Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Monday, March 31, 2003

3 days until the retraction…

Yesterday, we had reports of the capture of a major terrorist base in northern Iraq.
The United States said on Sunday that U.S.-led forces had destroyed "a massive terrorist facility" in northern Iraq which could have been used by al Qaeda to make chemical weapons. The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, told CNN the site in northeast Iraq could have been a training ground and may have produced the lethal poison ricin that was found in a London flat in January.

Based on past pronouncements, I'm guessing by Wed., we'll find out that it wasn't really a terrorist chemical weapons facility, but that they did find 3 cans of Raid and an Easy Bake oven.

Posted by Rich
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NBC sacks Arnett

Once again, Arnett's propensity for injecting his own personal views into his journalism has cost him his job, and rightly so. His mistakes were many, this latest being a prime example of how not to be a journalist. Rather than reporting a story, he made himself part of the story by allowing himself to be interviewed on Iraqi TV a step which completed his transformation from reporter to PR flack. His objectivity has been questionable ever since he reported that US troops had gassed US defectors in Laos during the Vietam War. He lost his job at CNN over that little dustup, and CNN retracted the story.

You know, this is probably the only time in history that Ted Turner fired someone for being too liberal.

I still remember his reports from the first Gulf War, telling everyone that the US had bombed a baby milk factory. He showed video of the workers to back up his claims, workers wearing uniforms with "Baby Milk Factory" printed on the back of them.

In English.

Slick reporting there, Ace. No chance that it may have been staged, right?

Peter Arnett himself acknowledges his bias when he said:
He said the Iraqis allowed him to stay in Baghdad because they respect him and "see me as a fellow warrior."


It's bad enough that Arnett compromised his 'journalistic detatchment' by being the subject of an interview; he compounded his error by stating his opinions as fact, another breach of sound journalism. It made it even worse that his opinions were so wildly wrong. He said that the US battle plan had failed, due to Iraqi resistance being stronger than expected, and that the US was "rewriting the war plan."

Let's take a brief look at how Arnett defines failure:
  • The single most rapid advance of troops in the history of military conflict, transporting 90,000 men and all their equipment 300 miles over hostile terrain in a matter of days.
  • The capture of the southern oil fields before they could be destroyed, preventing a huge ecological disaster.
  • The capture of the port city of Umm Qasr
  • The elimination of mines in the harbor, allowing the flow of humanitarian aid to starving Iraqis.
  • The surrender of thousands of Iraqi troops (3 divisions), the defeat and capture of thousands more, with only minor Coalition losses.
  • The ongoing destruction of Iraqi armor and equipment, again without Coalition casualties.
  • The encirclement of Baghdad, pinning down a significant portion of the Republican Guard.
  • The capture of the western airfields, H1-H2-H3, preventing attacks by Iraq to Israel or other Coalition allies.
  • The near eradication of Ansar al-Islam, a fundamentalist terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, in Northern Iraq.
  • The elimination of Iraqi military and government targets in and around Baghdad with minimal collateral damage and non-combatant casualties. With thousands of bombs and missiles dropped, so far the Iraqis have only claimed that 4 were off target, giving an accuracy of 99.99%
  • The air drop of 1000 troops into Northern Iraq, and their work with the Kurds pushing Hussein loyalists into Mosul, opening yet another front on Baghdad.

All of the above has taken place in less than 2 full weeks of fighting, and Arnett calls it failure.

He wasn't fired for being disloyal or unAmerican. He was fired for being stupid.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, March 30, 2003

This one’s for Bubba

A look on the lighter side; God knows we all need it.



As the Democrat filibuster on the supplemental budget bill to fund the war in Iraq entered it's second month, the President was forced to find a new method of generating revenue.

Meanwhile, the US military has been forced to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

US generals, along with the SecDef, Donald Rumsfeld, decided to push back the attack on Baghdad for a few days to allow the soldiers some R and R. This enterprising marine took full advantage of it.

