 2003

A Moral Fight

Saul Singer explains the Iraqi civilian reaction to coalition forces.

The key moral question relates less to how the war is going militarily than to how the Iraqi people is responding. There have been nice pictures of people waving at convoys and shaking hands with soldiers, there have also been scenes of Iraqis seemingly rejoicing over a downed helicopter, and civilians who tell reporters the Americans are "criminals." What gives?

Two stories tell us what is really going on. In Basra, Iraq's second largest city, a muddled picture is emerging of irregular forces attacking the coalition, and the population rising up against Saddam's secret police. According to Brig. Gen. Vince Brooks, Saddam's thugs have been seizing children and telling fathers "they must fight" or the children "will all face execution." Even with coalition forces ringing the city, rising up against Saddam in Basra means taking your life into your hands. It is hard for most of us, having never lived in a Stalinist police state, to fully appreciate how such regimes produce thousands of loyalists who have nothing to lose.

Saddam's apparatus knows how much the people hates them, and what will happen to them the day he falls. They also may think, encouraged by global antiwar protests, that if only the regime can create enough humanitarian tragedies, the US might be forced to withdraw.

It is certainly understandable that the people of Basra, having already been betrayed by the United States in 1991 when it failed to come to their aid when they rose up then, do not know whether the coalition can be trusted now. Yet despite the danger, they reportedly have rebelled. Now the coalition has to decide whether to take over the city, with all the mopping-up difficulties that entails, or simply lob artillery shells from outside.

The other story is a related one, concerning the few troops that are engaging coalition forces. "Up and down the 320-kilometer stretch of desert where American and British forces have advanced," The New York Times reported yesterday, "one Iraqi prisoner after another has told a similar tale: Many Iraqi soldiers are fighting at gunpoint, threatened with death by hard-core loyalists of President Saddam Hussein." One soldier said, "The officers threatened to shoot us unless we fought.

They took out their guns and pointed them and told us to fight." Another lay dying in the American hospital with a small-caliber bullet in the back of his head, probably from an Iraqi officer.

In other words, the "resistance" and the lack of more spontaneous demonstrations in support of the invasion are hardly evidence that Iraqis do not want to be liberated, but the opposite: a regime so totalitarian and pervasive that even in its death throes it is able to terrorize its people.

I am dismayed at the atrocious behavior of the Iraqi regime. None of it surprises me, but I sure do wish it weren't happening.

As demoralizing as it is to watch, it also strengthens my resolve. This regime is truly despicable and inhuman. It has to go, and it will not be gone soon enough.

Daily Photo Roundup

Here are some of the more pleasing images of the war. My goal is not to white-wash a horror show, but rather to dig out the jewels from the trashcan.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

An Excellent New War Blog

My online friend Andrew Apostolou at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has started a war blog. He is a historian at Oxford University in England, and his work is backed up with a tremendous amount of knowledge. Go pay him a visit, and set your bookmarks. He deserves a wide audience.

A Clarifying Moment

The evil of the Iraqi regime knows no bottom.

The distribution of humanitarian aid to civilians in the southern Iraqi town of Al Zubayr has been halted after Iraqi forces fired mortar rounds into crowds.

Reporter Ian Bruce, who is travelling with Scots unit Black Watch, said troops had established a strong but not yet secure foothold in the town - a known Iraqi militia base - and were to begin distributing aid to its people.

The troops were greeted by cheering crowds of several hundred people as they arrived western edge of the town, he said.

But before any food or water could be handed out, snipers opened fire and two mortars shells fell into the crowd.

The civilians scattered to escape a hail of bullets and mortar rounds which followed in quick succession and the relief effort was abandoned.

The good news is that it clarifies for Iraqi civilians who their real friends and enemies are.

Well, Look At That

The Marines found this mural in Nasiriya.

Oh, but Saddam would never have any sympathy for Al Qaeda. They hate each other, right?

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along now.

Keep Your Nerve

Christopher Hitchens has been my favorite columnist for as long as I've read opinion columns. No one can top this guy.

