Monday, March 31, 2003


THE enemy should be in no doubt that we are his Nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of Hell for Saddam. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity. But those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.

We go to liberate, not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people, and the only flag that will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Don’t treat them as refugees, for they are in their own country.

I know men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. They live with the mark of Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you, then remember they have that right in international law, and ensure that one day they go home to their family. The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please. If there are casualties of war, then remember, when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly, and mark their graves.

You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for your deeds will follow you down history. Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood, and the birth of Abraham. Tread lightly there. You will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be embarrassed by their hospitality, even though they have nothing…

There may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign…We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow. Let’s leave Iraq a better place for us having been there. Our business now, is north.

Tim Collins, LtCol
Commander, First Battalion, Royal Irish


By Christopher Hitchens

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?

The second element of the phoney war always takes the form of arguing about how much support a cause needs before it becomes a good one. Let's have Russia on side! Shouldn't we wait for China?

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.

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.

Anyway, soon the delaying tactics run out and the despot shows that he isn't interested in a life-saving compromise.

At once, the plaintive, alarmist, phoney slogans shift to the human costs of war, and the blame is put only on one side. That's proved to be true even in the present very impressive case, when the "war" for all practical purposes was over as soon as it began.

Evidently betrayed by someone in his own inner circle, Saddam Hussein was at least badly shaken in the very first carefully-chosen moment, and it's been plain ever since that further Iraqi resistance is criminally futile.

The urgent task of the moment is therefore to make the war as brief as possible, and begin to bring in the food, medicine and reconstruction materials that the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples so desperately need.

(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.

Or soldiers for that matter - why do we employ the word "innocent" only for those out of uniform?

And I probably could not stand the job of knocking at some door in my old home town of Plymouth, to tell a family that their son or daughter had just been lost in some pointless accident of the kind that could have occurred on a training exercise.

There is no honour in killing Iraqi soldiers who are pointlessly fighting, leaderless and abandoned, out of fear.

And there is no glory in being hit by "friendly fire", as we ludicrously call it.

However, there is both honour and glory in being able to demolish the palaces and cellars of a murdering dictatorship, inflicting so few incidental casualties (and taking such obvious care to minimize them) that the propaganda of Saddam's goons can produce almost no genuine victims to gloat over.

I feel disgust for those who blame this week's deaths on the intervention and not on its sole target: Saddam Hussein.

A few days ago, a US Navy SEAL team allowed its whole attack to be watched live, as it went ashore and painlessly disarmed an Iraqi garrison with orders to blow up oil terminals.

Who would not approve the careful and humane pre-emptive strike that prevented such an atrocity with no loss of life? Who is going to report the numerous other unsung victories in a carefully calibrated conflict?

Is it too obvious to mention that Saddam's side in this war threatens the use of indiscriminate tactics, puts civilians in harm's way, and trashes the Geneva Convention the first chance it gets?

To make an exhibition of captives is a violation of all the known laws of war.

QUESTIONS ought to be asked in the House about the use of cluster-bombs and the employment of depleted-uranium (DU) weapons.

However, there has been a clear evolution towards more discriminating weapons on one side, even as there has been a desperate resort to unscrupulous tactics on the other. Not to see this is to miss one of the chief points of the new strategy. In Afghanistan, Mullah Omar was allowed to get away alive because Pentagon lawyers could not be sure enough about the convoy of SUV vehicles carrying him from Kabul to Kandahar.

In the end, the decision was made that it wasn't decent to take out the whole caravan.

But here's the point to keep your eye on, as you listen to panicky broadcasts and scan instant news, with its freight of immediate tragedies.

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.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair

I hope he finds them but it would be great if he could also find bin Laden and Mullah Omar.


Jesse Jackson to Aid Journalist Search

By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press Writer

MELVILLE, N.Y. - The Rev. Jesse Jackson (news - web sites) said Monday he has told the families of two missing Newsday journalists last seen in Baghdad that he would try to help track down their whereabouts.

Jackson, who has had success in negotiating the release of American prisoners in past conflicts, said relatives of Newsday correspondent Matthew McAllester, 33, and photographer Moises Saman, 29, asked him Sunday to help locate the two men.

"And I said I would do my very best," Jackson said. He said he had no plans to travel to the region, however.