The war took a turn for the worse, as Iraqi terrorists unveiled a new weather control weapon in East Tennessee. First week of spring my butt!

The crew of the USS Enterprise gathered today to say farewell
to the French Ambassador, who had been making a tour of ships in the gulf.

In order to counter their false image as "cheese eating surrender monkeys", the French army announced today the formation of a new Special Forces group, the Raspberry Berets. A representative of the new unit is seen here, walking next to two NATO troopers.

Members of this unit can be found practicing their most devastating tactic, fierce taunting, at any opportunity.

In a further effort to "shock and awe" the Iraqi army into submission, the Pentagon today unveiled it's newest generation Stealth fighter, code named Diana.

Not to be outdone, the US Coast Guard also got into the act, showing off their latest mission-specific craft, designed to take out Iraqi suicide speedboats, or the occasional fisherman.

Technology is not always about killing. TheBBC today announced the invention of the first universal translator, suggesting that it will be helpful to US forces in the coming months.

These images, except for the snow are all from Attrition.org's military gallery.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, March 28, 2003

Numbers

I have a question, and I need some expert help.

Before the war began, we heard that we had 250,000 troops around Iraq.

Today, we hear that we have 90,000 troops in Iraq. That leaves 160,000 personnel unaccounted for.

We also hear that 120,000 reinforcement troops are on their way. How many of those will actually hit the sand?

Over at SKB, he's questioning the designation of these troops as reinforcements, since they've been 'floating around' since Turkey refused to let them land. But the reinforcements are the 4th Infantry, just leaving the states yesterday and today.

Posted by Rich
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Experiencing technical difficulties…

WE apologize for the interruption but we are experiencing technical difficulties. As a result of what is probably an inner ear infection, I've recently lost the ability to tell up from down, or sideways for that matter.

I'm feeling better today, but still not 100%. I hope to resume regular bloggage tomorrow, or Monday at the latest.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Irony can be a beautiful thing

Remember those GPS jammers the Russians sold the Iraqis? Well that's all they are now, a memory:
Air Force Major Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. said Tuesday in a press briefing at U.S. Central Command in Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, that six GPS jammers "provided by another nation" were taken out of commission by U.S. forces.


And the irony?
"We destroyed one of the GPS jammers with a GPS weapon," Renuart said.


So much for Russian high technology...

Posted by Rich
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Roll of Honor.

The names below are those of heroes who have fallen in battle or been captured. I honor them here as they are making the ultimate sacrifice.

KILLED

  • Nine Marines, fighting near An Nasiriyah, encountered Iraqi troops pretending to surrender, March 23. Names not released.
  • Army Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert, 27
  • Army Reserve Spc. Brandon S. Tobler, 19
  • Navy Lt. Thomas Mullen Adams, 27, of La Mesa CA
  • Marine Capt. Ryan Anthony Beaupre, 30, of Bloomington, Ill
  • Marine Cpl. Brian Matthew Kennedy, 25, of Houston
  • Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey, 29, of Baltimore
  • Marine Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin, 36, of Waterville, Maine
  • Marine 2nd Lt. Therrel S. Childers, 30, of Harrison County, Miss
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, 22, of Los Angeles
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Eric J. Orlowski, 26, of Buffalo, N.Y
  • Sgt. Nicolas M. Hodson, 22, of Smithville, Mo.


CAPTURED:

  • Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, from Lithia Springs, Ga.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 David S. Williams, 30, from Orlando, Fla.

Both shown in Iraqi state television March 24, apparently uninjured.
  • Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Almagordo, N.M.
  • Army Pfc. Patrick Miller, 23, of Park City, Kan.
  • Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, of Fort Bliss, Texas
  • Edgar Hernandez, 21, supply truck driver, of Mission, Texas, rank unknown;
  • Army Sgt. James Riley, 31, of Pennsauken; N.J.