HERE we go again: first the phoney war and then the war of the phoneys. In Kuwait, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Afghanistan - all of the post-Cold War conflicts against regional aggressors and terror-sponsoring states - it was necessary first to endure a lengthy period of apocalyptic warnings.

If the democracies stuck up for themselves or others, there would be intensified chaos and misery, uncountable civilian casualties, intervention from other states to widen the war, legacies of bad blood, massive alienation, etc, etc.

You have read it and I have read it.

The question is - do those who have written this tripe ever dare to go back and see how wrong they were last time?

No, they obviously don't. I was a peacenik myself during the first Gulf War. Every thing I said back then was wrong with one exception...I wanted us to help create democracy in Kuwait while we had the chance. I said back then that restoring an authoritarian government to power was un-American. I still believe that now. I was wrong about everything else, and I'm determined not to make the same mistakes again. Some people don't learn because they simply don't want to.

Since the Russians were the patrons of Serbia, it would have been impossible to overcome their veto on Bosnia and Kosovo and so the intervention had to be re-baptised.

Since the French government is in league with Saddam Hussein, the same applies in the present case.

But do you imagine for a single second that the professional "anti-war" scribblers would have changed their tune in the case of a united diplomatic front? In the case of Afghanistan, the vote at the UN was as near-unanimous as such a thing can be.

Yet still the streets filled with the same dreary chant of "Stop the War"(as if it hadn't already started - on September 11, 2001 to be precise). There were Syrian and Egyptian troops fighting in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, which had a full UN mandate, but the same demonstrators showed up with much the same placards.

Yes they did. They sure are predictable, aren't they?

Just suppose that Vladimir Putin, whose regime is up to its neck in oil-deals with Iraq, had condescended so far as to endorse the intervention against Saddam Hussein.

We would be hearing on all sides that the butcher of the Chechen Muslims was our bloodstained ally. How gratifying it is that this cause is now not disgraced, either, by the support of Turkey or Saudi Arabia, let alone the hopelessly-compromised regime of Monsieur Chirac.

"Multilateralism" (or better yet "Omnilateralism") is little more than a dying fad. There is no convincing moral or intellectual defense of it.

(Incidentally, and for as long as it served as a change of subject from the vileness of the regime, the peaceniks were against the sanctions, too. Now they are hysterically against the only policy that can lead to the sanctions being lifted.) I object strongly to being addressed, by people with this track-record, as if it does not agonize me to see dead or wounded or bewildered Iraqi civilians.

For years I've said invasion is a more humane course of action than sanctions. Kuwait is a wealthy country for the same reasons Iraq should be. Strangling civilians with sanctions while permitting Saddam to live in outrageous opulence should offend the sensibilities of every decent person. That peaceniks now want to continue the sanctions simply destroys their credibilty as people who care about the citizens of Iraq.

By every indication we have, the population of Baghdad was making a secret holiday in its heart as those horrible palaces went up in smoke, and this holiday will soon be a public holiday, and if we all keep our nerve we can join the festivities with a fairly clear conscience.

Hitchens is supposedly invited to Baghdad to celebrate liberation with his friends who've been through hell. No one who argued to give Saddam a chance is invited. If anyone would like to invite me, I'll be happy to come along.

Our Friends the French

I think the "Freedom Fries" thing is childish and stupid, even though I also think it's funny. This, however, is not funny. And the loud critics of "Freedom Fries" could use a little comparitive perspective before saying the US has degenerated into outright anti-French bigotry.

BORDEAUX, France - Vandals in southwest Bordeaux torched a replica of the Statue of Liberty and cracked the pedestal of a plaque honoring victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The crowned head of the 8-foot-tall statue was blackened by fire and its eyes were marked with red paint, apparently to symbolize tears of blood, an official at the mayor's office said.

The statue and the Sept. 11 plaque are beside each other in a square near the city center.

The mayor of the southwestern city, Alain Juppe, condemned Wednesday's pre-dawn attack, saying the statue's message is especially pertinent in wartime.

"At a time when the world is living a major conflict, it is more important than ever to remain watchful of the values of peace and liberty," said Juppe, a former prime minister.

