Saturday, April 12, 2003
We have friends visiting from out of town this weekend. Don't expect much in the way of blogging until tomorrow afternoon.
Friday, April 11, 2003
Quoted by Vice President Cheney, slammed by know-nothing Maureen Dowd (or was it her dopple-ganger Anna Quindlen or local wanna-be Marjorie Egan?), and the featured interview for the next Limbaugh Letter. Not bad for a classicist who specializes in military history. It is deserved. He has written almost nothing not worth reading. I particularly recommend An Autumn of War and Carnage and Culture.
It is only drizzling in Salem, but it looks like significant rain in Boston. Since this is the start of a nor'easter, the game may not start at all. This morning, the meterologists said the rain should hold off until 6 or so, meaning that the game would be done by the time it started. Aside from the rain, it is might cold in Boston, with a strong east wind producing a wind chill of 22 degrees. Not exactly nice weather for a ball game. A look at the Accuweather radar tells me it is going to rain for a while, then we may have a break by 4 or 5. I don't know if they will keep a crowd waiting in the cold that long, even for Opening Day.
Update: The game has been postponed. There is a 1:05 game that has been pushed into the schedule for tomorrow, making it a day/night double-header. But the prospects for tomorrow early afternoon are not good either.
The Brits announced that they are thinning their forces in southern Iraq. HMS Ark Royal and her battle group are planning to head home, along with some RAF Tornadoes, and some Army personnel. Things have stabilized, the Brits don't have that much to do around Basra any longer, and this was a huge commitment for the UK, given a decade of budget cuts and trimming of the military. There will probably be more cuts now that the Iraqi threat is terminated.
Our people are also starting to think the "H" word. As Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk fell, it looks as if the heavy combat may be over. If that is the case, some of people who have been there for a while would like to go home. Sporadic gunfights are the job of military police or Iraqi police to deal with.
But there remain important jobs to be done. Tikrit may or may not end up being a significant battle. Our POWs need to be found. WMDs need to be searched for. Regime leaders need to be rounded up. And then there is Syria...
CBS Radio is reporting that military families in Michigan Alabama, Georgia, and California have received calls purporting to be from the Red Cross informing them that their family member in the service has been killed in action in Iraq. This is a hoax, and a really sick one. The Department of Defense informs the families of the fallen. And they send a representative to the house, if at all possible. They don't inform families by telephone.
The peace maggots just have nothing better to do with their time than torment the families of our nation's heroes.
I reported on one of these incidents last week. Now it taking on larger dimensions.
All eight of Saddam Hussein's doubles are gathered in a bunker in downtown Baghdad waiting anxiously for news. Tariq Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister walks in ...
"Well boys there's good news and bad news. The good news is that Saddam's still alive, so you all still have jobs."
One of the doubles spoke up, "What's the bad news"?
"He's lost an arm."
Frugal Fanny's discount womens' clothier is calling it quits. So you can add Frugal Fanny's to Bradlees, Caldor, Lauriats Books, Lechmere, Ann & Hope, Purity Supreme, Finast, King's, Mars, JJ Newberry's, and a host of other New England stores that could not survive.
"I haven't seen looting like what is going on in Baghdad since the Clintons were leaving the White House."
San Antonio Archbishop Patrick Flores has ordered an anti-war priest to restore a US flag to the front of his parish church.
Quietly, in some places, parts of the American hierarchy have been pruning back the more aggressively anti-American activists from their ranks. Portland, Oregon Archbishop John Vlazny fired his "peace and justice" coordinator (why does an archdiocese need such a creature in the first place?) after he sent e-mails to hundreds urging anti-war protests and urging that President Bush be indicted as a war criminal. Archbishop Vlazny insists that budget cuts were the reason for the dismissal, but he has said that there is no place for divisiveness now.
Another good sign is the disinvitation of pacifist Father Frank Cordaro from participation in a memorial service and parish mission in Des Moines.
If only the hierarchy had acted as aggressively twenty years ago towards the perverts in the ranks!