All shown on Iraqi television after pre-dawn ambush of convoy near An Nasiriyah, southwestern Iraq, March 23.
  • Army Pvt. Brandon Sloan, 19, of Bedford Heights, Ohio
  • Pfc. Lori Piestewa, 22, of Tuba City, Ariz
  • Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, supply clerk, of Palestine, W.Va.,
  • Four more soldiers who's names are not available.

Posted by Rich
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Equality has a price

And this young woman is paying that price
2_21_lynch_jessica.jpg
Far be it from me to criticize her choice. I'm an old fashioned kind of guy, and I disagree with placing women in harm's way. But Jessica Lynch enlisted, took the oath, and went with her unit when duty called. Even though I disagree with the decisions that gave her that choice, I respect her for making it, and living up to it. As of today, we know of three women who are either POWs or MIAs. They include Jessica, Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, and Pfc. Lori Piestewa

I just pray that the price they pay is not too high.

Posted by Rich
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Missile in a chemical factory…

What could they be there for?
EXPERTS are examining suspected Scud missiles discovered by British soldiers searching a chemical plant outside Basra.

A number of the grey-painted rockets, about 23ft long, were found in the Dirhamiyah petro-chemical plant close to Iraq’s second city.


We've had too many dissapointments lately on the chemical weapons front. I'm not going to get excited until we have something concrete. It might turn out that these missile, whwhich may not even be SCUDS, were there for fueling.

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We’ve heard this before

Once again, the word is being passed down that the Iraqis are preparing to use chemical weapons against Coalition troops.
(CBS) U.S officials tell CBS News Correspondent David Martin that the Iraqis have drawn a red line on the map around Baghdad, and once American troops cross it, the Republican Guards are authorized to use chemical weapons.

The Iraqi Republican Guard controls the bulk of Iraq's chemical weaponry, most of which can be fired from artillery guns or short-range rocket launchers, according to U.S. officials.

Word of the chemical threat came as U.S.-led forces clashed with the elite Guard fighters for the first time about 50 miles south of Baghdad. U.S. Apache helicopters fired on the guard to soften them up for ground forces heading north to Baghdad. The helicopters destroyed about 10 Iraqi tanks before ending their aerial attack.


We'll see, but I have my doubts...

Posted by Rich
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I’ll say it…

even though I don't think anybody else will.

Regardless of the outcome in Iraq, we are watching the opening moves of WWIII. Overly dramatic? Possibly, but let's consider the facts:

  • France lead a coalition of the UN Security Council against the US sponsered intervention in Iraq. While saying that inspections were working and needed more time, her true motivations were quite different.
    • France was looking out for its financial interests in Iraq, ie oil contracts.
    • France was attempting to hide illegal trade with Iraq

    And most importantly
    • France was setting itself up as the leader of a coaltion dedicated to opposing US aims.
    Remeber at the last, France vowed to oppose anyresolution put forward by the USA to the Security Council.
  • German was a willing accomplice to France, not only to hide their own involvement with the rebuilding of Iraq's military infrastructure, but also to oppose US interests.
  • Russia continues to support the Iraqi military with weapons systems and technical support. They too wish to counter US influence in the world.
  • China supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, and helped rebuild and upgrade Iraq's Command and Control facilities, and has long opposed the US in global politics.


The divide goes far deeper than a disagreement over how to disarm Iraq. We are seeing nations focus their foreign policy around nothing more than opposition to the US. I can say without a shadow of doubt that France will oppose any US foreign policy initiative, unless their is something in it for them. They, along with their allies, will do everything in their power to reduce American power and influence in the world, regardless of the costs in human lifes and suffering. The debate over Iraq has demonstrated that quite clearly.

So, am I saying we will soon be in armed conflict with France?

Not necessarily, although it is a slight possibility. The Third World War will be fought by proxy, in places like Iraq, North Korea, or the African continent.Our interests will be opposed at every turn by those who wish to supplant us as the dominant power on the planet. As long as we maintain our advantage, they will not face us directly over a battlefield. Instead, they will fight us in the Hague, in the UN, and in the press. They will use our war against terror to arouse sentiment against us, portray us as imperialists and warmongers.

This coming global conflict is the sole reason why I've changed my mind about the UN. As long as it is a functioning world body, we need to remain in it. We must maintain our seat on the Security Council to protect our interests against those who wish us harm. Our veto will be needed repeatedly, until we are stripped of it, or the UN itself crumbles amid the stress of the two power blocs.

Can the US survive a whispering war? I have grave doubts. One of our founding principles is that power derives from the will of the people. Tyhat applies globally as well as nationally. If the majority of the world's poeples turn against the US, our power will wane, regardless of the strength of our military, our economic might, or political prestige. I'm reminded of the death of Julius Caesar, stabbed in the back by his allies, who grew to fear his power.

The real war is being fought not on the Iraqi battlefield, but in the hearts and minds of the world. We must convince them that the US is everything that we believe it to be; a bastion of liberty and freedom, a land of limitless opportunity. More importantly, we have to convince them that what makes America great is not something that only belongs to Americans, but is a state of mind open to all people in all nations. Freedom, the freedom to live, work, create, earn, think, believe, worship, and speak is the bedrock of American greatness.

Unfortunately, freedom doesn't come cheap. You have to be willing to work, to take risks, to try and fail and try again. You have to take responsibility for your life, to stop crying about what's not fair, and take care of what's there. We humans still have a strong herd instinct, and it's a lot easier to follow a guy who puts food in your belly than it is to get the food yourself. If you have to do what he says in order to eat, well, some consider that a small price to pay.

Can we win over the hearts and minds of these people? I don't know, but history is against us. But maybe America will be different. Maybe we won't succomb to the dry rot that seems to affect all democracies after a couple of centuries. But it will take a huge effort to overcome the inertia of 6 billion people.

I just don't know.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 24, 2003

Rules of War

It seems paradoxical, but there are rules of war governing conduct on the battlefield. There are conventions that armies follow to keep the battle from getting out of hand, and causing more collateral damage. In modern warfare, battles are fought until one side is incapacitated and surrenders. This minimizes loss of life, collateral damage, and rebuilding effort and expense for the victor. The alternative is “war to the knife,” fighting until the last enemy is dead, no quarter given or asked for. This type of war is immeasurable more devastating, resulting in massive non-combatant casualties, and the complete annihilation of the enemy and his people, as demonstrated by the fall of Carthage centuries ago.

The US is taking this a step further. In a strategy unprecedented in history, the Coalition is not targeting Iraqi infrastructure. Power stations, sewage plants, water supplies, and transportation are all up and running at near normal capacity. We are making every attempt to minimize not only casualties to non-combatants, but inconveniences as well. This strategy will undoubtedly cost Coalition lives, and result in a longer conflict, but the end result will be an Iraq freed of the Ba’ath party, including Saddam Hussein and his sons, but with basic services largely intact. It also helps us to convince the Iraqi people that our assault is aimed directly at Hussein and his thugs, not them. As I watched over the weekend, I was amazed to see people walking around in the streets during bombing runs. Apparently, they have so much confidence in the US and it’s intentions that they don’t feel the need to take cover when the air raid sirens go off. This will pay great dividends for the Coalition once the fighting is over.

However, Iraq is playing by different rules. Like savages, Hussein has mapped out a strategy of “War to the Knife.” He rejects the conventions of modern warfare.

We’ve seen units of his armies come forward under the flag of surrender, then open fire as Coalition troops advance. The affect on us is two fold. First, we lose soldiers that we shouldn’t have. Second, it increases the chance that the next surrender flag may be ignored, and the unit destroyed out of hand.

We’ve seen army troop replace their uniform with civilian clothes, and fight guerilla style. When the army blends with the civilian population, it leads to more civilian casualties.