The Lady Liberty standing in New York Harbor was a gift from France to the United States commemorating freedom and friendship between the nations. It was made by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated in 1886.

Anti-Frenchism is nowhere near as ugly as French anti-Americanism. We love to crack jokes, but I can't imagine Americans acting this way toward the French or anyone else.

Daily Photo Roundup

Why Saddam Can't Win

The next time you hear someone say the war is going badly, you can just laugh at them.

EAST BANK OF THE EUPHRATES RIVER, Iraq - A 3rd Infantry Division tank company team fought and destroyed an Iraqi Republican Guard force at point-blank range Tuesday night about 80 miles southwest of Baghdad.

The firefight came near the end of a running, 30-hour series of shootouts that the Pentagon is describing as the largest battle of the war. Pentagon officials have put the number of Iraqi troops killed by the 3rd Infantry at anywhere from 150 to 650.

No Americans were reported killed.

My goodness.

Liberalism and Oppression

Matt Welch quotes Patrick Goldstein on why Hollywood leans to the left.

The simplest explanation for this tradition of left-wing politics is that artists identify with the underdog. They tend to be disaffected outsiders and mavericks, skeptical of institutions, often uncomfortable with mainstream values. They find inspiration in change; their affection is with the dispossessed, not the ruling order.

"Artists are more in touch with other people's feelings because we're always trying to see things from others' perspectives," says "Maid in Manhattan" director Wayne Wang, an Iraq war critic. "And once you start seeing things from someone else's perspective, whether it's art or politics, it's hard not to start thinking about how people can suffer from war or oppression."

Sounds about right to me. (I also write fiction and can plausibly be accused of being an artist.) It does explain why I'm a liberal, and also one of the reasons why I support the Liberation of Iraq.

Of course, Goldstein was trying to explain why many liberals are against the war, but I think he simply demonstrates once again that this is more about being anti-Bush than anything else. Liberals aren't pacifists, and they don't like dictators. Remember Bosnia and Kosovo.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Another Reason to Support This Fight

Here's a bit from a New York Times piece about why the Arab world is suspicious of us.

The Middle East's educated elite, seeking deliverance from repressive governments, hope Washington wants to create a model for the region in Iraq, but the United States lacks a credible track record. The public recognizes that leaders like Mr. Hussein abuse their people, but the suspicion that the United States is embarking on a modern crusade against Islam tends to overwhelm other considerations.

These poor people are victims of propaganda from governments and mosques. They really have no idea what is happening or why.

This will soon change. A free Iraq with a free press and a positive regional influence will help show a very different side of America than Middle Easterners are used to seeing so far. If we pull this off right, given a little bit of time, the ambivalent citizens who hope for a better future will feel emboldened and less anti-American, like the students against the tyrannical regime in Iran.

It is worth reminding ourselves that some anti-Americanism is understandable. We still prop up fascist police states in the region. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the most egregious examples.

You wouldn't like a country either if it armed the regime that oppresses you daily with impunity. Those days are now coming to an end. At long, long last. Say goodbye to the Kissinger doctrine, hopefully forever.

Their Own Worst Enemy

Arab news media are broadcasting images of dead Iraqi civilians in Basra. Here's why.

Iraqi troops fired artillery pieces horizontally into crowds of their own people last night after a civilian uprising in Basra, the second city.

Watching British troops encircling the city of 1.3 million inhabitants said there were "horrific" scenes. One officer said: "We have seen a large crowd on the streets. The Iraqis are firing artillery at their own people. There will be carnage."

Arabs who cheer Saddam are celebrating the destruction of their own brothers and sisters. What a disgrace.

The Uprising

Wolf Blitzer and Richard Gaisford discuss the uprising in Basra.

(Are you listening, peaceniks?)

BLITZER: Richard, first of all, approximately where are you? And tell us what's happening as far as you can tell in this second largest city of Iraq, namely, Basra.

GAISFORD: Well, I'm on the outskirts of the city. I'm with the Royal Scots Battle Group; that's part of the Desert Rats, 7th Armored Brigade. And we're here with military intelligence officers who are telling us that there's a popular uprising, a popular uprising within the city center of Basra itself.

