Friday, April 11 2003
IRONY OF THE YEAR: You've probably seen the latest headline from the Drudgereport quoting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as saying:

'I have absolutely no regret about my vote (against) this war. The same questions remain. The cost in human lives, the cost to our budget, probably 100 billion. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less."

Think about how foolish and naive this statement is for a moment and then think about this:

Tomorrow night, amid great pomp and circumstance at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi will receive an award. It's called the Alan Cranston Peace Award, named after the former liberal Democratic Senator from California, and it's bestowed annually by the inaptly-named Global Security Institute to "visionary leaders who, through their efforts, have advanced the opportunities to eliminate the unacceptable dangers posed by nuclear weapons."

It's a parody that almost defies belief. While American soldiers who haven't bathed or slept in days continue risking their lives in Iraq to make the world a safer place, Pierce Brosnan and the rest of the peace-at-all-costs crowd will be sipping their chardonnay and nibbling on their $250 per plate dinners, toasting Ms. Pelosi's courage and dedication to the cause of strengthening US security. "She has led in working to eliminate the threat of weapons of mass destruction by working to eliminate the weapons themselves," said Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute.

The irony is deep and rich on many levels. Cranston, who founded GSI after leaving the Senate in 1992, was tireless in his efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons which he felt were and are, to use his words, "unworthy of civilization." A noble and well-intentioned goal to be sure.

The problem with Cranston, Pelosi and many on the antiwar left isn't necessarily that they don't see the potential threat of WMD's (although some certainly don't) but that they can't face up to making the tough choices required to with the threat effectively. Here is Cranston speaking in an interview April 17, 2000, just months before his death:

"It's quite possible that if there isn't an accidental launch that could lead to a conflict, terrorists or representatives of rogue leaders like Saddam Hussein will buy or steal or bribe their way to acquire a nuclear weapon out of Russia, and that they will then have no hesitation in using it. And they won't attack us with a missile. They would attack us, as Ambassador Robert Gallucci has suggested, by sailing one bomb into San Francisco harbor or Baltimore harbor or New York harbor on a ship just sitting there. No way to know it's there. No missile has penetrated us to put it there. There it is."

This is exactly one of the threats that George W. Bush acted upon. It's one of the threats that Nancy Pelosi voted against addressing in a direct and effective way last year - the vote she is still so proud of even to this day. If GSI is truly interested in honoring "visionary leaders" dedicated to the cause of peace and security, they'd do well to give the award to President Bush instead.

QUICK, CHANGE THE SUBJECT: I'm really impressed. The New York Times op-ed page expended a lot of energy, ink and cynicism developing the "Iraq is going to be a military quagmire" position. Now that the events of the past week have demolished this argument, they are moving seamlessly and with lightning speed to the "Iraq is going to be a political quagmire," brushing right past Wednesday's historic military victory with the glib assertion that "we always knew we'd win the war quickly."

Thus it is with absolutely no shame we see the following comments today:

"Perhaps it's churlish to say this so soon after an impressive military victory, but we may have underestimated the risk of chaos in postwar Iraq." - Nick Kristof, New York Times

"But there is a pattern to the Bush administration's way of doing business that does not bode well for the future a pattern of conquest followed by malign neglect."

"But after the triumph, when it comes time to take care of what they've won, their (the Bush Administration's) attention wanders, and things go to pot." - Paul Krugman, New York Times

The Johnny Apple Syndrome is running wild on 43rd Street in Manhattan.

INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU IS BACK: Dr. Blix never ceases to amaze, telling the Spanish newspaper El Pais:

"I now believe that finding weapons of mass destruction has been relegated, I would say, to fourth place, which is why the US and Britain are now waging war on Iraq. Today the main aim is to change the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein."

I'm mystified as to why Dr. Blix can't see the obvious: that regime change was necessitated to a very large degree by Saddam Hussein's perpetual defiance of the will of the international community and his unwillingness to fully and unconditionally disarm. Why can a third-grader understand this but a PhD can't? - T. Bevan 8:16 am

Wednesday, April 9 2003
A NEW DAY: The headlines this morning are truly astonishing. It looks as if we've reached the tipping point of Saddam's regime and even though the job is far, far from over, you can't help but marvel at some of the images and stories now being beamed out of Baghdad.

Is this complete vindication for the prowar camp? Of course not. WMD's have yet to be verified and Saddam's fate - though not a critical determinant of the war's success or legitimacy - remains uncertain.