Saddam is using these tactics to provoke the Coalition forces into atrocities, in an attempt to sway world opinion against the war. This attempt will fail. The Coalition should respond to the first tactic by continuing to accept surrenders cautiously. At the first sign of deception, the unit should be destroyed to the last man. There is no other effective way to send the message other than making this tactic too expensive. If we ignore the risk and continue to accept surrenders, we will lose a lot of good men. If we choose not to accept surrenders, we’ve joined Hussein in the “war to the knife” which we would win, but at the cost of thousands of lives. There really is no effective counter to the second tactic, except time. We outnumber the guerillas, and as long as we have the support of the Iraqi people, we’ll be able to contain the threat, as we hunt down these men.

Saddam is playing an expensive game with the lives of his army and his citizens, all the more reason he needs to be put down. The sooner, the better.

Posted by Rich
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Oscar notes

Yes, I’m a geek. I took notes.
  • Steve Martin did his best impersonation of Don Rickles, with a put down for every occasion.
  • Martin got it right when he said about removing the traditional red carpet: “That’ll show ‘em!” It was a basically meaningless gesture in an attempt to add solemnity to what in all reality is a very trivial affair.
  • Keanu Reeves was spotted reading from a teleprompter which was rather surprising. I wasn’t aware that he’d learned to read. (Sorry, a little Steve must have rubbed off.)
  • ABCNews broke into the telecast to let us know that nothing had really changed in Iraq over the 30 minutes the telecast had been in progress. I guess they wanted us to know they were still on the job.
  • Whoever is doing the voice for Mickey Mouse these days really needs to be replaced. It was absolutely painful.
  • Julianne Moore’s dress looked like it ripped down the middle 10 minutes before the show began, and was hurriedly stitched up by a Home-Ec dropout. (Sorry, Steve again)
  • Adrien Brody nailed it in his acceptance speech. Who could argue with that? And if I had been up there, I would have grabbed the chance to kiss Halle Barry too.
  • To Barbra Streisand, who said she was thankful to live in a country where everyone was granted the freedom to express their beliefs, I say I agree completely, and further, I am grateful that within a short time, Iraqi people will have that same freedom for the first time in decades.
  • Eminem? Yeesh.
  • My Favorite Year is one of my favorite movies. So is Creator. Peter O’Toole rules.
  • I loved the audience reaction when Polanski won for Best Director. They all looked around as if they expected him to pop up out of the audience.
  • Kirk Douglas may have slowed down a bit, but he’s still as sharp as a tack.
  • To Susan Sarandon, and all the others who oppose the war, I say thank you for demonstrating your convictions in a way that was not divisive, mean spirited, or contentious. You showed grace and class by framing your opinions in such a positive way. I agree with you all that peace is a thing to be desired whole-heartedly. I too hope for a speedy end to the war, and a rapid return of our forces.


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And you thought those commercials were annoying….

hearme1.jpg

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Oscar mayhem

I'll do more on this tomorrow, but I had to comment on this piece from the Reuters:
Politics grabbed center stage at the Academy Awards (news - web sites) on Sunday as the winner for best documentary, director Michael Moore (news), charged President Bush (news - web sites) with waging a "fictitious war."

Wagging his finger from the stage as he was both applauded and booed by the assembled celebrities, Moore said, "We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you"


Given that Moore was the only one boorish enough to turn his acceptance speech into an overtly political attack on the President, I hardly think politics were "center stage." As for the audience reaction, I heard far more boos than applause, and it seemed that the orchestra came up pretty quick and pretty loud, trying to drown out that buffoon.

I really thought it was interesting that on a night when many with anti-war sentiments, including Susan Sarandon and Barbra Streisand, were able to state their convictions without being offensive, Michael Moore chose to spout gibberish that embarrassed even liberal Hollywood. It seems clear that far from being sincere, he's a spotlight hungry troll.

Betcha he's seen his last appearance at the Academy Awards.

Posted by Rich
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