Now because of that uprising, because of the protest that's happened this afternoon, Iraqi army units still in the city are firing mortar rounds onto the protesters, onto the crowds.

And as a means of support for the uprising, there is artillery being fired into Basra this evening from British positions, and we can see that they're firing them in there to try and take out these mortar rounds. They have a specific radar device that can find out where the mortar rounds are coming from, and then (they are) plotting the coordinates and targeting them as quickly as they possibly can.

We had thought, perhaps, that British troops would go straight into Basra to sort this out. It's possible now they may wait till first light so they can actually get a much better idea of what's happening and the surroundings that they'll be working in.

BLITZER: So this popular uprising, Richard, is by local, I assume, mostly Shia in Basra. They're rising up against the remaining Iraqi regular army forces who are there? Is that right?

GAISFORD: That is absolutely correct. You may remember 12 years ago there was an uprising in Basra that was put down by the Saddam Hussein regime. And that wasn't supported by the British or American military.

This time around it's very different; the military here is saying that they fully want to support this uprising. They want to help them whichever way the can. They've been planning on this happening; perhaps they hadn't thought it was going to happen quite so quickly. And they will do all they can to make sure that it is successful.

If we stop the war, as the peaceniks demand, we will be morally culpable for another massacre of innocent civilians. It will never happen.


Some Iraqis are happy even before the war stops.

No Turning Back

Epic Sandstorm

This is the kind of thing that happens in movies, not real life.

Commander Frooninckx said the squadron saw [the sandstorm] coming five days ago.

"This storm system is one of the largest and most severe, if not the largest I've ever seen in Iraq, and I've been tracking the weather there for 18 years," he said.

Our Friends in Iraq

Massive Civilian Uprising in Basra. Their liberation is at hand.

In what appears to be a critical moment for coalition forces, thousands of Shiites in Basra have started a popular uprising against Saddam Hussein's forces, a British pool journalist embedded with coalition troops reported Tuesday.

Iraqi Fedayeen are reportedly firing at the Shiite protesters, who have the support of British troops in the area. Coalition forces, in turn, are reportedly firing missiles at the pro-Saddam forces.

Meanwhile, senior Defense officials told Fox News that intelligence reports indicate that Iraqi forces - either special Republican Guard forces or Fedayeen Saddam terrorists - in and around Basra are dressing up as U.S. soldiers, then accepting the surrender of other Iraqi forces and executing them.

The anti-war crowd who says Americans are enemies of Iraqi civilians have a lot to answer for. Especially those who continue to lie even now.

The Good In All This

The media are not emphasizing the humanitarian aspect of this conflict nearly enough. So I will do the best I can to amplify it.

De-Ba'athification in the Field

The ongoing Iraqi resistance is a good thing, says Daniel Drezner. Here's why.

a crucial part of postwar reconstruction in Iraq will be the de-Baathification of the country. Unless Baath activists are identified and purged from positions of power, ordinary Iraqis will fear speaking their minds. However, such purges are notoriously difficult to implement. Occupying forces often lack either the stomach or the energy to take the necessary actions. Because the party is embedded into Iraqi society, even the best efforts to remove Baath loyalists will be incomplete.

However, the Baathists can facilitate this task by resisting oncoming U.S. forces with force of arms. Instead of laboring to identify party loyalists after the war is over, these people are self-identifying during the combat phase, making it more likely they will be killed or treated as prisoners of war. [Yeah, but why are they doing this?--ed. The Baathists probably know they're not well-loved by either the Americans or the Iraqis they've subjugated. Even if it might be difficult to root all of them out during the postwar reconstruction phase, each individual Baathist can't like his/her odds of escaping unharmed]

The fewer Baathists that are around after the war is over, the easier it will be to rebuild Iraqi society in a manner compatible with the principles of liberal democracy. And the more that Baathist militias and party leaders resist during the war, the fewer Baathists there will be after the war.

This will never occur to most TV anchors. It hadn't occured to me, either.