Saman and McAllester have been out of contact since March 24, when they e-mailed their Long Island-based newspaper to say they would be filing material. Newsday editor Anthony Marro said in the paper's Saturday editions that he believes the two have been detained by the Iraqi government.

Molly Bingham, a freelance photographer from Louisville, Ky., and Danish freelance photographer Johan Rydeng Spanner also are unaccounted for in Iraq (news - web sites).

The Danish Press Photographer Association said Spanner was among four people arrested as a group in Baghdad. The association said he had sought press accreditation once inside Iraq, but had entered the country as a student.

In 1999, Jackson negotiated the release of three U.S. servicemen being held as prisoners of war in Yugoslavia. In 1991, he traveled to Baghdad and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait City and won the release of 47 U.S. citizens, many of whom were ill and had been under siege in the U.S. Embassy there for a month.

He has had similar successes in Syria and Cuba.

Jackson said he hopes to amass a delegation of religious leaders to help in securing the release of the journalists — if they indeed are being held — as well as U.S. prisoners of war and other people missing in Iraq.

"Each time I have gone to bring Americans home, it was always with a group of religious leaders who had contacts with religious leaders there," Jackson said. "When political forces are hostile, the religious orders usually maintain some rapport. I would hope that is the case here."

Trivia Time

Which of the following are "Palestinian"?

a. Yasser Arafat
b. Ariel Sharon

a. Arafat, whose parents were Palestinian, was actually born in Cairo, Eqypt. Once he became "famous", he changed his bio to say he was born in Palestine. Nice try, Ringo.
b. Ariel Sharon was born in Palestine, so it would seem he has more claim to being Palestinian than Arafat.


We Can Take It
The benefits of the long haul.

Monday, March 31, 2003 12:01 a.m. EST

Unanticipated good can come from misfortune. When the war began 11 days ago, on that Thursday morning that began with the big bunker blaster hit on the famous target of opportunity, it seemed possible, if only for 48 hours, that this just might be an easy war. What surprise and relief. There were reports that Saddam Hussein might be dead or injured, and the Iraqi command seemed in chaos.

It seemed too good to be true and was. The past 11 days people have found themselves settling in to the idea that this is going to be a hard, effortful, possibly brutal and certainly dramatic war.

Which means it's going to be like most wars.

What is happening now in Iraq is what happens when your troops and their leaders do everything possible to limit civilian casualties. They do this because it is humane and necessary to a great power, and also because each civilian death is a propaganda opportunity for the antiwar effort. (More on that later.)

We are going to win, as everyone seems to know, but there is no longer a chance that it will be "easy." This is bad because easy is better. Easy means fewer dead and less dread. But--a big if somewhat grim but--there is some good to be gotten from the long haul. And perhaps we ought to be thinking about it.

It would have been great if a big massive quick hit forced the gopher out of its hole, left it frozen in the lights and easy pickings for a marksman. You could hope for that, but you couldn't expect it. One of the reasons many of us who were late to support invasion were reluctant was our sense that a quick enemy collapse was too much to hope for. Saddam had had 12 years since the last war to recover and plan, and in any case the chaos inside Iraq in 2003 was going to be a harder thing to face than a dispirited Iraqi army in Kuwait in 1990.

So this is going to take a while. And that is going to surprise some Americans, including probably some wearing our uniform. The military action our country has been involved in since Vietnam (for a great world power there have been few) has been relatively quick work. We have by and large gone in, made our impression and reordered the reality we had gone to confront. The perfect illustration, the 1983 invasion of Grenada, a small island victim of a violent communist coup. President Reagan sent in the marines. They did quick work. Liberation followed, including that of the American medical students who, freed, returned home and startled the world by kissing the American ground.

We gave out a lot of medals in that war. So many that civilians wondered if grade inflation hadn't come, finally, even to the American military. But there was also a counter-sense that the leaders of America's military establishment felt they must give the troops the awards and appreciation the American public, still concussed by Vietnam, and American politicians, ever quavering, could not be relied upon to give.

At any rate, U.S. military involvements for the past 30 years have been quick and quickly beribboned.

The second Gulf War will not be quick. And one senses no one will doubt, when it was over, that every medal was earned.