What we are beginning to see, however, is confirmation of the moral, humanitarian cause for war. It's the argument that the antiwar camp, in their rush to condemn the bloodthirsty Bush administration, failed to acknowledge or address - to their great and lasting discredit.

And while some of the images of this brief war have indeed been horrible and gut wrenching, the pictures we are now beginning to see of Iraqi's dancing the in the streets of Baghdad are every bit as compelling - perhaps even more so - in an uplifting, positive, and hopeful way. There is nothing quite like watching an entire country shed tyranny and taste freedom. It's a powerful, moving sight. As we watch the evolving story of the liberation of the Iraqi people, I suspect the humanitarian argument for war will continue to grow and in the end will provide more than ample justification for action in Iraq. - T. Bevan 8:42 am

Monday, April 7 2003
FOX-JAZEERA: You don't have to look very far these days to find evidence of just how flustered traditional media are by the rapid rise and continued dominance of Fox News.

The latest round of carping (quite predictably, I might add) arrives as "objective media critics" use their considerable talents to compare Fox News' coverage of the war to that of al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arab propaganda machine.

Here is Steve Johnson in the Chicago Tribune on Friday:

Yes, Fox might be said to be the American answer to Al Jazeera, seeking to put every nugget of information in the best possible American light.

Johnson spends half his time deriding Fox for its war coverage and the other half offering either grudging praise or equivocations about similar issues at other networks. All in all a very unimpressive critique.

But you've got to travel about two thousand miles west to get to the really uninhibited partisan hack job, courtesy of Hugh Hewitt's favorite punching bag, the Los Angeles Times. Howard Rosenberg served up a real wild-eyed, foamy-mouthed account on Friday:

On the screen are news anchors and reporters freely delivering sharp opinions about the war and ridiculing opposing points of view.

Indeed, spin here is as loud as explosions rocking Baghdad.

The coverage is repellently one-sided, even nasty and vitriolic at times, as if Western journalism's traditional rules of objectivity don't apply.

But wait a minute. That's not Al Jazeera, it's the Fox News Channel.

When it comes to slanting news, in other words, much of what Al Jazeera delivers to its mostly Arab audience is no less fair and balanced than what U.S. viewers receive far too often from their own 24-hour news channels, Fox being the worst offender in embedding opinion (inevitably hawkish and ultra-conservative) in so-called straight coverage.

At least that applies to the chunk of Al Jazeera coverage I watched.

In fact, I found much of Al Jazeera to be quite straight.

Only an employee of the LA Times could write that last sentence. The notion that al-Jazeera is offering a straight take on the war is laughable in the extreme - even the editor of the London Arabic Daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat knows it's mostly fantasy-based propaganda. Rosenberg's column does a better job of demonstrating his own far-left bias to readers than convincing anyone of a blatant right-wing bias at Fox News.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: This account from Basra demonstrates just how volatile and unpredictable the uprisings the coalition is hoping for can be:

Shia Flats slum poured on to the streets in support of the British attack. Some shouted and cheered, greeting the British soldiers with waves, thumbs up and smiles.

Others wrought vengeance upon their oppressors, surrounding and attacking the fleeing Fedayin. A crowd descended upon one paramilitary, striking furiously at him and departed, leaving his lifeless body on the street. Gangs of looters appeared, seizing seemingly anything that was moveable from what remained of the Baath party buildings.

It is going to be extraordinarily difficult to control the three decades worth of pent up hostility in some segments of the population to prevent looting, chaos, and wholesale retribution.

WHAT BUSH OWES BLAIR: I don't think there is any doubt that the invasion of Iraq would have been made vastly more difficult - perhaps even impossible - without the help and support of Tony Blair. He risked a tremendous amount in backing the US, though I suspect he and Bush will both reap huge long-term political benefits for having the foresight and courage to push forward in disarming Hussein and liberating the Iraqi people.

That being said, the question now is just how much the US owes Blair in return. Bush has already stepped back into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at least in part at the urging of Blair. Bush is also taking a direct involvement in Northern Ireland and there is a good deal of optimism in the British government that his involvement may lead to a breakthrough.

Where I think Bush will draw the line, however, is at the UN and its involvement in postwar Iraq reconstruction. Blair is on record as wanting a significant UN presence, though you have to secretly wonder how badly Blair cares about rapprochement with France after Chirac's efforts to hamstring Blair's administration and strong arm his way to greater EU control. Still, given what we know about this president, I would expect Bush to take a tough line on letting the UN back in the reconstruction game. The left will call this a "fit of pique" from the immature cowboy President. The rest of America will probably see it as a lesson well earned - and hopefully well learned. - T. Bevan 7:43 am

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