Don't Forget Australia

Garth Godsman writes to remind me that Australia is taking part in this effort, too.

AUSTRALIAN Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers have played an integral part in disrupting the Iraqi war effort, army chief Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy said this morning.

SAS troops have been taking advantage of night superiority

Gen Leahy said the SAS was performing "shoot and scoot" missions where troops deploy, observe and, if necessary, destroy targets before redeploying soon after.

"The operations they have been conducting have provided invaluable information on enemy movements, on bases and on likely intentions," Gen Leahy told reporters.

"Special forces have been active destroying enemy installations either using their own resources, or directing coalition air support for destruction mission.

"Our forces are denying freedom of movement to the Iraqi forces.

"They are generally creating havoc and uncertainty behind lines, and are constantly redeploying in their area of operations.

"My conclusion is that the special forces have been very successful in interrupting enemy operations."

Australian forces have suffered no casualties to date, said Brigadier Mike Hannan.

I haven't heard a single word on American television about what Australia is doing. That's too bad because Australia, like Britain, is a real friend to us right now. I wonder how many Americans don't know that.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Tending to the Wounded

A US Army medic tends to an Iraqi child.

War is a Great Clarifier

The truth is emerging.

"Coming into Basra as part of a massive military convoy, I encountered a stream of young men, dressed in what appeared to be Iraqi army uniforms, applauding the U.S. Marines as they swept past in tanks," David Willis, the British Broadcasting Corporation's correspondent in southern Iraq, reported Saturday night.

It must have pained him to do it. No Western broadcast news organization outside of France has been as vociferously anti-American as has the BBC. Andrew Sullivan calls it the "Baghdad Broadcasting Corp."

The Independent and the Guardian are two of the most left-wing of British newspapers. Their editorial pages and columnists strongly have denounced President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and war with Iraq. But their reporters "embedded" with U.S. and U.K. troops are reporting the same things Willis saw:

"As a huge British convoy crossed into Iraq yesterday, hundreds of children came to greet it," the Independent's Paul Harris reported Sunday. "As the troops moved past small boys ran up to the windows smiling and grinning. Older men stood and watched. Occasionally they gave a thumbs-up signal." "Iraqi civilians lined the streets and cheered American and British forces moving up from the south," the Guardian acknowledged.

"You're late. What took you so long?" the Guardian quoted one Iraqi as saying. "God help you become victorious...I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand."

The Telegraph's Olga Craig witnessed the Iraqi surrender at Um Qasr. "We never wanted to fight - only the diehards did," she quoted one Iraqi soldier as saying. "We hate Saddam, but we are scared," said another.


"A group of American anti-war demonstrators, part of a Japanese human-shield delegation, returned from Iraq yesterday with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present, with Iraqis eager to tell of their welcome for American troops," the Washington Times' Arnaud de Borchgrave reported from Amman, Jordan Sunday.

Rev. Kenneth Joseph said some of the Iraqis he interviewed "told me they would commit suicide if the American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny." "I was a naive fool to be a human shield for Saddam," wrote Daniel Pepper, who went to Iraq with a British anti-war group, in the Telegraph Sunday.

Many people will say these are fabrications and lies. But the Iraqi people do not lie when the Ba'ath Party fascists are no longer holding a gun to their heads. And the human shields are the last people in the world who would lie about the intentions of the United States military. It will be interesting to see who in the world is willing to believe the truth, and who is not.

Liberals Against Liberation

Jonathan Foreman writes an article called simply Liberation.

Nothing could bring home the rightness of this campaign in Iraq - and the deluded wrongness of the peace movement - like the sight that greeted the 54th Engineer Battalion (and this writer) yesterday morning in a string of small towns on Route 8 near the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.

In village after dusty village, the people - most presumably Shiites - rushed out to greet the troops. They lined the highway: portly older men, teenage boys, little girls in brightly colored pajamas, waving, giving the thumbs-up sign and smiling.

Bravo Company's Sgt. Roy Lee Brown III (32) of Hackensack, N.J., said, "This gives me a real good feeling. It's the first time I've ever been deployed that I've seen people so happy that we're here." (Bravo Company just returned from a tour of duty in Kosovo.)