But the long haul is going to mean and demonstrate more than that. A resentful world is about to see that America had to fight for it. They are about to see America could fight for it--that we had and have the stomach for a struggle. Our implacable foes and sometimes doubting friends will see that America's armed forces don't just shock and awe, we stay and fight.

The world will be reminded that America still knows how to suffer. In a county as in an individual, the ability to withstand pain--the ability to suffer--says a great deal about character. It speaks of maturity and courage, among other things. The world knew half a century ago that America will absorb pain to reach progress. It is not all bad that they are seeing it again.

Americans too may be heartened to see that we know how to absorb pain. Deep in the heart of many pro-invasion thinkers has been a question they do not ponder for it could only be answered in time. It was: Can we still take it? It won't be bad for us to see that the answer is yes.

Our armed forces, the professionals, are going to learn that they can do it. They've wondered too. They are also going to learn how to do their jobs better, because they're really going to have to do the job. They are not going to feel when they return that they got all dressed up and the party was canceled. They're going to know they put on 50 pounds of gear and then slogged through a sandstorm to take town after town. And no one is going to wonder if there was grade inflation in the medal giving.

If we're in a long-haul war there will be benefits that are not necessarily tangible, but real nonetheless.

The biggest threat to America now, apart from Iraqi regulars and irregulars, is not a person but a phenomenon. It is the twisting or abusing of facts to underscore a point of view one wishes to see disseminated. I mean propaganda. The antiwar left did not pick up its marbles and go home when the war began. They just went home and waited for something bad to happen that they could exploit. They have it now: a war that is taking time and producing deaths on the field.

The antiwar left has shown precious little interest in or compassion for members of the U.S. armed services. And yet you can bet the farm that they are about to discover a great warm hearted concern as the bodies of American fighters come home. The left is going to use those deaths as propaganda in their attempts to stop the war.

A softer form of this propaganda--in fairness that may not be the right word here, as mere sloppiness may be the cause of error--was mentioned in a recent column by Rich Galen, who noted strange media reporting of a poll on US support for the war:

I was flipping through the cable news channels and came across someone who was sadly reporting that only about 34 percent of the country now thought the war was going well. That 34 percent number was shocking. So I looked it up. Here's the scoop: The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll asked: "How would you say the war with Iraq has gone for the U.S. so far: very well, moderately well, moderately badly, or very badly?" As the commentator suggested, 34% said "very well." But what he neglected to say was that 51% said it was going "moderately well." Put together, fully EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT of those polled had a favorable view toward the conduct of the war. By the way, the most recent CBS/NY Times poll--not exactly two news organizations with a reputation for being in the employ of the Bush White House--asked the same question and came up with 84% (32% very well, 52% somewhat well).

Rich Galen is one who reads between the lines professionally, but as this war goes on a lot of Americans will find it necessary to read between the lines as progress of the war, and world feeling about it, is reported.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal. Her most recent book, "When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan," is published by Viking Penguin. You can buy it from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Mondays.

Reason #874 for the US to stop paying its UN dues.

Israeli official: UN personnel and vehicles used by terrorists throughout Mideast
Margot Dudkevitch Mar. 31, 2003

Terrorist organizations in Palestinian controlled areas as well as in Syria and Lebanon take advantage of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) workers and their vehicles to transport arms and terrorists to perpetrate attacks and coordinating activities between them.

A document drawn up by defense establishment officials that reached the Jerusalem Post focuses on UNWRA employee Nahed Rashid Ahmed Attalah, 38, a resident of Jabaliyah in the Gaza Strip who was arrested last August by security forces as he returned from Egypt.

The report also notes that Palestinian terrorists in Israeli custody admitted to security officials to using UNWRA facilities, equipment and vehicles to assist in carrying out terror attacks knowing that UNWRA personnel are able to travel in Israel, Palestinian Authority areas as well as in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere without being subjected to any checks by security officials.

Attalah, the document says, is currently on trial on eight counts that include aiding terrorist activities affiliated with the Fatah's Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) and using United Nations vehicles and the free travel permit he was entrusted with to facilitate terrorist organizations, conspiring to trade in arms and assisting in attempted premeditated murder and possessing illegal arms. He was indicted last September and in February this year the IDF military court of appeals decided to extend his detention until the end of the legal procedures against him.

Attalah first began working for UNWRA in 1987 as a director of food supplies for Gaza Strip refugees. In order to carry out the job he was provided with a United Nations vehicle and issued a United Nations laissez-passer that entitled him to unrestricted travel in the region. According to the report he constantly used his vehicle and permit to assist PRC terrorist activities against Israel while maintaining close contacts with PFLP officials in Lebanon.

According to the report, Attalah used UN vehicles to transport terrorists to sites of planned attacks and used his travel permit issued to enable him to conduct official UN business in Syria and Lebanon where he made contact with senior officials affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in order to arrange the financing of arms for the PRC. He admitted to investigators "inter alia" that he used his car to transport terrorists and arms.

According to the document in June 2002, he drove two armed terrorists affiliated with the PRC to the Karni area in the Gaza Strip where they planned to perpetrate an attack against an IDF position there. The two told Attallah that after they completed their mission they would contact him so he could pick them up and take them home. For unclear reasons the attack was not carried out and Attalah took them home in his UN vehicle.

Later the same month, he drove two PRC members and assisted them to transfer a gas cylinder that was hidden in a citrus grove and would be later used in a terrorist attack. At the end of July he drove two PRC members to the Beit Lahiya area where they planned to perpetrate an attack. The two had in their posession three RPG bombs and three plastic pipes, which they possibly intended to use to improvise rocket launchers and the bombs as rockets.

Attalah dropped the two off and later picked them up after they called him and said their mission had been accomplished. Attalah told investigators that he was repeatedly asked by PRC officials to drive them in his UN car as it was never subjected to IDF inspections. Attalah also made use of his UN issued laissez-passer to travel to Egypt, Lebanon and Syria where he contacted PFLP officials in order to receive funds and transfer arms for the PRC terrorist activities.

In January 2002 he met with Samih Razeq known as Abu Rami a senior PFLP official who was involved in activating terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Attalah returned to the Gaza but maintained contact with Abu Rami via telephone conversations and on the Internet. Because of his links with Abu Rami he was contacted by PRC official Mahmoud Karmut (Abu Sa'ad) who asked him to request funds for the PRC to purchase arms.

Attalah carried out the instructions and told investigators that he understood from his conversation with Abu Rami that the latter would check with PFLP or Hizbullah officials. In August 2002 Abu Rami told him that the funds were not in his posession and it was decided that Attalah would travel to Egypt where they would check on the transfer. Security forces arrested Attalah as he returned from Egypt via the Rafah crossing to the Gaza Strip.

Maybe they weren't "off target"????

Tomahawks off target, forcing missile rethink
March 31 2003

About five ship-fired US Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at Iraq have fallen in Saudi Arabia, forcing planners to suspend certain routes for launches.

"In the case of Saudi Arabia, we did have a number of T-LAM (Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles) missiles that were reported down in their territory," said the US Air Force's Major General Victor Renuart from Qatar.

"We continue to use Tomahawk cruise missiles throughout the theatre. We have co-ordinated with the Saudis to hold on a couple of routes that might put them in a position where they could be close to any civilian population."

A US defence official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said "about five" Tomahawk missiles had landed in the Saudi desert without exploding.

Meanwhile in Turkey, villagers showered US soldiers with eggs and stones on Saturday when they arrived to recover pieces of a Tomahawk cruise missile which came down in eastern Turkey on Friday. It was believed to be the third US missile to land in Turkey since the Iraq war began.

Scores of people in Urfa province set upon four vehicles carrying about 10 American soldiers, breaking windows and shouting slogans against the US-led war in neighbouring Iraq, the Anatolian news agency reported.

Turkish gendarmes later intervened to break up the demonstration. There were no initial reports of injuries.

The Governor of Urfa, Sukru Kocatepe, said on Friday that a Tomahawk cruise missile, launched from US Navy ships in the Mediterranean, had fallen in the sparsely populated area, gouging a deep hole but not exploding.

The Anatolian news agency also reported that US soldiers gave about $US3600 ($6000) in cash to five villagers to cover damage caused to crops. "This amount of money does not cover the damage we have suffered but we accepted it to close the episode," said a local official, Mehmet Yilmaz. US officials were not immediately available to confirm the report.

About 90 percent of Turks oppose the war and those in the impoverished east, fearing further falls in living standards, say they have much to lose from the conflict.

Turkey opened its air space to US military aircraft and missiles after it parliament rejected Washington's request to station up to 62,000 troops along its southern border with Iraq to open a second front against the Iraqis.

In Saudi Arabia, the official SPA news agency quoted an unnamed high-ranking Saudi defence official as saying the kingdom had submitted an official complaint to the US over the latest incident there.

The official reiterated Saudi Arabia's position that it would not participate in the war with Iraq in any way, the agency said.

General Renuart said the problem with the Tomahawks occurred shortly after the launch phase of the missiles, before they began their cruise flight toward Iraq.

"Basically we have a situation where the Saudis have said, 'Can you see if we can figure out what has caused this?"' General Renuart said. "And so we have agreed with them to conduct a review of those launch procedures."

In Washington, the defence official was confident US forces at some point would regain the ability to fire missiles across Saudi territory along the suspended routes.

Major General Stanley McChrystal, the vice-director for operations for the US military's Joint Staff, told a Pentagon briefing that the suspension of the flights "really won't have a big effect".

Ships and submarines fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at land targets. The Pentagon said US forces had fired more than 675 Tomahawks during the war.

I think the media is still inflicted with a disease they've had since the Iranians held our embassy staff hostage. Who can forget that Ted Koppel's show was a child of that act of terroism? But, honestly, after about "America Held Hostage, Day 3,865", hadn't you lost interest?

Problem is that our media doesn't know what to do with the pauses. In fact, that's usually when they are the most dangerous. They have no "new news", so they get creative. And since most of them still hope to be the next Woodward & Bernstein, we often get news which is neither new, nor news.
Kofi Annan's Offense

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, March 28, 2003; Page A23

The media could use some lithium. Not since I studied bipolar disease 25 years ago have I seen such dramatic mood swings as in the coverage of the first week of the war.

It began with "shock and awe" euphoria, the hailing of a campaign of immaculate destruction. It was going to be Kosovo II, Afghanistan with embeds, another war of nearly bloodless (for us) success.

And then on Sunday, bloody Sunday, the media discovered that war is hell and descended into a mood as dark as any of Churchill's "black dogs." But the blackness came from confusing two different phenomena: war and battle. The narrow focus of the camera sees not war but individual battles, which, broadcast live, gave the home front the immediate (vicarious) experience of the confusion and terror of combat. Among the chattering classes, a mini-panic set in.

By Monday the media were in full quagmire mode. Good grief. If there had been TV cameras not just at Normandy, but after Normandy, giving live coverage of firefights at every French village on the Allies' march to Berlin, the operation would have been judged a strategic miscalculation, if not a disaster. The fact is that after a single week we find ourselves at the gates of Baghdad, servicing the longest supply lines in American history, with combat losses astonishingly low by any standard.

In the current campaign, we have suffered from two major impediments: Turkey's betrayal and our own high moral standards. Turkey's refusal to let us send the 4th Infantry Division to attack Baghdad from the north has cost us heavily. It has allowed Saddam Hussein to concentrate his defenses to the south and essentially cut in half the size of the heavily mechanized enemy he has to deal with. (The president's supplemental budget request has $1 billion in aid for Turkey. Congress should strike every penny of it.) Even more important, we've been held back by our own scrupulousness. It is safe to say there has never been a conflict in which one belligerent has taken more care not to harm the civilians of the other. And it has already cost us. We know that the "irregulars" -- the SS thugs whose profession heretofore had been torture and repression in the service of Hussein's psychopathic son Uday -- use human shields, fight in civilian disguise and attack under a fake flag of surrender. Our restraint in choice of targets and in the treatment of those who appear to be civilians and those who appear to have surrendered has cost us not just time and territory but lives.

And yet, being who we are, we do not change the rules of engagement. Which is what makes Kofi Annan's most recent pronouncement so deeply offensive. With his customary sanctimony, he said on Wednesday that he was "getting increasingly concerned by humanitarian casualties in this conflict" and then immediately cited "the report that a missile struck a market in Baghdad."

This is staggering. If indeed the market explosion was caused by a U.S. missile, Annan knows that this was both entirely unintentional and a rare exception in a campaign of astonishing discrimination and accuracy. Annan's statement is doubly disgusting because he said nothing about Iraq's use of human shields, of fake surrenders, of placing a tank in a hospital compound in Nasiriyah. He says not a word about these flagrant Iraqi violations of the laws of war. Nor does he denounce the parading of POWs on television and the apparent execution of American and British POWs. He is instead moved to speak out in response to what is at most an accident.

Tony Blair wants us to go back and deal with Annan and the rest of the United Nations when this is over. After the blood and treasure expended, why would we hand the fruits of victory to a man who tried his best to delegitimize this war before it began and now tries to cast moral taint on our conduct of it?

President Bush should tell Tony Blair, his good and courageous friend, that returning to Annan and the corrupt institution he represents is a huge mistake. It will win no hearts and minds, no more than did the futile attempt to get the second resolution out of the Security Council.

The way to win hearts and minds is not to try to appease those who wish us no good but to stay in Iraq and use the authority of the victor to build a decent and open society. We will not win the propaganda war with words. We will win it by overthrowing Hussein and exposing the nature of his barbarism -- and the shame of those who supported him and tried to shield him from the just fate American and British soldiers are trying to visit upon him today.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

This guy (Kanan Makiya) is an Iraqi who has been a part of the opposition to Saddam.

March 29

Only at TNR Online
Post date: 03.29.03
The world is now getting acquainted with the Fedayeen Saddam, the thugs who are keeping Iraqi citizens in check, most vividly right now in the cities of the south. Western estimates of their strength vary--on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put their size at "probably somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000"--but Iraqi opposition sources say they number at around 50,000, in regiments of 3,000 across Iraq's 18 provinces. They were created by Saddam's elder son Uday in 1991 with the specific purpose of countering any future intifada, especially in the predominantly Shi'ite south. (Saddam has since given control the Fedayeen over to his more stable son Qusay.) According to a former Iraqi intelligence officer--let us call him Khalid--who worked for the opposition while he was still in the security services and only made his (narrow) escape when his activities were uncovered, the organization largely recruits young teenagers, whose families are impoverished. The sanctions did a great deal to draw such jobless kids into the Fedayeen. The organization is known also to have drawn from criminal elements.

The Fedayeen training in the infamous camps of Salman Pak, Khalid says, is characterized by its intensity and its deliberate attempts, through psychological means, to isolate recruits from society at large and transform them into a fiercely disciplined and deliberately cruel force. The training instills in recruits a sense of paranoia, the feeling that the very precariousness of the regime is a personal threat to them. This is a force that sees plots against the regime everywhere, even though the regime is all-powerful over them. This paranoia soon turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the people they terrorize would gladly rip them limb from limb if they got half a chance. The Fedayeen, in other words, is a force that knows what fate awaits it after liberation. Khalid is certain that, unlike the regular army, they will therefore fight to the finish.

Khalid says the Fedayeen are armed with guns, rifles, grenades, and in some cases RPGs and mortars. They are trained in explosives and taught to fight without weapons, or with whatever they can scavenge in a city: judo, knives, hand-to-hand combat. In order to escape detection, not every Fedayeen member travels around armed. What this force seems to have done in preparation for the war is to hide weapons caches in each town, in nondescript places. When it comes time to fight, they go from place to place as civilians, locate their weapons, and surprise their targets.

Fedayeen Saddam are ubiquitous. But, Khalid says, they are frequently strangers to the towns and cities in which they operate. This is their Achilles' heel, but it is also the essential ingredient of what makes them cohere as a force whose first and foremost task is to act as an insurance policy against another intifada. Now that the war to destroy Saddam is underway, the regime is collecting on that insurance policy. Khalid got a call from a friend in the all-Shia city of Najaf on Tuesday. Khalid shouted in frustration at him, "Where is the intifada?" The American and British tanks were sitting right outside the city, and he urged his friend to get with it, as liberation had finally arrived. His friend responded, "How can I make an intifada? If I go outside the Fedayeen will kill me." He told Khalid the bloody Fedayeen are everywhere, and he was darting his eyes around in fear every time someone looked at him for too long.

The Fedayeen operate in small units, keeping in contact with one another other by radio. But their chain of command is not like that of an army. They have been trained to take cues from state television, Khalid says. If the Americans and the British were to take out Iraqi state television, there would be a sudden increase in cell phone calls among the Fedayeen, but confusion would set in and morale would diminish. Fearing retribution, they would probably try to melt away into the population in the event of a breakdown in their chain of command.

The danger is that the Americans won't know how to tell them apart from ordinary Iraqis. Indeed, rooting out such a force will be virtually impossible for anyone who does not have an intimate familiarity with Iraqi society and daily life under Saddam. The Fedayeen, Khalid says, move about stiffly, as if their military training hangs around their necks. They typically look cleaner than the rest of the people in a town. But only Iraqis will be able to judge these things, to determine who is suspicious and why. It will eventually be the nuances that give these thugs away.

Khalid says he knows how to fight these men; he says he knows how to tell one apart from the other. But extracting the thugs of Saddam's police state, and communicating with Iraqis who can help do this, is not something that can be written on a three-by-five-inch rules-of-engagement card. The opposition has a lot of people like Khalid, who grasp intuitively what would take months to teach to coalition forces, through no fault of their own.

But it does not look like Khalid is going to get his chance. When he finally escaped to the United States in 1996, the F.B.I. and immigration officials didn't believe his claims about who he was and imprisoned him for three years. Now, ironically, Khalid is trying to get out of the United States and back into Iraq. But he has no passport and is still under official scrutiny--even while the Defense Intelligence Agency routinely uses his intimate knowledge of the regime as a source of intelligence. Despite the Pentagon's pleas on his behalf, the INS will not make an exception to its rules and let him leave the country to fight the Baath in Iraq.

Snap Judgments

I never made it higher than corporal, but it doesn't take a military genius to figure out the strategy when you have air supremacy: break the back of the enemy's armor and its infantry before your big ground assault. A month's bombing worked in the last gulf war and a couple of weeks should "degrade" the Iraqi Army again.

Here is a baker's dozen of my snap judgments about this war:

1. Best gamble: jumping our guns a few days early in a daring bid to win all at once. Our air strike to kill Saddam and his gang may not have succeeded, but failing to try on the basis of a sleeper spy's tip would have been a great mistake.

2. Biggest diplomatic mistake: trusting the new Islamist government of Turkey. This misplaced confidence denied us an opening pincers movement and shocked the awesomeness out of "rapid dominance."

3. Best evidence of Saddam's weakness: his reliance on suicide bombers for media "victories." Individual self-destruction may or may not terrorize a civilian population but is not a weapon capable of inflicting decisive casualties on, or striking fear into, a powerful army. (It does vividly demonstrate the Baghdad-terrorist nexus.)

4. Most stunning surprise: the degree of intimidation of Shiites in southern cities by Saddam's son Uday's Gestapo. When Basra falls, however, fierce retribution on these thuggish enforcers by local Shia may send a message of uprising to co-religionists who make up a third of Baghdad's populace.

5. Most effective turnaround of longtime left-wing lingo: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's labeling of Uday's paramilitaries as "death squads."

6. Most profound statement from a military leader: Gen. Tommy Franks, refuting criticism of a "pause" in the ground war, said, "We have the power to be patient."

7. Most overdue revelation by the Pentagon: that Russia has long been smuggling sophisticated arms to Saddam's regime with Syria's hostile connivance. Who suppressed this damning data for a year, and to what end? And is the C.I.A. still ignorant of the transmission to Iraq through Syria of a key component in rocket propellant from China, brokered by France?

8. Most inexplicable weakness of our intelligence and air power: the inability to locate and obliterate all of Saddam's TV propaganda facilities.

9. Biggest long-run victory of coalition forces to date: the lightning seizure of southern oil fields before Saddam had a chance to ignite them. This underappreciated tactical triumph will speed Iraq's postwar reconstruction by at least a year.

10. Worst mistake as a result of State and C.I.A. interference with military planning: fearing to offend the Turks, we failed to arm 70,000 free Kurdish pesh merga in northern Iraq. Belatedly, we are giving Kurds the air, commando and missile support to drive Ansar-Qaeda terrorists out of a stronghold, but better planning would have given us a trained, indigenous force on the northern front.

11. Best military briefer: General Franks is less of a showman than the last war's bombastic Norman Schwarzkopf, but his low-key deputy, Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, is Franks's secret information weapon. Since Abizaid speaks fluent Arabic, why doesn't he hold a cool news conference with angry Arab journalists?

12. Most inspiring journalism: "embedding" is almost-full disclosure that puts Americans in close contact with local conflict, but the greatest war correspondent of this generation is not attached to any unit. He is John Burns of The Times, who is reporting with great insight, accuracy and courage from Baghdad and makes me proud to work on the same newspaper. (Among TV anchors, a lesser calling, the best organized are MSNBC's John Seigenthaler, CNN's Paula Zahn and Wolf Blitzer, and Fox's Tony Snow.)

13. Greatest wartime mysteries: What tales of special-ops derring-do await the telling? Who, in the fog of peace, will honor Iraqis inside Baghdad spotting military targets to save civilians? Will we learn first-hand of the last days of Saddam in his Hitlerian bunker? What scientists, murdered lest they point the way to germs and poison gases, left incriminating documents behind? Where are the secret files of Saddam's Mukhabarat, detailing the venal transactions with Western, Asian, Arab and Persian political and business leaders — and connections to world terror networks?

Snap judgments, these. Considered conclusions come after unconditional surrender.

Headline: NBC fires Journalist Peter Arnett for critical interview on Iraqi TV

Guess they read his resume but didn't check his references.

File this under "Yet Another Reason To Pull Out Of The UN"

When the chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission is from Libya, this is what you get:

From the Jerusalem Post
Palestinian observer to UN Human Rights Commission for calls for "elimination" of Israel
Herb Keinon Mar. 31, 2003

The Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded Sunday the recall of the Palestinian observer to the UN Human Rights Commission for calling for
the "elimination" of Israel.

Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center's representative at the 59th Human Rights Commission session currently taking place in Geneva, wrote the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello calling on him to "immediately condemn the Palestinian observer and take the necessary measures for his recall, due to his violation of the UN Charter in
calling for the 'elimination' of the state of Israel.

In addition to calling for Israel's elimination, Samuels said, Nabil Ramlawi repeatedly compared Nazism and "new Zionist Nazism," and at one
point said Zionist Nazism was worse than German Nazism.

Samuel, in his letter to de Mello, said, "this call for the elimination of Israel may reveal the true intentions of the PA, but such language
should have resulted in the immediate intervention of the session's chairperson, Libyan Ambassador Najat al-Hajjaji."

Samuels' also called on the High commissioner to "censure Ms. al-Hajjaji for her abuse of power in not restraining Ramlawi's excesses."

In a related matter, the Wiesenthal Center Monday called on the Human Rights Commission to launch a "a full and thorough investigation of
UNRWA's expenditure and employment practices" and "to establish an independent committee to restructure what has become an agent for the
perpetuation of the Middle East conflict."

Samuels, in addressing the session's debate on "the Question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including
Palestine," said that "after 55 years of stagnation it is time to ask whether UNRWA has not served to perpetuate Palestinian refugee status."

He called for a "re-examination of UNRWA, by an independent agency, to determine whether it serves the cause of peace through its statutory
responsibility for 'relief works.' Or, in contravention of its mandate and the UN Charter, is it, in fact, a prejudicial agent for the
perpetuation of conflict and the deprivation of human rights?"

Samuels said the time has come to question whether UNRWA has not served the policies of Arab countries opposed to integration of the refugees in order to stoke the ever-festering Israeli-Arab conflict.

Samuels also slammed UNRWA head Peter Hansen, who - in April 2002 - said that in Jenin Israel had perpetrated "a human catastrophe that has
few parallels in recent history."

"The Hansen story," Samuels said, "entered the annals of 'Big Lie' revisionism, exacerbating further Palestinian hatred and politicizing
UNRWA as an instrument of propaganda and incitement."

Friday, March 28, 2003

OK -- the intent of this blog is twofold:

1. Cut down on the number of junk e-mails I send to friends on a daily basis. Hey, I have a real job and that sometimes interferes with my desire to communcate with friends!

2. Gives me a place to rant to no one in particular.

I don't encourage anyone to respond ... but if you know me, fine. If you don't know me, why do you care? You weren't invited to this party, were you?