Today is the traditional feast of Pope Saint Leo the Great. But his feast was moved to November 10th.
This is to keep the Turks happy. More troops are being rushed to the Northern Front, probably the reserve brigade of the 82nd Airborne, or perhaps part of the 101st, the only units with enough mobility to get there very quickly.
You will notice that I am using Fox's list, even though it does not include the equally heroic British dead.
104 American troops have died in the war so far.
31 Britons have fallen. I had to get British information from the MOD. The British press sources, at least the ones I checked, don't list their casualties regularly.
Ten suspects in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 escaped from a Yemeni prison in what can only be described as highly suspicious circumstances.
Yemen is a mess, with a weak government, and police and security forces highly sympathetic to al Qaeda and thoroughly corrupt. Yemen needs to be held to account for this outrageous lapse. If they don't clean up their act, it ought to be done for them.
Eason Jordan, the chief news executive of CNN, writes in today's New York Times about his and CNN's long history of hushed-up knowledge of the unbelievable brutality of Saddam's regime.
Jordan admits that CNN has known all along about torture and murder conducted by the Iraqi regime. He says CNN, and other news organizations, hushed up the seemingly countless stories for the safety of their personnel in Iraq.
For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.
The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways.
And even more:
I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.
Jordan says he is haunted by these events. He should be haunted by his silence. He wants us to think that he just rejected Hamlet's option, "To take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them." He just saved his personnel and his relationship and access in Iraq by clamming up and doing nothing. What a corrupt bargain!
If he and other news organizations with similar knowledge had spoken out vigorously and relentlessly, American public opinion might have forced even the dim Clinton Administration to end Saddam's tyranny. He might have saved countless Iraqis and others from systematic brutalization, torture, murder.
I won't even go into his failure in the journalist's duty to inform the public of important information. He kept the pro-Saddam Peter Arnett on the payroll until quite recently. How many times has CNN, since 1991, given air time to the lies of those who supported the regime? Knowing what was really going on in Iraq? What a disgrace!
So Jordan thinks he can absolve himself from complicity by blurting out his knowledge now. I can't even frame my disgust for this attitude. It is beyond words and my poor powers of description. CNN is beneath contempt. CNN has innocent blood on its hands; lots of innocent blood. And its boss thinks he is free of guilt just because he tells us after the fact.
Ah, baseball is truly back in New England. The Red Sox open at Fenway today. They started with the longest season-opening road-trip in 102 years of Red Sox history. It seemed that winter would never end. The long delay in bringing the summer game back to Boston just made it seem worse. Even with the return of the spirit of summer, we may have a two-day nor'easter bringing cold rain that is almost certain to rain-out tomorrow's game (and maybe even today's).
The piquant and vaguely nauseating aroma of Fenway Franks being cooked fills the nostril. Once again, one feels the envy caused by the absurd greeness of Fenway's pampered grass (while the rest of the grass in New England is yellow, or a dead-looking grey clay-like thing you see after the snow melts). Today, we get to see the Green Monster crowned for the first time with more seating (though not quite ready for occupation today). Pine tar rags will be suddenly wrapped around wooden bats. Clouds of rosin will be raised by pitchers on the mound taking up and throwing down the rosin bag. One can already hear the cries of the vendors ("Get your ice cold Coke, heah") and the predictable jeers and cheers from the crowd in the bleachers.
And, as usual, the Sox are in second place to the Yankees. Three games back in the loss column, in fact, with a 6-4 record. Still, that is not a bad road-trip.
This year, the Red Sox family is absent some long-familiar faces. Ted Williams, Ned Martin, Heywood Sullivan, and Dick O'Connell all died since last Opening Day. We call them to mind as baseball's seasonal pattern returns to New England. They may not be here watching today, but others are. Perhaps there will be, in the crowd, or watching the game on television today, some child, who, when he has entered into the decrepitude of age, will be the general manager of the next Boston Red Sox World Championship team.
But, hey. The weeping willows are starting to turn yellow. Spring bulbs are coming up out of the ground after a vicious, brutal winter. Bird song fills the still-chilled air (the wind chill yesterday was 29, despite sun and it is only getting up to the low-mid 40s today). Pedro Martinez (he of the greedy contract blather this week) starts at 2:05 this afternoon. The Red Sox are playing at Fenway today (if the rain holds off). Baseball is truly back, even if you have to dress like Nanook of the North to watch the game at the park.
The Iraqi 5th Corps, based around Mosul, has agreed to surrender. US forces are deciding whether to treat them as POWs, or just let them go home. Given the roving bands of armed men roaming the country already, I would hold these guys as POWs, at least until the situation grows more stable. There is no point adding to the number of armed vagabonds infesting the country.
US & Kurdish forces are reported to be on the outskirts, though some Kurdish forces may be in the city already. Mosul is the third largest city in Iraq (after Baghdad and Basra). Once Mosul is secure, that will leave only Tikrit in enemy hands as far as major population centers go.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Some enemy forces around Mosul are turning in their weapons. US forces (a mix of 173rd Airborne Brigade and special forces) and Kurdish Peshmerga units are moving towards Mosul. Iraqi resistance on the Northern Front seems to be collapsing. So it comes down to Tikrit and the Syrian border area.
There are reports that many of the forces sniping at US troops are not Iraqi, but "volunteers" from other Moslem countries. They are being exterminated little by little.
4 Marines seriously injured according to CNN.
Update: There are now reports of US deaths in the human bomb attack at the Baghdad checkpoint. The perpetrator was probably a "volunteer" from another Moslem country.
Dad died in 1989 (December 31), and Mum in 1998 (September 23).
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
God rest them.
FrontPage Magazine's Lowell Ponte has come up with some career suggestions for the Iraqi Minister of Disinformation.
National Review's Dave Kopel reminds us that, in Norway, April 9th is not known as Victory in Baghdad Day, but as the anniversary of the Nazi invasion in 1940, made possible by the disarmament and pacifism encouraged by Quisling, who the Nazis picked to run occupied Norway.
There are 133 confirmed dead so far.
Requiescat in pace.
CNN reports (link doesn't work) that a single MOAB has been deployed to Iraq. It is not known if there are plans to use it. The bomb deployed may be the only prototype still in existence. Production models are yet to be finished.
Gavin Hewitt with the 3rd Infantry Division reports continued fighting on the west bank of the Tigris. The Republican Guard seems to have left large caches of ammunition all over the place, to facilitate guerilla resistance. The troops are blowing them up as they encounter them (the ammunition for an AK-47 is not compatible with the M-16, so they can't just take it and use it themselves).
Kirkuk is the ancestral home of the Kurds. Saddam expelled them from that city with great slaughter. I just heard an embedded CBS Radio reporter saying she was with Peshmerga forces within 18 miles of the city. A BBC embed says that she is with Kurds who have entered the old Kurdish section of the city. Watch out for Turkish reaction. The BBC is reporting that Kirkuk has fallen.
Both British Airways and Air France will discontinue flights. The aircraft's popularity never recovered after the crash in France.
They were called up to deal with civil defense requirements if Saddam decided to lob Scuds at them. So far, none have come their way, so the reservists are being sent home.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
He verified that Iraqi officials have fled to Syria. He suspects that material, like WMD, may have also flowed over the border.
The question is, will the new Iraqi government demand that Syria turn over fugitive Saddamites to it so that they can stand trial?
What will happen when Assad, Jr. tells them to pound sand?
Will that be the casus belli for the next stage of the war on terrorism? It took way too long to gin up a casus belli for Iraq. Let us hope that the next stage can be undertaken more expeditiously, while the troops are still building up in the theater (there are two armored divisions still in the pipeline for Iraq, the plan apparently being to relieve the troops who have borne the brunt of this war with fresh troops).
There are, of course, Iran and North Korea (and Libya and Cuba) still to deal with. But the Iranian political situation is so delicate that the most subtle pressure from the US (diplomatic, economic, propaganda, clandestine) could send the government of the mullahs crashing down. The people there are seriously chafing under their rule. There are huge demostrations almost every day. The situation is very volatile.
North Korea is a Pandora's Box, because there is little reason to believe that China would not stand up with it now as it did in 1950. So, maybe a policy of aggressive containment would be best.
Libya is child's play. A single heavy division with some air power, naval support, and some special forces could take care of Khadafy's regime in two weeks.
And then there is Cuba. Castro is the archetypal communist tyrant of the 20th century, what Paul Johnson called the Bandung Generation. He is currently taking advantage of the US' attention being drawn elsewhere to crack down on dissidents. A reckoning with Cuba will have to come eventually. Maybe we will be lucky, and Castro will die very soon. When that happens, a popular uprising is inevitable. As with Iran, we may not need to do anything about Cuba ourselves. But we should watch the situation in case it starts to turn into another Cambodia.
Actually, he called it a game. His fate is interesting. Since he will shortly be declared persona non grata, where does he go? To iraq, to probably stand some sort of charges as a functionary of the Saddam regime? To Syria, where he can hang out with Tariq Azziz, Baghdad Bob, etc.? Libya? Iran?
Glad to see that the peace maggots are not going to let reality interfere with their view of the world.
The US' latest evil was going into Iraq. Saddam is a good guy, a modern Saladin. There were no torture chambers in Iraq. They did not execute US prisoners of war. There were no chemical weapons in Iraq. All the US wants is Iraq's oil. The Ba'athists did not string children up from lamp posts in the streets of Basra. Iraq has not sponsored terrorism. The plane at Salman Pak is just to train Iraqis on how to overcome hijackers. The Ansar al Islam in northrn Iraq has nothing to do with al Qaeda. The people of Iraq will rise up and crush the Anglo-Saxon invaders. The US purposefully singled out women, the elderly, children (especially orphans), and foreign journalists for bombing. There was no prison in Baghdad where children were held. The people of Iraq love Saddam and deeply appreciate the support the American and European peace movement has given Iraq. Iraq is winning the war. The US is about to institute a draft so that we can continue the war effort. The US is the focus of evil in the modern world. Everything the US does is illegitimate. We deserved to be attacked on September 11th. And if, somehow, the US wins, it just does not deserve to. It is illegitimate. The US cheated. The US' imperialism and militarism should slide into the dustbin of history right away.
That is right guys. Just keep believing that. I'll see if the doctors can get you more lithium.
The great Dedham Federalist was the most eloquent and dogmatic conservative voice of the founding period.
Read Ames' essay, The Republican No.2, here.
Read Gregory Wolfe's essay on Ames here.
The Iraqi civilians needed some help from a U.S. Marine M-88 Armored Recovery Vehicle and its crew. There was a bit of tension as some shots were heard a few minutes before the statue's collapse. But the scene of jubilant and freed Iraqis pummeling the statue once it was on the ground was a moment like the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Fighting is still going on in parts of Baghdad. But it is not of strategic importance. One recalls the German holdouts in Paris as the city fell. Casualties will happen in the kind of fighting that is to come (I recall that my own father was wounded in the back by a German sniper in the town of Weissenfels in April, 1945 a day or so after the town was said to have been cleared). It will take some days to really secure the city. It is a large city, the size of L.A. So there are many opportunities for urban resistance by individuals and small groups. But the battle is won. April 9th ought to become an important day for celebration in the history of the Iraqi people.
On to Tikrit, Kirkuk, and Mosul.
Sign held by Iraqi civilians in downtown Baghdad.
Waiting for the civilians to bring down the huge statue of Saddam in central Baghdad, while US Marines look on. What a great day for human freedom!
Mosul may fall soon, especially once news of the collapse in Baghdad reaches Saddam's troops on the Northern Front.
The danger here now is not so much the Iraqis as an anti-Kurdish intervention by our "ally" Turkey, which does not want the Kurds to control a major city like Mosul, as that would lend impetus to the creation of an independent Kurdistan, which would probably try to take some Turkish territory and would take the allegiance of Turkish Kurds.
There are currently over 4,000 serving, with more than 1700 in the Army. They can be useful, but the grenade attack on the officers of the 101st in Kuwait by Sargeant Akbar make it clear that they need to be monitored very carefully.
The regime's control in Baghdad seems to have collapsed. There are reports of government workers shredding their identity cards. No one wants to admit being an Iraqi government official. That would make finding someone to offer a formal surrender of the city a problem.
We are up to 127 confirmed dead.
Requiescat in pace.
Baghdad Bob has made himself scarce. Iraqi TV is off the air. Even the handlers of the foreign reporters did not show up for work today.
It went down on Sunday.
Looters are taking to the streets. US forces are still pre-occupied with hunting down the last pockets of Saddam loyalists. But cheering crowds are starting to appear on the streets. The US presence in Baghdad is being recognized as liberation by the inhabitants. People are burning pictures of Saddam. One fellow was seen hitting a picture of Saddam with his shoe, which is considered a great insult among Iraqis. People seem to understand that the days of Saddam and the Ba'ath Party are over.
Civil order has yet to be restored. There are no police on the streets. Once the last resistance is finished, and more troops can be brought to the city, order will have to be restored. Right now, Baghdad is a captured city where the occupiers have not yet made their presence felt throughout its extent. Think of Cuidad Roderigo and Badajoz after the British stormed the fortifications, but without the looting from the attacking forces.
The fighting is moving north to Tikrit, which may hold out for some time.
I don't know if we got Saddam (the British say not), but there seems to be no direction to the resistance that still exists. Expect to see the Kurds make progress on the Northern Front, too.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
No surprise. Most of the CC board is probably sympathetic to VOTF. They are, of course, defying Bishop Lennon, who ordered them not to accept the donation. But what will Bishop Lennon do about it? Nothing. No one is really in charge in the Archdiocese, and everyone knows that. There will be no consequences.
My own view is that it does deprive units of many of its reservist members. But it also makes people appreciate those who have served in uniform. For years I have seen declining numbers attending Memorial Day parades. Some of that may rub off on re-enactors. But I hope the enthusiasm that people should feel for those serving our country is not transferred to us.
Many people don't realize that the re-enactors you see on Lexington Green, or near Gettysburg are not "real" soldiers putting on a display for the public. If they think that we are, it is a tribute to the standards of training and conduct that are observed in good units. But no, the guys in the re-enactments are mostly not part of the military of either the US or the UK. They are hobbyists, people with a strong interest in history and military matters (strong enough to sleep on straw in tents in October, to march miles and miles, to learn how to drill and how to care for a uniform and weapon, and pay out tons of money and time for the opportunity).
Many tourists have been surprised that groups I have been a member of are not actually from the British Isles. They can tell the moment we speak. If you can't do a really convincing British accent (and I can't) you don't do it. It would just be hokey. There are about two dozen people in the UK who re-enact the American Revolution. Once in a while, some of them come over and join us for battles. No. The guys in uniform, whether they are British redcoats, Massachusetts militia, Civil War Zoaves, Wehrmacht panzergrenadiers, or even Roman auxiliaries, are just guys from the neighborhood. They are lawyers, realtors, librarians, government workers, electricians, retirees, teachers, software engineers, actors, journalists, small busninessmen, and students.
Many are reservists, who get to take their interest in military matters into another century and into a less structured environment. But the reservists make up, at most, a quarter of most re-enactment groups. Many of the rest of us, for one reason or another, decided against a military career.
I know that this April, I will be thinking of friends in both the US and the British Armies who are serving in Iraq. Thankfully, none have been casualties. I pray that this continues to be the case and that they all come home safely.
That is just a mile or so from the base of the peninsula created by the bend in the Tigris. Opposite that peninsula is the 3rd Infantry in the New Palace, Parade Ground, and Zawra Park. They are very close to linking up. There seems to be an industrial/commercial area called Al Wahdah between the Rasheed Airport and the river. This really useful map of Baghdad helps follow developments on the ground.
This is the first time in this war I can remember this happening. If it turns out that his crew did get Saddam, is it a good idea to make this pilot's identity known? Does this not just make him, and possibly his family, a target for Saddam loyalists or al Qaeda in the future?
Syria, Libya, Cuba, Iran, or North Korea?
My vote is Libya. It is not militarily strong enough to be much of a threat. It would be a two-week job for an armored divison to take over the inhabitable part of the country. Whether Khadafy had any responsibility for September 11th or not, we still owe him for Pan Am 108.
Though North Korea needs watching, taking it out ultimately involves China. Therefore a containment policy works best there. What a coincidence that every missile shipment out of North Korean ports bound for one of the other rogue states somehow mysteriously sinks in open ocean with the loss of all hands and without communicating with anyone!
Syria is tempting, especially if it is hosting members Saddam's regime or some of his WMD, as well as sending military aid and funneling more terrorists to Iraq. Its ties to terrorists are indisputable. And since the forces are in the neighborhood already...
Every encouragement should be given to the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs. With luck, we will not need to do anything about it ourselves.
Cuba, of course, would be sweet. The elimination of one of the last genuine communist satraps would be a huge benefit to the cause of human freedom. Castro is in the process of an anti-democratic crackdown. The situation there will have to be monitored carefully. If it deteriorates and starts to shape up as another Cambodia, we should not hesitate to take decisive action.
The ultimate result of September 11th will be the elimination of all of these old Soviet client states who have survived their side losing the Cold War to become major rogue states. Given the threat that al Qaeda poses to us, we can no longer tolerate the existence of these rogue regimes that might help it.
The tank fire on the Palestine Hotel was part of the US response to it.
He wants suicide attacks on Moslem countries supporting us.
The find has not been analyzed yet. But all the soldiers in the room had burning eyes as soon as the barrel was opened, and the soldier who opened it had skin injuries to his hands. From CBS Radio News.
Not only is the 3rd ID attacking across the Tigris (to the eastern bank) but the Marines are pushing up from the south and east to link up with the 3rd. Lots of chatter because the Palestine Hotel was hit (sniper fire from the building), as well as the al-Jezeerah office.
The confirmed dead now number 122.
Requiescat in pace.
McCormack repeatedly ignored her advice to remove pervert priests or let parishioners know about allegations between 1992 and 1994. Her testimony is probably true, though it does sound rather self-serving.
Whether she advised against what McCormack did in Law's name or not, it is certain that McCormack bears a huge burden of guilt and shame for allowing pervert priests to continue in active parish ministry. It is also clear that he systematically covered up for pervert priests, some of whom were old seminary classmates and friends, like Shanley, Geoghan, and Birmingham, almost from the time he got out of the seminary until 2002, in both Boston and New Hampshire.
It is likewise clear that he is the worst serving ordinary bishop in the US and should have the dignity to go on his own, before the pack of wolves (righteous wolves, in this case) grabs hold and pulls him down.
Once we are done in Iraq, some of the forces will need to go back to Afghanistan to finish the job there.
We got the pilot out. He's OK. We don't know the cause of the crash yet.
Not much of it, but enough to be a nuisance. And enough to remind us that "April is the cruelest month." In my travels yesterday, I saw no daffodils, no tulips, no forsythia, no weeping willows, no butterflies, no warm breezes, no sunshine: it might as well be No-vember.
Tikrit is Saddam's tribal area. It is fiercely loyal, since Saddam's administration has been the best thing that ever happened for the economy of Tikrit. His most trusted killers come from Tikrit.
The CIA is saying that there is a "strong chance" that we got Saddam and both of his sons in a bombing raid last night. A large number of Ba'ath Party officials were in a bunker under a restauraunt inwhat is described as a residential section of Baghdad that was on the receiving end of 4 bunker-buster bombs.
But we have heard this song before. If you want to be sure you get him, when you know where he is, quickly mount a commando raid on a battalion level on the site he is believed to be. Have the special forces kill everyone there with small arms fire. That way, there is an identifiable corpse in our custody at the end of the process. Turning Saddam (or Osama bin Laden, for that matter) into dust just creates uncertainty as to his fate. That makes cooperation from those who lived under Saddam's influence harder to get.
Monday, April 07, 2003
Captain Benjamin Sammis, 29, Rehobeth, U.S. Marine Corps
Specialist Matthew Boule, 22, Dracut, U.S. Army
1st Lieutenant Brian McPhillips, 25, Pembroke, U.S. Marine Corps
Requiescat in pace.
Once in the link, click on the US Troops Find Possible Chemical Warheads Site link. You will hear (turn up your volume), a 4- minute detailed report from an NPR reporter on the discovery by the 101st of not just trace elements of chemical weapons, but warheads full of sarin and mustard gas loaded onto missiles ready to fire.
The missiles are medium range BM-21s, and are delivered by the equivalent of the MLRS system, a truck-mounted missile launcher. This is the "modern" (they were first deployed in 1964) equivalent of the World War II "Stalin's Organ" system. The rockets are 122MM
The anchor identifies the range of the missiles as 300 miles, but that is wrong. They have a range of less than 12 miles. These are tactical weapons.
I guess Hans Blix & Co. just missed these.
The latest brave act by a regiment with a long and distinguished history. The Black Watch fought at Fontenoy, Ticonderoga, Bushy Run, Long Island, Bussaco, Waterloo, and countless battles on the fringes of the Empire in the 19th century, as well as just about every major battle of World Wars I and II.
An unbroken tradition of epidemic bravery under fire and unshakeable steadiness has marked the Black Watch for more than 250 years.
This reminds me of the scene in Band of Brothers when the 101st captures Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgarten.
Some men were exposed to low levels of the agent. They are being treated, and should be OK.
It looks as if Saddam's universe is getting smaller and smaller. Soon, it may be reduced to the area around Tikrit.
We have 110 confirmed dead, so far.
Requiescat in pace.
Still tentative. There are still some pockets of resistance. But the city is coming under British control bit by bit.
The journalists are staying at the Palestine Hotel this year.
But the 3rd ID may have found a WMD facility south of Hindiyah, according to Reuters.
I saw the other day that the temp in D.C. was in the 70s, and that the cherry blossoms are blooming. Boston is having a cold spring. As of the other day, there was nary a sign of forsythia, and no daffodils yet. The weeping willows are still fairly bare, too. At least we are not in a drought anymore.
Tanks and APCs from the 3rd Infantry Division raided Baghdad again, and this time took the Information Ministry and one of Saddam's palaces on the banks of the Tigris. The Iraqi Minister of Propaganda could not be reached by Allied soldiers for his comment on their occupation of his office, which is rather hard to reconcile with his claims that we were defeated at the airport, and pushed back 100 miles from the city.
Some troops took showers in the gold-plated bathrooms of Saddam's palace. The hot water was not working, however.
We are loath to occupy the city full-time, until, I'm guessing, the 4th ID is on the ground in strength. That would give us the operational flexibility to occupy parts or all of the city. So until then, we will probably continue to raid into the city, crushing whatever opposition we find. Better that the resistance be crushed now than after we settle into an occupation routine. Also, while we don't establish firm control, but continue to wipe out the regime's loyalists as we find them, this gives the inhabitants of Baghdad themselves a chance to settle scores with the regime, which would save us a lot of trouble after the war. The problem, of course, is that we don't want the Iraqis to get too much of a taste for lawlessness. Also, how many soldiers' lives do we want to hazard on these non-decisive operations? At some point, fairly soon, we have to get serious and just take the place. Risking lives on publicity stunts is not worth it.
Well, the war crimes tribunal will have one less defendant. Chemical Ali, a cousin of Saddam who earned his sobriquet by carrying out Saddam's orders to gas thousands of Kurds in 1988, was found dead in his palace near Basra by British troops. A few days ago, Allied aircraft put two smart bombs through the window of the building. He had been in charge of the defense of southern Iraq. No wonder the defense of Basra has collapsed so much in the last few days.
Good riddance to bad trash.
God may have mercy on him. One never knows about these things with absolute certainty. But if I were a betting man, I would say Hell has a new inhabitant. Not that any of us actually merits Heaven, but some few by their actions seem to merit Hell. Of course last second reconciliation, etc. could have gone on. I'm no believer in universal salvation. But I am loath to think that Hell is full of half-hearted sinners. After all, Purgatory is there for most of us. But those who murder thousands without the least sign of repentance would seem to be handy candidates for Hell. But only God knows for sure.
Sunday, April 06, 2003
The city is encircled, more or less. This does not mean that we have continuous lines all the way around the city so that no one can get in or out. We don't have enough troops on the ground to do that. But it does mean that anybody who wants to get out of the city by road will have to go through our security checkpoints.
US aircraft were responsible.
Enemy resistance has been tough. The Black Watch (the old 42nd Regiment of Foot), the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (the old Scots Greys), and the Royal Regiment of Fusileers, which incorporates the traditions of the old 5th Regiment of Foot (Northumberland Fusileers), 6th Regiment of Foot, 7th or Royal Fusileers Regiment of Foot, and the 20th Regiment of Foot are all in the thick of the fighting.
Requiescat in pace.
Well, it may have seemed like it, especially to those doing the shooting. But we didn't hold the ground to confirm any of it. So the likely result was more like a few hundred, not "thousands." In war, things are seldom as good as they first appear, or as bad. And all young soldiers think everyone they shot at was not only hit, but killed.
In fact, body counts are irrelevant. War is not about how many of them we killed compared to how many we lost. It is about imposing your will on the enemy, and forcing him to accept the conditions you set for the resumption of peace, in this case, absolute, unconditional surrender. If you can force the enemy to accept that without losing or killing a single man, so much the better. If you do it losing many more than your enemy, not so good, but still satisfactory. If you can't force him to accept your conditions, or wipe him out, you lose.
This is the suspected terrorist training facility, with the mock-up of the jet to train hijackers.
This time it was NBC's David Bloom, who died of a blood clot while travelling with the 2nd Battalion, 315th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized), 3rd infantry Division. Like Atlantic Monthly's Michael Kelly who died earlier this week in a vehicle accident, he leaves a wife and children.
Requiescat in pace.
Formerly Passion Sunday, before it was combined with Palm Sunday.
The Third Battalion, Royal horse Artillery Regiment found a warehouse near Basra where unspeakable things appear to have gone on for quite some time.
And yet more recent atrocities were discoverd as the British moved into Basra itself:
Yet these are not isolated horrors. Last night allegations of the torture and murder of dozens of children by Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party also came to light, with bodies discovered hanging from street lighting.
The killings were carried out after the party headquarters in Basra was bombed last week, said some Iraqi women, one of whom's niece had been killed. Families believed to have been aiding coalition forces were targeted.
Interpreter Vanessa Lough, formerly attached to the UN and based in Basra said: 'In one street alone they said three children could be seen hanging from the lamp posts, and around the corner one child lay burnt on the ground.
The more realistic of the peace maggots concede that this stuff has always gone on in Iraq, but say it it none of our business.
In my view, if we can do something about situations like this without igniting World War III, and it is in our interests to do so, we should. Who knows what we will eventually find in North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Libya, and Syria? Their time will come. And then we will see the full extent of the blood on the hands of the communists and their former allied client states.
Update: US experts think the remains may date fromthe Iran-Iraq war, and may be bodies of iraqi soldiers killed in that war. But that does not explain the children being hanged from lampposts, if that actually happened. In a situation like this, terrible things are at first reported. They may prove to be not as bad as thought at first. And the Iraqi regime does not deserve any benefit of the doubt.