Sitting next to him on the M113 APC, Lt. Kevin Hallstrom ,25, of Albuquerqe, N.M., observed: "They look so beat down, the people here."

But they also looked elated.

And I never felt more proud of being an American or of America's armed forces.


Yes, America has indeed made terrible mistakes in the past, including the support provided to vicious Latin American tyrannies like the Argentine junta (though its record of torture and murder is dwarfed by that of the Saddam regime). But the liberation of Iraq is a chance to make belated good on those mistakes and more.

And if the government had listened to the naysayers and not come here and liberated these people, that would have been a real crime.

The naysayers said "Not in My Name." Fine. When they see those happy Iraqis hugging the US Marines, they can just remember that they voted to keep Iraqis enslaved in a torture chamber. I don't care about the anti-war conservatives. But I am ashamed of anti-war liberals who sold out their principles and values. We on the left are an unhappy family right now. I dearly hope the post-war aftermath will serve up a needed corrective.

Wallowing in Despair

The TV news is breathtaking and maddening at the same time.

Live combat reporting from embedded journalists is sometimes stunning, and is truly revolutionary. But the commentary is simply too much.

Too many people are dwelling on casualties. By historical standards our casualties are near zero. All casualties are tragedies, especially the fatalities. But come on. The news channels need to get a grip. If you were to go by the despondent tone of some of the anchors, you'd think we're losing the war. We aren't, and we won't.

The commentary is demoralizing the entire country. There is no excuse whatsoever.

The war isn't even a week old, and I'm already hearing "quagmire." And why on earth are military experts asked if they are surprised the Republican Guard is fighting back? For God's sake, people. What king of twit thinks the military didn't expect the enemy to shoot back? Please.

Photo Blogging

The Herald-Sun has more great photos.

Poland is in the Fight

I don't want to hear the word "unilateral" again. It's a lie. (Found via Drudge.)

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland admitted on Monday that its elite GROM commando unit had taken part in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq after the soldiers posed for a Reuters news photographer.

The Defense Ministry had denied that GROM (Thunder) special forces were involved in combat, but on Monday it confirmed their participation after dailies splashed photographs of the soldiers in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where U.S.-led troops are battling pockets of Iraqi resistance.

An Iraqi Trench Fire

I Hope Saddam Sees These


Thanks to Slate for these.

Saddam's Speech

I just watched Saddam's "historic speech" on Fox.

I don't know what was so historic about it. It was the same old psycho Nazi raving we've come to expect from the bastard.

His references to battles that never happened gave it away as being pre-recorded. But it was recorded for domestic consumption by the poor enslaved citizens who have no idea what is happening in their country.

I wish I could fisk it, but the speech was so rambling and deranged that it's actually fisk-proof. You have to give him credit for that much at least.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Revolution in the Wrong Country

Hey, you punks...support revolution in Iran and Iraq instead.

Vicious Hateful Anarchists

The creeps at Indymedia are celebrating mutiny in Kuwait. (Via LGF.)

Here is what they are saying.

The grenade attack that took place today in Kuwait is alleged to be committed by another AMERICAN SOLIDER. Repeat. The Grenade attack today was an example of Fragging--not a terrorist attack. This shows that RESISTANCE and REBELLION ARE ON THE RISE! Watch the American Free Press downplay and try to bury this incident. Support our Troops--but only those who Frag their commanding officer.


poor baby...too bad it didnt blow his fuckin head off!!!!


Don't confuse anti Bush's war with pacifism.


I hope they all die a miserable death, alone, and far from home

Its what they deserve

I hope American soldiers realise the slaughter they are perpetrating on civilians and kill ALL their Officer, but I doubt it will happen as 99% of soldiers are brainwashed moron

By the way, have you ever met a soldier with ANY sense of morality????

didnt think so



It confirms that some on the radical left really are a fifth column. They also don't know how to write, spell, or punctuate.

Has the difference between liberals and leftists ever been so stark? Not in my lifetime.

Unclear on the Concept

That's the upside of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Iraq will finally be able to live.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten